New Year, Same Brexit Headache

New Year, Same Brexit Headache

Brexit day is fast approaching, with the UK on track to officially leave the European Union in less than two weeks. If you’re new to Rachel Husson’s Brexit series, no worries, here are the basics, the EU’s perspective, a view of the craziest week of 2019, what Brexit means for Ireland, and what it means for students. Also, don’t forget to test your Brexit knowledge by taking our quiz!

 

What has happened over the last couple of months? 

Since the last time you read the series, some events worth mentioning took place in the Brexit saga. After the European Council agreed in late October on an extension of Brexit’s due date, an early general election was granted by the British parliament (438 votes in favour, 20 against). This election occurred on the 12th of December and the results set several strong statements. First, the Conservative Party, led by Boris Johnson, won a comfortable majority of 364 seats of a total 650 (against 203 seats for the Labour Party, and 13 for Lib-Dem Party). Therefore, it seems that the 2016 referendum’s results were not a “mistake” after all. The second statement was made by Scottish electors. Out of the 59 seats in Parliament granted to Scottish constituencies, 48 were swiped by the Scottish National Party (SNP) – who campaign for Scottish independence within the European Union.

Five days before Christmas day, Johnson’s EU Withdrawl Agreement Bill was presented (again) to the House of Commons, which passed after two readings. From there, the Agreement had to be transposed in British law. A “transposition” bill was drafted and passed the Commons on the 9th of January by 330 votes against 231 and the UK is now expected to finally meet the latest Brexit deadline.

 

What’s next?

The text of the Withdrawal Agreement is now in the hands of the House of Lords, where the Government has no majority. So, this should be interesting. If the bill gets the Lord’s approval, then the Queen will have to give her royal consent. Normally, this should just be a formality. But we have to keep in mind that the European Parliament also has to vote the deal before Brexit can officially happen. If everything goes on track, Brexit will happen on the 31st January.  For 11 months, the UK will still follow all the EU’s rules and regulations, it will remain in the single market and the customs union and the free movement of people will continue. The challenge for the UK will be to get all its new rules and policies in place by the end of this year.

The UK and the EU will enter a new phase of negotiations about their new relationship. The stake is huge because they’ll have to agree on a “partnership” for future decades. Let’s be honest, 11 months (until the 31st of December precisely) to deal with that kind of negotiations is really short. Look how long it took them to reach the leaving deal. Of course, Johnson doesn’t want any delay. But you know it, loyal reader, the British PM has said that before, and look where we are – the initial exit date back in Halloween seems like ages ago. However, this time Johnson is so committed that his promise was enshrined in the bill passed on the 9th. No extension should there be. He has said that he’d rather have part of a deal than ask for a delay. So, you get it correctly, a no-deal Brexit is still a possibility. 

Knowing that, Ursula Von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, said that the period of time they have is “very very tight”, not long enough to cover every topic, so they will have to prioritise. The Prime Minister of Croatia, which currently has the presidency of the Council of the European Union for 6 months, agreed and wish to work first on trade and fishing. 

Nevertheless, prioritizing doesn’t mean compromising. On one hand, the EU recalled on several occasions that it will not consent to anything that would damage its own integrity, common market or customs union. On the other hand, Johnson expressed that he wouldn’t allow any kind of alignment on the EU’s regulation nor would he accept staying in some way under the European Court of Justice’s jurisdiction. The British PM wants to “maintain control of UK fishing waters and [its] immigration system”.

 

 

Review on Scotland and Northern Ireland

The call for a second referendum on Scottish independence made by Nicola Sturgeon, Scottish PM and leader of the SNP, was formally rejected by Johnson who sees a second vote as a “political stagnation” that would impact Scotland “because of a campaign to separate the UK”. “It is time that we all worked to bring the whole of the United Kingdom together and unleash the potential of this great country”, he added. The PM claims that by refusing he respects Scots’ democratic decision: the 2014 referendum was promised to be a “once in a lifetime” occasion and set Scotland to remain in the UK. But one could argue that the situation has changed since 2014. It seems understandable that Brexit made a difference… According to the SNP, the Conservatives are afraid of the results if the vote took place in the pro-Europe nation. The full answer of the Scottish Government is expected to arrive by the end of January. Stay tuned… 

