Wednesday, 15 May 2019: May will put Brexit deal to a vote for the fourth time, EU employers must track employees’ working hours, US does not seek war with Iran, Pentagon tells EU not to block US companies from defence pact


May will put Brexit deal to a vote for the fourth time: Prime Minister Theresa May has pledged to give MPs another opportunity to vote on Brexit early next month, with or without Labour’s backing, after Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn raised concerns about her ability to deliver on a cross-party deal. Downing Street said the government was determined to bring forward the withdrawal agreement bill in the week beginning 3 June. It will be the fourth time that the House of Commons votes on May’s Brexit deal, after rejecting it in each prior vote. May’s divided cabinet has agreed that the talks with Labour should continue, despite the lack of substantive progress so far, but set a fresh deadline of the summer recess for parliament to pass the bill. Labour has repeatedly suggested that May and her colleagues have refused to budge on the central issue of a customs union with the EU. If the bill is introduced in the first week of June it will come seven days after the European Parliament elections – which Education Secretary Damian Hinds has acknowledged could be difficult for the Conservatives.,,

Huawei prepared to sign no-spy agreement with UK government: Huawei’s chairman Liang Hua has said the Chinese company would be prepared to sign a no-spy agreement with the British government to reassure politicians it has no intention of allowing its technology to be used for surveillance. He said the company did not want to spy on western consumers and that concerns about Chinese laws requiring the company to cooperate with the regime’s intelligence agencies were overblown. He insisted there were no laws requiring the companies to collect intelligence from foreign governments. Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told Britain on Tuesday it must preserve secure mobile networks as it weighs the risks of allowing China to help develop its 5G infrastructure. Vodafone has said that it will turn on its 5G service in the UK on 3 July. (Hua); (Stoltenberg); (Vodafone)

Wage growth stalls despite record employment: Wage growth has slowed in the UK to put a squeeze on living standards despite the unemployment rate falling to its lowest level for more than 40 years. The Office for National Statistics said the growing number of vacancies, together with the falling level of unemployment, indicated the jobs market was continuing to tighten. The jobless rate fell from 3.9% to a record 3.8%, the lowest since 1974. However, analysts said the shadow of Brexit uncertainty, which has sent business investment plummeting, was likely to have discouraged firms from hiring and improving wage rates.

MI5: Sajid Javid admits MI5 committed serious safeguard breaches
Tory leader hopeful: Jeremy Hunt flounders on why people should vote Conservative
EU elections: Heidi Allen calls Nigel Farage a coward over live TV debate refusal
Roma, Gypsies and Travellers: UK politicians accused of racist rhetoric against Travellers


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EU employers must track employees’ working hours: Companies in the EU must set up a system to record how many hours their employees work every day, the European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday. The court said the implementation of such systems, and particularly what form they must take, is up to the member states. In order to guarantee employees’ rights under the EU’s working time directive and the charter of fundamental rights, member states must require employers to set up an objective, reliable and accessible system enabling the duration of time worked each day by each worker to be measured. Without a system to record working hours, the court said, employees could not reliably determine the length of their working hours or rest periods, making it excessively difficult, if not impossible in practice, for workers to ensure that their rights are complied with. The German Employers’ Association BDA criticised the judgment as being behind the times. However, European trade unions welcomed the ruling. The German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) said the decision put an end to what it called flat-rate work.,

US does not seek war with Iran: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has said the United States does not seek a war with Iran, amid rapidly growing tensions between the two countries. Pompeo said the US was looking for Iran to behave like a “normal country” but would respond if its interests were attacked. Pompeo, who held talks with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in the Russian city of Sochi, insisted the US fundamentally did not seek a conflict with Iran. Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has also said there will be no war with the United States. US President Donald Trump has denied a “New York Times” report that US officials were discussing a military plan to send up to 120,000 troops to the Middle East to counter any attack or nuclear weapons acceleration by Iran. In another development, Spain withdrew a frigate from a US-led naval group in the Gulf as tensions between Washington and Tehran rose.,

Pentagon tells EU not to block US companies from defence pact: A new EU military pact risks shutting American companies out of defence contracts and undermining Nato, the United States has told the European Union, hinting at possible retaliation. In a letter to the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, the US government said limitations on the involvement of non-EU countries under consideration in the European pact amounted to “poison pills”. Any rules limiting US defence contractors’ participation would also amount to a dramatic reversal of the last three decades of increased integration of the transatlantic defence sector. Mogherini said the American concerns over the EU accord were unfounded. She said the EU was and remained open to US companies and equipment, adding the European procurement market was more open than that of the United States, which was already dominant in the global weapons trade.

Pesticides: EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly blasts secret pesticide positions
Study: Young people more supportive of the EU than older people
Climate change and tourism: EU cities join forces for more sustainable tourism


If a reasonable answer can be found, we can join the initiative of nine other EU member states. I wish we could do this.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has indicated for the first time that Germany may join a European alliance to achieve greenhouse gas neutrality by 2050.


Malta fines captain of migrant rescue ship: The German captain of a migrant rescue ship, Claus Peter Reisch, was fined 10,000 euros by a Maltese court on Tuesday, after being found guilty of entering national waters eleven months ago without proper registration. He told the court that his ship was logged in the Netherlands, but Magistrate Joseph Mifsud said documents supplied by the Dutch Registry made clear they did not recognise the vessel as registered under their flag. However, Mifsud rejected a prosecution request to confiscate the boat, saying it belonged to the German charity “Mission Lifeline” rather than Reisch.

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Refugees can lose refugee status after committing crimes: EU rules and the Geneva Convention forbid sending migrants home if there is a serious risk they would face persecution in their home countries, the European Court of Justice ruled on Tuesday. These rules apply in all cases, the court said, even when the migrants in question have committed serious crimes. Migrants can lose their refugee status after committing crimes but would still be considered refugees by the Geneva Convention. In some cases, the Geneva Convention itself allows deportation of migrants even when there is a risk of persecution, namely when there’s a demonstrable risk to security in the host country.

Bulgaria: Agriculture minister Porozhanov resigns
Germany: Chancellor Merkel marks German constitution anniversary by celebrating diversity
Kosovo: Prime Minister Haradinaj wants Mogherini out of dialogue with Belgrade

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Indigenous chief goes to Europe in defence of rainforest: Brazil’s legendary indigenous chief Raoni headed to Paris Sunday for the start of a three-week tour across Europe where he will meet heads of state, celebrities and the Pope to highlight growing threats to the Amazon rainforest. The Kayapo chief will seek to raise one million euros to better protect the Amazon’s Xingu reserve – home to many of Brazil’s tribal peoples – from loggers, farmers and fire. Raoni’s trip comes as the Amazon faces increasing threats from mining and farming lobbies who have found a champion in far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, a climate change skeptic.


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