Digest (for United States)

Monday, November 25th 2019: Johnson’s Christmas present for Britain, Romania re-elects President Iohannis, Italy tests new distribution system for refugees

⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Johnson’s Christmas present for Britain: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson promised £23.5 billion worth of public spending and tax relief on Sunday as he unveiled the Conservative manifesto. Johnson announced a “triple lock” on income tax, national insurance and value added tax rates. He also insisted that he would push his Brexit withdrawal agreement through parliament before Christmas if he wins an outright majority in the upcoming election. The biggest Conservative pledge is to raise the threshold for National Insurance contributions, followed by extra spending on the health service. Other Tory pledges include 20,000 new police officers, an extra £1 billion for social care and an Australian-style points based immigration system. Johnson criticized Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn for pledging to stay neutral during a second referendum on Brexit. According to polls, the Tory share of the vote now stands at 47%, with Labour at 28%.
euronews.com, cnn.com (Johnson); theguardian.com (Poll)
No British Commissioner in sight: The European Union is due to relaunch its new European Commission under the leadership of German conservative Ursula von der Leyen on December 1st. Until now, Britain has refused to name its representative for the Commission, as the country plans to finally leave the EU on January 31st. The EU has launched a legal case against the UK on the matter. The British government has until the end of November 22nd to reply to the outgoing EU Commission. Trying to hedge their bets, the other 27 EU member states are preparing a decision that would stress the legality of forming the new Commission without Britain.
uk.reuters.com
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Pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong makes big gains: Hong Kong’s opposition pro-democracy movement made major gains in the district council elections. The elections were seen as a test of support for the city’s pro-China Chief Executive Carrie Lam, who has faced intense pressure during months of protests in Hong Kong. Initial results from the voting showed huge gains for the pro-democracy camp. A record 4.1 million people had registered to vote, or more than half the population of 7.4 million. Meanwhile, leaked documents detail China’s systematic brainwashing of hundreds of thousands of Muslims in a network of high-security prison camps. The documents show how inmates are locked up, indoctrinated and punished.
bbc.com, cnbc.com (Hong Kong); bbc.com (China)
Jean-Claude Juncker: A European navigator disembarks dw.com
EU naval mission: France says Abu Dhabi to host headquarters for European naval mission for the Gulf af.reuters.com
United States: Mike Bloomberg launches bid for 2020 Democratic presidential nomination cnbc.com
Israel: Opposition politician Gantz wants to prevent new elections with unity government tagesspiegel.de
Bolivia: New elections excluding Evo Morales approved dw.com
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“I understand your desire for disruptive politics. But I’m tired of picking up the pieces. Over and over, I have to glue together the cups you have broken so we can then sit down and have a cup of tea together.”
The “New York Times” reports that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has sharply criticized French President Emmanuel Macron for his comments on Nato.
nytimes.com, reuters.com
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Romania reelects President Iohannis: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis won a presidential runoff vote on Sunday, earning twice as many votes as his challenger Viorica Dancila from the PSD Social Democrats. According to exit polls, Iohannis garnered around 63% of votes followed by Dancila with almost 37%. Turnout at the election was about 50%, making it the lowest since the fall of Communism 30 years ago. However, for the first time almost one million Romanians living abroad went to the polls. The government had simplified voting procedures at the consulates.
dw.com, reuters.com, spiegel.de
Italy tests new distribution system for refugees: The rescue ship “Ocean Viking” has docked in the Italian port of Messina, carrying 213 migrants saved at sea. Italy usually only opens its ports to rescue vessels with migrants on board if other EU states have agreed to take them in. In this case, Italy, Germany, France and Malta jointly applied to the EU Commission to initiate the redistribution of the migrants, according to the Italian interior ministry. It is the first time such an application has been made according to a basic protocol for migrant rescues agreed by these four countries at a meeting in Malta in late September. Meanwhile, seven people are reported to have died when an overcrowded boat carrying migrants capsized off the coast of the Italian island of Lampedusa on Saturday. The Italian coast guard said it had rescued another 149 but that some 20 people were still missing.
dw.com, theguardian.com
Maltese police interrogate economy minister after murder of journalist: Malta’s Economy Minister Chris Cardona has been questioned by police, following the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia in 2017. Cardona had been called in to verify certain matters. He was not arrested and is not being treated as a suspect. Prominent businessman Yorgen Fenech, arrested by Malta police as a person of interest in the murder, has asked for a pardon in return for information about the case, police sources said on Saturday. He is the second man to seek a pardon after Melvin Theuma, under arrest on suspicion of having been a middleman in the murder, made a similar request earlier in the week.
tagesspiegel.de, nytimes.com
German minister protests Turkish lawyer’s arrest: The arrest of a lawyer working for Germany’s embassy in Turkey has prompted a protest from Foreign Minister Heiko Maas to his Turkish counterpart, Mevlut Cavusoglu. Maas said Germany regarded the lawyer’s arrest as incomprehensible and that the German government had no understanding for it. Lawyer Yilmaz S. was arrested in mid-September, prompting fears that he held sensitive data on Turks exiled in Germany since Turkey’s failed 2016 coup. Some 200 asylum-seekers have reportedly been warned by Germany’s Office for Migration and Refugees that the data could lead to probes by Turkey’s national intelligence agency.
dw.com
Austria 1: Momentum in ÖVP and Green Party coalition talks spiegel.de
Austria 2: Dream of the 1,200 Euro basic income welt.de
Luxembourg: Foreign Minister Asselborn calls for European reaction to US policy change in the Middle East tagesspiegel.de
France and Italy: Flooding leaves at least three dead washingtonpost.com
⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃
politjobs.eu: Alfa Fellowship Program seeks Young German, British, and American Leaders *** FTA seeks Regulatory Affairs Advisor (m/f) *** Bayer seeks Trainee (m/f) *** ISN seeks Advocacy Officer (m/f) *** Politico seeks Lobbying Reporter (m/f) *** EGEC seeks Trainee (m/f) *** Facebook seeks Public Policy Manager (m/f) *** Google seeks Public Policy and Government Relations Manager (m/f) *** DEKRA offers Internship (m/f) *** European Friends of Amernia seeks Communications and Media Engagement Officer (m/f) *** International Crisis Group seeks Analyst (m/f)
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Isis fighter returns to Germany: A German woman suspected of being an Isis member has been repatriated along with her three children. German authorities had previously ordered for the mother to be returned to her home country from a Syrian camp, saying that she left Germany and joined the jihadi militia in 2016. German authorities have been investigating the mother on suspicion of membership of a terror organization and child neglect.
dw.com
 

Friday, November 22nd 2019: EU urges end to violence in Iran, EU Parliament tables resolution to declare climate emergency, EU still cautious on threat of US car tariffs

