Wednesday, December 5th 2018: European Court advocate general says UK can cancel Brexit, Russia partially unblocks Ukraine ports, EU ministers fail to agree on digital tax

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

European Court advocate general says UK can cancel Brexit: Britain can still cancel Brexit by revoking Article 50 without the consent of other EU member states, the European Court of Justice’s advocate general Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona said on Tuesday. He argued that as a general principle of international law withdrawal from an international treaty may be revoked at any time before it takes effect. While the advocate general’s opinions are not binding, the court tends to follow them in the majority of its final rulings. Prime Minister Theresa May has suffered embarrassing defeats at the start of five days of debate over her plans to leave the EU. She wants to secure parliament’s approval for her deal to keep close ties with the EU after leaving in March, but opposition is fierce. Former Ukip leader Nigel Farage has quit the party after disagreements with the current leadership.
independent.co.uk, bbc.com, uk.reuters.com (May), politico.eu (Farage)

Russia partially unblocks Ukraine ports: Shipping traffic has resumed to and from Ukraine’s ports on the Sea of Azov following a standoff with Russia, Ukrainian infrastructure minister Volodymyr Omelyan announced on Tuesday. Commercial ships were moving through the Kerch strait linking the Sea of Azov with the Black Sea. Omelyan, who accused Russia last week of blocking Ukrainian cargo trying to pass through the strait, said the ports of Berdyansk and Mariupol were partially unblocked thanks to a stern international response. Germany welcomed the news but also repeated its call for Russia to release the 24 Ukrainian sailors who are facing charges of illegally entering Russian waters. Russia had seized 24 Ukrainian sailors in the first open clash between the two states since 2014. Nato foreign ministers were meeting the Ukrainian foreign minister, Pavlo Klimkin, on Tuesday and Wednesday as Ukraine seeks international backing over the standoff with Russia.
theguardian.com, bbc.com, uk.reuters.com

EU ministers fail to agree on digital tax: EU finance ministers failed to agree a tax on digital revenues on Tuesday, despite a last minute Franco-German plan to salvage the proposal. The EU Commission had proposed a 3% tax on big digital firms’ online revenues in March, alleging the companies funnelled profit through states with the lowest tax rates. The tax was intended to be a temporary “quick fix” until a broader solution could be found among OECD members. But this was opposed by Ireland and some Nordic countries, leading French and German finance ministers to focus solely on online advertising revenues instead. While this met with misgivings and outright opposition from at least four other ministers at a meeting in Brussels, they agreed to keep talking, said Austrian Finance Minister Hartwig Loeger, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency.
reuters.com

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Nato accuses Russia of breaking nuclear missile treaty: Nato allies have concluded that Russia has developed and fielded a new missile system in violation of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. At a meeting on Tuesday, Nato Foreign Ministers called on Russia to urgently return to full and verifiable compliance, saying it was now up to Moscow to preserve the INF Treaty. Russia denied being in breach of the INF deal, saying it strictly abides by its conditions. The US is giving Russia two months to get back in compliance with the treaty before carrying out President Donald Trump’s threat to withdraw from the accord, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo told Nato allies. He said the burden fell on Russia to make the necessary changes. Only they could save the treaty.
nato.int, bbc.com, bloomberg.com, nytimes.com

Trump’s government is working on a new world order: In a speech in Brussels before a Nato ministers meeting, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Donald Trump is building a „new liberal order“ under US leadership, based on the principle of putting national sovereignty before multilateralism for its own sake. He listed a series of current international institutions, including the EU, UN, World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, that he said were no longer serving their mission they were created. Pompeo said that some international institutions worked in American interests. He listed only three such bodies: Nato, the Proliferation Security Initiative and the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, the bank messaging service known as Swift. Aside from two brief heckles, the audience responded with silence. It was a remarkably undiplomatic speech by the top American diplomat, and called into question the system of international cooperation.
theguardian.com, nytimes.com, politico.eu

