Wednesday, 21 March 2018: EU-US officials work to avoid trade war, European human rights court condemns Turkey, Sarkozy held over Gaddafi cash inquiry


EU-US officials work to avoid trade war: The European Union’s top trade official were in Washington Tuesday with a daunting task: convince the Trump administration that, contrary to White House claims, the bloc’s economic relationship with the US is fair. EU trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross held talks in Washington. Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, met with US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin and told him that the entire EU must be exempt from the steel and aluminum tariffs. Le Maire warned that time is running out to reach an agreement and that bilateral negotiations with European countries on the matter were not acceptable. EU leaders plan to discuss their response to the US tariffs on Thursday. EU President Donald Tusk sought to play down the impact of potential tariffs, saying even if the EU doesn’t manage to secure an exemption from Trump’s tariffs, the impact will only affect about 1.5 percent of trans-Atlantic trade.,,

European human rights court condemns Turkey: Turkey acted illegally by detaining two prominent journalists who were arrested in the wake of the military coup attempt in July 2016, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled. The court found that in the cases of journalists Mehmet Altan and Sahin Alpay there had been violations of the right to liberty and security, and of the right to freedom of expression. The pair were two of hundreds of journalists arrested on tenuous terror charges after the July 2016 failed coup attempt. It is the first ECHR verdict on the situation facing journalists in Turkey. The United Nations called on Turkey on Tuesday to end its 20-month-old state of emergency and accused Ankara of mass arrests, arbitrary sackings and other abuses that in some cases amounted to collective punishment.,, (UN)

EU firms scale back presence in UK as Brexit nears: One in seven businesses from EU countries with a presence in Britain have moved parts of their business out of the country because of concerns about disruption after Brexit, according to a survey published on Tuesday. 14 percent of EU firms with assets in Britain, such as offices, warehouses or factories, have scaled back their business. Furthermore, 11 percent of EU companies had moved some of their workforce out of the United Kingdom since the Brexit vote in 2016. While businesses welcomed the news Monday of a preliminary deal on a transitional agreement, some have been activating contingency plans to make sure they’re not caught out by Brexit.,

EU Parliament invites Facebook boss: The European Parliament on Tuesday invited Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg to speak following revelations that a firm working for Donald Trump’s US presidential campaign harvested data on 50 million users. The parliament and the European Commission have already called for an urgent investigation into the scandal. Zuckerberg was also summoned by a British parliamentary committee. Facebook is under fire after reports that Cambridge Analytica misused information from more than 50 million Facebook accounts to help Trump win the 2016 election. The social network has lost billions of dollars in market value since Monday.,

Migration: Number of new asylum seekers drops by 50 percent
Economy: 25th anniversary of the European Single Market
Crans Montana Forum: African leaders debate economic, social and environmental development


According to our analysis, at the heart of the right there is a monolithic bloc that’s doesn’t want to move or change anything: they will probably end up moving closer to the conservative and reformist party (ECR), that will have to deal with the exit of British conservatives.
Pieyre-Alexandre Anglade, a French En Marche MP, doesn’t deny that there is friction between France’s En Marche and Germany’s CDU party.


Sarkozy held over Gaddafi cash inquiry: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy was questioned on Tuesday by police investigating whether late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi helped finance his 2007 election campaign. It is the second major judicial investigation to fall on Sarkozy, who served as president from 2007-2012. He already faces trial on separate charges of illicit spending overruns during his failed re-election campaign in 2012. A former minister and close ally of Sarkozy, Brice Hortefeux, was also being questioned by police on Tuesday morning in relation to the Libya investigation, another source close to the probe said.,

Norway justice minister quits to avert government collapse: Norwegian justice minister Sylvi Listhaugc has resigned to avert a collapse of the country’s minority government after she caused uproar with a Facebook post claiming the opposition Labor Party was more interested in protecting the rights of terrorists than the Norwegian people. Listhaug had been poised to lose a vote of confidence in parliament on Tuesday that could have toppled the government. Her decision to resign on Tuesday morning defused Norway’s worst political crisis in years. Listhaug’s comment had touched a raw nerve in a country still tormented by memories of the July, 2011 attack by a far-right terrorist.,

Russian diplomats leave UK: Russian diplomats and their families have left the UK in an expulsion following the Salisbury nerve agent attack. The UK expelled 23 diplomats after British Prime Minister Theresa May said Russia was culpable for the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. Russian scientist Leonid Rink told the state RIA Novosti news agency that Britain and others could easily synthesise Novichok after chemical expert Vil Mirzayanov emigrated to the US and revealed its formula. The Czech foreign affairs ministry summoned the Russian ambassador on Tuesday over the Kremlin’s claims that the nerve toxin used to poison a former spy in England could have been produced in the Czech Republic.,,

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Ireland can rely on Germany in Brexit talks: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday reassured Ireland that it can rely on Germany in Brexit talks as the EU and UK struggle to find a way to maintain an open Irish border after Britain leaves. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar stressed that a backstop solution under which Northern Ireland would remain part of the EU’s tariff-free customs union while the rest of the UK leaves must apply unless and until a workable alternative agreed solution is found. He called for more detailed written proposals from the British government that can be made legally binding.

Poland plans to build a 1,200 km wall: Poland has decided to build a wall on its eastern border by 2020 to effectively tackle swine fever. The aim of the wall is to prevent wild boars carrying the disease from entering its territory, a decision that is far from convincing experts. The wall will be built by 2020, it will be spread over more than 1200km and will follow the border between Poland and Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, the steel fence is expected to be two metres high. It will also be buried in the ground to prevent animals from making tunnels. The cost of the work is estimated at more than 56 million euros.

Slovakia: President rejects new government
Spain: Prosecutor seeks to void Puigdemont’s passport
Germany: Ulm as Nato logistics hub against Russia

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Vienna unbeatable as world’s most liveable city: Austria’s capital Vienna once again defended its position as the city offering the best quality of life in the world, while Iraq’s capital Baghdad remains the worst in an annual survey from consulting firm Mercer. Mercer’s survey of 231 cities helps companies and organisations determine compensation and hardship allowances for international staff. Its criteria include political stability, health care, education, crime, recreation and transport. Europe has eight of the world’s top 10 most pleasant cities: Germany and Switzerland each have three cities in the top 10, while New Zealand, Canada and Australia each have one.



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