⊂ EUROPE ⊃
EU urges end to violence in Iran: A spokeswoman for the EU on Thursday expressed condolences to the families of those killed during protests in Iran and called for dialogue to resolve the tensions. She said the EU expected Iran’s security forces to exercise restraint in handling the protests and for protesters to demonstrate peacefully. Any violence was unacceptable. The spokeswoman also urged Iranian authorities to ensure the free flow of information and access to the internet. Iran’s Revolutionary Guards said on Thursday that calm had returned across the country. The semi-official ISNA news agency announced that the internet has been restored in the southern Iranian province of Hormozgan.
dw.com, politico.eu, france24.com
EU Parliament tables resolution to declare climate emergency: The European Parliament will vote next week on whether a climate emergency should be proclaimed in Europe. A growing number of states and local administrations have already made similar declarations. Renew Europe (formerly Alde, the liberal group in the EU Parliament) has asked parliament to adopt a resolution calling on the EU Commission and EU countries to take action to initiate a society-wide mobilization. The resolution is also in line with the negotiations of the EU’s next multi-annual budget, where the Commission and EU Parliament say they want to further budgetary efforts to tackle climate change and turn the related challenges into economic opportunities. The proclamation of a climate emergency is a symbolic act to raise awareness of climate change and plan for laws.
eureporter.co
Vote on new EU Commission on Wednesday: The European Parliament will vote on the new Commission next Wednesday. If it is a favorable vote, the EU Commisison will be able to start its work on December 1st. After meeting with the Commission’s three executive Vice Presidents-designate, EU Parliament President David Sassoli told a press conference the College of Commissioners would be presented to the parliament in Strasbourg on Wednesday. 27 EU member states have made their nominations, but the United Kingdom failed to put names forward, leading to the Commission to begin infringement proceedings against the UK.
europarl.europa.eu, euronews.com
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EU still cautious on threat of US car tariffs: The European Union is still uncertain about whether the United States could impose further tariffs on European car exports, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said on Thursday. Ater a meeting of EU trade commissioners, Malmström said the good news was that the US did not announce any new tariffs on EU cars and car parts on the November 13th deadline. But she also warned that this threat was not entirely gone.
dw.com
European Court of Human Rights: Transit zones at the border are allowed tagesschau.de
Singapore: EU-Singapore trade agreement enters into force ec.europa.eu
Zimbabwe: EU worried about recent political developments in Zimbabwe reuters.com
Study: EU and member states are biggest development donor group in the world theguardian.com
“Extinction Rebellion”: Co-founder Hallam apologizes for Holocaust remarks nytimes.com
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“Whoever is in government in the UK in a few weeks’ time, whoever is prime minister, we will be happy to sit down with them, listen to what they say and work with them.”
Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has said if the British government wanted to talk about a customs union with the EU, or closer alignment with the single market, then Ireland would be open to this.
independent.co.uk
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Migrants found in sealed container on ferry to Ireland: The crew of a passenger ferry traveling to Ireland from France discovered 16 migrants stowed aboard in a sealed trailer on Thursday, a spokesman for the vessel’s Swedish operator Stena Line said. The migrants were found during a routine inspection on board the ferry. Cyprus authorities have rescued 120 Syrian migrants from a boat adrift off the island’s southeastern coast, police said on Thursday. Spanish rescue ship “Open Arms” has rescued around 73 migrants from a packed rubber dinghy that had been drifting off the Libyan coast for nearly 24 hours. Meanwhile, about 200 migrants are still on the Norwegian rescue vessel “Ocean Viking”.
euronews.com (Ireland); france24.com (Cyprus); reuters.com, dw.com (Rescue ships)
Hungarian government must apologize for misleading survey: Hungary’s top court ruled on Wednesday that Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government had published misleading and falsely presented facts about a refugee rights group in a questionnaire sent to millions of households in 2017. The Supreme Court ruled that the government had damaged the reputation of NGO Hungarian Helsinki Committee over the national consultation questionnaire about US billionaire George Soros, ordered an apology and compensation of €6,000.
euobserver.com
Greek economy to grow in 2020: Greece expects its economy to grow by 2.8% next year, driven by higher investments, improving domestic demand and tax cuts as the country recovers from a decade-long debt crisis. Greece emerged from international bailouts supervised by its lenders in August 2018. But it still needs to meet fiscal targets, including a primary budget surplus of 3.5% of GDP up to 2022. Finance Minister Christos Staikouras told reporters on Thursday that Greece will conclude an early repayment of loans from the International Monetary Fund next week, a move which helps Greece reduce its debt-servicing costs.
reuters.com
Serbia accuses Russia of spying: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic announced Thursday that Serbian intelligence agencies have uncovered a wide-ranging intelligence operation involving Russian spies and members of the Serbian military. Vucic ordered an investigation after a video emerged purporting to show a Russian diplomat or intelligence officer handover a wad of cash to a Serbian man. The video showed a man identified as Lt. Col. Georgy Kleban, a former assistant military attache at Russia’s embassy in Belgrade, meeting a Serbian retired army officer. One of the men is seen handing over a carrier bag to the second man, whose face is blurred in the video but is said to be Serbian. However, Vucic said the spy scandal should not harm relations between Serbia and Russia, adding he was sure that Russian President Vladimir Putin was not informed about this.
reuters.com, euronews.com
Greece: Protest against deportation camp on Samos n-tv.de
Georgia: Thousands protest ruling party’s broken promises dw.com
Catalonia: Puigdemont and Comin demand to take seats in EU Parliament politico.eu
France: Government wants to comply with EU deficit rules 2020 despite overspending zeit.de
Germany: Merkel pledges bigger European share of 5G network reuters.com
Sweden: Europe’s center for clan crime handelsblatt.com
⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃
politjobs.eu: Alfa Fellowship Program seeks Young German, British, and American Leaders *** FTA seeks Regulatory Affairs Advisor (m/f) *** Bayer seeks Trainee (m/f) *** ISN seeks Advocacy Officer (m/f) *** Politico seeks Lobbying Reporter (m/f) *** EGEC seeks Trainee (m/f) *** Facebook seeks Public Policy Manager (m/f) *** Google seeks Public Policy and Government Relations Manager (m/f) *** DEKRA offers Internship (m/f) *** European Friends of Amernia seeks Communications and Media Engagement Officer (m/f) *** International Crisis Group seeks Analyst (m/f)
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Greenpeace steals the “C” from German CDU party headquarters: German activists with Greenpeace removed the 6.5-foot-tall “C” from the headquarters of the Christian Democrats (CDU) in Berlin on Thursday. To the remaining “DU” — German for “you” — they added a banner reading, “should protect the climate.” Greenpeace said it planned the logo letter theft to protest against the CDU’s disastrous climate policies. Last week, parliament approved the German government’s climate protection plan, which was criticized by environmental groups for not going far enough. CDU leader and German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer appeared to take the protest in stride. She said the CDU was happy to lend Greenpeace its “C”, which stood for Christianity and sustainability, for a short time. CDU secretary general Paul Ziemiak posted a picture of himself from the party conference posing with another, older copy of the party’s logo. “We’re in luck since the original ‘C’ is here in Leipzig,” he wrote.
dw.com, nytimes.com
 

Thursday, November 21st 2019: EU warns eight countries over budget plans, “Extinction Rebellion” founder downplays Holocaust, Former UK consulate worker says he was tortured in China

