Monday, 18 June 2018: May pledges 20 billion extra pounds for healthcare post-Brexit, „Aquarius“ refugees arrived in Spain, France upbeat on talks with Germany over eurozone budget


May pledges 20 billion extra pounds for healthcare post-Brexit: British Prime Minister Theresa May pledged on Sunday to increase funding for the National Health Service by 20 billion pounds after Brexit, funded by money no longer spent on membership of the European Union and possible tax rises. The announcement of more cash for the NHS, a regular issue at elections, comes after a row in parliament over Brexit highlighted the fragility of May’s minority government. May said spending in England would increase to an extra 20 billion pounds by 2023/24. The pledge drew immediate scepticism, with critics saying the plans lacked detail and questioning whether leaving the EU would actually save money. In media interviews, May said her finance minister would set out plans before a government spending review expected next year. She said the increased contribution from taxpayers would be done in a “fair and balanced” way. She did not answer directly when asked whether borrowing might increase. The announcement is timed to mark the 70th anniversary of the NHS, which delivers free access to care for everyone living in Britain.

„Aquarius“ refugees arrived in Spain: Rescued migrants turned away by Italy and Malta arrived at the Spanish port of Valencia on Sunday. Arriving separately, the rescue ship „Aquarius“ and two Italian Navy vessels reached Valencia carrying a total of 630 migrants — including pregnant women and children — that the „Aquarius“ had originally picked up from six rubber dinghies in the Mediterranean Sea off Libya. Spain swooped to help the mainly sub-Saharan African refugees on board the „Aquarius“ last week after Italy’s new government refused to let it dock. Italy’s interior minister and the leader of the anti-immigrant League, Matteo Salvini, had argued that refugees had long exploited what he called the country’s lax rules. Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who took office two weeks ago, took the opportunity to show a more liberal stance. Italy’s rejection of the Aquarius prompted a spat with France, while the issue of immigration has triggered a political row in Germany. Malta refused to take the boat, saying it had nothing to do with the rescue, which was coordinated by Italy’s coast guard.,

France upbeat on talks with Germany over eurozone budget: Paris and Berlin are close to an agreement on eurozone reform after months of divisions, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire has said. The minister added that he hoped an agreement could be finalised Tuesday, when German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron are scheduled to meet near Berlin. Paris and Berlin are racing to bridge the gap between Macron’s vision of EU reforms and Chancellor Angela Merkel’s more prudent approach before a eurozone summit on June 29. Germany and other Northern European states have baulked at Macron’s calls to give the eurozone its own budget, fearing the more fiscally prudent North will have to pick up the tab for overspending by the more profligate South. Earlier this month, Merkel made some concessions, agreeing to support Macron’s call for an investment fund to help poorer European countries catch up in the areas of science, technology and innovation.,

Trump congratulates Orban: On Saturday, US President Donald Trump offered congratulations to Hungary’s Viktor Orban, whose Fidesz party won a a sweeping electoral victory in April. The White House says Trump spoke Saturday with the Hungarian leader known for his hardline views on immigration and criticism of investor and political activist George Soros. The White House says that, during their conversation, Trump and Orban discussed the need for strong national borders and discussed Trump’s recent summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Trump has developed a pattern of openly praising and embracing authoritarian leaders in a break from past presidents. Meanwhile, France has denied media coverage of annoying statements by US President Donald Trump at the G7 summit in Canada., (France)

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So we want a date for accession, to start the European journey by the end of this month at the European Council. It’s going to be a strategic disaster if we unlock one door, and there is another one just behind it.
Foreign minister Nikola Dimitrov of the Republic of Northern Macedonia expects action in the country’s EU membership talks.


