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UK “not ready” to stop free movement on Brexit day Martin Banks

Campaigners have reacted with fury to UK plans to stop free movement on 31 October, the day the UK is due to leave the EU.

Campaigners have reacted with fury to UK plans to stop free movement on 31 October, the day the UK is due to leave the EU.

Photo credit: PA


Two separate citizens’ groups say the UK is “not ready” to implement such an “aggressive and abrupt” change in the system.

The groups were reacting to news that the UK government plans to end free movement for EU citizens on day one of a no deal Brexit – despite warnings of chaos and of people trapped in legal limbo.

Priti Patel, the new hard-line UK home secretary, is pressing for border restrictions to be imposed immediately on 31 October, even though no replacement system is ready.

Previously, UK ministers had intended to delay scrapping free movement until new rules are in place.


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Reaction to her announcement at the weekend was swift with Nicolas Hatton, head of the3million group of EU citizens in the UK, saying: “This will open the door to discrimination. There are no systems in place. This is a political gesture, but it will have a real impact on people’s lives.”

Hatton added, “How will they distinguish between the ‘legacy people’, those already here, and those who will arrive afterwards?”

The new approach is believed to be endorsed by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his controversial chief advisor Dominic Cummings.

Further response to Patel’s comments came from former Labour MP Roger Casale, of New Europeans, another group campaigning for post-Brexit citizens’ rights.

Speaking on Monday, Casale declared, “Free movement is one of the greatest achievements of the EU - it is a tragedy that it will end for UK citizens on 31 October if Britain leaves the EU.”

“Ending free movement will require a new system to be phased in and this will take time.”

“This will open the door to discrimination. There are no systems in place. This is a political gesture, but it will have a real impact on people’s lives” Nicolas Hatton, head of the3million group

“That is why we are so concerned about the Home Secretary's intention to end free movement overnight on 31 October.”

He told this website, “We fear this will result in long delays at ports and airports for all passengers moving in and out of the UK.”

There are over 3.4 million EU citizens in Britain and the UK government has promised to secure their right to stay through its settled or pre-settled status scheme.

But, even so, Casale asks, “What will happen at the border with EU citizens who are entitled to settled or pre-settled status but have not yet applied? Will they have to apply for this status before they will be allowed to re-enter the UK?”

The former Labour MP warns, “Free movement is a two-way street. British citizens may face additional checks when travelling to continental Europe.”

He also addressed concerns of the estimated 1.5m UK citizens who live and work on mainland Europe, asking, “How about Britons who are living and working in the EU?  Their status may be jeopardised by the actions of the Home Secretary if EU member states fail to secure their right to stay before the 31 October.”

“Without a physical proof of their status EU citizens in the UK and Britons abroad may face discrimination due to a misperception about their residency rights.”

“That is why it is essential that the EU and UK agree an EU Green Card scheme as soon as possible.”

“Free movement is one of the greatest achievements of the EU - it is a tragedy that it will end for UK citizens on 31 October if Britain leaves the EU” Roger Casale, former Labour MP and head of New Europeans

Casale goes on, “In practice, ending free movement will have to take place step by step as new measures to regulate the movement of people between the UK and the EU are brought in.”

“To claim otherwise is nothing more than political posturing. To implement such a policy would be hugely disruptive.”

“To pass the legislation above the heads of parliamentarians would be draconian. We strongly oppose the Home Secretary's proposal and urge MPs to do the same.”

On Monday, a UK Home Office spokesperson said: “The home secretary has been clear in her intention to take back control of our borders and end free movement after 31 October.”

“Ending free movement means we are no longer required to give unlimited and uncontrolled access to those from EU countries when they are coming here seeking to work.”

The next important episode in the Brexit saga will be later this week at the G7 summit in France on 24-26 August, when Johnson will meet several EU leaders, as well as US President Donald Trump. Whether Brexit will feature in any way on the agenda is uncertain, however.

/articles/news/uk-%E2%80%9Cnot-ready%E2%80%9D-stop-free-movement-brexit-day Mon, 19 Aug 2019 15:19:16 +0200
Movers and Shakers | 16 August 2019 Dods People EU

Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column. 

Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column. 

Today’s Movers & Shakers are about two Romanian candidate announcements for the European Commission, appointment of the Minister for the Interior and Administration in Poland, and a scheduled no confidence vote in coalition government in Italy.


