Tuesday, 01 October 2019: UK to raise National Living Wage, Greece to move refugees from overcrowded camps, Hungary nominates Varhelyi for EU commissioner job, Trump was warned over Ukraine affair


UK to raise National Living Wage: Finance Minister Sajid Javid announced Monday he would increase the country’s National Living Wage, a mandatory minimum wage, and lower the age threshold for those who qualify from 25 to 21. He said the policy would help the next generation of go-getters to get ahead. Earlier this year, Labour pledged to raise the National Living Wage to £10 an hour in 2020 and to include all workers under 18. Labour’s Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell called Javid’s announcement a pathetic attempt at catch-up. Javid has also promised a significant economic policy response in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
uk.reuters.com, bbc.com, bbc.com

Johnson groping allegation haunts Tory conference: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has insisted allegations about his personal conduct were not overshadowing the Tory conference. Journalist Charlotte Edwardes has accused the PM of touching her thigh, and that of another woman, at a lunch in 1999, which he denies. Johnson was already facing questions over his ties to a US businesswoman, Jennifer Arcuri, during his time as London mayor – he insists he acted with full propriety. The leader of the National Union of Students, Zamzam Ibrahim, has pulled out of engagements at the Conservative party conference in protest at Islamophobia at a fringe event on Sunday.
bbc.com, theguardian.com (Johnson); theguardian.com (Ibrahim)

Opposition parties rule out no-confidence vote: Opposition party leaders rejected a plan to put forward a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week at a meeting in Westminster on Monday. The Labour Party, the Liberal Democrats, the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru, the Independent Group for Change and the Green Party had met to discuss ways of averting a no-deal Brexit. They agreed not to force a vote against the government before 19 October, the deadline for Johnson to ask the EU for an extension if no deal is agreed. Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson reiterated her insistence that a temporary government could not be led by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn. She said whips from each party would meet to discuss possible candidates to take over as prime minister if they take down the Tory government.
politico.eu, theguardian.com

Prisons: Conservatives to scrap automatic early release of some prisoners theguardian.com
Conservatives: Veteran Boris Johnson aide quits as Downing Street adviser theguardian.com
Commons: Bercow and Westminster parties agree to use moderate language bbc.com


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Greece to move refugees from overcrowded camps: On Monday, the Greek government announced measures to deal with the increase in migration flows, one day after a fire in the overcrowded Moria refugee camp on the island of Lesvos killed two people. The goal is for some 20,000 people to leave the squalid conditions in the islands‘ reception centres, Greek officials said. Other plans include the creation of detention centres for illegal immigrants and migrants who do not have the right to apply for asylum, high-level contacts between the Greek and Turkish governments to restart deportations to Turkey, and continued military support for coast guard patrols in the eastern Aegean Sea. A female Isil supporter was killed and seven others injured during an exchange of gunfire in a Syrian refugee camp. Germany is intensifying border checks, but Green party politician Irene Mihalic called the move a dangerous, anti-European signal.
washingtonpost.com, politico.eu (Greece); telegraph.co.uk (Syria); dw.com (Germany)

Hungary nominates Varhelyi for EU commissioner job: The EU Parliament’s Legal Affairs Committee has confirmed its rejection of Romania’s Rovana Plumb and Hungary’s Laszlo Trocsanyi as EU commissioners, on the grounds that their financial affairs pose potential conflicts of interest. The incoming EU Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen called on Hungary and Romania to present new nominees. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban announced that Hungary’s top EU envoy in Brussels, Oliver Varhelyi, would step in as Budapest’s candidate for EU commissioner. Romania has yet to nominate a replacement candidate.
politico.eu, uk.reuters.com, dw.com

Trump was warned over Ukraine affair: US President Donald Trump was repeatedly warned by his own advisors that the Ukraine conspiracy theory that he and his lawyer were pursuing was completely debunked long before the president pressed Ukraine this summer to investigate his Democratic rivals, according to the „New York Times“. Democrats in Congress say in addition to the whistleblower, they also wish to speak with Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Trump on Monday escalated his attacks against the lawmaker leading the impeachment inquiry against him, suggesting that Representative Adam Schiff be arrested for treason. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo faces a deadline this Friday to release documents related to the Ukraine affair. The US justice ministry has confirmed that Trump sought help from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison to investigate the origins of former special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation. The US administration has issued new sanctions against Russia over attempted interference in the 2018 midterm elections. Russia has tested an intercontinental missile, just a few months after the end of the INF treaty.
nytimes.com (Advisors); bbc.com (Giuliani); reuters.com (Schiff); faz.net (Pompeo); nbcnews.com (Australia); cbsnews.com (Sanctions); tagesspiegel.de (INF treaty)

Johnson to reveal Brexit plan: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will unveil a detailed Brexit plan to EU leaders within the next 24 hours, the „Telegraph“ reported Monday evening. The plan is expected to be based on the creation of an all-Ireland economic zone which would allow agricultural and food products to move between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland without checks at the border. The government also suggested creating customs clearance zones in Northern Ireland and Ireland. The ideas, which mark a departure from Johnson’s promise not to put infrastructure on the border, are part of four unofficial papers submitted by the UK to the EU by Johnson’s team.
telegraph.co.uk, uk.reuters.com, bbc.com, theguardian.com

Investment partnership: EU and Japan join forces to counter US and Chinese initiatives euractiv.com
Euro zone: Unemployment falls to lowest rate in more than a decade reuters.com
World Trade Organisation: EU braces for impact in Airbus case politico.com
Council of Europe: Ukraine, Latvia and Lithuania boycott council because of Russia’s return spiegel.de, stern.de


Some adore her and some condemn her. I can only say: The facts are known to everyone.
German EU Commissioner Günther Oettinger has refused to form an opinion on Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg. He underlined that climate protection was not about Greta, but about the facts.


France honours Chirac: World leaders and dignitaries gathered in Paris on Monday as France marked a national day of mourning for the late former French president Jacques Chirac. A funeral procession brought Chirac’s coffin to the St.-Sulpice church, where nearly 2,000 guests gathered for a religious service. One of Notre-Dame Cathedral’s main bells rang out to mark the procession’s departure, the first time it had tolled since a fire ravaged the building in April.

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Class-action lawsuit against VW: A case pitting hundreds of thousands of owners of manipulated diesel cars demanding compensation opened against German automaker Volkswagen on Monday. A consumer rights group representing the plaintiffs says VW deliberately harmed buyers by installing motor control software that allowed vehicles to pollute far more on the road than under lab conditions. VW has insisted that the cars remained perfectly functional and that software fixes have removed the problem of illegal emissions levels.
france24.com, dw.com

Italy: Government lifts deficit goals reuters.com
France: Fessenheim nuclear plant to close next year reuters.com
Slovenia: Adria Airways files for bankruptcy reuters.com
Netherlands: Thomas Cook’s Dutch branch declares bankruptcy dutchnews.nl
Hungary: MOL to build polyol plant in eastern Hungary emerging-europe.com


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MEP earnings from side jobs: An analysis has found that high-earners are present in nearly all political groups in the EU Parliament. The 748 MEPs declared between €6.3m-€16.2m of annual outside income. But the non-aligned groups, to which the Brexit Party belongs, take in nearly double the average outside income of all MEPs combined.


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