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Finland opens inquiry in Olkiluoto nuclear plant as the Areva scandal unfolds

mar, 20/12/2016 - 11:28

An investigation is taking place on the safety of the third reactor of the Olkiluoto Nuclear Power Plant in Eurajoki, Western Finland.

That follows the unraveling of the Areva SA scandal extending across Europe and perhaps beyond. An international investigation uncovered that certain parts manufactured by the maker of nuclear reactors have less steel than the company has claimed. Test results of components were then forged to cover up the fraud.

The Prosecutor's Office in Paris has opened ...

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Catégories: European Union

Racism on the rise in Poland

mar, 20/12/2016 - 11:25
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Racially motivated attacks against Muslims and Africans in Poland are on the rise.

As reported by Deutsche Welle (DW), Germany’s international broadcaster, three students from Turkey and Bulgaria were cursed at by young men on a tram earlier this month in Bydgoszcz, a city of nearly a half-million people in northern Poland. They were told to get out of country because Poland is for Poles.

Also, foreign exchange students in Torun, a student city also in Poland’s north, have come under increasing threat. A young Turk was recently cursed at and badly beaten. Two other students were forced to their knees in a bar and forced to “apologise” for being Muslim and not Christian.

“I am shocked by the lynch atmosphere of this incident,” said Ewa Walusiak-Bednarek, a spokeswoman for the University in Torun. “We have had exchange students for 10 years and this has never happened. Now it’s happened twice this year.”

The university has a tradition of pairing exchange students with their Polish peers, who are known as guardian angels, to “help students from abroad get used to everyday life and understand the country better,” Walusiak-Bednarek said.

“The number of Polish guardian angels has increased from 30 to 110 since these attacks. Nearly all of our 130 foreign exchange students are able to have their own.”

According to DW, Anna Tatar, who keeps track of racist attacks around Poland in her “brown book” for the foundation, which is called “Never Again.” She recorded 400 cases in 2009-2010 and 600 two years later. The count rose to 850 in 2013, according to Police statistics, and it doubled by 2015.

“We have observed a further rise since summer 2015, higher than the official numbers suggest,” she told DW. The racially charged atmosphere stems from the refugee debate during the parliamentary election campaign in fall 2015, she said. Poland has not taken in any refugees, but the numbers entering Europe overall has incensed many Poles, causing it to become a major campaign issue.

“The media have painted the refugees with one, broad brush,” Tatar said.

According to Polish government officials have been noticeably quiet following racially motivated attacks. At times, it plays down the racial motivations that may be behind them. A right-wing demonstration in Bialystok last April called to “hang Jews”. The public prosecutor concluded the incident was repugnant, but not racist.

 

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Catégories: European Union

NATO – Russia Council ends with no result 

mar, 20/12/2016 - 11:15
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NATO and Russia still “have profound disagreements on the crisis” in Ukraine, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said.

Stoltenberg made the comments after the NATO-Russia Council, their main forum for dialogue, held more than three hours of talks in Brussels on December 19.

Western diplomats said the fact that the NATO-Russia Council, where the Russian ambassador to the North Atlantic alliance sits with members states’ envoys, had met at all was significant after an increase in Russian military deployments.

“Without talking, we cannot solve our differences,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said after the meeting in Brussels.

Russia has alarmed NATO by equipping its Baltic fleet with nuclear-capable missiles and stepping up Cold War-style aerial incursions to probe Western air defenses. In October, it demonstratively sent its sole aircraft carrier close to Europe’s shores on its way to Syria.

Russian Ambassador Alexander Grushko gave a detailed briefing on Russian military exercises involving around 120,000 personnel in recent months, NATO diplomats said.

There was also discussion in Brussels of the tactics being used by Russian pilots, which NATO says are unsafe. These include flying barrel rolls over Western aircraft, not sharing flight plans, and flying without the transponders that allow jets to be identified by ground radar.

