Friday, 30 November 2018: Merkel sidesteps military aid to Ukraine, May agrees to debate about Brexit deal, EU gives out another 12,000 Interrail tickets

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

Merkel sidesteps military aid to Ukraine: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has condemned Russia for seizing three Ukrainian ships in the Sea of Azov. But she failed to offer any military support to Ukraine or further economic sanctions against Russia. Instead, Merkel reaffirmed Germany’s commitment to Ukraine, and put the blame for the current crisis squarely on Russian President Vladimir Putin. She pointed out that Russia and Ukraine agreed a shipping treaty in 2003 that grants both countries full use of the Kerch Strait leading into the Sea of Azov, although both sides also have rights of inspection in the waters. A bridge that Russia built to the annexed Crimean Peninsula has impeded the free movement of ships, Merkel said. She is expected to address the situation, which has seen Ukraine implement martial law in 10 regions, before the G20 summit in Buenos Aires. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday that Germany was prepared to continue providing aid to the Donbass region of Ukraine, which he said needed a lasting ceasefire. US President Donald Trump has called off talks with Putin at the G20 summit amid increasing tensions surrounding the Russia-Ukraine crisis and explosive reports the president’s former lawyer lied about a Trump Tower project in Moscow. Kiev has called for Russian vessels to be banned from passing through the Bosphorus strait in Turkey as a reprisal for the Kerch strait standoff. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has called on Nato to deploy naval ships to the Sea of Azov to provide security. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has offered to mediate between the Ukraine and Russia. Prosecutors are investigating three German Siemens employees based in St. Petersburg over allegations they violated EU embargo rules, the Hamburg public prosecutor’s office said. Siemens sold seven gas turbines to Russia in 2015 and 2016, but four of them were later installed in Russia-annexed Crimea, which is subject to sanctions from the European Union.
dw.com (Merkel), reuters.com (Maas), independent.co.uk (Trump), theguardian.com (Bosphorus strait), zeit.de (Erdogan), reuters.com (Siemens)

May agrees to debate about Brexit deal: British Prime Minister Theresa May has accepted the BBC’s offer to take part in a debate on Brexit on Sunday 9 December, two days before MPs vote on her deal. The BBC said it was delighted that May had accepted the offer. It added it would discuss debate formats with both parties and would announce further details soon. Labour sources said the party has not yet agreed to take part, with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn saying he preferred ITV’s offer. Corbyn claimed he preferred ITV’s bid out of respect for viewers who wanted to watch the „I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here!“ final on ITV the same evening.
bbc.com

EU gives out another 12,000 Interrail tickets: The EU Commission is giving away 12,000 free Interrail tickets to 18-year-olds in the European Union, after thousands benefited from the scheme during the summer. The DiscoverEU will remain open to applicants until 11 December. Participants must be a national of an EU member state, and can travel individually or in a group of up to five people. The launch was announced after 15,000 teenagers were able to enjoy the first round of the scheme this summer. The project is based on the initiative #FreeInterrail by Berlin activists Vincent Herr and Martin Speer. The two were recently awarded the „Innovation in Politics Award“.
euronews.com

Eurozone sentiment eases in November: Eurozone economic sentiment continued to deteriorate in November but less than predicted, thanks to an unexpected rise in optimism in industry, the EU Commission said on Thursday. Economic sentiment in the 19 countries sharing the euro eased to 109.5 in November from 109.7 in October. Economists had expected a deeper fall, but a surge of optimism in industry cushioned the fall.
reuters.com

Former Trump lawyer pleads guilty to lying to US Congress: US President Donald Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen on Thursday pleaded guilty to lying to Congress over a federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Cohen told a New York court that he had made false statements to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about an aborted Trump organisation real estate project in Russia. Trump’s associates pursued the project as the Kremlin was escalating its election sabotage effort meant to help him win the presidency. Trump told reporters at the White House that Cohen was a weak person who was trying to get a reduced sentence. The US Senate on Wednesday delivered a strong bipartisan rebuke to Trump’s policy on Saudi Arabia by overwhelmingly voting to advance a resolution that would end all US involvement in the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Saudi Arabia will buy Lockheed Martin’s missile defence system, a US Department of State spokesman said on Wednesday. Canada has imposed sanctions on 17 Saudi nationals allegedly linked to the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. French President Emmanuel Macron will meet with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on the sidelines of a G20 meeting in Argentina to discuss Khashoggi’s murder.
dw.com, nytimes.com (Cohen), nbcnews.com (Yemen), reuters.com (Arms sale), bbc.com (Canada), reuters.com (Macron)

