Wednesday, February 13th 2019: Channel Tunnel to stay open after no-deal Brexit, Press freedom conditions worsen in Europe, Trial of Catalan separatists begins


Channel Tunnel to stay open after no-deal Brexit: The EU Commission announced plans on Tuesday to keep the rail link with Britain through the Channel Tunnel open on current terms for three months after a no-deal Brexit. The Commission proposal would extend safety authorizations for the Channel Tunnel rail link, provided that the UK also maintained identical safety standards. The EU plans are intended to ensure the continuity limited to cross-border operations and services, warning that an interruption in these activities would cause significant social and economic problems. British Prime Minister Theresa May told lawmakers on Tuesday to hold their nerve over Brexit and give her more time to negotiate a deal acceptable to both the EU and the British parliament. The leader of the opposition Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn, accused her of running down the clock with sham negotiations to pressure parliament into backing her deal., (Channel Tunnel); (May)

EU Parliament backs fishing deal with Morocco: The European Parliament has voted overwhelmingly in favor of an EU trade deal with Morocco which includes fishing rights off the disputed coast of Western Sahara. The new Sustainable Fisheries Partnership Agreement (SFPA) includes the waters of Western Sahara and aims to take into account the conclusions reached by the EU Court of Justice on this matter. However, MEPs were advised by Human Rights Watch to first take the matter to the court, as the UN does not recognize Morocco’s claim over the territory.,

Press freedom conditions worsen in Europe: The Council of Europe has found that press freedom in EU member states is in dire condition. European press freedom is more fragile than at any time since the end of the Cold War, according to a new report by the council, which called for urgent actions to improve the conditions for media freedom and provide reliable protection for journalists. The report said the number of attacks on journalists had increased sharply in the past year, almost doubling in number. Among these incidents were a car bomb, knife attack, an arson attack and the ramming of a national newspaper’s building. Two journalists were killed in 2018 over their work: Slovak investigative journalist Jan Kuciak and Jamal Khashoggi, whose death in the Saudi Arabian consulate in Istanbul remains under investigation.,

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Probe into Selmayr appointment has ended: One year after the controversial positioning of Martin Selmayr as the EU’s senior civil servant, the European Ombudsman closed an investigation with a condemnation of the procedure used by the EU Commission when it appointed him to the post. EU Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said Selmayr’s appointment did not follow EU law, in letter or spirit, and did not follow the Commission’s own rules. She added that the fact that the Commission also chose to ignore her recommendations was regrettable. The EU’s Budget and Human Resources Commissioner Günther Oettinger replied to O’Reilly’s report by insisting that the appointment of Selmayr was done in full compliance with all applicable rules. He said the two sides continued to disagree on a number of the watchdog’s findings.,

Venezuela opposition delivers first aid cargo: Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Monday his team had delivered a first cargo of the humanitarian aid. Guaido, who has been recognized by most Western nations as Venezuela’s legitimate president over the past month, tweeted a photo of himself surrounded by stacks of white pots of vitamin and nutritional supplements. He did not say from where or whom they came. Venezuela’s opposition has been coordinating an effort by Western nations, companies and organizations to deliver aid to Venezuela where malnutrition and preventable disease have proliferated in recent years as the economy has nosedived. President Nicolas Maduro has said this is part of a US-orchestrated strategy to undermine and ultimately overthrow him. Tens of thousands of demonstrators across Venezuela have continued their protests against Maduro. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier urged new elections in Venezuela after starting his Latin America tour in neighboring Colombia.,, (Steinmeier)

Ministerial approval: Paris wants to introduce minister veto following EU decision to block Alstom-Siemens merger
Food safety: Midnight deal for revised General Food Law
Airline: EU clears Air France-KLM, Delta, Virgin group deal over Virgin Atlantic
Promoting clean vehicles: Provisional deal with Parliament


They all ended on the guillotine.
Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, had a warning for Brexiteers comparing themselves to leaders of the French Revolution.


