Scotland voted to keep EU flag to flies on wind

Scotland voted to keep EU flag to flies on wind

Scottish lawmakers on Wednesday (29 January) voted to keep the European Union flag flying outside the devolved parliament in Edinburgh after Brexit. The group that manages parliament had planned to lower the flag at 11.00 pm (2300 GMT) on Friday, when Britain officially leaves the EU. But members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) voted by 63 to 54 to overturn the decision after heated debate. Presiding Officer Ken Macintosh had warned ministers that flags “should not become a political issue” and that they “reflect our relationships in law”. Scotland voted…

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EU firmly responds to Trump’s Middle East peace plan

EU firmly responds to Trump’s Middle East peace plan

The European Union’s top diplomat said Tuesday (28 January) that the bloc remains “firm and united” behind the quest for a negotiated two-state peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians. High representative Josep Borrell was speaking after President Donald Trump unveiled a “last opportunity” for the Palestinians to sign up to a plan drawn up by US officials. “The European Union will study and assess the proposals put forward,” Borrell said. But he added: “This will be done on the basis of the EU’s established position and its firm and…

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EU leaders will choose a budget at the February summit

EU leaders will choose a budget at the February summit

European Union leaders meet next month in Brussels to try to agree a first post-Brexit longterm budget, with divisions over proposed cuts that could undermine defence and climate change ambitions. European Council President Charles Michel on Saturday (25 January) invited the heads of state and government of the bloc’s 27 member nations to an exceptional summit on 20 February. Any further delay might jeopardise both current programmes and policies and the launch of new ones, he said. “I am fully aware that these negotiations are among the most difficult ones…

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‘Historical moment’: Boris Johnson signs Brexit withdrawal deal

‘Historical moment’: Boris Johnson signs Brexit withdrawal deal

Boris Johnson has formally signed the EU withdrawal agreement, smiling as he described it as a “fantastic moment” for the country. His enthusiasm came in sharp contrast to the sombre tone of EU officials, who earlier added their signatures to the document before it crossed the Channel. With a week before the deadline of 31 January, the agreement is now concluded and talks are due to begin over the future relationship between the UK and Brussels. Johnson said the document’s signing, which took place in Downing Street, would end years…

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Irish Prime Minister is ready to enter into a big coalition with the main rival

Irish Prime Minister is ready to enter into a big coalition with the main rival

Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said for the first time on Wednesday (22 January) that he would consider entering an unprecedented coalition government with the country’s second-largest party and historic rival Fianna Fáil (affiliated to Renew Europe) after next month’s election. Varadkar’s Fine Gael party (EPP-affiliated) trails its fellow centre-right rival in opinion polls that suggest whichever party finishes on top on 8 February would struggle to form a coalition government with a collection of smaller parties. As both refuse to govern with the country’s third-largest party, Sinn Féin (GUE-NGL),…

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Russia gets a new government in what Putin calls a “major upgrade”

Russia gets a new government in what Putin calls a “major upgrade”

Russian President Vladimir Putin approved a new government on Tuesday (22 January) which he described as a break with the past, bringing in some fresh faces but retaining many senior ministers. The new government included a new economy minister and a new first deputy prime minister, but the finance, foreign, defense, energy and agriculture ministers all kept their jobs. The new team was formed less than a week after Putin unveiled a sweeping shake-up of the political system, which led to the resignation of his ally Dmitry Medvedev as prime…

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Rules for revolving doors must be followed

Rules for revolving doors must be followed

The latest case of an EU banking official taking a lobbying job in the financial sector underscores the need to uphold rules to prevent revolving doors, write Luis Garicano and Paul Tang. Luis Garicano and Paul Tang are MEPs for Renew Europe and the Socialist and Democrat group A key lesson of the Financial Crisis was that the “capture” of regulators by financial sector players costs taxpayers dearly. Prior to the crisis, banks were able to lobby governments to avoid necessary regulation. During and after the crisis, they were allowed…

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Russia’s ruling party approves that Putin’s pick Mishustin as a new PM

Russia’s ruling party approves that Putin’s pick Mishustin as a new PM

Russia’s ruling party on Thursday (16 January) unanimously backed President Vladimir Putin’s surprise choice for prime minister, Mikhail Mishustin, a man with almost no political profile. Mishustin’s elevation is part of a sweeping shake-up of the political system announced by Putin on Wednesday, which led to the resignation of Dmitry Medvedev as prime minister along with his government. The changes are widely seen as giving Putin, 67, scope to extend his grip on power once he leaves the presidency in 2024. He has dominated Russian politics, as president or as…

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Macron and Sahel leaders meet to strengthen campaign against jihad

Macron and Sahel leaders meet to strengthen campaign against jihad

French President Emmanuel Macron will on Monday (13 January) host counterparts from five Sahel countries seeking more backing in the fight against a murderous jihadist uprising even as France’s military role is being questioned. Recent tensions between France and Sahel governments could make for a tricky exchange at the six-way talks in the southwestern city of Pau, to be attended also by the heads of the UN, African Union, and EU Council. Macron insists his counterparts from Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, Mauritania and Chad must use the occasion to express…

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Experts say Europe should go beyond empty words about Iran

Experts say Europe should go beyond empty words about Iran

As EU foreign ministers gather tomorrow (9 January) to discuss Iran, they should be mindful of a changed domestic situation in the country, experts warn. Scholars predict that the Iranian parliamentary elections due to take place next month will reward those less critical of the state and strengthen the regime weakened by internal unrest at the end of last year. Iranian legislative elections, to be held on 21 February, are important because they give account of “the balance of forces in the regime, and also about the popularity of policies…

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