Tuesday, 19 February 2019: MPs say Facebook intentionally violated data privacy laws, EU says repatriating Isis fighters is a national matter, MPs leave Labour Party in protest at Corbyn’s leadership, Eurosceptics set for big gains in EU elections


MPs say Facebook intentionally violated data privacy laws: Facebook needs stricter regulation, with tough action necessary to end the spread of disinformation on its platform, MPs said Monday. Lawmakers accused Facebook of violating data privacy and competition laws in a report on social media disinformation that also says CEO Mark Zuckerberg showed contempt toward parliament by not appearing before them. A Commons committee said that what was needed to deal with the proliferation of disinformation online and the misuse of personal data was a radical shift in the balance of power between social media platforms and the people. It concluded that Zuckerberg failed to show leadership or personal responsibility over fake news. A cache of documents reviewed by the committee, some of which include correspondence between Zuckerberg and company executives, stem from a lawsuit filed in California against Facebook. The company welcomed the digital select committee’s report and said it would be open to meaningful regulation.
bbc.com, cnn.com

Ireland frustrated over Brexit deal delay: Ireland is spending hundreds of millions of euros on preparing for a no-deal Brexit, which would be a „crazy outcome“ of three years of EU-UK negotiations, Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Monday. He said Ireland wanted a solution and that there was indeed frustration. Coveney warned that there were less than 40 days to go to UK formally leaving the EU and Ireland still didn’t know what the British government was actually asking for to get this deal ratified. He said the EU wanted to find ways to help UK parliamentary ratification of the Brexit deal but that the lawmakers’ asks needed to be reasonable. Coveney, who held meetings with both the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier and British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt in Brussels on Monday, called for Downing Street to bring some sense to the negotiations. Coveney also confronted Hunt over alleged British attempts to isolate Ireland from its EU partners.
reuters.com, theguardian.com

Huawei risk can be managed, say UK cyber-security chiefs: Any risk posed by involving the Chinese technology giant in UK telecoms projects can be managed, cyber-security chiefs have determined. The UK’s National Cyber Security Centre’s decision undermines US efforts to persuade its allies to ban Huawei from 5G communications networks. The Chinese government is accused of using Huawei as a proxy so it can spy on rival nations. Most of the UK’s mobile companies – Vodafone, EE and Three – have been working with Huawei on developing their 5G networks. They are waiting on a government review, due in March or April, that will decide whether they can use Huawei technology. The conclusion by the National Cyber Security Centre will feed into the review.

Labour: Angela Smith apologises for „funny tinge“ remark theguardian.com
Charity: Anti-Muslim prejudice has replaced immigration as the key driver of far-right movements bbc.com
„Prison isn’t working“: David Gauke calls for end to short jail terms theguardian.com
Recycling: Government backs campaign for recycling bases in Pakistan theguardian.com


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EU says repatriating Isis fighters is a national matter: European leaders have expressed skepticism Monday about their willingness to cooperate with a request by US President Donald Trump to bring home citizens who went to fight with Isis in Syria. The European Union said decisions on possible repatriations and prosecutions of foreign fighters were a matter for national governments. Germany has pledged to put its foreign fighters on trial, but warned their repatriation would be extremely difficult, while France said it would not act for now on Trump’s call but would take militants back case by case. It was surely not as easy as imagined in America, said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who said Germany is discussing the issue with France, Britain and other European countries. The US request was difficult to implement right now, he said, because Germany cannot yet guarantee that all returning fighters would be taken into custody immediately while cases were prepared against them.
washingtonpost.com, theguardian.com, dw.com

MPs leave Labour Party in protest at Corbyn’s leadership: Seven MPs have resigned from Labour in protest at party leader Jeremy Corbyn’s approach to Brexit and antisemitism. Lawmaker Luciana Berger said the group would sit in the UK Parliament as a new batch of MPs, known as „The Independent Group.“ She cited the party leadership’s failure to address racism against Jewish people as her main reason for leaving as well as an ongoing culture of bullying. Meanwhile, four cabinet ministers have demanded the prime minister stop using the threat of a no-deal Brexit as a negotiating tactic, telling Theresa May that businesses and manufacturers now needed to be given certainty. Porsche is warning its customers in the UK that the price of cars delivered after Brexit may increase by up to 10%. Honda is planning to close its factory in Swindon.
bbc.com, cnbc.com (Labour); theguardian.com (Cabinet ministers); fortune.com (Porsche); theguardian.com (Honda)

