Tuesday, December 4th 2018: Ukraine calls up reservists, Finance ministers discuss euro reform, „Yellow Vest“ protesters cancel meeting with French government

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

Ukraine calls up reservists: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Monday announced a partial call-up of reservists for training amid tensions with Russia, saying the country needs to beef up its defenses to counter the threat of a Russian invasion. Some reservists will be summoned for training as part of martial law, while some military units will be redeployed to strengthen the nation’s defenses. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, dismissed Poroshenko’s claims as an attempt to foment tensions. German government spokesperson Steffen Seibert has reiterated that free naval traffic in the Sea of Azov must be guaranteed, while speaking at a press conference in Berlin on Monday. Seibert also criticized Putin’s statements that the current Ukrainian government did not want peace. German foreign minister Heiko Maas has said that Germany will not withdraw its political support for the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline with Russia. The Russian Prosecutor’s Office has filed charges against the 24 Ukrainian crew members that the Russian coast guard captured near the Kerch Strait. US President Donald Trump on Monday expressed hope that he and the presidents of China and Russia might jointly agree to scale back defense spending.
nytimes.com, reuters.com, politico.eu (Trump)

Finance ministers discuss euro reform: EU finance ministers have apparently agreed on key points for a reform of the eurozone. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday that there was a widening consensus about having a eurozone budget and strengthening the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), but there was still some opposition on the idea of stabilization. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said ministers will discuss the financial transaction tax, a proposal that so far has failed to gain traction. He announced that there was a joint German and French path prepared, about which the two countries would try to convince as many EU states as possible. France and Germany made a proposal last month for a joint budget that would help finance economic convergence among euro zone countries and could possibly be used to stabilize their economies when facing shocks not due to bad policies.
n-tv.de, bloomberg.com, nasdaq.com

Climate change a question of life and death, UN chief says: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres opened the climate summit in Poland by issuing a dramatic appeal to world leaders Monday to take the threat of global warming seriously and to act boldly to avert a catastrophic rise in temperatures before the end of the century. He called climate change the most important issue the world faces. Climate change is already causing difficulties for millions around the world whose homes and livelihoods are at risk from rising sea levels, drought and more powerful storms. Guterres called for a huge increase in ambitions during the two weeks of negotiations in Poland. He insisted on the need to focus efforts on five key economic areas: energy, cities, land use, water and industry. Governments need to embrace carbon pricing (i.e. charging emitters of CO2 for their emissions), eliminate harmful fossil fuel subsidies, and invest in clean technologies.
pbs.org, news.un.org

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One million people demand new Brexit referendum: Campaigners for a new referendum have handed in petitions carrying almost 1.5 million names to Downing Street, demanding the British public be given a final say on the outcome of Brexit. Pressure for a new referendum is increasing ahead of the vote that will come at the end of that debate next week, with Prime Minister Theresa May looking at a heavy personal defeat if MPs reject the deal she agreed with the EU. Anger over her deal increased on Monday, when the government published a legal paper confirming that under May’s plan, the UK will be indefinitely locked in to the controversial backstop arrangement. The attorney general, Geoffrey Cox, said it would not be in either side’s political interests to allow that to happen. The remarks, contained within a draft paper that leaked on Monday morning, emerged hours before Cox was scheduled to brief the Commons about his advice on the Brexit deal negotiated by May.
independent.co.uk (Petition), theguardian.com, bbc.com (Geoffrey Cox)

EU cracks down on geoblocking: Geoblocking is the common practice by online traders of denying customers from certain countries access to their websites. Usually, it’s fairly easy for sellers to identify a customer’s IP address and hence where they are located. In other cases, websites are accessible, but customers are automatically redirected to related online portals where goods and services are more expensive than for customers in the country where the seller is based. In theory, these restrictions should be banished from the EU as of Monday. The new anti-geoblocking regulation cracks down on companies discriminating against customers on the basis of which country they are in, dovetailing with the EU Commission’s e-commerce competition law sector enquiry and its Digital Single Market strategy.
dw.com

Trump wants his former lawyer to serve prison sentence: US President Donald Trump said Monday that he didn’t think a federal judge should afford his former longtime attorney Michael Cohen any leniency, saying that Cohen should serve a full and complete prison sentence. Trump’s comments were tweeted in response to reports that Cohen was hoping to avoid any time behind bars after pleading guilty in federal court last week to a new charge brought by special counsel Robert Mueller. Cohen pleaded guilty to a single count of making false statements to Congress about a project to build a Trump Tower in Moscow. Cohen lied to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence to minimize links between Trump and the Moscow project, and to give the false impression that the project had ended before the Iowa caucuses in February 2016. Meanwhile, former FBI Director James Comey will testify privately on Capitol Hill on Friday.
nbcnews.com (Cohen), politico.eu (Comey)