Trial of Catalan separatists begins: A politically charged trial of a dozen Catalan separatist leaders got underway Tuesday in Spain’s Supreme Court in Madrid. Nine of the defendants – who include the former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras, the former speaker of the Catalan parliament Carme Forcadell and two influential grassroots activists, Jordi Cuixart and Jordi Sanchez – are accused of rebellion, which carries a prison sentence of up to 25 years. Junqueras’ lawyer, Andreu Van Den Eynde, was the first to speak, arguing that the cause goes against political dissidence. Former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont called for the twelve separatists to be absolved for their alleged crimes and called the trial a stress test for the Spanish democracy. He accused the EU of being more concerned about Venezuela than the trial of Catalan separatists.,,

Italian PM criticizes Europe: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called on Tuesday for a less austere European Union more in tune with popular demands for economic growth. He also renewed calls for more flexibility in eurozone budget rules, common debt instruments for the EU currency area, an EU unemployment fund, and a change in rules intended to avoid new bank collapses. Conte claimed years of austerity had driven a wedge between elites and people that endangered the EU. Insisting his administration was keeping its accounts in order, Conte said it was also seeking to stimulate growth. He called for the EU to end long arguments over how to handle migrants arriving by sea across the Mediterranean Sea and to play a stronger, more united role in global affairs while maintaining dialogue with other powers such as the United States, Russia and China.

Macedonia is officially renamed North Macedonia: The small Balkan country of Macedonia officially changed its name Tuesday by adding a geographic designation that ends a decades-old dispute with neighboring Greece and secures its entry into Nato. The country is now officially called the Republic of North Macedonia. Prime Minister Zoran Zaev said his country would press ahead with all the changes needed to fulfill its end of the historic deal he reached with Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras last year.,

Germany bans Kurdish publishing houses: The German interior ministry has banned two media organizations it said were linked to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers‘ Party (PKK) following raids on Tuesday. The ministry said the groups were posing as publishing companies, but the earnings from the two organizations went exclusively to the PKK and strengthened its capabilities in Germany. Police searched the „Mesopotamia Publishing House“ and „MIR Multimedia“ in the western states of North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony and seized material. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly criticized Germany for not fighting more effectively against the PKK and the movement of Fetullah Gülen, an Islamic cleric based in the US whom Ankara blames for the attempted coup in 2016. On Tuesday, Turkey launched one of its largest operations against alleged Gülen supporters, ordering the arrest of 1,112 people. (Germany), (Turkey)

Antisemitism on the rise in France: An increase in antisemitic attacks is alarming the French government. Antisemitic acts in France rose by 74% last year, Interior Minister Christophe Castaner said while attending a ceremony at the memorial of a young Jewish man who was tortured to death in 2006. He said 541 such incidents occurred in 2018. Portraits of a Holocaust survivor stained with swastikas. A memorial in honor of a Jewish man vandalized. A bagel shop with the German word „Juden“ („Jews“) sprayed on its front window. Two trees planted at the scene where Ilan Halimi was found dying in a Paris suburb have been vandalized. Government spokesman Benjamin Griveaux has suggested the recent increase in attacks could be blamed on far-right activists who have infiltrated weekly anti-government „Yellow Vest“ protests.,,

Poland: Government wants to act as intermediary between Europe and the US during Warsaw summit
Belgium: Flights canceled for a day amid strike
Bulgaria: Does Sergei Skripal poisoning in Britain have link to Bulgaria attack?
Italy: Former PM Berlusconi says Italians are crazy to not vote for him

⊂ JOB-BOARD ⊃ 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), (Inserat schalten)


Women in agriculture: Women are the great forgotten group of agricultural policies but represent a quarter of French farmers. In the French region of Brittany, the „agriculture au feminin“ network is attempting to push forward the issue of gender equality in the farming sector. The group receives funding from the European Social Fund (ESF) to take measures to promote the attractiveness of agriculture, training and the recruitment of women to positions of responsibility.



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