Belgium did not push for carbon neutrality by 2050 at European Council

Belgium did not push for carbon neutrality by 2050 at European Council

A firm objective of carbon neutrality by 2050 was not included by the European Council in their conclusions. A group of states tried unsuccessfully to convince the European Council to include the objective of carbon neutrality by 2050 in their conclusions. Belgium was not part of the group, the Echo reported on Thursday. The conclusions’ project draft, obtained by the newspaper, mention the importance of presenting an ambitious long-term strategy to “endeavour” to achieve carbon neutrality… without elaborating. A handful of member states wanted to go further and requested the…

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Senior official at the European Commission committees suicide following hiring scandal

Senior official at the European Commission committees suicide following hiring scandal

A senior official in the Commission’s legal service committed suicide last December after a distinguished career. The tragedy is said to be linked to her involvement in the controversial appointment of the Commission’s new Secretary-General Martin Selmayr, French newspaper Liberation reported on Thursday. According to its Brussels correspondent Jean Quatremer, who wrote a number of investigative articles about the appointment process, the official found herself in a situation of conflict of interests when she was forced to defend the appointment against her values in the Commission’s replies to the European…

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French government unprepared for gilets jaunes riots, critics say

French government unprepared for gilets jaunes riots, critics say

The French prime minister, Edouard Philippe, has held talks with ministers after opposition politicians accused the government of being unprepared for rioting during gilets jaunes (yellow vests) protests on the Champs Élysées in Paris. The president, Emmanuel Macron promised to come up with strong measures to prevent further violence after rioters threw paving stones at police and restaurants, luxury stores, news kiosks and cars were torched, ransacked and looted. The police had seemed overrun as both rioters and protesters filled the Champs Élysées on Saturday afternoon. Masked men vandalised and…

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Companies prefer Dublin and Amsterdam to Brussels post-Brexit

Companies prefer Dublin and Amsterdam to Brussels post-Brexit

Brussels has been largely unsuccessful in attracting businesses currently based in the United Kingdom to switch following the country’s departure from the European Union, according to a report by the think tank New Financial. Some 275 banking and financial businesses based in the UK have expressed a wish to shift all or some operations to mainland Europe in the event of a No-Deal Brexit. But Brussels has been less successful than other EU capitals at attracting those businesses to the region. So far, New Financial reports, 250 of those firms…

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Charles Michel, Angela Merkel and Brexit

Charles Michel, Angela Merkel and Brexit

Prime Minister Charles Michel will hold talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin on Tuesday. Brexit is part of the agenda with the UK’s exit deadline fast approaching. The UK leave is scheduled for 29 March, but it is less than certain if the date will be respected. There will be important voting in British Parliament this week, in particular on the withdrawal agreement — rejected a first time in January — that Prime Minister Theresa May renegotiated with EU authorities. Tuesday’s meeting between Michel and Merkel will enable both…

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Migration remains on top of EU’s agenda

Migration remains on top of EU’s agenda

The European Commission has taken stock of its migration policy since 2014 and the challenges ahead after the European Parliament elections in May. Dimitris Avramopoulos, the Commissioner responsible for migration, highlighted the progress made until now but did not hide that the crisis is still not over. “Irregular arrivals are now lower than before the crisis, the European Border and Coast Guard has brought joint EU border protection to a new level and together with our partners we work on ensuring legal pathways while stepping up returns,” he said at…

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Europe moves closer to ending seasonal time changes

Europe moves closer to ending seasonal time changes

The European Parliament’s Transport Committee approved a resolution on Monday to end seasonal time changes, proposing that the final Sunday of March 2021 be the last such change for EU countries wishing to stay on summer time. Those wishing to remain at standard or winter time would be able to change over for the last time in October this year, according to the resolution, which was approved by 23 votes to 11. After a public consultation in summer 2018, the European Commission had recommended, in September, to scrap the time…

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Historical EU-Arab summit without concrete results

Historical EU-Arab summit without concrete results

The first ever EU-Arab Summit that took place last week in Sharm El-Sheikh in Egypt brought together 49 countries from the League of Arab States and the EU. Against the back-drop of an Arab Spring which has become an Arab Winter, it resulted in a joint declaration full of solemn commitments that few observers believe will be implemented on the ground. The President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker, represented the EU at the Summit, alongside the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, who also co-chaired the Summit with…

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Michel Barnier urges Brits to make up their minds

Michel Barnier urges Brits to make up their minds

European Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier said on Thursday that the UK needed to make a decision rather than call for a possible postponement of the Brexit deadline, adding that the talks on the UK withdrawal from Europe were at “a grave moment”. “Today, above all, we need a decision,” Barnier said at a press conference in Vienna. “It’s more important than extra time.” Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who was by his side, stressed, however, that if an orderly Brexit was not possible by the end of March, Europe would act…

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The EU condemns the use of armed groups and says it is ready to send more aid to Venezuela

The EU condemns the use of armed groups and says it is ready to send more aid to Venezuela

On Sunday, the EU condemned the current Venezuelan regime’s use of violence and armed groups to stop humanitarian aid getting into the country. “The regime’s refusal to recognise the humanitarian crisis has led to an escalation in tensions”, European head of diplomacy Federica Mogherini said during a declaration to the 28 EU member states. “We reject the use of armed groups to intimidate civilians and legislators are moving to get aid distributed”, she said. “We are receiving worrying information about disturbances, violence and an increasing number of victims, particularly in…

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