Tuesday, 19 June 2018: European Union and Australia launch trade negotiations, May’s Brexit laws rejected by parliament, Merkel to support Italy in tackling migration challenge


European Union and Australia launch trade negotiations: Amid an escalating global trade war, the European Union and Australia have officially launched negotiations over a trade deal. Cecilia Malmstrom, the EU’s trade commissioner, arrived in Canberra to conduct talks with the Australian government with a plan to boost trade in goods between the two parties by at least a third. Last year 48 billion euros worth of goods were exchanged between Australia and the EU. Malmström acknowledged Monday there would be difficult moments in trade talks with Australia, but predicted that a successful accord would be a counterblast to US President Donald Trump’s protectionism. At a time when Trump has backed away from free-trade deals and moved to impose tariffs on allies including the EU, Malmström said the deal would send a message to America. The new deal is expected to upgrade an existing agreement between the EU and Australia, which is governed by a 2008 partnership framework designed to reduce technical barriers to trade. It is expected to see the removal of customs duties and simpler procedures for product testing.
euronews.com, politico.eu, dw.com

May’s Brexit laws rejected by parliament: British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit plans were rejected by parliament’s upper chamber on Monday. Peers decided MPs should have to approve whatever the government decided to do next if there was no final agreement with the EU. Their amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill was backed by 354 votes to 235. It means the issue is sent back to the House of Commons for a debate on Wednesday, with the pro-EU camp still seeking compromise but warning they could collapse the government unless their demands are met. After an ill-judged election last year, May relies on the help of a deal with a small Northern Irish party to win votes in the Commons and can afford to lose no more than a handful of Conservative rebels if she is to avoid defeat.
reuters.com, bbc.com

Trump wades into German migration row: US President Donald Trump has attacked the German government’s approach to immigration, while also making some factually incorrect claims. Trump claimed that German Chancellor Angela Merkel was losing the support of the public over the migration issue. In reality, Merkel remains the country’s most popular politician. The US President also said that „Crime in Germany is way up“ before adding that there had been a „big mistake made all over Europe in allowing millions of people in who have so strongly and violently changed their culture!“ However, Germany recently reported the lowest crime figures in more than 25 years. The number of crimes fell almost 10 percent in 2017 over the previous year. A 22 percent reduction in non-German suspects was also noted. On Monday, the Trump administration defended its hardline immigration policy at the US-Mexico border as criticism mounted over detained immigrant parents being separated from their children. The UN human rights chief urged Washington to stop separating migrant children from their parents at the US border, describing the policy as „unconscionable“.
bbc.com, dw.com, nytimes.com, reuters.com, telegraph.co.uk

US denies being behind air strikes in Syria: Syrian state media said on Monday that US-led coalition aircraft had bombed a Syrian army position near the Iraqi border, causing deaths and injuries, but the US military denied it was responsible. Syrian state TV blamed the strike that targeted pro-regime forces and caused multiple casualties on the US-led coalition combating the terrorist group, but a spokesman for the coalition said there were no coalition strikes in the area near Abu Kamal. US officials have said that many pro-regime militias that are also aligned with Iran operate in the border area between Syria and Iraq. The area is some distance from Israel and Israeli jets would have had to overcome significant logistical hurdles to strike that area. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Russian President Vladimir Putin over the weekend, two of the key players in influencing Israel’s policy and actions over Syria.
reuters.com, cnn.com

European Asylum Support Office: Asylum applications in the EU fell by 44 percent in 2017 euronews.com
Russia’s annexation: European Union extends Crimea sanctions for a year dw.com
Vasiliauskas: ECB rate hike decision likely around autumn of 2019 reuters.com
Russia scandal: Trump ally Roger Stone reveals undisclosed meeting with a Russian national time.com


The Commission shares the view that only one European solution, one European agreement, can settle this issue.
The EU Commission has backed German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the migrant dispute in Germany and supported the bilateral solutions with individual EU countries that she has proposed.


