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EU awards Ukraine and Moldova candidate status

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People on the streets of Ukraine
Joining the bloc: leaders of the EU countries approved the move to give Ukraine candidate status at a special summit in Brussels this week. Photo: Antoine De La Croix

Earlier this month the European Commission has found that Ukraine overall is well advanced in reaching the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy, the rule of law, human rights, and respect for and protection of minorities and recommended the country to be granted candidate status on the understanding that steps are taken in a number of areas.

Also recently, the commission also revealed that Moldova has a solid foundation in place to reach the stability of institutions guaranteeing democracy and recommended the country be given the perspective to become a member of the European Union based on a series of criteria, including political and economic criteria, as well as the ability of the country to assume the obligations of EU members.

This week both countries have been awarded candidate status.

The European Commission has presented its opinions on the application for EU membership submitted by Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova, sharing its assessment in light of the three sets of criteria to join the EU agreed by the European

“Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU” – said Charles Michel, President of the European Council, describing the European Council’s decision as a “historic moment”.

Ukraine applied days after the Russian invasion in February, and the process moved at a record speed. However, candidate status is the first official step towards EU membership and it can still take several years for a country granted candidate status to effectively join the European Union – and at the current stage, there’s no guarantee of success.

North Macedonia and Albania are examples of how the process is a long one. Both countries were given candidate status in 2005 and 2014, respectively.  They are still waiting for the opportunity to become members of the European Union.

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A plan to revive imperial measurements in the UK divides the nation

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Barman serving beer in a pub
Certain measurements in Britain still use the imperial system, including sale of beer and milk, measured in pints

People in the UK are, once again divided. And this time it is not about Brexit, the Royal family, nor political parties trying to undermine each other.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to make an announcement on Friday, June 3, to coincide with the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, about moving away from the current metric system.

And although the British government is understood to be preparing to open a consultation into how to further incorporate imperial measurements, after the controversial Brexit – with No 10 hoping for support even in Leave-voting areas – internet users have been, somewhat, less kind with the matter.

British political activist Femi Oluwole was fast to share his views on Twitter:

“Tories: “If we change food measurements to the imperial system and change our currency back to Shillings and Pence, people won’t be able to tell how much poorer we’ve made them through Austerity and Brexit! GENIUS!” – posted the co-founder of the pro-European Union advocacy group Our Future Our Choice.

“The government is switching to imperial measurements, this is like fixing a spelling mistake on the Titanic’s menu after it struck the iceberg while they’re setting fire to all the lifeboats. “ – says London-based chef Dave Ahern.

“Politicians still don’t understand that every regulatory change brings with it a cost, certainly true of the imperial measures, but can also be true of ‘deregulatory’ measures or even the uncertainty that they may change.” – warns David Henig, UK director of the European Centre For International Political Economy.

Johnson first hinted about bringing the imperial system back in the 2019 general election campaign, when he described it as an “ancient liberty”. However, not many countries in the world still use imperial measures anymore in the 21st century and, if re-introduced in the UK, it won’t make people change their habits in a hurry.

“I’m not the great imperial/metric expert but for me as a customer, using the example of milk, being able to buy a pint of milk helps me, and definitely my elderly relatives/friends who can’t fathom metric. Smaller stores I would imagine finding imperial easier for customers.” – defends musician Nick Wilson from Wicklow, Ireland.

 

“So the UK Government wants to bring back imperial measurements? I know Metric better than imperial and don’t wanna be the old guy who says “oh back when ” was your age I used metric” drove me mad in retail” – protested freelancer web developer Glenn Marshall

 

For clinical epidemiologist and statistical geneticist Deepti Gurdasani, the plan to revive imperial measurements in UK is a political tact:

“Imperial measurement headlines are just a distraction from the fact that we have a PM who has literally changed the rules to make it impossible to be held to account after breaking the law & lying. His power holds no bounds while his party enables him. That is the real story.” – shared Gurdasani, a senior lecturer in machine learning at the Queen Mary University of London.

 

The British Imperial System was used officially in Great Britain from 1824 until the adoption of the metric system beginning in 1965. But it wasn’t until 2000 that traders have been legally required to use metric units like milligrams, grams and kilograms for sale by weight or measure of fresh produce. Certain measurements in Britain still use the imperial system, including sale of beer and milk, measured in pints, and speed limit, which in the UK is measured in miles per hour rather than kilometers.

