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Returning to Europe’s news of the week, the withdrawal of a European directive on financial transparency has been causing some controversy
Indeed Leo - after the "Panama Papers" scandal of 2018, the European Union had allowed more civilian inspections of companies' financial actions, which led to the discovery of a number of fraud and money laundering cases. However, on the 22nd of November, the European Court of Justice invalidated the directive that had previously allowed these investigations to take place.
What does this mean for the EU in its fight against financial fraud?
Well, Leo, the financial regulators in each European Member State will of course be able to continue their assessments. It remains to be seen whether this will be sufficient at a time when financial corruption is at an all-time high and bears great strategic importance given the current financial sanctions against Russia.
Speaking of geopolitics, there are ongoing discussions about the importance of space, right?
Indeed, Leo, it seems that we are experiencing the rebirth of a sort of Cold War-style "space race" this week the European Space Agency appointed its new team of astronauts, including Frenchwoman Sophie Adenot, the first female helicopter test pilot and John McFall, the first disabled astronaut.
Could you explain to us why these ventures into space are important for us here in Europe?
It is important to understand that the rationale behind this new enthusiasm for space is twofold. Firstly, there are strategic imperatives in terms of communication technologies and visualisation tools, the importance of which have been made apparent by the war in Ukraine. But beyond these imperatives, the strengthening of Europe's presence in space will force all European industries connected to this field to accelerate their technological innovation and production processes: one could say that it is by aiming for the stars that Europe will be able to ensure its strategic autonomy and limit its dependence on the United States and China.
And finally, we’ve talked a lot recently about the developments in the Franco-German relationship - any news this week?
Yes Leo, but this time this newfound cooperation is rooted in environmental concerns, specifically energy! Despite last month's disagreements, France and Germany proposed this week a compromise on hydrogen production that could have major consequences for the European Union.
Can you give us a little more information about this deal?
Absolutely - as our listeners may already know, France and Germany have been at odds over the role of nuclear power in decarbonisation for many years. The subject is resurfacing now that hydrogen is emerging as the best option for the path to decarbonisation. However, in somewhat of a plot twist, Olaf Scholz and Elisabeth Borne said they would support the Czech Presidency of the EU Council in its choice to let each Member States decide freely on the technologies that they will use for hydrogen production. All low-carbon hydrogen production processes will get the green light, including those using nuclear-based technologies : as such, the German Chancellor is doing France a big favour.
Thank you Leo and thank you to our listeners, please do not hesitate to visit EuropaNova's website to learn more about the topics discussed this week in our weekly newsletter: Europe Info Hebdo. See you next week!
Euan Walker, Leo Gianni
French version right here
Picture : Announcement of ESA Astronaut Class of 2022 © ESA - P. Sebirot