(BRUSSELS) EU Parliament Report: Despite whistleblower leaks casting doubts on the OPCW’s findings, is determined to enforce the organization’s anti-Assad line on Syria. MEP Mick Wallace was accused of spreading “fake news” when he spoke out #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr,17: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has taken an intense interest in Syria’s civil war, and has accused President Bashar Assad of deploying chemical weapons against his own people on several occasions. Its conclusions have twice been used to justify US military action against Syria, and a new OPCW report on Monday found “reasonable grounds” to suspect that a Syrian Army helicopter dropped chemical weapons on the town of Saraqib in 2018.

EU Parliament session gets chaotic as MEP accused of ‘fake news’ for daring to question OPCW on whistleblower scandal (VIDEO) Russia slams ‘disgraceful’ ban on founding OPCW chief speaking at UN Security Council on Syria, PUBLISHES his speech unilateraly

15 Apr, 2021 18:54 

EU Parliament session gets chaotic as MEP accused of 'fake news' for daring to question OPCW on whistleblower scandal (VIDEO)

The OPCW’s reports are good news for Western interventionists, but the organization is not without its critics and the chief must ‘find the courage to address’ Douma coverup allegations, says group including 5 senior ex-officials of watchdog

Mick Wallace, an Irish MEP, is among them. When OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias addressed the European Parliament Subcommittee of Security and Defence on Thursday, Wallace accused the OPCW of squashing evidence that Assad may not have been behind one particularly heinous 2018 attack in Douma, near Damascus.

“Why will you not heed calls from renowned international figures…to meet with all the investigators?” Wallace asked Arias. “This problem is not going away. Are you going to investigate all aspects in a transparent manner?”

He is far from a lone crank. Whistleblower testimony and internal documents suggest that the OPCW suppressed “key information about chemical analyses, toxicology consultations, ballistics studies, and witness testimonies” relating to the Douma attack, in order to “favor a preordained conclusion,” in the words of one panel of skeptics. A scientific paper challenging the OPCW’s conclusion was shelvedfollowing an outcry from Bellingcat, and one director within the OPCW worried that were the truth to get out, it could aid Russia, an ally of Assad. Furthermore, while multiple whistleblowers have come forward to dispute the OPCW’s findings, more have been “frightened into silence,” one claimed last year.

Wallace also accused Arias of ignoring a false leak,” made to the BBC and the NATO-affiliated Bellingcat, which he claimed was used to discredit former OPCW Director-General José Bustani, who disagrees with Arias’ blaming of Assad for the Douma attack.

Yet before Arias could respond, subcommittee chairwoman Nathalie Loiseau stepped in to do his job for him. Loiseau apologized to Arias for Wallace’s tough questioning, and accused the Ireland South MEP of peddling “fake news.” 

“I cannot accept that you can call into question the work of an international organization, and that you would call into question the word of the victims in the way you have just done,” she scolded Wallace.

“Is there no freedom of speech being allowed in the European Parliament any more,” Wallace shot back, “today you’re denying me my opinion!”

Wallace’s microphone was then cut, and Arias allowed to speak. However, the OPCW chief did not directly address his questions. Instead he thanked the other MEPs present for their “words of support,” and reiterated his claims that Assad’s government is responsible for “a humanitarian catastrophe of massive proportions.”

Though Loiseau apparently wanted to shield Arias from Wallace’s uncomfortable questions, skepticism within the OPCW goes all the way to the top. Former Director-General Bustani has accused the organization of “potentially fraudulent conduct in the investigative process,” a position that saw him banned from addressing the UN Security Council on the issue last year.

The whistleblower scandal has been mostly ignored by the mainstream media, with only a handful of alternative outlets picking up the story.

From Loiseau’s position though, dissent within the parliament is undesirable ahead of the OPCW’s ‘Conference of the States Parties’ in The Hague next week. Ahead of Wallace’s questioning, Loiseau reminded MEPs that a vote will likely be taken at the conference to suspend Syria’s voting rights within the organization, likely accompanied by other “punitive measures.”

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Apr.17: 2021:

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#assad, #brussels, #eu, #opcw, #syria

(BRUSSELS) China Free Speech Report: The EU has accused China of harassing foreign correspondents after the BBC’s Beijing correspondent John Sudworth was forced to move to Taiwan #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.03: Foreign correspondents were “being driven out of China as a result of continuous harassment and obstruction to their work”, it said:

China ‘driving out journalists’, EU says after BBC’s Sudworth leaves after he says he faced “intensifying attempts to obstruct and harass us wherever we film” EU urged China to abide by its international legal obligations to ensure freedom of speech and press.

9 minutes ago:

Sudworth left following pressure and threats from the Chinese authorities.

