Friday, 19 January 2018: EU says banks‘ bad loan woes ease, Macron meets May in first official visit to the UK, Ukrainian parliament passes bill on occupied territories


EU says banks‘ bad loan woes ease: European Union banks’ holding of bad loans is decreasing but remains high, the European Commission said on Thursday as it prepares measures to force higher provisioning for future soured debt. Bad loans were worth 950 billion euros in the 28 EU countries and accounted for 5.4 percent of total loans in the eurozone. The 2008-2009 global financial crisis left European banks saddled with piles of non-performing loans which they struggled to recoup from distressed firms and households.

Brussels to allow more freedom over EU VAT rates: The EU Commission has proposed new rules to give member states more flexibility to set Value Added Tax (VAT) rates and to create a better tax environment. Apple’s announcement that it will pay 38 billion dollars in US tax on its overseas cash will not reduce the 16 billion dollar tax bill the company owes Ireland following an EU ruling, the EU’s executive said on Thursday,

EU prepares sanctions against Venezuelan officials amid growing unrest: The EU is preparing sanctions on several top Venezuelan officials amid mounting international fears over the political and economic crises that have plunged the country into violence and looting. At least seven senior figures, including the country’s interior minister, Nestor Riverol, and the chief justice, Maikel Moreno, are set to be hit with asset freezes and travel bans as early as next week.

EU Commission denies report about meeting with Erdogan: The Commission has contradicted a newspaper report about a planned meeting between top Brussels officials and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Both sides had an interest in good relations, said a Commission speaker on Thursday, but progress was impossible as long as journalists were in Turkish prisons.

UN: Sexual harassment and assault rife at United Nations, staff claim
Nato: Secretary General visits FYROM as it renews bid to join the alliance


I think this is the beginning of an opening of a new chapter between Britain and France, not the closing of a book.
French President Emmanuel Macron’s meeting with British Prime Minister Theresa May on Thursday marks a new phase in the relationship between the two countries, the UK’s ambassador to France said.


Macron meets May in first official visit to the UK: French President Emmanuel Macron visited the UK Thursday for the first time since taking office, in an attempt to secure defence cooperation post-Brexit. The British government announced it is to send helicopters to support French operations in Africa as well as providing 50 million pounds of humanitarian aid to some African countries. In return, France is to commit to send troops to the UK-led operations in Estonia in 2019. May also agreed to pay an additional 62 million dollars to help reinforce security around the French port city of Calais, which has been a gathering point for migrants seeking to enter Britain.,

Ukrainian parliament passes bill on occupied territories: Ukraine’s parliament on Thursday passed a bill that aims to reintegrate the eastern territories currently controlled by Russia-backed separatists, and goes as far as to declare support for taking them back by military force if necessary. The bill describes the areas in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions as „temporarily occupied“ by „aggressor country“ Russia.

France, Germany want joint eurozone reform position: France and Germany want to reach a joint position on eurozone reform, including tax convergence, capital markets and the banking union, between March and June this year, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Thursday. Speaking after talks with his German counterpart in Paris, Le Maire said that a joint French-German position would spur other eurozone members to come on board.

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„No plan B“ to German grand coalition: There is “no plan B” should German coalition talks fail, Andrea Nahles, the Social Democrats’ leader in parliament, said in an interview published Thursday. SPD party delegates will vote on Sunday on whether or not to progress to formal talks with Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU) and their Bavarian sister party, the CSU, based on the position paper drawn up during exploratory talks. A number of SPD officials have complained that the preliminary accord failed to adequately reflect the party’s priorities.

Nationwide abortion protests in Poland: Thousands of people in Poland have protested against a tightening of the country’s abortion law, which is already one of the most restrictive in Europe. The current Polish law bans all abortions except in exceptional cases. Polish police say balloons filled with red paint were thrown at the headquarters of the ruling conservative party during the protest as people marched through the city urging a liberalisation of abortion laws.

Turkey: Five activists detained, including husband of freed German journalist
Germany: Bundestag votes to create anti-Semitism commissioner
Hungary: Arrest warrant out for ex-Trump aide

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Trump’s fake news awards: US President Donald Trump’s long-awaited announcement of the „Fake News Awards“ was temporarily delayed Wednesday when the website of the Republican Party, where the awards were to be listed, crashed. But the site recovered and the awards were unveiled. Some 11 stories were picked as part of the list. Many of them were taken from tweets and even opinion pieces, rather than news organisations as had been expected. The entries focused on stories where the media outlets had admitted errors and issued corrections.,,



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