Friday, 11 May 2018: Macron receives the Charlemagne prize, Puigdemont opts out of presidency, Berlusconi stands aside in Italy

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

US impose first new sanctions on Iran: The United States imposed sanctions on Thursday against six individuals and three companies it said were funneling millions of dollars to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard’s elite Quds Force, just days after President Donald Trump withdrew from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Britain, France and Germany said they remained committed to the deal despite Trump’s decision to withdraw. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has told Iran’s president Hassan Rouhani that she supports maintaining a big-power nuclear accord, as long as Tehran upholds its side of the deal, her office said on Thursday. Rouhani said that Tehran would remain in the 2015 agreement, though Europe had only a “limited opportunity” to preserve it. The Israeli military said it struck dozens of Iran-linked military targets in Syria on Thursday in response to rocket fire, marking a significant escalation in regional hostilities. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel’s air strikes were appropriate because Iran had “crossed a red line.” The White House on Thursday condemned rocket attacks that Israel says Iran launched and reiterated that it strongly supported Israel’s right to act in self-defence.
reuters.com, nytimes.com, reuters.com, washingtonpost.com, independent.co.uk, politico.com

Macron receives the Charlemagne prize: French President Emmanuel Macron was recognised for his contributions to European cohesion and integration on Thursday, as he received the Charlemagne Prize in the German city of Aachen. The prize honours work performed in the service of the European community. It has been handed out every year since 1950. In his acceptance speech, Macron praised the European project for maintaining a „miraculous“ 70 years of peace on the continent and outlined his vision for the future. The French president called for more unity among member states and warned that the divisions that appeared during the eurozone and migrant crises risked undermining the EU project. Macron insisted that a common eurozone budget was crucial to guaranteeing EU unity. He urged Germany to get over its „fetish“ for budget surpluses and work with him on forging deeper economic co-operations. Macron also called for a stronger Europe on the diplomatic front. Merkel, who spoke before Macron received the Charlemagne Prize – an annual award bestowed by the city of Aachen – commended his “enthusiasm… commitment (and)… courage” in support of European integration.
dw.com, euronews.com, reuters.com

Trump announces North Korea summit on 12 June: US President Donald Trump announced Thursday that he will meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Singapore on June 12. In March, Trump stunned the world by accepting an invitation to meet Kim for an unprecedented sit-down. The pair had previously exchanged insults and threats. The breakthrough came after landmark talks between North and South Korea. Trump’s announcement came hours after he welcomed home three US detainees released by North Korea. The release is seen as a further sign of thawing relations between the US and North Korea, after Kim last month pledged to suspend missile tests and close a nuclear test site. But it also comes amid renewed uncertainty around how the summit will pan out, after Trump’s decision earlier this week to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal.
washingtonpost.com, bbc.com, politico.eu

Europol-sought Mafioso arrested in Germany in joint search: A „dangerous“ Sicilian Mafia fugitive has been caught in Germany after a joint sweep involving German and Italian police. The Hague-based Europol said the arrest of Nicola Amoroso was the result of a „fruitful exchange of information“ with Italian and German police and was the first such capture via „Eurosearch,“ its project to locate dangerous mafia fugitives in Europe. Within Sicily’s Cosa Nostra, Amoroso belonged to the Scalisi clan with family links in Catania, Europol said. He had been wanted on a European Arrest Warrant (EAW) for mafia activities.
dw.com

Possible EU accession: EU Commissioner sees progress in the relationship between Kosovo and Serbia handelsblatt.com
EU Commission: Vestager promotes digital tax deutschlandfunk.de
David Goodall: Scientist, 104, ends his life in Switzerland bbc.com

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

It is necessary that Iran stays in the agreement. It is in Iran’s interest, too, to keep the agreement alive.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it was crucial Iran sticks to its obligations under the international 2015 nuclear deal despite US President Donald Trump promising to impose new sanctions on Tehran. Moscow, he said, could use its influence on Tehran to that end.
reuters.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Puigdemont opts out of presidency: Former Catalan president Carles Puigdemont has nominated a political newcomer to be the region’s new president. In a video from his self-imposed exile in Berlin, Puigdemont named Quim Torra to be a candidate for the presidency of the region. The announcement marks a major shift for Puigdemont after he declared Catalonia’s independence last year. Torra is an MP from Puigdemont’s pro-independence party, Together for Catalonia, and a pro-independence lawmaker. According to Puigdemont, he has enough support in parliament to be elected regional president. Regional lawmakers must vote in favour of Torra’s candidacy. If he is elected to office, he must form a regional government with the intention of leading Catalonia’s independence movement.
bbc.com, dw.com

Berlusconi stands aside in Italy: Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has announced that he will not stand in the way of a new coalition government in Italy. The anti-establishment Five Star (M5S) and right-wing Lega parties are said to be closing in on an agreement to form a ruling coalition for the eurozone’s third largest economy. Berlusconi’s presence as an ally to Lega had previously been a sticking point for M5S, preventing the two parties from brokering a political deal. The two groups, which are hostile to European Union budget restrictions and have made electoral pledges that would cost billions of euros to implement, finally entered into negotiations on Wednesday just as a swift return to the polls looked inevitable. Italian President Sergio Mattarella, who has the final word over the make-up of any new administration, has given the two sides until Sunday to tell him about the outcome of their talks.
cnbc.com, uk.reuters.com

Orban vows to transform Hungary: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said his new government would enact “big changes” over the next four years and he saw no need to revisit his controversial break with liberal democracy, which has roiled the ex-communist nation’s relations with the European Union. The EU should give up its “delusional” idea of a United States of Europe, Orban said on Thursday in pledging to defend his nation’s Christian values and fight EU migrant settlement quotas. Orban, a maverick anti-immigration nationalist, was elected to a third straight four-year term by a landslide last month and is now the longest-serving premier in the post-Communist history of the central European country. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has jokingly referred to Orban as a “dictator” over what critics say are the premier’s autocratic leanings.
bloomberg.com, uk.reuters.com

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Italy breaks up Syrian jihadist funding ring: A network suspected of financing al-Qaeda-linked jihadists in Syria has been dismantled, Italian police say. Fourteen people were arrested on the island of Sardinia and in parts of northern Italy. Police said ten of those detained were suspected of money laundering and of illegally distributing money from across Europe to the jihadists. Another four are described as militants in Sardinia suspected of being part of a support cell for al-Nusra Front. Police said money was raised in Muslim communities across Europe and moved around by an informal transfer system known as hawala, creating a „secure channel for money laundering“ that did not involve traditional banks.
bbc.com

Poland: Parliament adopts new improvements to judicial reforms handelsblatt.com
Ireland: Apple scraps plans for $1 billion Irish data centre money.cnn.com
Germany: Biggest Munich protest ‚in years‘ against hard-line CSU police bill dw.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 ⊃

Polish motorway covered in chocolate as truck overturns: A truck full of liquid chocolate overturned on a motorway in Poland, spilling 12 tonnes of the sweet stuff all over the road. The gooey chocolate poured across six lanes, causing traffic between the towns of Wrzesnia and Slupca in Western Poland, the „Washington Post“ reports. The cause of the accident remains unclear. Aside from the driver who went to the hospital with a broken arm, no one else was harmed. By the time cleanup crews had arrived the liquid had begun to solidify, making the operation more difficult, local police said. Before the highway was closed, some vehicles also drove through the mess, spreading the chocolate further down the motorway.
independent.co.uk, time.com

 

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