Hotel shortage could nix Genevan Syria talks
Switzerland

Hotel shortage could nix Genevan Syria talks

The much-anticipated "Geneva II" Syrian peace talks might not be held in Geneva due to insufficient hotel availability, UN-Arab League envoy Lakhdar Brahimi said in an interview broadcast on Tuesday.

Electric cars take a tenth of Norway market
Norway

Electric cars take a tenth of Norway market

Electric cars took more than ten percent of Norway's car market in November thanks to the country's generous incentives, official figures published on Tuesday have revealed.

Swiss ready to spend more this Christmas
Switzerland

Swiss ready to spend more this Christmas

Swiss consumers retain a cautious outlook for the economy but are ready to spend a little more this Christmas than in the previous year, according to the 2013 Christmas retail survey by accounting and consulting company Deloitte.

Twenty-four reindeer hit and killed by train
Norway

Twenty-four reindeer hit and killed by train

Twenty-four reindeer have died and more possibly been injured in northern Norway after they were hit by a train.

Neda ‘in sorrow’ after Norway return rejected
Norway

Neda ‘in sorrow’ after Norway return rejected

Neda Ibrahim, the twelve-year-old girl whose immigration case has became a cause célèbre in Norway, has had her hopes of returning to the country dashed after the Immigration Appeals Board upheld its decision to deport her and her family.

‘Don’t feed dogs foie gras at Christmas,’ warn vets
France

‘Don’t feed dogs foie gras at Christmas,’ warn vets

French dog-lovers are being warned by veterinarians that favourite Christmas foods like foie gras, smoked salmon and dark chocolate are for human consumption only, and can do serious damage to our four-legged friends.

Spain slips in Pisa education rankings
Spain

Spain slips in Pisa education rankings

Spain's students are still struggling with reading, science and maths despite all the money the country has spent on trying to improve its educational standards, the latest Pisa study results show.

‘King cobra’s venom could help cure cancer’
Spain

‘King cobra’s venom could help cure cancer’

Spanish researchers are among a group of scientists who believe the deadly king cobra holds a secret cure to cancer.

Free stirs up mobile market with 4G offer
France

Free stirs up mobile market with 4G offer

Once again French mobile phone company Free has ruffled the feathers of its rivals by unexpectedly announcing on Tuesday a new seemingly unbeatable offer that gives customers a 4G internet service for no extra cost.

Boy in coma can keep loyal Staffy
Germany

Boy in coma can keep loyal Staffy

A boy in a coma can keep his best friend - an American Staffordshire Terrier - after Berlin authorities who said she was too dangerous to stay at his side were hit by a huge public reaction.

‘Wild’ snow storms set to smother Sweden
Sweden

‘Wild’ snow storms set to smother Sweden

The first snow storms of the season are set to trounce Sweden, with even southern Sweden expected to be covered in 20 centimetres of white by the weekend.

Senior cleric on trial for money laundering
Italy

Senior cleric on trial for money laundering

The trial of a senior cleric accused of corruption and attempted money laundering at the scandal-plagued Vatican bank opened in Rome on Tuesday, Italian media reported.

Germans improve Pisa education results
Germany

Germans improve Pisa education results

German schoolchildren are improving in international comparisons, inching up the Pisa scale but still remain behind not only education giants such as Singapore and Hong Kong, but also Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Swedish cow-theft farmer faces fraud charge
Sweden

Swedish cow-theft farmer faces fraud charge

A Swedish farmer who woke up to find his 69 cows missing last year was charged on Monday for insurance fraud, as investigators suspect the man simply spirited the cattle away to cash in on insurance money to the tune of 550,000 kronor ($48,000).

The expat who became a famous face in France
France

The expat who became a famous face in France

Most expats living in France can wander the streets anonymously, but not Darren Tulett, who is asked for an autograph wherever he goes. Here, he tells the extraordinary story of how he went from being just another English teacher to one of the most famous expats in France.

Indicted UBS banker agrees to face music
Switzerland

Indicted UBS banker agrees to face music

A former top UBS executive has agreed to be extradited to the United States from Italy, where he was arrested in October for allegedly helping wealthy Americans hide billions from the taxman.