The BBC’s China correspondent, who won awards for his reporting on the treatment of the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang region, left the Chinese capital together with his family, including his wife, RTÉ reporter Yvonne Murray.

China, which has denounced the BBC’s coverage of Xinjiang, said it was unaware of any threat to Sudworth other than possible legal action to challenge his reporting on the region.

But he and his family were followed by plainclothes police to the airport and tailed through check-in.

The BBC says it is proud of his reporting and Sudworth, who was based in the country for nine years, remains its China correspondent.

The irony is, of course, that at the same time that the space for foreign journalism is shrinking in China, the Communist Party has been investing heavily in its media strategy overseas, taking full advantage of the easy access to a free and open media.

Its “wolf-warrior” diplomats unleash furious tweet-storms, lambasting foreign reporting – while denying their own citizens access to those very same foreign platforms – in an intensive, co-ordinated strategy across multiple platforms, as documented by this report by researchers from the International Cyber Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

State-media propagandists publish and post their content overseas without restriction, while at home, China ruthlessly shuts down independent reporting, censors foreign broadcasts and websites, and blocks foreign journalists from its own social media networks.

In this context, my departure can be seen as one small part of an emerging and highly asymmetric battle for the control of ideas. It is not a happy prospect for the free flow of good, accurate information.

John Sudworth: ‘The grim reality of reporting in China that pushed me out’

What did the EU say exactly?

A spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said at least 18 correspondents had been expelled from China last year.

“The EU has repeatedly expressed its concerns to the Chinese authorities at the undue working restrictions imposed on foreign journalists and reported related harassment,” the spokesperson added.John Sudworth (above) and his team were followed and had their footage deleted on a trip to Xinjiang in late 2020

“Professionalism and objectivity of foreign correspondents is increasingly put into question.”

They said the EU stood up “for the role of independent and reliable media all around the world” and called upon China to “abide by its obligations under national and international law and ensure the freedom of speech and press”.

The number of international media organisations reporting from China is shrinking. Last year China expelled correspondents for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, among others. 

And in September 2020, the last two reporters working in China for Australian media flew home after a five-day diplomatic standoff.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said the authorities had not been given prior notice of Sudworth’s departure. 

“Only in recent days when we were faced with the task of renewing Sudworth’s press card did we learn that Sudworth left without saying goodbye,” Hua Chunying told a news conference in Beijing. “After he left the country, he didn’t by any means inform the relevant departments nor provide any reason why.”

In its statement, the BBC said: “John’s reporting has exposed truths the Chinese authorities did not want the world to know.”

Sudworth’s reporting colleagues are still in Beijing, and he says he intends to continue his reporting from Taiwan.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Apr.03: 2021:

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#bbc, #brussels, #china, #eu, #press-freedom-journalists

(WASHINGTON) State Dept Report: The U.S joins E.U in condemning and responding to the Russian Federation’s use of a chemical weapon in the attempted assassination of Russian opposition figure Aleksey Navalny in August 2020 and his subsequent imprisonment in January 2021 #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Mar.24: The U.S. government has exercised its authorities to send a clear signal that Russia’s use of chemical weapons and abuse of human rights have severe consequences. Any use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and contravenes international norms:

Imposing Sanctions on Russia for the Poisoning and Imprisonment of Aleksey Navalny: ‘Whitehouse said they share the EU’s concerns regarding Russia’s deepening authoritarianism and welcome the EU’s determination to impose sanctions on Russia under its new global human rights authorities’

The United States has consistently characterized the legal offensive against Mr. Navalny as politically motivated, an assessment shared by our G7 partners and the European Court of Human Rights.  We reiterate our call for the Russian government to immediately and unconditionally release Mr. Navalny.

In today’s actions, the Department of State, under the U.S. Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act of 1991, will expand existing sanctions first imposed on Russia after its 2018 chemical weapon attack against Sergei Skripal in the United Kingdom, three years ago this week.  The Department of State has also implemented measures under Executive Order (E.O.) 13382, which targets weapons of mass destruction proliferators, as well as the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) against multiple Russian individuals and entities associated with the Russian Federation’s chemical weapons program and defense and intelligence sectors.  In addition, the Department will amend Section 126.1 of the International Traffic in Arms Regulations to include Russia in the list of countries subject to a policy of denial for exports of defense articles and defense services, with certain exceptions for exports to Russia in support of government space cooperation.  Exports in support of commercial space cooperation, however, will be restricted following a six-month transition period.

The Department of the Treasury is designating  seven Russian government officials, five of whom were previously designated by the EU and UK for their role in Navalny’s poisoning and two whom the EU designated in response to Mr. Navalny’s arrest and imprisonment.  The Department of Commerce is adding 14 entities to the Entity List based on their proliferation activities in support of Russia’s weapons of mass destruction programs and chemical weapons activities.

