Europe News World

Migrants Remain Stranded in Hungary

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There are an estimated 2,000 migrants stranded near the Keleti train station today. Hundreds of passengers on five trains were delayed overnight as migrants swarmed the train tracks near the port of Calais. The surge of migrants is causing major travel delays all over the European Union in recent weeks.

Southern Europe saw 11 migrants drown as two boats sunk off of the coast of Turkey.

Germany, Austria and Hungary are the top destinations for migrants and have taken the brunt of the migrants in coming days. Recent developments serve as a reminder that Europe as a whole is trying diligently to accommodate migrants due to the influx.

Tens of thousands of migrants, over 107,000 in July alone, have been fleeing the Middle East and Africa in hopes of settling in Europe. Asylum policies are difficult to overcome, and many far-right political parties have also caused backlash against migrants in some countries.

Protests erupted at Keleti station resulted in demonstrator’s chanting “Go! Germany! We want freedom!” Riot police remained on standby as police officers have been working diligently to check migrant documentation at cafes and local shops.

Keleti station had to shut down temporarily until the authorities decided what to do in terms of security. Transportation resumed regularly, but all passengers must have legal documentation before they’re allowed to enter on the train. Many migrants without paperwork are now stranded as a result.

The number of migrants keep piling up despite transportation hardships.

A growing concern over the health of migrants is rising. Months ago, migrants would have foot problems from their long journey, but now many people are coming with diabetes and illnesses requiring medical attention.

Groups of human traffickers are also present, with many migrants going to traffickers in an attempt to be transported to Germany and avoid the train debacle. Many countries initially against migrants seeking asylum have relaxed their position in an effort to help ease the burden throughout Europe.


Migrants Protest Hungary’s Westbound Travel Ban

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Migrants protested in Budapest, Hungary on Wednesday as Hungarian police blocked them from seeking asylum in other western European Union countries.

The migrants, who were gathered outside Keleti station, chanted that they wanted peace. The protest comes as European Union countries are facing a massive influx of migrants and refugees fleeing from poverty, war and persecution in Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

The Hungary police released a statement, noting that they intend to maintain their positions at the Keleti terminal as more migrants arrive from Serbia. It is estimated that there are nearly 3,000 migrants camped at the station already.

Hungarian officers are working closely with colleagues from Germany, Austria and Slovakia to search for migrants who are traveling illegally on Hungarian trains. Hungary states that the security move is in line with the EU’s passport-free travel policy.

Viktor Orban, Hungary’s prime minister, will meet with EU chiefs on Thursday and discuss his country’s handling of an unprecedented number of migrants. Thus far, the country has seen more than 150,000 migrants, mainly from Syria, pass through.

Meanwhile, Germany expects to receive around 800,000 migrants this year. That’s four times more migrants than the previous year.

A populist movement is growing in Iceland, a non-EU country, where the government pledged to host just 50 Syrian refugees. In a campaign called “Syria’s Calling,” thousands of island residents have committed to opening their homes to a war refugee.

Efforts to control the flow of migrants continues all across Europe. France’s cross-Channel Eurostar trains saw disruptions overnight as migrants were found running on the tracks and attempting to climb on top of trains. On one Paris-to-London train, service was delayed after migrants attempted to climb on top of the train and damaged fire safety equipment.

Naval vessels from several countries continue to patrol the Mediterranean in hopes of preventing more tragic drownings of migrants.

Europe News

Low Water Levels Forcing European River Cruises to Change Routes

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It’s been a hot and dry summer in Europe, where water levels are lower than normal in parts of the Elbe and Danube rivers. Water levels are so low in some areas, parts of the riverbed are exposed. River cruise lines were forced to change their itineraries throughout July and August. Now, it seems as though the chances will continue into September.

Viking River Cruises was forced to change five of its cruises this past week alone. Four of those cruises include a ship swap. Passengers will need to be transferred to avoid low-water areas of the Elbe River that ships can’t pass through.

