Thursday, 20 September 2018: Tusk warns May on Brexit, Amazon hit by EU antitrust probe, Europeans still open to refugees

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

Tusk warns May on Brexit: European Council President Donald Tusk, the European Union’s top political representative, issued a stark Brexit warning on Wednesday: Time is running out and there are still huge hurdles to conquer before a divorce agreement can be reached with the United Kingdom. „The Brexit negotiations are entering the decisive phase,“ Tusk said ahead of an informal summit of EU leaders in Salzburg, Austria. British Prime Minister Theresa May appealed directly to fellow European leaders on Wednesday to drop „unacceptable“ Brexit demands that she said could rip Britain apart, and urged the bloc to respond in kind to her „serious and workable“ plan. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said a deal with Britain was still far away.
politico.eu, cnn.com, reuters.com

Amazon hit by EU antitrust probe: Europe’s Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager has shifted her sights from Google to Amazon. In her latest tilt at US tech giants, Vestager warned Amazon the EU Commission plans to examine how the group collects data from third-party merchants on its site, and whether it uses that data to secure a competitive advantage. Vestager has the power to fine companies up to 10 percent of their global turnover for breaching EU antitrust rules. Earlier this year, she levied a record $5 billion fine against Google related to its Android business. She also launched an in-depth investigation into Apple and its purchase of music recognition app Shazam.
telegraph.co.uk, cnbc.com

Europeans still open to refugees: A majority of Europeans support taking in refugees, according to a new survey by the Pew Research Center. However, many of them disapprove of how the EU has handled a record influx of migrants that peaked three years ago. About three-quarters or more of adults in Spain, the Netherlands, France and the UK support taking in refugees from countries where people are fleeing violence and war. Similar shares in Germany and Sweden back taking in refugees. The European country with the lowest acceptance was Hungary, at 32 percent, well below Poland at 49 percent. There is also majority support for taking in refugees in Greece and Italy, which have been main entry points into Europe for migrants in recent years. New Zealand has announced it will significantly increase its refugee quota from 2020.
reuters.com, pewresearch.org, theguardian.com (New Zealand)

EU ends inquiry into McDonald’s tax deal: McDonald’s avoided having to repay millions of euros in back taxes after EU antitrust regulators said that its tax deal with Luxembourg was not illegal, citing quirks in the Grand Duchy’s bilateral tax treaty with the United States. The EU Commission had been examining whether a deal that Luxembourg granted to McDonald’s may have led to the fast food chain’s paying less tax than it owed. The Commission said Wednesday that these deals did not constitute illegal state aid. The profits under scrutiny had not been taxed in Luxembourg or the United States, according to the EU Commission, but it said that this was a result of a mismatch between the countries’ tax laws rather than special treatment from Luxembourg, and that no rules had been broken.
nytimes.com, reuters.com

Irish budget airline: EU Commission intervenes in wage dispute with Ryanair welt.de
European Court of Auditors: EU’s finance for African security missions has ‘poor effect’, say auditors euractiv.com

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

Maassen gets promoted for his failure in office. If disloyalty and incompetence are the new criteria for a career, then Seehofer has a good chance of becoming the next UN Secretary General.
Former German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel of the SPD has criticised the decision by Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition to sack the controversial head of domestic intelligence, Hans-Georg Maassen, by transfering him to a higher post.
dw.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

„Defend Hungary“ campaign launched after European vote: The Hungarian government has launched a media campaign against the EU Parliament resolution that raised concerns about systemic rule of law problems in Hungary, government-controlled media outlets reported Wednesday. The first video created as part of the campaign and posted on the government’s Facebook page claims that „the European Parliament’s pro-migration majority wants to silence us, because we defend our homeland and Europe with a fence.“ The campaign comes in response to the Parliament’s approval last week of a resolution calling on the European Council to pursue sanctions against the Hungarian government over what MEPs deem to be systemic problems with judicial independence, media freedom and the rights of refugees and minorities. Bulgaria will support Hungary in its standoff with the EU, a Bulgarian deputy prime minister said on Wednesday.
politico.eu, reuters.com

Dismay over Salvini’s slave comment: The African Union, which represents all 55 nations on the continent, has demanded an apology from Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini for comparing African immigrants to slaves. The AU commission expressed dismay at Salvini, saying: „Name-calling will not resolve the migration challenges facing Africa and Europe.“ It called on him to retract his statement. Salvini was unrepentant.
theguardian.com

Romania sets date for referendum to block gay marriage: Romania set an 6-7 October date for a referendum to change the constitutional definition of marriage to a union between a man and a woman. The constitution currently states that marriage is between two „spouses“ but makes no mention of gender. The referendum — approved by the lower house of parliament and by the Senate after a 2016 petition from Coalitia pentru Familie collected three million signatures — aims to change the constitution so that it states that a union is strictly between „a man and a woman“. The referendum would set the conservative eastern European country apart from most of the EU where same-sex marriages or civil partnerships have gained recognition in the past few years.
nbcnews.com, euronews.com

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Germany, EU call on Albania to continue reform progress: Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas on Wednesday called on Albania to work hard on its reforms so as to convince all EU members to launch membership negotiations next year. Maas, visiting Albania’s capital, said that the EU members have made it clear that the target of June 2019 does not mean talks will automatically start then. He said that the bloc needs to see concrete results in the consolidation of the rule of law and independence of the justice system. In June this year the bloc’s member states agreed to open membership talks with Albania and Macedonia next year if the two nations continue with reform progress.
nytimes.com

Germany: Berlin and Hamburg lose court battle over 2011 census 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 ⊃

Paper says Pussy Riot activist was to receive sensitive documents: New details have emerged in the case of Kremlin critic Pyotr Verzilov who is currently in intensive care in Berlin. A Russian newspaper said he was to receive highly sensitive documents on the day he was allegedly poisoned. According to the newspaper „Novaya Gazeta“, Verzilov was to receive a final report from foreign experts last Thursday, containing information on the murder of Russian journalists in the Central African Republic at the end of July. That same day, he was admitted to a Moscow clinic with symptoms of poisoning. He has been in treatment at the Charite Hospital in Berlin since Sunday.
dw.com

 

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