With the New Year came great news for Northern Ireland: a new executive is in place after three years of talks. Called “New Decade, New Approach”, the 62-page deal was published by both British and Irish Governments and set out guidelines and commitments for the new executive. This agreement comes after Northern Ireland was really divided on the December UK general election: 8 seats in Westminster for Unionists (DUP) and 9 for Nationalists (7 for Sinn Fein which practice abstentionism, meaning they refuse to sit in London, and 2 for the SDLP). Would Northern Ireland be inspired by Scotland? It’s not that easy, mainly because it’s not the same situation. Scotland wants its independence, when in the North the idea would be about changing the Parliament they answer to, talking about “Irish unity”. Under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, for such a vote to be called, the initiative must come for the British Secretary of State when they think the majority of the Northern Irish population would support Irish unity. One may argue that some elements point to that. If Northern Ireland’s choice was to leave the UK, then the Irish Republic would have to vote on that Irish unity too. Surveys have shown than 51% of the Irish population is in favour of this unity. Short advance, especially when you think of the margin of error. It appears clear that the whole island is deeply split on the matter… The post-Brexit daily life and the future deal may help some islanders to fold one way or another. 

 

It seems to me that the UK’s History might be made in the next few years…

 

 

Photo by Jannes Van den wouwer

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

 

New Year, Same Brexit Headache

Brexit day is fast approaching, with the UK on track to officially leave the European Union in less than two weeks. In this article in our Brexit series, Rachel gives us an update on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and the future of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Is Political Reform on the Horizon for Kazakhstan?

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Aung San Suu Kyi Denies Genocide at the International Criminal Court

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NewB: a bank to inspire others

NewB is a “new bank” based in Belgium that managed to collect €35 million in 6 weeks, in order to be granted a banking license by the European Central Bank. NewB wants to change the way finance is done and perceived by working to build an ethical and sustainable bank caring for human rights and mother earth.

The European Investment Bank’s decision to divest from fossil fuels

The European Investment Bank (EIB) recently announced that it would be phasing out investment in fossil fuel companies by 2021. The EIB is the biggest public lender globally and the move was celebrated by those within the banking industry and the environmental movement. It sends a clear message that markets are moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energies.

Is Political Reform on the Horizon for Kazakhstan?

Is Political Reform on the Horizon for Kazakhstan?

Recent political developments in Kazakhstan have increased hopes that the country may be on a path towards democratization. Kazakhstan has been under autocracy since it first began to be taken over by the Russian Empire in the 18th century, throughout its years as part of the Soviet Union, and since its independence in 1991. After all that time, could it be possible that the country is heading towards having a more democratic nature?

 

From 1990 until early  2019, Kazakhstan was led by Nursultan Nazarbayev. He was chosen by the Communist Party to rule the country and shortly afterwards led Kazakhstan into becoming an independent state when the Soviet Union broke apart in 1991. He was elected several times since then, with the last election being held in 2015. However, no opposition parties were allowed to run in these elections and he received a suspiciously high vote share of 95% in his last two elections. Along with these electoral irregularities, his regime was marred by accusations of human rights abuses. Protests and independent media were generally suppressed, and torture was common for those detained in the country’s prisons. It is also illegal to insult Nazarbayev, making criticism of the government difficult.

 

In March 2019, following a series of protests across Kazakhstan, Nazarbayev resigned as president. He appointed a successor, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, to serve the rest of his presidential term. Tokayev was re-elected in snap elections shortly afterwards. Despite Tokayev being the official president, Nazarbayev still holds much power, remaining the leader of Kazakhstan’s ruling political party. He has also been appointed for life as chairman of the Security Council, which advises the president with military and law enforcement policy. This means that his influence on Kazakh politics remains strong.

 

Despite Nazarbayev’s firm grip on Kazakhstan, the Tokayev presidency has marked some changes in the political situation. While his re-election in June 2019 was also marred by allegations of voting irregularities and the detention of peaceful protestors, he has made some small steps towards improving human rights in Kazakhstan. Tokayev established the National Council of Public Trust, a body which is supposed to allow greater dialogue between the public and the government. On December 20th, at a meeting of the National Council, Tokayev announced important changes to the country’s laws. Protests will no longer need approval from state authorities to be legal, it will become easier to form political parties as the number of supporters needed to start one will be reduced, and punishments for hate speech and libel will be abolished or reduced- meaning criticism of the government will be easier. The fact that these changes were announced just days after the detention of dozens of people who peacefully protested against the government regime makes them hard to read – will Kazakhstan begin to liberalize its laws, or are these changes intended to pay lip service to democratization while making little difference to the government’s control of society? 

