Tag: EU

Latest Gran Canaria News, Views & Sunshine

Foundation Investigated for Alleged Mismanagement of Public Funds Meant for Care of Unaccompanied Migrant Minors

The 7th Investigative Court of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has opened a preliminary investigation into the Social Response Foundation Siglo XXI and four of its directors. The Anti-Corruption Prosecutor’s Office in Las Palmas filed a complaint against them, alleging crimes that could include forgery of commercial documents, mismanagement, and embezzlement of public funds. The investigation aims to determine whether this nonprofit organisation, and its officials, could have misused public funds intended for the care of unaccompanied migrant minors, during the migration crisis of 2020 that was precipitated by the pandemic confinement on the islands, leading to a build up of arrivals having to be assessed and cared for by the Canary Islands Regional Government, using hotels left empty due to the lack of tourism. The estimated amount involved in the alleged misuse stands at around €12.5 million between 2020 and 2022 on Gran Canaria alone.


Canary Islands Expect Rain and Potential Storm Weather Next Week

The Canary Islands are preparing for a change in the weather next week, as a significant increase in cloud is expected bringing higher probability of rain. The effects of a powerful storm forming in the Atlantic Ocean are likely to extend to the Canary Islands as well as neighbouring Madeira and The Azores.


The Canary Guide #WeekendTips 2-4 June 2023

June is here and that means that summer is just around the corner. The Patron Saints’ festivities in honour of San Juan de Bautista and San Antonio de Padua are just getting started on Gran Canaria, and in Pueblo de Mogán the main Romería pilgrimage for San Antonio El Chico is this first Saturday of June, as well as the start of the build up to those in Arucas, Santa Brígida and Moya. This weekend also brings the biggest outlet fair shopping experience back to INFECAR and a collectables fair in Gáldar.
OPERATION KILO is this weekend, at all participating supermarkets, asking you to add a few non-perishable food items to the Food Bank collection boxes to help families in need.

Vox Enters Canarian Politics, Stage Right: Anti-Migrant, Anti-Feminist, Anti-Green, Anti-Autonomy, Anti-LGBT, Anti-Multiculturalism, Pro-Franco politics find a foothold on The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands were unable to avoid the rise of the far right on Sunday, unlike in 2019, writes Natalia G. Vargas in Canarias Ahora. Vox, which previously had no representation on the islands, managed to make its presence felt in several municipalities and councils this May 28. They also secured seats in the Canary Islands’ regional parliament, securing four deputies. “Defending what is ours, our own, and fighting against insecurity” were the slogans that underpinned Vox’s campaign in The Canary Islands, along with “family, employment, and freedom.” This rhetoric, coupled with an electoral program that was repeated across all local elections in Spain, proved sufficient. Dozens of cities and towns on the islands welcomed their first far right candidates of the modern democratic era into Canarian politics, with urban areas serving as their main strongholds.

La Alcaldesa Bueno Secures Incredible Majority in Mogán

Mogán, May 29, 2023 – The often controversial incumbent, O Bueno, La Alcaldesa, has achieved an unprecedented and resounding victory once more in Mogán. The candidate who switched her party’s name, for these elections, to “Juntos por Mogán”, a local ally of the regionalist conservatives “Coalición Canaria” (CC), will once again assume the role of mayor. Her party has clinched a rather noteworthy 17 out of the 21 seats in the Municipal Council of this popular tourism destination located on the sunny southwest of Gran Canaria.


European Commission “strongly discourage” non-essential travel, and call for new greatest risk category

The European Commission this Monday has asked the EU27 to take further measures to “strongly discourage” travel both within member states and between them, as well as to and from outside “third countries”, to try to contain the new variants of coronavirus found in the UK, South Africa and Brazil, calling for a new category to be created, coloured “dark red”, to identify areas of greatest risk that show more than 500 new infections per 100,000 population over a 14 day sample.


“The first recommendation is not to travel,” said the Interior Commissioner, Swedish socialist Ylva Johansson, at the press conference in Brussels to present details of the proposal that, in general terms, had already been put forward by the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen (pictured), last Thursday after the meeting with EU Heads of State and Government.
With the help of a mockup graphic, shown in the same appearance by the Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, should a fourth colour be incorporated into the risk classifications from the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), there would already be a dozen countries that would have some part of their territory tinted dark red, including the entirety of Spain based on its current 14-day Average Incidence of 804/100k population.

