EU (Page 2)

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 whenContinue reading

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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.Continue reading

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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 buildingContinue reading

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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 wouldContinue reading

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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,Continue reading

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Robert Mugabe - Zimbabwe Africa Politics Today

Zimbabwe and the European Union began political talks on Wednesday aimed at turning the page on hostile relations during Robert Mugabe’s rule, a step that could enable a resumption of direct financial aid for the ailing economy. During Robert Mugabe’s four-decade rule until 2017, he would routinely blame European “colonialists” for Zimbabwe’s problems, and snarled at EU and U.S. sanctions for rights and vote abuses. The EU has only kept sanctions on Mugabe, his wife and the state arms manufacturer, but is yet to resume direct funding to the new government of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, preferring to channel money through local charities and U.N. agencies. With the economy afflicted by dollar shortages, fuel queues, power-cuts, and soaring prices, Mnangagwa has said restoring ties with the West and multilateral lenders like International Monetary Fund is one of his major priorities. At the start of the open-ended talks between diplomats and officials in Harare, EU Zimbabwe delegation head Timo Olkkonen said they would discuss issues including economic development, trade, investment, rights, rule of law and good governance. The government has already signed up to an IMF monitoring programme where it has committed to political and economic reforms in a bid to set a track record of fiscal discipline that could earn it debt forgiveness and future financing. At a separate event in a Harare hotel, Mnangagwa signed a new bill creating a tripartite negotiating forum intended to bring labour, business and government together to shape policy. The 76-year-old leader is under pressureContinue reading

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Migrants News

More than 40,000 people have been intercepted in the Mediterranean and taken to detention camps and torture houses under a European migration policy that is responsible for crimes against humanity, according to a legal document asking the International Criminal Court to take the case Monday. Citing public European Union documents, statements from the French president, the German chancellor and other top European Union officials, the document alleges that European Union officials are knowingly responsible for deaths of migrants at land and sea, and their widespread rape and torture at the hands of a Libyan coast guard funded and trained at the expense of European taxpayers. It names no EU official but cites an ongoing ICC investigation into the fate of migrants in Libya. “We leave it to the prosecutor, if he dares, if she dares, to go into the structures of power and to investigate at the heart of Brussels, of Paris, of Berlin and Rome and to see by searching in the archives of the meetings of the negotiations who was really behind the scenes trying to push for these policies that triggered the death of more than 14,000 people,” said Juan Branco, a lawyer who co-wrote the report and shared it with The Associated Press. The ICC is a court of last resort that handles cases of war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide when other countries are unwilling or unable to prosecute. Germany’s government spokesman, Steffen Seibert, rejected any responsibility for conditions in Libya and said anyContinue reading

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Jean-Claude Juncker - EU NEWS TODAY

The European Union will not renegotiate the Brexit deal that Prime Minister Theresa May agreed, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said on Tuesday, as concerns grew that a successor to May could trigger a confrontation with the bloc. Brexit is up in the air after Theresa May announced plans to step down, triggering a leadership contest in the ruling Conservative Party that could bring a new prime minister to power who wants a much more decisive break with the EU. One of the candidates, Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, said it would be “political suicide” to pursue a no-deal Brexit, a reprimand to frontrunner Boris Johnson who said last week that Britain should leave with or without a deal by the end of October. Hunt, who voted to stay in the EU in the 2016 referendum but now accepts Brexit, said he would try for a new agreement that would take Britain out of the EU customs union while “respecting legitimate concerns” around the Irish border. The EU, though, said there would be no renegotiation. “I will have a short meeting with Theresa May, but I was crystal clear: There will be no renegotiation,” Jean-Claude Juncker said before a meeting of EU leaders in Brussels. Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said he believed the risk of Britain crashing out of the bloc without any divorce agreement was growing. “Well I think there is a growing risk of a no deal. There’s a possibility that the new British prime minister may try toContinue reading

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Nigel Farrage - Brexit Party News Headlines

