Friday, February 8th 2019: Further Brexit negotiations to take place, Ukraine votes to join EU and Nato, France recalls ambassador to Italy


Further Brexit negotiations to take place: British Prime Minister Theresa May and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker have jointly agreed to continue the discussion on breaking the impasse that surrounds the Brexit process. Following a meeting on Thursday, the pair said that the „Political Declaration“ which sets out the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the UK would now be more ambitious in terms of content and speed. May and Juncker will meet again before the end of February to review what negotiating teams from both sides have drawn up. The EU reiterated that a separate document known as the „Withdrawal Agreement“ would not be reopened for discussion. May went on to meet with EU Council President Donald Tusk later on Thursday. The European parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt has welcomed Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s new EU exit plan and endorsed calls for a cross-party conensus in Westminster to prevent a no deal. EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger has announced that the EU wants to propose an emergency budget for Britain in case of a hard Brexit, to prevent some of the worst financial ramifications for both sides.,,

EU slashes 2019 growth forecast: The EU Commission sharply cut its forecasts for eurozone economic growth this year and next because it expects the bloc’s largest countries to be held back by global trade tensions and an array of domestic challenges. The Commission blamed the slowdown on growing uncertainty, fueled by US-China trade tensions, a potentially disruptive Brexit as well as resurfacing eurozone debt problems. EU Economics Commissioner Pierre Moscovici also mentioned internal factors as causes for the worsened outlook, notably slower car production in Germany, social tensions in France, and strong uncertainty on budget policies in Italy. All countries in the 28-state European Union are poised to continue growing, with the bloc expected to post its seventh consecutive year of expansion, but the larger member states will brake significantly.,

Berlin calls for solution to rescue ship dilemma: The German government called on EU states to find a temporary solution as soon as possible for the refugee rescue ships in the Mediterranean Sea that are repeatedly being blocked from entering ports. France, Germany and seven other EU nations have given their support to a proposed initiative that would create a temporary mechanism to accommodate migrants rescued in the Mediterranean. Stephan Mayer, parliamentary state secretary at the German interior ministry, said it was an urgent matter of humanity to find a solution. The EU Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said EU member states states needed to agree on a comprehensive accord for an asylum reform, so as to be better prepared for future challenges. He said the European elections should not paralyze EU migration policy reforms.,

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EU-backed group calls for solution to Venezuela crisis: European and Latin American leaders met on Thursday to seek a peaceful and political solution to Venezuela’s deepening crisis. Holding its inaugural meeting in Uruguay’s capital Montevideo, the EU-backed International Contact Group on Venezuela called for a more hands-off approach than that advocated by the United States and some other Latin American nations. The EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini added that a resolution ultimately must come from the people of Venezuela. The group meeting in Montevideo said it wants a process within 90 days in which Venezuelans determine their own future through free elections. EU member states in the group include France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden and Britain. Latin America members include Bolivia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay.

ECJ ruling: Jobless can receive child benefits for offspring living abroad
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We can no longer count on ad hoc solutions.
EU Commissioner for Migration Dimitris Avramopoulos has stressed that transitional rules are needed until EU states agree on an asylum reform.


Ukraine votes to join EU and Nato: The Ukrainian parliament has passed a constitutional amendment to commit to join the military alliance Nato and the European Union. President Petro Poroshenko called the vote a historic one that will strengthen his government’s resolve to carry out economic reforms. Poroshenko runs for re-election in March. Massive protests in Ukraine in 2013 centered on the then-president’s refusal to sign an association agreement with the EU, which was seen as a betrayal of the aspirations of many Ukrainians. The new government that took power in February 2014 committed to seek Nato and EU memberships.

France recalls ambassador to Italy: France has recalled its ambassador in Rome after what the French government described as repeated, baseless attacks from the ruling Italian parties. On Tuesday, Italian Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio had traveled to Paris to meet members of the „Yellow Vest“ protest movement. Paris spoke of an interference and an unacceptable provocation by Italy. The leaders of Italy’s ruling populist parties, the League’s Matteo Salvini and the 5Star Movement’s Luigi Di Maio, have also targeted French President Emmanuel Macron on a range of issues, such as migration. The French foreign ministry described their remarks as a bid to win votes in the European elections in May.,

Germany restricts Facebook’s data collection: The Federal Cartel Office, Germany’s antitrust watchdog, is severely restricting the collection of user data by Facebook after a ruling on Thursday that the social media giant abused its market. German Facebook users will now need to give their consent to allow the social network to combine data from their WhatsApp and Instagram accounts, and from third-party websites with their Facebook data. Facebook will need to implement the decision over the next 12 months. The company has already announced it will challenge the ruling. European Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager has previously said that the Commission is closely following what the German agency is doing in the Facebook case.,

Germany will not exclude Huawei from 5G buildout: The German government will not exclude products offered by China’s Huawei Technologies from the build-out of the next generation 5G network in Germany. German newspaper „Handelsblatt“ reported that Chancellor Angela Merkel’s chief of staff, Helge Braun, agreed the position with the foreign, interior, economy, finance and infrastructure ministries. Government sources had told „Reuters“ that German ministers on Wednesday discussed how to safeguard security in future 5G mobile networks, amid intense debate over whether to shut Huawei out of the market. Merkel has said Germany needs guarantees that Huawei would not hand data to the Chinese state before it can take part in building fifth-generation networks.

Belgium: Students are still striking for the climate
Germany: French President Macron cancels trip to Munich Security Conference
Norway: Plane lands at Stockholm airport after bomb threat

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Merkel says Germany not dependent on Russian gas: France plans to back an EU proposal to regulate Russia’s „Nord Stream 2“ pipeline, potentially threatening its completion and dealing a blow to Germany which has been trying to garner support for the project. German Chancellor Angela Merkel reiterated on Thursday that the pipeline would not make Germany dependent on Russia for gas, stressing that Ukraine must remain a transit country. Merkel said Germany would not be dependent on Russian gas if the country diversified at the same time. She pointed to Germany’s construction of liquefied natural gas terminals.



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