 

Neighbouring Uzbekistan, under a new leader since 2016, has also been experimenting with some political reform and has reduced restrictions on the media. Tokayev and Nazarvayev could be following Uzbekistan’s model. However, given Nazarbayev’s previous human rights record it may be hard for Kazakhstan to turn over a new leaf, and even in Uzbekistan, there are still many restrictions on rights. The implementation of the new laws in the coming year will be closely watched by many in Kazakhstan, and hopefully, the government will stay true to its word, allowing increased freedom of expression in a country that has been without it for so long.

 

Photo by 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

New Year, Same Brexit Headache

Brexit day is fast approaching, with the UK on track to officially leave the European Union in less than two weeks. In this article in our Brexit series, Rachel gives us an update on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and the future of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Is Political Reform on the Horizon for Kazakhstan?

Kazakhstan has been under autocracy since it first began to be taken over by the Russian Empire in the 18th century, throughout its years as part of the Soviet Union, and since its independence in 1991. After all that time, could it be possible that the country is heading towards future democracy?

The Leaderless Protest Series – Lebanon

Every day we are witnessing the kindled spirit of youth with their involvement in political protests throughout the world. With so much noise, sometimes it is difficult to understand what the issues are. In this particular article, Editor Deepthi Suresh helps us to understand recent developments in Lebanon.

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In the realm of international politics, few world leaders have incited such hope and then despair as Myanmar’s president Aung San Suu Kyi. Amidst allegations of genocide against the treatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya population, Suu Kyi has been summoned to the International Court of Justice to answer for her nation’s transgressions.

NewB: a bank to inspire others

NewB is a “new bank” based in Belgium that managed to collect €35 million in 6 weeks, in order to be granted a banking license by the European Central Bank. NewB wants to change the way finance is done and perceived by working to build an ethical and sustainable bank caring for human rights and mother earth.

The European Investment Bank’s decision to divest from fossil fuels

The European Investment Bank (EIB) recently announced that it would be phasing out investment in fossil fuel companies by 2021. The EIB is the biggest public lender globally and the move was celebrated by those within the banking industry and the environmental movement. It sends a clear message that markets are moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energies.

The Leaderless Protest Series – Lebanon

The Leaderless Protest Series – Lebanon

Everyday we are witnessing the kindled spirit of the youth across the world. Political autonomy, corruption, powerlessness, poor economies, climate change and social media seem to be the chief contributors to the mass protest rage that has taken over. The large anti-government demonstrations have not been peaceful, with the number of human losses increasing as every day goes by. From Algeria, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, France, Hong Kong, Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and Pakistan and more, the story seems to be the same: voices that were never heard are gathering together for a scream to bring about a much needed change! Does it mean the people’s voice will finally be heard?

 

In this particular article, Editor Deepthi Suresh helps us to understand recent developments in Lebanon. 

 

When and Why?

 

Large scale protests took over Lebanon on 17th October 2019 shortly after the government announced new tax measures – in particular, this included a proposed ‘Whatsapp Tax’  charged at $2 a month for the use of all free apps on mobile phones. The closure of Lebanon’s banks for two weeks from the start of the protests fuelled anger, as people were denied access to their money.

 

Underlying frustrations with the government and the political elite have been accumulating within the state for years. These frustrations include the Lebanese government’s failure to find solutions to an economic crisis that has engulfed the country, particularly over the past year, due to corruption, wastage of public money and other issues. According to the World Inequality Database, nearly a quarter of income is held by the richest 1% in Lebanon. 

 

The Lebanese protests have witnessed scenes of tens of thousands of protesters from different religious and class sectors of society assembled in almost all cities across the country. Thousands of protesters have made their voices heard by waving the Lebanese flag and chanting demands for the “fall of the regime”, with many slogans including “all of them means all of them”. Despite government attempts to placate the protesters with announced reforms, demonstrations have continued in Beirut, Tripoli, Zouk, Jal el Dib, Saida, Nabatieh, Sour and Zahle. On the thirteenth day of the protests, Prime Minister Saad Hariri announced his resignation.

