Thursday, 17 December: Amnesty criticises situation in Turkey, EU gun control plans under fire, German experts criticise ECB policy

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

Amnesty criticises situation in Turkey: Amnesty International warns that refugees arriving in Turkey have been forced back to war zones. According to the charity, the EU has allowed its funds to be used for equipment and infrastructure in Turkish facilities, from which refugees and asylum-seekers are being unlawfully pressured to return to countries like Syria and Iraq. German Chancellor Angela Merkel highlighted some of the major challenges of the past year ahead of an upcoming EU summit. She also said that Turkey had become a key partner in dealing with the refugee influx across the EU fueled in part by the state of affairs in Syria. The EU Commission ordered Italy to use force if necessary to compel refugees to have their fingerprints taken.
telegraph.co.uk, dw.com

EU gun control plans under fire: The European Union made headlines with new gun-control rules this week. New bans on weapons, closer examination of owners, stricter and more uniform rules for the deactivation of weapons and increased regulation of trade through the internet are aimed at curbing terrorism and organised crime. However, the project has many opponents. More than 270,000 people have signed an online petition against the new rules.
tagesspiegel.de

German experts criticise ECB policy: The German decision-makers are increasingly unhappy with European Central Bank President Mario Draghi. Only half of them believe that Draghi is doing a good job, according to opinion research institute Allensbach. 52 percent of experts now believe that the low interest rate policy is wrong. The Federal Reserve raised a key interest rate by 0.25 percent, the first increase in almost a decade.
nbcnewyork.com

Badawi’s wife accepts Sakharov Prize: The European Parliament on Wednesday presented Saudi blogger Raif Badawi with the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, the EU’s highest tribute to human rights. Badawi was selected due to his exceptional courage in promoting free speech in Saudi Arabia, which practices an ultra-conservative strain of Islam known as Wahhabism. He was sentenced last year to 10 years in prison and 1,000 lashes for allegedly insulting Islam on an online forum he created for liberal Saudis. Earlier this month, Badawi started a hunger strike to protest the conditions of his sentence.
dw.com

Juncker criticises Schäuble: In a dispute about the future political shape of the European Union, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker indirectly criticised German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble. Juncker said on Tuesday that some people plan to weaken the role of the Commission in the supervision of common economic and budgetary rules, in order to hand this responsibility over to an “agency of technocrats”. Over the summer, Schäuble had said he wanted to see the EU Commission lose some of the core fields of responsibility it has previously borne, such as the legal supervision of the EU domestic market.
faz.net

Eastern European members oppose Cameron’s plan: British Prime Minister David Cameron hopes that he will secure a breakthrough at the EU summit in Brussels on Thursday that will allow him to argue that other European leaders have acknowledged the legitimacy of his demand for restrictions on free movement. Cameron hopes to reach an agreement that his issues will be addressed and that a full deal will be secured at a summit in February, leading to a UK referendum on EU membership in June or possibly July. However, Cameron’s plans to give social assistance to citizens from other EU states only after four years of employment in Great Britain is meeting resistance.
theguardian.com

Scandal: VW may have used EU funds illegally euractiv.com
More fish: EU agrees fishing quotas for 2016 uk.reuters.com
Foreign Affairs Council: EU’s counter-terrorism work consilium.europa.eu
Better regulation: Commission endorses better law-making deal europa.eu
Police cooperation: MEPs OK EU deal with Bosnia to fight crime and terrorism europarl.europa.eu
EU summit topics: migration, security and UK membership europarl.europa.eu

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

We have to resist the temptation to fall back on nationalist ways in difficult times. Isolation is no sensible option in the 21st century.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel warns the European partners of relapsing into nationalist ways.
bloomberg.com

The European Union is a legal community – with rights and responsibilities. And there are no exceptions, except those that are contractually enshrined.
The new President of the European Court of Justice, Koen Lenaerts, seeks to safeguard European law during his tenure.
faz.net

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Greece approves further reforms: The Greek parliament approved a bill on Tuesday containing reforms demanded by the country’s international lenders in exchange for bailout funds. Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras‘ government agreed to enact changes in the public sector wage grid and an opening of the market for banks to dispose of corporate non-performing loans to qualify for the new funds. The bill also includes measures to improve absorption of EU structural funds and health reforms.
uk.reuters.com

Two Paris attackers entered as refugees: Germany’s domestic spy chief Hans-Georg Maaßen has noted that two of the Paris attackers had allowed themselves to be registered in Greece on their way to France. The “Islamic State” group staged a show of force, Maaßen said. The terrorist group also wanted to discredit the flow of refugees, he said about the record influx of people fleeing war and misery that has brought about one million asylum-seekers to Germany alone this year.
yahoonews.com

Another corruption scandal in Rome: After the resignation of Rome Mayor Ignazio, another corruption scandal has hit the Italian city. Seven high-ranking public officials were arrested on Wednesday. They are being accused of involvement in kickbacks on city tenders for road and infrastructure maintenance. The contracts in question were worth a total of 16 million euros and police said an alleged 650,000 euros in bribes were paid out to turn a blind eye to execution of the contracted work.
derstandard.at

Discussion about French development aid: Fiercely debated in both of France’s houses of parliament, French official development assistance credits for 2016 are a long way from reflecting the French government’s promises. President Francois Hollande pledged a 4 billion euros increase in ODA by 2020, half of which would be dedicated to climate action. On top of these announcements, France has committed to providing an extra 370 million euros for climate adaptation in the most vulnerable countries.
euractiv.com

Russia demands compensation from Turkey: Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Alexei Meshkov said on Wednesday that Turkey should pay compensation for shooting down a Russian military plane near the Turkish-Syrian border last month. Meshkov said Turkey should also guarantee that a similar incident will not happen in future. Ankara rejected the demand for a compensation payment immediately. A speaker for the Turkish foreign ministry accused Russia of inventing a military threat where there wasn’t one.
huffingtonpost.com

Banks can go bankrupt: 12,500 investors, many of them pensioners, lost a total of 430 million euros in Italian regional banks. Only four banks could be rescued with help from the government. But the fate of the ailing Italian banks could soon also affect other savers, because banks in Europe can go bankrupt. Anyone who buys stocks, bonds, or opens a bank account should keep themselves well informed.
welt.de

Greece: Politician hospitalised after attack derstandard.at
Italy: Former Masonic lodge head Licio Gelli dies euronews.com
Germany: Highest fertility rate since reunification dw.com
France: Marine Le Pen criticised for Islamic State pictures on Twitter yahoonews.com
Norway: New immigration ministry n-tv.de

⊂ DATA ⊃

Only 64 of the tens of thousands of refugees that Greece’s EU partners should be taking to help lighten the country’s migrant burden have actually gone to other EU states.
euractiv.de

⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃

politjobs.eu: 350.org seeks campaigner *** Steltemeier & Rawe seeks Senior Associate (m/f) *** 1&1 sucht EU Public Affairs Manager VKU sucht Referentin/en *** Afore Consulting seeks Junior Consultants in European Public Affairs
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)

⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃

Plumber’s pickup truck appears in IS propaganda: A plumber in Texas sold his pickup truck. A few days later a picture of the Ford F-250 pickup truck – including his logo for Mark-1 Plumbing and his phone number – wound up being in a photo posted on Twitter by the extremist Ansar al-Deen Front from the front lines of the war in Syria. The plumber now demands compensation from the car dealer who bought his truck.
dailymail.co.uk

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