For more information on today’s action, please see the Department of State’s fact sheet.

#AceNewsDesk report ……..Published: Mar.24: 2021:

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#russia, #eu, #navalny, #state-dept, #washington

(BRUSSELS) EU Commission Report: Ursula Von der Leyden said today Sunday that the bloc cannot donate vaccines to developing countries amid supply complications #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – Mar.21: There is quite a bit of pressure on member states to obtain the vaccine for themselves,” she told Germany’s Funke Media Group over the weekend:

Coronavirus: EU ‘not ready’ to share COVID vaccines with poorer countries: Despite earlier promises, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Sunday that the bloc will not share coronavirus vaccines with other countriesuntil it has “a better production situation in the EU.”

 Ursula von der Leyen

The announcement, which comes as the EU is facing a third coronavirus wave and renewed restrictions on public life, signalled an apparent reversal of the bloc’s earlier promises.

Von der Leyen had strongly campaigned for providing vaccines to people worldwide back in spring 2020. But most COVID vaccine doses continue to be administered in wealthy nations.

Von der Leyen, however, stressed that the EU would thrust its support behind the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative, an effort to give developing countries access to vaccines.

“The EU has invested €2.2 billion ($2.6 billion) in this initiative. COVAX has already delivered 30 million doses of vaccine to 52 countries,” she said.

EU slams AstraZeneca

EU-based manufacturers have shipped 41 million vaccine doses to 33 countries since early February, von der Leyen said on Saturday, making the bloc one of the world’s largest export regions for coronavirus vaccines.

“I can’t explain to European citizens why we are exporting millions of vaccine doses to countries that are producing vaccines themselves and aren’t sending us anything back,” she said.

Several European countries suspend AstraZeneca vaccine

The EU has set up special mechanisms to limit vaccine exports. Manufacturers contracted to supply member states must declare if they intend to export doses outside the bloc.

Most of the EU’s concerns, however, are focused on the UK, where the vaccination campaign has progressed at a much more rapid pace.

The EU chief threatened to suspend exports of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines if the bloc did not receive its promised deliveries first.

“We have the option of banning a planned export. That’s the message to AstraZeneca: you fulfil your contract with Europe first before you start delivering to other countries,” von der Leyen said, adding that the Anglo-Swedish pharma company had delivered only 30% of the 90 million vaccine doses it had promised for the first quarter of the year.

UK warns against EU vaccine export ban

In response to the threats, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Sunday that “the world is watching” how the EU responds to AstraZeneca’s shortfall in deliveries. 

“It is counterproductive (to halt exports of vaccines) because the one thing we know about vaccine production and manufacture is that it is collaborative,” he said. 

“They (the EU) would undermine not only their own citizens’ chances of having a proper vaccine programme, but also many other countries around the world with the reputational damage for the EU which they would find very hard to change over the short-term,” he added.

The EU has accused the UK of imposing its own de facto export ban. The claim was vigorously denied by the UK, however, there is no evidence to suggest that the UK has exported any COVID vaccines at all, as it relies on complex legal arrangements with manufacturers.

Meanwhile, the EU has exported at least 8 million doses to the UK.

EU plans vaccine passport, vaccinations still slow

mvb/aw (dpa, AFP)

#AceHealthDesk report ………Published: Mar.21: 2021:

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#astra-zeneca, #brussels, #eu, #vaccines

(BRUSSELS) Astra Zeneca Report: EU Commission Head Ursula Von Der Leyden says until the pharmacy company meets it supply obligations to Europe she threatens to forbid exports #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – Mar.21: The European Union could stop AstraZeneca from exporting its COVID-19 vaccine from the bloc if the British-Swedish pharma company does not meet its supply obligations, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in comments published on Saturday.

‘EU warns AstraZeneca of export ban if bloc not supplied first: European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen has upped the pressure on pharma company AstraZeneca, threatening to forbid planned exports until the firm fulfils its obligations to Europe in comments on Saturday’

Vial of AstraZeneca vaccoine with a syringe needle before it

“We have the possibility to forbid planned exports. That is the message to AstraZeneca: You fulfill your contract with Europe before you start delivering to other countries,” von der Leyen told newspapers from the Funke Media Group.

She said the company had delivered only 30% of the doses promised in the first quarter of 2021. She also pointed out that although the contract with AstraZeneca had stipulated that the EU would receive vaccines from factories in the EU and Britain, “we have received nothing from the Britons, while we deliver vaccines to them.”

Ursula von der Leyen giving the thumbs-up sign

Despite the confidence exuded by von der Leyen here, the EU is having grave problems with its vaccination drive.

