Tuesday, 15 October 2019: UK government sets out priorities in Queen’s speech, EU avoids arms embargo on Turkey, EU approves German loan for Thomas Cook airline Condor, Clashes in Barcelona over Catalan separatist leaders’ prison terms


UK government sets out priorities in Queen’s speech: The British government set out its agenda in a Queen’s Speech on Monday, reaffirming its commitment to leaving the EU on 31 October and boosting spending on police, education and health. Boris Johnson’s government wants to remove the Irish backstop and implement a new protocol to ensure no return to a hard border between the British province of Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland. The government will also bring an end to free movement in UK law, to ensure that it can deliver a new points-based immigration system from 2021. Other key elements of the speech included plans for tougher jail sentences and controversial proposals to oblige people to show photographic ID before they are allowed to vote. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn strongly condemned plans to require voters to present photo ID at polling stations, calling them clearly discriminatory.
reuters.com, bbc.com, theguardian.com, theguardian.com

Man jailed for life over parliament car ramming: A British man was sentenced to life in prison on Monday for a car ramming attack outside the parliament in August last year in which three people were injured. The man had argued that the incident was an accident, but a judge at the Old Bailey found that the offence had a terrorist connection and gave him a life sentence with a minimum of 15 years. According to police, the man circled Parliament Square four times to reconnoiter the area before veering onto the wrong side of the road, hitting a jogger and accelerating into a group of 14 cyclists at a crossing. He then drove at two police officers, who jumped out of the way, and ended up crashing into barriers, where he was quickly arrested.
dw.com, uk.reuters.com

Climate change activists target BlackRock in London: Activists targeted the world’s biggest asset manager BlackRock on Monday, demanding that major financial institutions starve fossil fuel companies of the money they need to build new mines, wells and pipelines. At BlackRock, volunteers glued themselves to the doors while others staged a mock dinner party with rolled-up banknotes on their plates. Police said they arrested more than 90 people.

Brexit: Corbyn aides warn against pre-election referendum bbc.com
Confederation of British Industry: Labour’s nationalisation price tag would start at £196bn bbc.com
Scottish National party (SNP): Several women close to quitting SNP over gender recognition plans theguardian.com
Liberal Democrats: Lib Dem staffer apologises for saying Labour’s Dawn Butler lied about racism theguardian.com


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EU avoids arms embargo on Turkey: EU foreign ministers have condemned Turkey’s military intervention in northeastern Syria but stopped short of agreeing on an EU-wide arms embargo. The EU warned Monday that Turkey’s military action undermined the stability and the security of the whole region, resulting in more civilians suffering and further displacement. Germany and France, along with Sweden, Finland, and the Netherlands, have halted arms exports to Turkey. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said it was important to stay in dialogue with Turkey. France announced it was taking measures to ensure the safety of its military and civilian personnel in northeastern Syria. Syrian troops have begun sweeping into Kurdish-held territory on a collision course with Turkish forces and their allies, a day after the beleaguered Kurds agreed to hand over key cities to Damascus in exchange for protection. Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has welcomed a US move to withdraw some 1,000 troops from northern Syria. US President Donald Trump on Monday ordered new sanctions on Turkey.
dw.com (EU); reuters.com (France); theguardian.com (Syrian troops); reuters.com (Erdogan); nbcnews.com (Trump)

EU approves German loan for Thomas Cook airline Condor: The EU Commission has approved a 380-million-euro German bridging loan to Thomas Cook’s German airline Condor. Condor applied for the loan last month to tide it through the winter after British-based Thomas Cook ceased operations. The loan will be paid out in instalments under stringent conditions. In particular, Condor has to demonstrate its liquidity needs on a weekly basis and new instalments will only be paid when all existing liquidity has been used. The loan will either have to be repaid after six months or Condor will have to be restructured to ensure its long-term viability.
europa.eu, uk.reuters.com, washingtonpost.com

Kövesi confirmed as first European chief prosecutor: The Council of the EU has agreed to the appointment of Laura Codruta Kövesi to be the first European chief prosecutor. Kövesi is currently prosecutor within the Prosecutor’s Office attached to the High Court of Cassation and Justice of Romania. As European chief prosecutor, Kövesi will organise the work of the EU Public Prosecutor’s Office and represent the office in contacts with EU institutions, member states and third countries.

Plans to keep EU budget funding in 2020 in the event of a no-deal Brexit: British researchers, students and farmers will continue to get EU support in the event of a no-deal Brexit, under provisions adopted by the EU Parliament’s Budgets Committee on Monday. The aim is to minimise any negative impact of the UK’s withdrawal for beneficiaries of EU funding and for the EU budget in the case of a no-deal scenario.

