⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃
Conservative MPs may boycott European election campaign: With Brexit initially scheduled for 29 March, the UK was never meant to take part in the European parliamentary elections. But that deadline came and went, as did another one, and the UK remains an EU member state. British political parties are gearing up for the elections in six weeks’ time. The parties have to submit the names of the candidates representing them to the elections watchdog by 25 April or, in the case of the South West region, 24 hours earlier. Conservative MPs have suggested they could boycott campaigning in the European elections and instruct local parties not to take part. Conservative MPs and activists remain furious about the prospect of campaigning, especially given many were already experiencing a backlash when canvassing in local elections. Tory candidates are likely to face a new threat from Nigel Farage’s nascent Brexit party, which officially launches this Friday.
euronews.com, bbc.com, theguardian.com
Labour looks at automatic registration to raise voter turnout: An estimated seven million people in the UK are not on the electoral register. Labour is to consider adopting automatic voter registration as a policy if it came into power in order to increase election turnout. The party said it would examine different options used internationally, including where automatic voter registration had successfully increased overall registration levels. Cat Smith, Labour’s shadow minister for voter engagement, has been tasked with examining systems in Canada, Belgium and a number of other countries where an automatic voter registration system has been successfully introduced.
⊂ JOB-BOARD UNITED KINGDOM ⊃
politjobs.uk: Association of Directors of Children’s Services seeks Policy Officer *** The Royal Society seeks Senior Policy Adviser (Education) *** ITV Cymru Wales seeks Public Affairs Manager *** Independent Age seeks Public Affairs Officer *** Dogs Trust seeks European Policy Advisor (Publish your job ad)
⊂ EUROPE ⊃
May defends Brexit delay to MPs: British Prime Minister Theresa May told MPs on Thursday that it remained her priority to deliver Brexit, defending the decision to delay the UK’s exit from the EU. May said that if the deal agreed with the EU was passed, the UK could leave the EU as soon as possible. She promised to pursue an orderly Brexit, adding that the whole country was frustrated. The government is continuing to hold talks with Labour aimed at achieving a consensus on how to break the deadlock in parliament. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn called the latest extension a diplomatic failure. Former Brexit secretary David Davis said that pressure would dramatically increase on May following the latest delay.
EU clears way to start trade talks with US: European Union countries gave initial clearance on Thursday to start formal trade talks with the United States. The EU’s ambassadors reached an agreement on negotiating directives that authorise the European Commission to start talks. EU ministers are set to issue the formal approval Monday, without any discussion. The trade deal is mainly supposed to eliminate industrial tariffs — promising almost equal gains on both sides — while excluding any talks on the contentious area of agriculture and food standards. EU trade chief Cecilia Malmström is holding out hope that such a limited agreement could be quite quick to negotiate. The understanding in Brussels is that US demands on agriculture could be potentially addressed at a later stage, provided that the Americans lift their steel and aluminum tariffs, renounce the car tariff threat, and come up with a counteroffer such as on public procurement.
European Court of Justice: Poland’s judiciary reforms violate EU law, says court adviser politico.eu
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“We need to avoid self-inflicted wounds.”
The head of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has warned that the world is facing a time of high uncertainty that could be worsened by self-inflicted wounds such as unnecessary trade battles.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Assange arrested in London: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was arrested on Thursday in London to face a charge in the United States of conspiring to hack into a Pentagon computer network in 2010, bringing to an abrupt end a seven-year saga in which he had holed up in Ecuador’s embassy in Britain to avoid capture. Ecuador’s foreign minister Jose Valencia said Assange’s citizenship had been suspended because of irregularities, opening the door for him to be handed to the British authorities. Assange could be sentenced to up to a year in prison in the UK but may be extradited to the US before serving time. US prosecutors allege that that Assange helped former US Army intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning crack a password to access a government network on Department of Defence computers. Manning then downloaded classified records and sent them to Wikileaks. When asked for a comment, US President Donald Trump insisted that he knew nothing about WikiLeaks. Trump for years has swung wildly from offering praise for WikiLeaks and its founder Assange to blasting them, depending on which position suited him at the time.
nytimes.com, time.com, politico.com
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German parliament debates Down Syndrome blood tests: The German parliament held a debate on prenatal genetic blood tests on Thursday morning. The debate will serve as a guide for lawmakers on the benefits of non-invasive blood tests for the diagnosis of trisomies such as Down syndrome. Lawmakers also discussed the question of whether prenatal trisomy blood tests should be paid by health insurance companies in the future. Health Minister Jens Spahn has spoken in favour of the tests as they are less risky than the amniotic fluid examinations, the costs of which are already covered by health insurance companies in certain cases.
⊂ 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 ⊃
Monsanto liable for French farmer’s ill health: A French appeals court has said US chemicals giant Monsanto was guilty of poisoning a farmer who said he suffered neurological damage after accidentally inhaling fumes from a weedkiller made by the company. Farmer Paul Francois said he fell ill in 2004 after being exposed to Lasso, a weedkiller containing monochlorobenzene that was legal in France until 2007 but had already been banned in 1985 in Canada and in 1992 in Belgium and Britain. The court found that Monsanto should have clearly indicated on Lasso’s labelling and instructions for use a notice on the specific dangers of using the product in vats and reservoirs. Bayer AG, the German pharmaceutical company that acquired Monsanto in 2018, confirmed Thursday’s ruling and said it was considering its legal options, including an appeal.