⊂ EUROPE ⊃
EU warns eight countries over budget plans: The EU Commission announced Wednesday that eight member states risk breaching EU fiscal rules next year by missing their debt and deficit reduction targets. Italy, Belgium, Spain, France, Portugal, Slovenia, Finland and Slovakia are undertaking less structural effort than recommended by the EU. Of particular concern for Brussels is Italy’s mountain of debt that is expected to balloon to a huge 136.8% of GDP, the highest in the euro area except for bailed out Greece. Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis invited countries at risk of breaching rules to take the necessary measures to ensure compliance, but added that no immediate changes were requested to existing draft budgets. The Commission is also encouraging countries with strong finances, particularly Germany and the Netherlands, to spend more to help the eurozone economy.
dw.com, uk.reuters.com
Tusk elected as EPP leader: Outgoing European Council President Donald Tusk was elected the new president of the European People’s Party (EPP) on Wednesday. In his first remarks after being elected, the Polish lawmaker vowed to fight populists, manipulators and autocrats. The remarks may have been an attack on Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban’s party Fidesz, which was suspended from the EPP earlier in the year over concerns about Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s record on respect for the rule of law, freedom of the press and rights for minorities.
dw.com, reuters.com
“Extinction Rebellion” founder downplays Holocaust: Roger Hallam, the co-founder of the environmental movement “Extinction Rebellion”, has come under fire after he described the Holocaust as “just another fuckery in human history”. He also said genocides have been “like a regular event” throughout history. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said in a tweet of Hallam’s interview that the Holocaust involved millions dead and horrible torture methods. Killing Jews in an industrial way and wanting to eradicate them was incomparably inhuman. Mass reiterated that everyone must always be aware of this so that history would not repeat itself. German CDU politician Armin Laschet wondered on Twitter about Hallam’s antisemitic and extreme right-wing framing when he was supposedly talking about climate protection. Green party chief Robert Habeck urged environment campaigners to very clearly distance themselves from Hallam, saying he had disqualified himself with his comments. The German branch of “Extinction Rebellion” said in a statement that it distanced itself decisively from Hallam’s downplaying and relativizing statements about the Holocaust, adding that he did not speak for the German group.
politico.eu, dw.com, theguardian.com
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Israel faces prospect of new elections: Israel is facing the prospect of its third election within a year as Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz announced on Wednesday that he will not be able to form a new government. Gantz, former President Benjamin Netanyahu’s main opponent, was charged with forming a government after Netanyahu failed to garner enough support. Neither Gantz nor Netanyahu have the required majority in parliament to form a government in their own right. Despite rounds of meetings, both have been unwilling to bend on key issues. Parliament now has twenty-one days to rally around Gantz, Netanyahu or another candidate to avoid the third election within twelve months. Meanwhile, the Israeli military said it struck dozens of Iranian targets in Syria on Wednesday, killing at least 24 people.
dw.com, cnn.com (Government formation); cbsnews.com, spiegel.de (Syria)
Impeachment: Sondland says Trump ordered Ukraine pressure campaign; Trump dismisses Sondland’s testimony politico.com, politico.eu
UN Security Council: Members rebuke US softened stance on Israel’s West Bank settlements time.com
Amsterdam: Speech by President-elect Charles Michel at University of Amsterdam consilium.europa.eu
Climate protest: Youth activists stage “die-in” at EU Commission brusselstimes.com
Study: Climate change could shave off 3% of the world economy cnbc.com
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“We’re in contact with the French competition authorities, in order to see what would they do, to see if they would want to handle the question or if we should have a look.”
EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said Wednesday the EU might look into Google’s compliance with new copyright rules after France raised concerns regarding the US tech giant.
cnbc.com, euractiv.de
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Former UK consulate worker says he was tortured in China: A former employee of the UK’s Hong Kong consulate has told the BBC that he was tortured in China and accused of inciting political unrest in the city. Simon Cheng said he was shackled, blindfolded, hooded, beaten, deprived of sleep and chained to an X-shaped frame by plainclothes and uniformed agents as they sought information on activists involved in the Hong Kong protests and the role they believed Britain played in the demonstrations. British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab summoned the Chinese ambassador and said he was outraged by the disgraceful mistreatment that Cheng faced when he was in detention in mainland China, which Raab said amounted to torture. The British government expected the Chinese authorities to review and hold to account those responsible.
bbc.com, cbsnews.com, cnn.com
Shock after stabbing of former German president’s son: Fritz von Weizsäcker, the son of former German President Richard von Weizsäcker, was stabbed to death while he was giving a lecture at a Berlin medical clinic on Tuesday. The suspect was sent to a psychiatric unit later on Wednesday, described as having an acute psychological illness. German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert said it was a terrible blow for the von Weizsäcker family, and the sympathy of the chancellor and all members of the government went to the widow and the whole family. The leader of Germany’s liberal Free Democrats, Christian Lindner, wrote on Twitter he was shocked by the attack and that he had lost his friend who had been a passionate physician and a fine human being.
politico.eu, dw.com
Greece to close three refugee camps: The new conservative government in Greece has announced plans to close a number of refugee camps as part of efforts to deter asylum seekers from coming to the country. Living conditions for some 37,000 migrants in the camps on the Greek islands have been decried by aid groups as appalling. The government has vowed to relocate 20,000 asylum-seekers to centers on the mainland by early 2020. Authorities will construct closed pre-departure centers, which would make it easier to monitor the movements of asylum seekers and stop them from making their way to the mainland undetected. Asylum seekers will not be allowed to move freely in and out of the camps, said officials, but will instead be locked up until they are either granted refugee status and relocated to the mainland or rejected and sent back to Turkey. Deputy Defense Minister Alkiviadis Stefanis said the goal was to return security and control to the areas affected by the crisis.
dw.com, theguardian.com
Nato Secretary-General Stoltenberg welcomes proposal for expert group: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas proposed a new expert group to strengthen Nato’s political thinking in a meeting of the alliance’s foreign ministers on Wednesday. The proposal is seen as a reaction to comments by French President Emmanuel Macron that Nato was “brain dead”. Jens Stoltenberg, who will travel to Paris next week to confront Macron in person about his comments, welcomed the German proposal. He said it had gained the support of many Nato allies within the meeting.
dw.com
Merkel hopes for quick agreement on EU enlargement policy: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she would exert pressure on France to allow two western Balkan nations to begin negotiations to join the EU, after French President Emmanuel Macron had vetoed their accession efforts and moved to make it tougher for the EU to accept new members. Merkel told the states of the western Balkans on Wednesday that they too had a prospect for EU membership.
bloomberg.com
Cyprus: Authorities pick up boat with about 100 migrants t-online.de
Austria 1: Police arrest three people in connection with Ibiza video that brought down government dw.com
Austria 2: Hitler house to become police station bbc.com
Sweden: Malmö’s mothers mobilize against violence de.euronews.com
Norway: Norwegian Air appoints Jacob Schram as CEO reuters.com
⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃
politjobs.eu: Alfa Fellowship Program seeks Young German, British, and American Leaders *** FTA seeks Regulatory Affairs Advisor (m/f) *** Bayer seeks Trainee (m/f) *** ISN seeks Advocacy Officer (m/f) *** Politico seeks Lobbying Reporter (m/f) *** EGEC seeks Trainee (m/f) *** Facebook seeks Public Policy Manager (m/f) *** Google seeks Public Policy and Government Relations Manager (m/f) *** DEKRA offers Internship (m/f) *** European Friends of Amernia seeks Communications and Media Engagement Officer (m/f) *** International Crisis Group seeks Analyst (m/f)
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Twitter accuses Tories of misleading public: Twitter has accused the British Tories of misleading the public when the Conservatives rebranded one of their Twitter accounts during the TV debate between Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. The @CCHQPress account – the Tory press office – was renamed “factcheckUK” to resemble actual fact-checking websites. During the debate, the account tweeted graphics supporting Johnson and questioning Corbyn. Conservative Party chairman James Cleverly defended the rebranding, telling the BBC that the Twitter handle of the CCHQ press office remained CCHQPress, so the nature of the site was always clear. Corbyn said it was a laughable attempt by the Tories to trick viewers.
bbc.com, theguardian.com, zeit.de
 

Wednesday, 20 November 2019 France wants to reform EU accession, ECJ criticizes Poland’s judicial reform, Maas wants new NATO initiative, Easyjet wants to become carbon neutral – jetzt bearbeiten