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European Commission 

Romanian Prime Minister Viorica DĂNCILĂ, following President-Designate Ursula VON DEN LEYEN’s request, have proposed two candidates for Romania’s place on the European Commission. They are Rovana PLUMB, former Minister in charge of EU Funds, and Dan NICA, former Communications Minister. Romania is one of only a few countries to follow VON DEN LEYEN’s request that countries propose two candidates; one male and one female. 

 

Directorates-General 

Budget (DG BUDG) 
Linda ROWAN has been appointed Head of Unit R2 (HR Business Correspondent, Finance and Internal Control) replacing Acting Head of Unit Daniela GHEORGHE. 

 

Marco CARNACCINI has left the position of Head of Task Force: Administrative Efficiency/Business Process Reengineering (BPR), leaving the position vacant. 
 


 

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Public Affairs 


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Belgium 

New Flemish Alliance (EFA) leader Bart DE WEVER spoke pessimistically about the possibility that a government will be formed quickly; predicting that the country would go at least 100 days before negotiations even start. 

 

Brexit 
According to plans that have been drawn up by Downing Street, British diplomats will pull out from the EU’s institutional structures in Brussels within days, in a step that is meant to reinforce the message that the UK is leaving the EU by 31 October. Prime minister Boris JOHNSON had said in his first statement in the House of Commons that he would “unshackle” British diplomacy from EU affairs. 

 

Brexit Secretary Stephen BARCLAY is set to sign an order to formally repeal the European Communities Act of 1972 in the next few days. 

US President Donald TRUMP has spoken positively about his relationship with Prime Minister Boris JOHNSON and has said that US and UK officials are quickly progressing on a trade deal. However, Nancy PELOSI, Speaker of the House of Representatives, has said that her Democratic Party would oppose any trade deal if Brexit risks peace in Northern Ireland. 

 

Major figures opposed to a no-deal Brexit have agreed to meet, following Labour Party leader Jeremy CORBYN’s proposal that if the government is defeated in a Vote of Confidence that he would lead a temporary government that would seek an extension to Article 50 in order to hold a General Election. Liberal Democrat leader Jo SWINSON opposes CORBYN becoming Prime Minister; suggesting long time MPs Ken CLARKE and Harriet HARMAN instead. 

 

France 
The Republicans (EPP) are looking for a new leader and there are currently three main contenders. Christian JACOB, head of The Republicans group in the National Assembly is the apparent front runner and has the support of many high-profile figures including Gérard LARCHER, president of the Senate. The other two contenders are MPs Guillaume LARRIVÉ and Julien AUBERT. The election will take place on 12-13 October. 

 

Italy 
Shortly after leader of The League party (ID), Matteo SALVINI declared the coalition government with Five Star Movement (NI) was dead, the party called a vote of confidence in prime minister Giuseppe CONTE on Friday. Leaders of the country’s parliamentary parties then met on Tuesday to discuss the proposed motion deciding on the date 20 August for the vote of no confidence. 

 

Poland 
Senior Law and Justice figure and speaker of Parliament, Marek KUCHCIŃSKI, resigned on Friday in a bid to quell a growing political crisis surrounding the party before the nation heads to the polls on 13 October. KUCHCIŃSKI has been accused of taking more than 100 flights on a government jet, mostly for personal and recreational purposes. 

 

Mariusz KAMIŃSKI has been appointed Minister for the Interior and Administration, replacing Elżbieta WITEK. 

/articles/news/movers-and-shakers-16-august-2019 Fri, 16 Aug 2019 12:21:00 +0200
Boris Johnson accuses MPs of 'collaborating' with Brussels to block No Deal Brexit Martin Banks

Legal and political experts, campaigners and MPs have been accused of "collaborating" with Brussels to undermine the UK government's negotiating position by attempting to block a no-deal Brexit.

Legal and political experts, campaigners and MPs have been accused of "collaborating" with Brussels to undermine the UK government's negotiating position by attempting to block a no-deal Brexit.

Photo credit: Press Association


The claims by UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson were described on Thursday by Labour MP Mary Creagh as “a wicked lie.”

Speaking during a Facebook event hosted at Downing Street, Johnson said, "There's a terrible kind of collaboration as it were, going on between people who think they can block Brexit in Parliament and our European friends.”

“The more they think there's a chance that Brexit can be blocked in Parliament, the more adamant they are in sticking to their position."


