⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Weber and Timmermans argue about CO2 tax: Three weeks before the European election, Manfred Weber, lead candidate of the mainstream conservative European People’s Party (EPP), and the Socialists and Democrats’ top candidate, Frans Timmermans, went head-to-head in a TV debate on Tuesday that included topics such as terrorism, climate change and how to engage young people. The candidates repeatedly clashed on how to combat climate change, with Timmermans accusing Weber’s EPP of being dinosaurs when it comes to the topic. Timmermans called for a CO2 tax, saying the next EU Commission President had to be responsible for climate protection. Weber spoke out against a CO2 tax. He said his focus would be on lobbying other continents such as China, the United States and Latin America to join the flight against climate change. Apart from the climate, the EU’s security and migration were hot topics during the 90-minute debate.
politico.eu, dpa-international.com, tagesspiegel.de
UK confirms participation in European election: The UK will take part in the European election on 23 May, Prime Minister Theresa May’s de facto deputy David Lidington announced on Tuesday. Efforts to reach a cross-party compromise and ratify a Brexit deal would not be concluded in time to avoid the vote. Under European law, as long as it is an EU member, the UK must have representation in the EU Parliament. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Monday that he would not support German politician Manfred Weber as the lead conservative candidate in the upcoming EU parliamentary elections. In response, the head of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives, Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, said she expected Orban’s party to leave the conservative European People’s Party (EPP). US President Donald Trump has invited Orban to the White House.
politico.eu (UK); dw.com (Orban); reuters.com (Trump)
US blocks declaration at Arctic talks: The United States has refused to sign an agreement on challenges in the Arctic due to discrepancies over climate change wording, diplomats said on Tuesday. A meeting of eight nations bordering the Arctic in Finland on Tuesday was supposed to frame a two-year agenda to balance the challenge of global warming with sustainable development of mineral wealth. But sources with knowledge of the discussions said the United States balked at signing a final declaration as it disagreed with wording that climate change was a serious threat to the Arctic. Instead, in a brief statement, ministers from the United States, Canada, Russia, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland repeated their commitment to sustainable development and the protection of the Arctic environment.
⊂ QUOTES ⊃
“I was wrong to be silent at an important moment.”
EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker thinks his biggest mistake as the EU’s chief executive was to listen to then British Prime Minister David Cameron’s request to stay silent while Brexit campaigners told lies ahead of Britain’s 2016 referendum.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Germany slams plan for Istanbul vote rerun: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has condemned an order by Turkey’s top election body to scrap the results of Istanbul’s mayoral election. Maas called the election body’s decision not transparent and incomprehensible. Who held the office of Istanbul’s mayor could only be decided by the will of the Turkish voters, the minister said in a statement. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the decision by Turkey’s electoral body raised serious concerns. Its justification had not been convincing. Green party politician Cem Özdemir said the election’s annulment had nothing to with with democracy, but rather proved that President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was a “bitter old man”, who had long passed the zenith of his power. An EU spokesperson called on Turkey’s electoral body to explain the controversial decision without delay.
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Millions of Germans have trouble reading and writing: Around 6.2 million adults in Germany can’t read or write properly in German, according to a literacy study unveiled on Tuesday. More than half (52.6%) of this group are German native speakers. The figures are an improvement on an earlier literacy study conducted in 2011, but education researchers and politicians contest that the education system needs to work harder to combat the root causes of illiteracy as the economy becomes more highly skilled. The Ministry of Education acknowledged it needs to bolster German-language learning, but also presented the results as a success story for the education system: 1.3 million fewer individuals displayed low literacy levels in 2018 as compared to 2011 figures.
Denmark: Danes to hold election on 5 June politico.eu
Greece: Government seeks confidence vote after row over quadriplegic candidate reuters.com
Cyprus: Police apologises over serial killer case apnews.com
⊂ 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 ⊃
Tax fraudsters steal millions from governments: The “VAT carousel” rackets enable criminal gangs to steal millions from the state. A new report published on Tuesday revealed a 50 billion euro tax fraud scheme that has been gathering steam in Europe for years — and Germany is both the biggest victim and enabler of the EU’s massive VAT carousel racket, according to the authors. The scheme resolves around the trade of goods such as cars and mobile phones and even uses other high-cost items such as CO2 emissions certificates. Taking advantage of each European country having a different value added tax (VAT), the criminals move the goods from one EU member state to another, claiming back millions in tax reimbursements that they never paid or earned in the first place.