Thursday, 24 May 2018: Britons dash to become German before Brexit, Highest support for EU in 35 years, Bulgaria runs into setback in bid for euro membership


Britons dash to become German before Brexit: Driven by the prospect of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU next year, the number of British passport holders who became German citizens jumped by 162 percent last year, Germany’s Federal Statistics Office said on Wednesday. Nearly 7,500 Britons acquired German citizenship last year. This follows a 361 percent rise in 2016, bringing the total for the two years to around 10,400. This is more than double the number of Britons who became Germans in the 15 years from 2000. With no Brexit deal yet in sight, despite a leaving date of March 2019, many Britons are worried they will lose the right to live and work in Europe’s biggest economy, which is enjoying an unusually long period of growth and record low unemployment. Britons usually need to have lived in Germany for eight years to qualify. Applications take more than six months to process and Britons can take up dual citizenship while Britain is still an EU member. Meanwhile, a minister has admitted that Britain will be legally bound to pay its £39bn Brexit divorce bill before the details of a future EU trade deal are agreed., (Brexit bill)

Highest support for EU in 35 years: Two thirds of Europeans believe their country has benefited from being a member of the EU, the highest percentage since 1983 and an increase of three percentage points since the autumn. In addition, 60 percent of Europeans consider EU membership a good thing, according to the latest Eurobarometer published on Wednesday. But people also like emerging populist and eurosceptical parties. The poll says Europeans think they can bring about change and new solutions. EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani said the next European elections would undoubtedly be a battle, not just between the traditional parties of the Right, Left and Centre but between those who believe in the benefits of continued cooperation and integration at EU level and those who would undo what has been achieved over the last 70 years.,

Bulgaria runs into setback in bid for euro membership: Bulgaria has hit a setback to its hopes of soon becoming a member of the shared euro currency after the European Central Bank said the EU’s poorest country needs wide-ranging reforms to get its economy in shape. That assessment came in the ECB’s report card Wednesday on progress toward membership among seven EU member countries that have not yet joined the 19-country euro. According to the ECB, none of the countries seeking to adopt the euro meet all accession criteria. All seven nations, mostly in central Europe, have made some progress over the past two years and meet most of the economic criteria. But all fail some of the institutional requirements, such as central bank independence or the prohibition on central banks funding the budget. Bulgaria’s desire to join makes a positive statement for EU officials against a background of rising anti-EU political forces in Hungary, Poland and most recently in member country Italy.,

France no longer in EU’s crosshairs over spending: Issuing its annual recommendations for economic development to member states, the EU Commission on Wednesday said in was in favour of removing France from Brussels‘ public spending penalty box after more than a decade of discontent with Paris‘ deficit policy. The Commission formally proposed to take France out of its so-called excessive deficit procedure that was first opened back in 2009 after the start of the eurozone debt crisis. The EU executive forecasts that France will log a deficit of 2.6 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017 to be followed by 2.3 percent this year, both below the bloc’s 3-percent limit. France was one of the last two eurozone nations, along with Spain, that was still under the threat of having to pay fines or having to accept sanctions for overspending.

Refugees: Turkey is to receive more money from EU budget
Israeli minister: EU can go to „a thousand hells“
2019 EU Budget: Commission proposes a budget focused on continuity and delivery
Venezuela: G7 and EU reject Venezuela’s election


The format of the meeting was a farce. Zuckerberg did not answer many of the direct questions put to him, and the few answers that we heard were disappointing.
Udo Bullmann, the leader of the Socialists & Democrats group, was frustrated and called for another meeting after Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg avoided questions in the EU Parliament on everything from data protection to fake news and election security.


