Friday, 22 March 2019: EU leaders agree Brexit delay plan, Xi on visit to Rome, Trump to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

EU leaders agree Brexit delay plan: EU leaders have agreed on a plan to delay the Article 50 process, postponing Brexit beyond 29 March. The UK will be offered a delay until 22 May, if MPs approve the withdrawal deal negotiated with the EU next week. If they do not, the EU will back a shorter delay until 12 April, allowing the UK time to get the deal through or to indicate a way forward. European Council President Donald Tusk said British Prime Minister Theresa May had agreed to the proposals. German Chancellor Angela Merkel called for the legal certainty of the upcoming European Parliament elections to be respected. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said 22 May was a more secure date for the extension, because European elections begin after that date. A British petition to cancel Brexit and remain in the EU drew too much support for the UK government’s website to handle, with the petition site crashing repeatedly on Thursday. More than one million people have signed the petition to revoke the triggering of Article 50.
bbc.com, politico.eu, cnn.com (Delay); npr.org (Petition)

Brexit to cost billions in income losses across Europe: Brexit — soft or hard — is expected to cost Europeans billions of euros every year in the form of reduced incomes. According to a study by the German Bertelsmann Stiftung, a hard Brexit would hit citizens in both the EU and the United Kingdom particularly hard, resulting in €57.3 billion in income losses every year in the UK and €40.4 billion in the EU’s remaining 27 member states. Germany alone would see annual income losses of €9.5 billion. France, Italy and Ireland would also see big annual income losses. The losses are expected to be mainly driven by higher prices of goods and services as a result of tariffs that would kick in after Brexit. Currently, there are no tariffs in the EU single market. For some countries outside the EU, however, Brexit is good news. The study shows that incomes in the United States could rise by around €13 billion per year, while China could see a rise of €5 billion annually.
dw.com, politico.eu

Liberals launch EU election campaign: The liberal ALDE Party has held an electoral congress to kick off its campaign for the European election and nominate seven „Team Europe“ liberal candidates. The team includes Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager, who got the loudest cheer from party supporters at the Brussels campaign launch on Wednesday. Vestager told reporters following the nomination that she had joined the team to inspire people to take part and engage in the debate. The liberal group is forecast to be the third-largest force in the next European Parliament, according to a „Politico“ projection. Manfred Weber is the European People Party’s (EPP) candidate for EU Commission President. His main rival for the Commission presidency is First Vice-President Frans Timmermans.
politico.eu, bloomberg.com

Trump to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over Golan Heights: US President Donald Trump announced Thursday that the United States will formally recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights, calling the area important to regional stability. The United States is the only country that has signaled a willingness to recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Trump’s decision shortly after the president’s announcement. Netanyahu will meet with Trump at the White House for a working meeting on Monday to discuss the countries’ shared interests and actions in the Middle East. The key witness in Israel’s submarine affair wants to withdraw parts of his statements in corruption investigations. Israel is planning its own natural gas pipeline to Europe.
politico.eu, dw.com (Golan Heights); handelsblatt.com (Submarine affair); n-tv.de (Pipeline)

Copyright reform: EU lawmakers to vote on copyright overhaul next Tuesday reuters.com
European demands to China: EU urges China to progress on demands to dispel frustration euractiv.com
Rule of law: EU Commission reprimands Hungary zdf.de
Venezuela: Authorities detain top aide to Guaido reuters.com

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

I think we all understand that this is a development of historic importance.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on the EU to proceed cautiously to ensure that Britain leaves the bloc in an orderly fashion.
reuters.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Suspect in Utrecht shooting to face terrorism charge: The main suspect in a deadly tram shooting in the Dutch city of Utrecht will have to answer to charges of multiple murders with terrorist intent. Investigations so far into Monday’s shooting indicate that the shooter acted alone, prosecutors said in a written statement. The statement adds that investigations are continuing into whether the suspect’s actions flowed from personal problems combined with a radicalised ideology. The team investigating the shooting will ask a forensic psychiatry and psychology institute to carry out a personality test on the suspect. A 40-year-old man detained Tuesday afternoon is still under investigation to establish if he possibly had a supporting role, outside the shooting incident.
nbcnews.com, dw.com

Xi on visit to Rome: Chinese President Xi Jinping arrived in Rome on Thursday at the start of a three-day visit during which he will sign an accord drawing Italy into his giant “Belt and Road” infrastructure plan, despite US opposition. Italy will become the first Group of Seven (G7) major industrialised nation to join the multi-billion-dollar project, which is designed to improve Beijing’s global trade reach. Xi is due to meet Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Friday and is set to sign the memorandum of understanding with Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Saturday. Mattarella said that Italy sees China not only as an economic partner of prime importance, but also as a driver of global trade, and a market for Italian technology and expertise in areas like environmental protection, food security, health services and machinery. He called for open and transparent trade with both countries acting on an equal basis.
reuters.com, washingtonpost.com

French Senate refers Macron aides to prosecutors: The French Senate referred President Emmanuel Macron’s top aides to prosecutors on Thursday for withholding information from an investigation into Macron’s former bodyguard Alexandre Benalla, who was sacked last year after being filmed beating up protesters while wearing a police helmet and civilian clothes. The Senate has been investigating Benalla, who was fired as Macron’s security aide after video emerged of his confrontation with May Day protesters. He was sacked only after „Le Monde“ newspaper broke the story, prompting criticism that the president had failed to act sooner. He has also been investigated over other accusations, including that he used a diplomatic passport after he was fired. Last month, an investigative committee of French senators said the top Elysee officials had withheld information from them during their six month investigation and recommended the case be referred to prosecutors.
reuters.com

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Former Stasi agents questioned in Lockerbie bombing probe: Former members of East Germany’s Stasi secret police were questioned as part of an investigation into the Lockerbie bombing in 1988, Berlin’s public prosecutor’s office confirmed on Thursday. According to media reports, Scottish investigators are probing whether Stasi agents were involved in or had knowledge of the terror plot that brought down Pan Am Flight 103. Investigators have long believed that Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, the airport security officer from Libya who was convicted of the attack in 2001, did not act alone.
dw.com, theguardian.com

France: Prosecutors want Assad’s uncle tried zeit.de
Greece: Greek football plagued by hooligans and violence dw.com

⊂ 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 ⊃

Jourova calls on politicians to leave Facebook: EU Justice Commissioner Vera Jourova has called on people to delete their Facebook accounts. She deleted her user account in 2015 and wishes that others would follow her example, Jourova told German newspapers „Stuttgarter Zeitung“ and „Stuttgarter Nachrichten“. She said everyone, including politicians, should have the freedom to decide whether to expose themselves to this constant public communication. Jourova announced more regulatory requirements for Facebook and other communications platforms.
spiegel.de

 

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