⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃
Iran jails British Council worker for spying for the UK: Britain’s foreign ministry said it was very concerned at reports on Monday that Iran had sentenced an Iranian woman to ten years in prison for spying for Britain. A spokesman for Iran’s judiciary said on state television that the woman had been in charge of the Iran desk of the British Council, Britain’s cultural agency overseas. She had confessed to co-operating with British intelligence, he alleged. The spokesman did not identify the woman. But a relative named her as Aras Amiri, a London-based British Council employee who was detained in Iran in March 2018. The British Council is the UK’s international agency which works to foster cultural and educational links with Britain in more than 100 countries. Iran has a long history of jailing and harassing Iranians who work for British institutions.
uk.reuters.com, bbc.com, independent.co.uk
Hunt says UK should consider defence spending boost: The UK should consider decisively increasing defence spending after Brexit, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said. He told the Lord Mayor’s Banquet in London the threats facing the UK had changed markedly since the Cold War. He also said American ire at the level of defence funding in Europe was valid in the current climate. It was not sustainable to expect the US to spend 4% of its GDP on defence while other Nato allies spent between 1% and 2%. Hunt said any extra money should be spent on new capabilities and not simply plugging gaps.
Heidi Allen challenges Nigel Farage to live TV debate: Heidi Allen, the leader of the pro-remain Change UK party, has challenged the Brexit party leader, Nigel Farage, to a live TV debate before the European elections. Allen said she wanted to take on Farage so the British people could decide which new party’s vision they preferred. Farage has said the Labour Party was vulnerable in the most extraordinary way in Leave-voting areas in the north of England. He was speaking at a rally in Pontefract, West Yorkshire – part of Labour MP Yvette Cooper’s constituency – ahead of the European elections. Farage told the rally that the passion seemed even stronger in Labour Leave areas than in Conservative Leave areas. But Cooper said Farage’s no-deal Brexit stance was a threat to jobs.
Electoral reform: Tories trying to rig elections with compulsory voter ID, say opposition parties theguardian.com
House of Commons: Brexit impasse leads to longest UK parliament session since civil war theguardian.com
Domestic abuse: PM vows to end “postcode lottery” for victims bbc.com
Lucy’s Law: Puppy farm ban set to be confirmed bbc.com
⊂ JOB-BOARD UNITED KINGDOM ⊃
politjobs.uk: Association of Directors of Children’s Services seeks Policy Officer *** The Royal Society seeks Senior Policy Adviser (Education) *** ITV Cymru Wales seeks Public Affairs Manager *** Independent Age seeks Public Affairs Officer *** Dogs Trust seeks European Policy Advisor (Publish your job ad)
⊂ EUROPE ⊃
EU warns US not to start war with Iran: Top European Union officials told US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday to exercise maximum restraint in Washington’s standoff with Iran. EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and foreign ministers from leading EU countries delivered the message at a series of meetings after Pompeo made an unexpected visit to Brussels. Several ministers expressed fears that tension between the US and Tehran could flare into a military conflict. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt warned of a conflict erupting by accident and called for calm. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said he had made clear to Pompeo that Berlin is sticking to the international nuclear deal. Tensions have risen in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) amid the deployment of a growing number of US military assets to the Middle East, due to deteriorating relations with Iran. Four ships were targeted on Sunday near the strategic Emirati port of Fujairah, in what the UAE called a sabotage attack. Saudi Arabian Energy Minister Khalid al-Falih described the incident as a deliberate attempt to undermine the freedom of maritime navigation, and the security of oil supplies to consumers all over the world.
politico.eu, theguardian.com, cnn.com
China places higher tariffs on American goods: China is imposing new retaliatory tariffs on 60 billion dollars worth of US goods, days after the Trump administration said it would impose higher tariffs on 200 billion dollars in Chinese goods. The latest tit-for-tat exchange comes as trade talks have failed to yield a deal. China’s latest tariffs will take effect at the start of June, adding up to 25% to the cost of US goods that are covered by the new policy from China’s State Council Customs Tariff Commission. Big names like Boeing, Nike, Tesla, General Motors, Intel, and many others are all hugely dependent on the Chinese market. Apple partially blamed the trade war for a revenue decline in the first three months of 2019. US President Donald Trump announced on Monday that he will meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping at next month’s G-20 summit in Japan.
