Wednesday, 18 July 2018: EU and Japan sign trade deal, Russia criticised by ECHR in two separate cases, EU offers to mediate in Nicaraguan crisis

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

EU and Japan sign trade deal: Japan and the European Union have signed a massive trade deal that creates an open-trade zone for more than 600 million people. According to the European Commission, the EU-Japan „Economic Partnership Agreement“ (EPA) is the largest trade deal ever negotiated by the EU. The bloc and Japan account for about one-third of GDP worldwide. The total trade volume of goods and services between the EU and Japan is 86 billion euros. Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, and the EU leaders Donald Tusk and Jean-Claude Juncker promoted the benefits of a free trade deal that is set to eliminate nearly all tariffs on products traded between Japan and the EU. The deal has been in the works for years, but the parties reached an agreement in principle a year ago, several months after US President Donald Trump pulled the United States out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a major trade deal with Japan and 10 other nations. The EU has called the agreement highly ambitious and comprehensive. The deal will also open the Japanese market for more EU-based services and give EU developers access to Japanese public infrastructure projects, such as railroads. The EU estimates that 600,000 jobs in Europe are related to trade with Japan.
npr.org, theguardian.com, dw.com

Russia criticised by ECHR in two separate cases: The European Court of Human Rights ruled Tuesday that Russia failed to properly investigate the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, whose stories exposed the corruption and brutality of security forces in the breakaway Russian region of Chechnya. The judges sided with Politkovskaya’s family, who accuses the Russian government of bungling the investigation and thereby violating the European Convention of Human Rights. The court has also condemned Russia for its treatment of 2012 protests by the Pussy Riot punk band in a Moscow cathedral, saying the band members had been subjected to humiliating treatment and judged too severely. The anti-Kremlin group are known for a series of high-profile protests including most recently activists who ran onto the pitch at Sunday’s World Cup final. The ruling comes after Russia arrested four members of the protest group for staging a pitch invasion during the World Cup final on Sunday. They were jailed for 15 days, according to the BBC.
wsj.com (Politkovskaya), reuters.com, politico.eu

EU offers to mediate in Nicaraguan crisis: The EU has called on Nicaragua to put an immediate end to violence, repression and arbitrary detentions in the country. The country’s government has been challenged by protesters for 3 months now, and has come under fire for its response. The EU’s top diplomat, Federica Mogherini, has asked for those responsible to be brought to justice and for irregular armed groups to be dismantled. She also offered the EU as a mediator between the government and protesters to work. The unrest in Nicaragua seems set to escalate, however, with the UN’s human rights office accusing the police and the government of killings, torture, and unlawful imprisonment on Tuesday. The UN issued a statement saying the use of lethal force was not only unacceptable but was also in itself an obstacle to obtaining a political solution to the current crisis. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres began a visit to neighboring Costa Rica Monday.
euronews.com, dw.com, cbsnews.com

VW yet to convince EU on car emissions: The EU Commission and national consumer authorities in the EU criticised Volkswagen on Tuesday for failing to guarantee that repairs after the Dieselgate scandal would not affect cars’ performance. The Commission published the conclusions on the 8.5 million car recalls made in the bloc by the Volkswagen group after the scandal. The VW Group’s effort to build trust in the recalls and the significant improvement in the information provided to consumers, were welcomed. However, the Commission and the consumer authorities regret that the company could not give a full and clear guarantee in case of problems after the repair.
neweurope.eu, europa.eu

Obama speaks on Mandela’s 100th birthday: Former US President Barack Obama celebrated Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy in South Africa on Tuesday with a speech that focused not only on the freedom Mandela came to symbolise, but the long walk it took to get there. Obama spoke to a crowd of about 15,000 in a Johannesburg cricket stadium on the eve of what would have been Mandela’s 100th birthday. He remarked on the progress that swept the globe during Mandela’s lifetime — with greater prosperity and opportunity — but also that backlash that followed in recent years, in the wake of inequality and insecurity. Obama said the world is living through strange and uncertain times, as he decried the type of strongman politics practised by current US President Donald Trump. Obama urged people around the world to respect human rights and other values now under threat. While not directly mentioning Trump, Obama’s speech in South Africa countered many of Trump’s policies, rallying people to keep alive the ideas that Mandela worked for including democracy, diversity and good education for all.
npr.org, independent.co.uk, cnbc.com