Von der Leyen referred to statistics showing that at least 41 million doses of coronavirus vaccine had been exported from the EU to 33 countries, despite a shortfall in vaccine supplies in the bloc itself. According to the commission, 9 million doses have gone from the EU to the UK and a million to the US. 

“I cannot justify to European citizens why we export millions of vaccine doses to countries that produce vaccines themselves — and from whom nothing comes back,” von der Leyen said. “And I can barely justify exports to countries that have a much higher vaccination rate and far fewer infections than the EU.”

She called on other countries to reciprocate the EU’s openness and said the bloc was inviting national leaders for discussion.

Vaccination programs in the EU, including Germany, have been comparatively slow  in getting underway, partly because of a lack of doses.

tj/aw (dpa, AFP)

#AceHealthDesk report ………..Published: Mar.21: 2021:

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#astra-zeneca, #brussels, #covid19, #eu, #europe, #vaccine

(IRELAND) In the latest market adjustments to #Brexit, securities settlement for Irish assets, worth more than 100 billion euros ($119 billion), has left London for the European Union #AceFinanceDesk report

#AceFinanceReport – Mar.19: The EU had given Crest temporary permission to continue settling Irish securities in London until the migration was completed. Crest is part of the Euroclear group.

While the transfer does not have immediate implications for jobs and tax revenues in Britain, it is a further sign of how its financial services industry is being cut off from the EU.

‘Pan-European exchange Euronext, which runs the Irish stock exchange, said Thursday it had completed the migration of securities settlement for 50 Irish companies from Crest in London to Euroclear Bank in Brussels from March 15’

by REUTERS

A general view shows The Bank of England in the City of London financial district in London, Britain, Nov. 5, 2020. (Reuters Photo)

Settlement of EU securities must take place in a central securities depository (CSD) inside the bloc.

The migration follows shifts in euro stock and derivatives trading from London to the bloc, with Brussels now targeting the clearing of derivatives.

“The wholesale migration of settlement of securities from one CSD to another is unprecedented,” said Daryl Byrne, CEO of Euronext Dublin.

“We now have long-term certainty about the trading and post-trade infrastructure for the Irish market in a post-Brexit world, which ensures that Ireland remains an attractive jurisdiction for listed companies and market participants in the years ahead,” Byrne said.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Mar.19: 2021:

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#brexit, #eu, #euronext, #ireland

(BRUSSELS) EU Say they will begin legal action against U.K. over ‘Northern Ireland Protocol’ according to a statement by EU Commission Vice President saying that they allegedly breached it #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Mar.16: The protocol is the part of the Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland and has led to the creation of a new trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Brexit: EU to begin legal action over alleged NI Protocol breach: ‘The European Commission’s vice president said he hopes the issue can be resolved without further legal action’ as the EU has begun legal action against the UK over its alleged breach of the NI Protocol as the EU says UK grace period extension breaches law

1 hour ago

By John Campbell
BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor 

Lorries at a customs checkpoint at Belfast Port
Getting goods across the Irish Sea border involves a range of new processes, checks and documentation

It could lead to the UK having to defend its actions at the European Court of Justice.

Maroš Šefčovič said the EU’s preference is for “collaborative, pragmatic and constructive” political discussions.

Earlier this month the UK government changed how the protocol is being implemented without EU agreement.

It delayed the introduction of new sea border checks on food, parcels and pets.

It also moved unilaterally to ease the trade in horticultural products across from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The European Commission has sent a letter of formal notice to the UK saying these actions breach the substantive provisions of the protocol as well as the good faith obligation under the Withdrawal Agreement.

It has asked the UK to respond within a month before it decides on further legal steps.

Separate letter

Mr Šefčovič has separately sent a “political letter” to David Frost, the UK minister in charge of Brexit.

It calls for the UK to enter into good faith consultations in the Joint Committee, the body which oversees the protocol, with the aim of reaching a mutually agreed solution by the end of this month.

Mr Šefčovič said: “The EU and the UK agreed the protocol together. We are also bound to implement it together.

“Unilateral decisions and international law violations by the UK defeat its very purpose and undermine trust between us. The UK must properly implement it if we are to achieve our objectives.”

Speaking earlier the prime minister said he actions taken by the UK were “temporary and technical measures that we think are very sensible”.

Asked about it on a visit to Coventry today the prime minister said: “What I would say to our friends in Brussels is the protocol is there to uphold and guarantee, to buttress the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process.”

He said it has always been “very important the wishes and consent of both communities in Northern Ireland are properly reflected in in the outcome and that it should guarantee of trade and movement not just north/south but east/west as well”. 

He added that the UK looked “forward to our discusses with our EU friends and see where we get to”.

What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

The Northern Ireland Protocol is part of the Brexit deal which prevents a hardening of the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. 