But Stoltenberg said there continued to be “profound disagreements” on one of the central issues in east-west relations: Ukraine.

He said NATO members would not recognize Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, and that the alliance remained deeply concerned about eastern Ukraine, partly controlled since 2014 by rebels whom NATO accuses Moscow of financing.

Despite an internationally-monitored ceasefire, diplomats have cited increasing reports of shelling and civilian casualties.

NATO for its part has responded to increased Russian military activity by planning to deploy troops to the Baltic states and Poland next year. Although it says its plans are defensive, Russia has been irked and sought explanations.

Separately, Ukrainian Europe Minister Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, who met EU officials in Brussels, told Reuters six Ukrainian soldiers had been reported killed on Monday and another 26 wounded in shelling by Russian-backed rebels.

The EU extended economic sanctions against Russia on Monday due to a lack of progress in implementing the Minsk ceasefire deal, under which a cessation of fighting was due to be followed by Kiev agreeing to hold local elections in the region.

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Catégories: European Union

Austria’s far right in Russia

mar, 20/12/2016 - 10:47
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Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPO) has offered to act as a go-between for US President-elect Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin after signing a cooperation agreement with Putin’s party.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, FPO leader Heinz-Christian Strache and the party’s recently defeated presidential candidate Norbert Hofer attended the signing ceremony in Moscow, as did officials of Putin’s United Russia party including Pyotr Tolstoy, a deputy chairman of the lower house of parliament.

The FPO has long taken a pro-Russia stance, calling for an end to European Union sanctions against Moscow imposed over the annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine. It has also denied allegations that it receives funding from Moscow.

On a recent visit to the United States, FPO officials met people close to President-elect Donald Trump, including his pick for national security adviser Michael Flynn, the FPO said in a statement announcing the Russian deal.

“It is particularly important to Strache that the US and Russia stand shoulder to shoulder,” according to an FPO statement, saying that could improve the situations in Syria and Crimea and lead to a lifting of sanctions on Russia.

“The FPO acts as a neutral and reliable intermediary and partner in promoting peace!” it said.

In a separate report, The Local noted that Strache signed a five-year agreement with senior United Russia officials during his trip to Russia.

“The aim is to work together on various levels, from youth party wings via regional branches to international issues,” the eurosceptic FPO said in a statement.

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Catégories: European Union

Paving the way for Ukraine-EU visa liberalisation

mar, 20/12/2016 - 10:31
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European Union visa-free travel for Ukrainians is closer, according to EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini.

The commissioner issued a statement after the December 19 meeting of the EU-Ukraine Association Council on December 19.  She said: “On visas: another issue that I know is very much close to the Ukrainian population and authorities’ hearts. The Council and European Parliament have agreed on the revised suspension mechanism. This paves the way for final procedural steps, which will enable visa liberalisation for Ukraine soon”.

In turn, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic integration Ivanna Klympush-Tsyntsadze said the EU had once again confirmed that the Ukrainian side had fulfilled all its obligations.

The Council was chaired by Mogherini. The Ukrainian delegation was led First Deputy Prime Minister of Ukraine, Stepan Kubiv, who was accompanied by other government officials.

In other related news, the Netherlands appears closer to ratifying the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, after the amendments requested by the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, were accepted by the other 27 EU member states last week. The Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area has been provisionally applied since January 2016 and has already increased the trade volume between the EU and Ukraine by 7.5% in the period October 2015-September 2016 compared to the previous year.

In terms of recent developments, the Association Council welcomed the signing of the financing agreement for Public Administration Reform (PAR) programme, a €104m contribution to support policy development, civil service and human resource management.

Furthermore, the announcement of the PRAVO programme of €52.5m adds up to the support of rule of law in Ukraine, namely via judiciary and law enforcement.

The meeting concluded with the signing of financing agreements for four Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) programmes in which Ukraine participates and of five agreements between Ukraine and the European Investment Bank (EIB), underlining the importance of further successful cooperation in line with the Memorandum of Understanding between the Ukraine and the EIB.