⊂ EUROPE ⊃
France wants reform of the EU accession process: After France’s President Emmanuel Macron irritated the European community at the EU summit in October with his rejection of the EU accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia, the French presented a disputable reform paper. On Tuesday, France’s ideas were made public as to which future accession talks should follow four principles: on the one hand, the rapprochement should be based on defined policy blocks; on the other hand, European values ​​and norms such as the rule of law should be made a condition. Furthermore, there should be financial benefits for the candidates, but the accession process should be reversible. Macron justifies the reluctance in the EU enlargement, which currently focuses on the Western Balkan countries, with the problems the EU is already facing in terms of integration. France demands that the member states should become “more efficient”. Austria, Poland, the Czech Republic, Italy, Slovakia and Slovenia harshly criticized the blockade on enlargement – it guaranteed that the entire region grows more stable. France has not yet explained how the reform process should look like.
bloomberg.com
ECJ criticizes Poland’s judicial reform for the second time: The comprehensive reform of the judiciary of the Polish governing party PiS encounters for the second time a headwind from the European Court of Justice (ECJ). It had classified the compulsory retirement of judges in Poland as unlawful, and now the European institution is addressing another aspect. It’s about a body that is proposing judges. The National Judicial Councilis is composed of members of parliament. The body has appointed 500 judges. It is unclear what consequences the complaint will entail. The ECJ sees this as a violation of the separation of powers. The PiS sees most of the judges as corrupt and had therefore implemented the judiciary reform.
ft.com
Maas wants to strengthen NATO with a new initiative: On Wednesday, German foreign minister Heiko Maas wants to propose an initiative to the the defense alliance at the meeting of the NATO foreign ministers in Brussels. He envisages the establishment of a group of experts, headed by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, to develop measures to overcome the Alliance’s uncertainties by the next regular summit. The aim is to counteract the disputes between the Allies, “otherwise we run the risk of further deepening the uncertainty in the Alliance and to promote a split that may be happy third parties,” commented Maas his advance. This was a direct reaction to the harsh criticism of French President Emmanuel Macron, who described NATO as “brain dead”. The initiative was coordinated with the federal government. The Foreign Minister also aims to strengthen the transatlantic relationship with this move.
sueddeutsche.de
“Aldi effect” in Great Britain: The discounters Aldi and Lidl could become the big winners of Brexit. According to forecasts, food in the UK is likely to become much more expensive as a result of leaving the EU. This will give the German discounters even more momentum. Already now they are securing ever larger market shares in the retail sector. When Lidl and Aldi came together in 2009 at two per cent, they are already reaching 15 per cent of the market share. There is the phrase of the “Aldi effect” already. Many Britons can no longer afford the more expensive domestic supermarket chains. In addition, both supermarket chains have repositioned themselves. At first they looked less attractive. The Guardian called it “bleakly Teutonic.” Now they have improved their appearance. The goals of the two chains remain ambitious. Lidl plans to invest £ 500 million to open 40 new stores in the capital; Aldi currently has 840 stores in the UK, and by 2025 the company plans to increase its inventory to 1,200. In Greater London, the number of branches is to be doubled.
theguardian.com
Fewer new cars in Germany: Fewer and fewer people buy a new car. This is evident from the so-called Current Economic Accounting of the Federal Statistical Office. At the beginning of 2019, only 32.6 percent of all households owned a new car. Thus the value fell for the first time and the mark of one third. However, this is not a sign of the sharing economy. Because in return, the number of used cars increased. At the beginning of this year, almost 49% of private households owned a used one. In 2010 it was only 46 percent of households, in 2000 even only 42.8 percent. The number of households with a car is constant. This year’s rate is 77.1 percent and has barely changed since 2010. At that time, it was 77.6 percent. Statistically speaking, there are still more cars in Germany than private households.
welt.de
Easyjet wants to be carbon-neutral: The climate discussions put airlines in an increasingly poor light. After all, they account for two percent of global CO2 emissions. Easyjet has now announced new, neutral ways to go. Company chief Johan Lundgren said he wanted to reach zero CO2 emissions for all their flights across the network. All emissions are to be offset by climate-friendly investments. Lundgren identified three options: afforestation, renewable energies and municipal climate protection projects. In the current fiscal year, the compensation businesses will spend around £ 25m (just over € 29m). Lundgren dismissed criticism: “It works if you do it with the right projects.”
edition.cnn.com
Bosnia: Appointing a new PM Designee nytimes.com
Hongkong: Hundreds surrender after at university campus theguardian.com
Sweden: Drops Assange Inquiry nytimes.com
Great Britain: Intense debate between Corbyn and Johnson edition.cnn.com
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“NATO is absolutely essential if we are going assess the risks that we face all together and the thought of only one of our countries, or one of our groups of countries, facing the enormous risks to our populations alone is not even rational”
NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg.
federalnewsnetwork.com
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Migrants rescued from a Danish ferry: Again, people were found on the run in cargo transporters. This time, there were 25 people on a Danish ferry, which had started from the port of Vlaardingen near Rotterdam. Shortly after the ship went to sea, the people were discovered. The ferry returned. Two people were taken to the hospital, the rest were unhurt. The destination of the passengers was England.
dw.com
Maltese police arrest presumptive middleman in connection with murder: A man alleged to be linked to the murder of Maltese Investigative Journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was arrested. The reporter was killed in 2017 in the capital Valetta. Rumors were heard that the Maltese victim of a contract killing, as she wrote about corruption and opaque business.
euronews.com
In Russia, journalists can now also be classified as agents: The Russian parliament has voted to be able to categorize journalists as foreign agents in the future. Bloggers and Russian editors are excluded from the plan, as it is about international coverage of social and societal issues. The decision is part of a wave of measures aimed at regulating information on the internet. Previously, Russia had announced its intention to build its own Wikipedia. Since 2012, international non-governmental organizations can be classified as agents. Recently, the Russian government accused Deutsche Welle of actively campaigning for protests in the country.
aljazeera.com
-Advertisement-
Welted men’s footwear: Superior craftsmanship in shoemaking. Buy directly from our manufactures avoiding expensive middlemen. Experience true shoe freedom, handcrafted and custom made from the finest Italian leather. No matter the occasion; be it for the office, leisure or weddings – we have the appropriate pair of shoes
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French women want to increase sensitivity to domestic violence: In 2019, 130 women were murdered by their partners. This was the occasion for French activists to fight for increased sensitivity to violence against women. A nationwide poster campaign shall help raise awareness of the topic. The campaign is also directed against the inaction of the authorities when cases of violence are reported by women.
euronews.com
Kurdish party discusses withdrawal from parliament: The pro-Kurdish party HDP is considering withdrawing from the Turkish parliament. The reason for this is the way the Turkish government deals with mayors and elected officials in the country. In recent weeks, several mayors were deposed and replaced by government officials. Not all HDP MPs support the idea.
arabnews.com
Greece fights cigaretts: 35 percent of the Greek population smoke. Therefore, the government wants to take action and achieve a reduction of 25 percent. Penalties should persuade smokers to live healthier lives. For example, anyone who smokes in a car with a child under the age of 12 should pay 3,000 Euros in penalties. Also in certain public places such as kindergartens it should give high penalties for smokers.
france24.com
Turmoil: Opposition in Georgia vows further anti-government protests euronews.com
Spain: Why the town switched from left to right euronews.com
Bulgaria plans to offer 5G by June nytimes.com
⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃
politjobs.eu: Bitkom sucht Referent europäische Digitalpolitik (w/m) *** Int. Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory seeks Innovation Project Manager *** Int. Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory seeks Project Assistant for EU Funded Projects *** PwC seeks Public Affairs Senior Manager Belgium *** Johnson & Johnson seeks Policy Assistant, Government Affairs & Policy EMEA *** Public Policy Manager, Connectivity *** Ryanair offers Public Affairs internship
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
NATO is targeting space: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wants to expand the field of deployment of the defensive alliance to space. He pointed out that of the approximately 2,000 satellites in the cosmos, half belong to NATO member states. These would have to be protected. The idea is not related to Star War, but to the defense of critical infrastructure.
thenational.ae

Tuesday, November 19th 2019: EU leaders agree 2020 budget, Final EU Commission nominee accepted, EU and US back Georgia protesters

⊂ EUROPE ⊃
EU leaders agree 2020 budget: The EU Parliament and member states reached a deal Monday on the 2020 EU budget that boosts spending to combat climate change and youth unemployment, as well as promote digitization and improve border protection. 21% of the overall budget will go to measures to address climate change. Four billion euros were put aside for unforeseen circumstances including possible future costs of Britain leaving the EU without a deal. EU leaders had called for an annual budget of no more than 166.8 billion euros, the Parliament wanted 171 billion euros. Both sides have met in the middle and set a spending ceiling of 168.7 billion euros. The budget will provide around 153.6 billion euros in disbursements.
nytimes.com, dw.com, ec.europa.eu, zeit.de
Final EU Commission nominee accepted: The EU Parliament has accepted Hungary’s candidate for commissioner in the new EU Commission, Oliver Varhelyi. This means that EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and her lineup of commissioners should be ready to assume office on December 1st. Much skepticism remained over Varhelyi’s commitment to the EU’s interests as opposed to those of Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban after his initial hearing last week. However, a second round of written questions by lawmakers were enough to seal the deal for the future neighborhood and enlargement commissioner.
dw.com
EU and US back Georgia protesters: The European Union and the United States have expressed solidarity with Georgia’s anti-government protesters, who took to the streets after the ruling party backtracked on promises of electoral reforms. In a joint statement, the US and EU embassies said they recognized the deep disappointment of a wide segment of Georgian society at the failure of parliament to pass the constitutional amendments required to move to fully proportional parliamentary elections in 2020. Both embassies reiterated that they fully support the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression. Police used water cannon to disperse protesters near Georgia’s parliament on Monday and arrested several people. Opposition leaders had called for the protest. Tbilisi Mayor Kakha Kaladze said the opposition’s actions went beyond peaceful demonstrations and that blocking entrances to parliament was illegal.
france24.com, nytimes.com
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Tusk only candidate for EPP leadership: Outgoing European Council President and former Polish prime minister Donald Tusk will probably be the new head of the European People’s Party (EPP). Frenchman Joseph Daul is resigning as party leader. The vote for a new leader will be held at the EPP party conference on Wednesday and Thursday in Zagreb. In addition, ten deputy leaders will be elected. One of the twelve candidates for the office of deputy party leader is MEP David McAllister.
spiegel.de
EU makes it easier for companies to restructure within the single market: The EU is removing barriers to EU companies’ freedom of establishment in the single market. A new directive is intended to facilitate companies’ cross-border conversions, mergers and divisions. The new rules also offer simplifications that will apply to all three operations, including the possibility of speeding up the procedure by waiving reports for members and employees in the event that shareholders agree, or if the company or any of its subsidiaries do not have any employees. The directive sets out procedures to check the legality of cross-border operations against the relevant national legislation and introduces an anti-abuse control procedure. This way, national authorities can block a cross-border operation when it is designed to evade or circumvent national or EU law, or is intended for criminal purposes.
consilium.europa.eu
Israel: EU says Israeli settlement on Palestinian territory is illegal nytimes.com
Hong Kong: EU says escalating violence in Hong Kong is unacceptable reuters.com
Iran: Germany urges Iran to respect legitimate protests dw.com
European Center for Disease Prevention and Control: European Antibiotic Awareness Day 2019 ecdc.europa.eu
EU Commissioner Timmermans: Concern for Poland and Hungary tagesschau.de
North Macedonia: Avramopoulos and Jourova in Skopje for EU-Western Balkans ministerial forum on Justice and Home Affairs ec.europa.eu
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Van with migrants crashes through Spanish enclave border: On Monday, a van carrying 52 migrants and going at high speed smashed through a border barrier between Morocco and Spain to enter the Spanish enclave of Ceuta. Four of the migrants in the van were treated in a Ceuta hospital for minor injuries suffered in the crossing. The driver was a Moroccan citizen and has been detained. It was not first time that vehicles carrying migrants have crashed through the border, but officials said Monday’s incident involved the biggest number so far. Meanwhile, more than 1,350 migrants have arrived in the Greek Aegean Islands in recent days.
washingtonpost.com, zeit.de
Catalan President Torra stands trial: Quim Torra, the regional president of Catalonia, went on trial on Monday amid claims that he refused to remove secessionist symbols from public buildings. In March, Spanish electoral authorities had ordered Torra to remove separatist symbols and banners from the Catalan government building ahead of Spanish parliamentary elections in April. Torra ignored two deadlines to remove the banner before giving in just before a police intervention was planned. The prosecution is seeking a 20-month ban on holding public office and a 30,000 euro fine. It argues that the banners flouted rules on institutional neutrality. If found guilty, Torra could be declared ineligible for public office for 20 months. This would likely lead to fresh regional elections.
dw.com, euronews.com
Polish judicial overhaul faces EU court test: Poland’s judicial overhaul faces its toughest test yet as the EU’s top court prepares to rule in the latest in a series of lawsuits challenging some of the Polish government’s policies. This Tuesday, the EU Court of Justice will rule on the legality of a new disciplinary body of Poland’s Supreme Court, whose member judges are chosen by a panel dominated by political appointees. An adviser to the court said in June that the system failed to protect judges from political interference.
bloomberg.com
Internet isolation in Greece comes to an end: Megalo Papigo, in the Zagori region of northern Greece’s Pindos Mountains, is experiencing a silent revolution. The small village, which until a few months ago had no connection to the digital world, now has broadband internet access, along with 5,000 other villages in remote areas of the country. The project, which is supported by the EU, has changed things for many people.
euronews.com
Czech Republic: Government approves digital tax aimed at internet giants nytimes.com
Spain: MP launches bid to become Ciudadanos leader politico.eu
Italy: Water levels are slowly sinking again de.euronews.com
France: Two die in bridge collapse near Toulouse bbc.com
Austria: Heavy snow in Alps causes avalanches and travel disruptions dw.com
⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃
politjobs.eu: Alfa Fellowship Program seeks Young German, British, and American Leaders *** FTA seeks Regulatory Affairs Advisor (m/f) *** Bayer seeks Trainee (m/f) *** ISN seeks Advocacy Officer (m/f) *** Politico seeks Lobbying Reporter (m/f) *** EGEC seeks Trainee (m/f) *** Facebook seeks Public Policy Manager (m/f) *** Google seeks Public Policy and Government Relations Manager (m/f) *** DEKRA offers Internship (m/f) *** European Friends of Amernia seeks Communications and Media Engagement Officer (m/f) *** International Crisis Group seeks Analyst (m/f)
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Semsrott wants to rename plenary hall of the EU Parliament: German satirist and MEP Nico Semsrott wants to change the name of the Brussels plenary hall of the EU Parliament to “Strasbourg” to end the constant traveling between Brussels and northern France. He pointed out the high cost of the parliament’s location in Strasbourg, which he said amounted to more than half a billion euros. According to Semsrott, the MEP’s travels between Brussels and Strasbourg also cause at least 20,000 tonnes of climate-damaging carbon dioxide.
zdf.de
 