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But experts are split as to whether Brexit can be blocked in Parliament.

According to Brendan Donnelly, Director of The Federal Trust and a former Conservative MEP, the only way this could be done would be by bringing down the Johnson government through a vote of no confidence in early September and installing a government of national unity in its place.

In his blog, posting on the Federal Trust website, Donnelly said, "The British political system confers wide-ranging powers upon a dominant central executive to manipulate and dictate parliamentary business. MPs will need to act swiftly and decisively to avoid a no-deal Brexit."

Donnelly goes on to argue that MPs should seize the initiative as soon as they return to the House of Commons in September and vote down the Conservative government in favour of a government of national unity (GNU).

"There's a terrible kind of collaboration as it were, going on between people who think they can block Brexit in Parliament and our European friends” Boris Johnson

"There is a substantial majority within the Commons rightly horrified at the prospect of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.”

“It would be a calamitous failure, not merely of current British politicians, but of the British political system more broadly, if that majority found itself unable to prevent a foreseeable and avoidable national catastrophe," said Donnelly.

In a dramatic further development, Jeremy Corbyn, leader of the Labour Party announced on Wednesday that he would put his name forward as an interim Prime Minister should there be a successful no confidence vote in Boris Johnson's administration in early September.

The SNP, Plaid Cymru and the Greens responded positively to the offer of talks with the Labour Party.

However, UK MP Jo Swinson, the newly-elected leader of the Liberal Democrats, ruled out participation in a Jeremy Corbyn-led coalition, even if it was established for the sole purpose of holding a general election before the UK is due to leave the EU.

She said, “Jeremy Corbyn is not the person who is going to be able to build an even temporary majority in the House of Commons for this task – I would expect there are people in his own party and indeed the necessary Conservative backbenchers who would be unwilling to support him. It is a nonsense.”

Meanwhile, Boris Johnson and his Vote Leave colleagues continue to run down the clock in the expectation that Brexit will happen by default.

/articles/news/boris-johnson-accuses-mps-collaborating-brussels-block-no-deal-brexit Thu, 15 Aug 2019 16:16:31 +0200
MPs reconsider Brexit proposal involving second referendum Martin Banks

A plan designed to pass the UK Withdrawal Agreement in exchange for a second referendum on EU membership is being looked at again by MPs, it has emerged.

A plan designed to pass the UK Withdrawal Agreement in exchange for a second referendum on EU membership is being looked at again by MPs, it has emerged.

Photo credit: Adobe Stock


The development comes as discussions take place about the perceived need for a “government of national unity” in Britain as an alternative to the Boris Johnson government.

Talks between the two sides are currently on hold, with the UK Prime Minister insisting that Britain will exit the EU on 31 October “without or without a deal.”

British Labour MP Peter Kyle, one of the key supporters of the proposal, said he believes there is now a majority for a so-called “confirmatory referendum” with the government’s Brexit plan pitted against Remain.


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The idea of a “confirmatory referendum” was first put forward on 4 February in an open letter to Jeremy Corbyn, the UK government and the EU.

Explaining the idea, former Labour MP Roger Casale told this website: “A way must be found to break the parliamentary impasse - we believe that our compromise proposal is the way to achieve this.”

“What we ask is that MPs sign the Withdrawal Agreement into law but with a sunset clause in the legislation which gives time for a referendum – a straight choice between leaving on the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and remaining in the EU.”

"If Britain leaves, it will do so on the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement – there will be no further parliamentary debate because the agreement will already have been passed into law before the referendum."

“What we ask is that MPs sign the Withdrawal Agreement into law but with a sunset clause in the legislation which gives time for a referendum – a straight choice between leaving on the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement and remaining in the EU” Roger Casale, New Europeans

“If the UK votes to remain, then the Withdrawal Agreement is not needed and is automatically voided,” added Casale, founder of New Europeans, a citizens’ rights campaign group.

Further comment came from leading UK-based political commentator Ian Dunt who, speaking of the compromise proposal, said at the time, “This is a sensible attempt at a compromise: turns the Withdrawal Agreement into the default Brexit and offers a democratic say on the final deal as it is in reality."

A cross-party group of MPs led by Kyle and another UK Labour MP, Phil Wilson, subsequently took up the proposal, which was debated three times in the House of Commons as former UK Prime Minister Theresa May sought in vain to achieve a parliamentary majority for the deal she had negotiated.