The post Paving the way for Ukraine-EU visa liberalisation appeared first on New Europe.

Catégories: European Union

Row over Christmas carols at German school in Turkey

mar, 20/12/2016 - 10:21

Another diplomatic row between Turkey and Germany is brewing. The administrators of a prestigious Istanbul high school have reportedly warned teachers over Christian and Christmas-related content in German language classes.

As reported by the Reuters news agency, the Istanbul Lisesi, a state-run high school that offers a curriculum in both German and Turkish, said in a statement that administrators had met the head of the German department over concerns that teachers were devoting too much ti...

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Catégories: European Union

S&D MEPs critical of Kabila’s decision to postpone presidential election in DRC

mar, 20/12/2016 - 10:13
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The president of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) Group in the European Parliament Gianni Pittella has criticised Joseph Kabila’s decision to postpone the presidential election in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

“The attempt of Joseph Kabila to remain in power beyond his term is unacceptable and is a danger to both the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and to the Great Lakes region as a whole, which will suffer a new wave of instability,” he said. “We strongly believe that respect of democracy, peace and peaceful transfer of power must now be the only priority for all political forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Unfortunately Kabila is showing time and time again his desire to go the opposite way.”

In turn, S&D MEP Cécile Kyenge said: “Unless there is any last minute surprise, everything points to the likelihood that this will actually happen and Kabila is increasing his resolve to keep his hands on the Congolese presidency illegally.”

“The European Union cannot continue to support a country which does not comply with its constitutional responsibilities, from the Head of State to the municipal level,” added Kyenge. “If Joseph Kabila continues on his current path and establishes an illegal and illegitimate regime the EU must act.”

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Catégories: European Union

Apple saga continues: iPhone maker accuses EU of retroactively changing rules

mar, 20/12/2016 - 10:02

Apple is fighting back. Accused of taking “unilateral action” and retroactively changing the rules, “disregarding decades of Irish tax law, US tax law, as well as global consensus on tax policy, that everyone has relied on,” Apple has rejected all charges resulting from the European Commission’s investigation. Now, the EU institution has released more information on the landmark competition case.

The Berlaymont is not willing to let Apple and Ireland continue “business as usual.” It published...

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Catégories: European Union

‘Zero immigration has never existed and never will’

mar, 20/12/2016 - 09:57
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Immigration topped the agenda at the 32nd session of the joint parliamentary assembly of the Africa Caribbean Pacific-European Union (ACP-EU), which opened in Nairobi, Kenya, on December 19.

“The history of humanity is the history of migrations. Zero migration has never existed, and it never will,” said Louis Michel (ALDE, BE), EU Co-President of the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly (JPA). “We must manage migration flows in a human way, in line with our values. Fortress Europe is not working.”

The session was opened by Kenya’s President Uhuru Muigai Kenyatta, and attended by the Speaker of its National Assembly, Justin Bedan Njoka Muturi.

During the session, JPA Co-President for the ACP countries Netty Baldeh (Gambia) reaffirmed the importance of the ACP-EU partnership in the current political context. He said: “Our discussions are about people, not abstract themes or statistics, but concern humanity in general.”

In turn, Michel advocated consolidated cooperation. “With Brexit, the retreat into nationalism, the proliferation of conflicts in Syria, the Yemen and elsewhere, it is vital to reaffirm and reinforce our partnership,” he said.

“We must manage migration flows in a human way, in line with our values. Fortress Europe is not working,” added Michel.

The issue of migration and resettling migrants in their home countries will be further debated on December 21.

The role of trade in attaining the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will also be debated with United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) Secretary General Mukhisa Kituyi.

Another debate slated for December 21 is on “Demographic growth: challenges and opportunities” and will focus on population growth issues and the consequences of strong demographic pressures in various regions of the world. Some African countries, such as Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ethiopia will be among the most populated countries in the world by 2050.

The ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly brings together MEPs and MPs from 78 EU and African, Caribbean and Pacific countries that have signed the Cotonou Agreement, which is the basis for ACP-EU cooperation and development work.

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Catégories: European Union

Manhunt follows apparent hate-crime against Islamic Center in Zurich

lun, 19/12/2016 - 22:05
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Armed police and dogs are in a manhunt around Zurich to arrest the perpetrators of an apparent hate crime against an Islamic Centre in Zurich on Monday evening.

According to eyewitness reports, an unknown shooter fired against a praying crowd and fled the scene.  He was approximately 30 years old with a woolen hat.

The three wounded individuals are three men 30, 35, and 56 Swissinfo reports.

Three people are reported injured. There are reports of a dead body, but that is yet to be confirmed that the body is related to the incident.

A spokesperson for the local police confirms the incident took place inside the religious Centre’s building at 17.30 in the evening.

The police are appealing for witnesses.

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Catégories: European Union

Possible terrorist attack in Berlin’s Christmas market as truck ploughs through crowd

lun, 19/12/2016 - 21:29
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A truck ran into the Christmas market in Berlin of Monday evening, killing 12 people and injuring at least 48 people. The Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere resisted calling the event a terrorist attack, although he said “there are things pointing to one.”

The number of casualties was rising as the injured succumbed to their wounds from three to nine to 12.

Police are treating the event as a terrorist attack. An eyewitness told Sky News that “this wasn’t an accident” as the truck was doing 64km/hour (40 mph).

The truck had Polish plates. The man believed to be the original driver — a Polish man named as Ariel Zurawski — was found dead in the passenger seat.

The were two perpetrators involved, one dead and one arrested. The man arrested is thought to be the driver of the vehicle, German TV reports. The arrested man is a Pakistani asylum seeker who entered Germany last year, BBC reports. The 23-year old man is known as Naved B.

He had a petty crime record.

The incident occurred on the corner of Kantstrasse and Budapester Strasse, according to the public broadcaster DW. The location is close to Berlin’s Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church.

US President-elect, Donald Trump, talked of “Islamic terrorists” slaughtering Christians.

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Catégories: European Union

Russian Ambassador to Ankara shot dead

lun, 19/12/2016 - 18:39
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The Russian Ambassador in Ankara, Andrey Karlov, has been shot dead.

The 22-year old off-duty Turkish policeman fired several shots at the Russian ambassador to Turkey during his visit at a photo exhibition. He was wounded and died in hospital.  He was named on Monday night as Mevlut Mert Altintas, a 22-year-old riot squad police officer who has been based in Ankara for the past two years, according to Anadolu Agency.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, confirmed Karlov’s  gunshot wound. Karlov has served as Ambassador to Turkey since 2013.

“Aleppo”

The Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, is currently in Moscow for a trilateral meeting with his Russian and Iranian counterparts. The meeting scheduled originally for December 27 was brought forward after the fall of Aleppo.

Anadolu Agency reports that the gunman was shot dead, but it remains unclear if there were other perpetrators at large.  The phrases used by  Altintas, have been previously associated with the rebel group Al Nusra, the Syrian branch of Al Qaeda. However, the young police officer has been photographed at Erdogan’s AKP event previously.

Turkey has been sustaining continuous attacks both from Kurdish separatists (PKK) and the Islamic State.

AFP reports the perpetrator shouted “Aleppo” before the shooting. Turkey has three million Syrian refugees.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said Monday the attack on Russian envoy was a “provocation” to undermine relations Turkey and Russia carry in Syria, according to Anadolu Agency.

US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen strongly condemned the attack and has absolutely no links to the gunman, Alp Aslandogan, Gulen’s advisor on media issues, told Reuters. “Mr. Gulen categorically condemns this heinous act,” he stressed according to Russia Today (RT).

