Thursday, 17 January 2019: UK inflation falls to lowest level in two years, EU wants UK to get its Brexit act together, Tsipras survives confidence vote, Sweden to end months without a government

⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃

UK inflation falls to lowest level in two years: UK inflation fell to its lowest level in nearly two years in December after a drop in petrol prices offered some respite to consumers who are reining in spending as Brexit looms. The inflation rate fell to 2.1% in December, from 2.3% the previous month, according to the Office for National Statistics. The office also air fares also helped push down the rate, with seasonal prices rising less than they did last year. These were partially offset by small rises in hotel prices and mobile phone charges.
theguardian.com, bbc.com

Housing market outlook worst for 20 years: Surveyors and estate agents reckon the housing market outlook over the next three months is the worst for 20 years. The looming threat of Brexit has dragged down the UK property market further, with prices falling at the fastest rate in six years and the outlook for sales the weakest in two decades. The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors said the number of inquiries, agreed sales and new instructions all declined in December. Lack of supply and affordability also continued to affect the market. Sales expectations for the next three months are now either flat, with no change predicted, or negative, indicating falling sales, across all parts of the UK.
bbc.com, theguardian.com

Damian Hinds to lobby Treasury for education funds: Education Secretary Damian Hinds is to lobby the Treasury for a multi-year funding settlement for education in England similar to the ten-year package announced for the NHS, MPs were told. Hinds, appearing before parliament’s education select committee, said he would make a a very compelling case for more funding in this year’s spending review, agreeing that something similar to the recent NHS long-term plan was needed. William Wragg, the Conservative MP for Hazel Grove in Manchester, made an impassioned plea for Hinds to convince the Treasury to boost funding.
theguardian.com

Letterboxes: Calls to ban low-level letterboxes and adopt EU standard bbc.com
London: Ex-Downing Street aide jailed for rape of sleeping woman bbc.com

⊂ JOB-BOARD UNITED KINGDOM ⊃

politjobs.ukAssociation of Directors of Children’s Services seeks Policy Officer *** The Royal Society seeks Senior Policy Adviser (Education) *** ITV Cymru Wales seeks Public Affairs Manager *** Independent Age seeks Public Affairs Officer *** Dogs Trust seeks European Policy Advisor (Publish your job ad)

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

EU wants UK to get its Brexit act together: Brussels’ chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said Brexit is at a standstill after the rejection of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s deal by MPs. He did offer to return to the negotiating table if parliament forces May to shift her red lines. His comments were echoed by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said there was still time to negotiate, but that it was up to the British side to tell the EU what happens next. „The ball is in the field of our British friends,“ said Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party group in the EU Parliament. EU Commission First Vice President Frans Timmermans declared that the backstop provision on the Northern Ireland border is non-negotiable. Timmermans also warned that Brexit would be damaging and cautioned the UK against trying to have its cake and eat it too. Guy Verhofstadt, the chief Brexit official in the EU Parliament, said Britain had better start seeing the impending departure as a national crisis that goes well beyond party politics. May should suspend the Brexit process and hold another referendum, said Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon. May’s government survived a vote of no confidence on Wednesday.
theguardian.com, politico.eu, cbsnews.com, reuters.com, cnbc.com (No-confidence vote)

EU to extend steel import curbs: The European Union will limit imports of steel into the bloc following US President Donald Trump’s imposition of metals tariffs. All steel imports will be subject to an effective cap until July 2021 to counter concerns of EU producers that European markets could be flooded by steel products that are no longer being imported into the US. EU governments backed the plan in a vote on Wednesday, definitive measures will be implemented in February. The Commission’s plan involves a quota set at the average level of imports over the past three years, plus 5%. A 25% tariff would apply once the quotas are filled.
reuters.com

EU Parliament urges Russia to investigate anti-LGBT violence: The European Parliament has urged Russia to investigate claims LGBT+ people in Chechnya are being detained and tortured, following reports of a fresh crackdown in the region. The rights group „Russian LGBT Network“ said this week it had heard reports of torture of detainees in the predominantly Muslim region in recent weeks. Around 40 people, both men and women, were detained in recent weeks, the head of the rights group, Igor Kochetkov, said in a statement. He added that at least two people died as a result of tortures. Kochetkov said the detentions were carried out by law enforcement officers, with victims held in the southern city of Argun.
euronews.com, cnn.com

