ANN CAHILL: Brussels Briefing: A weekly round-up of the most interesting news from Europe

Get a taste of some of the interesting and quirky happenings in Europe from our Europe correspondent, Ann Cahill.
ANN CAHILL: Brussels Briefing: A weekly round-up of the most interesting news from Europe

Conference to discuss fisheries issue

Fishermen are at the mercy of the sea, the weather, the fish and the EU common agriculture policy. Their income can fluctuate wildly and their livelihoods are anything but stable. Liadh Ní Riada, Sinn Féin MEP on the European Parliament’s fisheries committee, hosts a conference in Dungarvan next Saturday to address this.She and the left-learning GUE group in the parliament want to have a pilot project on creating a public insurance system for the sector that would help when incomes are cut because of natural disasters or cuts in their quota when fish species are in danger.hare of quota and fishing illegally.

She hopes this will be “the first step in rejuvenating a sector that has been neglected by governments”.

Hungary happy at summit outcome

Getting agreement from EU leaders was not difficult at their migration summit — they were happy to decide securing the borders was priority.Hungary’s Victor Orban seemed content, saying very little at the meeting — doubtless because they had come around to his way of thinking. The idea of having a permanent asylum mechanism, however, to deal with such crises, has receded into the backgroundInstead they are happy to rely on Turkey to keep the millions of Syrians in exchange for money and aid — all of which has been flowing to Turkey for some time now.The next step they will have to take is to agree Turkey is a safe country to automatically send potential asylum seekers back to. Some countries will have problems with this given Turkish attacks on the Kurds. But it’s essential for the plan to work.

Coding ‘not just for geeks’

Computer coding is not just for geeks, the EU is insisting. It’s a basic skill like reading or writing, without which people will have a hard time finding a job in the future.Ireland is one of 15 countries to have integrated coding into their school curriculum, they say. And with good reason, as in five years’ time Europe will have a shortage of 800,000 people with computing skills.

Bulk of drug testing done on males

Testing of potential new drugs is done predominantly on males, both in human and animal trials, despite the fact that half the human race is female with significantly different make-up to males, including hormonal.Independent MEP Nessa Childers asked Guido Rasi what could be done about this.He was being questioned by members of the Parliament because he wants to be reappointed as head of the European Medicines Board.She also noted that there is a huge increase in the number of women dying from heart problems and suffering different symptoms than the widely publicised symptoms for menHe said he hoped that the advent of personalised medicine would help medicines to be better suited to the individual, including their gender, and age was also an important factor.

Irish favour quota on refugees

So who’s afraid of refugees? Not the Irish people apparently who feel quite charitable towards those fleeing conflict. It seems that Francis Fitzgerald, justice minister, was in tune with the public when she decided to take a more generous number of refugees than many other EU countries. Mairéad McGuinness, MEP, points out that a European Parliament survey shows three quarters of people both in Ireland and the EU favour binding quotas — that every country takes a share. MEP Deirdre Clune says the sensible thing would be to allow the refugees to work to help them integrate and to contribute to the economy. “We now have an opportunity to do the right thing, but also to do what makes economic sense”, she says.

Clooney takes on the Turkish state

Can you be prosecuted for denying the 1915 massacre of Armenians in Turkey was a genocide?The European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg decided a Turkish legal academic should not have been prosecuted for denying it, because he was entitled to freedom of speech. Amal Clooney — the human rights lawyer, formerly Alamuddin, married to George — appearing for Armenia in the case said they hoped Turkey could take on board the ruling on the right to freedom of speech, and stop prosecuting journalists and others for their opinions on the basis that they insulted Turkishness.

Hogan pushes green message at expo

Agriculture Commissioner Phil Hogan spent a few busy days in Milan at the expo that, not unsurprising given that it was in Italy, focused on food and especially sustainably feeding the planet.The Irish pavilion was modest compared to many others and concentrated on explaining what our ever-green country produced — with nice pictures of the Atlantic Way thrown in.The EU had its own pavilion and ran a conference on the challenge of increasing food production by 60% to feed 9.2bn people in 2050. The Union is investing almost €4bn into research on food security and sustainability.

New €20 note to beat counterfeiters

New €20 banknotes will be released on November 25. They have the architectural features of the old one but with additional security elements.It has a hologram that when held against the light shows a portrait of ‘Europa’, the lady from Greek mythology who is also in the watermark.These features should make it more difficult to forge — currently half the 450,000 counterfeit notes discovered in the first six months of 2015 have been €20 notes. There is more than 17bn notes in circulation.Like the new €5 and €10 notes it is printed on cotton paper rather than a type of plastic used by some currencies, because, the ECB says, “Europeans prefer the traditional feel of paper money”.

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