Wednesday, 15 January 2020: UK government agrees Flybe rescue deal, European leaders trigger dispute mechanism in Iran nuclear deal, Germany to host Libya peace conference, EU’s billion euro plan for the environment


Government agrees Flybe rescue deal: British ministers agreed a rescue deal with shareholders on Tuesday to keep the troubled regional airline operating. Ministers agreed to work with Flybe to figure out a repayment plan for a significant tax debt that is thought to top £100m. The government is still in negotiations to finalise any loan to Flybe. Although Treasury sources denied reports that it had agreed to defer a £106m air passenger duty bill, it is understood that the British tax, payments and customs authority HMRC could allow the airline a short-term extension to settle its debt. Any government loan would attract EU Commission scrutiny for breaching state aid.,

Barnier says there will be checks on GB/NI trade after Brexit: EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has said there would be checks and controls on goods entering Northern Ireland from Britain after Brexit, despite Prime Minister Boris Johnson claiming otherwise. Whether the British prime minister had misunderstood the agreement he had signed or was lying to the public, the text of the deal signed in November is clear that there will indeed be checks. The transport of goods between Northern Ireland and Great Britain had been one of the most contentious issues hashed out during Brexit negotiations, with the Northern Irish Democratic Unionist Party insisting there should be no divergence in rules between their region and the rest of the UK.,,

Two-day window opens for would-be Labour voters: Applications have opened for the public to become registered supporters of Labour and thereby eligible to vote in the party’s leadership elections. Five candidates – Rebecca Long Bailey, Lisa Nandy, Jess Phillips, Sir Keir Starmer and Emily Thornberry – remain in the contest for leader after securing enough nominations from MPs and MEPs. Representatives of the five remaining candidates have approached general secretaries as they seek to win 5% of the party’s affiliated membership. Pressure is building on the remaining candidates to find a major union to ensure they make the shortlist from which party members, trade unionists, members of affiliated societies and registered supporters will choose a winner.,

5G network: UK rebuffs US presentation on Huawei security risks
Harry Dunn’s death: PM misinformed on low chance of Sacoolas extradition, says Dunn spokesman


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European leaders trigger dispute mechanism in Iran nuclear deal: France, Germany and the UK have triggered a dispute mechanism in the Iran nuclear agreement which could eventually lead to the reimposing of United Nations sanctions lifted under the deal. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the three countries could no longer leave the growing Iranian violations of the nuclear agreement unanswered. Iranian Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif criticised the usage of the dispute mechanism as legally baseless and a strategic mistake from a political standpoint. Several people have been detained in Iran over the accidental shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger plane, the country’s judiciary said, without giving details. Missiles have struck near a US military base in Iraq.,, (Dispute mechanism); (Plane); (Iraq)

Germany to host Libya peace conference: German Chancellor Angela Merkel is inviting world powers to a summit in Berlin on Sunday to discuss efforts to broker peace in Libya. Representatives of the two rival Libyan governments are to be joined by envoys from the US, Russia, China, the UK, France, Italy, the EU and the UN. Merkel also extended an invitation to the African Union, the Arab League, as well the Republic of Congo, Algeria, Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Turkey. The news came just hours after Libya’s General Khalifa Haftar left peace talks in Moscow without signing an agreement.,,

EU’s billion euro plan for the environment: The EU Commission has unveiled its financial plan for moving to a green economy and making the EU climate neutral. The EU has committed to mobilise at least €1 trillion of investments over the next decade to support a green transition. The “Green Deal” will be funded by the bloc’s budget and the private sector and includes a mechanism designed to help the regions that would be most disrupted economically by the transition to cleaner industries. The plan would allocate the money according to specific criteria. For example, regions — where a large number of people work in coal, peat mining or shale oil and gas — would get priority. Von der Leyen said the transition should leave no one behind, and in order to help persuade countries like Poland to get on board with the EU’s climate goals, a €100 million Just Transition Fund has been proposed, as part of the overall budget.,,

