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2nd Dec 2016

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Liberals ponder Verhofstadt's chances for parliament top post

Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt has not decided yet to officially run for the European Parliament's presidency, but his party is pondering his chances. The question was not on the official agenda of the Alde congress that started on Friday (2 December) in ...

Interview

Polish government in bid to defund NGOs

Poland's Law and Justice government wants to clean up the country's civic sector, but NGOs fear a crackdown is coming. Prime minister Beata Szydlo has announced the opening of a "national centre for the development of civic society," which will set ...

Column / Brexit Briefing

Davis brings Brexit back to reality

Since 23 June, eurosceptic MPs have been strolling around Westminster like cats with all the cream. So admissions by Brexit Secretary David Davis that the government would consider making contributions to the EU budget in exchange for access to the single ...

Countdown to Italy's future

Italy’s Five Star Movement (M5S) is planning street celebrations if prime minister Matteo Renzi is defeated in Sunday’s (4 December) constitutional referendum, paving the way for his resignation. But an unusually high number of postal votes cast by Italian ...

Ticker

Talks on wholesale roaming rules to start

Negotiations between member states and the EU parliament on new rules for wholesale roaming markets can start, after telecommunication ministers adopted a common position on Friday. The talks will centre on how much telecom operators will be allowed to ...

Ticker

Lead MEP Dieselgate committee: Italy and Slovakia will cooperate

MEP Kathleen Van Brempt said she is confident the European Parliament committee investigating the Dieselgate scandal, which she chairs, will hear testimonies from Italy and Slovakia, which have dragged their feet on appearing for months. Van Brempt told ...

Ticker

Transparency NGO sues EU commission on Turkey deal

Transparency NGO Access Info Europe is taking the EU commission to the European Court of Justice to obtain documents linked to the EU's migrant swap deal with Turkey. The lawsuit was triggered after the commission denied the Madrid-based NGO information ...

More jihadi attacks likely in Europe, Europol says

New terror attacks from Islamic State in the EU, with France a prime target, are likely, says a report by Europol on Friday (1 December). The European joint police agency said the so-called Islamic State (IS) remained the main terrorist group currently ...

Ticker

Pro-EU liberal wins UK by-election

Liberal Democrat Sarah Olney unexpectedly gained a UK parliamentary seat in a by-election in Richmond Park, a southwest London district that overwhelmingly backed staying in the EU in June’s referendum. She defeated former conservative MP and pro-Brexit ...

States seek softer access to EU wifi fund

The recipients of a new wifi investment fund should be more evenly distributed across Europe, according to an emerging view amid EU telecommunication ministers, meeting in Brussels on Friday (2 December). It will be the first time the fund will be ...

Ticker

Finnish support for Nato drops, Russia-scepticism grows

An annual survey published on Thursday by Finland's public broadcaster, Yle has found that support for Nato membership has dropped from 27% last year to 25%. Almost one in three, 61%, said that they oppose Nato membership, up from 58% last year. The ...

Tusk: Trump poses risk for Western unity on Russia

EU Council chief Donald Tusk has warned that it will be harder to keep the West united against Russia with Donald Trump in the White House than it has been with Barack Obama. "Keeping European unity towards Russia in the conflict with Ukraine, and more ...

Ticker

Cyprus talks to resume in January

Cyprus' rival leaders agreed at a UN-hosted dinner on Thursday to resume reunification talks in January. The Cypriot leaders are to present maps on 11 January on how much territory their federal zones should comprise before an enlarged meeting including ...

Ticker

Documents from German NSA inquiry released

Wikileaks has released 2,420 documents from German government agencies relating to the inquiry into surveillance by Germany's intelligence agency and its cooperation with the US' National Security Agency (NSA). Wikileaks said that the collection contains ...

Austrians ponder shift to far right

With the rerun of the presidential election on Sunday (4 December), Austria faces a historically defining moment. Voters are heading to the polls to elect a head of state for the third time this year, after the run-off in May was annulled because of vote- ...

