Monday, 05 November 2018: UK customs Brexit deal report is speculation, New Caledonia votes against independence from France, Le Pen ahead of Macron in EU election polling


UK customs Brexit deal report is speculation: British Prime Minister Theresa May’s office has dismissed as speculation a newspaper report that suggests an all-UK customs deal will be written into the legally binding agreement governing Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The „Sunday Times“ said the plan would resolve the issue of the Irish border, which is the main stumbling block in the Brexit talks, by avoiding the need to treat Northern Ireland differently from the rest of the UK. Meanwhile, more than 50 business leaders have signed a letter advocating a second vote on Brexit. The letter warns of the economic damage being wrought by either a blindfold or a destructive Brexit.,

Le Pen ahead of Macron in EU election polling: Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Rally has nudged ahead of French President Emmanuel Macron’s En Marche in polling for the European Parliament elections. An Ifop poll published on Sunday showed Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move (LREM) with 19% of voting intentions compared to 20% at the end of August, while far-right leader Marine Le Pen’s RN (formerly the National Front) rose to 21% from 17% previously. The survey had asked 1,000 people how they would vote if the EU elections were held now. Macron’s reputation has been hit by the departure of two high-profile ministers and a summer scandal over his bodyguard, while high unemployment, high taxes and rising fuel prices add to a general feeling of discontent. In a YouGov poll published last week, Macron’s popularity fell to its lowest level since his 2017 election, with only 21% of those polled saying they were satisfied with him.,

How Europe is trying to save the INF treaty: US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the United States from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF), signed in 1987 by President Reagan and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, has shocked the EU. The treaty is of central importance to Europe. The German government still hopes that Trump will correct his position. According to the „Spiegel“ newspaper, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas will send Germany’s Secretary of State Andreas Michaelis to Washington next week to negotiate with the US government.,

Which EU countries are the best and worst at speaking English?: France has the lowest level of English proficiency of any country in the EU, according to an annual index by global language training company Education First. In the 2018 English Proficiency Index, France was given 35th place overall and placed in the „moderate proficiency“ group. Joining France in the „moderate proficiency“ band, and at the bottom of all EU countries, were Italy and Spain. Swedes were ranked the world’s best non-native English speakers, pushing last year’s top-ranked country, the Netherlands, into second place. Denmark, Germany and Belgium were among other EU countries found to have „very high proficiency“, while 10 EU countries, including Greece, Portugal and Hungary, were in the „high proficiency“ band.

Strict passenger compensation: Is the EU driving airlines into bankruptcy?
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New Caledonia votes against independence from France: France is to keep its islands in the South Pacific for now. The South Pacific archipelago of New Caledonia voted against independence from France on Sunday in a long-awaited referendum. Some 56.4% of voters in New Caledonia opted to remain a part of France, while 43.6% called for independence. A „Yes“ vote would have deprived Paris of a foothold in the Indo-Pacific region where China is expanding its presence, and dented the pride of a former colonial power whose reach once spanned the Caribbean, sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific Ocean. French President Emmanuel Macron welcomed the result. He said the vote was a historic milestone and a great pride for the republic.,,

Germany ex-spy chief Maaßen may be fired for insults: Germany’s controversial former domestic intelligence chief Hans-Georg Maaßen looked likely to finally be getting the boot from government on Sunday. The Interior Ministry confirmed that it is reviewing his employment after more of his controversial statements came to light. Maaßen, who headed Germany’s domestic security service for six years, became the subject of outrage across Germany in September when he questioned well-documented reports of far-right violence against foreigners in the city of Chemnitz and gave no reason for his comments. There have also been reports that he passed sensitive information about Islamic extremism to the Islamophobic Alternative for Germany (AfD) party.

Exit poll gives Poland’s centrists edge in key mayoral races: An exit poll suggested Poland’s populist ruling party lost mayoral runoff elections Sunday in key cities including Krakow and Gdansk. Poland’s ruling Law and Justice party has taken a hard stance against migration and clashed with the EU over moves to assert more control over the courts. Results from the first round of voting two weeks ago and projections from Sunday’s runoffs indicated the party’s populist approach to governance was rejected by voters in Poland’s larger cities, which have seen mass anti-government protests in the three years since Law and Justice came to power. At the same time, the ruling party has been solidifying its support in rural areas.

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Spain charges Catalan leaders: Spain’s criminal case against Catalan leaders over the region’s independence push reached the next stage Friday. The state prosecutor’s office accused the most senior officials, including former Catalan Vice President Oriol Junqueras, of rebellion and misuse of public funds, and demanded they be jailed for up to 25 years.

Germany: Bavarian conservatives and Free Voters reach coalition deal
Bulgaria: Protests against rising fuel prices

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German lawmakers call for AfD monitoring by domestic security services: Politicians from across the political spectrum have called for Germany’s domestic security services to monitor the far-right AfD party following reports that the AfD leadership had told members to avoid using certain politically charged language. Patrick Sensburg from the governing conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) called attention to the report on Saturday and said the AfD should be monitored. He said the report shows how AfD members aim to hide the true content of their beliefs to avoid monitoring.



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