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.

MEPs tackle ‘blood metals’ issue

The ring on your finger, the fork in your hand, your laptop or mobile phone could have blood on it, if the metals have been bought from those who use the money to buy weapons such as in the DR Congo and Colombia.

Marian Harkin, Independent MEP, was one of those who voted to force businesses to make sure their purchases of these metals are not fuelling wars.

Now the MEPs and the EU states will negotiate on any issues they do not agree, and Ms Harkin has called on Taoiseach Enda Kenny to make sure Ireland backs the parliament’s position.

Amnesty International praised the MEPs for strengthening the original proposal but Business Europe, which represents business EU-wide, said it was deeply disappointed by the result.

It say it will cost businesses to comply and will prove to be unenforceable.

Funding ‘spent in violation of rights’

Some EU funds are being used in ways that violate basic human rights, European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly found when investigating how €350bn six-year structural funds were used.

A segregated neighbourhood for Roma; discrimination against women’s groups; job creation programmes for women; and institutions for those with disabilities instead of community-based services, were some of the ways member states spent EU money designed to create jobs, reduce poverty, and tackle social exclusion.

Ms O’Reilly made eight proposals to the Commission, including more frequent and thorough on-the-spot inspections; an online site where people can report fund abuses and violations of fundamental rights; strictly apply sanctions to countries that breach the rules; ensure national redress systems work; and provide training on fundamental rights.

Opposition to trade deal plan


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