Thursday, 19 April 2018: EU Parliament condemns Selmayr appointment, Zuckerberg under pressure to face EU lawmakers, Puigdemont and his Catalan independence MPs reunite in Berlin

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

EU Parliament condemns Selmayr appointment: The Parliament’s plenary adopted on Wednesday a resolution saying Martin Selmayr’s appointment as EU Commission secretary general in February could be viewed as a coup-like action and asked the Commission to adopt new rules on appointments by the end of the year, so fully ensuring that the best candidates are selected within a framework of maximum transparency and equal opportunities, and then reassess Selmayr’s appointment under the new rules. However, the report is not binding and so the Commission is under no obligation to do anything about it. MEPs rejected an amendment put forward by three left-wingers urging the Commission to request that Selmayr voluntarily relinquish the title of Secretary-General until the reassessment of the appointment procedure has been completed.
euobserver.com, politico.eu

Zuckerberg under pressure to face EU lawmakers: Facebook Inc’s Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg came under pressure from EU lawmakers on Wednesday to come to Europe and shed light on the data breach involving Cambridge Analytica that affected nearly three million Europeans. Facebook is under fire worldwide after information about nearly 87 million users wrongly ended up in the hands of the British political consultancy, a firm hired by Donald Trump for his 2016 US presidential election campaign. EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani last week repeated his request to Zuckerberg to appear before the assembly, saying that sending a junior executive would not suffice. In his letter to the Facebook CEO, Tajani said the company should bear in mind that lawmakers play a key role in crafting tough rules governing online tech giants.
reuters.com

Draghi to stay in opaque G30 club: European Central Bank President Mario Draghi has decided to remain a member of an opaque club of top figures in finance despite a watchdog’s call to leave it to protect the ECB’s reputation. The Group of 30 is a private forum of financiers, economists and current and former policymakers who meet behind closed doors to discuss global economic issues. European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly had recommended that Draghi gave up his membership to fight “a public perception” that the ECB’s independence as a banking supervisor could be compromised. The ECB rejected the Ombudsman’s recommendation on Wednesday, arguing G30 discussions helped it understand economic and financial developments.
reuters.com

EU pushes to hasten start of Japan trade deal: The EU Commission put forward a proposed free-trade agreement with Japan for fast-track approval on Wednesday, hoping to avoid a repeat of the public protests that nearly derailed a trade pact with Canada two years ago. The European Union and Japan concluded negotiations to create the world’s largest economic area in December, signaling their rejection of the protectionist stance of U.S. President Donald Trump. Now they want to see it go into force. Cecilia Malmström, Europe’s top trade official, said Wednesday that new US steel and aluminum tariffs are distorting global trade and could damage hopes for economic growth.
reuters.com, usatoday.com

Gunfire at UN team in Syria stalls chemical weapons inspection: Chemical weapons experts who have been waiting for five days in Syria to inspect the site of a suspected gas attack were again delayed Wednesday, after gunfire at a UN security team forced it to turn back. A fact-finding team from the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was expected to enter the city of Douma on Wednesday to determine whether banned substances were used in a strike there 11 days ago. The United Nations said more security measures were needed before the inspectors could go in. The town is under the protection of Russia’s military police. The Russian military said a Syrian security employee was slightly wounded in the crossfire Tuesday, but no Russian servicemen were at the site of the attack. Syrian government forces shelled the last pockets in Damascus controlled by Isis.
cnn.com, washingtonpost.com

Eurozone: Inflation for March misses forecasts zeit.de
Circular economy: More recycling of household waste, less landfilling europarl.europa.eu
European elections: MEPs back voting dates for 2019 europarl.europa.eu

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

The German government, along with the regional government here, feels obliged to do its bit to help.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday she expected Peugeot to stick to the commitments it made in the context of its takeover of Opel last year and added that the German government felt it had to help.
reuters.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Puigdemont and his Catalan independence MPs reunite in Berlin: The German chapter of ex-Catalan president Carles Puigdemont’s European exile saga continued on Wednesday with a meeting of his Together for Catalonia (JuntsxCat) parliamentary group in a four-star Berlin hotel. Thirty out of the party’s 34 members of parliament arrived at the hotel the night before and were due to fly back to Barcelona in the afternoon, leaving their leader in his legal impasse in the German capital and returning to a region that is still struggling to form a government after snap regional elections in December gave pro-Catalan independence parties a parliamentary majority. The Spanish supreme court judge investigating the Catalan independence referendum has asked Spain’s finance minister to explain why he claimed that no public money was used to stage the vote, saying the assertion contradicts one of the key allegations facing the former regional president and other members of his sacked government.
dw.com, theguardian.com

OPCW rejects Russian claims of second Salisbury nerve agent: Senior figures from the global chemical weapons watchdog have flatly rejected Russian claims that the watchdog’s laboratories had found a western military chemical agent in the poison that incapacitated the Russian double agent Sergei Skripal. In a weekend claim widely picked up on social media, the Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, said that a Swiss laboratory used by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons had discovered traces in the sample of the nerve agent BZ and its precursors. Meanwhile, Britain’s media regulator opened seven investigations into Russian news channel RT, saying it had found an increase in programs which may have breached impartiality rules since the nerve agent attack on Skripal.
theguardian.com, reuters.com

Probe of Israeli president’s comments: A fringe Polish group has asked prosecutors on Tuesday to investigate if Israel’s president broke a new law that criminalises suggesting that the Polish nation was in any way responsible for the Holocaust. The National Movement believes that during a visit last week, President Reuven Rivlin said that “Poland and Poles had a hand in the extermination” of Jews during World War II, according to a statement on its website.
bloomberg.com

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New asylum-seekers free to travel from Greek islands, court rules: A top Greek court ruled on Wednesday that migrants landing on Greek islands should no longer be held there while asylum claims are assessed, a decision raising alarm among EU officials in Brussels. The prospect of new arrivals, often fleeing violence in the Middle East via Turkey, being able to quickly reach mainland Europe from the islands could undermine EU efforts to discourage people leaving Turkey. Stopping migrants making the short crossing from Turkey is a key part of European Union policy aimed at avoiding a repeat of the crisis of 2015 when over a million migrants, many of them Syrian refugees, made it to Germany.
reuters.com

Austria plans to clamp down on refugees: Austria’s government is proposing to make it harder for refugees to become citizens, confiscate asylum seekers’ cash to pay for their upkeep and even seize their mobile phones to see where they came from. The measures were included in a bill approved by the cabinet on Wednesday. Austria took in more than 1 percent of its population in 2015 when Europe’s influx of migrants began, many of them fleeing war and poverty in the Middle East and Africa. Initial sympathy for the new arrivals soon turned to alarm as their numbers mounted.
reuters.com

Britain: May dealt embarrassing Brexit defeat in parliament’s upper house reuters.com
France: Unions plan to disrupt electricity production on Thursday uk.reuters.com
Germany: Cabinet greenlights motion to cut off far-right NPD from state funding dw.com
Italy: President summons senate speaker to break deadlock over new govt reuters.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 ⊃

Facebook is a big EU lobbyist: Facebook has made sure that its voice is heard on the corridors of power in Brussels. Since last year, Facebook has more than doubled its lobbying expenditure from one million to 2.3 million euro. That makes the social network one of the most influential corporations in the EU. European Commission Vice President Andrus Ansip even went to see the Facebook CEO in California. Mark Zuckerberg, Ansip said, called the new EU law the right way forward. To comply with a new EU data privacy law, Facebook said it would begin seeking Europeans‘ permission this week for a variety of ways the social network uses its data. Yet people would still have to accept targeted ads.
euronews.com

 

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