Faced with the near certainty of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October under a Boris Johnson government, there is speculation that MPs will pass a vote of no confidence in early September when MPs return from the summer recess and before the party conference season.

In these circumstances, parliament will have two weeks to propose an alternative government, which could be a government of national unity, a cross-party government brought together with the sole aim of preventing a no deal Brexit.

The best way to do that, argues Casale, is through the “confirmatory referendum” as proposed by New Europeans and supported by Peter Kyle MP and his colleagues, rather than a general election as favoured by Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour party leader.

“Let’s hope that this time round the MPs pushing for our compromise proposal will have the numbers,” Casale told this website.

/articles/news/mps-reconsider-brexit-proposal-involving-second-referendum Wed, 14 Aug 2019 15:21:53 +0200
Likelihood of UK general election before end of year ‘higher than ever’ Martin Banks

A leading UK think tank says that the chances of a general election before the end of the year seem “higher than ever.”

A leading UK think tank says that the chances of a general election before the end of the year seem “higher than ever.”

Photo credit: Adobe Stock


The prediction comes with the Brexit standoff continuing between the EU and the UK, which is due to leave the bloc on 31 October.

According to reports on Monday, Downing Street believes rebel MPs will try to make a move to stop a no-deal Brexit in the second week of September, with the EU unlikely to respond until after that battle has played out.

It is thought Boris Johnson may meet key EU leaders, such as Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, but not Ireland’s Leo Varadkar, ahead of the G7 summit in Biarritz, France at the end of August.


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Labour has been mulling an immediate confidence vote on the government in the first week of September, but they will only do so if they have enough Conservative MPs on board who are willing to bring down their own Prime Minister.

What is clear is that Boris Johnson’s threadbare majority has shrunk further after the Liberal Democrats took Brecon and Radnorshire from the Conservatives in a by-election.

His Government has a working majority of just three and Open Europe, a think tank based in London, says that with “scores of rebellious backbenchers, it is unclear whether Johnson can govern effectively for much longer unless he goes to the country.”

A no confidence vote seems likely when Parliament returns from recess on 3 September and Open Europe says that “the numbers are extraordinarily tight.”

“This raises the startling prospect that, unless an extension to Article 50 is sought and secured, a No Deal Brexit could take place in the middle of an election campaign” Dominic Walsh, Open Europe

With the UK’s withdrawal at the end of October fast approaching, the timing of any election will be crucial and there is very little time for an election before the deadline, says the think tank.

The Fixed Term Parliaments Act mandates a 14-day cooling off period after a successful vote of no confidence in which a Government may be confirmed in office.

Dominic Walsh of Open Europe, said, “At the moment, the chances of an alternative government gaining the confidence of the House during the 14-day period look slim.”

“One plan is to find a unifying figurehead to lead a caretaker government, but this looks unlikely to win support from the Labour Party frontbench.”

The most obvious alternative, a Labour-led Government, would not only mean some Conservative rebels putting Jeremy Corbyn in Number 10 but would require the support of other various parties and independents.

What might the Scottish National Party’s price be for their support? A commitment to another referendum on Scottish independence?

Walsh adds, “If a new Government cannot be formed within this time period, an early general election will take place and dissolution is triggered. The minimum length of an election campaign is 25 days.”

“In any case, the incumbent Prime Minister sets the election date. Downing Street sources have been quoted this week as saying that in such circumstances, Johnson would simply schedule the election for after 31 October.”

Walsh argues, “This raises the startling prospect that, unless an extension to Article 50 is sought and secured, a no-deal Brexit could take place in the middle of an election campaign.”

Some expect 9 September to be the first opportunity for a legislative battle, as the Government is bound in law to provide a report updating on Northern Ireland on 4 September and to then debate it in Parliament for five days.

If a confidence vote passed, MPs would first have 14 days to form an alternative government, but if unsuccessful, an election would be triggered.

In this event, Dominic Cummings, Johnson’s senior adviser, has threatened to press ahead with Brexit on 31 October with or without a deal and schedule the election for the days after that date, with Parliament shut down.

/articles/news/likelihood-uk-general-election-end-year-%E2%80%98higher-ever%E2%80%99 Tue, 13 Aug 2019 13:42:35 +0200
Senior political figures urge overhaul of EU foreign policy Martin Banks

A group of senior EU political figures have called for a “change in EU foreign policy” under the European Commission’s new President, Ursula von der Leyen.

