Wednesday, 07 March 2018: EU agrees first defence projects, Greece calls on EU to help free soldiers arrested in Turkey, Former Russian spy critically ill in Britain

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

EU agrees first defence projects: A group of European Union countries agreed on Tuesday to develop their first joint defence projects under a pact that excludes Britain, giving London a taste of life outside the bloc’s foreign policy decision-making process. Defence ministers from the pact’s signatory states, which comprise all but three of the current EU members, signed off in Brussels on 17 collaborative projects. These include a European armoured infantry fighting vehicle, underwater anti-mine sensors and a European medical command. The eventual aim of the Permanent Structured Cooperation pact is to develop and deploy forces together, backed by a multi-billion-euro fund for defence research and development that is now under negotiation.
reuters.com

Greece calls on EU to help free soldiers arrested in Turkey: Greece is calling on the EU and others to help secure the release of two of its soldiers arrested in Turkey last week. Athens says the pair had been on a border patrol, when they strayed because of bad weather. Greek Defence Minister Panos Kamenos said on Tuesday that he had issued a formal complaint to the European Commission and Nato over the detention of the soldiers. Kamenos said he hoped that raising the issue with Nato, of which both Greece and Turkey are members, would put further pressure on Ankara to release the servicemen. The incident has further strained relations between Greece and Turkey, who have several longstanding disputes, from the division of Cyprus, to maritime boundaries and commercial rights.
dw.com, euronews.com

EU prepares retaliation on US steel tariffs: The EU will unveil possible countermeasures against US president Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminium on Wednesday, amid the threat of a global trade war. Trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem will brief press on Wednesday on the EU’s three-pronged response, which includes billions of euros of tariffs on US agriculture, steel, and industrial products. The two US companies Harley Davidson and Levi Strauss & Co have criticised the possible punitive tariffs that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker wants to introduce on their products.
euobserver.com

EU tax haven blacklist set to shrink further: EU states are set to remove Bahrain, the Marshall Islands and Saint Lucia from a list of tax havens next week, leaving only six jurisdictions on it, an EU document shows. The planned removals from the EU list drew criticism from an anti-corruption watchdog on Tuesday. The decision is also likely to bring more disapproval from lawmakers and activists. The latest decision was taken by the EU Code of Conduct Group, which includes tax experts from the 28 member states. EU finance ministers are expected to endorse the proposal at their regular monthly meeting in Brussels on March 13.
reuters.com

German far-right AfD politicians travel to Syria: Parliamentarians with the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) are traveling around Syria in an unusual trip this week in hopes of boosting the party’s efforts to send back half a million Syrian refugees currently living in Germany. A Russian military transport plane carrying 33 passengers and six crew members crashed on landing at an air base in Syria on Tuesday, killing all on board. Meanwhile, shelling near the rebel-held eastern suburbs of Damascus killed dozens of people over the past 24 hours as President Bashar Assad’s government, supported by the Russian military, pushed its assault on the capital’s rebel-held suburbs. At least 1,000 children have been killed and injured across Syria so far this year according to the UN.
dw.com, bloomberg.com, nytimes.com, theguardian.com

Transparency International: „Golden Visa“ – Passport trade makes the EU vulnerable to corruption handelsblatt.com
ECJ: Hungary may not remove land use rights of foreigners handelsblatt.com

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

It is time to stand up to the bullies of Mr. Orban’s ilk.
The UN human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein said Tuesday he was standing by every single word of his criticism against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, after calling him a racist and xenophobe last month.
abcnews.go.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Former Russian spy critically ill in Britain: British investigators are trying to figure out what sickened a former Russian spy who’s now fighting for his life, and counter terrorism police have taken over the investigation. Sergei Skripal is a former Russian army colonel and spy who moved to the UK in 2010. On Tuesday, he and his daughter were in a Salisbury hospital, critically ill after exposure to what police say is a so far unknown substance. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said the UK would respond appropriately and robustly if the Russian state is found to have been involved in poisoning the former Russian double agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter Yulia. Johnson said he was not yet pointing fingers at the Kremlin, but adding that there were echoes of the death of Alexander Litvinenko in 2006.
cbsnews.com, theguardian.com

France to get thousands of jobs due to Brexit: Several thousands jobs will probably be relocated to Paris as a result of Britain’s decision to leave the EU, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Tuesday during a visit to London. The French government has been actively seeking to convince banks to move jobs to Paris and introducing incentives like tax breaks and pledges to open more English language schools for bankers‘ children. Meanwhile, France will build thousands of new jail cells and use electronic tagging more widely under reforms being pursued by President Emmanuel Macron to remedy some of the worst prison overcrowding in Europe and protests by wardens over violence.
nytimes.com (Brexit), reuters.com (Macron)

Hackers used Outlook for cyberattack on German government: Hackers who broke into a German government network gained access by burying hidden coded instructions into emails which they sent to staffers’ Microsoft Outlook inboxes, daily „Süddeutsche Zeitung“ reported Tuesday. According to security sources cited by the newspaper, hackers first infected a series of target computers with a form of malware, or malicious software. The software, which lay dormant on the computers, was then activated via an email with an attachment that Outlook opened automatically. Inside the attachment there was a hidden line of code that activated the malware, which could then transfer data in and out of the network.
politico.eu

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Romanian President Iohannis being considered as Tusk’s replacement: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis is being considered as a possible replacement for European Council President Donald Tusk when his term expires in December 2019, according to local media reports. The Romanian President is expected to run for re-election in November 2019, although he has not signalled his intentions yet. The outcome of the 2019 European Parliament elections will weigh heavily in the final decision.
euractiv.com

After election: As one EU headache subsides in Germany, another starts in Italy theguardian.com
Poland: Parliament staffs judicial council with pro-government candidates zeit.de

⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃

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)

⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃

Trump’s golf courses ordered markers emblazoned with presidential seal: The „Trump Organization“ has ordered a set of golf course markers emblazoned with the presidential seal, raising questions about whether its use of them is illegal, according to a new report. The company has ordered dozens of round replicas of the seal to be placed next to the tee boxes at Trump golf courses, news site „ProPublica“ said after reviewing an order form obtained by WYNC. Under federal law, the seal of the president can only be used for official government purposes. Using the seal or any facsimile thereof outside of official business is a crime punishable with a fine and up to six months of jail time.
fortune.com
 

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