Summer and winter time: Time change to stop 2021 at the earliest handelsblatt.com
Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI): Eurozone factory growth stumbled again in November reuters.com
Migration pact: EU Commission calls on countries to approve UN migration pact faz.net

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

I cannot ask French farmers and workers to change their production habits to lead the ecological transition, only to sign trade agreements with countries that do not do the same.
French President Emmanuel Macron has warned that he will oppose a trade deal between the EU and Mercosur if Brazil’s incoming far-right president pulls his country out of the Paris Agreement.
euractiv.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

„Yellow Vest“ protesters cancel meeting with French government: The „Yellow Vests“ in France have canceled a Tuesday meeting with the government. On Sunday, the self-selected representatives said they could meet with Prime Minister Edouard Philippe, but on Monday they backed away after threats and protests from other „Yellow Vests“. French President Emmanuel Macron could introduce emergency tax cuts to quell the protests, Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire announced on Monday. He said tax cuts should be accelerated, and by consequence the pace of public spending cuts quickened, to foster greater prosperity for all citizens.
tagesspiegel.de, time.com, reuters.com

Far-right party succeeds in Spain: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez’s Socialist Party took a beating Sunday in an election in Andalusia that saw the far right party Vox win seats in one of the country’s regional parliaments for the first time in decades. The results spell difficulties ahead for Sanchez, who will face local, regional and European ballots next May — and who is also expected to call a snap general election sometime next year. The Socialist Party has ruled Andalusia for 36 years. It still won more than any other party – 33 seats – but not enough for a majority even with potential left-wing allies. The Vox party took 12 parliamentary seats in Andalusia on Sunday, beating expectations that it would win five. Tough on immigration, Vox could be a kingmaker in a coalition in Andalusia.
politico.eu, bbc.com

Italy budget compromise hopes: Italy’s borrowing costs tumbled to their lowest level in just over two months on Monday after two newspapers reported that Rome was negotiating with the EU to reduce its 2019 target for the budget deficit to 2.0% of GDP or even below. In response to a question about whether Italy is negotiating a reduction in the deficit-to-GDP ratio to 2.0% or 1.9% from a present target of 2.4%, „La Repubblica“ daily on Monday quoted Italian Finance Minister Giovanni Tria as saying: „Yes, these are the figures.“ Rome proposed running a 2.4% deficit next year, putting it on a collision course with Brussels, which had threatened to slap Italy with an excessive deficit procedure.
reuters.com, politico.eu

German cities get more funding for air quality: The German government agreed on Monday to provide additional funding to cities, in an effort to tackle air pollution linked to diesel vehicle emissions. The decision came after a meeting dubbed the Diesel Summit between Chancellor Angela Merkel and representatives from cities and municipalities. To address the issue, the German government established the „Cleaner Air“ program to cut emissions from municipal vehicles. The German automotive sector is also making a financial contribution. Executives from BMW, Daimler and Volkswagen have been called to talks with White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow on Tuesday. Last Friday, Madrid’s tough new vehicle emissions controls went into effect.
dw.com, reuters.com (White House), theverge.com (Madrid)

More jailed Catalan separatist leaders join hunger strike: Two more jailed Catalan separatist leaders awaiting trial for their role in the region’s failed bid to secede from Spain joined a hunger strike started two days ago by Jordi Sanchez and Jordi Turull to protest against their treatment by Spanish courts. After Catalonia declared independence last year, Madrid took direct control of the region and brought charges including misuse of public funds and rebellion against Catalan leaders, nine of whom are in jail awaiting trial. Two of the leaders in custody, Josep Rull and Joaquim Forn, released a statement saying they would join the hunger strike.
reuters.com

Luxembourg: Coalition agreement for government in Luxembourg n-tv.de
Greece: Greek government wants to avoid pension cuts handelsblatt.com

⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃

politjobs.eu: Alfa Fellowship Program seeks Young German, British, and American Leaders *** FTA seeks Regulatory Affairs Advisor (m/f) *** Bayer seeks Trainee (m/f) *** ISN seeks Advocacy Officer (m/f) *** Politico seeks Lobbying Reporter (m/f) *** EGEC seeks Trainee (m/f) *** Facebook seeks Public Policy Manager (m/f) *** Google seeks Public Policy and Government Relations Manager (m/f) *** DEKRA offers Internship (m/f) *** European Friends of Amernia seeks Communications and Media Engagement Officer (m/f) *** International Crisis Group seeks Analyst (m/f)
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)

⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃

Merkel’s cheat sheet amuses Australia: German Chancellor Angela Merkel came armed with a cheat sheet to identify Australia’s new prime minister Scott Morrison at the G20 summit. As the pair sat down together at the summit in Buenos Aires, cameras captured Merkel reading an apparent briefing note about Morrison while he was already sitting next to her. Many watching on from afar were amused, not least people in Australia. However, some pointed toward the incident as an embarrassing sign of the nation’s recent leadership chaos.
bbc.com, telegraph.co.uk

 

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