A group of senior EU political figures have called for a “change in EU foreign policy” under the European Commission’s new President, Ursula von der Leyen.

Photo credit: Fotolia


They say that unless their suggestions are taken up the EU is in danger of becoming a “plaything” in geopolitics.

A letter, sent to the German official and also targeted at the EU’s other new leaders, has been signed by members of the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR).

The list of signatures includes current and former foreign ministers, citizens of all EU Member States and other European states, prominent figures such as Carl Bildt, the former Swedish Prime Minister, British author and historian Timothy Garton Ash and former Dutch MEP Marietje Schaake.


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Others to have signed include: Douglas Alexander, chair of Unicef UK and former UK Secretary of State for International Development; Emma Bonino, a former Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs; John Bruton, the former Irish Prime Minister; Ditmir Bushati, Albanian Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and Maria Livanos Cattaui, a former Secretary General of the International Chamber of Commerce.

They set out 3 specific ways that the new leadership can “empower” foreign ministers and Member States to get behind a common European foreign policy.

The first is by setting out on a quest for strategic sovereignty for Europe, making sure Europe is a player and not a “plaything in a world of great power competition”.

The second is by re-operationalising European security and defence. This, said the letter, has strong implications for Brexit as it proposes a new European Security Council which would include the UK.

“As the new leadership takes place, they must focus on upgrading EU capabilities to avoid sliding further down in global relevance” Carl Bildt, former Swedish Prime Minister

The third way is by building a stronger link between EU institutions in Brussels and national governments.

Bildt, who served as Prime Minister in Sweden from 1991 to 1994 and is a former foreign minister, told The Parliament Magazine, “As the new leadership takes place, they must focus on upgrading EU capabilities to avoid sliding further down in global relevance.”

He added, “The EU’s current structure allows it to potentially anticipate big crises, but it cannot protect itself or prepare countermeasures for the next problem.”

Mark Leonard, director and co-founder of the ECFR, who told this website, “The eventual appointment of Josep Borrell [as the EU’s new High Representative] offers an opportunity for a new start for European foreign policy.”

“As a foreign minister from one of the big Member States which has emerged as a power centre in the new EU, he [Borrell] has an opportunity to find ways of getting EU institutions to empower and channel the resources of foreign ministers and Member States behind a common European foreign policy.”

“The EU still has the largest market in the world, the biggest aid budgets, the largest diplomatic corps and the second highest spending on defence. If it can put these assets behind a strategic agenda, it can help its Member States become players in the 21st century, rather than the playthings of other great powers.”

The letter, seen by this website, reads, “Now that Ursula von der Leyen has been appointed European Commission President, European governments must turn their focus on how Europe can stand up for itself and its citizens.”

“Europeans are in danger of becoming hapless playthings in a tussle for pre-eminence between China, Russia, and the United States. But this can be avoided if Europeans take their destiny into their own hands” ECFR members’ letter

 “As the world descends into geopolitical competition, Europeans are in danger of becoming hapless playthings in a tussle for pre-eminence between China, Russia, and the United States. But this can be avoided if Europeans take their destiny into their own hands.”

“The EU Member States collectively retain the biggest single market in the world, more defence spending than any power other than the USA, the world’s largest diplomatic corps and highest levels of development spending.”

 “We therefore call on the new EU leadership team, who will take over in late 2019, to understand the challenge that confronts them and receive the tools they need from EU governments to change Europe’s approach to foreign policy.”

“Together with Ursula von der Leyen, Charles Michel, the EU Council President elect, and Josep Borrell must move quickly to find ways of getting EU institutions to empower and channel the resources of foreign ministers and Member States behind a common European foreign policy.”

The letter says that the measures they recommend will “help renew the EU and show its citizens that Europe can be the first line of defence in an increasingly uncertain world.”

/articles/news/senior-political-figures-urge-overhaul-eu-foreign-policy Mon, 12 Aug 2019 12:01:26 +0200
Movers and Shakers | 9 August 2019 Dods People EU

Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column. 

Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our movers and shakers column. 

Today’s Movers & Shakers are about: Lithuanian and Swedish Commissioner nominations, the Italian government crisis, a Romanian minister sacked, Poland's parliamentary election date announced and the latest Commission and EEAS appointments!

