Bern plans to make tax evasion Swiss crime
Switzerland

Bern plans to make tax evasion Swiss crime

Switzerland aims to clamp down on foreigners' use of its banks to skirt paying taxes at home, which has soured relations with its neighbours and trading partners, the government said on Friday.

France: give more EU cash to farmers
France

France: give more EU cash to farmers

Poland and France will join forces in a bid to increase the EU's farm aid funds, which are already the overall budget's most expensive item, their agriculture ministers said on Friday.

Europe’s time of crisis over – Hollande
France

Europe’s time of crisis over – Hollande

The times of crisis and confusion for the European Union are over, French President François Hollande said Friday.

Black doll cut from Swedish Disney mash-up
Sweden

Black doll cut from Swedish Disney mash-up

Disney has deleted scenes from the old Santa's Workshop reel, Sveriges Television announced on Friday, cutting out the stereotypical black doll from Sweden's traditional Christmas Eve broadcast of the Disney mash-up.

New laws ban bestiality but not branding
Germany

New laws ban bestiality but not branding

German parliament has passed a law making bestiality illegal, while at the same time continuing to allow farming practices such as branding horses and castrating pigs without anaesthetic, to the anger of animal rights activists.

Pilot sticker lands French wine with Swedish ban
Sweden

Pilot sticker lands French wine with Swedish ban

The Swedish state alcohol-monopoly has banned a French wine from its shelves because the label shows a pilot in action, prompting the importer of the "Flying Solo" wine to appeal the ban.

Swedish Christmas: how do you celebrate yours?
Sweden

Swedish Christmas: how do you celebrate yours?

Counting down the days to Swedish Christmas or can't wait to leave the country? With the help of The Local readers, Christine Demsteader ponders celebrations and tribulations for foreigners during the festive season.

Free petrol gimmick fuels traffic chaos
Sweden

Free petrol gimmick fuels traffic chaos

A radio station in northern Sweden caused traffic chaos on Friday morning after it announced that a petrol station would be giving out free fuel for one hour.

Many Swedes to face higher tax bills in 2013
Sweden

Many Swedes to face higher tax bills in 2013

Almost half of all Swedes will pay more in tax next year as municipalities across the country raise the taxes levied on residents.

Swiss skier Lara Gut wins Val d’Isère downhill
Switzerland

Swiss skier Lara Gut wins Val d’Isère downhill

Switzerland's Lara Gut won the women's World Cup downhill in Val d'Isère, France on Friday as the 21-year-old finished ahead of American Leanne Smith and fellow Swiss Nadja Kamer for the third win on the circuit.

The Local’s guide to moving in Sweden
Sweden

The Local’s guide to moving in Sweden

There are always lots of things to keep track of when you are about to move, and it can be more complicated when moving from or within a foreign country. However, it's reassuring to remember that most of the moving basics you are already familiar with also apply in Sweden.

Bundeswehr ‘unprepared for chemical warfare’
Germany

Bundeswehr ‘unprepared for chemical warfare’

As the German government gave the go-ahead on Friday to send 400 troops to the Turkish-Syrian border, a soldiers' association voiced concern that they would not be properly equipped against chemical, nuclear or biological attack.

Gender-neutral ‘hen’ makes its legal debut
Sweden

Gender-neutral ‘hen’ makes its legal debut

The controversial Swedish word "hen", proposed as a gender-neutral pronoun, has found its way into legal lingo after a court in northern Sweden used it in a verdict.

New rent rules ‘weighted against tenants’
Germany

New rent rules ‘weighted against tenants’

The German government came under heavy fire on Friday for new rental rules, which critics say are heavily weighted in favour of landlords, erode tenants' existing rights and fail to address ballooning rent prices in popular areas.

Nudists fined for being naked on naturist island
France

Nudists fined for being naked on naturist island

Two naturists fined for being naked in public on a well-established naturist island are contesting what they call “an unjust and absurd” punishment.

Upper house launches new bid to ban NPD
Germany

Upper house launches new bid to ban NPD

German lawmakers in the upper house of the German parliament launched a new bid on Friday to press the country's top court to ban the neo-Nazi NPD party, nearly 10 years after an earlier attempt failed.

Pizzeria’s coleslaw lunch kills Swede
Sweden

Pizzeria’s coleslaw lunch kills Swede

A Swede has died of dehydration after contracting the winter vomiting virus at a pizzeria in Sundsvall, northern Sweden, where at least 27 other lunch guests also fell ill from the contaminated coleslaw.