It does that by keeping Northern Ireland in the EU single market for goods.

That has created a new trade border with Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Unionists oppose the protocol, arguing that it has damaged internal trade from GB to NI and poses a risk to the future of the UK union.

But anti-Brexit parties in NI say that it must be implemented in full, and that issues should be worked out through joint UK-EU processes.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Mar.16: 2021:

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#brexit, #brussels, #eu, #european-commission, #ni-protocol

(CAIRO, Eygpt.) JUST IN: Egyptian foreign minister Sameh Shoukry said on Thursday that it was essential to resolve the ‘Renaissance Dam’ issue before the onset of the next flood season #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Mar.12: Shoukry said during a discussion with Josep Borrell, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, that Ethiopia’s decision to unilaterally fill the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam will have negative repercussions and stressed the importance of global involvement to resolve the case, news channel Al-Arabiya reported:

Egypt & EU FM’s discuss Ethiopia’s Renaissance Dam crisis: “ Meanwhile, Borrell tweeted that the “EU will keep working closely… with Egypt for a prosperous neighbourhood according to Arab News sources

March 11, 2021 11:20:

MEM Report:

I spoke last evening with #Egypt FM Shoukry. Good and open discussion on regional developments incl #GERD, Libya & bilateral relations in view of the new Agenda for the Mediterranean. EU will keep working closely engaging with #Egypt for a prosperous neighbourhood.@MfaEgypt

— Josep Borrell Fontelles (@JosepBorrellF) March 11, 2021

Egypt last month said it has endorsed a Sudanese proposal to internationalize arbitration in the years-long dispute with Ethiopia over the dam that Addis Ababa is building on the Blue Nile.
Shuokry said Cairo backs the formation of an “international quartet” including the US, the European Union, and the UN, along with the African Union to facilitate reaching a deal on the filling and operation of the Grand Ethiopia Renaissance Dam.
The dispute centers on how much water Ethiopia will release downstream if a multi-year drought occurs and how the three countries would settle any future disputes. Egypt and Sudan also call for a legally binding agreement on the dam’s filling and operation, while Ethiopia insists on guidelines.

#AceNewsDesk report ……….Published: Mar.11: 2021:

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#dam, #egypt, #ethiopia, #eu

STRASBOURG: ‘ POPE FRANCIS BEGINS HIS SECOND TOUR OF EU COUNTRIES ‘

#AceWorldNews- STRASBOURG – Nov.25 – Pope Francis began a four-hour visit to European institutions in Strasbourg on Tuesday, AFP said.

'Pope Francis starts short visit to EU institutions in Strasbourg '

‘Pope Francis starts short visit to EU institutions in Strasbourg ‘

He will address the European Parliament and the Council of Europe during the trip, the shortest abroad by any pope.

This is also the second visit by a pope to the parliament in Strasbourg after John Paul II in 1988.

Francis is expected to meet briefly with new European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and outgoing European Council President Herman Van Rompuy.

#ANS2014 

#eu, #tour, #visit

BRUSSELS: ‘ MERKELS POINT OF NO RETURN FOR CAMERON IF UK RESTRICTS FREE MOVEMENT ‘

#AceNewsServices – BRUSSELS – November 03 – German chancellor Angela Merkel would reportedly prefer the UK to leave the EU than have Downing Street limit the free movement of people EUobserver reported. 

Unnamed sources in the German government told the German weekly Der Spiegel that if UK plans to place a cap on unskilled EU migrants would be a step too far for the German Chancellor.

“Should Cameron persist [in this plan], chancellor Angela Merkel would abandon her efforts to keep Britain in the EU. With that a point of no return would be reached,” the source said.

Merkel’s opposition to changing EU rules on free movement may have influenced another decision by the UK over the weekend to drop quotas on EU migrants and instead plan to impose a ban on those who do not have a job or cannot support themselves after three months.

The Sunday Times says prime minister David Cameron, in an upcoming speech, intends to lay out his anti-immigrant ideas that would instead stretch EU rules “to their limits” in order to appease Merkel.

Merkel’s “point of no return” admission is significant because it is the first time she has floated the idea of a possible UK exit from the EU.

The German chancellor is not opposed to placing restrictions on EU nationals who abuse another member state’s social system but is firmly opposed to the fundamental right of free movement of people being curtailed.

“Germany does not want to touch the basic principle of free movement of persons within the EU,” said one German official.

The welfare abuse restrictions already generated controversy last year when the then EU commission for justice Viviane Reding warned against “unfounded wrong perceptions” about welfare tourism. Under EU rules, member states can ask an EU national to leave if they become a “burden”.