 

Recent Developments:

 

The protests, however, have taken a more violent turn since they first began in October. Dozens of people were injured in clashes between protesters and the security forces in central Beirut on December 15th. It is believed that Lebanese security forces used water cannons, rubber bullets and teargas against protesters who in turn pelted rocks and firecrackers. This time around, the protest chants were targetted mainly at interim Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, who is widely expected to be named head of the next government. 

 

If the parliament’s next choice is anything like the last, Tripoli billionaire Mohammad Safadi who was briefly nominated before widespread protests convinced him to withdraw his name, it is highly unlikely that the protests will deescalate. Unlike older generations, today’s protesters in Lebanon are unwilling to compromise. As we begin the new decade, it appears Lebanon is gearing up to be leaderless amid continuing protests for the foreseeable future. 

 

 

Photo by Nadim Kobeissi

 

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

 

New Year, Same Brexit Headache

Brexit day is fast approaching, with the UK on track to officially leave the European Union in less than two weeks. In this article in our Brexit series, Rachel gives us an update on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and the future of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Is Political Reform on the Horizon for Kazakhstan?

Kazakhstan has been under autocracy since it first began to be taken over by the Russian Empire in the 18th century, throughout its years as part of the Soviet Union, and since its independence in 1991. After all that time, could it be possible that the country is heading towards future democracy?

The Leaderless Protest Series – Lebanon

Every day we are witnessing the kindled spirit of youth with their involvement in political protests throughout the world. With so much noise, sometimes it is difficult to understand what the issues are. In this particular article, Editor Deepthi Suresh helps us to understand recent developments in Lebanon.

Aung San Suu Kyi Denies Genocide at the International Criminal Court

In the realm of international politics, few world leaders have incited such hope and then despair as Myanmar’s president Aung San Suu Kyi. Amidst allegations of genocide against the treatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya population, Suu Kyi has been summoned to the International Court of Justice to answer for her nation’s transgressions.

NewB: a bank to inspire others

NewB is a “new bank” based in Belgium that managed to collect €35 million in 6 weeks, in order to be granted a banking license by the European Central Bank. NewB wants to change the way finance is done and perceived by working to build an ethical and sustainable bank caring for human rights and mother earth.

The European Investment Bank’s decision to divest from fossil fuels

The European Investment Bank (EIB) recently announced that it would be phasing out investment in fossil fuel companies by 2021. The EIB is the biggest public lender globally and the move was celebrated by those within the banking industry and the environmental movement. It sends a clear message that markets are moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energies.

Aung San Suu Kyi Denies Genocide at the International Criminal Court

Aung San Suu Kyi Denies Genocide at the International Criminal Court

 In the realm of international politics, few world leaders have incited such hope and then despair as Myanmar’s president Aung San Suu Kyi. The 1991 Nobel Peace Prize laureate rose to power on a wave of hope becoming Myanmar’s State Counsellor, the country’s top office, in 2015. Despite the hopes of the international community, Suu Kyi’s tenure has been marred by allegations of brutal treatment of Myanmar’s minority Muslim population, the Rohingya, who primarily inhabit the western Rakhine state. Amidst allegations of genocide brought by the state of Gabon, Suu Kyi has been summoned to the International Court of Justice to answer for her nation’s transgressions. The dichotomy inherent in Suu Kyi’s championing of civil rights and democracy and apparent blithe indifference to charges of genocide in the face of growing international opprobrium is representative of contradictions at the heart of Myanmar’s politics and, indeed, national and ethnic make-up.

 

            Myanmar, formerly Burma, is comprised of over 100 ethnic groups with the majority Bamar holding the lion’s share of power. The former British colony gained independence in 1948. Su Kyi’s father, Aung San, led the country’s first transitional government, however, he was assassinated in 1947. Held up as a father of the nation and a beacon of democracy, Aung San’s legacy lived on in his daughter’s enduring popularity amongst the Bamar. Structurally, the majority Buddhist Bamar population exist within an effective enclave in the centre of the country ringed by minority groups. Civil conflict of varying degrees between the Bamar majority and minority groups as well as a repressive military junta who seized power in 1962 have long been staples of the country’s political economy. 