Monday, November 18th 2019: Germany’s military training for Chinese soldiers criticized, Russia to return navy ships seized from Ukraine, “Yellow Vest” anniversary in France

⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Germany’s military training for Chinese soldiers criticized: A military document shows that the German military plans to train Chinese soldiers in 2020. Human rights group Amnesty International has urged the German government to cease its practice of training Chinese soldiers, saying that in light of the current situation in Hong Kong, Germany should send a clear sign and immediately cease any military cooperation. FDP politician Marie-Agnes Strack-Zimmermann has pointed out that the military’s training focused exclusively on civilian aid. Hong Kong has been rocked by months of violent protests triggered by a proposed law allowing for the extradition of criminal suspects to China, which was subsequently withdrawn. The city’s police force has been accused of using excessive force to quell the protests. On Sunday, protesters shot bows and arrows and hurled petrol bombs from a barricaded university campus. Police briefly stormed the campus early Monday, making arrests and threatening to meet further resistance with live rounds before retreating.
dw.com, tagesspiegel.de (German military); washingtonpost.com, cnbc.com (Protests)
Russia to return navy ships seized from Ukraine: Russia will return three captured naval ships to Ukraine this Monday, according to Crimea’s border guard. Russia’s military had captured the ships last November after they tried to gain access to the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait. Russia said the ships had illegally entered its territorial waters, which Ukraine denied. Relations between Ukraine and Russia collapsed following Russia’s annexation of the Crimean peninsula. The US House committees overseeing the impeachment inquiry against US President Donald Trump have released closed-door testimony by Jennifer Williams, a special adviser to Vice President Mike Pence on Europe and Russia, and Tim Morrison, the former senior director for European affairs at the National Security Council. It provides another window into the alarm within the US government over Ukraine pressure.
reuters.com, dw.com (Ukraine); foxnews.com, nytimes.com (Trump)
Fuel price protests in Iran: Demonstrations swept Iran this weekend as people protested the government’s decision to raise gasoline prices. Motorists blocked roads in major cities after a night of demonstrations, during which guns were fired and at least one person was killed. Iran’s semi-official Fars news agency said 1,000 protesters had been arrested and 100 banks torched. Authorities shut down much of the internet. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has defended the fuel price rise, labeling violent protests the acts of thugs. Officials have warned of a tougher response if illegal actions continue. Protests erupted on Friday after the government unexpectedly announced it was rationing petrol and removing subsidies, sending prices up by 50%.
nbcnews.com, dw.com, reuters.com, bbc.com
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Sri Lanka: Former defense chief wins presidential election nytimes.com
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“The French are seeking strong European cooperation to replace Nato.”
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer distanced herself from French President Emmanuel Macron’s criticism of Nato.
politico.eu
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
“Yellow Vest” anniversary in France: Protests took place across France on Saturday as demonstrators commemorated the one-year anniversary of the “Yellow Vest” protests against the government of President Emmanuel Macron. Paris police said at least 31 people were detained on Sunday, in addition to 173 others the day before. Police dislodged demonstrators trying to block the bypass around the city and fired tear gas to push back protesters who were preparing to march across town. Dozens of protesters briefly rallied under the dome of Paris’ Galeries Lafayette store to denounce consumer culture. They were later expelled by security guards and police.
dw.com, abcnews.com
Czech anti-government protesters mark anniversary of revolution: At least 200,000 people attended a mass rally in Prague against Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis on the eve of the 30th anniversary of the Velvet Revolution, when Czech dissidents led by the late Czech President Vaclav Havel overthrew a half-century of Communist rule. Demonstrators called for Babis to resign over allegations of fraud. Babis has been investigated over a €2 million EU subsidy paid to a farm and convention center that is now part of his Agrofert business. He insists the site was owned by family members at the time of the subsidy, making it eligible.
euronews.com, bbc.com, politico.eu
Venice hit by third high tide: Venice was hit Sunday by a record third exceptional tide in the same week while other parts of Italy struggled with a series of weather woes. Stores and museums were mostly closed in the hardest-hit area around the famous St Mark’s square. The flooding in Venice has been its worst in half a century and has killed two people. Venice’s mayor Luigi Brugnaro has put the flooding damage at hundreds of millions of euros and Italian officials have declared a state of emergency for the area. Venice is both sinking into the mud and facing rising sea levels due to climate change. Brugnaro said he has invited the United Nations to set up a climate change research center in Venice.
apnews.com, independent.co.uk, afp.com
Warning about extremism on Germany’s remembrance day: German dignitaries paid their respects to the victims of war, oppression and violence on Sunday, as they took part in annual Volkstrauertag ceremonies in Berlin. The day was marked by the laying of several wreaths and a remembrance ceremony at the German parliament. Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer also attended a ceremony at the Jewish Weissensee cemetery in Berlin. The president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, used the day of remembrance to caution against what he called a creeping tendency of right-wing populism and extremism.
dw.com
Greece: March to mark anniversary of 1973 student revolt reuters.com
Hungary: Amnesty International criticizes judicial reform plans tagesspiegel.de
Georgia: Tens of thousands of protesters call for early elections deutschlandfunk.de
⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃
politjobs.eu: Alfa Fellowship Program seeks Young German, British, and American Leaders *** FTA seeks Regulatory Affairs Advisor (m/f) *** Bayer seeks Trainee (m/f) *** ISN seeks Advocacy Officer (m/f) *** Politico seeks Lobbying Reporter (m/f) *** EGEC seeks Trainee (m/f) *** Facebook seeks Public Policy Manager (m/f) *** Google seeks Public Policy and Government Relations Manager (m/f) *** DEKRA offers Internship (m/f) *** European Friends of Amernia seeks Communications and Media Engagement Officer (m/f) *** International Crisis Group seeks Analyst (m/f)
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
US businesswoman raises allegations against Boris Johnson: US businesswoman Jennifer Arcuri, who is at the center of allegations over British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s conduct while he was mayor of London, has said Johnson had broken her heart by casting her aside since the furor surfaced. Arcuri said she had tried to contact Johnson many times since the newspaper reports but he would not speak to her. The “Sunday Times” reported in September that when Johnson was mayor he failed to declare close personal links to Arcuri, who received thousands of pounds in public business funding and places on official trade trips.
reuters.com, bbc.com
 

Friday, November 15th 2019: EU initiates action against UK over commissioner, Germany makes measles vaccination compulsory in schools, French hospital worker strike

