⊂ EUROPE ⊃
United States say Iran responsible for tanker attacks: Two oil tankers were attacked Thursday in the Gulf of Oman, marking the second time in a month tankers have been seriously damaged in the region. US intelligence pointed to Iran as being responsible for the attacks, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Thursday. The US Navy rushed to assist the ships, one of which was set ablaze. Some 44 crew members abandoned ship; they sustained only minor injuries. A US defence official earlier dismissed an Iranian claim to have rescued the crews of both vessels in the Gulf of Oman as false. He said the USS Bainbridge picked up 21 crew members. Iran claimed it dispatched search teams that rescued 44 sailors from the two vessels. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said reports of the attacks were very worrying and threatened to lead to an escalation of tensions in the region. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei has said he rejected an offer from US President Donald Trump to talk, blasting the US as insincere in its offer and untrustworthy.
cbsnews.com, reuters.com, npr.org (Tanker attacks); abcnews.com (Khamenei)
EU supports protesters in Hong Kong: US President Donald Trump has said he is sure China and Hong Kong will be able to work out their issues as demonstrators vowed not to retreat over their calls for a controversial extradition bill to be scrapped. The European Union said rights needed to be respected in Hong Kong. Over the past days, the people of Hong Kong had exercised their fundamental right to assemble and express themselves freely and peacefully, the EU’s external affairs ministry statement said. These rights needed to be respected. Restraint should be exercised by all sides; violence and escalatory responses must be avoided.
Shops allowed to label Israeli settler goods: Advocate General Gerard Hogan has advised the European Court of Justice that products originating from Israeli-occupied territories and Israeli settlements should be clearly labelled as such. The court is set to rule on a request submitted by the French Council of State seeking clarification on France’s own 2016 guidelines calling for such labelling. Those guidelines stipulate that products originating from the West Bank and Golan Heights, both of which are considered occupied territories by the international community, must be clearly labeled. The former Irish judge, comparing the case to boycotts of South African products during apartheid, said that consumers might be inclined to avoid products from a particular country, because it pursued particular political or social policies which that consumer happened to find objectionable or even repugnant.
Macron suffers setback in EU Parliament: France’s former Europe minister Nathalie Loiseau, French President Emmanuel Macron’s handpicked candidate to lead a new centrist alliance in the EU Parliament, said on Thursday she was pulling out of the race. Macron’s party has joined forces with the liberal Alde group and others in parliament to create the new bloc, named Renew Europe. But the establishment of the new group has been made more difficult by tensions between Loiseau, who had been widely expected to run for the leadership, and other members. Loiseau was quoted by Belgian media disparaging allies in Renew Europe and saying she planned a sweeping overhaul of the grouping. Her decision to drop out of contention for group leader is a significant setback for Macron.
MEPs create biggest far-right group in EU Parliament: Euroskeptic and nationalist politicians have joined forces with anti-immigration parties across Europe to create the biggest far-right group in the European Parliament. Known as Identity and Democracy (ID), the group will be the fifth largest in parliament. While the far right now has 10% of MEPs in the new parliament, compared with 5% in the 2014-19 session, other parties are not expected to vote far-right MEPs into influential positions.
What countries think of the EU’s strategic agenda: The 28 member states’ ambassadors to the EU (COREPER) broadly welcomed the strategic agenda drafted by European Council President Donald Tusk for the next five-year mandate. The first draft listed four main priorities: Protecting citizens and freedoms; developing a strong and vibrant economic base; building a more climate-friendly, green, fair and inclusive future; and defending European interests and values on the global stage. A large majority of countries proposed additions under each of the priorities listed. In light of these remarks, Tusk’s team concluded a second version late on Wednesday. But the latest draft failed to meet many of the national governments’ demands.
Cutting emissions: Council adopts CO2 standards for trucks consilium.europa.eu
Council of the EU: Boosting the market for clean vehicles with binding procurement targets consilium.europa.eu
After the European Parliament elections: What happens next? europarl.europa.eu
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“I was under a lot of pain and during this Nato summit I had cramps in my legs, and then of course I fell down. This looked like I was totally drunk, which of course the British media loves.”
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has explained that he stays off social media to avoid hurtful comments, including accusations that he is drunk and corrupt.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Austrian prosecutors investigating former far-right leader: Austrian prosecutors have announced that they are investigating former far-right leader Heinz-Christian Strache and others on suspicion of breach of trust in connection with a sting video that forced Strache to quit the coalition government. In the footage, Strache appears to offer to fix state contracts in return for political or financial help from a woman he thought was the daughter of a Russian oligarch. A spokesman for the prosecutors’ office said it was investigating Strache as well as Johann Gudenus, a former FPO local lawmaker in Vienna who also featured in the video.
Mass-killing of chicks allowed in Germany: A German court has ruled that the poultry industry practice of killing unwanted chicks is still lawful, until an alternative can be found. The ruling, made by Germany’s Federal Administrative Court on Thursday, ordered that the slaughtering of male chicks should continue until methods are developed to determine the sex of an embryo in the egg. As soon as the technology is available nationwide, the Animal Welfare Act, which prohibits chick culling, will automatically apply. In 2013, the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia issued a decree banning hatcheries from killing chicks. Two egg hatcheries in the state then appealed against this.
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Italy threatens to use strict new law on German NGO boat: Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini threatened on Wednesday to use tough, new measures for the first time on a German charity ship, “Sea Watch”, after it picked up migrants off the coast of Libya without authorisation. The Italian government on Tuesday approved a security decree that gives the Interior Ministry the power to deny access to Italian territorial waters to vessels that it considers are a risk to security or public order. “Sea Watch” said on Twitter the boat had been in distress. It added that although the Libyan coastguard had announced it would take charge of the rescue, it had been in no position to do so.
⊂ 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 ⊃
Putin fires two police generals after Golunov’s release: Russian President Vladimir Putin has fired two police generals over the discredited criminal case against journalist Ivan Golunov. Golunov, known for his investigative work probing corruption, was arrested last week after law enforcement said they found drugs on him. His case triggered public outcry and critics said he was framed because of his work. Police made a rare U-turn on Tuesday when they abruptly dropped the charges against Golunov and let him walk free.