EU

Ursula von der Leyen - Headline News in Germany

Outgoing German defense minister Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday set out her political objectives on a greener, gender-equal Europe where the rule of law continues to hold sway, in an attempt to woo enough legislators at the European Parliament to secure the job of European Commission President The Christian Democrat of the European People’s Party is seeking to become the first woman to hold perhaps the most important post in the 28-nation EU by gathering the requisite 374 votes out of 747 in a secret vote later in the day. Ursula von der Leyen was a last-minute candidate to succeed Jean-Claude Juncker that EU leaders agreed as part of a package of top jobs that were decided on early this month. Under the package, the free-market liberal Renew Europe group got Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel as Council President and the Socialists won the top parliament job. France’s Christine Lagarde was put forward as head of the European Central Bank. Von der Leyen told lawmakers in Strasbourg Tuesday that the gender element will be essential if she is elected Commission President overseeing a team of 28 Commissioners. “I will ensure full gender equality in my College of Commissioners. If member states do not propose enough female Commissioners, I will not hesitate to ask for new names,” Ursula von der Leyen said. Pointing out that since its inception in 1958, less than 20 percent of Commissioners had been women, she said: “We represent half of our population. We want ourHere's the full story.

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European Union - EU News

The European Union will decide on Monday to symbolically punish Turkey over what it calls “illegal” drilling for oil and gas off Cyprus and threaten harsher sanctions in the future unless Ankara changes tack, German and Austrian ministers said. Foreign affairs ministers of the 28-nation bloc meeting in Brussels on Monday are due to endorse a decision to curb diplomatic contacts and funding for Ankara, retaliation for what it sees as interference with Cyprus’ exclusive economic zone. In June, EU leaders warned Turkey to end drilling in waters around the island or face action from the bloc. EU member Cyprus has pressed for a tough line threatening harsher sanctions in the future but others have warned against antagonising a key ally on security and migration affairs. “The provocations of Turkey are unacceptable to all of us,” German Minister of State for Europe Michel Roth said on arriving at the talks. “We have now found a balanced language that keeps all our options open, including of course sanctions.” “I can only hope that we do not now add another crisis to the many conflicts and crises. Turkey knows what’s at stake and the European Union is united on the side of Cyprus.” An EU diplomat told Reuters Ankara could lose some 150 million euros of 400 million euros the bloc had earmarked for 2020 for everything from political reforms to agriculture projects to help Turkey prepare for eventual EU membership. The EU had been due to give Turkey 4.45 billion eurosHere's the full story.

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European Union - EU News Today

The European Union is preparing an overhaul of its listing of countries that pose money-laundering risks, an EU confidential document shows, a review that could allow Saudi Arabia to be moved to a new grey list after having been briefly blacklisted. The EU executive added the oil-rich kingdom in February to its blacklist of 23 jurisdictions that represent a threat to the bloc because of lax controls against terrorism financing and money laundering, but after Saudi pressure the list was struck down by EU states. Fearful of the economic impact of that listing, European governments led by Britain and France said the EU executive commission had given no chance to Saudi Arabia and other listed states to address concerns. Required by EU rules to adopt a list, the commissioner in charge of the issue, Czech liberal Vera Jourova, went back to the drawing board and has now come up with a revised process to list countries. Instead of directly blacklisting those with shortfalls, the new process would be based on a “staged approach” under which risk countries would need to commit to changing their rules and practices by set deadlines, the document seen by Reuters said. This would effectively produce a grey list of jurisdictions that would be blacklisted only if they failed to apply required reforms, a European official told Reuters. BEFORE G20? Saudi Arabia, the largest economy included in the original blacklist, would likely be relegated to the less contentious grey list, the official said, a move thatHere's the full story.

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Jean-Claude Juncker - EU NEWS

European Union officials said Monday that leaders pulled an all-nighter at a summit but failed to agree on the list of candidates for the bloc’s key posts, with the marathon talks entering a second day. The leaders trickled in for bilateral contacts through Sunday before officially convening at around 8 p.m. They have been locked in talks ever since amid deep divisions over how to best balance political, geographic and gender considerations among the 28 member nations. With the selection process bogged down for the second EU summit meeting in a row, the leaders were still considering Dutch socialist Frans Timmermans to replace Christian Democrat Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the EU’s powerful executive arm, the European Commission. “Let’s see,” Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, said of Timmermans’ chances when briefly descending from the meeting room in EU headquarters around breakfast time. The Timmermans option deeply divided the European People’s Party-Christian Democrat group as it would surrender the key post to the rival Socialists & Democrats bloc despite EPP remaining the biggest group in the EU following last month’s election. Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov, an EPP stalwart, posted a video on his verified Facebook account of a discussion with Timmermans in which Borissov said the Dutchman should get the Commission job while the less coveted parliament presidency should go to EPP candidate Manfred Weber. But Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar insisted that the “vast majority of the EPP prime ministers don’t believe we should give up the presidency ofHere's the full story.

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Venezuelans Refugees - Venezuela News

The number of people seeking political asylum in the European Union is rising again, driven up by Latin American refugees, but flows are expected to remain well below the high levels seen during Europe’s 2015 migration crisis, a report said on Monday. In the first five months of this year, states of the European Free Trade Area (EFTA), which includes all the 28 EU countries, plus Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein, registered more than 290,000 asylum applications, an increase by 11% compared to the same period in 2018, the EU agency for refugees, the European Asylum Support Office (EASO), said. The rise was partly caused by a surge of Venezuelans and other Latin American asylum seekers who are fleeing political and economic crises in their countries, EASO said. Venezuelans lodged some 18,400 asylum applications from January through May, roughly twice as many as during the same period in 2018, making them the nationality with the second highest number of applications in Europe after Syrians. Venezuela is experiencing an economic collapse, triggered by a prolonged political crisis, which has unleashed the biggest migratory crisis in recent South American history with some 3 million Venezuelans estimated to have fled the country in recent years. Most of them go to Venuezuela’s neighbouring countries. European countries recorded also a surge in the arrivals of Colombians, and more asylum applications from nationals of El Salvador, Honduras, Nicaragua and Peru, EASO said. This has caused a nearly 50% increase of applications in Spain last year whenHere's the full story.

