Tag Archives: EU

Belgian MEP Phillippe Lamberts has told Sky News the UK Government has agreed to a “Special Situation For Ireland”

This morning/afternoon

According to two well-placed sources, the text that negotiators have been working on intensively over the past five days, spell out that the UK will agree that on either side of the border there would be no divergence on EU single market and customs union rules after Brexit.

This has long been the Irish Government’s preferred solution for avoiding a hard border.

The text says that the UK has agreed that the Good Friday Agreement will be protected.

All better

UK to make Brexit concessions over NI (RTÉ)

Britain Concedes (The Guardian)

RollingNews/Sky News

Dr Jessamyn Fairfield

Dr Jessamyn Fairfield is a lecturer in the School of Physics in NUI Galway director and compere of Bright Club in Ireland, the co-organiser of Soapbox Science Galway, and an established improviser and comedian.

Dr Fairfield writes:

I’m a physicist and a science communicator, and I’ve had a lot of unique experiences in my life as a result of those passions.

But I never expected to be detained at UK border control for three hours, and eventually denied entry and sent back to Ireland, just for doing science communication.

You see, although I have lived and worked in Ireland for the past six years, I have an American passport and no special privileges in any other part of Europe.

And I have been all over Europe as part of my job in Ireland: to attend research conferences, be hosted as a visiting researcher in another lab, speak on panels, and give public lectures and science comedy performances as to engage the public with science.

I came to Europe as a postdoctoral researcher and am now a lecturer at NUI Galway, running my own research lab and a plethora of public engagement events.

Mobility is a critical issue for physicists. We may need to travel for a conference, to visit collaborators, or even to move abroad to start a new career stage

But when I showed up in Cardiff to do a science comedy show as part of a festival, I was stopped at the border. I was not going to be paid for my performance, and had paid for my own travel out of pocket.

However the border agents considered the festival ticket and parking pass that I had received (for an event I was to speak at) as a form of payment in kind.

This is equivalent to saying that invited speakers at a conference are paid if their conference registration is covered, and nothing I (or the festival organisers who were phoned) could say convinced them otherwise.

Throughout this process I was left alone for long stretches, told not to use my phone, and all my travel documents (from both the US and Ireland) were taken off me. It’s a process that is designed to make you feel powerless, and it works.  Finally I was fingerprinted and photographed, served with refusal paperwork, and sent back to Ireland.

There is now a black mark in my passport indicating I was refused entry to the UK.

This is especially ironic given my next planned trip to the UK will be to collect the IOP’s Mary Somerville Prize – a significant public engagement award that I am honoured to receive for my efforts to communicate science to the public.

And yet apparently I am not allowed to do public engagement activities, not just for free but at my own expense, in the UK.

Mobility is a critical issue for physicists. We may need to travel for a conference, to visit collaborators, or even to move abroad to start a new career stage.

Recent political developments such as Brexit and the travel ban in the US have been rightly criticised by researchers around the world for failing to account for how necessary the free movement of people is to science today.

Early-career researchers who can’t obtain travel visas easily are at a heavy career disadvantage. This is why mobility was a core issue of the recent March for Science.

To me, this is also indicative of how toxic our conversations about immigration in general have become. The border patrol officers I dealt with were as kind as they could be to me, but they were tasked with enforcing a system where all immigration is considered negative. Never mind that immigrants are often young, hard-working, and full of ambition.

Never mind that immigrants drive social change, spark innovation, bring new perspectives, and in fact draw less on social safety nets than citizens do (both because of their demographics and often because they aren’t allowed to).

Never mind that in science, many researchers move internationally, often multiple times, and in fact a huge number of Nobel Laureates are immigrants themselves.

The narrative we hear about immigration often seems to have a Schrödinger’s Cat quality to it: immigrants as lazy welfare cheats, who are also stealing our jobs.

We should respect just how much immigrants contribute, scientifically and otherwise, to the countries they have chosen to call home.

I hate that this disrespect starts at a very early stage: the recent story of the Afghan girls’ robotics team who were initially denied entry to the US for a robotics competition is heartbreaking. I was glad to see the decision reversed, as setbacks to girls in science and engineering are plentiful enough already.

I’m an immigrant, a physicist, and a science communicator, and I’m working hard to make the world a better place. Ireland has been welcoming, for me at least, so I’m doing a lot of that work here.

But if other countries want talented young people to come enrich their societies, they should actually make that possible. Otherwise we’ll go somewhere else.

Science shouldn’t stop at the border (Dr Jessamyn Fairfield, Institute of Physics blog)

Thanks Neil Curran

Nat King Coleslaw writes:

So LEAVE.EU calls him an “Irish Diplomat” when, according to Aidan, he’s the “ex Irish Ambassador to Canada and is not currently involved in any govt department, civil service or political group”

So (as Carol Cadwalladr suggests) who’s bankrolling him to get “Irexit” moving?