Commerzbank staff hit by huge tax raids
Germany

Commerzbank staff hit by huge tax raids

Hundreds of German police officers on Tuesday raided 40 branches of Commerzbank, the country's second biggest bank, over suspected tax fraud by hundreds of clients, the bank and prosecutors said.

Gallery: The Local’s Property of the Week
Sweden

Gallery: The Local’s Property of the Week

Glamour meets nature and they do wonderful things in this western Sweden seaside property. Take a look inside The Local's Property of the Week.

Why French schools are falling in global table
France

Why French schools are falling in global table

The eagerly awaited OECD global education rankings and report does not make easy reading for France, which dropped three places and was again pulled up for its increasing inequality. A French Sociologist professor tells The Local what’s going wrong.

Switzerland ranks among ‘least corrupt countries’
Switzerland

Switzerland ranks among ‘least corrupt countries’

The Swiss public sector may not be squeaky clean but it is perceived to be one of the least corrupt in the world, according to a report released by Transparency International, the global corruption watchdog.

‘We should have nationalized our schools’
Sweden

‘We should have nationalized our schools’

Sweden's education minister on Tuesday blamed the country's fall from grace in the Pisa global education ranking on municipalities' "lack of competence", saying his government should have nationalized the schools already seven years ago.

‘Anti-mafia’ mayor arrested for mafia ties
Italy

‘Anti-mafia’ mayor arrested for mafia ties

A mayor described as an "anti-mafia icon" has been put under house arrest for allegedly buying votes of the mafia she campaigned against, Italian media reported on Tuesday.

Man fined over nude Facebook pic of ex
Sweden

Man fined over nude Facebook pic of ex

A man in southern Sweden has been convicted for uploading naked pictures of his ex-girlfriend to her own Facebook page after she ended the couple's relationship.

Foreign workers at centre of Swedish election battle
Sweden

Foreign workers at centre of Swedish election battle

Promises by the Social Democrats to roll back reforms to Swedish laws affecting migrant workers has put the rights of foreign workers and the power of Sweden's unions front and centre in upcoming parliamentary elections, argues liberal contributor Nima Sanandaji.

Vatican puts ancient bibles online
Italy

Vatican puts ancient bibles online

A treasure trove of ancient bibles and rare Greek and Hebrew texts are being made available to the public through a website set up by the Vatican and the UK's Oxford University.

Tourist trap: Spain’s ‘airport bus’ to nowhere
Spain

Tourist trap: Spain’s ‘airport bus’ to nowhere

Tourists who take Madrid's bus 114 to the 'airport' often come in for a nasty surprise at the end of their journey.

Spain’s giant ‘dragon’ dinosaur a world first
Spain

Spain’s giant ‘dragon’ dinosaur a world first

A never-before-seen fossil belonging to a sub-species of the ankylsaur, a dragon-like creature with an armoured body and spiny side, has been presented in the northern Spanish town of Teruel.

Italian pupils ‘make rapid progress’ in maths
Italy

Italian pupils ‘make rapid progress’ in maths

Italian pupils might still fall slightly behind the OECD average when it comes to maths grades, but they have made "the most rapid progress" since 2003 compared to their counterparts, according to the latest global education ranking by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

Swiss students best for maths outside Asia: Pisa
Switzerland

Swiss students best for maths outside Asia: Pisa

Students from Switzerland and neighbouring Liechtenstein outperformed those from the rest of the world outside of Asia in a global survey of 15-year-olds, released on Tuesday.

Snow, sleet and storms welcome December
Germany

Snow, sleet and storms welcome December

December has brought snow and fog to Germany - and warnings were issued that storms and floods would hit the north of the country by the end of the week.

Inequality on the increase in French education
France

Inequality on the increase in French education

The performances of French schools have dipped in recent years, putting France well and truly middle of the class, according to the latest global report on education by the think tank OECD. The study underlined the worrying growing inequality in French schools.

Berliner yanks American from water with scarf
Germany

Berliner yanks American from water with scarf

A hipster scarf knitted by his mother-in-law proved more useful than anyone could have expected, when its wearer used it to save the life of a drowning American man in Berlin over the weekend.

