Tuesday, 13 March 2018: EU extends Russia sanctions over Ukraine crisis, US commerce secretary to push EU to lower tariffs, Britain blames Russia for attack on former spy


EU extends Russia sanctions over Ukraine crisis: The European Union on Monday said it had extended sanctions against Russia, imposed over the annexation of Crimea and supporting rebels in eastern Ukraine, for another six months. The sanctions, including travel restrictions and asset freezes against 150 people and 38 companies, would be extended until Sept. 15, the European Council said. Those targeted are accused of actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. The EU and other Western countries say Russia has also been providing a lifeline to separatists in eastern Ukraine, where a conflict has killed more than 10,000 people since 2014.
reuters.com, washingtonpost.com

US commerce secretary to push EU to lower tariffs: US President Donald Trump is opening the door to tariff negotiations with the EU after exempting Canada and Mexico from new steel and aluminum duties. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will urge the EU to lower its trade barriers, Trump said on Monday, calling them unfair to US farmers and industry, a view the EU firmly rejects. Earlier Monday, a spokesman for the European Commission said it expects to be in contact with the US at several levels this week over steel and aluminum tariffs. The EU told Trump it won’t be cowed by his escalating protectionist rhetoric and talk of punitive tariffs.
cnbc.com, bloomberg.com, reuters.com

EU Parliament united against Selmayr promotion: With a unanimous vote, the European Parliament decided on Monday to launch a probe into a reported power grab within the European Commission. The task into how German Martin Selmayr, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s chief of staff, became the institution’s top administrator last month, has fallen into the lap of the parliament’s powerful budgetary control committee. The move was made before a heated debate at the parliement’s plenary session in Strasbourg between the EU commission and MEPs. Günther Oettinger, the German commissioner for human resources who was the commission’s representative in the chamber, was accused of treating MEPs as fools when he insisted the commission had done everything by the book.
theguardian.com, euobserver.com

French eurozone plans to hit German speed bump: The reform of the eurozone, an urgent project of European power houses France and Germany, might see some sudden roadblocks after all. On Monday finance ministers of the currency bloc gathered in Brussels to discuss further steps in preparation of the EU summit next week. But the new German government needs time to settle in, while complex projects such as a European banking union require extensive talks.

US warns if Security Council doesn’t act on Syria, it will: US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley warned on Monday that if the UN Security Council fails to act on Syria, Washington remained prepared to act, just as it did last year when it bombed a Syrian government air base over a deadly chemical weapons attack. Haley’s warning came as the United States asked the Security Council to demand an immediate 30-day ceasefire in Damascus and rebel-held eastern Ghouta. Over 900 children were killed in Syria’s protracted war in 2017, marking a 50 percent increase compared to the year before, Unicef said in report presented on Monday. The UN officials warn that 2018 numbers could be even worse.
reuters.com, dw.com

Study: Hard Brexit costs businesses 65 billion euros de.reuters.com
Creditors: Eurozone to unlock new loans to Greece, working on debt relief reuters.com


We are worried (about) the possibility of having a trade war between the United States and the EU because we believe that there will be only losers. We believe that protectionism is a dead end.
French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire has urged US President Donald Trump not to head down a dead end road of protectionism and warned of a damaging trade war over his new steel and aluminum tariffs.


Britain blames Russia for attack on former spy: British Prime Minister Theresa May said on Monday it was highly likely that Moscow was responsible for the poisoning in England of Russian former double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter using a military-grade nerve agent. May told parliament that either the Russian state was directly responsible for the poisoning or it had allowed the nerve agent to get into the hands of others. London has given Russia until the end of Tuesday to explain its use. British officials had identified the substance as being part of the Novichok group of nerve agents which were developed by the Soviet military during the 1970s and 1980s, May said.
reuters.com, nytimes.com

Row over new name for Front National: Marine Le Pen’s proposal to rebrand the far-right French party Front National as Rassemblement National has sparked a furious row over who owns the name. After Le Pen announced the proposed name on Sunday afternoon, Igor Kurek, the president of the “Rassemblement National”, fired off a furious letter to the FN leader on Twitter saying the far-right leader had no right to the name. Meanwhile, Front National founder Jean-Marie Le Pen believes his daughter Marine’s plan to rename the far-right party would be disastrous, he said in a radio interview on Monday. Jean-Marie Le Pen founded the party in 1972 and was succeeded by his daughter in 2011. He was expelled from the party for, among other reasons, stating repeatedly that the Holocaust was “a detail in history.”
theguardian.com, politico.eu

Jailed Catalan separatist makes new bid to run for office: Lawyers for Catalan secessionist Jordi Sanchez, who is being held in a Madrid jail, have made another request to Spain’s Supreme Court for him to be allowed to attend a plenary session in the northeastern region’s parliament. Separatist Catalan lawmakers want a vote on electing Sanchez as president of Catalonia, but the Supreme Court last week refused to free him. The appeal filed Monday asks for Sanchez to attend only the parliamentary session, not for his full release from preventive detention while a judge investigates whether he committed crimes related to a court-banned Catalan independence referendum last October.

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Renzi resigns as leader of Democratic party after poll defeat: Former Italian prime minister Matteo Renzi has formally resigned as leader of the Democratic party (PD) following its crushing defeat in this month’s parliamentary election. The newly appointed interim leader, Maurizio Martina, was quoted by the Italian news agency „Ansa“ as saying that the party intended to stick to Renzi’s plan to go into opposition and would not join any government.

Top procurement official quits German defence ministry: The senior official in charge of reforming Germany’s defence procurement processes is leaving her post, a setback for attempts to bring order to military buying after repeated cost overruns. Katrin Suder was appointed armaments state secretary in 2014. The change is a blow for Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who relied heavily on her to streamline and oversee a number of euro programmes, including the Airbus A400M military transporter. Suder was the chief architect of a series of changes in procurement processes aimed at making the process more transparent and insulating the German government from further massive cost overruns such as those seen on the A400M.

Slovakia: Minister resigns after protests at journalist’s murder theguardian.com
UK: Two taken to hospital after suspect package at British parliament cnbc.com


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)


Dangerous products in the EU: The EU Commission has released its annual report on the ‚Rapid Alert System‘ for dangerous products across 31 European countries. Many products for sale across the EU 28, Iceland, Norway and Switzerland are considered dangerous, from risk of injuries, to dangers of fire, chemical contamination or even choking. Toys, for example several models of the popular fidget spinners, cars and motorcycles, topped the list of dangerous products detected and removed from the market. In the 2017 Rapid Alert System report, toys accounted for 29 percent of all product alerts — the most of any category.
dw.com, europa.eu 


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