British MPs pass EU withdrawal bill

British MPs pass EU withdrawal bill

British MPs passed a government bill on Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union. This comes after a tumultuous journey in the House of Commons, which several times placed strain upon the Government, before the bill has even been considered by the House of Lords. The text, which was passed by 324 votes to 295, will enable the United Kingdom to continue on a “business as usual” basis after Brexit, scheduled for March 29th, 2019. It will be debated by the House of Lords from the end of January.

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EU must not help dictators spy on their own citizens

EU must not help dictators spy on their own citizens

Human rights may now be invoked to strengthen control over the export of Internet surveillance data from the European Union (EU). This possibility is included in rules on the export of dual-use goods – goods that can be used for both civilian and military applications – adopted on Wednesday by the European Parliament, with 571 votes for, 29 against and 29 abstentions. Technology enabling users to intercept and locate mobile phones, circumvent passwords or identify Internet users are covered by the new rules. “Authoritarian regimes too often use European technology…

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European Council head says Europe still open to a British change of heart

European Council head says Europe still open to a British change of heart

The president of the European Council, Donald Tusk, intimated on Tuesday that Europeans would still be ready to accept a change of heart by Britain with regard to its decision to withdraw from the European Union (EU). “If the U.K. Government sticks to its decision to leave, Brexit will become a reality – with all its negative consequences – March next year, unless there is a change of hearts among our British friends” Tusk said in a plenary debate of the European Parliament in Strasbourg. “Wasn’t it (U.K. Brexit negotiator)…

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Catalonia will remain under tutelage if Puigdemont wants to lead it from Brussels

Catalonia will remain under tutelage if Puigdemont wants to lead it from Brussels

The autonomy of Catalonia (Northeast Spain) will remain suspended if separatist Carles Puigdemont attempts to govern it from Brussels, warned Monday the Head of the Spanish Government Mariano Rajoy. The future president of Catalonia “must take possession of his mandate, and do it physically, for one cannot do so from Brussels; and if he does not, Article 155 will remain in force, declared Mariano Rajoy, evoking the Article of the Constitution that has allowed the Region to be placed under tutelage since 27 October.

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EU committed to the nuclear deal but worries about Iran’s role in the region

EU committed to the nuclear deal but worries about Iran’s role in the region

Last week’s roundtable between EU/E3 and Iran resulted in press statements where the EU representatives expressed their support for the implementation of the nuclear deal. The EU foreign policy chief and the foreign ministers from three EU member states, France, United Kingdom and Germany, showed a common front in defending the deal and calling on the US to respect it. From that point of view the invited Iranian foreign minister, Jawad Zarif, could be satisfied with the outcome of meeting but he was conspicuously absent from the press briefing. He…

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New EU strategy on support to Iraq while Kurdish independence put on hold

New EU strategy on support to Iraq while Kurdish independence put on hold

The European Commission published this week an EU strategy for support to Iraq. The strategy paper addresses the humanitarian, political, economic and security challenges the country faces following the defeat of the Islamic State (Da’esh). An EU spokesperson told The Brussels Times that there is no change in EU policy with regard to the issue of Iraq’s territorial integrity and Kurdish independence. The strategy paper says that EU “should remain fully committed to Iraq’s unity” but it also stresses the necessity of a “sustained dialogue on all outstanding issues” between…

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Scientists urge European Parliament to preserve forests

Scientists urge European Parliament to preserve forests

Increasing renewable energy in Europe should not entail cutting down and burning entire trees, more than 650 scientists warn in a letter sent on Tuesday to Europarliamentarians ahead of their vote in Strasbourg next week on extending the Renewable Energy Directive. Wood residue and waste – such as those generated in manufacturing paper and furniture – are already being used as biomass alternatives to fossil fuel, which reduces the amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) that would have been given off if they were simply allowed to decompose. On the other…

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EU Brexit negotiator meets Eurosceptic Nigel Farage

EU Brexit negotiator meets Eurosceptic Nigel Farage

The European Union (EU)’s chief negotiator on Brexit, Michel Barnier, received on Monday in Brussels the former leader of the UK Independence Party, Nigel Farage, torchbearer of the advocates of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. The two men reviewed the state of ongoing negotiations between Europe and Britain, according to a spokesman for the European Commission, who recalled that Barnier’s door was always open to Europarliamentarians from the United Kingdom. Although he resigned as head of his party after the narrow victory of the pro-Brexit movement at the June 2016…

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De Wever warns: “If Theo Francken has to resign, the New Flemish Alliance will have to leave the coalition government”

De Wever warns: “If Theo Francken has to resign, the New Flemish Alliance will have to leave the coalition government”

The President of the New Flemish Aliiance, Bart De Wever, on Sunday issued a warning to his federal government coalition partners. He said if the Secretary of State for Asylum and Migration, Theo Francken, has to resign, the New Flemish Alliance will also leave the government. De Wever stated to VTM, “If Theo Francken is asked to stand down, then the New Flemish Alliance will do likewise. I am clear on this subject. I wholeheartedly support Theo Francken, and I will not let him be brought down by this.” The…

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Carles Puigdemont is invited to the Leuven branch of the N-VA’s New Year reception

Carles Puigdemont is invited to the Leuven branch of the N-VA’s New Year reception

The Leuven branch of the N-VA has invited the leader of the Catalan government, Carles Puigdemont, to its New Year reception on the 30th January. It will take place at Leuven’s football club’s home stadium. Mr Puigdemont will talk about his experience as Mayor of Girona. “We have asked Carles Puigdemont to tell us how his party managed to liberate his town from 32 years of socialist rule in 2011”, Lorin Parys said on Friday. He will head N-VA’s list for the communal elections in Leuven. The Flemish Nationalist party…

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