 

European Parliament

Committee and Delegations

Turkey Delegation (D-TR)
Angelika NIEBLER (EPP, DE) is no longer a substitute.


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European Commission

Commissioner nominations
Virginijus SINKEVIČIUS, acting Minister of Economy and Innovation, has been nominated by Lithuanian President Gitanas NAUSĖDA to be Lithuania’s representative on the next Commission. SINKEVIČIUS, if approved by Parliament, would be the first member of a Green Party to sit on the European Commission.

Sweden has nominated Employment Minister Ylva JOHANSSON for the Commission, replacing outgoing Cecilia MALMSTRÖM who has served in the role since 2010.

Directorates-General

Communications (DG COMM)
Richard KÜHNEL has been appointed Acting Director of Directorate C (Representation and Communication in Member States), replacing former Acting Director Sixtine BOUYGUES. BOUYGUES remains Deputy Director-General of the whole Directorate-General.

European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (EG ECHO)
Michael KÖHLER has been appointed Deputy Director General, filling a vacant position.

Jean-Louis DE BROUWER has left the position of Director of Directorate C (Neighbourhood and Middle East), with Juha AUVINEN becoming Acting Director.

Eurostat
Gallo GUEYE has been appointed Deputy Director General, replacing Mariana KOTZEVA who had been Acting in the position while also serving as Director General.

GUEYE therefore leaves the position of Director of Directorate F (Social Statistics) with Jean-Louis MERCY becoming Acting Director.

Commissioner Cabinets

Cabinet of Johannes HAHN
David MÜLLER has been appointed as the new Head of Cabinet, replacing the departing Michael KARNITSCHNIG. MÜLLER’s previous position as Advisor has not yet been filled.

Kyriacos CHARALAMBOUS has been appointed as the new Deputy Head of Cabinet, replacing the departing Hanna JAHNS.

Sigrid BRETTEL has been appointed as a new Member of the Cabinet.

Additionally, there has been an extensive reshuffle of Cabinet responsibilities.


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European External Action Service

Representations and Delegations

External Delegations
Johann SATTLER has been appointed as EU Special Representative in Bosnia and Herzegovina and will also take over the position of Head of the EU delegation to Bosnia. He replaces Lars-Gunnar WIGEMARK.

Public Affairs

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National News

Bulgaria
Economist Kristalina GEORGIEVA has won the EU nomination for the position of IMF Managing Director, which makes her favourite for the position due to the long-standing agreement with the United States that ensures that a European leads the IMF.

Italy
Months of instability and tension between the League party (ID) and its coalition partners Five Star Movement (NI) came to a head on Wednesday when parliament rejected a motion by Five Star Movement to block the controversial Turin-Lyon high-speed rail link. Deputy prime minister, Matteo SALVINI of the League then called for a snap election on Thursday, urging prime minister Giuseppe CONTE to reconvene parliament to confirm that the coalition government was no longer viable. While chances of an early election taking place in October have increased considerably, a government split will not be official until a formal act, such as a vote of no confidence or the prime-minister's resignation, takes place. The League are currently at 39 percent in opinion polls while support for Five Star Movement has dramatically dropped to 15 percent.

Poland
The office of the President confirmed that Poland would hold its next Parliamentary election on 13 October. The incumbent Law and Justice Party (ECR) currently lead the polls.

Romania
Ecaterina ANDRONESCU was sacked as Education Minister by Prime Minister Viorica DANCILA following comments about a prominent kidnapping case. Valer-Daniel BREAZ shall serve as interim Education Minister until a permanent replacement is found.

/articles/news/movers-and-shakers-9-august-2019 Fri, 09 Aug 2019 12:33:34 +0200
Fisheries Committee chair discusses No Deal Brexit fears with fishermen and producers Martin Banks

The new chair of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee was visiting the largest fishing port in France on Thursday amid fears that the threat of a No Deal Brexit will put cooperation between British and continental fishermen at risk.

The new chair of the European Parliament’s Fisheries Committee was visiting the largest fishing port in France on Thursday amid fears that the threat of a No Deal Brexit will put cooperation between British and continental fishermen at risk.

Photo credit: Press Association


Liberal Democrat MEP Chris Davies was at the fish auction in Boulogne-Sur-Mer before holding a series of meetings with fishermen and fish producers’ organisations.

