Tuesday, 12 June 2018: EU to award free travel tickets to 18-year-olds, Spain opens port to rescued migrants, Debt fears are mounting in Finland


EU to award free travel tickets to 18-year-olds: As of this week, 18-year-old Europeans can apply for one of 15,000 free tickets to travel across the European Union, the EU Commission announced on Monday. DiscoverEU is a new EU initiative based on a proposal from the EU Parliament. It offers 18 year olds a travel experience that will enable them to take advantage of the freedom of movement in the EU, discover the diversity of European regions, enjoy its cultural richness, connect with people from all over the continent and ultimately discover themselves. The initiative aims in part to counter a growing tide of euroscepticism, ahead of elections for the EU legislature next year. From Tuesday, any European citizen who will be aged 18 on July 1 can apply for a ticket online. To qualify, it is necessary to answer five questions on the EU and the 2018 parliamentary elections, as well as guessing how many people are likely to apply for a travel pass. The recipients will be selected among those who answer correctly, with tickets allocated to EU member states according to their population size. They will be able to travel – alone or in groups of five people at most – for up to 30 days between July and October, visiting no more than four EU countries. A budget of 12 million euros has been put aside.
dw.com, europa.eu

UN concerned over reported attacks in Idlib: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has expressed deep concern over airstrikes that reportedly targeted a village in northern Idlib last week, killing dozens – including children. Guterres called for a full investigation into the attacks. Panos Moumtzis, the UN regional humanitarian coordinator, called on major powers to broker a settlement to end the war in Syria and avoid a bloodbath in Idlib. Moumtzis cited reports of a deadly air strike on Sunday that had killed 11 people and hit a pediatric hospital. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-based monitoring group, said the attack killed at least 51 civilians, including nine children and 11 women. Both the White Helmets and the Syrian Observatory said they believed the strikes were carried out by Russian warplanes. The escalation in fighting in the Idlib province leaves 2.5 million civilians with no place else to go within their shattered homeland, the United Nations said on Monday.
news.un.org, bbc.com, reuters.com

MEPs to debate priorities for EU summit: MEPs will discuss their priorities for the June meeting of EU leaders in Brussels with Council and Commission representatives on Tuesday morning. EU heads of state or government will meet in Brussels on 28-29 June to discuss the most pressing policy priorities for the EU, including how to move forward with the EU’s common asylum system and also to evaluate the progress of the ongoing Brexit negotiations. MEPs are also scheduled to debate the next EU long-term budget, security and defence, innovation and digital Europe and eurozone reform. They will discuss the priorities for the upcoming summit with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Deputy Minister for the Bulgarian Presidency of the Council of the EU 2018, Monika Panayotova.

EU to vote on new drone rules: The EU Parliament will vote on Tuesday on new rules for flying drones in EU airspace. Their use could account for 10 percent of the bloc’s aviation market in a decade’s time. But drone flying doesn’t come without risks. The parliament vote on new aviation safety rules aims to harmonise the use of drones in EU airspace. The proposals include a maximum height rule for drones, new registrations and restricting flights near the likes of embassies and nuclear sites. There is also a push to cut noise pollution.

Fortum set to gain EU antitrust approval for Uniper deal: Finnish utility Fortum is set to gain unconditional EU approval to acquire a 46.65 percent stake in German energy group Uniper from E.ON, three people familiar with the matter said on Monday. State-controlled Fortum’s bid has run into opposition from Uniper, which said that the combination would make little sense given its heavy exposure to gas and coal-fired power plants while Fortum’s focus is on clean technologies. Approval by the EU would mark a major step toward the deal’s completion, which also still requires regulatory clearance from Russia to go through. Uniper operates several assets in Russia through its subsidiary Unipro.

North Korea: Trump and Kim met in Singapore for historic summit reuters.com
Emissions: Germany orders Daimler to recall 774,000 Diesels in Europe bloomberg.com
EU Aid Volunteers: European Solidarity Corps to invest 1.26 billion euros in young people governmenteuropa.eu
ACER: Council agrees position to update the role of the EU Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators consilium.europa.eu
Opening: Parliament expresses support for victims of Fuego volcano in Guatemala europarl.europa.eu


I can assure you that Austria will fight all forms of anti-Semitism in Europe with determination, be it the still existing one or also new imported anti-Semitism.
During a visit in Israel, Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz vowed to fight anti-Semitism.


