Tuesday, 06 August 2019: EU sees no basis for meaningful Brexit talks with UK, UK joins US-led mission in the Persian Gulf, Italy targets migrant rescue ships, EU is more popular than ever


EU sees no basis for meaningful Brexit talks with UK: EU officials have said there was currently no basis for meaningful discussions with the UK over Brexit. Downing Street called on the EU to change its stance. A spokesperson said the UK hoped that the EU would rethink its current refusal to make any changes to the withdrawal agreement. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has pledged to “do or die”, and leave by the Brexit deadline – even if it means without an agreement. Brussels diplomats briefed after a meeting between the prime minister’s chief envoy and senior EU figures in Brussels said that Britain’s refusal to compromise was understood to have been clear to those attending. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has warned that Johnson will face an early vote of no-confidence in his government, which could oust him and force fresh elections. Johnson, meanwhile, has said he doesn’t want to call a snap election. British foreign minister Dominic Raab will travel to Canada, the United States and Mexico this week to seek to boost ties with non-European countries ahead of Brexit, his office said.
bbc.com, theguardian.com, bloomberg.com, uk.reuters.com

Labour calls for investigation into Finance Minister Javid over Deutsche role: The Labour Party on Monday called for Prime Minister Boris Johnson to investigate Finance Minister Sajid Javid’s role in financial misconduct during his previous career as a banker before entering politics. Labour’s finance spokesman John McDonnell said he had written to Johnson to reconsider Javid’s fitness for the job and should look into three areas of concern relating to the minister’s 18-year finance career during which time he worked for Deutsche Bank. McDonnell said the new chancellor must answer questions over any connection he may have had with a tax avoidance scheme known as “dark blue” during his time at Deutsche.
uk.reuters.com, theguardian.com

Johnson insists £1.8bn pledged for NHS hospitals is new money: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted that the promised £1.8bn of extra funding for NHS hospitals is new money despite suggestions that most of it is already held in reserve by health trusts. On a visit to Pilgrim hospital in Boston, Lincolnshire, one of 20 English hospitals earmarked to receive £850m for infrastructure upgrades and new facilities, Johnson told reporters the entire pledge was additional funding. A number of the 20 projects are in predominantly pro-leave areas, including three at hospitals in Norfolk, the Pilgrim hospital in Lincolnshire, and others in Cornwall and Stoke-on-Trent.

Scotland: First Minister Sturgeon points to growing urgency for Scottish independence bbc.com
Labour: Activists lead push for Labour to back staying in EU before conference theguardian.com


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UK joins US-led mission in the Persian Gulf: The UK will play a leading role in an international maritime mission monitoring ships in the Persian Gulf, the British government announced Monday. France and Germany had indicated they would refuse to join any US-led mission, amid concerns about being too closely aligned to the Trump administration. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas reiterated that Germany favoured a European observer mission but he warned it was rather difficult to make progress on that. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Zarif has criticised the US decision to impose sanctions on him. He said the White House had invited him and threatened to impose penalties on him if he did not accept the invitation. Zarif said he did not accept the invitation and as a result was sanctioned by the US. According to the Norwegian Refugee Council, humanitarian aid in Iran is being considerably hampered by US sanctions.
politico.eu, theguardian.com, reuters.com (Mission); washingtonpost.com, spiegel.de (Zarif); handelsblatt.com (Humanitarian aid)

Italy targets migrant rescue ships: The Italian government on Monday won a confidence vote in the Senate on a decree targeting charities operating migrant rescue ships. The decree drawn up by Interior Minister Matteo Salvini toughens sanctions on charity ships that seek to bring migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea to Italy. It hikes maximum fines for ships that enter Italian waters without authorisation to one million euros. It also provides for the arrest of captains who ignore orders to stay away and calls on naval authorities to seize their boats automatically. Meanwhile, the EU Commission has announced that it will investigate accusations of human rights abuses by the EU border agency Frontex. According to research by the Returns Network, not only have Frontex guards tolerated violence against displaced people by their national counterparts on the EU’s external border, they have often treated refugees inhumanely themselves.
reuters.com (Italy); tagesschau.de, dw.com (Frontex)

EU is more popular than ever: A new Eurobarometer survey shows an increase in citizens’ positive perception of the EU across the board – from the economy to the state of democracy. Trust in the EU is at its highest level since 2014 and remains higher than trust in national governments or parliaments, with the highest scores in Lithuania, Denmark, and Estonia. A majority of Europeans are optimistic about the future of the EU and are satisfied with the way democracy works in the union. Immigration remains the main concern at EU level. Climate change is now the second most important concern.

Mogherini successor: Josep Borrell to be EU’s new chief diplomat handelsblatt.com
El Paso shooting: US President Trump calls for death penalty for hate crimes pbs.org
Syria: Army resumes Idlib air strikes after scrapping ceasefire france24.com
Hong Kong: Strike sinks city into chaos nytimes.com
Jammu and Kashmir: India revokes Kashmir’s special status cbsnews.com


We believe that this tension, this militarisation, is definitely not conducive to a peaceful environment.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini has warned of increasing tensions in the South China Sea.


Germany prepared for all Brexit scenarios: Germany doesn’t believe British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will be able to make good on his threat to take Britain out of the EU without a deal, according to two government officials. The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said they expect the British parliament to thwart any attempt to take the country out of the bloc without an agreement to smooth the process. A German government spokeswoman said Monday that Berlin was prepared for all possible scenarios regarding Britain’s expected departure from the EU.
bloomberg.com, uk.reuters.com

Bulgarian Prime Minister Borissov accuses Romanian tourists over swine flu: A diplomatic row has broken out between Bulgaria and Romania over African Swine Fever. Bulgaria’s Prime Minister Boyko Borissov accused Romanian tourists of bringing the disease and helping to spread it, according to local media. His statement was made during an emergency meeting with officials and pig farmers from the most impacted regions in Bulgaria.

“Titanic” shipyard is headed for bankruptcy: Harland and Wolff, the 158-year-old shipyard in Northern Ireland that built the “Titanic”, is preparing for bankruptcy. The shipyard in Belfast employed about 35,000 at its pre-World War II peak in 1935. It has been in decline for over half a century, however, and now employs just 130 full-time workers. The business was put up for sale last year by Norwegian parent Dolphin Drilling, which filed for bankruptcy in June.
cnn.com, reuters.com

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Legal battle over Hitler’s birthplace ends: The Austrian interior ministry announced Monday that the years-long legal battle over the birthplace of Adolf Hitler has finally come to a close. Austria’s Supreme Court has sided with the government, leaving the former owner of the property with the compensation she was initially offered. The Austrian government is currently considering plans to either demolish the site or render it completely unrecognisable from its former appearance. Interior Minister Wolfgang Peschorn said the aim was to prevent any renewed form of National Socialist activities.

Germany: Cities call for stricter e-scooter regulation after drunken incidents dw.com
Poland: Belgian cyclist Bjorg Lambrecht dies after Poland crash dw.com


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politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)


Former German environment minister Hendricks was on Monsanto list: German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer has admitted that US seeds and pesticides maker Monsanto, which Bayer bought last year, kept lists of key pro- or anti-pesticides figures in at least seven EU countries. According to German media reports, Germany’s former environment minister Barbara Hendricks was also on a list of critics that the PR agency FleishmanHillard had drawn up on behalf of Monsanto. The pesticides maker had contacted Hendricks several times, asking for meetings and warning of job losses in case of a Glyphosate ban.
sueddeutsche.de, welt.de, france24.com


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