Latest Columns from the Investigate Europe Team

Our regular columns that take a Europe-wide angle

3003, 2020

Europe Divided Over ‘Coronabonds’

March 30th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , |

The debate over Europe’s collective future has reached a critical level. Three countries oppose 'coronabonds', while thirteen see them as essential. The Eurogroup’s President told Investigate Europe: “We are not taking options off the table, as we cannot let this health crisis morph into a deep and protracted economic and financial crisis.”

2403, 2020

Europe’s failure to cooperate on Covid-19 is a universal problem

March 24th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , |

“Cooperation is essential,” warn the experts. Yet across Europe countries have adopted contradictory strategies to combat Covid-19, taking individualised approaches to testing, preventing contagion and managing medical supplies. We examine the dire impact of contradictory and protectionist measures being implemented by Europe's governments.

1703, 2020

First Lesson of the Crisis: We are More Equal Than we Think

March 17th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , , |

While the threat of Covid-19 has resulted in deserted streets in all the major European cities, the first signs of spring have seen people flocking to the beaches in Portugal and Greece, while in Norway this weekend people headed to their holiday cottages in the mountains. In this article Paulo Pena descries how these first weeks of isolation have shown us to be more equal than perhaps we'd like to think.

1303, 2020

BORDERLANDS – Minor Migrants Imprisoned In Europe

March 13th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , , , |

Condemnation of the Trump administration’s decision to detain and separate minors from their families at the Mexican border has been almost unanimous. But do European governments treat minors migrants any better? This is the question that launched Investigate Europe’s investigation in 2019, and which led us to those parts of Europe most under pressure from the arrival of migrants. From the remote island of Mayotte in the Comoros Archipelago, to cosmopolitan airports in Berlin, Lisbon or London – everywhere we found examples of children being detained, against international rules, whose only crime is that they are trying to enter European territory without permission.

1003, 2020

Keeping them out: How European governments ignored minor migrants for months

March 10th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , , , |

When Greece asked other countries to divide 2,500 of the country’s then 4,500 single minors between them six months ago, most rejected the request. Investigate Europe asked the governments why. Their answers reveal that a common and humane European asylum policy has become a fiction. The European consensus is to help Greece keep refugees out. Now a feeble and reluctant “coalition of willing” is emerging. It is likely too little, too late to avert more chaos in the country tasked with containing migration.

1902, 2020

Europe’s new refugee regime: Pushing external borders to the limit

February 19th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , , , |

The task of receiving refugees has largely been left to Greece. While asylum centres in northern Europe shut down, 40,000 children and adults remain crammed into refugee camps on Greek Islands in unsanitary and dangerous conditions. Without a collective approach this winter, there are warnings that the entire system may collapse.

1002, 2020

Lech Wałęsa: How to deal with populism

February 10th, 2020|Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

"Populists, demagogues and liars know how to talk about people's concerns" At 76, Lech Wałęsa says he is still a ‘revolutionary.’ Forty years after creating Solidarity, which played a decisive role in the fall of the Berlin Wall, he is critical of the lack of change. In an interview in Gdańsk Poland, Wałęsa tells Investigate Europe: "I don't like what I see.”

1501, 2020

Secrets of the Council

January 15th, 2020|Tags: , , |

When newspapers and television stations report on EU legislation, it is usually about debates in the European Parliament or the summits of Heads of State and Government. Sometimes the media also mention that the responsible ministers from the EU Member States must somehow reach an agreement before a draft law can become EU-wide law.

512, 2019

The forgotten people of Sea Watch 3

December 5th, 2019|Tags: , , , , |

At the end of June, more than 40 refugees on board the Sea Watch 3 reached the Italian coast. The German government committed to take in a large number of the refugees. But the eleven that were assigned to Germany are still waiting for the transfer . An Italian-German investigation by Investigate Europe has found the refugees - including a pregnant woman - are being kept under inhumane conditions.

2111, 2019

Don’t speak out!

November 21st, 2019|Tags: , , |

China uses its economic power to have foreign critics across Europe adhere to its political world view. Recent events in Germany shed a light on how the Chinese government silences critics of its policy of oppression.

111, 2019

Undercover at a Troll Farm

November 1st, 2019|Tags: , , |

We all have heard about troll farms. However, much of the reporting about bots and trolls is just speculation. To find out what is really involved, our reporter went undercover to work as a troll for six- months at a troll farm in Warsaw. This report gives insights about a commercial company that turned the spreading of hate and propaganda into their business model. 

1908, 2019

Summer of democracy in Eastern Europe

August 19th, 2019|Tags: , |

What comes to mind with thinking about politics in Eastern Europe: Wide support for authoritarian parties and governments? Not if you take a look at recent developments. IE-member Harald Schumann invites you to challenge these assumptions in our latest column about this "Summer of Democracy" from which the rest of Europe could take some lessons on spirit and courage.

