Tuesday, March 12th 2019: UK and EU agree changes to Brexit deal, EU to add ten countries to its blacklist of tax havens, US urges Germany to cut ties with Huawei

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

UK and EU agree changes to Brexit deal: British Prime Minister Theresa May has secured legally binding changes to her Brexit deal that mean the EU cannot trap the United Kingdom in the Irish backstop and a permanent customs union, her deputy, David Lidington, has said. May had struck the agreement after an 11th-hour dash to Strasbourg to meet EU leaders. The prime minister confirmed she would be opening the debate this Tuesday ahead of a vote on her Brexit deal, which must be agreed by the British parliament to come into force. If the deal does not pass, MPs will be granted a vote on Wednesday on whether to proceed to a no-deal Brexit and another on Thursday on whether to extend article 50. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has warned if the deal was voted down there would be no third chance.
theguardian.com, bbc.com

Moscovici expects populist breakthrough in EU Parliament election: EU Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici is expecting a populist breakthrough in the European elections. Given that the pro-European forces were weakened and did not work together, a populist win was the most likely scenario, Moscovici said in an interview on Monday. In addition, the French ex-minister excluded supporting his Socialist party. He criticized the Socialist election campaign as being unable to reach voters and having no clear strategy. Meanwhile, eurozone finance ministers withheld a disbursement of 750 million euros to Greece on Monday because the country has not yet completed all the agreed reforms. But Moscovici said Athens could get the money in April. He told reporters only three out of the 16 agreed reforms were still missing.
euronews.com, reuters.com

EU to add ten countries to its blacklist of tax havens: The European Union is expected to considerably expand its blacklist of tax havens on Tuesday, including Bermuda. The United Arab Emirates are also on the draft new list, but Italy and Estonia are opposing the listing of the emirates, a document seen by „Reuters“ shows. The 28-nation EU set up the blacklist after revelations of widespread tax avoidance schemes used by corporations and wealthy individuals to lower their tax bills. Blacklisted jurisdictions face reputational damage and stricter controls on their financial transactions with the EU, although no EU sanctions have yet been agreed by European states. Oxfam has criticized that some countries should be on the list but benefited from an automatic excemption. These countries include Cyprus, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, and the Netherlands.
politico.eu, reuters.com, oxfam.org

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Iranian human rights lawyer sentenced to prison: Pominent Iranian human rights lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh has been sentenced to seven years in prison after defending protesters against the Islamic Republic’s mandatory headscarves for women. Sotoudeh, who has represented opposition activists including women prosecuted for removing their mandatory head scarf, was arrested in June and charged with spying, spreading propaganda and insulting Iran’s supreme leader, her lawyer said. She was jailed in 2010 for spreading propaganda and conspiring to harm state security – charges she denied – and was released after serving half her six-year term. The EU Parliament has awarded her the Sakharov human rights prize. A young Iranian couple have been arrested after a marriage proposal in public. The police say the pair offended Islamic mores on public decency. Iraq and Iran signed several preliminary trade deals on Monday, as Iranian President Hassan Rouhani began his visit to Iraq.
reuters.com, independent.co.uk (Human rights lawyer); washingtonpost.com (Marriage proposal); reuters.com (Rouhani)

Algeria: President Bouteflika finally promises to stand down dw.com

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

Digital taxation is a global issue.
Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson is against plans for an EU-wide digital tax and instead called for regulation at the OECD level.
euractiv.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

US urges Germany to cut ties with Huawei: Berlin should bar Huawei from constructing Germany’s 5G network or risk losing access to US intelligence, according to a letter from US Ambassador Richard Grenell to the country’s economics minister Peter Altmaier, „The Wall Street Journal“ reported Monday. Grenell said in his letter that Chinese companies, under Chinese law, can be required to support China’s security agencies and that inspections of Huawei software could not ensure there were no vulnerabilities. The letter was sent Friday, the newspaper said. This would be the first time that the US has explicitly threatened consequences against a country for using the Huawei’s equipment, which has been the subject of heavy scrutiny from US intelligence agencies that say the company is intimately connected to the Chinese government and intelligence agencies.
wsj.com, cnbc.com, reuters.com

Spain’s Socialists seen winning election: Spain’s ruling Socialists would win 134 seats in the upcoming election due April 28th, though would fall short of a majority in the 350-seat parliament forcing it to seek allies to pass legislation, a poll showed on Monday. A coalition of right-wing parties would also not win enough seats to hold a majority, with the People’s Party taking 87 seats, Ciudadanos taking 38 seats and Vox holding another 36 seats. The conservative ABC newspaper writes that only a so-called „Frankenstein pact“ consisting of Socialists, Catalan independence advocates, the left Podemos and Basque nationalists together could reach an absolute majority.
reuters.com

China’s plans in Italy: Italy’s ruling League party gave hesitant backing on Monday to government plans to endorse China’s “Belt and Road” initiative, saying the venture had to boost local businesses and not threaten national security. The Belt and Road plan, championed by Chinese President Xi Jinping, aims to link China by sea and land with southeast and central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa, through an infrastructure network on the lines of the old Silk Road. A number of EU states have already signed memorandums of understanding with China, including Hungary, Greece and Poland. If Italy does likewise, it would be the first Group of Seven major industrialized nation to do so. Junior Trade Minister Michele Geraci, who has championed the China deal, said on Monday that Italy needed to convince Western allies that their fears over the planned accord were unfounded.
reuters.com

Orban meets Weber in Budapest: Manfred Weber, the lead candidate of the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) for the European elections, will visit Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Budapest this Tuesday, a Hungarian government spokesman announced on Monday. Weber will try to solve a dispute that has brought Orban to the brink of being kicked out of the EPP. The EPP leadership will decide next week how to deal with Orban’s ultra-nationalist Fidesz party in the future. Most recently, Fidesz had launched a controversial anti-Brussels campaign arousing the anger of fellow EPP parties.
euronews.com

France: Shock over video of police violence against “Yellow Vest” protester n-tv.de
Belgium: Turkish foreign ministry summons Belgium’s ambassador in Ankara reuters.com
Norway: Sovereign-wealth fund moves toward divesting from oil, gas stocks wsj.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 ⊃

Nearly 5,000 bankers in EU earn more than €1m a year: The number of bankers in the EU paid over a million euros a year rose in 2017 to nearly 5,000, according to data from the European Banking Authority (EBA). The higher earners were predominantly based in Britain, totaling 3,567 in 2017. Germany had 390, Italy 201, France 233, and Spain 161. Even though the EU capped bonuses from 2014 to no more than basic salary, or twice that amount with shareholder approval, across Europe, 4,859 bankers were paid more than €1m in 2017, an 42% increase on 2010. As Britain is due to leave the EU at the end of this month some highly paid bankers are expected to move from London to staff new hubs on the continent.
reuters.com, theguardian.com

 

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