Wednesday, February 21st 2018: EU warns it will retaliate if hit by US trade curbs, Sharp decline in illegal migrants entering EU in 2017, EU Commission defends Katainen


EU warns it will retaliate if hit by US trade curbs: The European Commission said on Tuesday it had expressed its concern to Washington about possible measures to curb imports of steel and aluminum and warned that it was ready to react if its industry was hit. The Commission made it clear to the US administration that the EU would be deeply concerned about measures that affected the EU industry, Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas told a news conference. The US Commerce Department has recommended that President Donald Trump impose steep curbs on steel and aluminum imports from China and other countries ranging from global and country-specific tariffs to broad import quotas.

Sharp decline in illegal migrants entering EU in 2017: The EU saw in 2017 the lowest number of detected illegal border-crossings since the migrant crisis began four years ago, the EU border agency Frontex said Tuesday. It amounted to a 60 percent decline from the 511,000 illegal border-crossings in 2016, and far below the 1.8 million in 2015. While numbers on the Libya-Italy route have declined since last July as Libyan factions and authorities – under pressure from Italy and the EU – began to block departures, especially from the smuggling hub of Sabratha, Frontex Executive Director Fabrice Leggeri said the crossings to Spain have more than doubled from below 10,000 in 2016.,

EU Commission defends Katainen: Campaigners had raised concerns about a meeting of Goldman Sachs‘ Jose Manuel Barroso, a former European Commission President, with current Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen back in October. A letter was made public on Tuesday confirming that Barroso met alone with Katainen in a hotel in Brussels, during which they mostly discussed trade and defense matters. 24 hours after this meeting, Katainen published, in accordance with procedures and transparency, details of the meeting, Margaritis Schinas, Chief Spokesperson for the European Commission, told reporters.

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Increased logging in Bialowieza forest breaches EU law: Poland’s decision to increase logging rates in parts of the protected Bialowieza forest infringes EU law, European Court of Justice Advocate General Yves Bot said in an opinion published Tuesday. The opinion comes after the EU Commission launched an infringement procedure to stop large-scale logging last July over concerns it would threaten the integrity of the protected site. Bialowieza is unique in Europe, bearing traces of the primeval forest that once covered the Continent.

Myanmar to resettle 6,000 Rohingya refugees: Myanmar agreed with Bangladesh on Tuesday to resettle more than 6,000 Rohingya Muslims who have been stranded in a no man’s land between the two countries, as plans for the repatriation of hundreds of thousands of others have been delayed over concerns for their safety if they return to Myanmar, officials said. About 700,000 Rohingya Muslims have fled army-led violence in Buddhist-majority Myanmar since August and are living in refugee camps in Bangladesh.

Syria: Risk of Syrian clash with Turkey rises as forces enter Afrin
Natural gas: Turkish blockade near Cyprus extended
World Trade Organization: South Korea launches WTO trade challenge against US duties


They fear that Brexit could lead to an Anglo-Saxon race to the bottom, with Britain plunged into a ‚Mad Max‘-style world borrowed from dystopian fiction. These fears about a race to the bottom are based on nothing, not history, not intention, nor interest.
UK Brexit Minister David Davis has dismissed fears of a post-Brexit future akin to that depicted in the post-apocalyptic film franchise „Mad Max.“ He claimed that opponents of Brexit had touted this as a possibility.


Former Greek ministers sue witnesses in pharma bribe case: Two former Greek government ministers have filed criminal lawsuits against witnesses who allegedly implicated them and other former officials in a pharmaceuticals scandal. The secret witnesses had testified that the ministers were involved in bribes allegedly paid by Swiss drugmaker Novartis to boost drug sales and prices in Greece. Greece’s left-led government has asked parliament to investigate 10 former officials, including two former prime ministers, for involvement in the scandal. Lawmakers are set to vote Wednesday night on whether to launch the investigation.

Barcelona terror attack suspects arrested in France: Three people have been detained in connection with August’s terror attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils. The arrests were made in the French regions of Gard and Tarn, following a joint French and Spanish police operation. The French prosecutor said the suspects had been hiding in the Gard and Tam regions in southwestern France. Last summer’s terrorist attacks in Barcelona and Cambrils left 16 people dead and around 130 injured.

Poroshenko signs law on Donbas: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has signed a bill on Donbas Reintegration. The law defines the legal status of certain areas of the Donetsk and Lugansk regions where armed formations of the Russian Federation and the administration of the Russian occupation have established and exercise general effective control as temporarily occupied areas. The law states that Russia shall be held liable for moral, financial or physical damage inflicted on the state of Ukraine, government authorities and local self-government agencies, individuals and legal entities.

Big gaps persist in German military: Germany’s armed forces are suffering from severe shortages of weapons and equipment that put the country’s ability to meet its Nato commitments in doubt, a parliamentary watchdog warned yesterday. The German military is not equipped to meet the tasks before it, Hans-Peter Bartels, the parliamentary commissioner for the armed forces said as he presented his annual report. Operational readiness is dangerously low and the country’s ability to take over a frontline Nato taskforce next year must now be in question, he warned.

Italy: Accusations about Berlusconi’s ties to Sicilian mafia revived
Hungary: Parliament votes to support Poland in fight against EU
France: Military readiness at a low

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The ex-Belgian running Australia this week: Australian Senator Mathias Cormann spoke little English until 1993 – a year before his first visit to the nation. Now the Belgium-raised politician will become Australia’s acting prime minister this week, stepping in while Malcolm Turnbull conducts a visit to the US.



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