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Catégories: European Union

Russian ambassador shot dead in Ankara attack

lun, 19/12/2016 - 18:37
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The Russian ambassador to Ankara, Andrei Karlov, has been shot dead by a gunman while visiting a photo gallery in the Turkish capital.

The Russian Ambassador in Ankara, Andrei Karlov

The photo exhibition is called “Russia as seen by Turks” and Karlov had been attending the exhibition and got shot in the back while delivering a speech.

Police later on, has shot the gunman dead, while Karlov was rushed to hospital, among other been hit by the armed man.

The attacker shouted about Aleppo and Syria according to sources, while he is pictured wearing a suit and tie. Within the video released, the gunman can be heard yelling “Don’t forget about Aleppo, don’t forget about Syria” and uses the Islamic phrase “Allahu Akbar”.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, confirmed Karlov’s gunshot wound. Karlov has served as Ambassador to Turkey since 2013.

The Turkish Foreign Minister, Mevlut Cavusoglu, is currently in Moscow for a trilateral meeting with his Russian and Iranian counterparts. The meeting scheduled originally for December 27 was brought forward after the fall of Aleppo. Anadolu Agency reports that the gunman was shot dead, but it remains unclear if there were other perpetrators at large.

While there were protests in recent days across Turkey, both governments,  have been co-operating in the Aleppo ceasefire operation.

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Catégories: European Union

Lagarde found guilty of gross negligence

lun, 19/12/2016 - 16:53
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The managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, has been found guilty of criminal negligence on Monday, France 24 reports.

IMF in turmoil

Ms. Lagarde began her second five-year term at the I.M.F. in February. She was appointed following the resignation of Dominique Strauss-Kahn, when the former director was forced to resign following his arrest.

The decision is likely to have repercussions both on the political climate in France and the I.M.F.The IMF is currently dealing with a hot agenda that includes Greece, not unlike the situation of 2011.

Lagarde served as the finance minister of former President Nicolas Sarkozy. At the time, she approved an out-of-court settlement with businessman Bernard Tapie. The “negligence” allegedly cost the French state €400 million.

Lagarde faces a year in prison and a €15,000 fine.

Background

In 1993, Tapie was appointed minister and was forced to sell his company (Adidas) to avoid conflict of interest. The company was bought by a state-owned bank, Crédit Lyonnais, which sold the company one year later for a 100% premium.

Tapie went to Court feeling he was entitled to that premium. The court’s awarded him with €100 million, but Lagarde approved an out-of-court settlement that granted him four times that amount.

Apparently, courts found that this was an inside “fraud” case. In 2013, Tapie was accused of conspiring with one of the arbitrators and Lagarde’s chief of staff to defraud the state. In 2015, the businessman was forced to return the money he was awarded.

The tribunal is not accusing Lagarde of being a co-conspirator, but that she was ill-informed and negligent.

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Catégories: European Union

Russia, Iran, and Turkey meet to discuss Syria

lun, 19/12/2016 - 15:26
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Russia, Iran, and Turkey will be convening in Moscow to discuss Syria on Tuesday.

The meeting will take place on foreign ministers level. Russia and Iran are backing the Assad regime, while Turkey has long been working with the opposition.

The trilateral meeting scheduled for December 27 has been moved forward due to developments in Aleppo, Anadolu agency reports. Turkey’s current priority appears to be to ensure that Kurdish militants will not be able to advance territorial gains in Syria.

The RIA agency cites Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov that the trilateral meeting engages those who can make a real difference on the ground, “while our Western partners are busier with rhetoric and propaganda.”

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Catégories: European Union

British employers fear lack of access to skilled labour

lun, 19/12/2016 - 14:26
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According to an annual survey, more than half of British employers expect the U.K will become a less attractive place to invest over the next five years, largely as a result of Brexit.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and recruitment agency Pertemps Network Group said on Monday that the periodic survey of British employers suggests that overall, respondents expecting the UK to be a more attractive place to employ people in the next five years “has flipped from +16% in our 2015 survey to -21%.”

