Wednesday, 23 October 2019: UK police to interview Anne Sacoolas under caution, British MPs reject Brexit timetable, EU criticises Romania for not tackling corruption, Merkel backs plan for safe zone in Syria


UK police to interview Anne Sacoolas under caution: Anne Sacoolas, the American woman who claimed diplomatic immunity after her alleged involvement in the death of British teenager Harry Dunn, has asked to be interviewed in the US under caution by Northamptonshire police officers, according to the force’s chief constable. Officers will travel to the US at the earliest opportunity to interview her. Nick Adderley, the Northamptonshire chief constable, said the suspect, whose husband was reportedly stationed at the airbase as an intelligence officer, has remained in contact with officers despite her return to the US. Adderley debunked reports that Sacoolas had left the UK without giving an account to police. He said she cooperated with police at the scene on 27 August and was breathalysed.

UK should consider legalising drug possession, MPs say: The government should investigate decriminalising the possession of all illegal drugs in a bid to prevent the rising number of related deaths, the health and social care committee has said. The level of such deaths in the UK had become a public health emergency, the committee warned, saying the UK’s position on drugs was clearly failing. The committee called for a radical new approach in policy. The government said it had no plans to decriminalise drug possession.

Budget plans under pressure after borrowing increase: Chancellor Sajid Javid has suffered a squeeze on public spending in the run-up to next month’s budget after an increase in borrowing to £9.4bn in September. A spending upturn across Whitehall departments and the rising costs of the winter fuel allowance for pensioners pushed borrowing beyond last September’s £8.8bn, knocking Javid’s plans to inject billions of pounds into public services and infrastructure projects in his first budget on 6 November.

Brexit deal: NI firms must declare goods heading to rest of the UK


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British MPs reject Brexit timetable: Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to fast-track his Brexit deal through parliament in time for next week’s 31 October deadline was blocked by MPs on Tuesday night, even after he threatened to pull it and press for a general election. MPs backed Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement Bill – but minutes later voted against the timetable, making ratification of his deal by the 31 October deadline almost impossible. Johnson expressed his disappointment and said it was up to the EU to decide whether it wanted to delay Brexit and for how long. A spokesman said the EU Commission had taken note of the result and expected the UK government to inform it about the next steps. EU Council President Donald Tusk said he would recommend EU leaders backed an extension to the Brexit deadline.,,

EU criticises Romania for not tackling corruption: The EU Commission has released its progress report on the fight against corruption in Bulgaria and Romania. For the second year in a row, the Commission found serious fault within the Romanian government, saying it had great concerns about Romania’s backtracking from the progress made on rule-of-law reforms that were necessary for its accession to the EU. Romanian Justice Minister Ana Birchall promised to continue the fight against corruption and for judiciary independence. Bulgaria, however, garnered a good report this year from the Commission. The EU said Bulgaria worked consistently to meet its commitments to tackling organised crime and judicial reform.,

EU backs Croatia’s Schengen membership: The EU Commission has recommended that Croatia be included in the Schengen border-free travel area. The Commission’s assessment is the result of an almost four-years long diligent monitoring and evaluation process, during which Croatia made continuous progress and efforts to fulfil the requirements for joining the Schengen area of free movement. The Commission determined that Croatia has taken all necessary measures to apply Schengen rules, including on external border management — the missing link until now.

EU warns Italy and France over budgets: The EU said France and Italy draft budgets for next year might breach of EU fiscal rules and it asked for clarification by Wednesday. France foresees no structural improvement next year, contrary to EU requests for an improvement worth 0.6% of GDP. The Italian government had previously agreed to improve its structural balance by 0.6% of its GDP in 2020. The Commission also asked Italy why its net primary expenditure — which does not include interest payments — is expected to grow by 1.9% next year, instead of falling by 0.1% Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Rome would provide the necessary information to the EU as part of an exchange that finance ministry sources said did not cause concerns.,

MEPs assess Juncker Commission: In a debate with outgoing EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday, MEPs took stock of the work and achievements of the outgoing Commission. A number of EU Parliament political group leaders thanked Juncker for his efforts during the past five years on economic and migration crises and Brexit negotiations, for putting social issues on the agenda and for moving away from austerity. Juncker expressed disappointment that the banking union was not concluded – which he sees as key to fighting future crises – but listed successes such as the pillar of social rights and posted workers rules as important steps in providing dignity to workers.