Italy’s populists get green light to govern: The populist parties that won the Italian elections two months ago were granted the go-ahead on Wednesday to form a government. Italy’s president Sergio Mattarella has given his blessing to the creation of a new populist government in Rome to be led by Giuseppe Conte, a political newcomer who will serve as Italy’s next prime minister. The ascension of a virtually unknown law professor to Palazzo Chigi, who will lead a government that has been cobbled together by two rival populist parties – the anti-establishment Five Star Movement and the far-right League – represents an unprecedented development in one of Europe’s biggest economies. The rapid ascent of populists in Italy — the birthplace of Fascism, a founding member of the EU, and the bloc’s fourth-largest economy — shattered Italy’s decades-old party system.,

Germany’s foreign minister discusses Iran deal in Washington: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas discussed the ongoing dispute over Iran at a meeting with his US counterpart Mike Pompeo in Washington. Berlin is determined to do everything necessary to preserve the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran despite the US pullout, Maas said at the start of his visit to Washington. However, his words appear to have fallen on deaf ears. As he left his meeting with US President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor John Bolton, the US‘ position remained unchanged. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, whom Maas is due to meet later during his trip to Washington, said earlier that he would defend his country’s position during an upcoming meeting in June with representatives from Germany, France and the UK – all signatories to the original Iran nuclear deal. Ties between Germany and the United States are already frayed by rows over climate change and trade.

Macedonia’s ex-PM Nikola Gruevski sentenced to two years: Macedonia’s former head of government, Nikola Gruevski, unlawfully influenced state officials to buy a Mercedes worth around 600,000 euros, and then kept the vehicle for personal use, a court in Skopje found on Wednesday. The embattled politician was sentenced to two years in prison. The former prime minister is to remain free pending an appeal. Prosecutors say Gruevski called his then-interior minister Gordana Jankulovska in 2012 and urged her to order the purchase of the luxury armored car. According to audio evidence, Gruevski said that he would use the car and the public would be kept in the dark. Moreover, Gruevski apparently received a kickback from a car dealer for recommending it for the purchase. The court also sentenced interior ministry official Gjoko Popovski to six and a half years in prison for his role in the case.

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Daughter of former Russian spy breaks her silence: Yulia Skripal has said she wishes to return to Russia in the longer term despite the nerve agent attack on her and her father Sergei. In her first appearance since being discharged from hospital, Yulia said that she had flown to London on 3 March to visit her father, something she had done regularly in the past. The Skripals were found a day later in a comatose condition on a park bench in the centre of Salisbury. Skripal was speaking from a secret location in London, where she is under police guard. She was discharged from Salisbury district hospital five weeks after the poisoning and has not been seen by the media until now. Her father, a former GRU intelligence officer, was discharged last week. Britain blames Russia for poisoning them with a military-grade nerve agent – a charge Russia vehemently denies.,

Laptops of slain Maltese journalist handed to German police: German police said on Wednesday that relatives of murdered Maltese anti-corruption blogger Daphne Caruana Galizia had given them two of her laptops and three hard drives and these could be transferred to Maltese police investigating her killing. The Caruana Galizia family had previously warned that the journalist’s sources could be compromised by handing over the laptops to Maltese authorities. Galizia was killed in October last year by a car bomb believed to have been triggered by a mobile phone signal and the FBI has been helping Maltese authorities to solve the case. Maltese detectives have been trying to obtain the laptops for their investigation into who ordered Galizia’s killing and why. Three local men have been charged with her murder. All deny the accusations.

Ukraine: President Poroshenko paid Trump lawyer Cohen to arrange White House talks
Spain: 2018 budget gets parliamentary approval
Greece: Top Greek court grants Turkish soldier asylum, rejects government appeal

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Trump can’t block Twitter followers, federal judge says: US President Donald Trump cannot block Twitter users for the political views they have expressed, a federal judge in Manhattan ruled on Wednesday. Blocking users from viewing his Twitter account — a feature offered by the social media platform — is unconstitutional and a violation of the First Amendment, Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald wrote in her ruling. The social media platform, Buchwald said, is a „designated public forum“ from which Trump cannot exclude individual plaintiffs. She rejected an argument by the Justice Department that the president had a right to block Twitter followers because of his „associational freedoms.“,



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