Trump „misspoke“ in Helsinki: US President Trump does clean-up after Putin fiasco politico.eu
25 July: White House confirms Trump meeting with Juncker next week politico.eu
Technology: Google to have 11th-hour call with EU ahead of Android fine bloomberg.com
European Central Bank: ECB shouldn’t tie its hands too early on policy: Rehn reuters.com

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

Angela was a superstar until she allowed millions of people to come into Germany.
US President Donald Trump has criticised German Chancellor Angela Merkel, saying that she had been „very badly hurt“ by her migration policy.
foxnews.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Vote Leave broke electoral law: The official campaign group that succeeded in convincing Britons to vote to leave the EU has been fined 61,000 pounds and referred to police by the country’s Electoral Commission for breaking election laws during the 2016 campaign. The watchdog said it exceeded its 7 million pound spending limit by funnelling 675,315 pounds through pro-Brexit youth group BeLeave. The commission’s long-awaited report said it had found evidence BeLeave spent money with the digital data company Aggregate IQ coordinated with Vote Leave, which should have been declared by the Brexit campaign group. BeLeave founder Darren Grimes was hit with a separate fine of 20,000 pounds and reported to police, as was David Halsall of Vote Leave. The commission said it had shared its investigation files with the Metropolitan police to investigate whether any other offences had been committed outside the watchdog’s remit.
cbsnews.com, bbc.com, theguardian.com

Libya coast guard left migrants to die in Mediterranean Sea: An aid group has accused Libya’s coast guard of abandoning a woman and a toddler to their deaths in the Mediterranean Sea after intercepting 160 Europe-bound migrants. Proactiva Open Arms, a Spanish rescue group, said it found three people amid the drifting remains of a destroyed boat 80 nautical miles from the coast of the north African nation. It said it found one woman alive and another dead, along with the body of a toddler. The organisation posted images and videos of the wreckage and the bodies on social media, accusing both a merchant ship sailing in international waters and Libya’s coast guard for failing to help the three migrants. The total number of illegal migrants irregularly crossing EU borders in the first half of 2018 dropped to about 60,430, almost half as many as last year, according to Frontex.
nbcnews.com, welt.de

Russia and Ukraine to hold further gas transit talks: Ukraine and Russia said they will hold further EU-mediated talks on supplying Europe with Russian gas, in a key first step toward renewing Ukraine’s gas transit contract that expires at the end of next year. EU Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic, who chaired a three-way meeting in Berlin with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin and Russian Energy Minister Alexander Novak, said he hoped talks will continue with separate political and expert rounds every six to eight weeks. German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier, who had invited the parties to Berlin, said he was optimistic that the two sides would eventually agree on a way of continuing gas transit. With Russia embroiled in conflict with Kiev over breakaway regions in Ukraine’s east and the European Union reliant on Russian gas to fuel its industries, the future of gas transit – seen by Kiev as a crucial guarantor of its independence from Moscow – is the object of intricate diplomacy.
reuters.com

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Spain’s Constitutional Court blocks latest Catalan independence motion: Spain’s Constitutional Court said on Tuesday it had blocked a motion approved by Catalonia’s parliament to resume steps to declare independence of the wealthy northeastern region. The court’s formal suspension of the secessionist motion approved on July 5 by the Catalan assembly in Barcelona followed an appeal against the move filed by Spain’s central government in Madrid. The Catalan parliament may appeal against the Constitutional Court decision within the next 20 days. Both the top court and the Spanish government have said Catalonia cannot hold a referendum on independence under Spain’s constitution. Meanwhile, a bombshell recording of Juan Carlos‘ former mistress claiming he was involved in money laundering has sparked calls for an investigation.
reuters.com, dailymail.co.uk (Juan Carlos)

Macedonia: Zaev says Russian money used to instigate violence ahead of name deal referendum euractiv.com
Budget for Common Agricultural Policy: Berlin joins opposition to EU Commission’s proposed cuts for CAP 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 ⊃

Iceland pledges inquest after blue whale scandal: Icelandic Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir confirmed at last week’s Nato summit that her country would launch an investigation into Iceland’s controversial whaling industry, following the killing of what is thought to be a protected blue whale. German conservation group Hard to Port said last week that commercial whaling company „Hvalur hf“ had harpooned and killed a juvenile blue whale on the night of 7 July. Company owner Kristjan Loftsson insisted that the animal was a fin whale or a hybrid of the two species. Iceland permits the hunting of fin whales, despite an international moratorium on whaling, but does not allow the killing of blue whales.
euractiv.com

 

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