⊂ EUROPE ⊃
EU strengthens airline passenger rights: The European Court of Justice has ruled that EU airlines selling a ticket for a destination outside Europe where a connection is required in a non-EU state must compensate passengers if there is a significant delay in the second flight. The case involves eleven passengers who booked a flight to Bangkok. Their flight from Prague to Abu Dhabi with Czech Airlines arrived in the United Arab Emirates on time. But the flight they took from there with Etihad Airways arrived over 8 hours behind schedule in Bangkok. A delay of more than three hours means the passengers may be entitled to compensation under the EU regulation on the rights of air passengers. The European court ruled against Czech Airlines’ plea that it was not responsible for another carrier’s flight.
Airbnb bows to EU demands on room fees: The online accommodation platform has bowed to EU pressure and will avoid fines after making changes to the way it advertises the fees for its popular room-booking service. The EU had complained that some of Airbnb’s terms and the way it presented prices on its app were in breach of the EU’s unfair commercial practices directive, the unfair contract terms directive and the regulation on jurisdiction in civil and commercial matters. Airbnb has now changed its terms by clarifying that users can bring court cases against the platform in their own country. Airbnb also clarified prices to prevent users getting surprise extra fees, shows if an accommodation is offered by a private or professional host and added a link to an online dispute resolution platform to its website.
German SPD leader distances himself from campaign against von der Leyen: The German SPD party has distributed a document in its parliamentary group in the EU Parliament, in which it lists numerous allegations against Germany’s Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who is a candidate for the post of EU Commission President. SPD leader Thorsten Schäfer-Gümbel said party leadership knew nothing of the paper before it was circulated. Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on the SPD to treat von der Leyen fairly, even if there was differences of opinion. The EU Parliament’s leadership has announced the assembly will vote on von der Leyen’s nomination to lead the EU Commission next Tuesday.
EU Parliament: MEPs shut out nationalists from key posts euractiv.com
EU Commission: Austria to nominate Johannes Hahn to stay at Commission politico.eu
European Council President Tusk: Solidarity with Georgia consilium.europa.eu
EU court: Bisphenol A remains “particularly worrying substance” faz.net
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“It obviously is going to result in us spending a lot less money in Britain, and just putting all our energies into other countries.”
A no-deal Brexit would cause the pound to plummet and be worth the same as the dollar, Virgin boss Sir Richard Branson has said.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Zelenskiy and Putin discuss conflict in eastern Ukraine: Russian President Vladimir Putin and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy held their first telephone conversation on Thursday and discussed settling the conflict in eastern Ukraine and the return of prisoners, according to Russia. They also discussed the possibility of continuing contacts on the issue in the Normandy format, which involves the participation of France and Germany. Ukraine added that the key topic of conversation was the release of Ukrainian sailors captured by Russia in November. The European Court of Justice has annulled an asset freeze against seven former leading Ukraine officials accused of siphoning off state funds for their own gain, including former Ukraine president Viktor Yanukovych.
reuters.com, bloomberg.com (Zelenskiy and Putin); washingtonpost.com (Yanukovych)
France approves digital tax: Despite US opposition, the French Senate has approved a tax on the revenues of tech giants. The bill is dubbed GAFA for targeting four US heavyweights: Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. However, French officials stressed the law will affect around thirty companies, including some from China, Germany, Spain and the UK, not just the US. The bill focuses on companies using consumer data to sell online advertising, have annual global sales of over 750 million euros, and revenue exceeding 25 million euros in France. The US has already ordered an investigation into the planned tax. In response, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire reiterated that France was a sovereign nation that decided its own tax rules.
cnbc.com, dw.com, nytimes.com
Terrorists’ families must be repatriated, German court rules: A court in Berlin has ruled that the government must repatriate the German wife of a suspected Isis fighter and her three children. The court said the children would suffer if they remained in the refugee camp in Syria. Until now Germany had been prepared to allow some of the children to travel to Germany without their mothers, fearing that the women might be radicalised and could pose a danger to German society.
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Italy to cooperate with Libyan coast guard: Italy is expanding its cooperation with the Libyan coast guard to stop migrants from coming across the Mediterranean Sea. The Italian government will support the coast guard with additional material and training. An EU-backed agreement provides for Libyans to intercept migrants on their way to Europe in the Mediterranean. This approach is controversial because migrants are threatened with ill-treatment after being returned to their countries of origin.
⊂ 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 ⊃
Germans are concerned about Islam: A new study found religious tolerance in Germany to be sustained but Islam to be having a hard time, perceived by many to be negative. The authors expressed a cause for concern in that half of the interviewees perceived Islam as a threat. In eastern parts of Germany, where few Muslims live, there were stronger reservations towards people following Islam. However, the skepticism expressed by respondents to the survey did not amount to Islamophobia.