Wednesday, October 9th 2019: Timmermans pledges to tax polluting imports, Merkel says EU agreement on Brexit deal unlikely, Third day of climate protests

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

Timmermans pledges to tax polluting imports: EU Commissioner-designate for European Green Deal Frans Timmermans, who will be responsible for climate issues in the new EU Commission, announced at a confirmation hearing in the EU Parliament on Tuesday that the EU will start work immediately on a tax on polluting foreign firms. Europe’s antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, the Danish candidate for the Europe fit for the Digital Age portfolio, has reiterated plans to present an act to upgrade liability and safety rules for digital platforms. She also plans to table proposals on artificial intelligence. Vestager further said she preferred to use fines or other penalties on rule-breaking companies rather than break them up. Valdis Dombrovskis, who is slated to stay on as vice president of the EU Commission in charge of financial regulation, wants to introduce legislation aimed at preventing Facebook’s proposed digital currency Libra from undermining Europe’s single currency. Lawmakers in the EU Parliament’s agriculture committee Tuesday accepted Poland’s Janusz Wojciechowski as the EU’s next farm chief. France’s Commissioner-designate Sylvie Goulard has a last chance to convince the EU Parliament by answering a new set of questions in writing or by facing the music at the end of this week.
reuters.com (Timmermans); europarl.europa.eu, reuters.com (Vestager); wsj.com (Dombrovskis); politico.eu (Wojciechowski); euractiv.com (Goulard)

Merkel says EU agreement on Brexit deal unlikely: German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the likelihood of the EU ratifying British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Brexit deal as unlikely in a call between the two leaders on Tuesday, according to a Downing Street source. Merkel reportedly said for a deal to be agreed upon, Northern Ireland would have to stay in the EU customs union forever, which Johnson is not prepared to agree to. Following talks in Downing Street, the president of the EU Parliament David Sassoli said there had been no progress and MEPs would not agree to a compromise deal at any price. Sassoli said the UK’s new proposed customs arrangements for Northern Ireland were a long way from something to which the Parliament could agree. European Council President Donald Tusk has accused Johnson of not taking Brexit negotiations seriously enough.
dw.com, bbc.com

Third day of climate protests: Climate protests are taking place in dozens of cities around the world including Berlin, Sydney and Paris. More than 395 protesters have been arrested around the world so far in addition to 471 confirmed arrests in London. About 200 protesters camped on the streets of central London on Tuesday on the second day of a planned two-week shutdown of the heart of the capital in protest at the lack of action to tackle the climate crisis. EU environment ministers have agreed to update the EU’s current emission reduction pledge next year but fell short of saying by how much. Ten countries blocked attempts by the others to commit outright to an increase. Eight EU member states have signed a letter urging the bloc to get tougher on climate action. Germany, however, was not among them.
independent.co.uk, bbc.com, theguardian.com, euractiv.com, dw.com

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No EU agreement on migrants rescued at sea: A large majority of EU member states have refused to back a plan to quickly get migrants off boats in the Mediterranean Sea and distribute them among willing EU partners. At a meeting of EU interior ministers, only Ireland, Luxembourg and Portugal offered to take part in a plan drawn up by Germany, France, Italy and Malta, which would screen migrants, relocate asylum-seekers and return people who do not apply or qualify for asylum, all within four weeks. 12 countries said they would be willing to accept rescued migrants on a case-by-case basis, but only after a number of further technical issues were resolved. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer warned of a repeat of the influx of migrants that caught the EU unprepared in 2015.
apnews.com, dw.com, reuters.com

Syria: US President Trump says US is not abandoning Kurds by withdrawing troops usatoday.com
Ukraine affair: White House says it won’t cooperate with impeachment inquiry cbsnews.com
Ecuador: Government leaves capital city amid violent protests cnn.com
Hong Kong: Hong Kong leader doesn’t rule out Chinese intervention; China won’t show NBA preseason games; Blizzard bans Esports player after Hong Kong comments dw.com; cnn.com; npr.org

⊂ QUOTES ⊃

The US will impose those tariffs as they are allowed to do [by the World Trade Organization]. Then, maybe, we can talk.
EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström is not very optimistic when it comes to avoiding US tariffs on European goods.
euractiv.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

France debates immigration: The French government has launched a debate on French and European migration policy, in particular, to respond to the concerns of the French. Prime Minister Edouard Philippe told MPs he was not targeting the right to asylum but was interested in the criteria for family reunification. This right allows those who already reside legally in France to be joined by their family members. Philippe also called for a better protection of the external borders of the Schengen area. France’s home affairs minister Christophe Castaner warned that some of the EU’s external borders were still poorly controlled.
euractiv.com, france24.com

Macron promises fight against terrorism: French President Emmanuel Macron promised an unrelenting fight against terrorism as he attended a tribute to the victims of the recent Paris knife attack. At a ceremony at the police base where the attack took place, Macron told officers the government would wage an unrelenting fight in the face of Islamist terrorism. He added that this was not a fight against a religion but against its diversion that lead to terrorism.
politico.eu

German authorities investigating stolen truck ramming: German authorities are investigating why a man from Syria rammed a stolen truck into a line of cars in Limburg, leaving eight people injured as well as the driver. German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer said the motive behind the incident remained unclear. Security authorities said on Tuesday evening that there was no known link between the suspect and Islamist extremism. The federal prosecutor’s office, which handles terrorism cases in Germany, stated that, as yet, it does not have jurisdiction over the case, as there is no reliable evidence of a terrorist attack. Prosecutors are also investigating whether the attacker had any mental health concerns.
dw.com, bbc.com

Italian parliament votes for fewer lawmakers: Italy’s parliament voted on Tuesday to cut the number of elected lawmakers by more than a third. The law calls for the number of seats in the lower house to be reduced to 400 from the current 630, while the upper house Senate will be sliced back to 200 seats from 315. The reform was championed by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement as part of their battle to cut the cost of politics and slash privileges for lawmakers. 5-Star said the decrease, which should come into force at the next election due in 2023, would save the country hundreds of millions of euros and make parliament more efficient.
reuters.com, politico.eu

Poland: Kaczynski back in the limelight bbc.com
Germany: US military plane crashes near Trier dw.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 ⊃

Louvre opens outpost in northern France: The Louvre has opened a new art conservation center in Lievin, northern France, to protect the museum’s priceless artworks from its flood-prone storage reserves. Protecting the museum’s works has taken on additional urgency in recent years after severe floods forced the Louvre to evacuate endangered artworks from basements and close exhibits. Visitors to the Louvre should have a clearer view of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa” after the museum installed a new, more transparent form of bullet-proof glass to protect the famous painting.
washingtonpost.com, reuters.com

 

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