Friday, 12 October 2018: Poland blocks EU fundamental rights charter, EU is irrelevant according to half of Europeans surveyed, ECB shows concern about rising protectionism


Poland blocks EU fundamental rights charter: Poland has blocked the EU signing off on Europe’s fundamental rights charter for the first time over objections about the inclusion of LGBTI rights and lack of mention for persecution faced by Christians and Jews. At the meeting of EU justice ministers, the country refused to co-sponsor the joint statement. The decision did not pass since unanimity was required. Poland justified its veto by stating that the declaration did not stress protection for Christians and Jews from discrimination in the same way as LGBT persons, children of immigrants or women. Participants in the meeting reported that the tension in the room could be clearly felt. Some officials said it was a shame that EU countries could not agree on a common position on fundamental rights.,

EU is irrelevant according to half of Europeans surveyed: Almost two out of three Europeans say they are not convinced life would be any worse without the EU, according to a survey by a Brussels-based think tank. Friends of Europe surveyed 11,000 people across the bloc in September and found that 64% were not convinced their lives would be worse without the EU, and nearly half of respondents said they thought the EU was „irrelevant“. Younger respondents, however, have a more positive view of the EU, with 41% of under 35-year-olds thinking life would be worse if there were no Union. The think-tank also said more than one-third of Europeans want more transparency over how the EU spends its money. Citizens also want the bloc to prioritise core issues such as tackling climate change, jobs, and security, with 41% of participants saying they would welcome having a bigger say in EU-wide policy decisions.,

ECB shows concern about rising protectionism: The European Central Bank is concerned about the consequences of increasing protectionism for the global economy. The issue was discussed by ECB policymakers on a larger scale, according to the minutes of the September interest rate meeting, which the central bank published on Thursday. Global trade tensions could slow eurozone growth further and the policymakers debated last month whether to downgrade their risk assessment. But policymakers ultimately concluded that the domestic economy was showing enough resilience to consider risks broadly balanced, even if some argued that the factors behind the recent slowdown may not be temporary as earlier thought, the ECB said in the accounts of the meeting.,

EU wants to protect workers against cancer-causing chemicals: The European Parliament and the Council on Thursday came to an agreement on the EU Commission’s second proposal to broaden the list of recognised cancer-causing chemicals in the workplace. With this agreement, eight additional cancer-causing chemicals will be covered by the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive, including diesel exhaust. 12 million workers in the EU potentially exposed to diesel engine exhaust emissions will now be better protected, as diesel fumes and their corresponding exposure limit value were added to the final deal. Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility, Marianne Thyssen, welcomed the agreement. The agreement will be submitted to the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee for approval. Once the member states‘ representatives confirm the agreement, it will be subject to a vote by the plenary of the EU Parliament.,

Global Hunger Index: Global hunger relief back-tracking, especially in war zones


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German family minister Franziska Giffey sharply criticised Pope Francis on Thursday for his recent comments on abortion.


EU warns Italy because of budget plans: EU Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen urged Italy on Thursday to submit a draft budget in line with commitments and warned of risks for Italy and other euro zone states. The situation was very fragile, Katainen told reporters when asked about Italy’s budgetary plans and initially negative market reaction. He said no one wanted financial instability that could hit Italy and other euro zone countries that may suffer from contagion risks. Katainen, who is responsible for jobs and growth, said the Commission was trying to convince Italy to change its budget plans, which are likely to flout EU fiscal rules. The Italian parliament voted on Thursday to push back the goal of a balanced budget from 2020 to beyond 2021, reflecting the government’s new fiscal targets issued this month.,

German President apologises for Nazi crimes in Greece: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier asked Greece for forgiveness for crimes committed during the Nazi occupation, in comments at a former concentration camp near Athens on Thursday. During WWII, between 60,000 and 70,000 Jewish Greeks were murdered in mass shootings and other atrocities. Steinmeier said Germany’s moral and political responsibility for this must not be forgotten. Steinmeier’s visit, on the anniversary of the liberation of Athens, came after Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras’s government renewed Greece’s oft-repeated claims that Germany still owes vast sums in war reparations.

Spain to increase minimum wage: The Spanish government and anti-austerity party Podemos have agreed to increase the minimum wage to €900 a month, an important step for passing the 2019 budget. The leader of Spain’s minority Socialist government and the head of the far-left Podemos, Pablo Iglesias, signed a budget deal which, if it fails to win parliamentary approval and triggers an early election, will serve both parties as a campaign platform. The 50-page agreement, which needs the backing of Basque and Catalan nationalists to get through parliament, includes significant hikes in taxes and on welfare items such as paternity leave and higher pensions — and an increase in the minimum wage from €736 a month to €900.,

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Support for German coalition parties hits record low: Support for German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives (CDU/CSU) and their Social Democrat (SPD) coalition partner hit record lows, a survey showed on Thursday. Compared to a September survey, Germany’s three governing parties, comprising Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), Bavarian conservatives and SPD, jointly lost three percent, recording a below-majority 41%. Surging to second place on 17% were the Greens, who in Bavaria also look set to finish second behind a sagging Christian Social Union (CSU) — Merkel’s sister party led by federal interior minister Horst Seehofer. The Greens also eclipsed the SPD.,

France: Macron and Rutte form liberal dream team
Murder of journalist in Bulgaria: Concern for press freedom

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Kanye West defends support for Trump, in front of Trump: Rapper Kanye West, with a lengthy speech in the Oval Office and a burst of profanity, defended his support for US President Donald Trump on Thursday, to the great delight of Trump himself. The event was billed as a lunch at the White House to discuss prison reform, jobs for African-Americans and Chicago violence. Those items were addressed in a pre-lunch meeting, but Kanye launched into a speech and Trump let him go on as the cameras recorded it all.



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