ANN CAHILL: Brussels briefing

High bullying suicide toll

KELLY FORUM: More than 1,700 young Europeans are at risk of death by suicide this year as a result of bullying and cyber-bullying, according to research in Britain by Beat Bullying UK.

South MEP Sean Kelly is hosting a national cyber bullying forum in Limerick in September to raise awareness and inspire action to prevent this awful plague.

He is campaigning for an EU-wide campaign involving those in education, government and commercial and youth sectors to get to grips with the problem, and to educate young people to resist such pressures.

He would also like to see is an EU Anti-Bullying Day.

EU announces €40m fisheries deal

European Fisheries Commissioner Maria Damanki announced a deal to pay Morocco €40m a year for access to their rich fisheries and Irish fishermen are among those due to benefit.

However, these fisheries belong to the Saharawi, recognised by the UN as one of the world’s last remaining major non-self-governing territories and one of the last colonised peoples. No country recognises Morocco’s right to occupy it, using its rich mineral deposits and fisheries while most of its estimated one million people live in refugee camps.

The UN has been trying for 22 years to organise a referendum to decide its fate.

Hells Angels detained in Mallorca raids

Spanish police arrested 25 Hells Angels involved in the recently opened new club on Mallorca following 31 house searches, reports Europol who add the gang used extreme violence and intimidation.

This new club, under the protection of Hells Angels in Germany and Luxembourg are suspected of being involved in trafficking of human beings and drugs and extortion, money laundering and corruption.

Cars, bikes, cash, firearms, computers, phones and electronic devices were seized following the two and a half year investigation between Spanish, German, Dutch, Austrian and Luxembourg police.

Hells Angels, with its distinctive deaths head logo, is considered a crime syndicate by the US Department of Justice.

Czech centre of Rhino horn trade

Four years ago four white rhino born in Prague zoo were transferred to Kenya in an attempt to help prevent the extinction of this creature.

But now the Czech Republic has become the centre of a worldwide trade in illegal Rhino horn and 24 horns worth around €4m were seized and 16 suspects arrested.

The horn is sold in Asia where traditional Chinese medicine believes it has life-saving properties in cases of fevers and convulsions — despite its chemical property of keratin being the same as in fingernails and hair.

The International Fund for Animal Welfare said 10% of the rhino population has been poached in the past five years as part of a massive global wildlife trafficking racket worth up to €26bn a year.

Decline of butterfly

Butterflies are mostly thought of as romantic, pretty creatures that decorate that perfect summer day. But in fact they not only have an important role to play in nature, but are an indicator of how things are generally in our environment.

A study carried out for over more than 20 years shows that the numbers of the creatures in European grassland have declined by close to 50%, which suggests that all is not well with other insects that make up about two thirds of the world’s species.

Eight of the 17 species have declined, as their natural habitat is under threat. This is because grassland generally has decreased while modern grassland tends to be intensively cultivated often with pesticides and which are almost sterile for biodiversity.

Grassland in low productivity areas like hillsides are being abandoned and overgrown with shrubs, leaving butterflies trying to survive on road verges, railway sidings and nature reserves. The common agriculture policy may offer too little too late according to the study.

Heated exchanges over solar panels

The European Commission said it has ended its trade war against China over the country flooding the EU market with €21 billion worth of below-cost solar panels last year.

About 15,000 solar panel manufacturing jobs were lost in the EU, hitting Germany particularly badly, with an estimated 20% of jobs disappearing.

But German chancellor Angela Merkel, pictured, came out in favour of the Chinese.

EU ProSun, representing the industry, is furious over the hastily-reached truce, accusing the Commission of breaking trade rules, and it plans to sue.

Reminder to renew EU insurance card

A European Health Insurance Card is one of the perks of Ireland being a member of the EU — but not everyone realises that the blue card needs to be renewed every four years.

While you won’t be refused medical services in another EU country even if you have an out of date card, you might be asked to pay up front for the full amount and have to claim it back later.

So, MEP Jim Higgins is warning people to remember to check out their card and have it renewed before going abroad.

However, it can take time to get a new one and you may have to get a temporary cert instead.

The details are available at


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