2507, 2019

The imposed silence

July 25th, 2019|Tags: , , |

As this strange summer moves towards August, Investigate Europe has turned its attention to Brazil and a long-read in which Alexandra Lucas Coelho, a Portuguese writer interviews the Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro. Paulo Pena, our Portuguese team-member, explains why this interview is so important for all of us.

1906, 2019

In a polarised world, journalists must hold on to their curiosity

June 19th, 2019|Tags: , , |

Our lives change with every technological leap. As this happens, there are certain issues journalists, scientists and activists cannot touch without risking ridicule. One such topic is possible health risks from exposure to radiation from mobile technology. As 5G is being rolled out, yet another label is pinned on critics: They are communicating Russian propaganda. Ingeborg Eliassen argues that this makes it more important than ever for journalists to ask the difficult questions.

1605, 2019

Legislation from closed chambers – how (un)democratic is the EU?

May 16th, 2019|Tags: , |

The leaders of the European Union guide democracy in name only. In practice, they constantly override it and violate fundamental democratic norms on a grand scale. The anti-democratic practices in the Council of the EU, also known as the Council of Ministers, are a real scandal. IE-member Harald Schumann is convinced: Anyone who follows the passage of legislation in the EU, and in particular the means by which monetary union is controlled, must come to this conclusion.

1403, 2019

Journalists and the “Yellow Vests”: a story of love and hate

March 14th, 2019|Tags: , |

The Yellow Vests have dominated the headlines in France and internationally for a while now, challenging President Macron, but also the journalists who are covering the movement. We all have seen the images of violent protests, but who are the aggressors and who are the victims? Are we ourselves too fast to judge the protestors and their motives? French freelance journalist Jordan Pouille draws a more differentiated picture than you might expect.

1402, 2019

Campaign against Chinese giant Huawei reveals Europe’s weakness

February 14th, 2019|Tags: , , |

A clichéd image of an old enemy is once again stalking Europe’s corridors of power: the yellow peril. According to briefings by ministerial and security sources, China’s communists want to use the network technology of the Huawei corporation to infiltrate European communication systems. Picture: "IT Security Schloss vor Crypto-Hintergrund - SW" by Christoph Scholz, available at his Flickr profile, licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0

1412, 2018

Who’s been meddling in Macedonia? Not only who you think

December 14th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , , |

Image: Le Petit Journal. Greece and Macedonia were pressured by the US, NATO and the EU to sign a deal that most people in both countries reject. And yet, according to the narrative adopted by western media it was solely Russia who “meddled”, “orchestrated”, “agressed”. Evidence on the ground shows a much more mixed and disturbing reality.

1411, 2018

Outrage triggers political action against exploitation of truck drivers

November 14th, 2018|Tags: , , , , , |

BY INGEBORG ELIASSEN Both the public and politicians have expressed anger at the systematic exploitation of truck drivers working in international transport as exposed by Investigate Europe and others. This outrage has now produced political action. Investigate Europe’s latest project, 'sweatshops on wheels', has exposed the most basic factor in the business model of international transport: increasingly cheaper drivers. Truck drivers are indispensable for societies to function. In [...]

1209, 2018

The EU Commission’s hubris over the Greek wildfires

September 12th, 2018|Tags: , , , , |

Photograph: Christos Loufopoulos / Flickr. Launching a spin campaign on three fronts (Brussels, Italy, Greece) the EU Commission argued that since 2010 not only were there no cuts in Greece’s firefighting budget but on the contrary spending for the firefighters’ service actually increased. However, a simple fact-check of the official data tells a completely different story: From the outset of the Greek crisis until today

2108, 2018

The euro crisis is far from over: What the EU could have learned from Greece – but didn’t

August 21st, 2018|

Photograph: Theophilos Papadopoulos / Flickr. In the end, the ministers and commissioners spoke as if they were good Europeans again. "It’s done," confirmed Portugal’s Finance Minister Mario Centeno, currently chairman of the Eurogroup. "With our solidarity it was successful,” said his German colleague Olaf Scholz, and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker stated that "Europe should be proud of its common currency". But the staging was all bluff. In truth, there is nothing to celebrate.

404, 2018

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

April 4th, 2018|

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 [...]

1603, 2018

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

March 16th, 2018|

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 [...]

803, 2018

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

March 8th, 2018|

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 [...]

2602, 2018

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

February 26th, 2018|

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 [...]

602, 2018

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

February 6th, 2018|

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 [...]

1501, 2018

An unexpected change is sweeping through Angola

January 15th, 2018|

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 [...]

401, 2018

The overlooked past of the “next PM of Greece”

January 4th, 2018|

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 [...]

912, 2017

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

December 9th, 2017|

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* [...]

512, 2017

Investigate Europe Investigations prompts calls for Microsoft contracts scrutiny in France

December 5th, 2017|

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 [...]