Germany’s weirdest Christmas markets
Germany

Germany’s weirdest Christmas markets

Christmas markets are an intrinsic part of the holiday season in Germany. But for those fancying an odd twist on the standard stalls offering Glühwein, The Local has uncovered markets with erotic, nautical and various other themes.

New food-sharing site hopes to cut wastage
Germany

New food-sharing site hopes to cut wastage

A website launched this week is helping Germans share food rather than waste it, in an attempt to limit the environmental damage of wasted food - and put bread on the table of those who need it.

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France

Rescued train swan gets new life at Versailles

Trains in Paris were delayed for half an hour yesterday afternoon while a member of the public saved an injured swan from the tracks, but now the bird is heading for a life of luxury.

Swisscom mobile phone plan for kids under fire
Switzerland

Swisscom mobile phone plan for kids under fire

A Swisscom campaign to lure children as young as six years old to sign up for a cell phone plan has come under attack from consumer advocates.

Drug-fuelled kidnap claim sparks police search
Germany

Drug-fuelled kidnap claim sparks police search

German police mounted a mass search for a kidnapper after phone calls from an unknown man saying he had taken a little girl prisoner. But when they tracked the caller down, he admitted making the whole thing up while high on drugs.

Human rights advocates share 2012 Palme Prize
Sweden

Human rights advocates share 2012 Palme Prize

Tunisian lawyer Radhia Nasraoui and Saudi human rights advocate Waleed Sami Abu al-Khair will share the 2012 Olof Palme memorial prize, organizers announced on Friday.

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France

France keeps Fitch triple-A rating

The Fitch ratings agency said on Friday that it was keeping France's top AAA credit rating, the only one of the three major ratings agencies to do so, but added that its outlook remained negative.

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Switzerland

Prosecutor seeks life in jail for ‘gay lover’ killer

The prosecution is seeking life imprisonment for 52-year-old Hans Peter Meier, a German accused of stabbing to death his Swiss boyfriend in Ticino in a bid to get money.

Deutsche Bank co-CEO denies tax fraud charges
Germany

Deutsche Bank co-CEO denies tax fraud charges

Deutsche Bank's co-chief executive Jürgen Fitschen said he saw no reason to resign over allegations of suspected tax fraud, insisting he is innocent in newspaper interviews Friday.

Volvo Cars to refinance loans with Chinese help
Sweden

Volvo Cars to refinance loans with Chinese help

Volvo Cars, owned by the Chinese automaker Geely, said Thursday that it had received a loan of €922 million ($1.2 billion) from the state-owned China Development Bank to refinance Volvo's other loans.

Saudi cleric banned from Fribourg Islamic meet
Switzerland

Saudi cleric banned from Fribourg Islamic meet

The federal government has cancelled the planned visit of a controversial Saudi preacher to an Islamic conference this weekend in Fribourg.

Fewer overweight children in Germany
Germany

Fewer overweight children in Germany

The number of overweight children in Germany has dropped slightly over the past four years, a new government report shows. But senior citizens are getting fatter.

Blaming weather is not enough: train auditor
Sweden

Blaming weather is not enough: train auditor

The National Auditor (Riksrevisionen) will take a closer look at Swedish rail operators SJ after it cancelled more than 200 trains this week with the stated purpose of getting ready for the Christmas rush.

Germany to set up Greek investment fund
Germany

Germany to set up Greek investment fund

Germany will help Athens set up an investment fund to restore investor confidence and win back private capital, ministers from both countries said here Thursday.

Swedish free schools open to sects: study
Sweden

Swedish free schools open to sects: study

An upcoming European assessment of the Swedish reform that allowed private actors to open schools says oversight is so bad that a sect could easily be spreading its message to Swedish children during school hours.

Kiruna to be moved over ore and potential ire
Sweden

Kiruna to be moved over ore and potential ire

With about tenth of its residents employed by the iron miners who once kindled Kiruna's industrial prosperity, the northern town now faces underground cracks pushing it to move the entire town or it faces the potential ire of the important employer.

Torrent of immigration heading to Germany
Germany

Torrent of immigration heading to Germany

Germany is facing its biggest wave of immigration in decades, according to a new study. Some 2.2 million new arrivals are expected by 2017, as people flee the crisis-hit countries of southern Europe.