Kiev police detain far-right protesters against gay pride march: Ukrainian police said they had detained 56 members of far-right radical groups in Kiev on Sunday after scuffles before the capital’s gay pride march. Otherwise, the annual rally of several thousand supporters of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights took place without serious incident. About 5,000 were on hand for the march, whose size was estimated at 2,000 by Ukraine’s Interior Ministry and up to 6,000 by organisers. The Interfax news agency said opponents tried to block the march seven times, but were moved aside by police. The Ukrainian government has increased support for LGBT rights since a Western-backed leadership came to power in 2014, but critics say homophobic attitudes remain relatively widespread.,

Greece and Macedonia sign agreement on name change: The Greek and Macedonian governments signed a deal on Sunday meant to put an end to decades of dispute over the latter country’s official name. The country now officially recognised by the UN as the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia would be renamed the Republic of North Macedonia to distinguish it from Greece’s northern region, also called Macedonia. The name change is aimed at ending a 27-year row between the two countries, because of which Greece had opposed its northern neighbor joining the EU and Nato. The accord still has to be approved by both countries‘ parliaments and pass in a referendum in Macedonia. EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini called the day „historic“ and said she expected the European Council to decide in two weeks to start negotiations with Macedonia over it joining the EU. „We have a historic responsibility that this deal is not held in abeyance,“ Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said as he and his Macedonian counterpart Zoran Zaev received a standing ovation. In the Macedonian capital Skopje, police fired stun grenades and tear gas on Sunday night to disperse a protest rally by several hundred nationalists.,,

Merkel seeks EU talks on migration amid coalition row: German Chancellor Angela Merkel is planning a special short-notice meeting with several other EU nations to deal with the migration crisis affecting the region, mass-circulation daily „Bild“ reported on Sunday. The possible meeting comes as Merkel struggles to avert a crisis within her coalition government on migration policy. She is engaged in a standoff with her interior minister Horst Seehofer over his plans to introduce stricter asylum laws, which would include turning people away at Germany’s borders. The meeting could take place as early as next weekend, the newspaper reported, ahead of the regular EU summit scheduled for June 28 and 29 in Brussels. The German chancellor is looking forward to finding solutions to the current crisis with EU member states, including Greece, Italy and Austria. Seehofer, who reportedly refused Merkel’s call to wait until the European summit to find a solution, is due to seek approval on Monday from CSU party leadership for his plan to turn away migrants at Germany’s borders, according to reports. If Seehofer implements the measure, it could force Merkel to fire him, spelling the end of the decades-long alliance between her Christian Democrats and her Bavarian sister party.,

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Austria calls on Germany to come clean on spying allegations: Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has urged Germany to clarify allegations its intelligence services spied on ministries, embassies and international institutions in Vienna. Reports have come to light that Germany’s spy agency snooped for several years on nearly 2,000 targets in the Alpine nation, including companies and ministries. According to Austrian outlets „Der Standard“ and „Profil“, Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service (BND) tapped into thousands of phone, fax and mobile connections as well as e-mail accounts to monitor ministries, embassies, organisations and Islamic institutions, among others, since 1999. Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen said spying among friendly states was not just unusual and unwanted – it was unacceptable. Any data gathered in Austria and still held by German intelligence authorities should be deleted, Kurz said. He noted there were suspicions a few years ago of German intelligence activity in Austria and suggested that was partly responsible for German laws subsequently being tightened to prevent such activities. He acknowledged that an Austrian investigation at the time didn’t reach any conclusions on the spying because Germany didn’t cooperate, but said prosecutors will revisit the matter now if there was new information.,

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Germany’s retired tennis star Boris Becker claims diplomatic immunity: In the course of his ongoing bankruptcy proceedings in the United Kingdom, former German tennis star Boris Becker has claimed diplomatic immunity in the Central African Republic. The three-time Wimbledon champion is asserting diplomatic immunity from bankruptcy proceedings, as creditors chase him over a 54 million pound debt. When Becker announced that he had become a diplomat for the Central African Republic, it came as a surprise to tennis fans. It may also be news to residents of the Central African Republic, as it emerged that Becker has never visited the country and his only public effort since his April appointment as „sporting, cultural and humanitarian affairs attache in the EU“ has been to wish his Twitter followers a „Happy Africa Day“.,



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