The IFCJ Helps Those in Paris

Last week, following the coordinated terrorist attacks in Paris, the IFCJ (The International Fellowship of Christians and Jews) has pledged almost $90,000 to boost security at 25 synagogues and schools run by Chabad in Paris and Toulouse. The money will be used to hire additional guards and to install electronic security systems.

As the IFCJ announced, “The fellowship is also considering other steps to help improve security for the entire French-Jewish community.” As IFCJ founder Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein explained, “Amid the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, it is critical that we help better protect French-Jewish communal institutions, which have been targets in the past. At the same time, we are extending our immediate support to any French Jew who wishes to leave France and make aliya to Israel.”

As Rabbi Eckstein explained, “It is vital that the Jews of France know we stand sideby- side with them and will do whatever is necessary to help their community at this challenging time.” Eckstein explained that IFCJ has started several programs to help new immigrants to Israel with rent, employment counseling and Hebrew lessons.

Rabbi Mendal Azimov, the director of Chabad of Paris, echoed Rabbi Eckstein’s sentiments and explained what it’s been like living in Paris. As he said, “The last few days have been living hell for the citizens of France, and especially for the Jews of Paris. Naturally we feel like sitting ducks, very aware that our community centers, synagogues and educational institutions are in realistic danger at all times.”

Osborne Traveling to Germany

British finance ministers will be traveling to Germany tomorrow to call for a strong EU that will work for the “benefit of all 28 member states.” George Osborne will outline ways that London’s financial services can be better protected. His government is looking to achieve reforms in the British relationship with the EU. He is hoping that these changes will make voters want to back continued membership of the bloc in a referendum that is due by the end of 2017.
As Osborne said prior to his visit, “But the future holds challenges for our economies. We must cut debt and boost productivity. To do this, we need a strong EU, fit for today’s challenges and working for the benefit of all 28 member states. The UK’s reform and renegotiation plans aim to achieve this, which is why these talks with key partners in Europe are so important.”

Read the whole article and learn more.

EU Parliament Employment Committee Votes on New Legislation

Just last week, the European Parliament’s Employment Committee voted in favor of new legislation as part of the Christensen report on the EU Strategic Framework on Health and Safety at Work. Commenting on many of the new elements of the EP vote, UEAPME Secretary General Peter Faross said

UEAPME is very concerned about the EP’s calls for new EU legislation in occupational health and safety. Health and safety at work is one of the most regulated areas at EU level. Legal texts are sufficient as currently reported by COWI, a consultant hired by the EC for carrying out an evaluation report of OSH Directive The priority should not be to add on this existing legislative framework but to facilitate its full implementation and to further simplify some texts. This is exactly what small and micro companies are requesting. For SMEs, directives are too complicated, too burdensome and too costly. Small and micro companies do not have the necessary expertise and resources for full compliance without technical and financial support.”

He continued later to say,

“Even more problematic is the request of the European Parliament to work on a legal act concerning harassment and violence at work, a topic dealt with European social partners through the negotiation of a Framework agreement and on which further actions are foreseen in the EU Social Dialogue Work Programme 2015-2017. The lack of respect of the EU social partners’ role and autonomy is very disappointing and highly questionable. We now call on the EP Plenary vote to counteract and avoid creating additional burdens and new obligations on SMEs.”

Eastern European News

The EU Court of Justice and Bitcoin

Last month, the EU Court of Justice deemed that Bitcoin transactions should not be subject to VAT. Bitcoin and its regulation has been a hot topic in 2015. New York State introduced the BitLicense and has seen quite a bit of backlash. As a result, many have been looking for alternative approaches.

The BTC price has risen to its highest point of 2015. Many of the institutions that Bitcoin companies need to work with still present obstacles and problems. Learn more about Bitcoin and the hurdles that it is facing at the moment.

More EU Students Coming to the UK

Interestingly, Ucas data shows that higher education providers in England have 20,430 EU learners from outside the UK. This is a 14% increase from the same point last year. This shows a significant acceleration, as the 2014-15 English universities EU recruitment was 8% higher than the year before that.

As Nick Hillman, the director of Higher Education Policy Institute told Times Higher Education that:

“There are push factors, in that people want to study in a good university system, and pull factors, which are partly financial, because universities can fill their places and these are full £9,000-paying students. They also stand to get good students who can help the diversity of the classroom.”

However, while the increase in diversity on campus is being applauded, many are worried about the impact these changes will have on the student finance system. It can become difficult to get repayments on tuition fee loans if the learners leave the UK when they finish their learning.

Read more about these issues and get the full picture of the concerns.