Wednesday, 27 June 2018: EU to start membership talks with Macedonia and Albania, EU partners help take migrants, EU piles pressure on Poland


EU to start membership talks with Macedonia and Albania: The European Union will start accession negotiations with Albania and Macedonia, pending progress towards reforms, EU countries decided on Tuesday. Some member states expressed concerns about corruption and the rule of law in the two EU hopefuls. Others have pushed to bring the six Western Balkan countries into the EU fold to bolster the bloc’s influence in the region. Germany’s European affairs minister, Michael Roth, said that Albania and Macedonia had made remarkable progress in the area of rule of law and the independence of the judiciary. Albania and Macedonia were granted EU candidate status in 2014 and 2005, respectively. If they make sufficient progress towards reforms, the first talks can begin at the end of 2019, the ministers decided. An EU enlargement strategy had previously included a timeline for when these states could join the bloc: 2025. The prospects of joining the queue to EU membership opened for Macedonia after it resolved a decades-old dispute about its name with Greece, which had blocked the accession process.,

Trump threatens Harley-Davidson: US President Donald Trump threatened Harley-Davidson with a tax on Tuesday after the company revealed it was moving production overseas to avoid retaliatory tariffs from the EU. In a slew of tweets Tuesday morning, the President also claimed the move could be the beginning of the end for the famous motorcycle maker. In a regulatory filing Monday, Harley-Davidson said the retaliatory tariffs from the EU, imposed in response to Trump’s steel and aluminum tariffs, would increase costs by $2,200 per average motorcycle exported from the US to the EU, totalling to as much as $100 million a year in costs. Producing in Thailand lets Harley avoid the country’s tariff of up to 60 percent on imported motorcycles, and helps the company get tax breaks when exporting to nearby countries, according to Reuters. The company said in January it plans to grow international business to 50 percent of annual volume by 2027. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the US knew it would face consequences if it put tariffs on European steel and aluminum imports. She said it was clear that US businesses and consumers would put pressure on the American administration. Trump has extended a formal invitation to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker to visit the White House, according to reports.,,,

EU partners help take migrants: A rescue ship adrift in the Mediterranean carrying 234 migrants will be allowed to dock in Malta if other EU countries agree to take in some of the migrants. Malta said four EU members have agreed to take in migrants. The willing countries are Italy, Malta, France and Portugal. In Germany, the Berlin State Senate said it was prepared to take in some of the more than 200 migrants, according to DPA, however it needs authorisation from the federal government. Austria held border patrol training exercises on Tuesday. The country’s leaders said that they came in response to a rift in the German government over migration. European Council President Donald Tusk has met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. EU leaders meeting over migration later this week will agree to further tighten their external borders, give more support to Libya and look at creating disembarkation centres outside of their territory for people who arrive by sea.,,,

EU’s high-speed rail plan is ineffective: The EU’s long-term plan for a high-speed rail network is unlikely to be achieved and there is no solid EU-wide strategic approach, according to a highly critical report by the European Court of Auditors released on Tuesday. At the moment, the European high-speed rail network is a patchwork of national lines with no proper cross-border coordination among member states, which does not ensure smooth connections, the report said. It cautioned that despite considerable funding earmarked for the project, the Commission has no legal tools and no powers in the decision making to ensure that member states make rapid progress towards completing the core network. The auditors found that the length of national high-speed rail networks is growing but the EU’s target of tripling the total length of high-speed rail lines to 30,000 km by 2030 will not be reached.

Ministers: Turkey EU accession talks at standstill
Second Facebook-Cambridge Analytica hearing: Impact on privacy, voting and trust
ECB’s de Guindos: Eurozone’s solid growth will lift inflation
EU Commission: EU to investigate BASF’s Solvay nylon deal
USA: Trump’s travel ban is upheld by Supreme Court


Only 15 percent of the exported American cars are subject to the tariffs, because cars with European parts in them – which are 85% – are excluded. So we are talking about a very small sum.
The American tariffs threatened on all imports of EU-assembled cars are small, according to EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström.