 

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Laid off workers in Greece to get €1.5 million from European Globalisation Fund

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Participation de Ursula von der Leyen, présidente de la Commission européenne, à la réunion extraordinaire du Conseil européen, 30-31 mai 2022
Ursula Von der Leyen, president of the European Commission, is attending the European Council Summit this week | Photo: Dati Bendo /EC

The European Commission has proposed, this week, to support 206 workers made redundant in businesses producing household appliances in Attica, Greece, with €1.5 million from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund for Displaced Workers (EGF). The funding aims to help them to find new jobs through tailored guidance and advice, training and support to start their own businesses.

The redundancies occurred from 1 April to 1 October 2021 as a result of a series of different factors, including domestic supply shortages of electrical components and high production costs, along with difficulties to adapt to the digital transformation and the automation of production processes. The support to the dismissed workers includes advisory services and individual job search assistance; training in digital skills and tailored vocational training, leading to a certification, where possible, or support to obtain higher education qualifications. Participants can also receive advice on how to start their own business coupled with a start-up grant of up to €22,000. The support includes allowances for the dismissed workers to participate in these measures.

The total estimated cost of these measures is about €1.8 million, of which the EGF will cover 85% (€1.5 million). The Public Investment Programme of the Greek Ministry of Economy and Development will finance the remaining 15%. Support to the eligible workers will start once the funding is approved by the European Parliament and the Council.

“EU is actively helping more than 200 workers who have lost their jobs in Attica, Greece. With €1.5 million of financial assistance from the European Globalisation Fund, we can help them find their way back into the labour market through training and education programmes, job search advice and support to set up their own business.” – Says Nicolas Schmit, commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights.

Member States can apply for EU funding when at least 200 workers lose their jobs within a specific reference period and, since 2007, the European Globalisation Fund has made available €668 million in 173 cases, offering help to more than 166,000 people in 20 Member States.

Over two days, this week, EU leaders have been discussing energy, defence and food security in a special meeting of the European Council in Brussels.

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Rafael Nadal launches initiative to inspire next generation of tennis fans

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Tennis Player Rafael Nadal launching Kia Clubhouse
Going strong: the 21-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal (center) has been partnering with Kia for over 15 years

Spanish professional tennis player Rafael Nadal has collaborated with South Korean multinational automobile manufacturer Kia to launch a new initiative aimed at making tennis more accessible and inspiring the next generation of tennis fans.

The inaugural event to kick-start ‘Kia Clubhouse’ took place in Paris, this week, with 18 children from Fête le Mur, a non-profit organization based in Paris that supports over 13,000 disadvantaged children in more than 76 venues with a focus on sports, and six children from the grassroots tennis club Gennevillois, who were presented with a welcome pack that includes tennis equipment from Babolat as a special keepsake to empower a lifelong love for the game. Nadal made a surprise appearance to personally welcome the children and share what inspired him to play tennis and rank world No. 5 in singles by the Association of Tennis Professionals.

“The Rafa Nadal Foundation has done a lot of work to support children who need it the most, and we have witnessed the impact that tennis and sports can have on children’s education. So, I’m really happy to partner with Kia on Kia Clubhouse to make tennis more accessible to more children around the world. I truly hope this initiative will inspire others to do the same.” – celebrates the 21-time Grand Slam champion and Kia global brand ambassador.

Since 2004 the 35-years old tennis player has been acting as a brand ambassador for Kia and has featured in a series of campaigns over the years. In 2020 Nadal announced a five-year partnership renewal with the brand and, during the first year of the global banded Kia brought children together with the player as part of its #TakeOn20 campaign. The initiative, which launched in October 2020, galvanized fans from around the world to support Rafael to his record-equaling 20th Grand Slam victory, despite being unable to physically travel to Paris to watch him, due travel restrictions.

“At Kia, we believe in empowering people to make the most out of their lives. Kia Clubhouse was developed to provide a space for children who may otherwise have been unable to access the game of tennis. Together with Rafa Nadal, we hope to inspire children from all walks of life to get out there and play.” – says Artur Martins, Senior Vice President and Head of Kia’s Global Brand and Customer Experience Division.

The ‘Kia Clubhouse’ initiative will tour major cities around the world ahead of upcoming tennis tournaments.

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