Schengen: Avramopoulos on progress made under the European Agenda on Migration europa.eu
Council: Clearer, fairer and more enforceable rules for truck drivers consilium.europa.eu

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

If the British leave under poor conditions, there will be major consequences for them, but they will also be very real for us.
French MP Jean-Louis Bourlanges is worried about the effects of Brexit on France.
euractiv.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

France suspends fuel tax increase: Trying to quell a political crisis, the government of President Emmanuel Macron announced on Tuesday that it would suspend the gasoline tax increase that had set off three weeks of increasingly violent protests in Paris and around France by the so-called „Yellow Vest“ movement. The retreat comes after anti-fuel-tax demonstrations devolved into a riot in Paris, with people looting stores, burning cars and spray-painting their messages on the Arc de Triomphe and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. In announcing the decision, Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said anyone would have to be deaf or blind not to see or hear the roiling anger on the streets over a policy that Macron has defended as critical to combating climate change.
nytimes.com, npr.org, reuters.com

Italy could yield to EU on budget: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte indicated the populist government is about to back down in a budget standoff with the EU Commission, saying he will soon make an offer to Brussels. Conte said he has found room for a possible compromise. He has long been pushing his deputies Matteo Salvini and Luigi Di Maio to take a more conciliatory stand in talks with the commission, which have focused on a 2.4% deficit target for next year. The Commission welcomed this change in rhetoric, but has also said that Rome needs to go further. Pierre Moscovici, the European commissioner for economic and financial affairs, taxation and customs, called for concrete commitments.
bloomberg.com, cnbc.com

Poland promotes coal: Thousands of environmental experts from around the world are meeting in the heart of Poland’s coal country to discuss climate change, hoping to find a way to stem the damage caused by burning fossil fuels. Coal was proudly displayed in cases around the convention pavilions. Coal, fashioned into jewelry, was for sale. A coal-based cosmetics company even touted products that it claimed would treat both body and soul. There was no plan today to fully give up on coal, President Andrzej Duda announced in his opening remarks on Monday. He insisted that coal did not contradict the protection of the climate and the progress of climate protection.
nytimes.com, fortune.com

Denmark to send migrants to island: The Danish Government has pledged to push its legal obligations to human rights to the limits in a new plan to force some migrants to live on an isolated island that is currently home to a facility researching infectious animal diseases. As part of its budget negotiations, the Danish government announced a plan to use Lindholm Island to house up to 100 migrants who had committed crimes or been rejected for asylum but couldn’t be returned to their home countries. Danish Finance Minister Kristian Jensen emphasized that the migrants would not be in prison, though they will be required to report to officials daily and sleep on the island, or else they could be imprisoned.
fortune.com

Belgium: Government fights for survival after split over UN migration pact politico.eu
Name change: Macedonian Parliament adopts draft-amendments handelsblatt.com
Greece: Economic growth accelerates in third quarter on stronger consumer spending reuters.com

⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃

politjobs.eu: Alfa Fellowship Program seeks Young German, British, and American Leaders *** FTA seeks Regulatory Affairs Advisor (m/f) *** Bayer seeks Trainee (m/f) *** ISN seeks Advocacy Officer (m/f) *** Politico seeks Lobbying Reporter (m/f) *** EGEC seeks Trainee (m/f) *** Facebook seeks Public Policy Manager (m/f) *** Google seeks Public Policy and Government Relations Manager (m/f) *** DEKRA offers Internship (m/f) *** European Friends of Amernia seeks Communications and Media Engagement Officer (m/f) *** International Crisis Group seeks Analyst (m/f)
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)

⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃

EU to ask for monthly fake news reports: The EU Commission is planning to ask social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and Google for monthly reports on Russian disinformation campaigns ahead of the European election next May. The call to the tech companies is part of an action plan on fake news, expected to be presented this Wednesday. The information would be compiled by the Commission, which is also planning to publish these reports to create awareness among European voters on how foreign actors try to influence their vote.
politico.eu

 

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