Thriving labour market now, but tomorrow?

The annual survey engaged 353 employers with a 1.2 million people workforce from August to October 2016.

The labour market in the U.K appears to be buoyant with over 41% of those surveyed expecting to hire more next year, with permanent jobs growing more dynamically than temporary workers. This year there was a 28% growth in the number of companies expanding their workforce.

However, existing and future skill gaps have risen to the number one concern for British businesses.

Prime concern: access to highly skilled labour

Over 50% of respondents believe Britain is a less attractive or much less attractive place to do business. However, for 29% of respondents, Britain will be a more attractive place to invest.

The chief concern among employers is access to highly skilled labour and fear of skill shortages; this was fifth on the list of 2015 concerns.

The CBI survey suggests that a rise in the minimum wage has led to a modest rise in income and the trend is likely to continue. 41% of employers say they will absorb the added cost of labour without passing it on to customers.

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Catégories: European Union

NATO tries to remend ties with Russia at meeting in Brussels

lun, 19/12/2016 - 13:19
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NATO is holding a round of formal talks with Russia on Monday, 19 December, discussing European security and the Ukraine conflict. NATO is also trying to reassure Russia that its troop deployments in the Baltic states and Poland next year are purely defensive.

The NATO-Russia Council, the forum bringing together North Atlantic Treaty Organisation ambassadors and Russia’s top diplomat dealing with the U.S.-led alliance, is meeting for only the third time this year with the crisis in Ukraine still the top concern for Brussels and Washington.

Russia says it is concerned about a NATO military build-up near its borders. “We count on having a frank discussion about the security situation in Europe … including … the consequences of NATO reinforcements on the eastern flank,” Russia’s ambassador to NATO, Alexander Grushko, said on Friday.

 With relations already at a low ebb, Russia’s devastating bombing campaign in Aleppo, which is not expected to be formerly discussed, has provided a dark backdrop for the meeting, diplomats said.

However, NATO allies, particularly Germany, have been pushing for the meeting with Grushko to explain why they are sending four multinational battalions of up to 4,000 troops to the former Soviet states of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland from early 2017.

NATO governments say the measures are modest compared with the 330,000 troops the alliance believes Russia has amassed on its western flank near Moscow since May.

Allies say the four battalions, backed by additional U.S. forces on rotation, are justified by Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea that alarmed the Baltics that they might be next.

“The whole idea with re-enforcements is to prevent the conflict,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said earlier this month following a meeting with Estonia’s president. “It’s to send a clear message of deterrence.”

NATO’s top commander Curtis Scaparrotti also said this month he wants the NATO-Russia Council to address the massive military exercises that Russia has often held, with very little warning given. “Russia has not been transparent,” he told reporters.

NATO allies France and Germany are also seeking to implement a peace deal for eastern Ukraine, where the West accuses the Kremlin of providing money and weapons to rebels. Moscow denies that, saying the violence in Ukraine’s industrial east that has killed more than 10,000 people is the result of a civil war.

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Catégories: European Union

Arrest of five ETA suspects in France dimissed as “political”

lun, 19/12/2016 - 13:16
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French and Spanish police forces have made five arrests over the weekend in relation to a weapons’ cache belonging to the Basque terrorist group ETA.

arrests

The cache included fire arms, explosives and ammunition, DPA reports. The suspects were transferred to Paris for questioning.

The cache was discovered in Louhossoa, in southern France, officials said.

Since 2011, ETA declared a ceasefire that has been overall upheld. In 2014 the group stated that its weapons were “beyond use.” But, the Spanish government refuses any negotiation. The main demands put forward by ETA relate to improving prison conditions or releasing some of its 350 arrested members. In exchange, the group offers further decommissioning  and complete dissolution.

