Wednesday, 4 July 2018: Austria kicks off EU Presidency with hard-line refugee policy, EU Parliament to keep public in dark on MEP expenses, MEPs join interpreters in strike action


Austria kicks off EU Presidency with hard-line refugee policy: Austria assumed the presidency of the Council of the European Union in July, and Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has made refugee policy a key issue. Kurz and his conservative party’s junior coalition partners, the far-right Freedom Party of Austria, have announced a plan to put an end to migration into the Austrian welfare system once and for all. Kurz said the now initiated shift towards the Australian model in European migration policy was enormously important to fight illegal migration and destroy the business model of smugglers. The Austrian Chancellor, who owes his swift rise to power primarily to his promise to combat illegal immigration, said his country would not wait for the Germans to take action. In a joint statement on Tuesday, Kurz, Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache and Interior Minister Herbert Kickl indicated that they were already drawing up plans of their own to deny migrants entry. In contrast to his Bavarian party friends, Kurz can live with the result of the European Council meeting last week. He sees in it a change in thinking and an end to the sugarcoating of the situation.,,

EU Parliament to keep public in dark on MEP expenses: The European Parliament has decided to keep the public in the dark when it comes to how MEPs spend millions of euros a year of taxpayer money on restaurants, hotels, travel and other daily expenses. The decision was made behind closed doors by the parliament’s Bureau, which consists of the president and vice-presidents. It comes after a year of debates on whether to increase transparency over the 4,400 euros each MEP receives a month in spending cash. This adds up to nearly 200 million euros in taxpayer money per parliamentary term. These funds are intended to be spent for professional not personal reasons, but MEPs are not required to retain any records or disclose how the money is spent. Of those that did have a national office, journalists found more than 40 paid rent to their national political parties, which raised suspicions of unallowed national party financing. Eight MEPs’ national offices were located in buildings that they themselves own. A few MEPs admitted to paying rent to themselves. Some explained they donated money to their party and different foundations. One MEP said he was saving the money for a pension. None of this is in line with rules governing the general allowance spending.,

MEPs join interpreters in strike action: The EU Parliament plenary has been hit by a translation strike. Some MEPs showed solidarity with the interpreters protest by obstructing repair work on microphones. The translators‘ strike came as the Bulgarian leader prepared his final speech before politicians. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker expressed his dismay saying that the chamber would not have behaved in the same way had the German Chancellor been present, adding „This is not normal. Full stop.“ It is just one of a series of planned strikes to take place this week after dialogue broke down with the parliament’s administration over working conditions.

Seek new data deal with EU immediately, MPs tell May: The British government should immediately open talks to secure a Data Adequacy Decision from the EU Commission, MPs said in a new report published on Tuesday. The report by MPs on the UK Parliament’s Exiting the EU committee adds that the UK government should accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in data protection law to increase its chances of obtaining an adequacy decision. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Theresa May is drawing up plans to keep the UK closely tied to European market rules for goods after Brexit in a move that risks infuriating euroskeptic campaigners in her party. According to reports, May and her officials are working on winning Brexit supporters around to her blueprint, which will include one preferred model for the future customs regime that the UK wants to negotiate with the EU. Friday’s white paper summit, taking place at May’s “Chequers” country house, is seen as critical to moving Brexit negotiations forward.,

ECB: Praet confident of inflation recovery even after bond-buying ends
Copyright: Italy Wikipedia shuts down in protest at EU copyright law
Nord Stream 2: German environmentalists sue to halt construction of controversial gas pipeline
USA: Senate Intelligence Committee backs assessment of Russia election meddling


‚Pacta sunt servanda‘, which means commitments must be respected. But commitments are not rigid.
Greece is still set to implement new pension cuts and tax increases next year, even after its bailout ends, but European Finance Commissioner Pierre Moscovici has suggested the cuts could be softened.


