⊂ EUROPE ⊃
British trade secretary warns of Brexit failure: Liam Fox has accused the House of Commons of trying to “steal” Brexit from the British public. The international trade secretary said the extraordinary events in parliament on Tuesday, in which the government suffered historic defeats on Brexit, were an insult to voters. He said it would be entirely possible for MPs to try to change key pieces of Brexit legislation to block Britain’s divorce from Brussels. His comments came as Westminster wrestled with the significance of MPs winning a vote on Tuesday to hand the House of Commons greater control over the Brexit process.
EU budget for 2019: The Austrian EU presidency and the EU Parliament have reached a provisional agreement on the EU budget for 2019. This paves the way for the adoption of the budget before the end of the year, if the deal is backed by member states in the Council and the EP plenary next week. Under the agreement, the total commitments in the 2019 EU budget are set at €165.8 billion and payments at €148.2 billion. This includes more funds for research and innovation, infrastructure projects, youth exchanges such as Erasmus, and small and medium-sized enterprises. Pre-accession funds to Turkey have been cut by €146.7 million compared to the financial programming in view of the situation in Turkey as regards democracy, rule of law, human rights and press freedom.
EU raises funds to fight disinformation: To protect its democratic systems and public debates and in view of the 2019 European elections as well as a number of national and local elections that will be held in EU member states by 2020, the EU has presented an action plan to step up efforts to counter disinformation in Europe and beyond. The plan focuses on the key areas: Improved detection, coordinated response, and raising awareness and empowering citizens. There was strong evidence pointing to Russia as the primary source of disinformation in Europe, said EU Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip. The Commission announced it would set up a rapid alert system to help EU member states recognise disinformation campaigns.
Russia will build missiles if US leaves INF treaty: Russia will develop missiles banned under the Cold War agreement if the US exits the pact, President Vladimir Putin has warned. His comments follow Nato’s accusation on Tuesday that Russia has already broken the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. The United States has long accused Russia of developing such missiles in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, which limits ground-based intermediate-range missiles. On Tuesday, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the United States would within 60 days start the formal process of abandoning the treaty unless Russia re-established compliance with its terms.
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“The euro needs to develop its global role and fully reflect the euro area’s political, economic and financial weight.”
EU Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis has presented actions to strengthen the role of the euro in a changing world.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
France drops fuel tax hike: French President Emmanuel Macron’s government is dropping further fuel-tax hikes in next year’s budget in the face of protests across France over living costs, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told the lower house of parliament on Wednesday. The French government also indicated that it could also amend a wealth tax that Macron shrank last year to cover only real estate assets, earning him criticism as the “president of the rich”. The concessions were the latest attempt to quell the worst crisis of Macron’s presidency after announcing the six-month suspension only the day before. Farmers have announced plans for demonstrations next week.
Serbia could intervene if Kosovo sets up full army: Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabic suggested on Wednesday that any creation of a standing army in Kosovo could provoke a military intervention by Belgrade, two decades after Kosovo Albanians’ uprising against Serbian rule. The predominantly ethnic Albanian Kosovo parliament is set to vote in little over a week on whether to transform its defence force into a regular army. Though that process could take years, Serbian politicians maintain that a Kosovo army could be used to expel remaining minority Serbs from Kosovo.
Italy government will send revised version of budget to EU: The Italian government will send a revised version of its budget to the EU by next week. Cabinet undersecretary Giancarlo Giorgetti said on Wednesday that the government could cut nearly 4 billion euros from a promised relaxation of pension rules and a new income support programme. Brussels has rejected the 2019 budget, saying it will not lower Italy’s large public debt as EU rules require, and has called on Rome to make changes to prevent a disciplinary procedure that could eventually lead to fines.
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British lawmakers reveal internal Facebook emails: British lawmakers have released more than 200 pages of confidential internal Facebook emails revealing discussions of payments for user data and special platform access for certain companies, including Netflix, Airbnb and Lyft. The email documents also show CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussing ways to encourage users to share more on Facebook in a way that would increase the value of the network. The company, reeling from a year of scandals, now faces having to reconcile public statements about user privacy with internal discussions about profit-making.
Germany: Human rights institute criticises exploitation of migrant workers 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
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⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Merkel tops “Forbes” list of most powerful women: The “Forbes” ranking of the 100 most powerful women in the world for 2018 has been announced, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel topping the list for the eighth year running. In second place comes British Prime Minister Theresa May, same as last year. Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), is in third place. The Top 10 also include Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Susan Wojcicki, CEO of YouTube and Ginni Rometty, CEO of IBM.