“political”

French human rights lawyer Michel Tubiana told AFP that the suspects intended to destroy the weapons and hand them over to authorities. Originally, she intended to be present during the intended decommissioning of the weapons. However, the French Interior Minister Bruno Le Roux said on Saturday that “nobody has the right to proclaim themselves a destroyer of arms.”

Tubiana called the arrests “political.” Among those arrested is the head of an ecologist group and a journalist.

Speaking in San Sebastian, in the Basque Country, EH Bildu spokesman and former convicted ETA member Arnaldo Otegi told AP on Saturday that French and Spanish authorities are in effect ‘preventing’ the disarmament.

ETA was founded in 1959 during the reign of the dictator General Franco, seeking independence. However, the organization continued to operate for years after Spain’s transition to democracy.

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Catégories: European Union

Fast broadband for all Swedes by 2025

lun, 19/12/2016 - 12:06
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Sweden will be completely online by 2025, according to the government’s new three-part broadband strategy. One-quarter of the population currently does not have access to fast broadband.

As reported by The Local, Digitalisation Minister Peter Eriksson said: “We cannot continue with a strategy that leaves people out. It is unacceptable that not everyone is included”.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven has also promised that over half a million more Swedes will gain access to fast broadband Internet over the next four years.

Under the government’s new strategy, three targets have been set: 2020, 2023 and 2025. More specifically, in 2020, 95% all households will have access to broadband of at least 100 Mbps. In 2023, all of Sweden will be connected to stable mobile services of high quality.

“We have beaten our current targets and our new target is for all of Sweden to be connected by 2025,” said Eriksson.

According to The Local, the government expects that more than 500,000 more Swedes will have access to fast broadband within the next four years.

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Catégories: European Union

Dublin and Apple lash out against the Commission

lun, 19/12/2016 - 11:30
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Dublin is telling Brussels that tax policy is a national matter.

The Irish government said on Monday that the European Commission overstepped its mandate in a tax ruling against Apple in August, asking the American multinational to pay €13bn to Dublin for illegal state aid.

Political context

The former Danish economy minister and European Competition Commissioner, Margrethe Vestager, has argued that Apple’s Irish tax bill implied a tax rate of 0.005 percent in 2014.

Apple is one of many multinationals drawn to Ireland due to a favourable tax regime, as well as a highly trained workforce and the English language. Dublin is keen to maintain its competitive advantage that has generated 10% of its jobs, often the best paid.

Apple has its European Headquarters in Cork, Ireland.

On Monday, Apple and the Irish government on made their legal case against the European Commission, opposing the ruling in concert.

The standoff between Dublin, Apple, and the European Commission takes place against the backdrop of the election of President-elect Donald Trump. Trump has promised to slash corporate tax rates and to provide incentives for companies to repatriate global profits.

Government

“The Commission has manifestly breached its duty to provide a clear and unequivocal statement of reasons for its decision,” said the Irish government in a statement.

Dublin denies Apple was granted a special tax regime neither in 1991 nor 2007. In addition, the Irish government considers that the Commission has overstated Apple’s corporate profits in Europe.

In effect, The European Commission is attributing to the Irish-based company all profits made outside the United States rather than Europe alone. The decision in August infuriated the White House.

Apple

For its part, Apple is also legally challenging the Commission’s ruling. The US multinational will argue that the Commission is mistaken when it claims that Apple Sales International (ASI) and Apple Operations Europe are phantom entities created for tax avoidance purposes.

The company’s General Counsel, Bruce Sewell, and Chief Financial Officer, Luca Maestri, told Reuters that Apple is a “convenient target” that Margrethe Vestager is aiming to soar her political capital and become “Dane of the year for 2016.”

They suggest that the case against Apple is weak and the complying with the ruling would require Ireland violating its own past tax laws, setting different rules for resident and non-resident companies.

The post Dublin and Apple lash out against the Commission appeared first on New Europe.

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