Swiss cabinet unveils EU immigration quotas bill
Switzerland

Swiss cabinet unveils EU immigration quotas bill

The Swiss government has presented a bill for new quotas on immigration from the European Union, a year after voters narrowly approved such curbs and put the country on a collision course with Brussels.

Tunnel fires snarl traffic in Geneva and Zurich
Switzerland

Tunnel fires snarl traffic in Geneva and Zurich

Separate motor vehicle fires in motorway tunnels caused massive pileups in Geneva and Zurich during the evening rush hours on Wednesday.

UK opposition smells election blood on HSBC
Switzerland

UK opposition smells election blood on HSBC

British opposition leader Ed Miliband went on the offensive on Wednesday over an international scandal involving London-based HSBC and its Swiss banking arm, accusing Prime Minister David Cameron of being soft on tax avoidance.

Man dies after snow groomer falls through ice
Switzerland

Man dies after snow groomer falls through ice

Safety questions have been raised over the death on Wednesday of a 25-year-old man after the ski trail grooming machine he was driving across Lake Silvaplana, southwest of Saint Moritz, broke through the ice.

Would you buy this bank for a dollar?
Austria

Would you buy this bank for a dollar?

According to a report from Reuters, a consortium including U.S. investor Excellere Capital Group is seeking to acquire the 'bad bank' formed as part of the process of disposing of the assets of the failed Austrian bank, Hypo Alpe Adria.

Stoltenberg ‘everything we asked for’: US envoy
Norway

Stoltenberg ‘everything we asked for’: US envoy

The United States has praised Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg as “everything we asked for” in a ringing endorsement of the former Norwegian Prime Minister’s first four months in the post.

16 year sentence for Costa Concordia captain
Italy

16 year sentence for Costa Concordia captain

UPDATED: An Italian court on Wednesday sentenced Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino to 16 years and one month in prison for causing the 2012 cruise ship disaster which claimed 32 lives.

Telenor shares slump on poor Thai figures
Norway

Telenor shares slump on poor Thai figures

Norwegian phone giant Telenor has reported disappointing profits on the back of high costs and squeezed margins in its fast-growing Asian business, sending its shares down more than 6.4 percent by the end of trading on Wednesday.

Morocco crackdown continues at Melilla
Spain

Morocco crackdown continues at Melilla

Morocco on Wednesday vowed further crackdowns on illegal migrants after rounding up hundreds of foreigners close to the Spanish enclave of Melilla, in a move criticised by local rights groups.

Sperm whale washes up on Danish island
Denmark

Sperm whale washes up on Danish island

Residents of Fanø were treated to an usual sight on Wednesday: the partially rotting corpse of a 12-metre sperm whale.

Gun ads see French cops compared to Dirty Harry
France

Gun ads see French cops compared to Dirty Harry

A far-right French mayor has stoked a new row thanks to his new poster campaign which tells the locals that police in his town of Beziers have a new “friend” – namely their 7.65 calibre pistols. Some say the campaign is more suited to the Wild West.

Ukraine: Hollande has ‘will’ but is there a way?
France

Ukraine: Hollande has ‘will’ but is there a way?

French president François Hollande said he travels to Minsk on Wednesday with a “strong will” to thrash out a last-ditch deal with Russian and Ukrainian leaders to end the conflict. Analysts however suggest the chances of the Franco-German diplomatic push succeeding are thin.

DSK angry over focus on his ‘rough’ sexual antics
France

DSK angry over focus on his ‘rough’ sexual antics

Dominique Strauss-Kahn has compared prostitutes to flying fish and has lost his temper at the probing questions about his sex life as he faces the judge for the second time in his pimping trial.

Angry Italians lob eggs at German mission
Italy

Angry Italians lob eggs at German mission

Eggs, tomatoes and smoke bombs were thrown at the German Consulate in Venice on Wednesday, and windows were smashed, as anti-austerity protesters in Italy reacted to Germany’s tough stance on Greek debt.

Doubts over Picasso’s 271 ‘gifts’ to Frenchman
France

Doubts over Picasso’s 271 ‘gifts’ to Frenchman

A retired French electrician's claims that the artist Picasso gifted him 271 works of art were tested in court on Wednesday during an extraordinary trial in the south of France. The 75-year-old and his wife are accused of stealing the artworks.

PSOE in spotlight over Madrid chief sacking
Spain

PSOE in spotlight over Madrid chief sacking

Spain´s socialist party was thrown into chaos on Wednesday when its Madrid chief refused to step aside quietly after being sacked over allegations of misconduct.