Cum-ex tax fraud scandal: MEPs call for inquiry, justice, and stronger tax authorities europarl.europa.eu
Schengen: New rules for temporary border controls within the Schengen area europarl.europa.eu
Adviser to the European Court of Justice: EU court adviser gives mixed view on Belgian nuclear reuters.com

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

I expect U.S. car tariffs before Christmas.
EU Budget Commissioner Guenther Oettinger is concerned that the United States will end its detente with the EU and impose tariffs on imported cars and this could happen soon, according to his spokeswoman.
reuters.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Deutsche Bank offices raided over money laundering: The Frankfurt headquarters of Deutsche Bank have been raided by prosecutors in a money laundering investigation. About 170 law enforcement agents took part in the operation. The investigation revolves around multiple Deutsche Bank employees, including two believed to still be working at the financial institution. Prosecutors are looking into whether Deutsche Bank staff helped clients set up offshore accounts to transfer money from criminal activities. The investigation was sparked by revelations in the 2016 „Panama Papers“ – an enormous amount of information leaked from a Panamanian law firm called Mossack Fonseca.
bbc.com, dw.com

Italy clamps down on immigration: The Italian government has passed a law that clamps down on asylum rights, handing Interior Minister and right-wing League party leader Matteo Salvini his first major legislative win. The new decree, voted 396 to 99 late on Wednesday, enacts stricter asylum rights and hardens security measures as a way of preventing terrorist attacks on Italian soil. The new law eliminates humanitarian grounds for granting protection to refugees — asylum that is not tied to political persecution or war. It also funnels millions of euros to law enforcement and anti-mafia administrators. Under the new decree, the Italian government will only grant asylum to refugees of war or victims of political persecution and hand out special permits of a maximum duration of one year for all other cases. taly will now be able to detain foreigners up to 180 days before repatriating them.
reuters.com, euronews.com

German parliament votes to support UN migration pact: Germany’s parliament on Thursday voted to back the contentious UN pact aimed at promoting cooperation to deal with migration around the world. While giving their support to the global treaty, parliamentarians called on the government to ensure that it did not restrict the national sovereignty and the right of Germany to decide its migration policy itself. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned of scare tactics being used by such critics, saying that, in fact, the pact would have a very limited effect on Germany. Maas said the pact would lead to many countries raising their standards with regard to refugees, which in the end would mean that the migration pressure on Germany would lessen noticeably in the long run. Slovak Foreign Minister Miroslav Lajcak has decided to resign in protest at parliament’s decision on Thursday to reject a UN pact on the treatment of migrants.
dw.com (Germany), reuters.com (Slovakia)

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Poland plans new coal mine: Poland will start investing in a new coal mine next year in the south of the country, Deputy Energy Minister Grzegorz Tobiszowski said on Thursday. Poland needed coal and either this would be Polish coal or from outside, Tobiszowski also said, referring to Poland’s increased coal imports, mostly from Russia as domestic production has fallen. A draft version of Poland’s long-term energy strategy lays out plans to reduce the share of coal in power production to around 60% by 2030 from around 80% now.
reuters.com

France: Official suspected of spying for North Korea bbc.com
Hungary: Orban now controls a media juggernaut bloomberg.com
Spain: More than 560 refugees salvaged off the Spanish coast zeit.de

⊂ 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 ⊃

Merkel to miss start of G20 summit after plane’s technical difficulties: German Chancellor Angela Merkel is expected to miss the start of the G20 summit after her journey to Buenos Aires for this weekend’s summit was interrupted on Thursday when the government’s „Konrad Adenauer“ Airbus experienced technical difficulties in the air. Shortly after departing from Berlin on Thursday evening, the plane circled over the Netherlands and landed at the Cologne/Bonn airport in western Germany. Merkel will now stay overnight in Bonn, before travelling Friday with a small delegation to Madrid then on to Buenos Aires, according to government spokesman Steffen Seibert. She is expected to miss the beginning of the G20 summit, which is due to start this Friday.
dw.com

 

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