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.

Romania drops demand to join Schengen

Romania has dropped its demand to be allowed join the Schengen open border countries in exchange for taking some asylum seekers from Italy and Greece.

They are not altogether happy with the idea still, but their prime minister, Victor Ponta, is unlikely to shout too loud at this week’s emergency summit to deal with the growing refugee crisis.

He is under something of a cloud having been charged with tax fraud and money laundering. He is not alone with 14 members of his government, either under investigation or in jail.

A member of the Socialist group, the centre-right European People’s Party were quick to call for his resignation though they did not mention anything about their most infamous prime minister, Hungary’s Viktor Orban who is breaking all kinds of EU and international treaties on his treatment of refugees.

Cheers for beer patents

The European Patent Office is based in Munich, so perhaps it is understandable that they have produced quite a remarkable amount of information on beer.

It’s nearly October and so beer fest time in Munich, where almost half a million litres are served per day. For starters beers are patented — otherwise everyone would know the recipe the maker uses.

But an amazing amount of innovation appears to have gone into everything else connected with beer drinking. There are between 15 and 25 patents relating to beer production.

For instance there are 1,813 European patents for beer taps, 422 patents on drinks-dispensing equipment, 74 on rinsing installations, and 64 on beer-garden type tables and benches.

The EPA reckons there are more than 2,000 European patents in every beer tent this Oktoberfest. Prost!

Papal push on climate change

Environment ministers spent the first day of their two-day meeting in Rome, meeting Pope Francis, whose call for climate change action took the issue to a higher level.

On day two in Brussels they came to an agreement to cut domestic emissions by 40% by 2030, with the sceptic, coal-loving Poles signing up.

Greenpeace, however, concluded they didn’t do enough and are bequething “to coming generations debris, desolation, and filth”.

The UN’s climate chief said the world needs to do more for December’s Paris climate summit to cap temperature increases to 2°C by 2100.BusinessEurope said the EU ambition went in the right direction but they needed to get out there and convince the rest of the world now.

Graphic images on booze in pregnancy

Lithuania wants women to know that drinking while pregnant can have dire results for the baby, and is thinking of using pictures to change behaviour, similar to anti-smoking ones.

Lithuania’s draft law says that from next November “each alcoholic drink item packaged for sale must be labelled with graphic warnings about the harm caused to pregnant women by alcohol”.

There were no details about the kind of graphic warnings but SpiritsEurope says that while they don’t believe pictograms on bottles are effective they should use those already in use, such as on almost all bottles in Britain and other countries including France.

Alzheimer’s Day is no joking matter

Today is World Alzheimer’s Day and the usually straitlaced UN issued a reminder using a sad, but ironic joke.

“They are not the only ones who forget”, said Rosa Kornfeld-Matte who is UN expert on human rights by older persons. The 47m citizens with dementia will double within 15 years but there is an enormous lack of knowledge about sufferers’ needs and rights, she warned.


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