Wednesday, March 13th 2019: May loses Brexit vote, EU abandons digital tax plan, Weber’s meeting with Orban ends without results

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

May loses Brexit vote: The British parliament on Tuesday defeated Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan to leave the European Union. MPs voted down May’s Brexit deal by 149 – a smaller margin than when they rejected it in January. With just 17 days to go until the UK is due to exit the EU, backbenchers from both sides of the Brexit divide immediately began maneuvering to take control of the next steps of the process, in a series of key votes in the coming days. Parliament is set to vote this Wednesday on whether to reject the prospect of a no-deal Brexit, and to vote Thursday on whether to seek a postponement of the March 29th deadline. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn demanded a general election in response to May’s defeat. EU leaders and senior officials were dismayed but hardly surprised. Spokesmen for European Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said the EU regretted the outcome of the vote and were disappointed that the British government had been unable to ensure a majority for the Brexit deal agreed by the UK and EU in November. EU officials showed no indication that they were willing to make any new concessions. The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the disaster planning in the EU for a no-deal scenario was now even more crucial.
nytimes.com, theguardian.com, bbc.com, theguardian.com, politico.eu

EU abandons digital tax plan: European Union governments on Tuesday scrapped a plan to introduce an EU-wide digital tax. Romanian Finance Minister Eugen Teodorovici, speaking in a public session of a meeting of EU finance ministers, said there was no agreement on the tax despite months of talks. He said ministers would now focus on trying to reach a common position for an overhaul of digital taxation at a global level by 2020. Countries that resist the tech tax include Sweden, home of the music streaming service Spotify, and Ireland, home to the European headquarters for Facebook, Google and Twitter. Denmark and Finland also oppose the tax – and tax issues still need to be decided unanimously in the EU. Reforming tax matters on a global level have proven tough because of widely differing interests among major EU member states.
reuters.com, dw.com

Weber’s meeting with Orban ends without results: Talks on Tuesday between Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and European People’s Party (EPP) leader Manfred Weber have failed to resolve their differences. Weber said their conversation was constructive but problems were not yet resolved. Weber has demanded an immediate and permanent end to Orban’s anti-EU and anti-immigrant campaigning – as well as an apology to EPP members for his rhetoric and renewed support for a university in Hungary. EPP officials will discuss on March 20th whether Orban’s party Fidesz should remain in the EPP, after over a dozen member parties called for its expulsion or suspension. The trigger for the calls was an anti-migration campaign targeting EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker and Hungarian-American financier and philanthropist George Soros.
reuters.com, politico.eu

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EU sets out 10-point plan to balance China economic ties: The EU Commission has set out a plan for more balanced economic relations with China, urging EU leaders to back its ideas to curb Chinese state-owned enterprises and increase their guard against cybersecurity threats. The Commission wants to cooperate more with China in areas such as climate change and peace, but also push for a more reciprocal economic relationship and take steps to protect the EU’s industry. Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen said Chinese state financing and state-owned enterprises distorted EU markets. For example, EU rules limit subsidies EU governments can give to European companies, but do not apply to foreign companies. The EU Parliament meanwhile adopted an EU cybersecurity certification scheme for products, processes and services, whilst MEPs expressed their concern about Chinese IT in the EU.
reuters.com (Commission); europarl.europa.eu (Parliament)

Whistleblowers to get EU-wide protection: The EU Parliament and member states have reached a provisional agreement on new rules that will guarantee a high level of protection for whistleblowers who report breaches of EU law. The new rules are intended to protect whistleblowers against dismissal, demotion, and other forms of retaliation. The deal will establish a system of safe channels for reporting both within an organization and to public authorities. Whistleblowers would be protected when they report irregularities at the companies or public bodies where they work. Legal protection would be guaranteed when whistleblowers disclose illicit activities through internal channels or to public authorities. Whistleblowers could also obtain legal protection if they disclose breaches to the media.
reuters.com, europa.eu