Changes have also been made to the line’s “Grand European Tour,” set to launch today. The original cruise was scheduled to launch in Budapest and end in Amsterdam via the Viking Aegir. The tour will now begin in Komarom, Hungary and passengers will be boarding the Viking Embla instead. All transfers from Budapest to Komarom will be provided by Viking River Cruises.

Low water levels have been causing issues all summer long. The Danube River, in particular, has been causing trouble as all major river cruise liners sail through here.

Uniworld Boutique River Cruise Collection was forced to change eight of their sailings on the Danube River in July and August. These changes also included passengers having to swap ships. The company had to cancel its August 9th launch of the “European Jewels” cruise because water levels were so low, there wouldn’t be much of any actual “cruising”.

Over the weekend and earlier in the week, Danube River waters receded once again, and delayed or stalled ship passage. While river cruise liners are doing their best to keep disruptions to a minimum, passengers are concerned about current and upcoming sailings.

The local forecast is calling for rain in the coming days along the Danube River, which should help bring water levels back up.

Europe News World

Europe’s Passport-Free Travel Area May Disappear

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With Europe seeing a massive influx of refugees and migrants, many countries are tightening their border controls and building fences. As migrants move out of Italy and Greece and travel further into the European Union, much of the world is wondering what the recent crackdown will mean for Europe’s passport-free area.

Known as the Schengen area, the passport-free zone allows travelers to move freely across borders. It also allows for the movement of services and goods as a way to boost the European economy.

The Schengen agreement was signed 30 years ago, and currently has 26 members: 22 EU nations, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Norway and Iceland. Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Britain, Romania and Ireland are not a part of the agreement, although some would like to join.

Before the influx of migrants, the Schengen area was expected to grow, and its rules were expected to evolve as well.

Anyone who enters the area must first undergo an ID check against a criminal and customs database. Once you’ve passed the check and entered inside of the area, no ID checks are allowed against any databases. European travelers might have their passports checked simply for commercial reasons to ensure that the individual’s name matches the one on the ticket.

Under the Schengen agreement, countries can only close their borders in exceptional circumstances, mainly for security purposes. A terror attack or a massive influx of migrants may be more than enough reason for Schengen countries to start closing their borders. But before they can do so, they must inform the Commission of their reasoning and their intentions.

The Dublin rules are also impacting the way migrants are shared in Europe. Under Dublin, migrants must first apply for asylum in the country they arrived in. With so many migrants moving through Italy and Greece, their reception centers are overwhelmed.

Some Schengen countries are already taking measures to reduce the flow of migrants across their borders. It’s yet to be seen if it’s practical for Europe’s passport-free zone to remain in effect.


Budget Adds 200 Locations in Europe

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Budget Rental Car has solidified their presence in the European market by adding over 400 locations in less than two years. The company just announced the opening of 200 locations on September 1st in an attempt to lure in European travelers.

In France, Budget opened up 208 locations in an agreement with Rent A Car.

France, while receiving the bulk of new locations, isn’t the only country to see new Budget locations added. Locations have also been added in five locations across Italy, including: Bologna, Milan and Rome.

Marquee locations in France include Paris and Marseille.

Car hire in Europe has been underserviced, and Budget aims to continue their expansion throughout Europe. The Avis Budget Group released a statement by President Larry De Shon that states the company plans to continue expansion in Europe to attract small and medium businesses.

The new expansion isn’t the first time that Budget has shown interest in the country. The company maintains rental locations in numerous European countries, such as Germany, Spain, the UK, Portugal and the Netherlands.

A variety of vehicle types are now available at new locations. There are full-size and economy vehicles as well as compact and SUV models. There are also product rentals that will add to the company’s offering, such as GPS, tablets and child safety seats.

Several insurance options are also available that will protect customers against thefts and accidents when renting the vehicle.

Budget aims to target tourist and business destinations throughout Europe with their expansion. The company has not released information in regards to their automatic and manual transmission options. Many of the underserviced areas of Europe drive mostly manual transmission vehicles, while many tourists prefer automatic options.