EU piles pressure on Poland: EU ministers began an unprecedented discussion on Tuesday of threats to the rule of law in Poland, urging Warsaw to step back from contested judicial reforms they say put its courts under more political control. Poland’s ruling nationalists have refused more concessions over the sweeping changes, many already in place, which have been criticised by rights groups, the EU and domestic political opponents for flouting democratic checks and balances. The EU Commission has triggered a punitive procedure against Poland for weakening the rule of law, the first time it has used the provision. Despite the political sensitivity of the subject, at least six of the ministers left the room before the debate started on Tuesday evening as the schedule slipped for their day-long session in Luxembourg, which also included other matters.

Tsipras shrugs off lawmaker’s exit from fragile Greek coalition: Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has shrugged off the resignation of a lawmaker from his fragile governing coalition on Tuesday that left the government with a wafer-thin majority. A member of parliament from his junior coalition partner quit in protest at an agreement struck with neighbouring Macedonia to resolve a dispute over the country’s name. Greece and Macedonia signed a pact this month to rename the former Yugoslav state North Macedonia. On Tuesday, Greek riot police fired tear gas and stun grenades to disperse people who threw stones during a protest of Greece’s name deal with Macedonia. No arrests or injuries have been reported from Monday’s clashes in Thessaloniki, the capital of Greece’s Macedonia province. Standard and Poor’s ratings agency has upgraded Greece’s credit rating by one notch. Greece will likely get up to 15 billion euros for stabilisation after its third bailout programme ends in August so it does not have to borrow from the market, a senior German government official said on Tuesday.,,

Dutch government approves ban on veils: The Netherlands has approved a limited ban on face-covering clothing in public places, including Islamic veils and robes such as the burqa and niqab but not the hijab, which covers only the hair. The Dutch law is described by the government as „religion-neutral,“ and does not go as far as more extensive bans in neighbouring countries like France and Belgium. It applies on public transport and in education institutions, health institutions such as hospitals, and government buildings. Studies suggest that only a few hundred women in the Netherlands wear niqabs or full-face burqas.

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Merkel says no EU-wide deal on migration to be reached this week: German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday that an EU-wide solution for the migration issue would not be reached at a summit of the bloc’s leaders later this week and added that she would continue to pursue bilateral agreements. Merkel spoke to reporters at a news conference with the visiting Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, adding that more time was needed to work on two directives. Sanchez has pledged to work closely with Germany on finding common solutions regarding immigration, adding that countries throughout the EU must share the burden against them.,

Germany to raise minimum wage to 9.35 euros: Germany plans to raise the minimum wage to 9.19 euros per hour next year and to 9.35 euros per hour in 2020, the labour minister Hubertus Heil said on Tuesday. The increase, proposed by a commission, is likely to help lift household spending as US President Donald Trump’s protectionist trade policies pose a threat to Germany’s export growth. Heil welcomed the recommendations and said the two-stage rise reflected the robust economy and vibrant labour market, which have led unions and employees to agree generous pay increases this year. The government was following the commission’s previous recommendation when it raised the minimum wage in 2017.

Spain: First trial over baby scandal is underway

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Former Trump press secretary Sean Spicer wants to be a talk show host: Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer is plotting his comeback – in the form of a talk show. The show, which reportedly hasn’t been picked up by a network yet, will be called „Sean Spicer’s Common Ground“, and will comprise informal interviews with famous people. According to a pitch sheet seen by „The New York Times“, the show is described as Spicer hosting public figures for a drink and some light conversation at a local pub or cafe. Attorney Michael Avenatti, who represents porn star Stormy Daniels in lawsuits about an alleged affair with US President Donald Trump, said he was approached to be a guest on the inaugural episode. Avenatti wrote on Twitter he declined.,



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