Despite Spain’s average data per population, were the ECDC recommendations more detailed on a regional level The Canary Islands archipelago could in theory be excluded as a whole ( standing at an average 189.1/100k), although Lanzarote could not be left out of the Spanish figure (currently just short of 800/100k).
For the latest Canary Islands COVID-19 data, updated daily, visit our page for mobile here, or for more feature rich content on desktop devices you can check here.

Brussels, does not control competences in health matters for the EU nor border management, but this Monday began negotiations at a technical level with the member states to achieve “as soon as possible” a consensus that the EU27 can commit to and follow, although national authorities continue to have the last word when choosing to apply the recommendations, or not.
The EU believes that unnecessary journeys “should not occur at all” to or from regions that exceed a threshold of 500 infections per 100,000 over fourteen days, according to the commissioner, and recommends that people who do travel on trips considered “essential” should be subjected to a PCR test before departure, and adhere to a strict fourteen-day quarantine upon arrival at their destination.
The recommendations of the European Commission follow one published last week by the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC), which urged the countries of the European Union to strengthen measures to discourage all “non-essential” travel.
However, the Commission insists that it believes the closure of borders within the European Union is not an effective solution against the virus, but rather that an approach that adapts restrictive measures to the epidemiological situation of each region, regardless of where borders are present, and so they called for the free movement of essential and cross-border goods and workers to be maintained smoothly.
Following the recommendations of the ECDC, Brussels asks member states to “maintain or reinforce” severe measures such as the principle of staying at home and the temporary closure of businesses in places where the risk of infection can be considered to be very high, although the also stressed that it is essential for tracing and testing to improve pandemic control and the sequencing of new cases.
The Commission also took advantage of this recommendation announcement to insist on the need for a common passenger form, an initiative that Brussels hoped would be underway throughout the EU at the end of last year but is still under development due to legal complications involved in requiring travellers to provide certain types of personal data that could later be shared with the rest of the member states.


The Canary News

Europe now recommends no systematic testing or mandatory quarantines on travellers

The European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have this Wednesday requested that no systematic testing or mandatory quarantines be imposed on travellers who travel between member states, saying that the risk of contagion between airline passengers is “much smaller” than among the general population, but has demanded clear and precise information for tourists about the situation at their destinations.
You can download their full report here


European experts argue that in the current epidemiological situation the number of imported cases represents “a very low proportion” and they see that the general contagion rates would significantly increase as being “unlikely”.
“The prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 in travellers is estimated likely to be lower than the prevalence in the general population or among contacts of confirmed cases.” the document states, adding that though the recommendations are not binding on member states, it is supported by the European Commission.
In the opinion of the ECDC experts and EASA, no systematic testing should be enforced but instead measures designed to combat the pandemic in the travel sector should focus more on offering tourists extensive information on the epidemiological situation at their destinations and on the measures implemented in practice at airports and on airplanes to avoid contagion.
European Commissioner for Health, Stella Kyriakides
The Health Commissioner, Stella Kyriakides, said at a press conference after the meeting by videoconference with the EU 27 that the risk of coronavirus “is not the trip itself”, but the containment measures in the places of origin and destination,  insisting on governments being aware of “the risk of relaxing confinement measures too quickly.”
In any case, the European recommendations now ask member states to understand that “travellers not be considered a risk population or treated as if they had been in contact” with a coronavirus patient, unless they are aware of having been in contact with an infected person.


Coronavirus: European Commission recommends rapid antigen tests and support to increase testing capacity

Today, the European Commission adopted a recommendation on the use of rapid antigen tests for the diagnosis of COVID-19. This follows the Commission’s recommendation on 28 October to ensure a common approach and more efficient testing strategies across the EU. It builds on the guidance developed with Member States input and expert advice from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

Here is the complete text of Wednesday’s historic Commission Recommendation of 18.11.2020 on the use of rapid antigen tests for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection which EU leaders will be asked to agree at their meeting on Thursday