EU to fine parties for data misuse: The EU Parliament and EU countries have agreed on a proposal introducing penalties on European political parties deliberately breaching data protection to tamper with EU elections. In the wake of a global outrage over Cambridge Analytica’s illegal harvesting of Facebook data and a few months before the European elections, the rules aim to stop EU political groups from using data to influence voter behaviour. A draft law that would introduce financial sanctions on European political parties or foundations that infringe data protection rules deliberately to influence or attempt to influence the outcome of European elections. The institutions did not specify the amount of the fines.
europeaninterest.eu, politico.eu

Value added tax (VAT): EU Parliament calls on member states to tax-exempt tampons euronews.com
EU fundamental rights: Violence and discrimination against women still persistent in the EU europarl.europa.eu
Whistleblowers: EU countries support protections for tax evasion leaks politico.eu

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

We’re going to make this work.
Martin Griffiths, the UN’s special envoy for Yemen, has shown optimism that the peace process for Yemen will continue.
dw.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Tsipras survives confidence vote: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras survived a late-night confidence vote on Wednesday as two days of heated debate ended with lawmakers delivering him a razor-thin victory to hold his government together. Tsipras received the minimum 151 votes he needed from the parliament for his government to survive. He had called the vote after Defence Minister Panos Kammenos, who leads the small nationalist Independent Greeks (Anel) party, quit the coalition over a proposed name-change agreement with neighbouring Macedonia. Under that agreement, the former Yugoslav republic added the geographic qualifier „North“ to its name to differentiate itself from the ancient and modern-day Greek province of the same name. Kammenos said the deal did not go far enough and argued that no country should be allowed to keep the name „Macedonia“ in any form.
nytimes.com, dw.com

Sweden to end months without a government: Sweden looked set to finally resolve four months of political deadlock on Wednesday and allow Prime Minister Stefan Löfven to take a second term in office. The Left party said it would abstain in a crucial vote on Friday, clearing the way for Löfven and his patchwork coalition. The Social Democrat leader has been rejected twice already by parliament following September’s inconclusive election, but has since reached a policy deal with his allies the Greens and the Centre and Liberal parties. In doing so, however, Lofven has had to promise to take his traditional centre-left party to the right. The four parties in Löfven’s deal together will not make up a majority in parliament and the Left Party’s leader has threatened to fight every measure that pushes Sweden to the right.
dw.com, politico.eu

Socialist rule comes to an end in Andalucia: For the first time in Spain since the death of General Franco in 1975 and the restoration of democracy, a regional government will be formed with the support, if not the direct participation, of an extreme right-wing party, Vox. After some tumultuous haggling in which Vox first insisted some of its more controversial policies – such as the deportation of tens of thousands of illegal migrants and the repeal of a gender violence law – be respected, Vox finally agreed to vote in favour of a new regional government run jointly by the PP and Ciudadanos, a centre-right party.
independent.co.uk

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Thousands march in Belgrade in anti-government protest: Thousands of Serbs gathered in the capital, Belgrade, on Wednesday to commemorate the first anniversary of the death of the Kosovo Serb politician Oliver Ivanovic, whose murder has never been resolved. Protesters accused the authorities of covering up for the perpetrators of the unsolved killing. Protesters brought together by the Alliance for Serbia, a grouping of 30 opposition parties and organisations, marched in silence in the evening in tribute to Ivanovic, gunned down a year ago in the Kosovo town of Mitrovica. Kosovo gained independence from Serbia in 2008 and Ivanovic subsequently became known as a relative moderate for advocating dialogue and compromise with Kosovo Albanians.
reuters.com

France: Sarkozy’s ex-chief of staff sentenced to a year in prison politico.eu
Germany: Love Parade trial likely to be terminated 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 ⊃

German police raid KKK members: Authorities have conducted raids in several parts of Germany on suspected members of a far-right group calling itself the National Socialist Knights of the Ku Klux Klan Deutschland. Seventeen people were targeted but there was no word of any arrests. Authorities say about 40 people are under investigation. The group’s members are suspected of glorifying Nazism. Investigators said the group recruited members partly online and was financed by monthly fees.
washingtonpost.com

 

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