Friday, 18 December: Putin’s annual press conference, EU summit without results, More border controls in Germany


Putin’s annual press conference: Nearly 1,400 journalists jostled on national television on Thursday for the opportunity to ask Russian President Vladimir Putin a question. During the press conference, Putin denied once again that regular Russian forces were in Ukraine. He largely reiterated Russia’s anger over the downing of one of its warplanes by Turkish jets last month. The more than three-hour press conference also touched on Russia’s battered economy and Russia’s intervention in Syria.

EU summit without results: EU leaders gathered in Brussels for an end-of-year summit focused on tackling Europe’s migrant crisis. German Chancellor Angela Merkel and leaders from seven other EU nations held a special meeting with Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu ahead of the summit. While British Prime Minister David Cameron campaigned to refashion the terms of Britain’s EU membership, for many of the other leaders the migration crisis loomed larger. The summit revisited many of the measures that heads of government and interior ministers had decided on, but had not put into effect. Of the September agreement to shift 160,000 refugees from Greece and Italy, 184 people had actually been moved to other host countries.

Debate about less money for uncooperative states: In the ongoing dispute over how best to distribute refugees fairly around Europe, Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann has raised the issue of EU contributions. Faymann called upon the EU on Thursday to allocate the Central and Eastern member states with less money next year should they continue to block the relocation of refugees. Faymann added that if the situation were to continue as it is, it would make it difficult for Austria to continue paying in money and that it would call the entire issue of the EU budget into question.

More border controls in Germany: EU Commissioner for Migration and Internal Affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos believes that border checks in Germany will extend beyond February 2016, saying that the EU Commission would agree to this. One has to accept that Germany is under a lot of pressure in the refugee crisis, Avramopoulos said. 81 percent of German experts do not believe that current measures reduce the flow of refugees, according to a recent survey. A majority of them expects that there will be checks at EU internal borders soon.

WTO to abolish agricultural export subsidies: At the World Trade Conference in Nairobi, 162 member states of the World Trade Organization (WTO) have agreed on compromises in the agricultural sector. However, the submitted proposal only partially gives in to demands from developing countries for protection mechanisms and exceptions from WTO regulation. Marita Wiggerthale from Oxfam criticised the draft, saying that little progress was made in regards to export credits and food aid.

Consumers cheated with false lightbulb efficiency claims: Lightbulb manufacturers are misleading consumers about the brightness and energy use of their products by exploiting a loophole in European tests. The discrepancy is caused by manufacturers taking advantage of leeways in official testing procedures for bulbs, according to the European Environmental Bureau. The EU Commission is aware of the loophole and has been working on proposals to close it since November 2012. But plans for a legislative proposal are still gathering dust.

Endocrine disruptors: Sweden wins case against Commission
Environment Council: Ministers spoke about air pollution and biodiversity
Data: New data protection standards to ensure smooth police cooperation in the EU
Exports: Parliament calls for tougher arms export regime
Libya: Rival lawmakers sign deal in Morocco


The Paris Agreement on climate change is a sign of hope in troubled times. It is a triumph for multilateralism that shows the United Nations delivering results the world desperately needs.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon summed up the “pivotal year” in which the UN marked its 70th anniversary.

His contribution to the global humanitarian sphere is colossal. That’s who should be given the Nobel Peace Prize.
Russian President Vladimir Putin says suspended FIFA president Sepp Blatter should be given the Nobel Peace Prize.


Violent riots in Dutch town: A meeting in a Dutch town to discuss whether to build a new centre for migrants had to be abandoned when some opponents rioted. Protesters in Geldermalsen tore down fences and threw fireworks at police who responded with warning shots. Dutch State Secretary for Security and Justice Klaas Dijkhoff said the protesters had crossed a line.

Le Pen removes picture of IS victim: French far right leader Marine Le Pen on Thursday took down a photo showing the killing of American reporter James Foley after his family protested. Foley’s parents issued a statement, saying they were deeply disturbed by the unsolicited use of their son for Le Pen’s political gain and want the photos taken down immediately. Soon afterward, Le Pen’s tweet disappeared.

IMF chief Lagarde to stand trial: Christine Lagarde is to stand trial in France for alleged negligence over a 404 million euro payment to a businessman in 2008. She was finance minister in French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s government at the time of the compensation award to Bernard Tapie for the sale of a firm.

Spain faces end of the two-party system: It is already clear now that December 20th will mark the temporary end of the two-party system. According to the most recent polls, four political groups will determine the future of the country. The traditional parties PP and PSOE are now also competing with Podemos and Ciudadanos. Some speak of a new “transicion”, comparable to the transition from dictatorship to democracy.

Spanish Prime Minister Rajoy punched by teen: Mariano Rajoy was dealt an eye-watering punch by a teenager during a campaign event on Wednesday. The 17-year old got up close to the Prime Minister, reportedly asking to take a photograph, before unleashing his left fist into the side of Rajoy’s head. The young man was later shown being taken away in handcuffs by security guards.

Dutch stock exchange stops trading its own shares: A court has sided with the Dutch stock exchange Euronext in a dispute with the Dutch government over capital requirements. Euronext was protesting requirements that it hold 250 million euros in equity and maintain positive tangible equity through 2017. Euronext said the requirements prevent it from carrying out acquisitions and create an unequal playing field as they do not apply to other European exchanges. Trading in Euronext’s own shares were halted in advance of the ruling.

Germany: Country sends more weapons to Kurdish peshmerga
Ukraine: Minister throws water in Odessa governor’s face
Turkey: 25 Kurdistan Workers Party militants killed
Montenegro: Ex-President Marovic arrested for corruption
Italy: “Islamic State” threatens to behead minister Andrea Orlando

⊂ DATA ⊃

After efforts to elect three new Constitutional Court judges failed in 31 successive parliamentary votes, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi cut a deal on Wednesday to secure the necessary majority to fill the trio of vacancies.

⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃ seeks campaigner *** Steltemeier & Rawe seeks Senior Associate (m/f) *** 1&1 sucht EU Public Affairs Manager VKU sucht Referentin/en *** Afore Consulting seeks Junior Consultants in European Public Affairs, (Inserat schalten)


Suspended FIFA chief Blatter is “Swiss of the year”: Disgraced Fifa boss Sepp Blatter has been named “Swiss of the Year” by the conservative newspaper “Weltwoche”. The paper praised Blatter’s “impressive achievement”, calling him an “exceptional Swiss” and a “tireless and admirable fighter for a better world”.


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