Budget Car Rental has over 3,500 locations in 120 countries around the world, and offers affordable, first-class vehicles to all customers with various pricing and vehicle options.

Europe News

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, Warns of EU Failure

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The migrant crisis is hitting European nations hard in recent weeks. Some countries state that over 2,000 people a day are entering their countries, and many have had a difficult time deciding what to do with the influx of migrants.

German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, states that Europe needs to work together to come to terms with the crisis. The failure to help the migrants in a sustained, positive fashion will result in the EU’s “failure” to solve the problem.

Along the borders of Austria, five smugglers were arrested. Thursday resulted in several casualties near the Hungry border as 71 migrants died.

Merkel states, “European countries have a duty the share the migrant burden.” Germany is the top destination for migrants, with an estimated 800,000 people expected to seek asylum within the country in 2015. Merkel is confident that the country will be able to deal with the crisis, citing a strong economy.

Tolerance of hate crimes and violence will not be accepted. Arson attacks on refugee shelters have started in Germany, but the number of people helping refugees greatly outnumbers the amount of xenophobes in the country.

Manuel Valls, the French Prime Minister, said, “the migrant crisis will be a long and difficult challenge for all European countries.”

Rail services all throughout the EU have been suffering due to migrants that enter Turkey and Greece and move north. Austria’s route to Budapest was disrupted as a result of overcrowding. There have also been reports of migrants trying to jump on the top of trains.

Austria has some of the strictest migrant regulations in place, including extra checks on vehicles entering from Hungary. The new checks are causing massive traffic jams along the Austrian border.

Migrants have also died while attempting to flee Libya as many migrants drowned in the process. In July, 107,500 migrants reached EU borders.


Flights from SkyGreece Temporarily Halted

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SkyGreece, a small airline located in Canada has temporarily halted all flights to Greece and Croatia. The small company just opened their doors last year with one plane and a second plane that is currently leased by the company.

The company canceled all flights last week and has continued to cancel flights this week as well. A press release by the company states that financial setbacks have caused SkyGreece to shutdown with hopes that the company can open its doors in the future.

Greek economic conditions are to be blamed, stated the company. Poor economic conditions caused fewer travelers to fly to the country and led to multi-day delays. The company also cited additional expenses due to the economic crisis in Greece.

Cancellations are causing many travelers to be stranded in Europe with no way to get home. SkyGreece’s customers are left with no recourse aside from the company telling customers to call travel agents to arrange alternate travel plans. Customers that attempted to call the company on Monday were left with messages unreturned.

One customer, Bessie Broussallis states that her 74-year old father had been traveling in Greece and used SkyGreece. Bessie states that booking an alternate flight has proved problematic and that her father will run out of medication while he is away as a result. The company has not been responsive as of yet.

Even Canada’s CTV news outlet attempted to get in touch with the airline and has not been able to reach anyone by phone. A visit to the company’s offer left further concerns as the company office was abandoned with its mailbox filled with letters.

Consumer protection laws in Quebec will allow customers to find financial recourse, but this is a major inconvenience for travelers currently stranded in Greece. If the company does go bankrupt, there may be no legal recourse for customers.

Culture Europe News

Thalys Attack Makes Train Security Tricky in Europe

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Safety on trains is at the forefront of discussion in Europe following the attempted gun attack on the Thalys running from Amsterdam to Paris. Finding a solution can prove to be challenging as implementing airport-style security may prove to be impossible.

Roughly 40 million people travel on European railways each day. Implementing such complex security checks could prove to be a timely task. Furthermore, there are no barriers at most European train stations. Passengers and non-ticket holders are free to mingle with one another. Those that do hold tickets are free to board the train with as much luggage as they can carry – without having to run through a scanner.

Even with things as they are now, train stations in major cities, like Frankfurt or Berlin, can be incredibly chaotic during rush hour. Experts say that implementing airport-like security would not be a practical or feasible task.

Despite this, passengers are still calling for solutions to improve security on trains. The outcry comes after passengers subdued a man who shot at people on the train from Amsterdam to Paris.