 

      Amid increasing international isolation and a dismal economic outlook as well as domestic pressure, in 2010 a pragmatic decision was taken by the junta’s leadership to initiate some degree of democratic reform. However, the levers of power are very much still in the hands of the military and, what’s more, a restrictive constitution stymies any real hope of true reform and ensures a toothless polity. Moreover, as evinced by the country’s dismal human rights record, democratic reform for the Bamar does not imply the same for ethnic minorities within the country. This was the key factor missed by interlocutors who invested such expectation in Suu Kyi. Lastly, the historic distrust between Myanmar’s various ethnic groups, especially that between the Buddhist Bamar and the Muslim Rohingya, who have been held up as scapegoats by influential hard-line Buddhist preachers, all but ensures a policy direction of abuse by Myanmar’s security forces. 

 

       While tensions between the Bamar and Rohingya have alwasy remained high, the current conflagration began in 2016 as a vastly dispropotionate reaction by Myanmar’s security forces to attacks by Muslim militants on police posts in Rakhine state. It has developed into a protracted counter-insurgency operation involving land clearances and large scale round-ups of Rohingya people. Worse still, Buddhist extremists have been involved in brutal mob attacks, rape and violence against Rohngya groups. The crisis has also had knock-on effects creating attendant refugee crises in neighbouring states, especially Bangladesh with more than 730,000 Rohingya fleeing to the country as of 2018 according to Human Rights Watch. Furthermore, 128,000 Muslims, mainly Rohingya but including other minority groups have been interned in detention centres within Myanmar. A cautious estimate puts the death toll at roughly 10,000.

 

           As such, while Suu Kyi attempts to defend Myanmar’s alleged atrocities against its Muslim population citing a terrorist insurgency as the primary reason for “clearance operations” against the Rohingya, it is clear that regardless of her true feelings, which remain opaque, there are structural issues and political forces above her. These forces effectively hamstring any effective response from within Myanmar’s de jure government. Suu Kyi, then, for those who advocated for her, becomes a cautionary tale of hope turning to deep disappointment and, ultimately, chagrin. Tragically, the human cost of this lesson is enormous and may not have yet been fully counted.

 

 

Photo by Stortinget

 

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What Do You Know About Direct Provision?

As the 2020 General Election is fast approaching, why not test your knowledge on one of Ireland’s biggest human rights issues of the last two decades; Direct Provision. Brush up on your facts and figures so you can quiz your local candidates and help keep Direct Provision at the front of the new Dáil’s minds!

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In the realm of international politics, few world leaders have incited such hope and then despair as Myanmar’s president Aung San Suu Kyi. Amidst allegations of genocide against the treatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya population, Suu Kyi has been summoned to the International Court of Justice to answer for her nation’s transgressions.

43 People Die In Factory Fire In New Delhi

At least 43 people were killed in a devastating fire that spread through a bag factory in the old quarter of the Indian capital New Delhi, trapping workers who were sleeping inside. Authorities say they do not yet know the cause of the blaze but it has been reported that the site had been operating without the required fire safety clearances.

UNCHR’s impact in war-torn Libya?

Recent investigations from Euronews into the work of the United Nations Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, in Libya has revealed a culture of neglect. The UNHCR is under fire by human rights activists for its operations in the Northern African state. Many refugees and migrants seeking asylum end up in militia-run detention centres with little to no help from the UNHCR.

What is Russia doing in Africa?

On October 23rd and 24th, Russia hosted representatives from all 54 African countries at the first ever Russia-Africa summit, with the aim of improving partnership and trade links. This event shows that Russia is clearly seeking to further its influence in Africa. But why is Russia so interested in improving ties with African states?

NewB: a bank to inspire others

NewB: a bank to inspire others

NewB is a “new bank” based in Belgium that managed to collect €35 million in 6 weeks, in order to be granted the precious banking license by the European Central Bank (ECB).

 

What is NewB?

