Friday, 17 August 2018: Verhofstadt criticises May’s “budget airline” plan for EU citizens, Brussels dismisses claims EU to blame for Italian bridge collapse, Poland’s president vetoes change to EU Parliament voting rules, Turkey arrests another German citizen


Verhofstadt criticises May’s “budget airline” plan for EU citizens: EU Parliament legislators are deeply concerned at reports the UK may seek to process EU citizens applying for post-Brexit settled status in alphabetical order, with the assembly’s Brexit coordinator branding the approach worthy of a “budget airline”. In a joint statement the EU Parliament’s Brexit steering group said that such an approach would be complicated, arbitrary and could create unnecessary confusion and uncertainty for millions. The Parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said: “We need a simple, efficient and fair process, not one a budget airline would be proud of.” The Home Office may have to register up to 3.6 million EU citizens for “settled status” before Britain quits the EU on March 29 2019. Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said a no-deal Brexit “would be a mistake we would regret for generations”, after a working tour of northern Europe.,,

Johnson’s Afghan trip cost over £20,000: Labour says Former British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson should pay for an overseas trip that caused him to miss a crunch Heathrow vote, after it emerged it cost more than £20,000. The trip on 25 June allowed Johnson to miss a crucial vote, during which the UK parliament backed the expansion of Heathrow. The former foreign secretary has long been opposed to the addition of a third runway, famously saying he would lie down in front of bulldozers to prevent it from happening. Critics accused Johnson of taking the last-minute trip to Afghanistan to avoid having to abandon his position or resign his cabinet post to vote against the government. He reportedly spent just nine hours in Kabul.,

Union boss Len McCluskey accuses Jewish community of ‘intransigent hostility’ towards Labour: Len McCluskey has accused Jewish leaders of showing “truculent hostility” towards Labour, as he called for the party to draw a line under the antisemitism row by adopting the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance guidelines in full. McCluskey claimed the party’s anti-Semitism problem has been wildly exaggerated. He said the issue risked turning the party into a “vortex of McCarthyism” and blamed Jewish leaders for their “utter refusal” to accept an olive branch from Corbyn.,

Palestinian rights conference: Conservatives call for Lord Sheikh to be expelled from party
Air pollution: London mayor backs new inquest into girl’s asthma death
Fracking: UK government drops fracking question from public attitude tracker
Vaping: Lawmakers want British vaping rules relaxed to help smokers quit


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Brussels dismisses claims EU to blame for Italian bridge collapse: The European Union has dismissed claims by the Italian government that EU spending rules prevented the country from spending enough to keep its infrastructure safe, two days after a devastating bridge collapse killed at least 39 people in Genoa. Italy’s far-right interior minister, Matteo Salvini, who is also a deputy prime minister, has firmly pointed the finger at Brussels over the disaster, even as wider attention turned towards the company responsible for the bridge. The EU Commission argued that over the past few years, Italy has had access to billions of euros in EU funds to develop and maintain its infrastructure, and stressed that it has recently approved a national investment project aimed at reducing traffic over the collapsed bridge. Italy will receive 2.5 billion euros in EU funds for roads and rail over the 2014-20 EU budget period, the Commission said, adding that it had recently approved an 8.5 billion euro investment plan for Italian motorways. EU budget commissioner Günther Oettinger tweeted that it was very human to look for somebody to blame when a terrible accident happened, but that it was still good to look at the facts.,,

Poland’s president vetoes change to EU Parliament voting rules: Polish President Andrzej Duda on Thursday refused to sign into law a change to the way the country elects members of the European Parliament, which critics say would have squeezed out all but the largest parties. Duda said the rules — approved by parliament in July — effectively meant that parties would need as much as 16.5 percent of the vote to win any seats in the European legislature. The proposed law went too far from the required rule of proportionality, he added. The law was pushed through parliament in July by the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) but came under attack as it could have resulted in Poland’s 52 seats in the European Parliament being shared out only between the two largest parties — PiS and Civic Platform — in next year’s ballot. Duda, who was a PiS candidate in the presidential election of 2015, has vetoed a small handful of legislation pushed through parliament by PiS, including two controversial bills on reforming the judiciary.,

EU summertime survey closed: An online public survey on whether EU states should keep changing their clocks between summer and wintertime closed on Thursday. People were asked about their overall experience with the scheme, whether they wanted to keep it, and for what reasons. The shift of clocks has existed at EU level since the 1980s and was mainly designed to save energy. Finland, among others, suggested scrapping the arrangement.

Mediterranean: Rescue ship “Aquarius” travels to Marseille


We have a situation in which not all problems are solved, but 2015 will not and should not be repeated. We have a completely new situation.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has said that Germany will not see another crisis like the one during the refugee influx in 2015.


Turkey arrests another German citizen: Another German citizen has been arrested by Turkish police on charges of terrorism after criticising the Turkish government online, his lawyer said on Thursday. Ilhami A. was arrested on Tuesday morning while visiting his mother in the town of Saribasak in a largely Kurdish region of eastern Turkey, public broadcaster ARD reported. His Turkish lawyer, Ercan Yildirim, told ARD Ilhami A. was accused of “terror propaganda” because he had criticised the Turkish government on social media. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz has told his Turkish counterpart Berat Albayrak in a telephone call on Thursday that Germany has an interest in an economically stable Turkey. Albayrak has assured international investors on Thursday that Turkey would emerge stronger from its currency crisis, insisting its banks were healthy and signalling it could ride out a dispute with the United States. US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said Thursday that the United States is prepared to take more action against the Turkish government if it does not move to release the detained American pastor Rev. Andrew Brunson.,,,

Croatia police accused of abusing refugees: The refugees near the Bosnian village of Velika Kladusa have tried to reach Croatia, an EU member state; the border is not far from here. Of the ten refugees speaking to journalists, nine reported abuse by Croatian police; violence and insults, stolen money and damaged phones. Their efforts to apply for asylum have also been thwarted, they said, including being forced to walk back to Bosnia through dense forests.

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German plane lands in Greece after bomb threat: A German passenger jet was forced to land in Greece on Thursday after reporting a bomb threat. Condor Airways confirmed to DW that flight DE69 from Egypt’s Hurghada to Dusseldorf made an unscheduled landing at Chania, on the island of Greece, for safety reasons. A bomb threat triggered the manoeuver, according to media reports. Aircraft tracking websites showed Condor Flight DE69 was diverted to Chania airport after two hours in the air. The passengers will spend the night in hotels before resuming their journey on Friday. Bomb disposal experts and police sniffer dogs were investigating the aircraft, according to local media.

Germany: Merkel confronts far-right critics in AfD country

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Swedish Muslim woman wins case after refusing to shake hands: A Swedish Muslim woman whose job interview was terminated when she refused to shake hands with a man has won compensation. The 24-year-old woman was applying for a job as an interpreter in her hometown of Uppsala when, for religious reasons, she placed her hand over her heart instead of shaking the hand of her male interviewer. The interview was then terminated. In the first judgement of its kind, the Swedish labour court ruled the company had discriminated against her. The company had argued her actions contravened their requirement for staff to treat men and women equally.,


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