⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Strasbourg attacker killed by French police: French police on Thursday night confronted and fatally shot the man believed to be responsible for killing three people and injuring many more in Strasbourg earlier this week. A police unit came across Cherif Chekatt in a Strasbourg street and shot him after he opened fire. The hunt for the suspect had consumed the work of more than 700 police officers and special investigators searching in and around Strasbourg. Five people have been arrested in connection with the attack, including Chekatt’s parents and two of his brothers. Hours after the incident took place, the news agency of the “Islamic State” terrorist group said Chekatt was an IS soldier, but provided no evidence for the claim. French officials also moved quickly to tighten security at other Christmas markets, dedicating additional police officers to guard them.
EU offers Britain some assurances over Brexit backstop: European Union leaders gave UK Prime Minister Theresa May assurances at the EU summit in Brussels on Thursday that they would seek to agree a new deal with Britain by 2021 so that the contentious Irish backstop is never triggered. The current Brexit agreement was not open for renegotiation, the 27 national leaders said in a joint statement. But the bloc said it wanted to establish as close as possible a partnership with the United Kingdom in the future and would aim to have it in place by the end of 2020 so that the backstop will not need to be triggered. German Chancellor Angela Merkel insisted that the EU had its principles and she did not see how the withdrawal agreement could be changed. May had been seeking legally enforceable guarantees surrounding the Irish backstop – the insurance policy designed to prevent the return of a hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. At the summit in Brussels, EU leaders also extended punishing economic sanctions against Russia for another six months over the conflict in Ukraine.
reuters.com, cnn.com, reuters.com, zdf.de
EU court backs cities’ complaint on emissions: An EU court upheld on Thursday a complaint by the city authorities of Paris, Brussels and Madrid against an EU rule change on vehicle emissions they said had increased pollution, and it partly overturned the regulation. The General Court said the European Commission’s 2016 regulatory amendment raising the limits on nitrogen oxide emissions from cars and vans went beyond the powers of the EU executive and broke EU human rights and other laws. It gave the Commission a year to make the amendments, so as to avoid legal uncertainty over decisions made already by consumers and carmakers.
ECB announces the end of crisis-era stimulus: The European Central Bank (ECB) will formally bring an end to its multi-trillion bond-buying programme at the end of the month. However, the central bank said Thursday it plans to reinvest cash from maturing bonds for an extended period of time beyond its next interest rate hike. With inflation near its target but growth weakening, the ECB has performed a precarious balancing act for months, slowly dialling back stimulus while maintaining a promise of protracted financial support to keep borrowing costs low. The bond purchases, known as quantitative easing, were launched four years ago to support inflation and growth in a crisis-hit eurozone. The ECB now sees the scheme offering little further benefit, and is focusing on other tools to support the economy.
Ceasefire agreed for important port city in Yemen: Yemen’s warring parties have agreed to a cease-fire in the crucial port city of Hudaydah. The Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels agreed to withdraw their forces from Hudaydah, the main conduit for humanitarian aid entering Yemen, and to implement a cease-fire in the surrounding province, Secretary General Antpnio Guterres announced on Thursday. He said the UN would play a key role when the troops withdrew, probably a monitoring role and the management of the port. This would help facilitate the humanitarian flow of goods to the civilian population and improve the living conditions for millions of Yemenis. The UN special envoy for Yemen, Martin Griffiths, said troops would withdraw from the port within days, and from the wider city in a second phase.
Frontex: Illegal immigration into the EU has decreased by about a third handelsblatt.com
Fehmarn Belt Fixed Link between Denmark and Germany: EU court stops aid for Fehmarnbelt tunnel handelsblatt.com
Congo: Fire destroys 8,000 voting machines ten days ahead of Congo’s presidential election cnn.com
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“While I was away, three more reports were added to the long list of warnings signals: A special WHO report on health impacts due to climate change, a UN Environment Programme report which highlights the opportunities for reducing emissions in the construction sector, and NASA’s research on the first signs of significant melting of glaciers in East Antarctica.”
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged delegates at the UN climate conference in Katowice, Poland, to make progress on climate change.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Italy and EU closer to budget deal: The European Commission and Italy are working to reach a deal quickly on the country’s 2019 budget, the two sides said on Thursday, after Rome offered to cut its deficit target to avoid disciplinary action by Brussels. European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said he had held an extremely constructive meeting in Brussels with Italian Economy Minister Giovanni Tria on Thursday, but more work needed to be done. Meetings will continue in the coming days as Tria and his team of experts plan to remain in Brussels until a deal is done, possibly by Monday to allow the parliament in Rome to adopt a revised budget before the end of the year, EU and Italian officials said.
EU court upholds German public broadcasting fee: The European Court of Justice has ruled that a fee all German households have to pay to finance the country’s public broadcasters complies with EU law. The court decided that the system, which allows broadcasters to enforce collection, doesn’t constitute illegal state aid. Germany’s long-standing fee system was tweaked in 2013 to make all households pay it, regardless of how many people live there or whether they have a television or radio. Previously, it depended on the number of devices in a household. The court said the change wasn’t a problem.
EU Parliament raises concerns about funds in Czech Republic: The European Parliament Thursday adopted a resolution raising concerns about conflict of interest and the use of EU money in the Czech Republic. MEPs asked the EU Commission to publish all documents related to the possible conflict of interest of the Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and explain what steps it intends to take to remedy the situation. They pointed out that Babis has been revealed to be the beneficial owner of Agrofert, the controlling company of the Agrofert Group conglomerate. Companies belonging to the group have received amounts ranging from 42 million to 82 million euros from the European Structural and Investment funds in 2013 – 2017. Babis received an income from the Agrofert Group while at the same time serving as the chairman of the national Council for the European Structural and Investment funds.
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Ford set to end production in France: Ford will end production at its Blanquefort plant in France by late August next year after rejecting a rescue deal for the factory, in a move which drew the ire of France’s finance minister due to the risk of large-scale job losses. The French government had expressed optimism that the plant and its 850 employees would be saved, but Ford told the plant’s works council that it had rejected the bid made by transmission supplier Punch Powerglide. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire, who had described Punch Powerglide as a credible and solid buyer, reacted angrily to Ford’s decision, and called on the US company to change its mind. Le Maire accused Ford of cowardice, claiming that he had been looking to talk to the company over the phone for the last three days, but that they did not have the courage to talk to him.
⊂ 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 ⊃
15 year-old climate change activist calls for protests: Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg gained international attention after beginning a school strike in August to protest inadequate measures on the part of local and world leaders to cut emissions. More than 20,000 students joined the protest, demonstrating that members of the youngest generation are not content to sit idly by as their future is threatened by inaction in the face of climate change. Greta was present at the Katowice Climate Change Conference and called on students to protest against climate change. In her video announcing the strike, she said as of now there were no signs of commitment to climate action. She called on people to join her protest by standing outside their parliament or local government office and demanding climate action.