Nigel Farage’s anti-EU Brexit party has topped European Parliament polls in the U.K., putting intense pressure on the ruling Conservatives — who suffered a historic rout — and raising the chances of a no-deal outcome. The single-issue Brexit Party, founded just three months ago by Farage, combined with pro-EU forces to trounce the nation’s two dominant political parties in the European Parliament election, as angry voters blamed the ruling Conservatives and the opposition Labour Party for the country’s Brexit impasse. With complete results announced Monday, the Brexit Party had won 29 of the U.K.’s 73 EU seats up for grabs and almost a third of the votes. On the pro-EU side, the Liberal Democrats took 20 percent of the vote and 16 seats — a dramatic increase from the single seat it won in the last EU election in 2014. The opposition Labour Party came third with 14.1 percent, followed by the pro-European environmentalist Greens who captured nearly 12.1 percent. The Conservatives — apparently blamed by voters for failing to deliver Brexit in March as planned — were in fifth with under 10 percent of the vote. The election leaves the U.K.’s exit from the EU more uncertain than ever, with both Brexiteers and pro-EU “remainers” able to claim strong support. The result raises the likelihood of a chaotic “no deal” exit from the EU — but also the possibility of a new Brexit referendum that could instead reverse the decision to leave. A triumphant Farage said he doubted theContinue reading

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Green party chairwoman Annalena Baerbock and EU parliament member Sven Giegold celebrate after the first results in Berlin, Germany

The European Union’s traditional center splintered in the hardest-fought European Parliament elections in decades, with the far right and pro-environment Greens gaining ground on Sunday after four days of a polarized vote. Turnout was at a two-decade high over the balloting across the 28 European Union countries. The elections were seen as a test of the influence of the nationalist, populist and hard-right movements that have swept the continent in recent years and impelled Britain to quit the EU altogether. Both supporters of closer European unity and those who consider the EU a meddlesome and bureaucratic presence portrayed the vote as crucial for the future of the bloc. In Britain , voters went for the extremes, with the strongest showing for Nigel Farage’s the newly formed Brexit party and a surge for the staunchly pro-European Liberal Democrats, versus a near wipeout for Conservatives. In France, an electorate that voted Emmanuel Macron into presidential office in 2017 did an about-face and the party of his defeated opponent, Marine Le Pen, drew into first place. In Germany , Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition saw a drastic loss in support to the Greens and, to a lesser extent, the far right. Italy’s League party, led by Matteo Salvini, claimed 32% of the vote in early projections, compared with around 6% five years ago. “Not only is the League the first party in Italy, but Marine Le Pen is first in France, Nigel Farage is first in Great Britain. Therefore, Italy, France and England:Continue reading

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Leo Varadkar - Theresa May - Michel Barnier - Brexit Deal - Ireland - UK - EU

As British Prime Minister Theresa May announced her departure with a Brexit plan nowhere near success, European Union leaders offered kind words. But it was quite another matter during the years of negotiations with the bloc that often produced exasperation, miscommunication and even some ridicule of her. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, whose office led the Brexit negotiations, on Friday called May “a woman of courage for whom he has great respect,” saying he watched her resignation speech “without personal joy.” And Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said: “I just want to express my full respect for Theresa May and for her determination.” But they expressed plenty of frustration during the rocky ride that May engineered over nearly three years that saw good relations go sour. After the U.K.’s 2016 referendum in which voters decided to leave the EU, officials in Europe complained that May waited almost a year to begin the negotiations and that her team was ill-prepared for the task and later turned on her after failing to make progress. They were dismayed after she called a general election in June 2017 to bolster her Conservative Party’s numbers to help the negotiations, only to lose its majority and weaken her government. That made her beholden to special Northern Ireland interests that complicated the talks. Perhaps the lowest point came in September 2018 at Salzburg Castle when EU president Donald Tusk publicly mocked her for being too greedy in the negotiations. “A piece of cake, perhaps? Sorry, no cherries,” TuskContinue reading

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US Pentagon

A new European Union military pact risks shutting American companies out of defence contracts and undermining NATO, the United States has told the bloc, hinting at possible retaliation. In a May 1 letter, the U.S. government said limitations on the involvement of non-EU countries under consideration in the European pact amounted to “poison pills”. “It is clear that similar reciprocally imposed U.S. restrictions would not be welcomed by our European partners and allies, and we would not relish having to consider them in the future,” said the letter from two U.S. Department of Defense undersecretaries, Ellen Lord and Andrea Thompson, to the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini. Any rules limiting U.S. defence contractors’ participation would also amount to “a dramatic reversal of the last three decades of increased integration of the transatlantic defence sector,” said the letter, seen by Reuters. Mogherini said the American concerns over the EU accord – agreed in December 2017 and aiming to fund, develop and deploy armed forces together – were unfounded. “The European Union is and remains open to U.S. companies and equipment,” she told reporters on Tuesday, adding the European procurement market is more open than that of the United States, which is already dominant in the global weapons trade. EU defence ministers, who discussed the rules governing the pact on Tuesday, are trying to agree legislation by June on how to allow the involvement of non-EU countries, including Britain after it leaves the bloc and the United States. Dutch Defence MinisterContinue reading

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