Trump impeachment trial could start next Tuesday: The US House of Representatives will vote this Wednesday on sending articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump to the Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Senate’s trial of Trump will likely begin Tuesday next week. Russian hackers have targeted the Ukrainian gas company Burisma, which is a major focus of the impeachment proceedings. Cybersecurity firm Area 1 Security said it discovered that Russian military hackers began an attack in November on Burisma, where Democratic presidential hopeful Joe Biden’s son Hunter had served on the board. Trump denies that he had abused his office by pressing Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Hunter Biden’s relationship with Burisma.,,,

EU ramps up legal pressure against Poland: The EU Commission on Tuesday turned to the Court of Justice of the EU to rein in Poland’s judicial changes, asking it to order the Polish government to suspend the functioning of the disciplinary chamber of the Polish Supreme Court. The chamber is supposed to discipline Polish judges, but the EU has expressed fears about the body, saying Poland’s disciplinary system undermined the judicial independence of judges and did not ensure the necessary guarantees to protect judges from political control. The Commission said its move was not linked to the new Polish draft law which has now cleared the lower chamber of parliament.,

Plans for EU minimum wage: The EU has called for a new framework for determining minimum wages, as many working people in the EU still struggle to make ends meet. Nicolas Schmit, the commissioner for jobs and social rights, said that a consultation had been launched on the plans in a bid to fight wage dumping across the EU, with workers in some countries earning much less for similar tasks than in others. If there’s enough support among EU countries, it could lead to a new law.,

Conference on the Future of Europe: Guy Verhofstadt to chair citizen consultations on Europe’s future
Technical University of Darmstadt: “Climate hysteria” is Germany’s “non-word of the year” 2019


This is guaranteed: There will be no funding for nuclear energy at the European level.
EU Trade Commissioner Johannes Hahn has reiterated that nuclear power will be excluded from the EU’s climate plans.


Ireland to hold snap election in February: Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has called a general election for 8 February. An election had been expected. Varadkar’s Fine Gael party leads a minority administration reliant on dwindling support from independent TDs (Irish MPs) plus a nearly expired confidence and supply agreement with the main opposition party, Fianna Fail. Varadkar lauded the government’s record on Brexit, social equality, jobs and poverty reduction but admitted more needed to be done.,

Johnson rejects Scottish request for independence referendum: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused a request by Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon to hold another Scottish independence referendum. Johnson said another referendum would continue the political stagnation that Scotland had seen for the last decade. It was time that everyone worked to bring the whole of the United Kingdom together. Sturgeon argues that Britain’s decision to leave the EU warrants a new independence referendum because Scots overwhelming voted against Brexit while a majority of English voters supported it.,

German police raid Islamists suspected of planning attack: Police carried out raids at properties across four German states on Tuesday morning, targeting suspected Islamists who were believed to be planning a serious violent act endangering the state. Authorities were prompted to carry out the raids after discovering suspicious pictures on the cellphone of one suspect, who was stopped during a police check.

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Carlos Ghosn demands €15 million from Renault: Carlos Ghosn, the former Renault boss who has fled Japan where he faces prosecution, has started a legal battle with the French carmaker to claim an annual pension of nearly €800,000 as well as €15 million in shares. The CGT union at Renault said at a time when the government insisted on wanting to cut employee pensions, Ghosn remained unscrupulous.

Italy assigns ports to ships carrying migrants: The Italian government has allowed two rescue ships with hundreds of migrants on board to enter its harbours. Germany, France, Portugal and Ireland have agreed to accept the migrants. The Cypriot police has picked up a boat with around 120 migrants off the coast of the Mediterranean island. In Greece, protests are increasing against the overcrowding of migrant camps. (Italy), (Cyprus), (Greece)

Germany: Foreign spying law tested at top court
Italy: Smog emergency in Rome
Spain: Explosion at petrochemical plant


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Johnson proposes crowdfunding to allow Big Ben to bong for Brexit: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Tuesday proposed a crowdfunding campaign to allow Big Ben to ring out when Britain is due to leave the EU. He said getting the famous bell to ring for Brexit would cost £500,000, but some form of crowdfunding might be possible. Money is required to install a temporary floor within the tower to house the mechanism used to strike Big Ben and pay for delays to the restoration work. Conservatives have long called for the bell to herald Britain’s exit from the EU, but an amendment to the PM’s Brexit bill, which would have required it to chime on Brexit day, was not selected for a vote in the House of Commons.,


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