‘Norway has science problem’: Pisa results
Norway

‘Norway has science problem’: Pisa results

Norwegian schoolchildren have fallen further behind their peers from the far-East, with scores dropping in both maths and science, according to the OECD's latest international comparison of educational performance.

VIDEO: Jail probes inmates’ Harlem Shake
France

VIDEO: Jail probes inmates’ Harlem Shake

Prison authorities at a jail in eastern France have been left with some explaining to do after two videos – one showing a dozen inmates doing a particularly enthusiastic version of the Harlem Shake – appeared on YouTube in recent days.

Crop failures push up German food prices
Germany

Crop failures push up German food prices

Food in Germany was more expensive this year, with some crops such as potatoes costing nearly half as much again as in 2012.

Sweden tumbles in global schools ranking
Sweden

Sweden tumbles in global schools ranking

Swedish pupils' poor results in the latest global Pisa education ranking, released on Tuesday, has pushed Sweden below the OECD average in maths, reading comprehension, and natural sciences.

Italian university grants gay staff marital leave
Italy

Italian university grants gay staff marital leave

A gay researcher has been granted marital leave by a public institution after wedding his partner abroad. The decision comes in spite of the fact that same-sex marriage is not legally recognized in Italy.

Norway’s oil fund buys into Regent Street
Norway

Norway’s oil fund buys into Regent Street

Norway's Oil Fund has spent nearly a billion kroner ($160m) buying a second stake in the £2.8bn redevelopment of Regents Street by The Crown Estate, the company which manages the Queen of England's property portfolio.

Riksdag snub after anti-Sweden Democrat song
Sweden

Riksdag snub after anti-Sweden Democrat song

Lyrics interpreted as an invite to assault the anti-immigration Sweden Democrat leader have caused a political stir, prompting the speaker of parliament to boycott a Riksdag ceremony where singer Jason Diakité, also known as Timbuktu, will receive an anti-racism award.

‘Tolerate the party but stamp on fascist bullies’
Germany

‘Tolerate the party but stamp on fascist bullies’

The Constitutional Court is again considering whether to ban the neo-Nazi NPD. Is Germany's democracy strong enough to handle a handful of unpleasant nutters spouting hatred? It should be, but needs a hand, says Hannah Cleaver.

‘Drug addicts should lose licenses before they kill’
Spain

‘Drug addicts should lose licenses before they kill’

The Spanish region of Catalonia wants to revoke the driving licenses of drug addicts, alcoholics and people with mental disorders to avoid other people's lives being put at risk.

Swedish parents fuming over toy knuckledusters
Sweden

Swedish parents fuming over toy knuckledusters

Parents in Sweden are fighting mad over a set of knuckledusters marketed to children in a Christmas toy catalogue that boasts the faux weapon is "perfect for a pretend fist-fight".

Norway most corrupt in the Nordics: report
Norway

Norway most corrupt in the Nordics: report

Norway has been rated the most corrupt of the Nordic countries in the latest survey from global anti-graft watchdog Transparency International.

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France

Parisians fight back against McDonald’s

Residents of a Paris street famous for its old world charm, have been celebrating since local authorities rejected a plan to install a new McDonald’s restaurant in their midst, in a sign that while the French have taken to US fast food, they have their limits.

‘I faced prison for plastic in wrong recycling bag’
Switzerland

‘I faced prison for plastic in wrong recycling bag’

Recycling rules in the canton of Vaud are strict, as one resident threatened with prison recently found out to his cost.

Europe’s best business school? It’s Spain’s IE
Spain

Europe’s best business school? It’s Spain’s IE

Madrid's prestigious IE Business School has been named Europe's joint top business school in the latest edition of the Financial Times rankings while two other Spanish institutions also help fill out the top ten.

Most French ‘ready to sacrifice public services’
France

Most French ‘ready to sacrifice public services’

Traditionally the French place a high value on their public services but as the economic crisis takes hold it appears the mood might be changing, according to the results of new poll published this week that were described "taboo-breaking".

