Friday, 29 June 2018: Italy stalls EU summit with block on joint conclusions, ECB warns protectionist measures are key risk to global growth, Future of EU hinges on solving migration issue, says Merkel


Italy stalls EU summit with block on joint conclusions: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte refused to approve an EU summit statement on Thursday, telling fellow leaders that they must first meet his demands on migration. Conte is demanding that other EU states share the costs and burden of handling migrants that are rescued in the Mediterranean. According to one official observing the discussions, other leaders urged him not to block the other issues on which there appeared to be consensus — including strengthening defence cooperation, pursuing legislation that promotes digital innovation, and speeding work on the EU’s next long-term budget — by linking them to the divisive migration debate. German Chancellor Angela Merkel got an unlikely defender in her domestic battles over migration: Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. In an interview with „Politico“, Kurz distanced himself from his ideological ally, German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, who has sparked a political crisis in Berlin by calling for Germany to turn back migrants at the country’s border who have previously applied for asylum. Luxembourg Prime Minister Xavier Bettel and EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani have criticised Seehofer as well.,,

ECB warns protectionist measures are key risk to global growth: The European Central Bank has warned that the risks to the world’s economy from a widespread rise in protectionism could be significant. The ECB warned in its Economic Bulletin on Thursday that global growth – already forecast to slow as many advanced economies approach capacity constraints – might take an additional hit from recent threats to trade. The bank will publish its new unsecured overnight interest rate by October 2019, it said on Thursday, taking another step in devising what could become a new benchmark after confidence in previous indicators was shaken. The ECB decided to devise a new rate reference rate called euro short-term rate (ESTER) after industry-led reforms failed.,

Accession talks with Serbia: Earlier this week, Serbia opened two more chapters in its EU accession talks. After unlocking the chapters on fisheries and financial and budgetary provisions on 25 June, the country now has 14 negotiating chapters open and two provisionally closed. But questions about the pace of its progress have been raised in Belgrade. Serbia had sent five negotiating positions to Brussels, meaning it was ready to open five chapters, so the general public wondered about the pace of the negotiations, keeping in mind 2025 as the year mentioned in the EU’s new strategy for the Western Balkans as a possible accession year. If the opening of chapters continued at this rate, Serbia would need five more years just to open them all, not to mention close them, which requires approval of all member states. In that case, joining the union in 2025 would be highly unlikely.

Children of German jihadists still in Syria war zone: There are still many children of suspected German jihadists living in the war zones in Syria and Iraq. A total of 270 women and children from Germany, or children of German parents born there, are still in this region. More than 10,000 children were killed or maimed in armed conflicts last year, the United Nations reported on Wednesday in an annual survey. Several hundred refugees returned to Syria from Lebanon on Thursday while hundreds more waited to hear whether their applications to go home would be approved by Syrian authorities. With their possessions piled high on trucks and tractors, around 300 Syrian refugees began trickling out of the border town of Arsal in the early morning. At least 17 civilians have been killed in an air strike on a basement shelter in south-western Syria, according to activists. Russia is backing an army offensive in the region, which borders Jordan and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. US President Donald Trump will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin next month in Finland, the White House announced Thursday.,,,, (Trump)

Refugees in the Mediterranean: „Lifeline“ activists see themselves as victims of a criminalisation campaign
European Court of Human Rights: Murderers do not have a „right to be forgotten“ on the internet


One should not give the impression that neo-colonialism is currently being practiced here.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has warned that leaders in Brussels should not decide for North African countries because it would amount to neo-colonialism.


Future of EU hinges on solving migration issue, says Merkel: Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel warned on Thursday that the future of the EU hinged on whether it could find answers to the vital questions posed by migration. Addressing the German Bundestag before heading to Brussels, Merkel said European leaders should find a solution to asylum challenges by allowing themselves to be guided by values and rooting for multilateralism rather than unilateralism. Merkel also dampened expectations that a conclusive solution would be reached at this week’s EU summit. She said that two points of a seven-point plan being hashed out with European partners remained controversial and would need to be resolved over the next two days. One of these, she said, was the EU directive on granting and withdrawing international protection, where members still needed to find common standards for providing asylum. The other point of contention is the re-organisation of the Dublin Accord, which regulates where asylum applications have to be dealt with, and how asylum-seekers are distributed across the bloc.,

Poland’s judicial reform could affect other EU countries: The controversial Polish judicial reform could provide extra enforcement to law enforcement agencies in other EU countries. According to an opinion by the Advocate General at the European Court of Justice, EU countries may have to consider in extradition matters the persons concerned in Poland are guaranteed a procedure before an independent and impartial court. The European Court of Justice issued another opinion on Thursday that a Polish man in Ireland fighting extradition back to Poland would have to demonstrate to an Irish court why he personally could not expect a fair trial in his home country.,

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Macron’s compulsory national service: French President Emmanuelle Macron vowed to reinstate military service during his election campaign to promote a sense of civic duty among French youth. But instead, a watered down version of the original plan will likely be instated in 2019, called the Service National Universel (Universal National Service). The project aims to increase the youth engagement in the life of the Nation, value citizenship and the sense of belonging to a community, strengthen social cohesion, and energise the Republican melting pot, said the government. The compulsory national service will be for 16-year-olds. Both girls and boys will have to participate in mandatory one-month placements with a focus on civic culture, which can include military service or not. They’ll be free to choose a second placement, which runs from three months up to a year, in a defence or security area or do volunteer work linked to heritage, the environment, or social care.

Minorities: Roma in the Ukraine under attack by far-right groups
Bulgaria: Open for business

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Belgian PM’s World Cup dig at May: British Prime Minister Theresa May is used to being isolated in Europe and looked to be on her own again on Thursday in Brussels as England faced Belgium at the World Cup. Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel made sure EU leaders were equipped with Belgian supporter scarves as they arrived in Brussels for a summit several hours before the game in Kaliningrad, Russia. For May herself, Michel presented her with a red Belgian team jersey, emblazoned with the number 10 and the word HAZARD. It is the shirt and squad number of Belgium captain and Chelsea star Eden Hazard. May also gave Michel an England shirt before the match — which she quipped was “the equaliser” — although officials said it did not bear a name or number.



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