Analysis

Hollande's withdrawal increases election uncertainties

French president Francois Hollande will not run for reelection, in a recognition of his political weakness that only adds to the uncertainties for next year's vote. Hollande, in a TV address on Thursday (1 December) said, "I have decided not to be a ...

Investigation

Dieselgate witness contradicts EU commission on test evidence

Giovanni de Santi, a high-ranking official of the EU's science body, the Joint Research Centre (JRC), told MEPs on Thursday (1 December) that minutes were taken of meetings about a new on-road emission test, in contradiction to what the European Commission ...

Ticker

Transport commissioner 'not aware' of legal action on emissions

The EU's transport commissioner Violeta Bulc said on Thursday that a ministerial meeting did not feature any discussion about potential legal action by the commission against member states who are not doing enough to force carmakers to abide by emissions ...

Farage praises BBC's Brexit referendum coverage

Nigel Farage, the former Ukip leader and self-appointed scourge of the establishment, has praised the BBC's coverage in the run-up to Britain's referendum on EU membership as "fair and balanced". He told a media conference in Copenhagen that the public ...

EU's new VAT rules likely to make ebooks cheaper

The European Commission is proposing to let member states reduce the rates of value added tax (VAT) on digital books and newspapers. Under the current EU rules, member states are only allowed to apply reduced VAT rates to physical books and newspapers. ...

Focus

Finnish PM embroiled in press freedom row

Finland's prime minister has been forced to deny trying to censor public broadcaster Yle over its coverage of a possible conflict of interest. Juha Sipila got involved in a row with a reporter from Yle who had investigated a contract given by a state-run ...

EU terror law risks making protest a crime

A new anti-terror law backed by EU states contains rules that could be used to crack down on civil dissent. Endorsed at the political level on Tuesday (30 November) by most EU states, the directive on combating terrorism has riled human rights activists ...

Ticker

France's Macron wants closer ties with Russia

France must reopen talks with Russia, centrist presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron told journalists on Wednesday. He said Russia must play a decisive role in ending the conflict in Syria, and that the removal of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad cannot ...

Ticker

UK to give Brexit briefings to foreign journalists

The British prime minister's office will hold regular briefings for London-based foreign journalists on Brexit in an effort to give reporters an inside view on the talks, which are expected to begin next spring. British PM Theresa May's aides want to make ...

Pittella bid for EP chief threatens grand coalition

The leader of the European Parliament's socialist (S&D) group, Gianni Pittella, has joined the race to become the institution's next president. The Italian politician announced his bid at a press conference on Wednesday (30 November), saying: "My candidacy ...

Hungary gives 10-year sentence to Syrian man for border riot

A Syrian man was sentenced to 10 years in prison by a Hungarian court on Wednesday (30 November) for his part in a riot on the border with Serbia last year. Ahmed Hamed, 40, was handed down the longest sentence by a Hungarian court in connection with the ...

Opinion

Time to gear up European climate diplomacy in Beijing

June saw the first annual meeting of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing. Set up with $100 billion in funding at the end of 2015, under the leadership of the Chinese government and the sanctioning of President Xi Jinping, in order to ...

EU nations to retain control of defence fund

National governments would retain control of military assets bought by a new European Defence Fund, under plans unveiled by the European Commission on Wednesday (30 November). The proposed fund is to have two elements - a military research and development ...

Ticker

Commission moves State of Energy Union to early 2017

Due to the plethora of measures and papers on energy policy already published on Wednesday, the European Commission decided to move publication of the annual State of the Energy Union report to the first quarter of 2017, an EU official told EUobserver. The ...

Europol in massive data breach on terrorism probes

Names and telephone numbers of suspects in terrorism probes carried out by the EU police agency Europol have been posted online by accident. The Hague-based agency, which coordinates police efforts across the EU, told this website on Wednesday (30 November ...