Friday, 31 May 2019: EU tries new Balkan push, Hungary suspends court reform that worried EU, Germany hopes for peace in eastern Ukraine

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

EU tries new Balkan push: The European Commission has called on the EU to let Albania and North Macedonia begin membership talks. The Commission argued on Wednesday that bringing Tirana and Skopje closer to the European Union would make both the volatile Balkan region and the EU itself more stable. The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini noted the EU had held out the prospect of membership talks if Albania and North Macedonia undertook reforms to strengthen democracy and the rule of law and said the two countries have kept their end of the bargain. EU Enlargement Commissioner Johannes Hahn said both countries had delivered on reforms. But he also stressed that possible accession negotiations could last for several years. The EU Commission sees its strategy of integration with Balkan countries as a tool for stabilisation, in a region that was convulsed by conflict in the 1990s.
politico.eu, bbc.com

Five Commissioners elected as MEPs: Five members of the Juncker Commission have been elected as MEPs, the EU executive confirmed on Tuesday. The EU Commission’s First Vice President, Frans Timmermans, Vice Presidents Andrus Ansip and Valdis Dombrovskis, and Commissioners Corina Cretu and Mariya Gabriel have been elected to the EU Parliament. What remains to be seen is whether they will take their seats in the European Parliament or stay on as Commissioners.
euractiv.com

UN secretary-general Guterres receives Charlemagne Prize: UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres was awarded the Charlemagne Prize on Wednesday for promoting European unity. Guterres, who is a former prime minister of Portugal, was chosen by the prize committee chosen for his advocacy of cooperation, tolerance, pluralism and multilateral cooperation. After being presented the medal, Guterres gave a speech highlighting the importance of a strong European Union. He said Europe and the global order, with the United Nations at its apex, risked being undermined by rising nationalism and xenophobia at precisely the time when it was needed more than ever to tackle challenges posed by issues such as climate change and migration.
dw.com, reuters.com

Italy and Malta helped: More than 170 refugees rescued in the Mediterranean Sea tagesspiegel.de

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

In total, I’ll have been in politics for 50 years. At the end of this legislative period, it will really have been enough.
German interior minister Horst Seehofer has announced the end of his political career.
dw.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Hungary suspends court reform that worried EU: Hungary unexpectedly announced the indefinite suspension of a new administrative court system on Thursday, backtracking on a reform that had raised concerns over judicial independence. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s chief of staff defended the plans but admitted the pressure from the EU led the government to alter its position. Hungary had passed a law late last year to set up courts overseen directly by the justice minister, a move critics said could allow political interference in judicial matters. Early this year, Hungary had already modified some aspects of the reform criticised by the Venice Commission, a European panel of constitutional law experts, which said that the laws on administrative courts lacked effective checks and balances.
reuters.com, dw.com

Germany hopes for peace in eastern Ukraine: Germany and France are unflagging in their commitment to peace in eastern Ukraine, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said ahead of his visit to the Ukraine with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian. Maas and Le Drian visited the country’s newly elected president Volodymyr Zelenskiy to make it clear that Germany and France are not slackening in their commitment to Ukraine. After the meeting with Le Drian and Zelenskiy on Thursday, Maas said he was optimistic the peace process could be restarted. Zelenskiy took office last week after winning a landslide victory in April elections. He has said he was ready to negotiate with Russia on ending the war in Donbass. He has also promised to fight corruption in his country.
dw.com

League official quits Italian government after conviction: Edoardo Rixi, a deputy Italian transport minister from the far-right League, has resigned after being convicted of embezzlement. Rixi was sentenced to three and a half years in prison after being found guilty of using public money to buy things such as oysters, chocolates, flowers and amusement park tickets while serving in the Ligurian regional government between 2010 and 2012. Rixi is the second government official of Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini’s League party to lose his job over a legal case. Salvini has told his party that he wants to keep Italy’s fractious coalition government going, but is ready to see it collapse if he cannot push through his flat tax plans and other priority measures.
politico.eu, reuters.com, bloomberg.com

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Boris Johnson summoned to court over Brexit claims: Former British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson has been summoned to court over allegations he lied and misled the public during the Brexit referendum campaign in 2016. He is accused of misconduct in public office over claims he lied by saying Britain gave £350m a week to the EU. The £350 million figure was a central theme of the pro-Brexit campaign, which promised to invest that amount into the nation’s health service should Britain vote to leave the bloc. But after Britons voted to leave the EU, many supporters of Brexit abandoned the pledge, saying it had been a mistake. Opponents of Brexit argued that the campaign slogan had been a gross misuse of official statistics to deliberately mislead voters.
theguardian.com, nytimes.com

Austria: First female chancellor Bierlein to lead caretaker government politico.eu
Belgium: King names officials to explore government options politico.eu
France: Lyon bomb blast suspect pledged allegiance to „Islamic State“ euronews.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 ⊃

USS John McCain hidden during Trump’s Japan visit: The White House asked the Navy to hide a destroyer named after US Senator John McCain in order to avoid having the ship appear in photographs taken while President Donald Trump was visiting Japan this week, White House and military officials said Wednesday. Although Navy officials insisted they did not hide the ship, they did give all of the sailors aboard the day off on Tuesday as Trump visited Yokosuka Naval Base. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s public declaration Wednesday that his investigation could not clear Trump of obstruction has triggered fresh calls in the Democratic Party for impeachment. Meanwhile, Trump has walked back a tweet where he said that Russia helped him get elected.
nytimes.com (USS John McCain); washingtonpost.com (Mueller); nytimes.com (Tweets)

 

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