Ex-ambassador Roy Bassett on Ireland’s links to UK and EU (BBC)


No return.

Liam writes:

Northern driver (spotted in Dublin today) fudging the whole nationality thing by having EU instead of GB on the number plate. May not be Brexit-proof…



That low.

A new Structure of Earnings Survey by Eurostat finds:

The proportion of low-wage earners among employees amounted to 17.2% in 2014 in the European Union (EU). This means that they earned two-thirds or less of their national median gross hourly earnings.

The proportion of low-wage earners continued to vary significantly between Member States in 2014. The highest percentages were observed in Latvia (25.5%), Romania (24.4%), Lithuania (24.0%) and Poland (23.6%), followed by Estonia (22.8%), Germany (22.5%), Ireland (21.6%) and the United Kingdom (21.3%). In contrast, less than 10% of employees were low wage earners in Sweden (2.6%), Belgium (3.8%), Finland (5.3%), Denmark (8.6%), France (8.8%) and Italy (9.4%).

Read the report in full here


From the Health at a Glance: Europe 2016 – State of Health in the EU Cycle report.

EC Rep Ireland tweetz:

Irish teenagers almost at the top of the class for daily consumption of fruit and veg…

Take that, Dr Eva


Read the report in full here

Thanks Fact Checker



Bray Refugee Solidarity Group writes:

Children as young as six are travelling alone in Europe. They have fled war and famine, witnessed the bloody murder of family and friends.

Yet 10,000 of these children are currently missing in Europe – many trafficked into sex slavery and other forms of exploitation. Tens of thousands more are at risk of a similar fate.

We demand that the EU takes immediate action to protect this most vulnerable group of people.

By signing our petition [below], you are putting pressure on the EU to take immediate action to ensure that unaccompanied and separated children are guaranteed safety and protection for their basic rights.

You are demanding that they receive access to basic nutrition, health care, education and legal assistance.

You are imploring the EU states to treat cases of missing unaccompanied and separated refugee and migrant children with the urgency and seriousness they would any other child.

You are refusing to look the other way, while this ethically indefensible human rights breach of the most vulnerable people on the continent takes place.

Read the detailed petition and its demands here

10,000 Missing Children (Facebook)

Thanks Caroline Reid



Deutsche Bank AG is the riskiest financial institution in the world as a potential source of external shocks to the financial system, according to the International Monetary Fund.

“Among the G-SIBs (globally systemically important banks), Deutsche Bank appears to be the most important net contributor to systemic risks, followed by HSBC and Credit Suisse,” the IMF said in its Financial Sector Assessment Program. The IMF also said the German banking system poses a higher degree of possible outward contagion compared with the risks it poses internally…

Deutsche Bank Poses Greatest Risk to Financial System, IMF Says — 2nd Update (Nasdaq)

Thanks Nelly Bergman

Screen Shot 2016-06-27 at 00.56.53


Update: El Photoshop!



European Central bank president Mario Draghi at Dublin Castle, June 2013

The far right are leaving.

And the left should  join them.

Nigel Wilmott, letters editor of The Guardian, writes:

Tomorrow despite a wobble over the horrible killing of Jo Cox and Ukip’s appalling poster, I shall be voting to leave the EU – the same way I voted in the 1975 referendum.

However, there is no straight line from one to the other. I have been for many years a strong supporter of the EU and am slightly surprised to be making this choice.

But an EU that is now based on mass unemployment and mass migration is not one worth supporting.

Of course Ukip plays the race card. But I’m still voting for Brexit

Official unemployment is 9% across the union and over 10% in the euro area. And those figures are flattered by unemployment rates of just over 4% in the EU’s biggest country, Germany, and the UK’s rather dubious 5%, which excludes the millions on zero-hours, part-time and temporary contracts.

In Greece, 24% are unemployed and 20% in Spain.

Youth unemployment (under-25s) is 51% in Greece, 45% in Spain, around 40% in Croatia and Italy, and over 30% in Portugal, with an average of 19% across the EU.

The only response in an austerity-bound EU is migration. It was somewhat odd to hear Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the party of which I am a member, explaining this matter-of-factly and with obvious approval, given the overtones of Norman Tebbit’s “on yer bike”.

And it needs to be remembered that this is not a temporary phenomenon at the bottom of an economic cycle.

This has been the situation more or less since the financial crash in 2008. If anything, we are probably near the top of a cycle with a downturn more likely than a new burst of economic growth.

Apart from the obvious impacts of unemployment on those immediately affected – poverty, lack of status and sense of worth – it keeps down wages generally for those sectors of the labour market affected.

It is this widespread sense of insecurity and fear that drives the growing rightwing populism across the continent, just as it did in the 1930s

Remain and reform is wishful thinking – the left should vote leave (Nigel Wilmot, Guardian)