Wednesday, 11 April 2018: Zuckerberg testifies before US Congress, French students protest against education reform, Hungarian opposition newspaper to close

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

Zuckerberg testifies before US Congress: After privately assuring senators that his company will do better, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg is undergoing a two-day congressional inquisition that will be very public — and possibly pivotal for the massive social networking company he created. On Tuesday, lawmakers grilled the 33-year-old executive on the proliferation of so-called fake news on Facebook, Russian interference during the 2016 presidential election and censorship of conservative media. Senators warned that they are skeptical that the company can regulate itself and threatened to enact privacy rules and other regulations. They said they weren’t sure if they could trust a company that has repeatedly violated its privacy promises. “We didn’t take a broad enough view of our responsibility, and that was a big mistake,” Zuckerberg said in his remarks. The EU Parliament would also like to question Zuckerberg about the data scandal, but so far he has rejected an appearance before the parliament.
time.com, nytimes.com

EU plans to bolster start-ups: The EU Commission and the European Investment Fund (EIF) have launched a Pan-European Venture Capital Funds-of-Funds programme to boost investment in innovative start-up and scale-up companies across Europe and narrow Europe’s gap with the United States and China in turning small firms into “unicorns” with high market valuation. The 28-country bloc has long lagged behind international competitors in propping up promising start-ups because of an excessive reliance on risk-averse banks and a weaker market for investment funds. To attract more investors, the European Union has now agreed a new plan that aims to double the amount of venture investment and raise an additional 6.5 billion euros from an initial funding of 410 million euros of public money.
reuters.com, europa.eu

Germany can extradite Italian to US, rules top EU court: The Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) found Tuesday that a claim of unequal treatment by an Italian salesman after his arrest in transit at Frankfurt Airport in 2013 — and subsequent extradition to the US — must not result in impunity from justice across the EU. According to another ruling by the ECJ, France is entitled to bring criminal proceedings against local managers of ride-hailing app Uber for running an illegal taxi service. Member states may prohibit and punish the illegal exercise of transport activities in the context of the UberPOP service, without notifying the Commission in advance of the draft legislation, the court said in a statement.
dw.com, cnbc.com (Uber)

Yulia Skripal released from hospital: Yulia Skripal, the daughter of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal, has been discharged from hospital, doctors have said. Just over a month after she and her father were found collapsed on a park bench in Salisbury, Wiltshire, after being poisoned with a nerve agent, medics confirmed she had left Salisbury district hospital on Monday. Her father Sergei Skripal remains in the hospital, but his doctors say his condition is improving rapidly. Skripal is thought to be under the protection of British security forces.
theguardian.com, washingtonpost.com

ECB admits negative effect of monetary stimulus on German and Spanish banks: In its annual report for 2017, the European Central Bank admitted the negative impact of its extraordinary measures adopted since 2014, including low interest rate, negative rates and the bond-buying programme. Although the document stressed that the net impact of the monetary policy measures on profitability has been limited, the ECB pointed out differences across the euro area. In the case of Italian banks, the return on assets slightly increased mainly thanks to the improvement of credit quality. But the effect was negative for German and Spanish banks.
euractiv.com

Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons: Syria invites OPCW to investigate alleged chemical attack in Douma reuters.com
Brexit Wonderland: The UK’s new museum to leaving the European Union independent.co.uk
Turkey: Erdogan calls for more political engagement from „his citizens“ in the EU handelsblatt.com

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

Road safety is of course a responsibility shared with the Member States, but I believe that the EU can do more to better protect Europeans.
EU transport commissioner Violeta Bulc tried to give a positive spin to the annual EU road fatalities statistics on Tuesday, but acknowledged it was unlikely that a 2020 road safety target will be reached at the current trend.
europa.eu

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

French students protest against education reform: French students hit the streets of Paris on Tuesday to protest President Emmanuel Macron’s plan for education reform. Several universities across the country were blocked as students joined rail workers in rejecting the wave of social reforms proposed by Macron’s government. Air France said on Tuesday it had raised its pay offer to unions in a bid to end strikes that have already cost the airline 170 million euros. Air France is facing a seventh day of strikes on Wednesday in a six-week campaign that has coincided with rolling nationwide rail strikes, as SNCF workers protest against plans to reform the state-owned railway. French activists fired a flare at a police helicopter and clashed with riot officers Tuesday in western France as authorities cleared out a protest camp erected nearly a decade ago to block construction of an airport.
euronews.com, reuters.com, washingtonpost.com

Hungarian opposition newspaper to close: Hungary’s opposition-supporting newspaper „Magyar Nemzet“ is to close as of Wednesday after 80 years in print, the publisher said in a statement. Its sister radio station Lanchid Radio, which belongs to the same media group, is also to shut while the Hir TV news channel will implement significant costs cuts. The closures follow the landslide election victory of Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Sunday’s general election. The media companies are controlled by oligarch Lajos Simiscka — former best-friend-turned-nemesis of the prime minister. Meanwhile, MEPs in the Civil Liberties Committee will assess on Thursday the situation in Hungary, to determine whether the country is at risk of breaching EU values.
politico.eu, europarl.europa.eu

Merkel tells Putin not to exclude Ukraine from gas pipeline route: German Chancellor Angela Merkel has intervened in a row over a gas pipeline due to run from Russia to Germany, telling Russian Persident Vladimir Putin he cannot exclude Ukraine from the transit route. The German chancellor has set herself up for a confrontation with the Russian president over the Nord Stream 2 project amid concerns Putin is attempting to increase western Europe’s dependency on Russian gas at the same time as eroding Ukraine’s importance in the project. The project has divided the EU. Poland, the Baltics and several Eastern European countries are vehemently opposed, fearing it would leave them vulnerable to Russia’s geopolitical pressure by circumventing Ukraine.
politico.eu, theguardian.com

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Serbia faces Hague court conundrum over Vojislav Seselj: It should come as no surprise that Vojislav Seselj, the former head of the far-right Serbian Radical Party, has no desire to return to The Hague. He already spent more than a decade there between 2003 and 2014 as a defendant in a war crimes trial before the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. He was standing trial for — among other things — crimes against humanity. Prior to the Orthodox Easter holiday, Seselj could be seen in a number of television studios in Serbia’s capital, Belgrade. The hard-line nationalist appears to have softened with age. But appearances can be deceiving: Seselj simply lacks any real enemies anymore.
dw.com

Czech Republic: Thousands protest against PM Babis as government talks stall euractiv.com
Growing tensions: Greek soldiers fire warning shots at Turkish helicopter in Aegean Sea telegraph.co.uk
Germany: Man dies in Bavaria after military helicopter collides with control tower dw.com
Strengthening the role of states: Poland defends a Europe of states euractiv.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 ⊃

Queen jokes helicopter noise ‘sounds like Trump or Obama’: Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II poked fun at the noisy aircraft that carry US presidents, quipping while filming a documentary that a helicopter flying overhead sounded like President Donald Trump or Barack Obama. The queen made the remark while shooting an interview in the gardens of Buckingham Palace with broadcaster David Attenborough for ITV. A video clip of the documentary — set to air next Monday — shows the two trying to talk when a noisy helicopter passes overhead. “Why do they always go round and round when you want to talk?” the queen said, before joking: “Sounds like President Trump or President Obama.”
politico.eu

 

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