Friday, 02 August 2019: EU rejects renegotiation of Brexit deal, EU criticises US sanctions against Iran, Google stops data transcription in the EU, Italian Interior Minister Salvini accuses Germany of blackmail


EU rejects renegotiation of Brexit deal: Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Europe adviser David Frost held meetings with senior EU officials on Wednesday and Thursday. Both sides reiterated their positions on Brexit. EU Commission spokeswoman Mina Andreeva said the withdrawal agreement was not up for re-opening. Johnson and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker would have the opportunity to speak about Brexit at the end of August on the sidelines of a G7 summit in France. Britain’s chief secretary to the Treasury Rishi Sunak has declined to rule out an emergency no-deal Brexit budget before 31 October. Finance Minister Sajid Javid has said the UK’s economy was strong enough to cope with a no-deal Brexit. The government has announced an extra £2.1bn of funding to prepare for a no-deal Brexit – doubling the amount of money it has set aside this year. The Bank of England maintained its interest rate at 0.75 percent and stood by its assumption of a smooth Brexit, despite growing pressure from market participants factoring in a high probability of no deal. (EU); (Sunak); (Javid); (No-deal planning); (Bank)

Did Facebook mislead MPs?: British MPs are taking Facebook to task over evidence appearing to contradict testimony the US tech company gave about the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook bosses told MPs they had learned users’ data had been misused via a December 2015 “Guardian” report. But a US watchdog has now said Facebook workers flagged the problem three months earlier. MPs want answers by mid-August. Meanwhile, another “Guardian” report has revealed that the lobbying firm run by Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s close ally Sir Lynton Crosby has secretly built a network of unbranded news pages on Facebook for dozens of clients ranging from the Saudi government to major polluters. (Cambridge Analytica); (Lobbying)

Trump’s UK state visit cost Met police £3.5m: US President Donald Trump’s state visit to the UK cost the Metropolitan police nearly £3.5m, at a time of rising pressure on police resources. The total cost to the Met for policing the visit was £3,419,905, with more than 6,300 officers deployed during the three-day UK trip, according to figures released under the Freedom of Information Act. Trump’s first official state visit to the UK began on 3 June and included a state banquet with the Queen at Buckingham Palace. He subsequently spent two nights in Ireland. A Garda spokesman said the cost of Trump’s trip to Ireland, where he stayed at his Doonbeg hotel and golf resort in County Clare, had yet to be finalised.

New trade secretary: Liz Truss’s plan for tax-free zones condemned by Labour
Education: Labour calls for action on catastrophic fall in adult learning
Wales: Police and teachers back Welsh anti-smacking bill
Whaley Bridge dam collapse: Town evacuated after damage to reservoir wall spotted


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EU criticises US sanctions against Iran: EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini announced Thursday that the EU would continue working with Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, despite the United States’ decision to impose sanctions on him. The US government announced Wednesday it was freezing any of Zarif’s assets in the United States as well as curtailing his international travel. The EU reiterated the importance of maintaining diplomatic channels. Amid a widening divide between Western allies over how to deal with Iran, German CDU politician Norbert Röttgen called for France and Germany to lead a European mission to protect shipping from Iran. The US ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, urged Berlin to take on a global responsibility to match its economic might. He said Germany was the biggest economic power in Europe. This success brought global responsibilities.,,,

Google stops data transcription in the EU: Google has given reassurances that it won’t make transcripts of speech data picked up by its Google Assistant system in the European Union for at least the next three months. Hamburg’s privacy authority had asked Google to stop using data collected from its digital personal assistant, often used in the company’s smart speakers, to improve the search giant’s speech recognition technology. Google’s move is voluntary as the authority is still considering the matter and hasn’t yet ordered action. The German authority will also review similar practices undertaken by other tech companies’ smart speakers.,

Von der Leyen and Orban call for new beginning in migration policies: EU Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday to talk about her future political agenda as head of the Commission. Von der Leyen tweeted after the meeting that she held a good talk about her political guidelines with Hungary’s premier. Orban described von der Leyen as a serious politician who had the same questions about the future as him, specifically on the issues of children and families, security, and a common European force and the development of the military industry. Orban confirmed that she was sensitive to issues such as migration, and was able to think with a central European’s head in this respect. Von der Leyen added that they agreed on the need for a fresh start and pragmatic solutions on migration.

EU to decide on IMF candidate: EU finance ministers will hold a series of votes this Friday to choose their favourite of six candidates for the leadership of the International Monetary Fund IMF, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said. Le Maire, who is leading the talks on finding a candidate, organised a conference call with his EU counterparts on Thursday to update them on the latest developments. The five declared candidates are the Dutch former head of eurozone finance ministers Jeroen Dijsselbloem, Spanish Economy Minister Nadia Calvino, Finnish central bank governor Olli Rehn, the Portuguese chairman of eurozone finance ministers Mario Centeno, and Bulgaria’s World Bank chief executive Kristalina Georgieva.,

INF treaty: Pentagon to test new missile as US pulls out of nuclear treaty
Summits: Capitals seek to reform EU summits to cope with Trump era
Trade conflict: US President Trump to impose new 10% tariff on China


Italian Interior Minister Salvini accuses Germany of blackmail: Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini accused Germany on Thursday of blackmail in the latest conflict between the two countries over migrants rescued at sea. Salvini also accused the German government of sending miserable signals. According to German media, Salvini wrote in a WhatsApp group that Germany said it would only take in migrants rescued by an Italian coast guard ship if Italy allows another ship carrying 40 migrants, the “Alan Kurdi”, to enter its ports. German NGO “Sea-Eye” on Thursday said the “Alan Kurdi” planned to approach the Italian island of Lampedusa but remain outside Italian territorial waters, after Salvini banned the migrant rescue vessels.,

Council of Europe experts disappointed with Hungary’s anti-corruption efforts: The Council of Europe’s Group of States against Corruption (Greco) has criticised Hungary’s efforts to implement anti-corruption recommendations for lawmakers and the judiciary. The group said Hungary had only adopted five of its 18 anti-corruption proposals. Greco called for more determined measures by the Hungarian government, including better asset declarations, a code of conduct for lawmakers, and a review of lawmakers’ immunity.

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Burqa ban in the Netherlands: A law that prohibits clothing that covers the face from being worn in a variety of public spaces came into effect in the Netherlands on Thursday. Attempts to enforce the new burqa ban have already been met with disapproval as several cities as well as hospitals, public transport operators and even police said that they would not be sticking to it. Proponents of the ban cite the need for open communication that includes facial expressions. Those who have spoken out against the ban say it undermines religious freedom.

France: Electric scooters banned on Paris sidewalks
Bosnia: Terrible conditions in refugee camp
Switzerland: Fireworks and wine as Swiss celebrate National Day

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Controversy over Italian politician in France: Italy’s former Europe Minister Sandro Gozi has accepted a job advising the French government on European policy. As a result, Italian deputy prime minister Luigi Di Maio accused Gozi of betrayal, saying it was unsettling that an Italian Secretary of State would now be a representative of a government with which Rome had much in common, but which often had oppposing economic interests.,


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