EU to challenge Colombia at WTO to protect Belgian fries: The EU will file a complaint at the World Trade Organisation against Colombia over its tariffs on European fries. Colombia last year imposed anti-dumping tariffs on frozen fries from Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, arguing the EU was exporting its potato chips below the real cost of production. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the move was completely unjustified and harmful to European companies and that she had instructed EU trade officials on Monday to launch a WTO challenge.
politico.eu, reuters.com

EU Commission: French President Macron met with Commission President-elect von der Leyen after rejection of France’s candidate for the Commission euractiv.com
Chemical weapons: Council renews EU sanctions regime for one year consilium.europa.eu
Thailand: EU to broaden its engagement following elections consilium.europa.eu
Nicaragua: EU adopts conclusions and a framework for targeted sanctions consilium.europa.eu
European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights: Antisemitism on the rise in the EU dw.com


My government plans to work toward a new partnership with the European Union, based on free trade and friendly cooperation.
Britain’s Queen Elizabeth has set out Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit agenda.


Clashes in Barcelona over Catalan separatist leaders’ prison terms: Protests erupted in Barcelona on Monday after Spain’s Supreme Court imposed prison sentences ranging from nine to 13 years on nine Catalan separatist leaders. Large crowds of pro-independence protesters clashed with police at Barcelona’s international airport. Footage showed people attempting to break through a police line blocking one area of the building, while in another, officers hit protesters with batons and attempted to disperse the crowds with gas. The Spanish court had found nine of the 12 Catalan politicians and activists guilty of sedition. Four of them were additionally convicted of misuse of public funds. The other three were fined for disobedience. The court barred all of them from holding public office. After the ruling, a new arrest warrant was issued for former Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who is living abroad.
bbc.com, theguardian.com, cbsnews.com

Hungary’s opposition wins Budapest election: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has suffered his first electoral blow since coming to power in 2010, with an opposition candidate scoring a shock win in the Budapest mayoral race. Pro-European centre-left challenger Gergely Karacsony led by 51% of the vote ahead of the incumbent Istvan Tarlos, who is backed by Orban’s right-wing Fidesz party.

Poland’s PiS can govern alone: Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party won 43.6% of votes in Sunday’s parliamentary election, the Polish Electoral Commission said on Monday, citing its final count of votes. The PiS won just under 44% of Sunday’s vote for the lower house, securing 235 seats in the 460-seat assembly. The party has governed Poland since 2015 and is popular for its social conservatism and generous social spending.
nytimes.com, theguardian.com, time.com

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Five arrested over Paris knife attack: French police on Monday arrested five people linked to a knifeman who killed four colleagues at the Paris police headquarters earlier this month. The man, who had worked as a computer specialist, stabbed four colleagues to death before he was shot and killed. Investigators have said he had been in contact with supporters of Salafism, the ultra-conservative branch of Sunni Islam. One of the people arrested on Monday is the Imam Ahmed H. from the Paris suburb of Gonesse.
dw.com, bbc.com

Denmark to strip Isis fighters of citizenship: The Danish government wants to strip people with dual citizenship who have gone abroad to fight for militant groups like Isis of their Danish nationality. Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen warned Monday that there was a risk that the Kurdish-controlled Isis-camps in the border area will collapse and that foreign fighters with Danish citizenship will move toward Denmark. The proposed new law would allow the government to strip fighters abroad who also hold another nationality of their Danish citizenship without a court order.

Germany leaves 5G telecoms door open to Huawei: The German government will not exclude China’s Huawei Technologies from the build-out of 5G mobile networks. No single vendor will be barred in order to create a level playing field for equipment vendors, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Monday. According to German media reports, new rules will require network operators such as Deutsche Telekom, Vodafone and Telefonica Deutschland to identify and apply enhanced security standards to critical network elements. More broadly, vendors will be certified as trustworthy, giving customers legal recourse to exclude them and seek damages if proof is found that equipment had been used for spying or sabotage.

Ukraine: Protest against plan to allow elections in separatist-held parts of the country theguardian.com
Albania, North Macedonia and Serbia: Three countries agree mini Schengen in the Balkans euractiv.com
Austria: Prosecutor investigates Philippa Strache in FPÖ expense scandal zeit.de
Spain: Madrid ends low-emissions zone handelsblatt.com
Between Malta and Lampedusa: “Ocean Viking” seeks port for 176 rescued migrants faz.net


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


Trump supporters show video of fake shooting at conference: A macabre parody video, shown at a meeting of US President Donald Trump’s supporters at his Miami resort, depicts a likeness of the president shooting, stabbing and assaulting his political opponents and members of the news media in a so-called “Church of Fake News”. Targets include former US President Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton and representatives from the group “Black Lives Matter”, as well as several media outlets such as CNN and the “Washington Post”.
nytimes.com, cbsnews.com


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