Spain opens port to rescued migrants: Spain offered on Monday to take in a humanitarian ship stranded in international waters with 629 migrants aboard, prompting Italy’s new anti-establishment government to claim victory in its bid to get European partners to help more on immigration. Italy and Malta had both refused to let the Gibraltar-flagged Aquarius ship, whose passengers included 11 children and seven pregnant women, to dock, prompting the EU and the UN refugee agency to call for a swift end to the standoff. The ship had sailed north toward Italy but Matteo Salvini, the head of the far-right League party who became interior minister this month vowing to curb an influx of migrants from Africa, blocked it and said it should go to Malta instead. The Spanish government said in a statement that Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez had given instructions for Spain to offer a safe port to the people on board the vessel, and that Spain should honour its international commitments and help avoid a „humanitarian catastrophe“. A Council of Europe spokesperson tweeted that the Council“welcomed Spain’s decision to provide humanitarian support, and said other European governments needed to show more solidarity.
reuters.com, politico.eu

Fake news law on the back-burner in France: The debate on the controversial draft law on fake news is set to continue in France but the law will not be adopted before July. The two texts on manipulation of information during electoral periods were debated at the French National Assembly on 7 June. But, MPs did not complete their examination of the numerous amendments put forward in the controversial text. The debate will probably continue during the extraordinary parliamentary session at the National Assembly in July. The main aim is for this text to be in force and tackle disinformation before the European elections in 2019. French President Emmanuel Macron and his German counterpart Angela Merkel have promised to present a joint reform proposal to their fellow EU leaders at the 28-29 June summit but differences in thinking threaten to derail the process.
euractiv.com, express.co.uk

Fight against judicial reform in Poland: Leading Polish intellectuals, including a former president, are speaking out against the country’s judicial reforms. Former Polish President Lech Walesa is outraged that Poland’s governing Law and Justice party (PiS) is gradually overhauling the country’s judicial system, despite fierce criticism from the EU. In a statement released last week, Walesa expressed deep concern over the crisis brought about by the far-reaching changes to Poland’s judiciary, and urged Brussels to take action. „I am asking the European Court of Justice to investigate the dramatic changes in the judiciary,“ he said. Walesa was a vocal supporter of the EU Commission triggering the Article 7 procedure — a mechanism to punish breaches of EU values — last year in response to Poland’s judicial reform.

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Debt fears are mounting in Finland: A nation that stood shoulder to shoulder with Germany during the European debt crisis in defence of austerity is growing increasingly worried about its own debt burden. Finnish Finance Minister Petteri Orpo said in an interview that his country must start paying down its record 125 billion dollars in central government debt before the window of opportunity to get the situation under control disappears. Finland has been a net borrower for the past ten years, with central government debt almost doubling since a low in 2008. Over that period, the Nordic nation lived through what policy makers dubbed „a lost decade“ as the decimation of key industries – paper and consumer electronics – erased 100,000 jobs in the Finnish economy.

Germany’s Social Democrats publish analysis of 2017 election debacle: The German SPD party has presented a 100-page list of reasons for the party’s crushing election loss last year. After taking only 20.5 percent of the vote, the Social Democratic Party is trying for a comeback. Barely a fifth of voters cast their ballots for the SPD last September, a humiliating result for Germany’s oldest political party, which still fancies itself the main rival to Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives. Not surprisingly, the report – commissioned by the party and written by a team of veteran journalists – doesn’t make for happy reading. The Social Democrats, the reports authors conclude, have been caught between traditional left-wing issues like increasing social equity and their centrist willingness to work together with Merkel’s conservatives in government. The party has consistently failed to develop and nurture its central issues in the long haul.

Italy: New prime minister Conte announces meeting with Germany’s Merkel handelsblatt.com
Germany: Government accused of blocking Anis Amri investigation dw.com
Greece: Supreme court rejects statistics chief’s appeal ft.com
Between Serbia and Bulgaria: Penka the Bulgarian cow reprieved after EU cross-border adventure dw.com


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


Train full of MEPs grinds to halt outside Strasbourg: European Parliament officials were stranded for hours on their way to Strasbourg on Monday after their train broke down. A Thalys train chartered by the institution to transport personnel broke down in rural France at around noon local time. Passengers were asked to leave the carriages and wait in a field along the tracks because the electricity and air ventilation system inside the train were shut down. In pictures sent to „Politico“, parliament officials can be seen checking their emails next to the train tracks as sheep graze in the background. The EU Parliament charters two trains each month to transport all officials from Brussels to Paris and then to Strasbourg for a plenary session. The exodus, dubbed the EU’s „travelling circus“, is the result of an agreement struck during the Edinburgh summit in 1992. Under the deal, committee and group meetings are held in Brussels but the 12 annual plenary sessions are held in Strasbourg.
politico.eu, telegraph.co.uk



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