⊂ EUROPE ⊃
EU initiates action against UK over commissioner: The EU Commission announced on Thursday it was initiating infringement proceedings against the UK, hours after British Prime Minister Boris Johnson declined to nominate a candidate for EU commissioner. The Commission’s president-elect, Ursula von der Leyen, has twice asked the UK to nominate someone, as Brexit has been delayed to January 31st. But London said it does not intend to nominate a candidate for the Commission before the UK’s upcoming general election, set to take place on December 12th. Meanwhile, France’s Thierry Breton and Romania’s Adina Valean – nominated to oversee the EU’s internal market and transport sector, respectively – won endorsement as commissioners. However, Hungary’s Commissioner-designate Oliver Varhelyi was rejected by the EU Parliament. He will have to answer additional written questions in the coming days before his candidacy can be approved. The EU Parliament is to vote on November 27th to approve von der Leyen’s new Commission as a whole to start from December 1st.
dw.com, reuters.com, euronews.com
EU condemns Poland’s anti-sex education bill: Members of the EU Parliament have voted to condemn a a bill in Poland which they believe will criminalize sex education in schools. An initiative to amend a Polish law against pedophilia threatens teachers with up to three years in prison and increasing this penalty to five years has been proposed. The Polish government insists this legislation is to protect vulnerable children from pedophilia. But the EU Parliament condemned the shift in Poland towards misinforming young people, and stigmatizing and banning sexuality in education. It called on the Polish parliament to refrain from adopting the bill, which follows recent attempts to limit sexual and reproductive rights in Poland, including the right to abortion. The EU pointed out the importance of sex education especially for girls and LGBTI children who are particularly impacted by inequitable gender norms and most hurt by the lack of sex education.
euronews.com, europarl.europa.eu
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Dutch investigators link MH17 crash to Russia: The Dutch-led investigation into the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014 has publicly shared evidence that links the Russian government to the militant group responsible for the incident. Three calls intercepted between June and July 2014 show Russian separatist group leaders Igor Girkin and Alexander Borodai speaking with government contact points including Russian-appointed Crimean leader Sergey Aksyonov and Vladislav Surkov, a high-ranking Russian government official and aide to Russian President Vladimir Putin. Investigators had previously identified four suspects, including three Russians with ties to the Kremlin’s security services, who will be prosecuted for shooting down the aircraft using a Russian BUK missile system, if they are ever apprehended.
politico.eu, dw.com
Tax evasion: Closing tax loopholes for sales through online platforms europarl.europa.eu
Bosnia: EU calls for closure of Bosnian migrant camp t-online.de
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“For the first time, we are met with an American president who does not share the idea of the European project.”
French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that Europe can no longer rely on the United States.
dw.com
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Germany makes measles vaccination compulsory in schools: German lawmakers have approved a law that makes it mandatory for children attending kindergarten and elementary school to be vaccinated against measles. Parents that refuse to comply face potential fines of up to €2,500. Compulsory vaccination will also apply to teachers, asylum seekers and refugees in public housing, as well as employees working there. Health insurers will be obliged to enter into agreements with the country’s health service to reimburse the cost of vaccination carried out in schools. German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the new bill was a child protection law and a question of individual responsibility. CDU politician Rudolf Henke stressed that the law did not mean compulsory vaccination, it simply meant all those who wanted to use community facilities must be vaccinated and show proof of the fact.
dw.com, politico.eu, theguardian.com, tagesschau.de
French hospital worker strike: Thousands of nurses, doctors and other public hospital workers marched through Paris on Thursday to demand more staff and resources after years of cost cuts. The strike channeled anger that’s long been bubbling among France’s public hospital workers. Emergency room staff have held a rolling strike since March. As French hospitals were forced to cut €9 billion from their spending since 2005, hundreds of beds were scrapped while stagnant salaries fueled a flight to the private sector. French President Emmanuel Macron said an action plan would be announced next week.
nytimes.com, euronews.com
Lower suicide rates after legalization of same-sex marriage: Suicide rates among those in same-sex relationships have fallen significantly in both Denmark and Sweden since the legalization of gay marriage, according to a study by the Danish Research Institute for Suicide Prevention and researchers from Stockholm University, which compared suicide rates for people in same-sex and heterosexual relationships in the periods 1989-2002 and 2003-16. Between the two periods, the number of suicides among people in same-sex unions fell by 46%.
theguardian.com
State of emergency after flooding in Venice: Italy has declared a state of emergency in Venice after the Italian city was engulfed by 6ft high water levels. A cabinet meeting approved a special decree that included 20 million euros in immediate financial aid aimed at helping the city recover. Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte described the flooding as a blow to the heart of the country. He said the government would accelerate the building of structural defenses for the lagoon city, referring specifically to the so-called Mose project – a hydraulic barrier system to shut off the lagoon in the event of rising sea levels and winter storms. The project had been delayed by cost overruns and corruption scandals, with no launch date in sight.
bbc.com, apnews.com, foxnews.com
Germany: Solidarity tax to be abolished for almost all taxpayers dw.com
Greece: European Council on Refugees blames Greece for islands migrant crisis euronews.com
⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃
politjobs.eu: Alfa Fellowship Program seeks Young German, British, and American Leaders *** FTA seeks Regulatory Affairs Advisor (m/f) *** Bayer seeks Trainee (m/f) *** ISN seeks Advocacy Officer (m/f) *** Politico seeks Lobbying Reporter (m/f) *** EGEC seeks Trainee (m/f) *** Facebook seeks Public Policy Manager (m/f) *** Google seeks Public Policy and Government Relations Manager (m/f) *** DEKRA offers Internship (m/f) *** European Friends of Amernia seeks Communications and Media Engagement Officer (m/f) *** International Crisis Group seeks Analyst (m/f)
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Controversy over rebuilding of Notre Dame: The debate in France over how best to rebuild the Notre Dame cathedral has become heated. Jean-Louis Georgelin, the army general overseeing the reconstruction of the cathedral, said the building’s chief architect Philippe Villeneuve should shut his mouth. The two men disagree over whether the cathedral’s new spire should look modern or medieval. Villeneuve has previously said the Notre Dame spire should be rebuilt as it was before the devastating fire, a view with which Georgelin does not agree. The culture minister, Franck Riester, tweeted on Thursday that Georgelin’s outburst was not acceptable, adding that respect was a cardinal value in French society and public officials should act exemplary.
cnn.com, bbc.com, theguardian.com
 

Thursday, November 14th 2019: EU migration aid falls short, EU changes title for migration commissioner, Catalan protesters block highway

