⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Google should delete private data: A chief adviser to judges at Europe’s highest court sided with Google Thursday in advising that Europe’s “right to be forgotten” rule be limited to the EU. Google and France’s privacy regulator CNIL have been in a battle at the European Court of Justice over whether the region’s tough data protection standards and its right to be forgotten — according to which individuals can force search engines to delete certain links on them — should be applied globally. In its non-binding opinion issued Thursday, Advocate General Maciej Szpunar said search requests that were made outside EU territory should not be subject to the de-referencing of search results. The advocate general went on to say that the right to be forgotten should be balanced against the public’s legitimate interest in accessing information, and that search engines should not be compelled to take down all content linked to the request, but only those available in the country where the request originated.
Corbyn calls for election to break Brexit impasse: British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called on lawmakers on Thursday to help his opposition party break the deadlock over Brexit and support his call for a motion of no confidence in the government to trigger an election. In a speech, he said a new government would have a fresh mandate to negotiate a better withdrawal deal with the EU. Corbyn said if Prime Minister Theresa May had confidence in her deal, she should call that election and let the people decide. If the government could not pass its most important legislation then there must be a general election at the earliest opportunity. Labour is set to vote against May’s deal next Tuesday and if, as widely expected, it is defeated, they are expected to start moves to trigger a general election. The Conservatives said Labour did not have a plan for Brexit and were playing politics.
Nike’s Dutch tax status investigated by EU regulators: The European Commission has opened an investigation into the tax treatment of Nike in the Netherlands. The Commission said in a statement that Dutch authorities had issued five tax rulings from 2006 to 2015, two of which are still in force, endorsing a method to calculate the royalty payments to two Nike entities based in the Netherlands. The Commission has shown concern that the royalty payments endorsed by the rulings may not reflect economic reality. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said member states should not allow companies to set up complex structures that unduly reduce their taxable profits and give them an unfair advantage over competitors.
Grand coalition to end after EU parliament poll: According to a survey by Brussels-based think-tank “VoteWatch”, if current trends are confirmed, for the first time since direct elections to the EU Parliament in 1979, the two largest groups in the parliament (EPP + S&D) would not be able to command a majority of seats. However, pro-EU forces would still be able to hold a majority of seats, mainly due to the likely gains of the liberal ALDE group. Right-wing nationalists are set to gain, although they are likely to fall short of getting over 25% of the seats. A potential joint group of right-wing nationalists could become the second largest group if all their current members decide to join.
EU presidency: Romania mired in corruption woes as presidency begins euobserver.com
European Central Bank: Cutting economic outlook kept growth risks balanced bloomberg.com
World Economic Forum: Trump cancels Davos trip over government shutdown politico.eu
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“For us, the partners for the future of Europe are the socialists and the liberals.”
Socialists and liberals are natural allies for the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) in the next European Parliament, according to Manfred Weber, the EPP’s lead candidate for the European elections in May.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Speed cameras in France vandalised: Close to two-thirds of fixed speed cameras in France have been vandalised by yellow-vest protesters since November, according to the French government. Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said the wilful damage was a threat to road safety and put lives in danger. The protest movement began over fuel tax increases, and saw motorists block roads and motorway toll booths. Some protesters feel speed cameras are solely a revenue-generating measure which takes money from the poor. Speed limits in France were already controversial after the government lowered the limit on many main roads from 90km/h to 80 (50mph) early last year. French news agency Europe 1 estimated in December that around half of all speed cameras in France had been put out of service for either a short or long period of time.
Malta accuses Salvini of unfounded claims: Malta on Thursday accused Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini of willful inaccuracy in accusing the small island state of breaking promises to take in migrants. Salvini, leader of the far-right, anti-immigrant League party, on Wednesday said Malta had failed to take in 50 migrants who disembarked in July in Sicily. Malta replied that Salvini had failed to say that Italy had agreed to take in 50 from Malta from a separate disembarkation, and the two countries had agreed to call it even and keep the respective contingents.
Orban criticises France and Germany: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday pledged his full support for an Italian-Polish initiative to form a right-wing alliance for EU Parliament elections due in May. Orban said Hungary’s goal was to gain an anti-immigrant majority in the parliament that he hoped would spread to the EU Commission, and later, as national elections change the EU’s political landscape, the European Council. Orban also spoke out against French President Emmanuel Macron, whom he described as the leader of pro-immigration policies in Europe. Orban also said he does not see any compromise possible with Germany on migration, despite what he described as constant pressure from Berlin on his country to take in immigrants.
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Merkel expects Greece to return to markets: German Chancellor Angela Merkel travelled to Athens on Thursday to meet with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras, her first such trip in four years. She said she expected Greece would be able to return to financial markets after it emerged from a multi-billion euro bailout programme last year. Speaking after their Thursday evening meeting, Tsipras said the stereotype of the lazy Greek and the strict German were over. The two countries were now entering a new era. Cooperation between Berlin and Athens would be decisively important in the coming years. Germany was the biggest single lender in the Greek bailout at the time, and the German government’s demands of fiscal belt-tightening drew the ire of many Greek citizens.
Merkel rival Friedrich Merz takes party post: After losing a race last month to replace German Chancellor Angela Merkel as the head of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Friedrich Merz said on Thursday that he would take on a role as adviser to CDU party leader Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer. Kramp-Karrenbauer tweeted that Merz will provide the party with his experience and expertise on economic policy and will be a great reinforcement for an expert group advising the CDU. He will also contribute to determining the party’s future trans-Atlantic policies. A trained lawyer, Merz had lost out to Merkel in a power struggle in 2002 and has been out of the lower house, the Bundestag, since 2009.
⊂ 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 ⊃
European court rules against homeschooling family: The European Court of Human Rights on Thursday ruled against a German family from the state of Hesse that has been fighting for years for the right to homeschool their children, a practice that is illegal in Germany. The Wunderlich family had argued that the government had violated Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees protection for the privacy of home and family life, by forcing their four children to attend a local school. The court found, however, that the family had not provided sufficient evidence that the children were properly educated.