Friday, 23 March 2018: Trump exempts EU from tariffs, Luis de Guindos appointed ECB’s No. 2, Catalan separatists fail to elect leader of Spanish region


Trump exempts EU from tariffs: The Trump administration said Thursday it would exempt the European Union and four other allies — Australia, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea — from steel and aluminum tariffs that take effect Friday. President Donald Trump had decided to pause the imposition of the tariffs with respect to those countries, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told lawmakers at a Senate finance committee hearing. While several US allies received exemptions, China is expected to take the full brunt of the tariffs, alongside other Washington-imposed penalties. The Trump administration is expected to further extend trade restrictions with China, including restrictions on Chinese investments. After the EU summit, EU chief Donald Tusk said the 28-nation EU agrees with Britain that it’s highly likely Russia is responsible for the poisoning of a former spy in England. Health officials in Salisbury, England say the Russian ex-spy and his daughter poisoned by a nerve agent remain in critical condition.,,,

Luis de Guindos appointed ECB’s No. 2: EU leaders Thursday agreed to hand the European Central Bank’s vice presidency to Spain’s Luis de Guindos. Leaders announced the decision following a vote in the European Council in Brussels on Thursday. De Guindos, currently Spain’s economy minister, will take over the role of vice president from June 1 after incumbent Vitor Constancio leaves the post. Constancio serves as the right-hand man to ECB President Mario Draghi and focuses on issues like financial stability in the eurozone.

EU court backs more transparency in EU legislative process: Europe’s second-highest court sided with proponents of more transparency in the EU lawmaking process on Thursday, saying that EU Parliament should provide key documents in talks between legislators and EU countries on demand. Trilogues are informal meetings between the Parliament, the EU Commission, and the European Council which is made up of the leaders of the 28 EU countries. Such closed-door negotiations play a key role on critical and sensitive issues. Hundreds of trilogues take place every year and are used in 70 to 80 percent of the legislative process. Supporters say it speeds up the process for complex laws. Critics, however, say this type of lawmaking, shrouded in secrecy, limits democratic oversight as there is no transparency and it ultimately erodes trust in EU institutions and fuels euroskepticism.

Visegrad Four’s Chinese dilemma: China has used the international economic crisis to elbow its way towards a dominant position on the global market. Its New Silk Road is seen as an attempt to create a massive, multi-national zone of economic and political influence, including in Central Europe. But Beijing’s flagship initiative has so far failed to attract significant attention in the Visegrad countries. In terms of infrastructure investment in EU members, cooperation on infrastructure remained close to zero, despite intensive political contacts with China, due to the incompatibility of the Chinese offer with the EU law. However, the Visegrad governments consider the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI, also known as the New Silk Road) a major opportunity to strengthen trade flows from both sides.

Germany: European court upholds move to take kids from sect
United States: Trump lawyer John Dowd steps down


We want to know if data was used to influence citizens‘ opinions during the US elections and the Brexit referendum.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg will be questioned by the EU Parliament about the misuse of data by Cambridge Analytica, Parliament President Antonio Tajani announced on Thursday.


Catalan separatists fail to elect leader of Spanish region: The separatist majority of Catalonia’s parliament failed to elect a regional president during a vote held Thursday, starting a two-month countdown to would end with another election being called in the restive corner of Spain. Candidate Jordi Turull, a former minister in the previous Catalan government, fell short of the absolute majority needed due to a division within the three parties who seek independence for the northeastern region. An abstention by lawmakers from the anti-capitalist CUP party left Turull with 64 votes when he needed 68. Turull and five other separatist leaders have a date at the Madrid-based Supreme Court on Friday, when a judge could indict them on rebellion charges.

Sarkozy says he’s „living in hell“: Accusations of illicit funding from Libya have made his life hell, former French President Nicolas Sarkozy told the court that on Wednesday put him under formal investigation for corruption and illegal campaign financing. The allegations have plagued Sarkozy ever since 2012, when the news website Mediapart published a document allegedly from the former head of the Libyan secret services, promising Sarkozy some €50 million for his 2007 election campaign. Sarkozy has repeatedly denied the allegations, citing a lack of evidence. He has also alleged that the Libyans now denouncing him were motivated by revenge after he helped lead the 2011 Western intervention in Libya that deposed then-leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Slovak president appoints new government: Slovak President Andrej Kiska appointed a new Cabinet on Thursday under new Prime Minister Peter Pellegrini. Kiska said he hopes the new government will help restore public trust following protests over the murder of investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and his fiancee in late February. The deaths ultimately prompted Robert Fico to step down as prime minister. Kiska initially rejected the government proposed by Pellegrini, the former deputy prime minister, on Tuesday because he didn’t approve of Pellegrini’s choice for interior minister. Pellegrini proposed a new pick for interior minister and also a reshuffle of police leadership, both of which Kiska endorsed on Thursday.

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Ukraine detains war hero Savchenko over suspected coup plot: Ukraine’s State Security Service on Thursday detained lawmaker Nadiya Savchenko, an ex-military helicopter navigator who became a national hero after being held in a Russian jail, on charges of planning a military-style coup. Prosecutors allege that Savchenko, who became a lawmaker on her return from Russia, planned an attack on parliament using grenades and automatic weapons acquired from pro-Russian separatists in the eastern conflict zone. Savchenko had been feted as a national hero after spending nearly two years in a Russian jail. She was captured fighting rebels in eastern Ukraine.,

Poland plans concessions on judicial reforms: Poland’s ruling party plans to change some of its judicial reforms in response to EU Commission criticism that they threaten to undermine the rule of law, one of the party’s lawmakers said on Thursday. Reacting to the lawmaker’s comments, an EU official said there was a chance the two sides could reach a compromise. Poland’s right-wing government and the Commission have been at loggerheads for two years over rule of law standards, with Warsaw for months declining to make any concessions to Brussels.

Leaving the EU: Czech Republic fights about Czexit
Infection: Denmark to build wild boar fence on German border

⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃ 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, (Inserat schalten)


Made-in-Europe passports give Brexiteers the blues: Britain’s blue passports are likely to be manufactured by a firm in France rather than in Britain after Brexit, with Franco-Dutch company Gemalto poised to beat out its British rival for the contract, local media reported Wednesday. Last year, the UK government announced it would ditch the standard burgundy color typical for EU passports and switch back to the country’s iconic blue and gold after Brexit. But the „Telegraph“ reported Wednesday that Gemalto had undercut its rivals, including British firm De La Rue, by around £50 million.



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