Brussels Letter – Brussels – April 5th
Brussels' Zaventem airport partially reopened on Sunday amid tightened security measures in the wake of last month’s deadly suicide attacks. The airport has remained closed to regularly scheduled passenger flights since March 22, when suicide bombings there and at a local metro station killed over 30 people and injured hundreds more. Scheduled flights to Athens, Turin, Italy, and Faro, Portugal restarted. As part of security measures, police are checking every vehicle entering the airport. Also, only ticket-holder passengers are allowed into the areas for ticket control and baggage drop-off and at waiting rooms. Brussels Airport CEO Arnaud Feist said on Saturday that the airport is expected to operate at full capacity again by the end of June or the beginning of July.
A tent erected by the terrorist organization PKK, which was placed behind the EU Council's Headquarters at Jean Rey Square in Brussels, was removed after the Belgian authority's permission date expired. Although the PKK is recognized as a terrorist organization by the United States, the European Union (EU) and several other countries around the world, Belgian authorities gave permission to place the PKK's tent. The PKK has staged various terrorist attacks on civilians over 30 years in Turkey and in other countries.
- Echoes of “Panama Papers” in EU
EU started this week with the release of the “Panama Papers,” in media outlets. The papers claim that Micaela Domecq Solis-Beaumont; the wife of the energy and climate action commissioner, Miguel Arias Canete, benefited from EU agricultural subsidies.
- EU-Turkey readmission process begins
EU Heads of State and Turkey agreed to end the irregular migration from Turkey to the EU and replace it instead with legal channels for resettlement of refugees to the European Union. The agreement took effect as of March 20, 2016. April 4, 2016 was set as the target date for the start of the operation to return and resettle refugees arriving in Greece after March 20. Monday, April 4 saw the start of two processes: the return of refugees from the Greek islands to Turkey while sending a message of the dangers in taking this route; and the first resettlement of Syrian refugees from Turkey to Europe.
- Labor costs in EU
In 2015, the average hourly labor costs in the European economy were estimated to be €25 in the European Union and €29.5 in the euro area. However, this average masks significant gaps between EU member states, with the lowest hourly labor costs recorded in Bulgaria (€4.1), Romania (€5.0), Lithuania (€6.8), Latvia (€7.1) and Hungary (€7.5), and the highest in Denmark (€41.3), Belgium (€39.1), Sweden (€37.4), Luxembourg (€36.2) and France (€35.1).
- EU adds 3 Libyans to sanction list
The European Council added three names to the list of people subject to EU restrictive measures against Libya. Agila Saleh, president of the Libyan Council of Deputies in the House of Representatives; Khalifa Ghweil, prime minister and defense minister of the internationally unrecognized General National Congress; and Nuri Abu Sahmain, president of the internationally unrecognized General National Congress, are viewed as obstructing the implementation of the Libyan Political Agreement of Dec. 17, 2015 and of blocking the formation of a Government of National Accord in Libya.