Mr Charles MICHEL, President of the European Council. Video conference with EU leaders© European Union
The recommendation provides guidance on how to select rapid antigen tests, when they are appropriate and who should perform them. It also calls for validation and mutual recognition of tests and their results. This comes ahead of the European Leaders’ virtual meeting on 19 November on the EU response to the COVID-19 pandemic, following the 29 October European Council, where it was agreed to coordinate more on testing methods.
The Commission has also signed an agreement with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) contributing €35.5 million, financed by the Emergency Support Instrument (ESI), to scale up COVID-19 testing capacity in the EU. The funding will be used to support training of staff for sampling collection and analysis and performance of tests, especially via mobile equipment.
Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner for Health and Food safety said: “Testing tells us what the extent of the spread is, where it is, and how it develops. It is a decisive tool to slow down the spread of COVID-19. To increase EU coordination on testing methods, we are today providing guidance to Member States on the use of rapid antigen test to better manage COVID-19 outbreaks. Being efficient on testing also requires having the necessary resources, which is why we are also today stepping up our support to increase Member States testing capacity. Support and solidarity is key to overcome this pandemic.”
Today’s recommendation provides guidance to Member States on the use of rapid antigen tests to detect the virus in specific settings. These include situations where a fast identification of infected individuals supports the management of outbreaks and regular monitoring of high risk groups, such as medical personal or in nursing homes for elderly. Member States are encouraged to conduct rapid antigen tests in addition to RT-PCR tests to contain the spread of the virus, detect infections and limit isolation and quarantine measures.
Mutual recognition of test results is of utmost importance in order to facilitate cross border movement, cross border contact tracing and treatment. Member States are strongly encouraged to mutually recognise the test results for rapid antigen tests meeting the criteria in the recommendation carried out by authorised operating testing facilities in any EU Member States. Compliance with the recommendation may then contribute to the free movement of people and the smooth functioning of the internal market in times of limited testing capacities.
Scientific and technical developments continue to evolve, offering new insights on the characteristics of the virus and the possibilities for using different methodologies and approaches for COVID-19 diagnosis. The Commission therefore remains ready to further update the recommendation on the use of tests accordingly.
To further enhance testing capacities in the EU, the Commission is funding €35.5 million to the IFRC to support training of staff and enable Red Cross Mobile Testing Teams to have access to the necessary equipment, lab items and reagents to take samples and perform tests, and support national authorities in their work.
The collaboration with the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies is open to the EU Member States and the UK, through the national Red Cross Society. Seven Member states have decided to participate: Austria, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal and Spain.


The Canary News

EU recommend Rapid Antigen Tests for travel, President Torres celebrates “the safe reactivation of mobility and tourism in the Canary Islands”

The European Commission on Wednesday announced that they are approving rapid antigen tests for travel as a way to avoid severe restrictions that limit freedom of movement between European countries. They recommend that all EU states validate the tests which could be the key to restoring mobility throughout the European Union and help put an end to blanket quarantines.


The President of the Canary Islands Government, Ángel Víctor Torres, commented yesterday, on his Twitter profile, that the new decision in Brussels now aligns well with what the Canary Islands have been demanding for months and favours the entire tourism industry – airlines, tour operators and tourism entrepreneurs. “The European Commission recommends that member states recognize rapid antigen tests to facilitate cross-border tracing and control. We are happy, this was our proposal and it allows the safe reactivation of mobility and tourism in the Canary Islands” Torres said on Twitter.

La @ComisionEuropea recomienda a los Estados miembros reconocer las pruebas rápidas de antígenos para facilitar el rastreo y control transfronterizo. Nos alegra, pues es nuestra propuesta y permite una reactivación segura en #Canarias de la movilidad y el turismo. https://t.co/S05dJUzPcO
— Ángel Víctor Torres (@avtorresp) November 18, 2020

The Canary Islands Government has already validated both PCR and the antigen tests for tourists, before being allowed to stay at tourist accommodation on the islands. However, Spain were adamant, in a separate decision, that they would only accept the more expensive PCRs for entry from countries deemed to be of high-risk. The new law, published in the State Gazette (BOE) last week, stipulated that as of Monday November 23 all travelers entering Spain from high risk areas (more than 150 cases per 100,000 inhabitants) will need to present a negative PCR result beforehand, or could be fined up to €6,000. This became highly problematic as access to these tests in Europe is quite limited, costs significantly more and they require up to 48 hours for the results.