Swiss government posts surprise deficit for 2014
Switzerland

Swiss government posts surprise deficit for 2014

The Swiss government says it suffered its first federal budget deficit in nearly a decade last year following a surprise nine percent drop in tax revenue.

Swedish PM hits out at Russia over Ukraine
Sweden

Swedish PM hits out at Russia over Ukraine

Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Löfven criticized Russia's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine ahead of an informal EU summit on the crisis and vowed to pay a visit to Ukraine in the near future.

Pre-dinosaur driftwood unearthed in storms
Spain

Pre-dinosaur driftwood unearthed in storms

The recent spate of bad weather in Spain has led scientists in Asturias to discover prehistoric trees, which would have been growing before even dinosaurs roamed the earth.

Italy Senate moves to outlaw Holocaust denial
Italy

Italy Senate moves to outlaw Holocaust denial

Italian senators on Wednesday voted in favour of a bill criminalizing Holocaust denial, following changes to the proposed law to protect freedom of speech.

Munich to return €2.5M book trove to Naples

Munich to return €2.5M book trove to Naples

Munich prosecutors are set to return 543 stolen books - including first editions by Galileo and Copernicus - to Italy on Friday, after recovering the trove from a Munich auction house in a real-life crime thriller.

Unicredit back in profit amid lending boost
Italy

Unicredit back in profit amid lending boost

UniCredit returned to profit in 2014, netting €2.0 billion $2.26 billion, Italy's largest bank said on Wednesday, while touting it had stepped up lending to households and small businesses.

Dating sites to find just the right Valentine
Germany

Dating sites to find just the right Valentine

If you don't have a special someone to treat come February 14th, don't despair: the internet is here to help with more options than you can shake a box of chocolates at.

Swedish meatballs could see stricter food labels
Sweden

Swedish meatballs could see stricter food labels

What's in a Swedish meatball? That's what the European Parliament wants to find out. A resolution signed off on in Strasbourg on Wednesday has moved to see stricter labelling of processed meat.

‘France right to stop baker working too much’
France

‘France right to stop baker working too much’

An almighty row has broken out after French bureaucrats told the country’s top baguette maker he couldn’t open seven days a week. But a French union chief tells The Local the country’s notorious rules are spot on and not at all complicated.

Dalai Lama has ‘nothing to ask’ Danish politicians
Denmark

Dalai Lama has ‘nothing to ask’ Danish politicians

Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt's failure to follow through on a promise to meet with the Dalai Lama has caused her political headaches, but the Tibetan spiritual leader told the media he understood the decision.

25 percent more soldiers seek help with PTSD
Germany

25 percent more soldiers seek help with PTSD

Despite the mission in Afghanistan winding down, Germany's army, the Bundeswehr, is dealing with a sharp rise in soldiers reporting post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Fireball speeds across Catalan skies
Spain

Fireball speeds across Catalan skies

Stargazers were amazed to see a ball of light speeding across the sky over Catalonia on Tuesday night.

Schettino ‘in tears’ as Concordia verdict looms
Italy

Schettino ‘in tears’ as Concordia verdict looms

Costa Concordia captain Francesco Schettino broke down in tears in court on Wednesday as he made an emotional last-ditch appeal to judges to clear him of causing the 2012 disaster.

Danish airports call for fewer security controls
Denmark

Danish airports call for fewer security controls

Security checkpoints in European airports are too inconsistent and too inconvenient, representatives from Denmark’s three largest airports say.

Australia likely to join Eurovision Song Contest
Austria

Australia likely to join Eurovision Song Contest

Crikey! The Land Down Under - where the beer does flow and men chunder - is about to join the Eurovision Song Contest in Europe for the very first time.

Italian pensioners ‘rob chemist with toy guns’
Italy

Italian pensioners ‘rob chemist with toy guns’

A band of elderly thieves on bicycles has allegedly robbed a pharmacy in central Italy, armed with toy guns.

Norwegian cleared of al-Shabaab Kenya attack
Norway

Norwegian cleared of al-Shabaab Kenya attack

A Norwegian-Somali arrested in Kenya in connection with two bloody Al-Shabaab massacres has been released after Nairobi police determined there was insufficient evidence against him.

The most outrageous quotes from the DSK trial
France

The most outrageous quotes from the DSK trial

The sordid details of 'libertine' sex parties, DSK’s rampant sexual appetite and what prostitutes must do to earn a living have been laid bare at the pimping trial of the ex-IMF chief in Lille. Here's some of the stand-out statements from DSK and the prostitutes he romped with.