Eurosceptics set for big gains in EU elections: The centre-right is set to remain the biggest group in the EU legislature after elections in May, according to a survey by the European Parliament. While traditional parties are set to retain a dominance that would allow a continuation of the broad centrist majority coalition that has tended to support legislation from the EU executive, gains of about 40% for radicals on the right may introduce more policy uncertainty. Italian far right party the League is expected to see the biggest increase in its MEPs, become the second largest national party overall, following German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union. Nevertheless the polls show that most Europeans (68%) believe that EU membership of their country is a good idea. A sign that citizens still want the EU but with a more national approach.
cnbc.com, euronews.com

EU states condemn Venezuela’s expulsion of fact-finding team: The foreign ministers of France and Spain have condemned the Venezuelan government’s decision to expel a group of EU lawmakers who had travelled there on a fact-finding mission and wanted to meet with self-appointed interim president Juan Guaido. The group had received an invitation from the National Assembly and had been due to hold a meeting with Guaido. Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell and France’s Jean-Yves Le Drian protested in Brussels at the decision by Nicolas Maduro’s government to expel the MEPs. Borrell said he was in contact with the Spanish ambassador in Caracas, who had made all possible arrangements with Venezuela’s foreign ministry to request and facilitate the entry of the parliamentarians. Borrell said he hoped a technical mission sent to Venezuela by the international contact group sponsored by the EU would be able to enter the country later this week, as scheduled, to meet with all the parties in the crisis-hit country.

Climate: EU ministers call climate change „direct and existential threat“ euronews.com
AI: European Coordinated Plan on Artificial Intelligence consilium.europa.eu
Banks: ECB to assess health of bank credit as funding question looms reuters.com
Fear of Turkish invasion: Syrian Kurds ask Europe for protection n-tv.de


Trump gave me his word that there won’t be any car tariffs for the time being.
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Monday he believed that US President Donald Trump would keep his word not to impose any tariffs on European cars and car parts for now.


Visegrad summit cancelled after Poland row: The Visegrad Group of four central European countries have cancelled their meeting in Israel after Poland pulled out in protest against an Israeli minister’s comments about alleged Polish collaboration during the Holocaust. The leaders of the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary would instead hold separate meetings with Israeli leaders later this week, a spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry said on Monday. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki had cancelled plans to travel to the summit because of remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Warsaw last week about the role of Poles in the Holocaust. Polish leaders expressed outrage after he was reported as saying that the Poles cooperated with the Germans during the Holocaust.
dw.com, politico.eu

Germany in talks for joint arms exports agreement with France: Berlin and Paris are in talks on common defence exports licensing procedures, a German government spokesman said on Monday. The German „Spiegel“ magazine on Friday reported that Germany and France had signed a defence agreement in January which aims for regulation of arms exports to third countries. Government spokesman Steffen Seibert said during a regular news conference it was true that Germany and France were in talks on the question of arms exports.

German parliament president calls for EU reform: Former German finance minister and current parliament president Wolfgang Schäuble has called for giving the EU more clout to set finance policy and ending the unanimity requirement in EU-wide decision-making. The call by Schäuble, who was the face of Germany’s push for indebted EU countries to pass stringent austerity measures, comes amid a debate between Germany and France about how far EU finance reforms should go. He said the EU needed a common budget; it needs to bundle revenues and more finance policy competencies before member states agree to create the post of EU finance minister. Only once EU member states agree to these changes would the post make sense.

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Hungarian opposition boycotts parliamentary session: An entire faction of Hungarian opposition lawmakers walked out of parliament on Monday to protest new labour legislation. All parliamentary parties in the opposition joined the boycott against the new so-called „slave law“, after the government pushed through the law to increase overtime hours that may force some employees to work the equivalent of six days a week. The opposition parties said they planned to protest against the alleged unfair dismissal of a trade union organiser at Suzuki’s factory in the city of Esztergom, and highlight the situation of ordinary Hungarian workers.
bloomberg.com, spiegel.de

Spain: Polls point to unpredictable election outcome reuters.com
France: Government set for grand debate on Twitch politico.eu
Italy: Credibility of Catholic church at stake in sexual abuse summit theguardian.com


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Swedish woman fined for anti-deportation protest: A district court in Gothenburg, Sweden has sentenced Elin Ersson to a 3,000 kronor (€287) fine for refusing to take her seat on a flight in a bid to stop the deportation of an Afghan man. Ersson had broadcast her protest on Facebook from the Turkish Airlines plane, which was bound for Istanbul, Turkey, from Gothenburg, Sweden. She was charged with violating Swedish aviation laws by disobeying orders from aircraft personnel. Ersson and the Afghan man eventually disembarked the plane, though the man was later deported to Afghanistan.
dw.com, bbc.com



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