2211, 2017

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

November 22nd, 2017|

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 [...]

211, 2017

A good chance to fight (PiS) propaganda in Poland

November 2nd, 2017|

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 [...]

1210, 2017

Italy, G7 member and third world country

October 12th, 2017|

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. [...]

1206, 2017

Emmanuel Macron and the German disease

June 12th, 2017|

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 [...]

1403, 2017

Martin Schulz – is he really an alternative to Angela Merkel?

March 14th, 2017|

BY HARALD SCHUMANN The SPD chancellor candidate is supposed to bring new momentum into German politics. But his actions as the president of the European Parliament raises doubts. Finally! Finally, one would like to shout, Germany’s Social Democrats are owning up to their responsibilities. With Martin Schulz, the new top man from Brussels, the SPD – for the first time in 13 years – has re-established itself as a [...]

303, 2017

How Portugal manages to square the circle

March 3rd, 2017|

BY PAULO PENA Portugal used to be the former poster child of the EU crisis countries. Now it has a new left government which opposes austerity – and became a role model for European socialists. How did this happen? There’s an old cartoon, by João Abel Manta: the Portuguese borders chalk-drawn on a black board in front of a crowd of curious students. Among many scholars that shaped [...]

702, 2017

Lessons learned: The challenges of coordinating a multinational team

February 7th, 2017|

BY INVESTIGATE EUROPE We, the reporters of Investigate Europe, recently published our first investigation. For it, we collaborated to interview over 200 experts, border guards, politicians, industrialists, and academics over the past months. Via the Global Investigate Journalists Network we gave a look behind-the-scenes of our transnational collaboration. Read the full text here. A new, dysfunctional border regime is being created in Europe. That is what we found out after months of [...]

712, 2016

Something rotten in the state of Poland

December 7th, 2016|

BY WOJCIECH CIESLA It was a tough assignment – to write an article disclosing political party conventions, falsely pretending to be climate conferences, were illegally paid for with EU money. It exposed that invoices for hundreds of thousands of euros were issued by the party’s friends and that the Polish minister of justice appeared to be at the heart of a fraud perpetrated against the European Parliament (EP). A Danish [...]

2411, 2016

The Italian Dilemma

November 24th, 2016|

BY MARIA MAGGIORE If I vote YES I will hand over democracy, the balance of power, our history to one single man and a few oligarchs. If I vote NO the country will not change, there will still be 945 members in Parliament – it’s the second biggest parliament in Europe with regard to the number of MPs after the UK (577 in France and 699 in Germany) [...]

1411, 2016

The king’s speech and the queen’s echo

November 14th, 2016|

BY INGEBORG ELIASSEN The governments of Denmark and Norway are competing in making their public the most timid in Europe. The debate of immigration becomes a question of  “identity” in contrast to “the others”. Norway is lagging a bit. We have King Harald. Margrethe has been queen of the Danes since 1972.  She just published a book which deals a lot with what it means to be Danish. [...]

3009, 2016

How Brussels is obstructing the prosecution of corruption cases in Greece

September 30th, 2016|

BY NIKOLAS LEOTOPOULOS From the Commission’s spokesperson to the president of Eurogroup himself, a crowd of EU officials have been trying to block Greek judges from doing their jobs. As for the new privatization fund, board members and experts, from top to bottom, can commit crimes as they please: By law, no judge can investigate them, no court can try them. For a good eight years now, politicians, pundits [...]

1109, 2016

The reporter who mistook his bias for success

September 11th, 2016|

BY PAULO PENA How one of the most influential German newspapers got many facts wrong in just one report. Thomas Urban, the Madrid-based Iberian correspondent of the German newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung, just wrote an article about the recent change in the “right track” that both Portugal’s and Spain’s reforms used to be on. His argument is simple: 1. The socialists created a problem in both countries’ economies. (Let’s leave that [...]

3008, 2016

Poles apart

August 30th, 2016|

BY WOJCIECH CIESLA Poles are against immigrants and don’t want them. Poland has never been a hospitable country for refugees. Today it slams the door shut for refugees and – in that way – turns away from Europe.from Warsaw.” Such generalisations are dangerous, because they come with misunderstanding and prejudice. Reluctance to refugees is not a Polish specialty. Unchecked and unconditional immigration and terrorist attacks add fuel to [...]

3008, 2016

How “Investigate Europe” came about

August 30th, 2016|

BY HARALD SCHUMANN It happened in Ballyhea, a small Irish village in the countryside on the way from Limerick to Cork, where my bias was challenged by a most unexpected encounter. Every Sunday morning, an old lady, probably in her 70s and around 100 other villagers were rallying against the bail-out of the creditors of Ireland’s bankrupt banks, which burdened the Irish state’s coffers with more than 60 [...]

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