The UK deputy has already met with British civil servants responsible for negotiating fishing policy and with Barrie Deas, CEO of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations (NFFO).

Speaking to this website on Thursday, Davies said, “The UK fishing fleet is the second largest in Europe and the most profitable, but there will be no winners if existing arrangements collapse.”


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“Hostility will only lead to retaliation on both sides, trade disruption and the poisoning of future relations.”

“Brexit is against our national interest. Changes in fisheries policy need to be secured through negotiation and the number one priority must be to build up fish stocks for everyone’s benefit.”

“I have met with British representatives. Now I want to hear what others have to say, including the people in France who buy much of the fish that UK vessels catch.”

Davies, who was re-elected in May after a five-year break from EU politics, added, "Time is short and the legislative process long. Five years passes so quickly and the problems in a fast-changing world mount up. Every MEP should bring with them a sense of urgency and a determination to get things done and make a difference for the better.”

“Brexit is against our national interest. Changes in fisheries policy need to be secured through negotiation and the number one priority must be to build up fish stocks for everyone’s benefit” Chris Davies MEP

“As chair of the Fisheries Committee, I want to know that in five years’ time we will be fishing sustainably in every one of Europe's seas. That will be very hard to achieve. Progress has been made in the Atlantic, but the Mediterranean and Black Seas are in a terrible state with stock denuded and overfishing rampant.”

He added, “With each passing day the situation gets worse. Future generations will not forgive us unless we address this issue.”

Elsewhere, the NGO Our Fish has given a guarded welcome to the European Commission announcement of “emergency measures to save the ailing eastern Baltic cod stock from impending collapse” by banning, “with immediate effect, commercial fishing for cod in most of the Baltic Sea until 31 December 2019”.

Dave Walsh, of Our Fish, said, “We believe that the ban is too little, too late.”

It criticised both the decision to broadly exempt industrial fishing vessels with Eastern Baltic cod bycatch, and the “missed opportunity” to introduce obligatory monitoring for these vessels as an incentive to reduce their bycatch.

The Commission’s emergency measures for Eastern Baltic cod, which are in effect from July 23 until the end of 2019, cover the most important parts of the Baltic Sea where Eastern Baltic cod occurs.

Meanwhile, the UK-based think tank, Open Europe, says that UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson “appears to have overcome” one of the major challenges “hamstringing” his predecessor: uniting his Cabinet behind the possibility of leaving the EU without a deal.

Open Europe added, “A united Government will enable Johnson to up the pressure on both the EU and Parliament. What happens as a result remains highly uncertain.”

/articles/news/fisheries-committee-chair-discusses-no-deal-brexit-fears-fishermen-and-producers Thu, 08 Aug 2019 13:09:36 +0200
UK urged to guarantee right of EU citizens to participate in post-Brexit local elections Martin Banks

A campaign group that first raised the alarm about the “mass disenfranchisement” of EU27 citizens before the European elections in May has now called on the UK Government to guarantee their right to participate in post-Brexit local elections.

A campaign group that first raised the alarm about the “mass disenfranchisement” of EU27 citizens before the European elections in May has now called on the UK Government to guarantee their right to participate in post-Brexit local elections.

Photo credit: Press Association


These rights include the right to stand as candidates as well as the right to vote in elections in the UK to district and city councils, city mayors, police and crime commissioners and to the devolved legislatures.

Speaking in Oxford, Dr Ruvi Ziegler, chair of the group New Europeans UK, said, "It is not widely understood that, in addition to the EU treaties, the right of EU27 citizens to vote in local government elections is stipulated in domestic law.”

New Europeans UK said it fears the UK Government could legislate to remove these rights if Britain leaves the EU.


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“We should be under no illusions. A government that, through its practices, has effectively denied the right to vote to over one million EU27 citizens in the May 2019 European elections is more than capable of disenfranchising them if the UK leaves the EU.”

“The UK government must now clearly state that it has no intention of doing this, irrespective of the manner in which the UK may leave the EU,” Dr Ziegler added.

In a move that has alarmed campaigners, the UK has already started to negotiate arrangements on voting rights with EU Member States.

The implication is that the UK may in future only allow citizens of those EU Member States with which it has secured bilateral agreements to vote in local government elections, leading to mass disenfranchisement.

