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Latest Columns from the Investigate Europe Team

Our regular columns that take a Europe-wide angle

Polish bus driver in Norway talking to his family at home – Credit: Fredrik Refvem / Aftenbladet
4 04, 2018

The child benefit lie: How the German government serves the populists

BY HARALD SCHUMANN How much nationalist blindness can politics tolerate before it becomes completely irrational? Politicians of the grand coalition in Germany are demonstrating the urgency of this question. The starting point is the annually recurring statistics of the German Federal Employment Agency. In 2017, around 343 million euros in child benefits were paid to families whose children live in other countries while their parents are working in Germany. This affected a total of 249 473 children in Poland, Romania, Canada, Croatia and a good dozen other countries. The right-wing populists of the “Alternative für Deutschland“ (AfD) use these [...]

16 03, 2018

Jan’s and Daphne’s Laws: How to Stop the Murder of Journalists

BY DREW SULLIVAN, Editor of OCCPR Investigate Europe stands with OCCRP in the defense of journalism. That’s why we are cross-posting this article, written by Drew Sullivan, editor of the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project, and initially published by OCCRP. Drew was working closely with Jan Kuciak, the 28 year old Solvak investigative reporter murdered last February. The article is republished with the permission of OCCRP. The cold-blooded murder of Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak was also a cold slap across the face of modern Europe. That the public watchdogs — the beloved members of a profession that is sometimes more reviled [...]

Solidarnosc merchandising in Gdansk
8 03, 2018

Free City of Gdańsk – How Poland’s window to the world rises against populism

BY WOJCIECH CIESLA Gdańsk, Poland’s window to the world and cradle of the Solidarity democracy movement, raises the flag again against a wave of populism sweeping the country. In an icy chill, residents of Gdańsk, never before connected to any movement, are protesting outside a local court against a new law of the Law and Justice party (PiS) that seeks to subordinate the judiciary and local elections to government authority. Around 400 people have gathered in the cold. They carry lit candles, their symbol of defiance. Across Poland tens of thousands more have taken to the streets to protest [...]

European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly Credit: European Parliament/flickr
26 02, 2018

Legislation in the “Black Box“ of the EU Council – where secrecy feeds mistrust

BY HARALD SCHUMANN There’s no doubt that there are some very good people working for the European Union. One of them is Emily O’Reilly, the EU’s Ombudsman. With diligence and tenacity, the Irishwoman has been fighting for years for transparency and accountability in European institutions. Whether it’s the infiltration of the European Commission by lobbyists, the exploitation of interns in the foreign service or European Central Bank head, Mario Draghi’s questionable membership of a finance industry lobby club, O’ Reilly calls out abuses of power by name and fights on behalf of citizens. Rights undermined  Now, she has started against [...]

A graffiti in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Image credit: discosour / Flickr
6 02, 2018

Working on the edge of poverty: Slovenia’s self-inflicted wound over labour market reform

BY LENART J. KUČIĆ Labour market reform in Slovenia, designed to boost entrepreneurship and jobs, is condemning thousands of people to near poverty through precarious working conditions. An analysis by Investigate Europe’s media partner Pod črto. In a drive towards entrepreneurship following Europe’s economic slump, workers have been encouraged to take up EU-funded incentives for self-employment, so-called sole-proprietorship, allowing many to trade a degree of job security and social welfare provision for lower taxes and support starting their own businesses. But in too many cases the scheme has turned sour, with some sign-ups pulling out and employers evidently taking advantage of [...]

Credit: Eu sou João Lourenço / Flickr
15 01, 2018

An unexpected change is sweeping through Angola

BY PAULO PENA He was internationally dismissed as an unwilling to change “loyal party soldier”. But after serving 100 days in office, João Lourenço, Angola’s new president, is busy purging the state apparatus of the ruling family. The daughter of the former president, her banks and her phone company – or: how a regime change in Angola may affect Portugal through the accumulated wealth and the investments of the African country’s former presidential family. Three months can be a long time in politics. Angola’s new president João Lourenço – the 52 year old former Defense Minister with a made-in-the-Soviet-Union [...]

Kyriakos Mitsotakis // credits: flickr/Nea Dimokratia
4 01, 2018

The overlooked past of the “next PM of Greece”

BY NIKOLAS LEONTOPOULOS The current leader of the Greek opposition, New Democracy party leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis, is odds-on favourite to become the next Greek prime minister. Both German and US media have dubbed him a “star of the people” offering Greece “a glimmer of hope”. A sworn reformist, he slams nepotism and corruption. And yet that international praise ignores hard facts – such as the inclusion of his spouse in the Paradise Papers or his personal involvement in the biggest corruption scandal of the last 30 years in Greece. This is the extended version of a story first published with [...]

European Defence Agency, Black Blade 2016, © Fischer Maximilian / Flickr
9 12, 2017

The EU Parliament opens the way for a Defense Commissioner and pushes states to find €76 bn for weapons

BY APOSTOLIS FOTIDIADIS The resolution to be adopted next week in Strasbourg is a major step towards further militarisation of the EU. For the first time ever, the European Parliament makes the case for the creation of a Commission Directorate General (DG)-Defence. Rapporteur Michael Gahler is also the head of Kangaroo, a lobby group promoting security and defence imperatives in the EU institutions for decades. By Apostolis Fotiadis* The European Parliament will adopt next week in Strasbourg a resolution asking for a radical bureaucratic boost on defence matters. The draft resolution “on the implementation of the Common Security and Defence Policy” [...]

Cover of the french weekly Marianne that in May 2017 published Investigate Europe’s story on Microsoft.
5 12, 2017

Investigate Europe Investigations prompts calls for Microsoft contracts scrutiny in France

BY INVESTIGATE EUROPE Investigate Europe investigation into public IT contracting practices prompts French officials to call for a public inquiry into defence contracts handed to Microsoft. On May 20, Investigate Europe’s French correspondent Leïla Miñano published in national weekly Marianne her piece on how Microsoft locks in the French administration. The article featured a confidential letter, leaked indirectly by a source from the French Defence ministry, showing officials had no inclination to subject public IT contracts to public tender. According to the letter, an IT contract originally signed in 2009 by the Defence Ministry with Microsoft was renewed for the third [...]

Credit: Max Pixel
22 11, 2017

The end of the “Jamaica” illusion in Germany: A blessing for the future of the EU

BY HARALD SCHUMANN The collapse of the negotiations for a new government gives the German political elite a second chance to avoid a capital mistake. Reform and democratisation of the EU could finally get the attention it deserves. The chancellor is shattered, the party leaders are at a loss, the Federal President is angry. The end of the so-called Jamaica coalition (named after the party colours) before its start seems to throw the Germans into a deep political crisis. By default, this also affects Europe as a whole. Without a stable government in Berlin, the European Union will hardly [...]

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