Other countries, like Spain, are implementing luggage controls. Spain implemented these controls after the Madrid terrorist attacks in 2004 that killed nearly 200 people. Thus far, only the Eurostar high-speed train that connects London to the rest of Europe has implemented airport-style security.

Schengen countries also face a dilemma as tighter security and more passenger checks may violate the Schengen agreement.

Jörg Radeck, the German Police Union’s deputy head, suggests that adding more uniformed police in train stations could help improve security without implementing a complex airport-style security system.

While some are calling for stricter controls on train travel, others are cautious of going down this road. According to some, tightening control and security can pose a threat to free civil society.

Business Culture Technology

New Hypersonic Planes Can Travel From Europe to Australia in 90 Minutes

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Hypersonic passenger planes may be a reality by 2030, and they have the power to travel between Australia and Europe in just 90 minutes. Known as the SpaceLiner, this hypersonic plane can travel at up to 20 times the speed of sound and transport up to 100 passengers at a time. A trip between the U.S. and Europe would take a mere 60 minutes.

The plan was first proposed in 2007 by German aerospace engineers, but the project was shelved. Now, the project is being resurrected, and these planes could be a reality within decades. All they need is $33 billion.

Of course, traveling at such high speeds would come at a cost.

Martin Sippel, head of the SpaceLiner project, stated in a conference in Glasgow that the project could now move ahead. The goal is to create a development roadmap, and that should be completed during Phase A this year. Plans have also been outlined for a 100-passenger version that’s capable of one hour transpacific and intercontinental travel.

Tickets are expected to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The SpaceLiner would feature a completely reusable system with a passenger orbiter, and a booster stage. The booster stage would contain an eco-friendly rocker propulsion system that’s fueled by oxygen and liquid hydrogen.

In less than 10 minutes, the SpaceLiner’s engines would accelerate the aircraft to over 20 times the speed of sound. Next, the booster separation would occur and at a height of 80 km, the passenger orbiter would glide down in an unpowered flight and ultimately land at its designation destination.

The SpaceLiner would require its own isolated launch site, and the route would need to be planned carefully to prevent sonic booms from impacting residential areas. The empty rocket would return back to Earth after launching, and could be reused.

Although still in the planning stages, test flights for the SpaceLiner could be seen as early as 2035, and service may start in the 2040s.


Business Europe News

Swiss Hotels Catering to Middle East Tourists

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Swiss hotels have seen a sharp decline in European tourists visiting their locations this year. The decline comes at a time when European tourists are looking for budget-friendly travel options in lieu of the expensive hotels found in Switzerland.

An increase in Middle Eastern tourists has caused a major shift in some of the country’s most popular hotels.

One of the most noticeable changes is the revision of restaurant menus. Middle Eastern cuisine has been added extensively into menus to accommodate tourists. The Belle Epoque Hotel Splendide Royal has been open since 1887 and is attempting to attract emerging markets as a result of declining European visitors.

The decline is blamed on the strength of the Swiss franc.

Bookings in the hotel from Middle Eastern countries has grown 5 percent this year. Giuseppe Rossi, the General Manager of Splendide Royal, has stated that his establishment has worked hard to lure in visitors from the Middle East. The hotel’s management has been to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar in 2015 to help boost potential bookings.

Declining European visitors has been a problem for Switzerland in recent years. The Swiss franc is much stronger than the euro, causing many hotels to target visitors from different locals. Rose water pudding and wines from Lebanon have been added to the menu at Splendide Royal, and many hotels now have Arabic websites to cater to Middle Eastern visitors.

Between 2011 and 2014, the number of tourists visiting Switzerland from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait doubled to 725,000.

This year alone, the franc is up 13% over the euro. Earlier in the year, the central bank removed the cap on the franc over the euro which was set at 1.20 per euro, causing matters to worsen for potential European travelers.

Visa rules for Emirati citizens were eased in June by the Swiss government to further boost tourism in the country.