UK politicians, including home secretary Theresa May and Ukip leader Nigel Farage, spoke out against potential mass migration in the run-up to lifting all restrictions on Romanian and Bulgarian workers in January 2014.

#ANS2014

#eu, #free-movement, #uk

‘ ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT BETWEEN UKRAINE AND EU ON CREATING FREE TRADE WILL LAUNCH IN 2016 ‘

#AceNewsServices – November 02 – Most of the provisional application of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU came into force on Saturday, except for the section on creating a free trade area which will be launched on January 1, 2016.

The provisional application will cover important areas such as the rule of law, the fight against crime and corruption as well as intensified sectorial cooperation, said a joint statement by the presidents of Ukraine, the European Council, and the European Commission. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has congratulated Ukrainians, adding on his Facebook page that the next goal is to join the EU.

#ANS2014 

#eu, #free-trade, #ukraine

CANADA: ‘ European Commission Draft Directive Removes Obligatory Labelling of Tar Sands Oil as Highly Polluting ‘

#AceNewsServices – CANADA – October 08 – The European Commission has proposed a directive that abandons obligatory labelling of tar sands oil as highly polluting, opening way for Canada’s sands crude imports and drawing criticism for putting oil producers’ interests above the environment.

' Alberta Tar Sands '

‘ Alberta Tar Sands ‘

In light of recent economic tensions with Russia and the EU’s energy dependence on its eastern neighbour, the European Commission has published a proposal, the text of which removes one of the biggest obstacles standing in the way of Alberta exporting its oil sands crude to Europe.

The revised draft still has to be approved by EU member-states before being passed on to the European Parliament.

“The commission is today (Tuesday) giving this another push, to try and ensure that in the future, there will be a methodology and thus an incentive to choose less polluting fuels over more polluting ones like, for example, oil sands,” EU Climate Commissioner Connie Hedegaard said in a statement.

“It is no secret that our initial proposal could not go through due to resistance faced in some member states,” Hedegaard added. “I strongly recommend Member States to adopt this proposal and keep the safeguards that will allow cleaner fuels to be used in transport across Europe.”

The desire for a trade deal with Canada had been a factor in revising the draft said EU sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity to Reuters.

Oil sands crude is more damaging to the environment as it emits more carbon over its life-cycle, but under the new draft that was EU will be counting it in the same category as conventional oil, opening way for larger imports from Canada.

The debate about labelling tar sands crude, in the EU started in 2009 when the block approved legislation aimed at cutting greenhouse gases from fuel by 6 percent by 2020, but failed to agree how to implement it.

The law is part of the EUs broader strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent by 2020, compared to 1990 levels.

Source:

#ANS2014

#alberta, #canada, #eu, #european-commission, #tar-sands

SWEDEN: ‘ Prime Minister Forms First Feminist Cabinet ‘

#AceWorldNews – SWEDEN – October 04 – Sweden’s new Social Democrat Prime Minister Stefan Loefven has described his government as “feminist,” and it includes Green Party ministers for the first time.

“The Swedish people voted for a change of government and a new political direction,” Loefven told parliament in his inaugural speech.

Half his cabinet is female, including Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson and Foreign Minister Margot Wallstroem, a former EU commissioner, AFP said.

Loefven repeated election pledges to create jobs, recruit more teachers and increase the compulsory school age from 16 to 18.

#ANS2014 

#eu, #feminist, #green-party, #sweden

‘ David Cameron Says if EU is Not in Britain’s Interest I Would Not Argue to Stay ‘

#AceNewsServices – BRITAIN – September 30 – Prime Minister David Cameron says Britain’s departure from the European Union would not leave him heartbroken, emphasizing that he feels “1,000 times more strongly about the UK than the EU.”

' The EU is “not working properly” for Britons at present, according to PM David Cameron. (Reuters/Luke MacGregor) '

‘ The EU is “not working properly” for Britons at present, according to PM David Cameron. (Reuters/Luke MacGregor)

Speaking on the BBC’s Today program, the PM said the union is “not working properly” for the British populace at present. Cameron suggested that the best solution for Britain is to secure a “reformed position in the EU,” because the British state is ultimately a trading nation. The Tory leader argued that the UK government does not just want access to EU markets, but also wishes to retain leverage over trade regulations that underpin those markets.

The state’s future membership of the EU is a “matter of important pragmatism,” Cameron said, rather than one of possible heartbreak – a phrase he issued prior to the Scottish independence referendum. While he acknowledged it “is going to be tough” to renegotiate the UK’s standing on the European stage, he said he was confident he would be successful in doing so.

Cameron emphasized that the widespread dissatisfaction across Europe – stemming from the manner in which the euro is driving integration throughout the region – would give Britain extra leverage in negotiating its EU membership status.