Fury as Trump compares impeachment inquiry to lynching: US President Donald Trump referred to impeachment proceedings against him as a lynching in a Tuesday morning tweet, sparking condemnation for using such a racially charged word to describe his political predicament. California representative Karen Bass said Trump’s comment was consistent with his pattern of throwing out racial bombs to give red meat to his base when his back was against the wall. Republican Rep. Adam Kinzinger of Illinois was also critical, calling on the president to retract his remarks immediately. Even Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a stalwart Trump ally, said the president had spoken poorly. Longtime US diplomat William Taylor told lawmakers on Capitol Hill Tuesday that Trump orchestrated a parallel foreign policy for Ukraine that made US aid to the country contingent on investigations to help himself politically. Democratic lawmakers have urged US authorities to launch an insider trading investigation into possible market manipulation by traders who may have timed their moves to Trump’s remarks on issues like negotiations with China. Two men were killed and a woman injured in an explosion in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv., (Lynching); (Taylor); (Insider trading); (Kyiv)

Bolivia: EU concerned over Bolivia vote


Research shows that gender-diverse organisations achieve better results.
EU Budget Commissioner Günther Oettinger is pleased that 41% of the EU Commission is female.


Merkel backs plan for safe zone in Syria: Germany’s Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has advocated for the establishment of an internationally controlled security zone in Syria in cooperation with European partners, as well as Turkey and Russia. Chancellor Angela Merkel threw her support behind the plan, saying the idea was very promising, even if there were many questions. However, Kramp-Karrenbauer’s announcement drew criticism from some politicians, including Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, who said he had only received news of the proposal via text message shortly before the announcement. Turkey has extended the ceasefire for northern Syria by another 150 hours. During his last speech in the EU Parliament, European Council President Donald Tusk condemned Turkish military action in Syria. Syrian President Bashar al Assad denounced Turkey for attacking the northeast of his country. UN chemical weapons inspectors have announced they are gathering information following accusations that burning white phosphorus was used by Turkish forces against children in Syria., (Germany); (Ceasefire); (Tusk); (Assad); (Chemical weapons)

Abortion is no longer illegal in Northern Ireland: Abortion has been decriminalised and same-sex marriage is to be legalised in Northern Ireland. British lawmakers had approved the change in the law in July, and said it would come into effect after 21 October unless Northern Ireland’s assembly came back into session and prevented it. Some lawmakers gathered at Stormont on Monday, but they failed to prevent the law from taking effect. The government has until the end of March to come up with regulations for the provision of abortion services. Human rights organisation Amnesty International said history had been made and the decision was a hugely significant moment and the beginning of a new era for the country.,

Greece moves more refugees to mainland: Greek authorities moved more refugees and migrants from overcrowded island camps to the mainland on Tuesday. Nearly 700 migrants and refugees arrived in the port of Elefsina near Athens from the island of Samos. The Greek government also announced plans to deport 10,000 people who do not qualify for asylum by the end of next year. Migrants in a camp in Malta reportedly injured a police officer during a riot Sunday night. It wasn’t immediately clear what set off the incident, with some telling “Malta Today” that people were trying to enter the camp late at night and were denied.,

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Poland’s PiS party calls for recount after election: Poland’s governing Law and Justice (PiS) party retained a majority in Poland’s lower house after recent elections, but narrowly lost it in the senate. The party has asked the Supreme Court to approve recounts in six electoral districts. The opposition was requesting either a recount with votes deemed invalid allocated to them or a re-run of the votes in those districts, with the Supreme Court to decide on the course of action. The Supreme Court has up to 90 days to rule on the validity of elections.

Germany to pick Schnabel for ECB board seat: Germany will nominate university professor Isabel Schnabel to the European Central Bank’s executive board, according to German newspaper “Süddeutsche Zeitung”. Schnabel, who rushed to the ECB’s defence last month amid a fury of criticism over its most recent stimulus package, would become the second woman on the bank’s governing council after incoming president Christine Lagarde. Schnabel would replace Sabine Lautenschläger, another German, who resigned from the ECB board last month after having unsuccessfully opposed more ECB stimulus.,

Norway 1: Police shoot man who drove stolen ambulance into people
Norway 2: BP cuts 2019 oil output guidance after North Sea field delay
Germany: Farmers protest government plans
Italy: Several strikes planned

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Danish lighthouse forced to move: A 120-year-old lighthouse, at risk from North Sea erosion of Denmark’s north-west coastline, was put on wheels and rails on Tuesday to move it some 263 feet away from the sea. Originally, the lighthouse stood 200m from the sea, but erosion has reduced that by 2 metres a year. The engineers had assumed the lighthouse weighed up to 1,000 tonnes but discovered as they lifted it on Tuesday that it was a mere 720 tonnes and therefore a little easier to move. The move was broadcast live on major Danish news outlets. The town of Hjørring had prepared for many onlookers, with the actual number of visitors far exceeding expectations.,,


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