"It is not widely understood that, in addition to the EU treaties, the right of EU27 citizens to vote in local government elections is stipulated in [UK] domestic law” Dr Ruvi Ziegler, chair of New Europeans UK

"Removing the right to vote from EU27 citizens from any Member State would send a very negative and divisive message to people who have made the UK their home”, Dr Ziegler said.

"Being able to vote means being able to feel part of the community, being able to contribute, being treated as an equal."

New Europeans is calling on the UK Government to “clearly state” that it will guarantee the voting rights of all EU27 citizens in the UK unilaterally.

In an letter to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson, New Europeans said: “We call on you to make clear [that] your Government will not take steps to strip EU27 citizens of their current entitlement to vote and stand in elections in the UK.”

In the absence of such a statement, the group told this website that it fears that many EU27 citizens in Britain will assume they will lose the right to vote and fail to take part in the annual electoral canvas.

“If EU27 citizens remove themselves from the electoral register under the misapprehension that they are no longer eligible, we could see a similar scandal on the scale of #DeniedMyVote,” said Dr Ziegler.

In Scotland, the power to determine voting eligibility in local government elections is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, where the government has recently tabled the Scottish Elections Bill proposing to extend the franchise to all non-UK citizens who reside there.

“The Government should take a leaf out of the Scottish Government’s book and show that it believes in fairness, equality and inclusion.”

“This is an opportunity for the UK Government to show that it is serious about making all EU27 citizens feel welcome and valued in the UK,” Dr Ziegler said.

/articles/news/uk-urged-guarantee-right-eu-citizens-participate-post-brexit-local-elections Tue, 06 Aug 2019 14:34:15 +0200
Huawei ‘fighting for survival’, says chairman Martin Banks

Huawei’s chairman has admitted the company is under “immense pressure” and “fighting for survival”.

Huawei’s chairman has admitted the company is under “immense pressure” and “fighting for survival”.

Photo credit: Press Association


Liang Hua likened the company's experience over recent months to “an airplane riddled with bullet holes.”

He said, “Huawei is like that plane. We need to patch up these holes without losing altitude. We've just about finished patching up our carrier business, and now we're focused on our consumer business. We will keep fighting for survival.”

In its first results since Washington placed it on a so-called entity list in May that effectively banned US firms from supplying to it, Huawei also said it remained focused on improving the global smartphone business which bore the brunt of supply chain disruptions caused by the US action.


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“Revenue grew fast up through May,” the Huawei chairman told reporters at a briefing in Brussels.

"Given the foundation we laid in the first half of the year, we continue to see growth even after we were added to the entity list. That's not to say we don't have difficulties ahead. We do, and they may affect the pace of our growth in the short term."

He added, "But we will stay the course. We are fully confident in what the future holds, and we will continue investing as planned – including a total of CNY120 billion in R&D this year. We'll get through these challenges, and we're confident that Huawei will enter a new stage of growth after the worst of this is behind us."

The US government alleges the Chinese firm is a national security risk as its equipment could be used by Beijing to spy, which Huawei has repeatedly and strenuously denied.

“We've just about finished patching up our carrier business, and now we're focused on our consumer business. We will keep fighting for survival” Liang Hua, Huawei chairman

It has since been given a three-month reprieve until August 19, and US President Trump signalled Washington would be relaxing the sanctions on Huawei, though details are unknown.

Huawei’s founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei told reporters last month that the impact of the blacklisting was worse than expected.

At the briefing at the company's Brussels cyber security centre, Liang said, “Over the past six months Huawei has been under immense pressure from the US government. Since the beginning of the year, more than 2,600 media representatives from around the world have visited Huawei.”

“They have interviewed our management teams and employees, visited our labs and production lines, and have eaten side-by-side with us in various canteens and coffee shops around campus. They came to see with their own eyes what Huawei's all about.”

Liang continued, “The US entity list has had some impact on our development. But both the scope and extent of this impact is controllable. Our core products have not been significantly affected. Our customers still believe in us. They continue to choose Huawei and buy our products, which shows they trust us.”

“We have also found that when organisations are placed under incredible pressure, it often coincides with incredible growth potential. In a way, the US government's foray against Huawei has helped us understand our objectives better. It has enhanced collaboration and has galvanised our people. This pressure has brought us together and reinvigorated the company.”

/articles/news/huawei-%E2%80%98fighting-survival%E2%80%99-says-chairman Fri, 02 Aug 2019 13:34:27 +0200