Siestas are good for you, research shows
Spain

Siestas are good for you, research shows

Spaniards have always known about the benefits of an afternoon nap, but now American scientists have proved that regular siestas can have multiple health benefits.

Prosecutions for buying sex in Oslo plummet
Norway

Prosecutions for buying sex in Oslo plummet

The number of people prosecuted under Norway’s prostitution law in Oslo has dropped by 40% since last year, as police divert resources to other priorities.

Glencore decides to unload Lonmin stake
Switzerland

Glencore decides to unload Lonmin stake

Swiss mining and commodities giant Glencore on Wednesday announced plans to unload its 23.9 percent stake in South African platinum producer Lonmin and distribute the shares to its own shareholders.

Has Ikea invented an app to stop couples rowing?
Sweden

Has Ikea invented an app to stop couples rowing?

A video launched by Sweden's Ikea to promote an emoticons app designed to 'help couples communicate better' has gone viral, just in time for Valentine's Day.

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Sweden

Feb. 19: Etno Caravan (Umeå)

‘Top Gear’ reportedly cruising to German TV
Germany

‘Top Gear’ reportedly cruising to German TV

British motoring TV show Top Gear has become a worldwide phenomenon with it unique blend of cars, humour and antics. Now there are reports that a German broadcaster will try to ape its success.

France tells citizens to leave Yemen immediately
France

France tells citizens to leave Yemen immediately

France urged its citizens to leave Yemen on Wednesday and said it would soon close its embassy over mounting security fears in the country.

Village backs priest over lesbian couple blessing
Switzerland

Village backs priest over lesbian couple blessing

A catholic priest in a traditional Swiss village under fire for blessing a lesbian couple has defended his actions and rejected calls from the church hierarchy for his resignation.

Sweden’s Volvo pulls plug on German venture
Sweden

Sweden’s Volvo pulls plug on German venture

Swedish truck maker Volvo has agreed with German engine maker Deutz to pull the plug on their planned joint venture in China.

Ex-prisoner sues Berlin for ‘too small’ jail cells
Germany

Ex-prisoner sues Berlin for ‘too small’ jail cells

A former prison inmate has filed suit against the city of Berlin on Tuesday, claiming he suffered during his incarceration because his cell was too small and he had to spend too much time inside.

Danish NGO ‘saddened’ by US hostage’s death
Denmark

Danish NGO ‘saddened’ by US hostage’s death

Contrary to reports, Isis hostage did not work for the Danish Refugee Council, the organization said in a statement that expressed its sympathies to the 26-year-old American's family.

Merkel, Hollande make last-ditch ceasefire push
Germany

Merkel, Hollande make last-ditch ceasefire push

Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande of France meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin in Minsk on Wednesday to try and put an end to the Ukraine crisis. The Local looks at just what the stakes are at the negotiating table.

Politicians as you’ve never seen them before
Spain

Politicians as you’ve never seen them before

An exhibition in Valencia has revealed some of the very familiar political figures who will be satirized then set alight during Valencia’s biggest festival in March.

Wallström presents Sweden’s foreign policy
Sweden

Wallström presents Sweden’s foreign policy

UPDATED: Global security threats dominated Margot Wallström’s first foreign policy declaration in parliament on Wednesday, as the foreign minister came under fire for Sweden's sales of arms to Saudi Arabia.

Germanwings pilots call for two day strike
Germany

Germanwings pilots call for two day strike

Got tickets to fly Germanwings on Thursday or Friday? You may have to make alternate travel arrangements as the airline warns of "considerable disruption".

Woman sues over botched breast boost
Austria

Woman sues over botched breast boost

A woman in her mid-twenties took her breast surgeon to court in Klagenfurt on Tuesday after claiming that he boobed by giving her breast implants which were bigger than she planned, according to a report in the news daily Heute.

300 feared drowned trying to reach Italy
Italy

300 feared drowned trying to reach Italy

Up to 300 people are feared to have drowned trying to reach Italy, a spokesman for the UN’s refugee agency told The Local on Wednesday.

Italy gets tougher on terrorism
Italy

Italy gets tougher on terrorism

Italy's cabinet on Tuesday approved a slew of anti-terrorism measures, including jail terms of up to six years for "foreign fighters" as well as those who recruit would-be jihadists.