⊂ EUROPE ⊃
EU migration aid falls short: Auditors have urged the EU to improve its approach to easing migrant pressure on Greece and Italy. The European Court of Auditors found that agencies meant to assist the two countries with their overflowing camps and caseloads were failing in their missions, partly because of insufficient support from EU member states. The audit looked at EU projects meant to alleviate the pressure on camps in Greece and Italy, where migrants’ asylum claims are examined and designated refugees are meant to be vetted for relocation to other EU states. An increasing backlog in Greece is contributing to staggeringly overcrowded conditions in the camps, while in Italy a mountain of appeals over unsuccessful asylum claims have clogged the courts. Those delays, as well as insufficient space in detention centers, asylum-seekers running off to other EU countries and their countries of origin refusing to take them back, meant far fewer actual migrants are returned than intended.
nytimes.com, france24.com
EU changes title for migration commissioner: Incoming EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has changed the title of her migration commissioner from “Protecting our European Way of Life” following criticism it had far-right connotations. Parliamentary groups on the left of the political spectrum, the social democrats, ecologists and liberals of RENEW had called on von der Leyen to drop the title of this portfolio. She agreed to modify the title to “Promoting the European Way of Life”. Greece’s Margaritis Schinas, who is set to take on the role, had avoided using the old title though he has defended von der Leyen’s position. Her commission plans to take charge next month.
france24.com, brusselstimes.com
Germany says Western Balkan states belong in EU: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has offered backing for North Macedonia’s efforts to start membership talks with the EU, after a minority of EU members blocked the process. Maas has reiterated that the Western Balkan countries are an integral part of Europe. He said a majority of EU countries were in favor of opening membership talks and have recognized their strategic importance. That support has been welcomed in North Macedonia and Albania, but it also puts the ball in their court to press ahead with their reforms. Maas offered additional support to North Macedonia in its ongoing efforts to reform the judiciary and the rule of law, and to fight corruption.
dw.com, yahoonews.com
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Germany to sit out decisive EIB vote: Germany is preparing to abstain from a vote on the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) future energy lending policy on Thursday. The German finance, environment and justice ministries are in favor of a proposed update that would scrub the EIB’s loan books of fossil fuel projects by the end of next year, as part of the EU lender’s metamorphosis into a climate bank. But the government has come up short in brokering a common position among its various ministries, meaning Germany is likely to abstain from Thursday’s vote.
euractiv.com
Study: Up to 4.8m unauthorized immigrants in Europe in 2017 theguardian.com
Chile: Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile euobserver.com
Agricultural exports: Ukrainian oligarchs save billions using tax tricks spiegel.de
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“Despite the fact that in the EU we discuss everything and hold a discourse on everything, there has always been full EU unity on Brexit.”
According to EU Parliament President David Sassoli, the Brexit referendum failed to divide Europe.
euronews.com
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Catalan protesters block highway: Spanish police on Wednesday cleared out scores of protesters supporting Catalan independence who had trapped around 500 vehicles while blocking a major highway for more than 15 hours. The regional civilian protection authority said emergency services distributed water, food and blankets to drivers and passengers who had been trapped in their cars during the night. Protesters burned tyres and branches as police approached early on Wednesday. Some threw small objects at police, but most walked away peacefully. Spanish and French police arrested 19 people.
reuters.com, foxnews.com
Record flooding in Venice: A state of emergency was declared in Venice over dangerously high tides that invaded cafes, stores and other businesses. With more than 85% of the city flooded, Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has asked Italy’s government for help. Brugnaro said it would cost hundreds of millions of euros to fix the city, telling reporters at a news conference that the damage was enormous. One death was blamed on the flooding, on the barrier island of Pellestrina. A man in his 70s was apparently electrocuted when he tried to start a pump in his dwelling.
cbsnews.com, npr.org, cnn.com
France commemorates fourth anniversary of Paris attacks: France on Wednesday marked four years since Paris was hit by a series of coordinated terrorist attacks that killed 131 people and left hundreds wounded. French officials and families of the victims went to the bars and cafes in eastern Paris that were targeted on November 13th, 2015, followed by the Bataclan concert hall. Speeches were held by the justice minister, interior minister and the mayor of Paris.
france24.com, euronews.com
Far-right lawmaker ousted from committee over antisemitism: In a move unprecedented in modern German history, lawmakers on Wednesday removed AfD politician Stephan Brandner from his role as a parliamentary committee chair. He had made comments widely condemned as antisemitic. In addition to numerous condemnations from politicians, professional groups including the German Bar Association and DJB lawyers’ association had issued a statement that Brandner was not able to meet the demands of his office or to always guarantee respect for people. The dismissal took place amid growing concern about radicalism in the ranks of the AfD.
dw.com
Germany: Upskirting and rubbernecking to be criminalized dw.com
Ukraine: Lawmakers vote to lift ban on sale of farmland by 2020 reuters.com
Greece: 60,000 migrants illegally deported, according to human rights activists spiegel.de
Poland: Two arrested for plotting Breivik-style attacks on Muslims reuters.com
Slovakia: Bus accident kills 13 dw.com
⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃
politjobs.eu: Alfa Fellowship Program seeks Young German, British, and American Leaders *** FTA seeks Regulatory Affairs Advisor (m/f) *** Bayer seeks Trainee (m/f) *** ISN seeks Advocacy Officer (m/f) *** Politico seeks Lobbying Reporter (m/f) *** EGEC seeks Trainee (m/f) *** Facebook seeks Public Policy Manager (m/f) *** Google seeks Public Policy and Government Relations Manager (m/f) *** DEKRA offers Internship (m/f) *** European Friends of Amernia seeks Communications and Media Engagement Officer (m/f) *** International Crisis Group seeks Analyst (m/f)
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Elon Musk blames Brexit for decision to build Tesla factory in Germany: Tesla CEO Elon Musk has named Brexit as the reason why the firm chose Germany rather than Britain as the country to launch a new Gigafactory. Musk said uncertainty over the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU made it too risky to establish Tesla’s European battery facility in the country. The new plant is set to be built in Berlin. Tesla also plans to create an engineering and design center in the German capital.
cnbc.com
 

Wednesday, November 13th 2019: Erdogan threatens Europe with release of Isis prisoners, Spain’s Socialists strike deal with leftists, Moldova’s coalition government falls

⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Erdogan threatens Europe with release of Isis prisoners: Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday the EU decision to sanction Turkey over drilling off the coast of Cyprus could disrupt talks with the bloc, and he warned that Turkey could send captured “Islamic State” fighters to Europe. He called for the EU to revise its stance toward Turkey, which held many Isis fighters in prison and controlled them in Syria. Erdogan also warned that Turkey would allow refugees to travel to Europe unless the country received aid from European countries. The Turkish leader’s remarks came in the wake of a fresh push to repatriate some of the 1,200 foreign Isis fighters in Turkish detention centers and 287 captured recently in Syria, including those who have been stripped of western citizenship in an attempt to prevent them returning home. Erdogan will meet US President Donald Trump at the White House this Wednesday.
reuters.com, foxnews.com, theguardian.com, dw.com
New Commission candidates clear first hurdle: Three new proposed candidates for the EU Commission from France, Hungary and Romania have cleared a first hurdle in their nomination process after lawmakers who scrutinized possible conflicts of interest gave their go-ahead for their nominations. After lawmakers on the legal affairs committee looked into the candidates’ declarations of interests Tuesday, Thierry Breton, Oliver Varhelyi, and Adina Valean will face formal hearings later this week before the full Commission can be voted in. The EU pressed Britain on Tuesday to name a representative for the new EU Commission despite the country’s planned departure from the EU. The EU is keen to press ahead with the launch of its new Commission on December 1st, which will be headed by Ursula von der Leyen.
washingtonpost.com, reuters.com
Macron rejects backlash over his Nato criticism: French President Emmanuel Macron has challenged the backlash to comments he made last week when he described Nato as being in a state of brain death, especially for its lack of response to the American withdrawal from northern Syria and subsequent Turkish incursion. Macron criticized the idleness of those who closed their eyes to the inefficiency of global institutions in tackling the world’s problems. Making an impassioned plea for multilateralism in his opening address at the Paris Peace Forum, Macron called on all delegates to come together to fight climate change, economic inequalities, terrorism, disinformation and cybercrime. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he understood Macron’s criticism of Nato, saying there was indeed a need to improve cooperation within the alliance.
euronews.com, france24.com, welt.de
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EU signs off on new joint defense projects: EU defense ministers gave the green light on Tuesday for thirteen new defense projects in a step to develop more firepower independently of the United States. Nations will develop a wide range of capabilities as well as facilities including everything from a medical training center for special forces, cyber training centers and a new warship. France will head plans to better track ballistic missiles in space, and develop an electronic jamming weapon with Spain and Sweden for European combat aircraft to overcome enemy air defenses. With Italy, France will develop a prototype for a new class of military ship. France, Portugal, Spain and Sweden also aim to deliver a new anti-submarine system to protect sea lanes and communication.
reuters.com, dw.com
EU court rules Israeli settlement products must be labeled: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled on Tuesday that EU countries must identify products made in Israeli settlements on their labels. Simply indicating that goods originated in the state of Israel, as opposed to occupied territory, could mislead consumers about the fact that Israel was present in the territories concerned as an occupying power and not as a sovereign entity. The court said product information must allow consumers to make informed choices relating not only to health, economic, environmental and social considerations, but also to ethical considerations, as well as the observance of international law. Israel’s Foreign Minister Israel Katz said Israel strongly rejected the ruling, which he said served as a tool in the political campaign against Israel. He said he would work with foreign ministers of EU countries to prevent the ruling’s implementation. Rocket fire rained from the sky across the border between Israel and the Gaza Strip, leaving at least seven people dead in Gaza and dozens more injured on either side Tuesday.
dw.com, theguardian.com, reuters.com (Court ruling); npr.org (Gaza)
Schengen: Border checks in EU countries challenge Schengen Agreement dw.com
ECJ ruling on refugees: Even violent persons are worthy of protection tagesschau.de
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“The barriers they have up are terrible, in many ways worse than China.”
US President Donald Trump has accused the European Union of unfair trade practices.
cnbc.com
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Spain’s Socialists strike deal with leftists: The Spanish Socialists (PSOE) and the far-left Unidas Podemos (UP) have reached a preliminary coalition deal to form a government. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez of the PSOE and UP leader Pablo Iglesias struck a deal on Tuesday to form a minority coalition. The agreement raises the prospect of an end to Spain’s political deadlock. However, even with a deal, the two parties still need to find more allies. PSOE and UP count on only 155 seats in parliament, 21 seats short of a majority. Although in minority, this could be the first coalition executive in the history of the country’s democracy, if it gets the support of parliament.
politico.eu, dw.com, euractiv.com
Moldova’s coalition government falls: A no-confidence vote brought down Moldova’s government on Tuesday. Pro-Western Prime Minister Maia Sandu had formed an uneasy coalition with the Russian-backed Socialist Party, but relations broke down over a proposed reform of how the top prosecutor is appointed. The Socialists put forward a no-confidence motion which passed with support from the Democrat Party (led until June by oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc, who has since fled the country amid criminal investigations into his businesses). The next move will depend on the Socialists and President Igor Dodon, but Sandu said she will not take part in fresh negotiations.
reuters.com, politico.eu, dw.com
Catalan protest on Spain-France highway continues: Police carried out an operation to break up a protest by Catalan pro-independence activists on Tuesday, but the highway blockade reformed just hours later. Hundreds of Catalan pro-independence protesters have been blocking a border point on a highway that connects Catalonia with France since Monday, stopping traffic in both directions the day after a parliamentary election in Spain. The campaign for Catalan independence has been mostly peaceful for years, but some protests turned violent last month.
dw.com, nbcnews.com
Netherlands to cut speed limit to reduce emissions: The daytime speed limit on Dutch roads is to be cut to 100km/h in a bid to tackle a nitrogen oxide pollution crisis. According to several media reports citing a measure to be revealed this Wednesday, the existing limit of up to 130km/h would still be permitted at night. Ministers have been grappling with ways of responding to the emissions problem. The crisis is so severe that big infrastructure projects have been put on hold.
bbc.com
Austria: Belarus President Lukashenko visits Vienna dw.com
Germany: Police arrest three over terror attack plan politico.eu
France: Student sets himself on fire over struggle of living on £388 a month independent.co.uk
⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃
politjobs.eu: Alfa Fellowship Program seeks Young German, British, and American Leaders *** FTA seeks Regulatory Affairs Advisor (m/f) *** Bayer seeks Trainee (m/f) *** ISN seeks Advocacy Officer (m/f) *** Politico seeks Lobbying Reporter (m/f) *** EGEC seeks Trainee (m/f) *** Facebook seeks Public Policy Manager (m/f) *** Google seeks Public Policy and Government Relations Manager (m/f) *** DEKRA offers Internship (m/f) *** European Friends of Amernia seeks Communications and Media Engagement Officer (m/f) *** International Crisis Group seeks Analyst (m/f)
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
British Labour Party targeted by cyberattack: The UK Labour Party announced Tuesday it had experienced a sophisticated and large-scale cyberattack to its digital platforms. Labour has not said who it suspects is behind the attacks, but said it was confident its security systems ensured there was no data breach. Party officials reported the initial attack, which took place on Monday, to the National Cyber Security Center. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said that attacks against a political party made him very nervous about the upcoming election, adding that the timing of it was suspicious and something to be very worried about.
politico.eu, theguardian.com, independent.co.uk
 