The PM’s efforts to renegotiate Britain’s EU membership terms drew extra support in May, following rising dissent against Brussels that surfaced during the European elections.

Cameron’s comments were issued just one day after John Redwood, a Conservative former cabinet minister, warned that high-ranking corporate executives who publicly back Britain’s EU membership will face a “very dear economic and financial price.”

Redwood, a prominent figure within the Conservative Party’s eurosceptic wing, warned UK-based firms to “keep out” of the debate, insisting they should beware of meddling in politics.

Speaking at a fringe gathering, Redwood suggested that eurosceptics would seek to destabilize pro-EU executives.

Redwood, a prominent figure within the Conservative Party’s eurosceptic wing, has warned UK-based firms to "keep out” of Britain's EU membership debate. (Reuters/Luke MacGregor)

Redwood, a prominent figure within the Conservative Party’s eurosceptic wing, has warned UK-based firms to “keep out” of Britain’s EU membership debate. (Reuters/Luke MacGregor)

“[We] will then make life difficult for them by making sure that their customers, their employees and their shareholders who disagree with them – and there will be a lot who disagree with them – will be expressing their views very forcefully and will be destabilizing their corporate governance,” he said.

Reflecting on his hawkish eurosceptic comments, Labour MP Barry Sheerman said that Redwood had “finally flipped.”

Katja Hall, deputy director-general of Britain’s most prolific business lobby CBI, also criticized Redwood’s comments.

“On an issue of such great importance to the UK’s economic future, business has both the right and duty to be involved in the debate. The vast majority of businesses are clear that Britain’s continued membership of a reformed EU is in the country’s interest,” she told RT.

Cameron has recently faced increasing pressure to harden his stance on Europe in the wake of a series of defections by eurosceptic Tories and Nigel Farage’s UK Independence Party. The defectors collectively suggested the prime minister would be unlikely to retain his promise to hold an EU membership referendum in Britain in 2017, should the Tories manage to cling to their position of power in the aftermath of Britain’s upcoming general election.

Cameron indicated on Sunday that he has not entirely ruled out Britain’s departure from the EU. “If I thought that it was not in Britain’s interests to be in the European Union, I would not argue for us to be in it,” Cameron told BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show.

#ANS2014

#britain, #eu, #european-union, #prime-minister-david-cameron, #uk

‘ Gas Prices in Ukraine May Quadruple if Naftogaz Sets Unified Price ‘

#AceWorldNews – KIEV – September 24 – . /ITAR-TASS/. Gas prices in Ukraine may quadruple if Naftogaz of Ukraine sets a unified price for all gas consumers, a company senior official said on Wednesday.

' Naftogaz Quadruple Price with Unified Price '

‘ Naftogaz Quadruple Price with Unified Price ‘

Alexander Todiichuk, Naftogaz of Ukraine Deputy CEO, said this initiative had been supported by the Ukrainian Energy and Coal Industry Ministry.

This is a very heavy blow, and politicians are trying to avoid it in view of the elections this autumn as people’s discontent may affect this process,” he said.

On Tuesday, Energy and Coal Industry Minister Yuri Prodan said the country was ready to agree “an interim market price” for gas imported from Russia.

We are trying to find a solution “

The question is what one can expect from the upcoming gas talks between Russia, Ukraine and the EU in Berlin on September 26.

We support the compromises offered by the European Union and we are consulting the EU in order to work out a compromise,” he said.

Source:

#ANS2014

#russia, #berlin, #eu, #kiev, #naftogaz, #ukraine

SCOTLAND: ‘ Debate Surrounding Independency Which Country Agrees YES or NO ‘

#AceNewsServices – SCOTLAND – September 18 – Debate surrounding the question of whether Scotland should become an independent country has seen impassioned interventions on both sides of the argument.

Supporters for the Yes campaign for the Scottish Independence Referendum hold flags that symbolize Catalonia's independence, during a demonstration in Barcelona, Spain Photo: Emilio Morenatti/AP

Supporters for the Yes campaign for the Scottish Independence Referendum hold flags that symbolize Catalonia’s independence, during a demonstration in Barcelona, Spain Photo: Emilio Morenatti/AP

Within Britain and abroad, politicians and statesman have clambered to urge Scottish voters, depending on ideology, to vote in favour of independence or to retain the United Kingdom.

As millions of Scots prepare to go to the polls on Thursday, the Telegraph looks back at how the world has responded to the potential dissolution of the UK’s 300-year-old union UK Telegraph reported in flash-back.

NO: THE ANTI-INDEPENDENCE CAMP
Spain
“For Scotland, secession would be a catastrophe. It would end up in a Balkanisation process that nobody in Europe wants right now” – García-Margallo, foreign minister
“I have spoken to the representatives of the 28 states and enthusiasm for processes of this type is nil, because I understand they are bad for the region in question, for the state and the EU as a whole” – Mariano Rajoy, prime minister.

