⊂ EUROPE ⊃

EU migration aid falls short: Auditors have urged the EU to improve its approach to easing migrant pressure on Greece and Italy. The European Court of Auditors found that agencies meant to assist the two countries with their overflowing camps and caseloads were failing in their missions, partly because of insufficient support from EU member states. The audit looked at EU projects meant to alleviate the pressure on camps in Greece and Italy, where migrants’ asylum claims are examined and designated refugees are meant to be vetted for relocation to other EU states. An increasing backlog in Greece is contributing to staggeringly overcrowded conditions in the camps, while in Italy a mountain of appeals over unsuccessful asylum claims have clogged the courts. Those delays, as well as insufficient space in detention centres, asylum-seekers running off to other EU countries and their countries of origin refusing to take them back, meant far fewer actual migrants are returned than intended.
nytimes.com, france24.com

EU changes title for migration commissioner: Incoming EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has changed the title of her migration commissioner from “Protecting our European Way of Life” following criticism it had far-right connotations. Parliamentary groups on the left of the political spectrum, the social democrats, ecologists and liberals of RENEW had called on von der Leyen to drop the title of this portfolio. She agreed to modify the title to “Promoting the European Way of Life”. Greece’s Margaritis Schinas, who is set to take on the role, had avoided using the old title though he has defended von der Leyen’s position. Her commission plans to take charge next month.
france24.com, brusselstimes.com

Germany says Western Balkan states belong in EU: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has offered backing for North Macedonia’s efforts to start membership talks with the EU, after a minority of EU members blocked the process. Maas has reiterated that the Western Balkan countries are an integral part of Europe. He said a majority of EU countries were in favour of opening membership talks and have recognised their strategic importance. That support has been welcomed in North Macedonia and Albania, but it also puts the ball in their court to press ahead with their reforms. Maas offered additional support to North Macedonia in its ongoing efforts to reform the judiciary and the rule of law, and to fight corruption.
dw.com, yahoonews.com

Germany to sit out decisive EIB vote: Germany is preparing to abstain from a vote on the European Investment Bank’s (EIB) future energy lending policy on Thursday. The German finance, environment and justice ministries are in favour of a proposed update that would scrub the EIB’s loan books of fossil fuel projects by the end of next year, as part of the EU lender’s metamorphosis into a climate bank. But the government has come up short in brokering a common position among its various ministries, meaning Germany is likely to abstain from Thursday’s vote.
euractiv.com

Study: Up to 4.8m unauthorised immigrants in Europe in 2017 theguardian.com
Chile: Leftist MEPs call on EU to address crisis in Chile euobserver.com
Agricultural exports: Ukrainian oligarchs save billions using tax tricks spiegel.de

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

Despite the fact that in the EU we discuss everything and hold a discourse on everything, there has always been full EU unity on Brexit.
According to EU Parliament President David Sassoli, the Brexit referendum failed to divide Europe.
euronews.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Catalan protesters block highway: Spanish police on Wednesday cleared out scores of protesters supporting Catalan independence who had trapped around 500 vehicles while blocking a major highway for more than 15 hours. The regional civilian protection authority said emergency services distributed water, food and blankets to drivers and passengers who had been trapped in their cars during the night. Protesters burned tyres and branches as police approached early on Wednesday. Some threw small objects at police, but most walked away peacefully. Spanish and French police arrested 19 people.
reuters.com, foxnews.com

Record flooding in Venice: A state of emergency was declared in Venice over dangerously high tides that invaded cafes, stores and other businesses. With more than 85% of the city flooded, Mayor Luigi Brugnaro has asked Italy’s government for help. Brugnaro said it would cost hundreds of millions of euros to fix the city, telling reporters at a news conference that the damage was enormous. One death was blamed on the flooding, on the barrier island of Pellestrina. A man in his 70s was apparently electrocuted when he tried to start a pump in his dwelling.
cbsnews.com, npr.org, cnn.com

France commemorates fourth anniversary of Paris attacks: France on Wednesday marked four years since Paris was hit by a series of co-ordinated terrorist attacks that killed 131 people and left hundreds wounded. French officials and families of the victims went to the bars and cafes in eastern Paris that were targeted on 13 November, 2015, followed by the Bataclan concert hall. Speeches were held by the justice minister, interior minister and the mayor of Paris.
france24.com, euronews.com

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Far-right lawmaker ousted from committee over antisemitism: In a move unprecedented in modern German history, lawmakers on Wednesday removed AfD politician Stephan Brandner from his role as a parliamentary committee chair. He had made comments widely condemned as antisemitic. In addition to numerous condemnations from politicians, professional groups including the German Bar Association and DJB lawyers’ association had issued a statement that Brandner was not able to meet the demands of his office or to always guarantee respect for people. The dismissal took place amid growing concern about radicalism in the ranks of the AfD.
dw.com

Germany: Upskirting and rubbernecking to be criminalised dw.com
Ukraine: Lawmakers vote to lift ban on sale of farmland by 2020 reuters.com
Greece: 60,000 migrants illegally deported, according to human rights activists spiegel.de
Poland: Two arrested for plotting Breivik-style attacks on Muslims reuters.com
Slovakia: Bus accident kills 13 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 ⊃

Elon Musk blames Brexit for decision to build Tesla factory in Germany: Tesla CEO Elon Musk has named Brexit as the reason why the firm chose Germany rather than Britain as the country to launch a new Gigafactory. Musk said uncertainty over the UK’s decision to withdraw from the EU made it too risky to establish Tesla’s European battery facility in the country. The new plant is set to be built in Berlin. Tesla also plans to create an engineering and design centre in the German capital.
cnbc.com