Tuesday, 17 September 2019: Supreme court to hear claims parliament suspension is unlawful, Trump blames Iran for attacks in Saudi Arabia, No results after Johnson-Juncker meeting, EU braces for US tariffs


Supreme court to hear claims parliament suspension is unlawful: This Tuesday, the UK’s highest court will hear the claim that Prime Minister Boris Johnson acted unlawfully in advising the Queen to suspend parliament for five weeks. Johnson announced in August that he had asked Queen Elizabeth to prorogue parliament for five weeks to allow him to introduce a new legislative agenda. Opponents said the real reason was to stifle debate over the Brexit crisis. Scotland’s highest court ruled last Wednesday that the suspension was unlawful.
theguardian.com, uk.reuters.com

UK apologises for Saudi military sales: International trade secretary Liz Truss has apologised to a court for breaches of a pledge not to licence exports to Saudi Arabia that could be used in the Yemen conflict. Truss said the granting of licences for £435,000 of radio spares and a £200 air cooler for the Royal Saudi Land Forces had been inadvertent. She said an internal investigation had been launched to establish whether other licences had been issued against the assurances to the court or Parliament, and to ensure there could be no further breaches.

Gibraltar to hold general election on eve of Brexit: Gibraltar’s chief minister Fabian Picardo on Monday dissolved parliament and called a general election next month, saying the territory needed strong leadership ahead of Brexit. He called for the vote to be held on 17 October to ensure a strong government was in place to tackle the fallout from Brexit. The UK decision to leave the EU has revived controversy over Spain’s long-standing claim to the territory, although it will not change the status of Gibraltar.

Liberal Democrat conference 2019: Jo Swinson to close Lib Dem conference with rallying cry over Brexit theguardian.com
Burqa comments: Government’s chief adviser on extremism criticises language used by Johnson to describe Muslim women theguardian.com


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Trump blames Iran for attacks in Saudi Arabia: US President Donald Trump said Monday that Iran appeared to have been responsible for the weekend drone strikes against Saudi Arabian oil facilities. But he also said he would like to avoid a military conflict with Iran. Yemen’s Houthi rebels said they were responsible for the attack, but a spokesperson for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen said Iranian weapons were used in the attack. Investigations are ongoing to determine the source of the attack. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany was working with its partners to find out who carried out the drone strikes, adding the incidents posed a danger of the situation escalating further. Russia cautioned against blaming Iran, saying that jumping to conclusions was counterproductive. Iran’s Revolutionary Guard have reportedly seized an oil tanker en route to the United Arab Emirates for allegedly smuggling 250,000 litres of diesel fuel.
nytimes.com, cnn.com, reuters.com, washingtonpost.com (Saudi Arabia); euronews.com (Tanker)

No results after Johnson-Juncker meeting: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Monday to take stock of the ongoing Brexit talks between the EU and the UK and to discuss the next steps. After their meeting, Juncker said there were no new results as he recalled that it is the UK’s responsibility to come forward with solutions that are compatible with the withdrawal agreement. Juncker said no such proposals had yet been made. Johnson has said that he would rather take Britain out of the EU without an agreement than use the agreement drafted with his predecessor Theresa May. Johnson was booed by people in the crowd outside as he left his lunch with Juncker. Johnson failed to turn up to his own press conference, instead speaking to British broadcasters at the residence of his country’s ambassador.
theguardian.com, nytimes.com, independent.co.uk

Germany wants to limit EU spending: Germany will take a frugal position in negotiations on the EU’s long-term budget plan in a bid to limit spending from 2021. According to “Reuters”, the German government will conduct budget negotiations on the basis of 1% of the EU’s Gross National Income (GNI). Brexit is apparently a major factor in Germany’s position. The German government has not said publicly what level of spending it planned to support.
politico.eu, reuters.com

EU braces for US tariffs: EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström expects the United States to impose new tariffs on European exports over the EU’s subsidies to Airbus. She cited the Trump administration’s unwillingness to settle the long-running commercial dispute over aircraft manufacturers. The World Trade Organisation WTO has found that both European airplane manufacturer Airbus and its US rival Boeing received billions of dollars of harmful subsidies. A panel of WTO arbiters on Friday said the US can legally impose tariffs on an array of European exports in retaliation for Europe violating WTO rules barring government subsidies.
wsj.com, reuters.com, fortune.com

Migration: Germany promises support for Greece de.euronews.com
Back taxes: Apple takes fight against 13-billion-euro EU tax order to court reuters.com


We cannot and must not let others take our language away from us: This is also part of who we are.
Soon-to-be president of the EU Commission Ursula von der Leyen has defended the job description “Protecting our European Way of Life” for her new migration commissioner.


Greece wants to repay IMF loans early: The Greek government has asked its European creditors to approve the early repayment of part of its bailout loans from the International Monetary Fund IMF. Finance Minister Christos Staikouras said paying off the loans ahead of schedule would reduce debt servicing costs by about 70 million euros. He said the average annual interest rate of the IMF loans is 4.9%, while the country can currently borrow raise money much cheaper in the markets.

Italian officers to stand trial over shipwreck: An Italian court ruled Monday that two Italian officers accused of delaying the response to a 2013 shipwreck will stand trial for manslaughter. Images and recordings from the tragedy were made public in a 2017 documentary. In the recordings, migrants can be heard appealing to Italian officials, but they ordered them to call Malta instead. Italian prosecutors on Monday ordered the arrest of three people suspected of torturing migrants in a detention centre in north-west Libya.
france24.com (Officers); reuters.com (Torture)

German discounter Aldi to expand in UK: German discount supermarket group Aldi plans to pump one billion pounds into the UK market. Aldi said it planned to open more than 100 UK stores by 2021, creating some 5,000 jobs. By the end of 2025 Aldi plans for 1,200 sites in Britain. Aldi has been clear that Brexit won’t change its expansion plans: Aldi UK and Ireland CEO Giles Hurley said Aldi was better placed for a disorderly Brexit than rivals because it has a much smaller range of products, while 75% of what it sells comes from British-based suppliers and manufacturers.
uk.reuters.com, dw.com, bbc.com

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Germany’s Osram to accept AMS offer: German lighting group Osram advised shareholders to accept a takeover bid from Austrian sensor specialist AMS on Monday. AMS wants to combine its business with Osram’s to expand in the auto industry and supply manufacturers with sensors and lighting solutions for self-driving cars. It has said it would cut Osram jobs outside Germany and sell its digital business.

Netherlands: Dutch airline KLM faces new strike on Wednesday reuters.com
Norway: Norwegian Air’s bondholders back debt relief plan reuters.com


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Dispute over Viking treasure in Scotland: The Church of Scotland is suing for a share of a Viking treasure trove that was found by metal detectorist Derek McLennan in 2014. The National Museum of Scotland paid almost £2m for the items, which are due to tour Scotland in the next two years. The church said it was entitled to a share of the find, as the viking treasure was unearthed on land it owns in Dumfries and Galloway.


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