NewB is a Belgian cooperative working to build an ethical and sustainable bank caring for human rights and mother earth. NewB intends to add value to the Belgian society as a bank by investing in the local economy and sustainable projects. NewB wants to change the way finance is done and perceived. To do that, it relies on 13 morals: 

  1.     Integration: NewB works with organisations and cooperators – they’re both owner and customers.  
  2.     Simplicity: NewB’s offers are clear and easily understandable. 
  3.     Safety: NewB invests in real economy, doesn’t take risks. Profit is not the ultimate goal. 
  4.     Sustainability: NewB cares for the planet and its people, therefore it shall exclude activities or projects that could harm society as a whole.
  5.     Transparency: everything NewB does is public knowledge and is explained when needed. 
  6.     Innovation: NewB is working to create new products and solutions that would preserve social economy as well as the planet.
  7.     Involvement: cooperators are asked to actively participate in the Bank’s decisions.
  8.     Honesty: profits will be equally divided between deposits and the cooperative capital. Interests have an upper limit, preventing profits on NewB’s shares sale. 
  9.     Inclusion: NewB wants to offer universal financial service, meaning access to relevant credit for everyone.
  10. Seriousness: NewB doesn’t spend crazy amounts. This can be witnessed in the way NewB’s employees are paid: the highest salary can’t exceed five times the lowest salary. 
  11. Diversity: NewB has a deep interest in getting everyone on board and pays attention to social and cultural differences.
  12. Closeness: one of NewB’s goal is to be close to the people. That’s why events with (future) members are held all across the – not so big – country, where people’s voices can be heard. It follows the rule one person-one vote. 
  13. Professionalism: they work with people that know what they’re doing, with the client as the only interest.

That sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? 

 

What did NewB achieve? 

On the 25th October 2019, NewB announced that the Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), approved the cooperative’s prospectus. This meant that NewB could start fundraising to raise the co-op capital. The challenge was the following: NewB needed to collect 30 million euros by the 27th November. You’ve read correctly, 33 days to raise €30 million. And if it failed, the whole project would sink. The €30 million limit was imposed by the European Central Bank (ECB) to grant NewB a banking license. The amount was calculated by the National Bank of Belgium (BNB), to ensure NewB would have a “safe-mattress” to start as a bank in the hostile milieu that is finance. 

Despite national celebrities promoting the co-op, two weeks before the deadline “only” €3,5 million was gathered, thanks to more or less 4,000 new cooperators. NewB’s CEO, Bernard Bayot, explained that, at that point, the co-op was waiting on large contributions from public institutions, hoping this would bring the goal closer. By the 27th November: the aim was reached! The co-op managed to collect €30 million thanks to around 55,000 contributors, whose average age is 29. Universities, regional governments, public and civil companies, individuals – they all played a part in this race. Surfing on the phenomena that was becoming the co-op, NewB decided to extend its fundraising for one week and to try and reach €35 million. On the 4th December, 71,162 investors had taken part in this six weeks fundraising  and the upper limit of €35 million was raised.

 

How did NewB get there? 

The project began in 2011 when 24 civil organisations decided to do something after witnessing the 2009 Belgian banking crisis that led to the disappearance of small and public banks. On the 6th of May, the cooperative NewB was newly born. 

About 43,000 citizens had joined the project by 2013. One year later, NewB wondered: what kind of investments do I want to do in the future? The question was posed to the members and thanks to a high rate of participation, discussion led to a decision on what path to follow. By June, cooperators – mainly people like you and me – agreed on a series of products that would keep the project growing. While Belgians started to be more and more familiar with the concept, NewB launched its first bank card in 2016. The prepaid “GoodPay” card is the first sustainable bank card in the country – not to say in the world. At that point, about 100 other civil organisations decided to come on board. 

Then came 2017, which was a pivotal year on several levels for NewB. New CEO, new GoodPay card, new insurance projects, new website and new design (in short, a New Bank?). From there, NewB became the largest social movement in Belgium and worked hard to get the precious banking license. 

 

What’s next for NewB?

The BNB has to read the 3,000-page folder submitted by NewB to explain the project and its viability. Afterwards, it will write to the ECB to develop its assessment of NewB’s situation and its recommendations. Eventually, the ECB will make a decision before the 15th of March. Even though NewB’s CEO seems confident, he is aware that nothing is finalised yet. 

Therefore, this incredible and powerful story is to be continued… 

 

 

Photo by NewB

 

Browse more stories below or sign up to our newsletter to receive our top news straight to your inbox!

