Monday, 20 August 2018: Italy threatens to return refugees to Libya, British government to publish no-deal advice, Merkel and Putin talk Syria, Ukraine and Nord Stream 2

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

Italy threatens to return refugees to Libya: Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini threatened Sunday to return to Libya 177 migrants who have been aboard an Italian coast guard ship for days following another standoff with Malta. Salvini demanded that other European countries take in the migrants after his Maltese counterpart, Michael Farrugia, insisted that the only solution was for the „Diciotti“ ship to dock at the Italian island of Lampedusa. The „Diciotti“, working under the EU’s Frontex Mediterranean rescue operation, has been off Lampedusa after rescuing the migrants 16 August. Italy asked Malta to take them in, but Malta refused, saying the migrant boat wasn’t in distress and that the migrants declined Maltese assistance, preferring to continue toward Italy. Salvini’s Maltese counterpart, Michael Farrugia, tweeted on Sunday, accusing Italy of rescuing the migrants in Maltese waters „purely to prevent them from entering Italian waters.“ The Brazilian government will send troops to the border town of Pacaraima after angry residents there attacked Venezuelan migrants. The government in Costa Rica has condemned recent attacks against refugees.
time.com, dw.com, smh.com.au (Brazil), havanatimes.org (Costa Rica)

British government to publish no-deal advice: The government is set to publish the first in a series of technical notices designed to prepare the UK for the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. The notices will include advice for businesses, citizens and public bodies. The first of the explanatory documents are expected from the Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) within days and are designed to inform citizens and businesses how to cope with a no-deal scenario. Meanwhile, the head of an influential group of pro-Brexit lawmakers said in an interview published on Sunday that Prime Minister Theresa May could face trouble getting her Brexit deal approved by the British parliament before exit day unless she changes her proposals. Jacob Rees-Mogg, chair of the European Research Group, a faction within May’s Conservative Party, is strongly opposed to the government’s so-called Chequers plan for Brexit and favours a clean break with the bloc on 29 March next year. The campaign for a referendum on the final Brexit deal has been boosted by a record £1m donation from multimillionaire Julian Dunkerton, who co-founded the Superdry fashion label, amid growing public concern that Britain will leave the EU without any agreement.
bbc.com, independent.co.uk, reuters.com, theguardian.com

EU Commissioner Moscovici criticises Eurogroup: Shortly before the end of Greece’s rescue programme, EU Commissioner Pierre Moscovici has criticised the role of the European institutions. Initially, capacity, instruments and political will were lacking in order to master the situation, and later decisions were often delayed and suboptimal, Moscovici said. „Eight years of crisis are too long.“ In addition to Greece, European politicians were also responsible. In comments to the press, Moscovici said that 20 August marks the end of eight years that were particularly painful for the Greek people and deeply destabilising for the euro area.
faz.net, greece.greekreporter.com

ECB on course to normalise monetary policy: The European Central Bank is on course towards a less expansive monetary policy, and the projected inflation rate of 1.7 percent for 2020 is in line with its medium term stability goals, the head of Germany’s Bundesbank said in an interview. Jens Weidmann, a candidate to succeed current ECB President Mario Draghi when he steps down in October 2019, told the „Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung“ that interest rates would likely rise gradually now that the ECB has shifted gears. The ECB decided in June to end its 2.6 trillion euro bond purchase programme by the close of the year but said interest rates would stay unchanged at least through next summer.
uk.reuters.com

Kofi Annan death: World leaders honour former UN chief bbc.com

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

We are a very patient creditor. But we do want to be repaid.
Greece will be more tightly monitored after it exits its bailout programme than other eurozone countries that received similar loans, European Stability Mechanism (ESM) Managing Director Klaus Regling said on Sunday.
uk.reuters.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Merkel and Putin talk Syria, Ukraine and Nord Stream 2: German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Russian President Vladimir Putin discussed the conflicts in Syria and Ukraine as well as the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline during talks on Saturday. But the meeting, held just outside Berlin, ended with no agreements being signed off and no obvious progress made. High on the agenda had been Syria after Putin had, hours before the pair met, urged Europe to help rebuild the war-torn country. The two leaders agreed that measures to bolster the humanitarian response to the seven-year conflict in Syria were needed. A Russian aide said that Putin and Merkel had also discussed the four-lateral format of Syria peace talks during their Saturday meeting. Merkel underlined her expectation that the Nord Stream 2 pipeline – which will supply Germany with vast amounts of Russian gas – would not be used to squeeze the Ukrainian economy or lever political concessions.
independent.co.uk, politico.eu, dw.com

Genoa bridge collapse search operation ends: The search operation for those missing after a motorway bridge collapsed in the Italian port city of Genoa ended overnight into Sunday after the last three bodies were found. Officials put the official death toll at 43, after the remains of an Italian-Jamaican family of three were retrieved from their car. Italy’s national fire department wrote on Twitter that recovery teams would continue inspecting the scene of the collapse to rule out the possible presence of persons not reported as missing. The government will launch a plan next month aimed at making Italy’s infrastructure safe, Giancarlo Giorgetti, undersecretary in the prime minister’s office, said in a newspaper interview, saying it would include motorways, bridges and viaducts but also public buildings such as schools.
dw.com, euronews.com

Man charged with attempted murder after London attack: A man accused in what London police are treating as a terrorism case has been charged with two counts of attempted murder in Tuesday’s incident in which a car was driven into pedestrians and cyclists near Britain’s Houses of Parliament. Salih Khater, 29, from Birmingham, has been charged with the attempted murder of members of the public and police officers after allegedly driving a car through crowds outside the Houses of Parliament, Scotland Yard has said. No one was killed, three people were injured. No weapons were found in the car, police said.
nbcnews.com, theguardian.com

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Greece’s bailout is at an end: After eight crisis-filled years of austerity, spending cuts and economic woe, Greece’s eurozone bailout will finally come to an end this Monday. The completion of a third and final programme of massive loans is a major milestone that prime minister Alexis Tsipras said showed his country had „managed to stand on her feet again“ following economic collapse. But Greece will be dealing with the impact of austerity for decades to come as it repays its 322 billion euro debt, albeit at rock-bottom interest rates. Technical experts will make quarterly visits to ensure Athens is meeting agreed targets for public finances until the last bailout loan is repaid in 2060.
theguardian.com, independent.co.uk

France: 840 structures at risk of collapse express.co.uk
Romania: Exiled Romanians are putting pressure on the government tagesspiegel.de
Germany: Demonstrators protest against neo-Nazi rallies in Berlin dw.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 ⊃

Putin at Austrian minister’s wedding: Russian President Vladimir Putin danced arm-in-arm with Austria’s foreign minister, Karin Kneissl, at her wedding Saturday in southern Styria province, ahead of his meeting later in the day with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. Putin arrived with a bouquet of flowers and even brought a Cossack choir with him to entertain the bride and her groom. Kneissl came under fire from political opponents for inviting Russia’s strongman leader to her wedding at a time when relations between the West and Moscow are deeply frayed. Kneissl was appointed to her job by the far-right Freedom Party (FPO) which has a cooperation agreement with Putin’s United Russia party.
dw.com, cnn.com, reuters.com

 

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