Austria ready to act at borders if Germany moves on migrants: Austria is prepared to take measures to protect its southern borders if an immigration deal within Germany’s coalition goes into effect, the government in Vienna said on Tuesday. It was responding to an agreement late on Monday between German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats and Bavaria’s Christian Social Union settling a row over migrant policy that had threatened to topple her government. Under the deal, migrants who have already applied for asylum in other EU countries will be held in transit centres on the German border while Berlin negotiates bilateral accords for their return. Kurz said that the migration deal would force Austria to protect its southern border. A statement by Kurz, Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache and Interior Minister Herbert Kickl said the Austrian government was prepared in particular to take measures for the protection of our southern borders. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker fired back at Kurz on Tuesday when the Austrian chancellor called for a „paradigm shift in migration.“ Juncker said the EU Commission had made proposals for protecting the EU’s external borders as far back as 2008, but they were rejected by „several German speakers“ — a clear dig at the Austrians. Hungary’s anti-migrant Prime Minister Viktor Orban has signalled his willingness to strike a bilateral deal with Merkel to limit the arrival of asylum seekers in Germany and other European countries.,,,,

Top Poland judge Gersdorf vows to defy retirement rule: The head of Poland’s Supreme Court has vowed to defy a controversial new law forcing her and dozens of senior judges to retire early. Chief Justice Prof Malgorzata Gersdorf has been told she must step down at midnight in line with new legislation. But Gersdorf plans to show up for work on Wednesday anyway. „The constitution gives me a six-year term and I have to act in accordance with the constitution“, Gersdorf said. She earlier branded the reforms, which require judges to retire at 65 instead of 70, a „purge“. Under the new legislation, up to 40 percent of Supreme Court judges are expected to be forced out. The new law imposes a new retirement age for judges of 65 and presidential assent is required for those who wish to stay on. Judges had until Tuesday to make their request. The legislation is one of several Polish judiciary reforms that the EU Commission argues violates EU rules, and it told Warsaw on Monday that it has launched fresh infringement proceedings intended to stop the retirement age measure.,

Italy’s League party to forfeit 48 million euros: Italy’s top court has upheld a prosecutor’s request to seize funds from Italy’s right-wing League party. Prosecutors last year had requested more than 49 million euros from the party — originally named the Northern League — after its founder, Umberto Bossi, and a former party treasurer were convicted of financial irregularities. The charges relate to transactions which took place between 2008-2010. Bossi — once a key ally of former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi — was found guilty in a 2017 trial in Milan of using hundreds of thousands of euros in public funds to pay personal expenses during his time as head of the party. He was sentenced to two years and three months in prison for the offense, while his son, Renzo, was also convicted and given an 18-month prison sentence. Former Northern League treasurer Francesco Belsito received the longest sentence of the three: two years and six months behind bars.

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UN team finds atrocities in Congo war: Rebels and government troops in Congo have committed atrocities including mass rape, cannibalism and the dismemberment of civilians, according to testimony published on Tuesday by a team of UN human rights experts. The team investigating a conflict in the Kasai region of Democratic Republic of Congo told the UN Human Rights Council last week that they suspected all sides were guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Their detailed 126-page report cataloged gruesome attacks committed in the conflict. Meanwhile, fighting in a port city in Yemen has forced around 2,000 high school students to flee to the Houthi-held capital Sanaa to sit exams. The students are now staying in schools or with friends and relatives and their reception is an example of how Houthi authorities are trying to ease social frustrations in the territory they control., (Congo), (Yemen)

Netherlands: Dutch prime minister interrupts US President Trump
Spain: Unemployed falls to lowest since 2008 in June

⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃ 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, (Inserat schalten)


Trump knocks Harley-Davidson again: US President Donald Trump said on Tuesday his administration is working to bring other motorcycle companies to the United States, following Harley-Davidson Inc’s decision to shift some production for European customers overseas. Trump gave no details about what steps his administration is taking. Asked about the tweet, White House senior adviser Kellyanne Conway had no comment. Trump has threatened to impose higher taxes on Harley-Davidson in retaliation after it said on June 25 it was shifting some production for European-bound motorcycles from US facilities to avoid tariffs being imposed by the European Union to counter US duties imposed by Trump.



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