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European Union - EU News

With all the top jobs at the European Union coming open, EU leaders gathered Thursday for a major bout of political horse-trading, trying to pick candidates who will have a major impact on the bloc over the next five to eight years while keeping its 28 nations happy. That’s not an easy task. The EU is responsible for coordinating common policies on sectors ranging from the single market to agriculture, from competition issues to immigration. The main posts up for grabs Thursday are the head of the EU’s powerful executive arm, the European Commission — now held by Jean-Claude Juncker — and the president of the European Council, the body that represents the member states in Brussels. That position is currently held by Donald Tusk. Other key jobs to be filled include the president of the European Parliament, chairman of the European Central Bank and the EU foreign policy chief. The EU’s parliament must endorse some of the posts. French President Emmanuel Macron hit Brussels early for a series of meetings, hours before the summit started, meeting with several European leaders and holding talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. That set off a chain reaction of informal huddles involving Merkel — leader of the EU’s biggest power — to weigh up potential candidates based on their political affiliation, nationality and gender, and perhaps their diplomatic acumen. Merkel said this two-day summit might not necessarily succeed in filling all top jobs at stake, an issue that has divided the 28 members.Here's the full story.

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Nicolas Maduro - Venezuela Today News

Major European nations are considering imposing sanctions on Venezuela’s Nicolás Maduro and several top officials for their recent crackdown on political opponents, although divisions remain over the timing of any action for fear of derailing a negotiated exit to the country’s crisis, The Associated Press has learned. The financial and travel restrictions are being mulled by a core group of five nations — U.K., France, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands — before being proposed to the European Council, said diplomats and members of the Venezuelan opposition with knowledge of the plan. A total of five sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss the deliberations publicly. While Maduro is among a dozen officials who could be hit with sanctions, no final decision has been made, two people said. The group still needs to breach internal divisions before making a formal proposal to the EU’s executive branch. Greater consensus exists for punishing top members of the armed forces and judiciary who have been instrumental in the arrest of allies of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, including Defense Minister Vladimir Padrino, whose family is believed to live in Spain. Also on the list is Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez, a top Maduro aide and envoy to talks with the opposition sponsored by Norway, and Jorge Márquez, who is head of the powerful communications regulator which was responsible for pulling the plug on Spanish broadcaster Antena 3 and Britain’s BBC earlier this year. Steady progress is being made on buildingHere's the full story.

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Boris Johnson - UK Politics Headline News

Boris Johnson, the leading candidate to succeed Theresa May as Britain’s next prime minister, said he would withhold a previously agreed 39 billion pound Brexit payment until the European Union gives Britain better exit terms. The EU has repeatedly said it will not reopen discussion of the Brexit transition deal it reached with May last year, which British lawmakers have rejected three times, prompting May to announce her resignation earlier this month. May stepped down as leader of the governing Conservatives on Friday. Johnson, a former foreign secretary in May’s cabinet, is popular with ordinary Conservative Party members, who will decide between the two candidates who come top in a series of votes by Conservative lawmakers over the coming weeks. “I always thought it was extraordinary that we should agree to write that entire cheque before having a final deal. In getting a good deal, money is a great solvent and a great lubricant,” Boris Johnson told the Sunday Times. Britain is due to leave the EU on Oct. 31. If Parliament does not approve a deal – and the government does not ask the EU for another delay – there risks being major economic disruption from a disorderly departure. The 39 billion pounds represents outstanding British liabilities to the EU, which would be paid over a number of years according to the withdrawal agreement negotiated by May. Johnson also said border arrangements with Ireland should be settled only as part of a long-term agreement, rejecting a “backstop” which wouldHere's the full story.

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Jean-Claude Juncker - EU NEWS

The president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, gave a boost on Friday to Croatia’s hopes of joining the EU’s “open-border” Schengen zone and also the waiting room for adopting the euro currency. Croatia joined the EU in 2013 but to join the passport-free Schengen area it must convince Brussels that it is able to effectively manage the bloc’s external border, a particularly sensitive issue since Europe’s 2015 migrant crisis. “I would like the European Commission to give a recommendation before the end of our term in office for Croatia’s Schengen zone accession,” Juncker told reporters after talks with Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic. The current Commission’s mandate expires in October. Once it gives a recommendation, European Union member states usually approve it, meaning that Croatia could join the Schengen area as early as next year. Plenkovic said he expected the Commission, the EU’s executive arm, to confirm in the autumn that Croatia meets all the technical criteria for joining Schengen. Schengen membership brings closer political and economic integration with the rest of the EU, removing delays to the movement of people and goods. The Schengen zone comprises 22 of the EU’s 28 member states as well as four non-EU members – Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. As well as Croatia, the other EU members not in Schengen are Britain, Ireland, Bulgaria, Romania and Cyprus. Juncker also said on Friday the Commission would support Croatia’s bid to join the European Exchange Mechanism (ERM-2), a two-year waiting room for euro membership,Here's the full story.

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