Thursday, August 8th 2019: Germany against criminalization of sea rescue, EU helps victims of drought in Africa, Italian coalition argues over planned train route

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

Germany against criminalization of sea rescue: A German foreign ministry spokeswoman said Berlin did not intend to comment on the new Italian decree targeting charities operating migrant rescue ships. But she also reiterated that the criminalization of those who saved lives at sea was not desirable. The UN’s refugee agency UNHCR voiced concern over the decree and demanded that humanitarian work not be criminalized or stigmatized. One year after the German government struck a deal with Spain to send back refugees, Spain has taken back only two asylum seekers. Cyprus has asked EU member states to help with the relocation of 5,000 refugees. Malta has denied a request by the rescue ship „Ocean Viking“ to refuel in the country’s territorial waters.
sueddeutsche.de (Germany); france24.com (UNHCR); zdf.de (Spain); zeit.de (Cyprus); welt.de (Malta)

EU helps victims of drought in Africa: The EU Commission has announced another €50 million in emergency humanitarian funding to help the people hit by drought in the Horn of Africa. The funding will support drought-affected communities in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda. With many in the region relying on livestock herding, the prolonged drought is having devastating consequences on food availability.
neweurope.eu

Lithuania’s Economy Minister Sinkevicius to be EU Commissioner: Lithuania has proposed its acting minister of economy and innovation, Virginijus Sinkevicius, as a European commissioner. Sinkevicius met with EU Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels on Tuesday, and his selection was formally announced on Wednesday by President Gitanas Nauseda. Jewish leaders in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius closed the city’s sole synagogue and community center following threats sparked by a debate over the country’s World War II-era history. Community leader Faina Kukliansky told The Associated Press on Wednesday that the community has been receiving threatening calls and letters lately.
politico.eu (Sinkevicius); washingtonpost.com (Jewish community)

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UK to pull out of Interrail: British rail firms will no longer participate in the Interrail system of pan-European ticketing. The change will have little effect on UK travelers to Europe, who will still be able to travel across EU countries, but they will no longer have the option of starting their trip from their home station. Instead they will have to begin their journey on the Eurostar from London St Pancras. European travelers will not, however, be able to visit the UK as part of their Interrail adventures. Instead they will have the option of buying BritRail passes offering unlimited train travel across England, Scotland and Wales.
politico.eu, theguardian.com

European Central Bank ECB: Former ECB chief Trichet warns of new crisis in eurozone faz.net
Huawei: United States move to ban Huawei from government contracts nytimes.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Italian coalition argues over planned train route: The Italian Senate has rejected a motion by the Five Star Movement, one of Italy’s ruling parties, to block an alpine rail link with France. The train link is one of several issues that has caused tension between the Five Star Movement and its far-right government coalition partners in the League. When the infrastructure project is completed, the journey time between Milan and Paris will be cut from nearly seven hours to just four hours. The Five Star Movement has long opposed the project on cost and environmental grounds but League leader and Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini is strongly in favor.
euronews.com, politico.eu

Explosion at tax office in Copenhagen: An explosion shattered windows and blew off the front door of the Danish Tax Agency in Copenhagen on Wednesday. At the time of the blast, two people were inside the building but both were unharmed. One person outside the nearby Nordhavn Station needed medical treatment after being hit by debris. Police believe the explosion was not an accident, although authorities said it was too early to know who the perpetrators are. An extensive investigation is under way. Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that while the attack was deliberate, it was too soon to label it as a terror attack.
independent.co.uk, dw.com

Germany discusses meat tax: German politicians from the Social Democrats (SPD) and the Greens have proposed raising the value added tax on meat. The lawmakers proposed using the additional funds raised by the tax increase to support animal welfare in the country at a time when the meat industry is coming under increased scrutiny for how it treats livestock. However, Green Party leader Robert Habeck said he didn’t support the measure because it didn’t go far enough. Instead, he backed a full overhaul of the VAT system to tackle environmental concerns. German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner said the proposals highlighted the importance of supporting livestock farmers amid declining meat consumption, but that it wasn’t necessary to raise the tax on meat to do so. She said farmers shouldn’t bear the brunt of government efforts.
dw.com

Spain headed for fresh elections: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who twice failed to be confirmed in his job last month, said on Wednesday he would work right up to a September deadline to form a government and avoid fresh elections. Sanchez is trying to garner social and political support for a third vote and has until September to be confirmed as premier or field another candidate. Failing that, a new election would be called for November 10th.
reuters.com

Government worker possibly part of Austria’s Ibiza scandal: German media has reported that one of the men who allegedly helped organize the sting operation that ended Austria’s ruling coalition may have once worked for the government. The Austrian Julian H. told German newspaper „Welt“ that he ran an operation for a government office two years before the Ibiza scandal came to light. The report feeds into speculations about a possible role of intelligence agencies or other government authorities in the scandal that brought down the Austrian government.
welt.de

France: French mayor ran over after row over illegal tipping bbc.com
Ukraine: Ukrainian President Zelensky speaks with Russian President Putin about eastern Ukraine zeit.de
Switzerland: Government closes only center for asylum seekers who disturb the public order nzz.ch
Greece: Police find body of missing British scientist Natalie Christopher dw.com

⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃

politjobs.eu: Alfa Fellowship Program seeks Young German, British, and American Leaders *** FTA seeks Regulatory Affairs Advisor (m/f) *** Bayer seeks Trainee (m/f) *** ISN seeks Advocacy Officer (m/f) *** Politico seeks Lobbying Reporter (m/f) *** EGEC seeks Trainee (m/f) *** Facebook seeks Public Policy Manager (m/f) *** Google seeks Public Policy and Government Relations Manager (m/f) *** DEKRA offers Internship (m/f) *** European Friends of Amernia seeks Communications and Media Engagement Officer (m/f) *** International Crisis Group seeks Analyst (m/f)
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)

⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃

Italian League party embezzled campaign funds: Italy’s highest court has upheld a ruling to confiscate 49 million euros from Italy’s ruling League party, ordered after the far-right movement was convicted of fraud. The anti-immigrant League rules Italy as part of a coalition government with the Five Star Movement. Former Northern League leader Umberto Bossi, once a key ally of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi, was forced out of his party in 2012 after the fraud allegations surfaced.
faz.net, thelocal.it

 

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