npr.org, cnn.com (China); politico.com (Trump)
EU threatens legal steps against Romania: The European Commission said on Monday it would take legal action against Romania unless it reversed measures that undermine the independence of its courts and the fight against corruption. New rules adopted by Romania’s parliament for reporting bribery risked creating a situation of de facto impunity for crimes, including corruption crimes, the Commission first vice president Frans Timmermans wrote in a letter. The Commission has already put Hungary and Poland under a special rule of law investigation, which could in theory lead to a suspension of their voting rights in the EU.
Facebook: Fake Italian accounts taken down ahead of EU election reuters.com
EU election: EU Justice Commissioner Jourova warns of Russian meddling dw.com
Guy Verhofstadt: “I don’t want a superstate” euronews.com
EU Commission: AB InBev fined 200 million euros for beer sales restrictions politico.eu
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“I stand for a Europe in which as much power as possible belongs to the people.”
Manfred Weber, the leading candidate of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) in the European election, said he was unconcerned by suggestions that EU leaders could nominate another person for EU Commission President even if his party wins this month’s election.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Sweden to reopen rape case against Assange: Swedish prosecutors have announced they are reopening an investigation into a rape allegation against WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Swedish Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Eva-Marie Persson said Monday that a European Arrest Warrant for Assange would be issued to request his extradition. Sweden’s prosecutors first ordered Assange’s arrest in 2010 after two women accused him of rape and molestation but discontinued the investigation after attempts by the British and Swedish to surrender him to Sweden failed. Assange claimed asylum in the Ecuadorian embassy in London in 2012. He was removed from the embassy by police last month after Ecuador withdrew his asylum status and subsequently sentenced to 50 weeks in jail in the UK for breaching his bail conditions. Assange is also charged in the United States with conspiracy to “commit computer intrusion” by helping former intelligence analyst Chelsea Manning with “cracking a password” to access classified documents.
Concern over Syrian war: Britain, Germany and France have called for an end to the military escalation in north western Syria, saying they were gravely concerned at recent violence which had led to the death of more than 120 civilians. The military escalation must stop, the joint statement from the three countries, issued by Britain’s Foreign Office, said. Airstrikes on population centres, indiscriminate bombardment, and use of barrel bombs as well as the targeting of civilian and humanitarian infrastructures, notably schools and health facilities, were blatant violations of international humanitarian law.
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Brexit drives firms to relocate to Germany: More foreign firms are relocating their operations to Germany than ever before, according to new figures by the economic development agency German Trade and Invest (GTAI). A record 2,062 foreign companies either set up shop or expanded their operations in Germany in 2018. GTAI credited Brexit as a likely reason, with a 38% increase in the number of British firms moving operations to Germany since the Brexit vote in June 2016. The largest number of investments in Germany came from the US. In second place was Switzerland, followed by China and the UK.
Hungary: US President Trump lauds Prime Minister Orban for tremendous job theguardian.com
Poland: Government cancels Israeli visit independent.co.uk
Italy: Interior Minister Salvini plans to fine NGO boats up to 5,500 euros per rescued migrant theguardian.com
Czech Republic: Protests over new Justice Minister Benesova enter third week reuters.com
⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃
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)
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Eight EU airports among world’s ten worst: Eight of the world’s ten worst airports are located in the European Union, according to a new survey. Airports in France, Malta, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, and the UK ranked among the world’s worst for on-time performance, services and shops. The ranking also crowned the best airport in the world, which was once again Qatar’s Hamad International, after the Middle East hub also won the accolade last year. Only three of the top ten are EU airports: Athens International placed third, dropping a spot since 2018, Gdansk ranked fifth, and Tenerife North Airport came in ninth.