Tourist associations and businesses warned that “without antigen testing” there would be no tourism in the archipelago this winter
When it was announced that Spain was going to request mandatory PCR test results to enter the country, tourist reservations across Europe for the Canary Islands stopped. The situation has led the entire tourism industry to demand antigen testing also be accepted. Otherwise, they said, the plan to reactivate tourism in December for the Canary Islands could not take place.

Canary Islands President, Ángel Víctor Torres, said he was confident yesterday, in a meeting held with the president of the Circle of Entrepreneurs and Professionals of the South of Tenerife (CEST), Roberto Ucelay, that antigen tests will be acceptable in the Canary Islands, with a full guarantee.
During the meeting Torres pointed out that the Canarian Regional Executive continues to work in collaboration with the Spanish State to achieve harmonisation of the tests, and for the State to accept the antigen tests for travel to the islands. The Canary Islands now have the support of the European Commission for these tests. In support of the Canary Islands position is the Government of Spain’s own stipulation that, although they had only approved negative PCR results as evidence for entry to the country, anyone who arrived without it would have had to have an antigen test carried out at the airport. “If it is not valid to enter Spain, it should not serve as a substitute”, sources close to the Government had said.
The Las Palmas Federation of Hospitality and Tourism Entrepreneurs (FEHT), chaired by José María Mañaricúa, yesterday demanded urgent regulatory changes to the state regulations, warning that, if the Spanish Government does not validate the antigen tests, “the winter season in the Canary Islands is put at risk.”


The Canary News

EC president Juncker cancels visit to the Canary Islands to try to close UKs Brexit negotiations

The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, has cancelled his trip planned for this Thursday and Friday to Gran Canaria, where he was to participate in a summit of outermost regions, so that he can continue in Brussels to wrangle with the UK as they attempt to close their controversial Brexit negotiations.
“Due to the many important events [happening] at the moment, the president has decided to cancel his visit to Spain, the president will stay in Brussels” said his chief spokesman, Margaritis Schinas, at a press conference.
The Heads of State and Government of the European Union have been called for an extraordinary summit this Sunday in the European capital, with the aim of “formalising and finalising” the “divorce agreement” negotiated between Brussels and London.
They must also agree a political declaration with which to lay the foundations for negotiating the future framework of relations with the United Kingdom, after it has become a “third country” following any exit from the EU.
The Spanish press appear to be reporting that the initial exit agreement already has the backing of the UK Government, despite the current uproar in the Westminster parliament, a raft of recent ministerial resignations and the prospect of a no-confidence vote in the Prime Minister, while we await the non-binding “meaningful vote” promised to parliamentarians and pressure increases to call new referendum on whether or not to adopt the deal, agreed in principal by negotiators with Theresa May, with the general backing of the Twenty-seven member states. Spain has submitted reservations however because it believes there is a lack of legal clarity about the situation in Gibraltar and have requested changes in the text before they give their support.
The vice president of the European Commission responsible for the Euro, Valdis Dombrovskis, reported on Wednesday that a final statement “has not yet been achieved” to close the text, negotiated between the EU with London.
“The Commission is prepared to consider a text and take action at all times,” said Dombrovskis, as it is the community executive who has to formally present the declaration, before it is elevated to the leaders for their final endorsement.
Juncker met yesterday in Brussels with the British Prime Minister, Theresa May, to advance the final negotiation. In the framework of ongoing contacts, the president of the community executive also spoke by telephone with the Prime Minister of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez.
May faces continued murmurs of a rebellion from within her own Tory party, while the Northern Irish DUP, whose MPs prop up her minority government, have seemingly withdrawn their support for her or the agreement, and ever louder voices press for a so-called “people’s vote” to decide if the negotiated deal is really what the UK population wanted or voted for in the 2016 referendum, leading to further calls for pause and reflection prior to the scheduled pulling out of the EU on March 29th next year.
British Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley, is expected to deliver a speech in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria next week, which it is hoped will help to clarify, for business leaders in the Canary Islands, just what can be expected from future relations with the United Kingdom, particularly in terms of trade and tourism, following March next year, when they are expected to either leave the EU or postpone any such separation until a deal more acceptable to the UK parliament can be reached.
Brexit rumbles on…

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