Wednesday, 12 December 2018: Terrorist attack in Strasbourg, Merkel says there will be no more Brexit negotiations, ECB bond buying is legal


Terrorist attack in Strasbourg: A single gunman opened fire on a Christmas Market in the French city of Strasbourg on Tuesday, killing at least three people and wounding several others before fleeing from the police, government officials said. Before the attack, the authorities had designated the gunman a possible security risk, the local prefecture said in a statement. The suspect’s home was raided Tuesday morning regarding a previous investigation. French prosecutors said a terrorism investigation was opened after the shooting, though authorities did not announce a motive for the bloodshed. The suspect was still at large a few hours later, and at one point police were engaged in a firefight in the neighborhood of Neudorf in Strasbourg. The city is home to the EU Parliament, which was locked down after the shooting. President Emmanuel Macron adjourned a meeting at the presidential palace Tuesday night to monitor the emergency, his office said, indicating the gravity of the attack. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has expressed his condolences.,,

Merkel says there will be no more Brexit negotiations: After meeting British Prime Minister Theresa May in Berlin, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told her conservative parliamentary group on Tuesday that there would be no further negotiations on Brexit. But Merkel told the conservative bloc that efforts were being made to give Britain reassurances, according to several German sources. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker also said there was no room whatsoever for renegotiating the Brexit deal. Junker offered May only additional clarifications and interpretations of the contentious backstop solution, designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. May had intended to get reassurances that the deal’s controversial backstop arrangement for Northern Ireland was temporary.,,

ECB bond buying is legal: The European Court of Justice on Tuesday ruled that the European Central Bank (ECB) decision to buy up the sovereign debt of its own member states in 2015 was valid and within its mandate. This followed several legal challenges to the measure in Germany. The court ruled that the bond buying programme does not exceed the ECB’s mandate and that the programme falls within the area of monetary policy, in respect of which the EU has exclusive competence for the member states whose currency is the euro, and observes the principle of proportionality. The court rejected arguments that the ECB was effectively bankrolling governments with its programme.,

EU Parliament: Humanitarian visas to avoid deaths
Cybersecurity: EU negotiators reach agreement on cybersecurity act
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We are monitoring closely the potential new measures being announced.
EU Commission Vice-President Valdis Dombrovskis has warned that the Commission is monitoring the budget impact of possible new fiscal measures to be introduced by the French government.


France and Germany mediate in Ukraine crisis: Germany and France have launched an attempt to mediate in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine over the Sea of Azov. The foreign policy advisors to the heads of state of the four countries met in Berlin on Tuesday. An East German secret police identity card for Russian President Vladimir Putin has been found in the Stasi archives, according to German newspaper reports. Putin is a former agent for the Soviet Union’s KGB spy agency and was based in Dresden in the German Democratic Republic during the late 1980s. Accused Russian agent Maria Butina, who is suspected of trying to influence US policy toward Russia, has agreed to plead guilty to conspiracy and cooperate with US federal, state and local authorities. Putin has angered opposition figures with his appearance at the memorial service for Russian human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva. (Mediation), (Putin), (Butina), (Alexeyeva)

French banks agree with Macron’s plans to appease protests: The bosses of France’s major banks accepted to freeze the fees they charge households next year in a show of support for President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to appease “yellow vest” protests that have rocked central Paris in the past weekends. Macron summoned the country’s top bankers on Tuesday to discuss measures to alleviate the cost of living for ordinary people. Macron also announced wage rises for the poorest workers, tax cuts for pensioners and other measures to defuse weeks of protests that started as a movement against taxes on fuels. The measures, estimated to cost between €8 billion and €10 billion, raised questions about whether France would still be able to abide by EU budget rules.,

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Italy points finger at France: France risks EU censure over its latest budget concessions, Italian Deputy Prime Luigi Di Maio said on Tuesday, adding that he expected Brussels to treat Paris and Rome in the same way. The EU has rejected Rome’s draft budget which targets the deficit to rise to 2.4% of gross domestic product next year, saying it breaks previous commitments to reduce borrowing. Looking to defuse countrywide protests, French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday announced a raft of concessions that risk shunting France’s 2019 deficit above 3%. Di Maio said if the deficit/GDP rules were valid for Italy, then he expected them to be valid for Macron. He added that the next 24-48 hours would be crucial for understanding how the Italian government could respect it electoral promises and, at the same time, avoid EU disciplinary action.,

Croatia: Migrants pushed back to Bosnia and Herzegovina

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Theresa May gets locked inside her car in Berlin: As the British prime minister arrived in Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, she experienced some difficulty getting out of her car. May’s door wouldn’t open for a few agonizing seconds, while Merkel stood waiting on a red carpet while it poured with rain. May was in Berlin for a hastily arranged meeting with the German chancellor to seek further assurances on the Brexit deal.,


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