 

New Year, Same Brexit Headache

Brexit day is fast approaching, with the UK on track to officially leave the European Union in less than two weeks. In this article in our Brexit series, Rachel gives us an update on the Withdrawal Agreement Bill and the future of Scotland and Northern Ireland.

Is Political Reform on the Horizon for Kazakhstan?

Kazakhstan has been under autocracy since it first began to be taken over by the Russian Empire in the 18th century, throughout its years as part of the Soviet Union, and since its independence in 1991. After all that time, could it be possible that the country is heading towards future democracy?

The Leaderless Protest Series – Lebanon

Every day we are witnessing the kindled spirit of youth with their involvement in political protests throughout the world. With so much noise, sometimes it is difficult to understand what the issues are. In this particular article, Editor Deepthi Suresh helps us to understand recent developments in Lebanon.

Aung San Suu Kyi Denies Genocide at the International Criminal Court

In the realm of international politics, few world leaders have incited such hope and then despair as Myanmar’s president Aung San Suu Kyi. Amidst allegations of genocide against the treatment of Myanmar’s Rohingya population, Suu Kyi has been summoned to the International Court of Justice to answer for her nation’s transgressions.

NewB: a bank to inspire others

NewB is a “new bank” based in Belgium that managed to collect €35 million in 6 weeks, in order to be granted a banking license by the European Central Bank. NewB wants to change the way finance is done and perceived by working to build an ethical and sustainable bank caring for human rights and mother earth.

The European Investment Bank’s decision to divest from fossil fuels

The European Investment Bank (EIB) recently announced that it would be phasing out investment in fossil fuel companies by 2021. The EIB is the biggest public lender globally and the move was celebrated by those within the banking industry and the environmental movement. It sends a clear message that markets are moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energies.

The European Investment Bank’s decision to divest from fossil fuels

The European Investment Bank’s decision to divest from fossil fuels

The European Investment Bank (EIB) recently announced that it would be phasing out investment in fossil fuel companies by 2021. The EIB is the biggest public lender globally and the move was celebrated by those within the banking industry and the environmental movement. It sends a clear message that markets are moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energies, with the EIB positioning itself as the leading ‘Climate Bank’. The President-elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, commended the transition and, last week, the European Parliament declared a ‘Climate Emergency’. Two moves that signal Europe aims to take the reigns as leader of climate action, as other world powers shirk the responsibility. 

Cutting financial flows to fossil fuel companies is a necessary step in the transition to clean and renewable energy. Less money in the bank for fossil fuel companies means that less exploration projects will secure funding and less oil rigs, coal plants and fracking-infrastructure built. As Bill McKibben outlines in his essay; “Money Is the Oxygen on Which the Fire of Global Warming Burns”, this will ultimately lead to fossil fuels being kept in the ground. McKibben, who is the founder of 350.org, has long been campaigning for divestment in the fossil fuel industry. He outlines the three financial sectors that need to divest; banking, asset management, and insurance. Once the purse-strings are cut and these companies have to self-fund to insure themselves, they will not be able to survive on financial reserves for long. There are also Government subsidies to think about, but that would require a whole other article. 

The financial industry is conservative and calculated in nature, and when it begins to make large changes the whole world takes heed. To stop investing in fossil fuels is to signal the beginning of the end. Closer to home, AIB in Ireland is positioning itself as the ‘Green Bank’ of Ireland. It has launched a ‘Green Bond Framework’ whereby it will greatly increase the investment available for green projects, and it has also introduced a lower green mortgage rate for houses that meet the highest energy-efficiency standards. 

Critics of the EIB’s decision to move away from fossil fuels have said that 2021 is too far away and that in the meantime, new fossil fuel projects can be funded which would lock the European Union into a ‘dirty future’. Angela Merkel also voiced her concerns that the EIB would not fund natural gas projects as a transition fuel on the way to renewables. This is certainly the beginning of something – but it remains to be seen how long it takes to reach the end. 

 

Photo: Ian Sharp (Flickr)

 

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The European Investment Bank’s decision to divest from fossil fuels

The European Investment Bank (EIB) recently announced that it would be phasing out investment in fossil fuel companies by 2021. The EIB is the biggest public lender globally and the move was celebrated by those within the banking industry and the environmental movement. It sends a clear message that markets are moving away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energies.