Latest Columns from the Investigate Europe Team

Our regular columns that take a Europe-wide angle

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 [...]

Photo: Woijciech Cieśla / July 2017, Warsaw, Plac Krasinskich (Krasinskis Square). Picture taken by the author during a protest after the Polish Parliament passed a bill giving the government the power to force all Supreme Court judges into retirement.
2 11, 2017

A good chance to fight (PiS) propaganda in Poland

Photo: Woijciech Cieśla / July 2017, Warsaw, Plac Krasinskich (Krasinskis Square). Picture taken by the author during a protest after the Polish Parliament passed a bill giving the government the power to force all Supreme Court judges into retirement. BY WOJCIECH CIESLA The politics of Poland’s ruling party “Law and Justice” (PiS) nowadays promote allies as unpredictable as Donald Trump; as politically marginal as Viktor Orbán; and as troublesome as Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. The freedom of the press has begun to suffer in countries that once seemed to be young and growing or well-established democracies. We, the [...]

Italy is the second market for automation in Europe with a trade surplus in the industrial machinery sector of €38,4bn.
12 10, 2017

Italy, G7 member and third world country

BY MARIA MAGGIORE Italy is the EU laggard in terms of productivity, but at the same time it retains a strong performance in manufacturing, registering the third best trade surplus in Europe. How can this paradox be explained? What are the roots of these problems and where is the potency of the country concentrated? Italian journalist Maria Maggiore of Investigate Europe gives her vision of the Bel Paese.  After 20 years spent abroad, the first thing that shocked me on returning to Italy was the extreme bureaucracy that crept into everyday life. We spent five months to get an [...]

credits: flickr/Lorie Shaull
12 06, 2017

Emmanuel Macron and the German disease

BY HARALD SCHUMANN The euro is unstable because wages and inflation rates are developing unequally, a new study by the think tank Bruegel shows. And the  Germans are to blame. If the euro zone disintegrates, it will happen because of German economic nationalism. The speech was good for the history books. There is no way the European currency union could possibly continue in its present form, explained the speaker at Berlin’s Humboldt University in January. The fault lines in its construction “benefited only Germany”. That is why “(a continuation of) the status quo will mean an end to the euro within [...]