Tuesday, November 12th 2019: Germany calls for sanctions against Iran, Far-right march on independence anniversary in Poland, Catalan separatists block France-Spain highway

⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Germany calls for sanctions against Iran: Iran is enriching uranium at its underground Fordow site and rapidly accelerating enrichment more broadly, a report by the UN atomic watchdog showed on Monday. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the three European countries Germany, Britain and France must be ready to react, and that could mean reimposing international sanctions on Iran. Europe’s position is vital as the United States has withdrawn from the 2015 nuclear deal and the other signatories, Russia and China, are allies of Iran and unlikely to start the process under which sanctions could be reimposed. Maas said Iran must finally return to its commitments under the 2015 accord. Otherwise the European countries would reserve the right to use all mechanisms specified in the deal for sanctions to be reimposed. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said she was contacting the signatories to decide what to do next. She said it was becoming increasingly difficult to save the nuclear accord.
euronews.com, reuters.com
UK has yet to nominate EU commissioner: The incoming president of the new EU Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has written to British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, asking him to propose a British candidate for EU commissioner in the shortest time possible. The EU had given an ultimatum to Johnson saying that the EU Commission expected to be told who the new official was by Monday. Johnson’s spokesman said on Monday that the government would comply with the law and that officials remained in regular contact with the president-elect’s team. The EU wants the full Commission to be finalized by December 1st.
theguardian.com, mirror.co.uk
British founder of White Helmets found dead in Istanbul: A former British Army officer honored by the Queen for his work with the White Helmets civil defense group in Syria was found dead in Turkey on Monday. James Le Mesurier, the founder and director of the Mayday Rescue group, was found dead near his apartment in central Istanbul’s Beyoglu neighborhood. The cause of death is unknown. Turkish media reports said he was found with fractures to his head and legs and appeared to have fallen from a balcony. The office of Istanbul’s governor said it had launched an investigation. The Russian Foreign Ministry had essentially declared Le Mesurier a terrorist only three days prior to his death. In a briefing Friday, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova insinuated that Le Mesurier had active ties to Britain’s foreign intelligence service as well as to terrorist groups.
bbc.com, theguardian.com, cnn.com
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Commission: Outgoing EU Commission President Juncker to undergo aneurysm surgery this Tuesday tagesspiegel.de
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“I think President Macron’s doubts about (Nato’s commitment to mutual defense) can make other allies wonder if perhaps it is France that has concerns about sticking to it.”
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has warned that French President Emmanuel Macron’s critical remarks about Nato were dangerous.
reuters.com
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Far-right march on independence anniversary in Poland: Tens of thousands of Poles on Monday took part in a march in Warsaw organized by nationalist groups to mark Polish independence. Although the yearly march is organized by far-right bodies, many families have also joined the event in recent years, seeing it as a simple display of patriotism. Two years ago, there was international outrage after some participants carried banners with white supremacist slogans. This year, politicians from the ruling conservative Law and Justice (PiS) party steered clear of the march, with the party holding its own separate events to commemorate the anniversary.
dw.com
Catalan separatists block France-Spain highway: Pro-independence protesters in Catalonia blocked a major highway between France and Spain on Monday, halting traffic in both directions. Some 80 people blocked the road at La Jonquera on both the French and Spanish sides after a call to gather there by campaign group “Democratic Tsunami”. The group said it was seeking to bring an international focus to cause of Catalan independence. The head of Spain’s center-right Ciudadanos party, Albert Rivera, quit on Monday after heavy election losses.
dw.com (Protest); reuters.com (Rivera)
Greece and China plan closer cooperation: Greece and China have signed 16 agreements in sectors including energy, agriculture, tourism and ports. Chinese President Xi Jinping is on an official visit to Greece, seeking to expand cooperation between the two countries. Xi announced that the Chinese government also wants to strengthen the transit role of Piraeus Port to expand bilateral trade and to invest in transportation and the banking sector. The port of Piraeus is the biggest Chinese investment in Greece and port operator Cosco recently received approval for a new development, including a new cargo terminal. China has already poured more than 800 million euros into the port and intends to invest another 600 million euros.
bloomberg.com, dw.com
Merkel and Conte call for more EU solidarity: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte have called for more solidarity from European countries when it comes to the distribution of refugees rescued at sea. At a recent meeting of EU states in Malta, first steps were taken to replace the previous ad hoc solutions for individual rescue ships. However, much remains to be done to achieve a fair division of tasks across Europe. Merkel also called for improvements to the cooperation with the Libyan Coast Guard. Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin agreed during a phone call on Monday that Ukraine should give its separatist-led Donbass region a special status set out in Ukrainian law. The Ukrainian military and Russia-backed separatist rebels have completed a pullback of troops and weapons from another area in eastern Ukraine.
handelsblatt.com, faz.net (Italy); uk.reuters.com (Putin); nytimes.com (Ukraine)
Austria: Conservative leader backs coalition talks with Greens euronews.com
Netherlands: Court orders government to repatriate children of radicalized women in Syria time.com
Italy: Holocaust survivor faces threats after calling for investigation into hate npr.org
Sweden: Police set up task force to combat gang violence news.yahoo.com
Greece: Influx of migrants continues zdf.de
⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃
politjobs.eu: Alfa Fellowship Program seeks Young German, British, and American Leaders *** FTA seeks Regulatory Affairs Advisor (m/f) *** Bayer seeks Trainee (m/f) *** ISN seeks Advocacy Officer (m/f) *** Politico seeks Lobbying Reporter (m/f) *** EGEC seeks Trainee (m/f) *** Facebook seeks Public Policy Manager (m/f) *** Google seeks Public Policy and Government Relations Manager (m/f) *** DEKRA offers Internship (m/f) *** European Friends of Amernia seeks Communications and Media Engagement Officer (m/f) *** International Crisis Group seeks Analyst (m/f)
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Poland accuses Netflix of mistakes in documentary: Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has written a letter to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings, asking the streaming service to make changes to the documentary series entitled “The Devil Next Door”, which chronicles the story of John Demjanjuk, a retired US carworker convicted by a German court in 2011 of having been a Nazi death camp guard during the war. The documentary includes a map showing Nazi death camps inside the borders of modern Poland. Morawiecki said he believed the mistake was unintentional and that the company would swiftly correct it, either by modifying the map or providing further explanation to viewers. He reiterated that Poland did not even exist at that time as an independent state, and millions of Poles were murdered at these sites.
reuters.com