6 February 2018 - World news for this week

Poland is worse off than us, for the time being…


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Poland approves another controversial law

This week the Polish Senate ruled by the Law and Justice (Pis) conservative party led by Jaroslaw Kaczynski, in spite of demonstrations by the opposition, voted a new controversial law with 57 in favour, 23 against and 2 abstentions which means that anyone who accuses the nation – or the Polish State – of any joint responsibility for the Holocaust can receive up to a three year jail sentence. Anyone denying the crimes perpetrated against Poles by Ukrainian nationalists during the Second World War can also be prosecuted. In order to come into force, the law must be signed by the Head of State Andrzej Duda (also a member of the Pis), who has already received an invitation by the US State Department to take a step back by vetoing the new law, to avoid relations between the United States and Poland getting any worse. Reaction from the EU was equally swift: the first vice-president of the EU Commission, the Dutchman Frans Timmermans, preferred not to proffer comment, but stressed that anyone aware of the importance of history cannot deny it: "The Nazis were responsible for the extermination camp. As a Dutchman, every country under Nazi occupation had many heroes, but some also collaborated with the Nazi occupying forces. This is a truth we have to face". Strong reactions were also voiced by Israel. Minister Yoav Galant saw it as a denial of the Shoah and of the six million Jews who died as a result. Other protests reached Poland from Israel's Knesset and Ukraine's Foreign Minister. Further developments are expected, especially after an upcoming statement announced by Pis Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

EUROPEAN UNION - The new cohesion policies

This week in Brussels, during the European Committee of Regions (CoR), the future of Rome was discussed within the context of cohesion policies, one of the programmes with the greatest allocation from the EU Budget (350 billion euro). The Italian government is hoping that: a) the policy remain unchanged after the new budget in 2020 (a few EU offices have hinted at the possibility of reducing the funds after such a date); b) the co-funded resources of EU cohesion policies continue to be managed by the regions; c) all contributions are settled among the member states after Brexit, because this would help to balance things out and compensate for the loss of resources after the divorce. Claudio De Vincenti, the Minister for territorial cohesion the South of Italy, has underlined how the regions should be entitled to express their views and be heard, especially given the excellent results recorded by the existing policies. The Minister stated that what is really needed is not change, but oversight, because thanks to cohesion policies one can hope to interconnect all the regions on the continent, but monitoring mechanisms are needed to simplify the objectives and keep the situation under control. If this were achieved, the impact of cohesion policies could be strengthened, along with overall transparency. It is also essential that political institutions continue to contribute, and should take steps to acknowledge the difficulties that each region has to face, in matters such as infrastructure (both structural and digital) and climate change. If this were the case, the European Union could act as a truly supranational organism, because it would be promoting a message of true citizenship and a tangible European community.

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