Rome doctors get check-up over mass sickie
Italy

Rome doctors get check-up over mass sickie

Rome investigators are checking up on 600 doctors over their signing sick notes for hundreds of police on New Year’s Eve, a night in which over 80 percent of the force failed to show up to work.

Fallout from HSBC leaks continues in UK and US
Switzerland

Fallout from HSBC leaks continues in UK and US

Britain's financial regulator says it had no knowledge of an investigation by tax authorities into allegations that banking giant HSBC helped wealthy customers dodge millions of dollars in taxes through its Swiss private bank.

Shamed ex-UMP party head lands university job
France

Shamed ex-UMP party head lands university job

Despite being forced to quit as leader of France’s main opposition party after being charged over a finance scandal, Jean François Copé has landed a job at a prestigious French university, giving a course in political governance.

Real Madrid suffer stadium revamp setback
Spain

Real Madrid suffer stadium revamp setback

Real Madrid's plans for a multi-million euro redevelopment of their Santiago Bernabeu stadium have suffered a setback after an agreement with the city council was quashed by a Madrid court.

US company buys rights to Charlie Hebdo film
France

US company buys rights to Charlie Hebdo film

An American film distributor has bought the US rights to a documentary about Charlie Hebdo, one month after the deadly attacks at the French satirical magazine's headquarters.

Ten very peculiar Austrian superstitions
Austria

Ten very peculiar Austrian superstitions

Austria is home to some weird and wonderful superstitions, with some of them still practised today. Ahead of that traditionally inauspicious date - Friday 13th - we explain ten of the most common Austrian superstitions.

Viggo Mortensen makes Danish-speaking debut
Denmark

Viggo Mortensen makes Danish-speaking debut

Who do you get when you need a leading man who can switch effortlessly back and forth between Danish and Spanish? Why, Viggo Mortensen of course. Check out the trailer for his new film Juaja here, where he speaks Danish for the first time on film.

Fifty beggars evicted from Stockholm square
Sweden

Fifty beggars evicted from Stockholm square

UPDATED: Dozens of rough sleepers have been evicted from one of the Swedish capital's largest public squares, amid rising concerns about the growing numbers of beggars in Stockholm.

King Felipe slashes his own salary by a fifth
Spain

King Felipe slashes his own salary by a fifth

King Felipe VI will earn 20 percent less than his abdicated father, the palace said on Tuesday, detailing its first budget since he took the crown vowing to polish its image.

British tank crashes into family garden
Germany

British tank crashes into family garden

An elderly couple in Paderborn got a shock on Tuesday morning when they opened the curtains to discover their fence and hedges crushed by a British army tank.

Introducing The Local’s employee advice column
Denmark

Introducing The Local’s employee advice column

As a companion to our ongoing series on how to find a job in Denmark, we are happy to welcome Nancy Rasmussen on board to answer the questions that arise after you've landed the gig - from taxes, holiday time and career advancement.

Dealer throws drugs into palms of police’s hands
France

Dealer throws drugs into palms of police’s hands

A drug dealer in France can count himself unlucky after he threw his cannabis stash out of his flat, only for it to fall straight into the hands of police stationed outside.

Pirate Party in ‘deadly’ legal high scandal
Sweden

Pirate Party in ‘deadly’ legal high scandal

Three members of Sweden’s Pirate Party were involved in an online store selling legal highs that have been linked to the deaths of fifteen people, it has been claimed.

Greece refuses to bow to German pressure
Germany

Greece refuses to bow to German pressure

Greece's prime minister Alexis Tsipras said Tuesday that the country "cannot return to an age of bailouts and suppression," ahead of critical talks with Athens's EU creditors.

Day of judgement looms for Concordia skipper
Italy

Day of judgement looms for Concordia skipper

Francesco Schettino, the skipper of the ill-fated Costa Concordia, could learn on Wednesday whether he has been convicted of manslaughter and other charges over the 2012 disaster.

Mass killer Breivik to take Norway to court
Norway

Mass killer Breivik to take Norway to court

Norwegian mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is preparing to take Norway’s Ministry of Justice to court, arguing that his prolonged solitary confinement amounts to “torture”.

Germany draws record number of tourists
Germany

Germany draws record number of tourists

Germany attracted a record number of foreign visitors in 2014, the federal statistics office said on Tuesday.

1.5 billion kronor Palestinian aid package
Sweden

1.5 billion kronor Palestinian aid package

Sweden has announced a 1.5 billion kronor ($180 million) Palestinian aid package. The move came as president Mahmoud Abbas made his first visit to Stockholm since 2009.