Italy ‘failing to cut debt quickly enough’
Italy

Italy ‘failing to cut debt quickly enough’

Italy is failing to cut debt quickly enough but is past the worst of its crisis, the EU's Economic Affairs Commissioner Olli Rehn said in an interview in La Repubblica newspaper on Tuesday.

Baby taken from womb: Italian mother identified
Italy

Baby taken from womb: Italian mother identified

The Italian woman whose baby was forcibly removed from her womb by British social services during a work trip to the UK has been identified by the Italian press as 35-year-old Alessandra Pacchieri.

Spanish jobless queue shrinks in November
Spain

Spanish jobless queue shrinks in November

Spanish unemployment queues shrank in November, government figures showed Tuesday, shining a glimmer of hope on one of Europe's bleakest job markets.

Parties pledge to reform prostitution laws
Germany

Parties pledge to reform prostitution laws

Men who buy sexual acts from women forced into prostitution will face penalties under promised reforms to Germany’s liberal sex industry laws.

Nazi assassin dies in prison hospital
Germany

Nazi assassin dies in prison hospital

Former SS assassin Heinrich Boere has died in a German prison hospital aged 92, two years after starting a life term for killing three civilians in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands.

Spain drags heels in fight on corruption
Spain

Spain drags heels in fight on corruption

Spain isn't working hard enough to tackle bribery while crisis-hit Greece has taken steps to fight corruption, graft watchdog Transparency International said as it released its annual report on Tuesday.

Italy among most corrupt countries in Europe
Italy

Italy among most corrupt countries in Europe

Italy has been ranked one of the most corrupt countries in Europe, although it is slightly less corrupt than a year ago, according to Transparency International's annual index released on Tuesday.

Daimler faces EADS insider trading trial
Germany

Daimler faces EADS insider trading trial

German auto giant Daimler and French conglomerate Lagardere have been sent for trial in France for alleged insider trading in the sale of shares in aerospace and defence group EADS.

Church slammed for ‘ironic’ Christmas site
Norway

Church slammed for ‘ironic’ Christmas site

The Church of Norway has been sharply criticised for spending 300,000 kroner on an 'ironic' Christmas advertising campaign which has angered people both in and outside the church.

French artist Prouvost scoops UK’s Turner Prize
France

French artist Prouvost scoops UK’s Turner Prize

French artist Laure Prouvost scooped Britain's prestigious Turner Prize for contemporary art on Monday. Prouvost, whose video installation (see below) impressed judges, commended the UK where she plies her trade, saying it allowed her to grow as an artist.

France to permit armed guards to patrol ships
France

France to permit armed guards to patrol ships

Armed guards will soon be allowed to patrol French ships as part of a series of measures aimed at preventing attacks from pirates. Shipping companies have long been calling on French authorities to introduce the measure.

Inner-city househunters set sights on suburbs
Sweden

Inner-city househunters set sights on suburbs

Plateauing house prices in inner-city Stockholm could be a sign that home-hunters are abandoning the urban centres and heading to the suburbs, Swedish estate agents have predicted.

Police hunt factory owner after fire kills nine
Italy

Police hunt factory owner after fire kills nine

Italian prosecutors have said they were hunting for the owner of a Chinese-run garment factory and dormitory where seven workers died in a fire, as the town of Prato declared a day of mourning.

Swede wins Memory World Cup in London
Sweden

Swede wins Memory World Cup in London

Swedish memory master Jonas von Essen had a night to remember on Monday when he won the Memory World Cup in London.

Italy busts surfer drug smuggling ring
Italy

Italy busts surfer drug smuggling ring

Italian police said Monday they had busted a ring of smugglers who attempted to traffic cocaine from Latin America to Europe by hiding it in surf boards and a sailing boat.

‘US not doing enough to trace Wallenberg fate’
Sweden

‘US not doing enough to trace Wallenberg fate’

Relatives of Sweden war-time hero Raoul Wallenberg said that despite US President Barack Obama's recent promise to uncover details of the Swedish diplomat's fate in the Soviet Union at the end of World War II, the US had not set sail to the intensified investigation they had hoped for.