Merkel to support Italy in tackling migration challenge: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Monday she wanted to support Italy in its efforts to reduce the number of migrants arriving on its shores. „Italy is one of the countries that is receiving a lot of refugees as a first arrival country,“ Merkel told reporters before talks with Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. She announced that Germany would support Italy in its call for solidarity, while expressing the hope that Germany would also be met with understanding when it comes to solidarity in Europe with the issues of migration. Merkel said her talks with Conte and other European leaders in coming weeks would focus on the question of how the EU could enable a stable government in Libya and how its coast guard could be better trained. Conte campaigned in Berlin for more EU support for the distribution of refugees in Europe. Italy wants to overcome the Dublin system, which requires an asylum application to be made and processed where a refugee arrives. Instead, Rome wants a solidary approach.
reuters.com, tagesschau.de

Macedonia name change deal with Greece leads to violent protests: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras agreed a deal with his Macedonian counterpart at the weekend under which Greece’s neighbor will be renamed “Republic of North Macedonia”, a formulation offering a chance to end a 27-year dispute with Skopje that has bedeviled the EU’s eastward expansion. For 27 years Greece has argued that by using the name Macedonia the country was laying claim to a northern Greek province of the same name. The deal to change the name was signed by two nations‘ foreign ministers on Greece’s northern border on Sunday, witnessed by the leaders of both countries. On Sunday, protestors in the Macedonian capital Skopje threw flares, rocks and bottles at police outside the national parliament and chanted „Macedonia, Macedonia.“ Officers responded with tear gas and flash grenades.
euronews.com, reuters.com

Macron’s eurozone reforms: When French President Emmanuel Macron laid out a sweeping vision for eurozone reform last September, he spoke of rebuilding Europe, with a common budget for the euro nations and a single minister to oversee it all. The proposals he will discuss when he sits down with German Chancellor Angela Merkel outside Berlin on Tuesday will be far less ambitious, with deep differences between the two European powerhouses. Macron and Merkel will discuss a separate budget for the 19 countries that share the single currency but much smaller than he wanted. Then there are gaps in opinion over a fund to calm bond markets in a crisis and a backstop for the banking system. The refugee question will partly hijack the annual Franco-German joint Cabinet meeting, which was originally meant to put the two leaders’ stamp of approval on a partial eurozone deal clinched by the countries’ finance ministers.
reuters.com, politico.eu

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Italy’s Salvini wants to compile register of Roma people: Italian authorities are to carry out a census of Roma people with a view to deporting those without papers, according to new Interior Minister Matteo Salvini. Salvini, head of the anti-immigration League party that is the junior party in Italy’s governing coalition, plans to order „a survey of Roma in Italy to find out who, how, how many“, he told a northern Italian TV station on Monday, saying the information would be collected in a register. Salvini has a long history of targeting Italy’s Roma population, which numbers an estimated 130,000-170,000, around half of whom are believed to be Italian citizens.
tagesspiegel.de, thelocal.it

Sweden: Several wounded in shooting in Malmo dw.com
Refugees: Half of Aquarius rescue boat migrants want to seek asylum in France politico.eu
European Capital of Culture: Bulgaria, an emerging tourist destination euronews.com
Spain: Government to remove Franco’s remains from mausoleum reuters.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)


When Germany plays „Navalny football“: It is a taboo in Russia to say the name of opposition politician Alexey Navalny on live television. But somehow, during Germany’s World Cup defeat by Mexico, Navalny’s name came up. Two commentators apparently had a small misunderstanding: At the 49-minute mark of the match at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, commentator Kirill Dementyev discussed when the German side might play „high-pressure football,“ using an adjective that is identical to Navalny’s last name and relatively rare in colloquial Russian. Fellow commentator Leonid Slutsky, a professional football coach, immediately followed up with a quip: „Navalny plays football?“ After a brief pause in which Dementyev failed to respond, Slutsky added: „Well, that would be interesting to see.“



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