Taxation: Council revises its EU list of non-cooperative jurisdictions consilium.europa.eu
EU Parliament: Russia can no longer be considered a strategic partner europarl.europa.eu
South America: Venezuela orders all US diplomats to leave reuters.com

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

David has finally defeated Goliath. Fairness, healthier food and social rights have finally prevailed over the unfair trading practices in the food supply chain. For the very first time in EU history, farmers, food producers and consumers will no longer be bullied by big players.
The European Parliament’s rapporteur Paolo De Castro has welcomed the new EU rules to protect farmers against unfair trading practices.
europarl.europa.eu

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Boeing 737 MAX 8 banned from European airspace: The European Aviation Safety Agency has banned Boeing 737 MAX 8 flights in its airspace following Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines tragedy. The ban came as more than a half-dozen other countries grounded the plane, and was the most sweeping regulatory action taken so far in the two days since the crash of a Max 8 that killed 157 people on a flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya. It was the second fatal accident involving the 737 Max 8 model in the past five months. US regulators, airlines and the manufacturer have become increasingly isolated in maintaining that the plane is safe. Since October, when a Max 8 belonging to the budget airline Lion Air crashed in Indonesia soon after takeoff, killing all 189 people on board, Boeing has been working on changes to the flight control systems of the aircraft.
dw.com, nytimes.com, bbc.com

German Chancellor Merkel rejects US threat over Huawei: US Ambassador Richard Grenell has threatened that the US will restrict intelligence with Germany if it builds 5G networks with Huawei. German Chancellor Angela Merkel responded on Tuesday, saying Germany would define its own security standards for a new 5G mobile network. Security, particularly when it came to the expansion of the 5G network, but also elsewhere in the digital area, was a very important concern for the German government, Merkel said. She announced that Germany would of course discuss these questions with its partners in Europe, as well as the appropriate offices in the United States. German politicians from Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats (CDU) said that they were in no need of tips from US ambassadors about the nation’s competency to address cybersecurity threats.
cnbc.com, dw.com

EU Parliament lifts immunity for National Front founder Le Pen: Parliament voted Tuesday to lift the parliamentary immunity of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the founder and former head of the French far-right party now known as the National Rally. French judges had asked the European Parliament to lift Le Pen’s immunity in order to investigate allegations that he illegally claimed millions of euros in Brussels to pay staff based in France of what was then known as the National Front party. A number of the party’s MEPs have been accused of paying permanent members of the party’s staff with Parliament money by making them assistants of MEPs, but without them doing any relevant work. Jean-Marie Le Pen’s daughter Marine Le Pen, now head of the National Rally, has already been charged in the case.
politico.eu

German finance minister sees progress on plan for EU financial transactions tax: Germany’s Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Tuesday there had been a lot of progress on a plan to introduce a financial transactions tax in European Union countries that support the project. Following a meeting of EU finance ministers in Brussels, Scholz said he sees a consensus among those ten states that want to introduce the tax in principle, but so far could not agree on a common model. He said Germany and France had paved the way for an agreement. Scholz acknowledged that some questions still had to be clarified, such as the levying of the tax and the distribution of income.
uk.reuters.com, faz.net

New Zealand: Government supports climate protests on Friday zeit.de
Belgium: Jihadist sentenced to life in prison for Jewish museum shooting telegraph.co.uk
Slovakia: Government rejects US contribution to modernization of Slovak airbases handelsblatt.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 ⊃

Scientists warn that pollution kills more people than smoking: The number of early deaths caused by air pollution is double previous estimates, according to research, meaning toxic air is killing more people than tobacco smoking. Researchers in Germany and Cyprus estimated that air pollution caused 8.8 million extra deaths in 2015 – almost double the previously estimated 4.5 million. The new research, published in the European Heart Journal, indicates that while air pollution hits the lungs first, its impact via the bloodstream on heart disease and strokes is responsible for twice as many deaths as respiratory diseases.
theguardian.com, reuters.com

 

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