Spain hopes for tourists as EU votes on digital passports

Spain has said it hopes to open up to overseas travellers from June, as plans for an EU-wide digital certificate go before the European Parliament. Tourism minister Fernando Valdés said a pilot test would take place in May so that Spain would be ready to receive travellers the following month. The EU has been working on a digital pass in time for the summer holidays. It would cover anyone who is either vaccinated against Covid, has a negative test or recently recovered. Several countries have already begun using digital or paper passes to help ease local lockdowns. Mr Valdés told … Continue reading Spain hopes for tourists as EU votes on digital passports

Sofagate: EU chief Ursula von der Leyen blames sexism for Turkey chair snub

The first female president of the European Commission has vowed to defend women’s rights after admitting to feeling “hurt” by a chair snub during a summit with male leaders in Turkey. Ursula von der Leyen was left without a chair at a meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Ankara on 6 April. Turkey was criticised, as was EU Council President Charles Michel, who took the only chair next to Mr Erdoğan. Turkey blamed the EU for the gaffe that saw Mrs von der Leyen sit on a sofa. But in a speech to the European Parliament on Monday, Mrs … Continue reading Sofagate: EU chief Ursula von der Leyen blames sexism for Turkey chair snub

Catalonia Self Rule: EU parliament lifts ex-Catalan leader’s immunity

The European Parliament has voted to waive the immunity of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont and two other Catalan separatist MEPs. The politicians left Spain in 2017 following a failed independence referendum, which Madrid said was illegal, the vote left the country facing its deepest political crisis in decades. The decision could help Spain’s bid to extradite the separatists, who have been charged with sedition. All three reject the charges against them, which Mr Puigdemont described as “a clear case of political persecution”. In 2019, Spain sentenced nine other Catalan leaders to between nine and 13 years in prison over … Continue reading Catalonia Self Rule: EU parliament lifts ex-Catalan leader’s immunity

10 held for alleged $100m cryptocurrency theft from celebs, others

The European police agency, Europol said on Wednesday it had assisted in the arrest of 10 hackers suspected of stealing $100 million in cryptocurrency in “SIM-swapping” attacks that allowed suspects to gain access to their victims’ phones. “The attacks orchestrated by this criminal gang targeted thousands of victims throughout 2020, including famous internet influencers, sport stars, musicians and their families,” the agency said in a statement. The arrests were made after an investigation with cooperation from Britain, the United States, Belgium, Malta and Canada, Europol said. In a SIM-swapping attack, criminals can gain control over a SIM – the small … Continue reading 10 held for alleged $100m cryptocurrency theft from celebs, others

Europol confirms world’s largest dark web marketplace has been taken offline

Law enforcement agencies from multiple countries have teamed up to take down what Europol is calling the “world’s largest” illegal marketplace on the dark web. DarkMarket had almost 500,000 users when it was taken offline. It had over 2,400 sellers and hosted 320,000 transactions wherein US$171 million worth of cryptocurrency had changed hands. According to Europol’s announcement, vendors mainly used the marketplace to sell drugs, counterfeit money and credit card details, malware and anonymous SIM cards. In addition to Europol, law enforcement agencies from Germany, Australia, Denmark, Moldova, Ukraine, the United Kingdom (the National Crime Agency) and the USA (DEA, FBI, and … Continue reading Europol confirms world’s largest dark web marketplace has been taken offline

Britons warned to prepare for some disruption over Brexit

Businesses and travellers should get ready for “substantial” change from New Year’s Eve, when the UK leaves the EU, the government has said. Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said there would be “some disruption” and “practical and procedural changes”. He encouraged people travelling to the EU to take out comprehensive travel insurance and to check their mobile phone provider’s roaming charges, European ambassadors are due to discuss the post-Brexit trade deal later. The diplomats will meet to determine how they can provisionally approve the deal, which was agreed on Christmas Eve, covering £660bn of trade in time for the end of … Continue reading Britons warned to prepare for some disruption over Brexit

EU Digital Services Act set to bring in new rules for tech giants

The European Union is set to unveil new rules it says will “overhaul” the digital market, including how tech giants operate, a pair of laws – the Digital Services and Digital Markets Acts – will be announced later on Tuesday. They are expected to be the biggest revision in 20 years, focusing on competition and making platforms responsible for hosted content, there are also likely to create heavy fines for violations of the rules. The rules are being spearheaded by commissioners Margrethe Vestager and Thierry Breton, both of whom have a history of strong rhetoric against the biggest tech giants … Continue reading EU Digital Services Act set to bring in new rules for tech giants

Portugal’s immigration chief resigns months after Ukrainian man dies at Lisbon airport

The head of Portugal’s immigration service has resigned after months of backlash, following the death of a Ukrainian man in Lisbon airport. The 40-year-old man, Ihor Homeniuk, had tried to enter Portugal without a valid visa last March and was detained by immigration authorities after refusing to board a flight out of the country, two days later he was found dead in his holding cell. Cristina Gatoes, chief of the Foreigners and Borders Service (SEF), tendered her resignation with immediate effect on Wednesday, the Interior Ministry said in a statement. Opposition PSD lawmaker Ricardo Leite said on Twitter that her … Continue reading Portugal’s immigration chief resigns months after Ukrainian man dies at Lisbon airport

Jihadism in Spain: A silent but real threat

Europe’s latest jihadist attacks may have targeted France and Austria, but Spain, like the rest of the continent, remains within the sights of extremists and the threat level is still “severe”, experts say. The issue has returned to the headlines in Spain since last month, with three men currently on trial near Madrid for helping the jihadists behind the 2017 vehicle attacks in Barcelona and a nearby resort that killed 16 and was claimed by the Islamic State (IS) group, the trial is due to end on December 16. There have also been a string of arrests in recent weeks, … Continue reading Jihadism in Spain: A silent but real threat

Update: Cypriot parliament speaker quits after passport scheme scandal

Demetris Syllouris, the Cypriot parliament speaker, has announced he will resign after he was implicated in a scheme to sell passports to criminals through the country’s citizenship through investment programme. Syllouris was filmed as part of Al Jazeera’s The Cyprus Paper Undercover, an investigation which revealed how criminals were able to obtain Cypriot passports, granting them access to the EU and its internal markets. His resignation follows Christakis Giovanis, also known in Cyprus as Giovani, who quit on Tuesday, hours after Cyprus announced it would abolish it’s controversial citizenship-through-investment scheme. More soon…. Continue reading Update: Cypriot parliament speaker quits after passport scheme scandal

Cyprus abolishes citizenship through investment programme

Cyprus has announced it will abolish a controversial passport scheme following an investigation by Al Jazeera that revealed how high-ranking politicians were willing to issue passports to convicted criminals. The interior and finance ministries said in a statement posted in Greek on Twitter that the citizenship through investment programme in its current form will be abolished from November 1. The proposal was based on the long-standing weaknesses but also on the abusive exploitation of the provisions of the programme, Tuesday’s statement said. In addition, Cypriot Attorney General George Savvidis said an investigation into possible criminal offences would be launched, what has been … Continue reading Cyprus abolishes citizenship through investment programme

Switzerland voters reject end to free movement with EU

Swiss voters have rejected a proposal to end an accord with the EU allowing the free movement of people. With all referendum votes counted, nearly 62% said they wanted to keep free movement, while 38% were against. Switzerland is not a member of the EU but has a series of interdependent treaties with Brussels which allow it to access to Europe’s free trade area. The move to rein in immigration was proposed by the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), but opposed by the government. A similar initiative to introduce quotas on immigrants from the EU to Switzerland narrowly passed in a … Continue reading Switzerland voters reject end to free movement with EU