Italy

“The UK is one of the pillars of the single market, of big international trade agreements and is so important in Europe that the consequence will be maybe the start of the true decline of the European Union. The sequence, the consequences of tomorrow’s referendum, could be very, very dangerous” – Enrico Letta, prime minister

Having Scotland outside the EU means the English-Scottish border becomes a customs frontier, with controls and tariffs. EU regional funding would end. Fishing rights would have to be re-negotiated from outside. And that is just the start of a very long list of disadvantages” – Ginna Pittella, leader of Socialist bloc of European Parliament

USA

I would say that the United Kingdom has been an extraordinary partner to us. From the outside, at least, it looks like things have worked pretty well. And we obviously have a deep interest in making sure that one of the closest allies that we will ever have remains strong, robust, united, and an effective partner. But ultimately these are decisions that are to be made by the folks there”Barack Obama, president

“The UK is an extraordinary partner for America and a force for good in an unstable world. I hope it remains strong, robust and united”Barack Obama, President, on the eve of voting

“I hope the Scots people will vote to remain in the UK for several reasons”Bill Clinton, former president

“You will not find anyone involved in American foreign policy – from the President on down – who does not think that this division will weaken the alliance that we have” Brad Sherman, congressman (D)

Australia

I am a firm friend of the United Kingdom and I want it to remain the United Kingdom, not the disunited Kingdom. It is a matter for Scotland, obviously, but as a friend of the United Kingdom that is my view” Tony Abbott, prime minister

Canada

We think, from a Canadian perspective, that a strong, united United Kingdom is an overwhelmingly positive force in the world”Stephen Harper, prime minister

India

“Great Scot! Independence vote may up Scotch prices” – Hindustan Times

Germany

“A German foreign minister is well advised not to interfere in British domestic politics. But I would openly admit that I would rather see Great Britain remain together” – Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister

“A ‘Yes’ vote for Scottish independence on Thursday would go down in history as a political and economic mistake as large as Winston Churchill’s decision in 1925 to return the pound to the Gold Standard or the failure of the Federal Reserve to provide sufficient liquidity to the US banking system, which we now know brought on the Great Depression in the US” David Folkerts-Landau, Deutsche Bank Chief Economist

The opt-outs they’re pushing for would make it very difficult for Scotland to get membership… I would be extremely surprised if there was an automatic accession to the EU” Jo Leinen, senior Socialist MEP

“Scottish independence remains an adventure – poltically, economically and from a currency standpoint” – Die Weit

China

[China wants a] “strong, prosperous and united United Kingdom” Li Keqiang, Chinese premier

“The concept of unity is the reason why the United Kingdom exists. If Scotland splits, it will hurt Britain’s self esteem and also reduce the impact of the country on the international stage. The world will suffer too. Britain cannot ignore this because Scotland means a lot to the UK” – China News Wire

YES: THE PRO-INDEPENDENCE CAMP

France

I would obviously vote for Scottish independence because I’m too keen on history not to know that Scotland is the traditional ally of the French ever since the Ancien Régime” – Jean-Luc Mélenchon, a maverick politician who ran for president in 2012 as the candidate of the Front de Gauche

Quebec

This is not about destroying the UK, it’s not about being against Britain, it’s about creating something new, an independent free Scotland. You can leave the negativity to the No campaign. Do I hope that Scottish independence could serve as an inspiration for us? Yes I do, I certainly do” – Daniel Turp, veteran of Quebec’s pro-independence campaign

Bavaria

We wish our Scottish friends victory in the referendum with all our hearts. For us in Bavaria it would be a real boost and it would no longer be so easy for our media to negate or ridicule this topic. The larger the political unit, the less chance individuals have of being heard” Florian Weber, eader of the pro-independence Bavaria Party

Catalonia

“If the yes wins then all of the European governments will have to accept the result, including Madrid. And I am convinced that the negotiations between Brussels, London and Edinburgh will start very quickly with the goal to keep Scotland in the European Union. The consequences for us are important. It raises the question that if the Scottish people have the right to decide then why not the Catalan people” Artur Mas, president of the semi-autonomous Spanish region

North Korea

“I think that independence would be a very positive thing for Scotland. I believe that every person has the right to be a member of an independent nation, to have sovereignty, to live in peace and to enjoy equality. And I believe that a majority of Scots feel the same and will vote for independence” Choe Kwan-il, managing editor of Pyongyang-supported Choson Sinbo

Palestinian territories

Every person wants to be able to decide for themselves. So if they want to separate from the UK, then of course I support them” Issa Musallam, Palestinian bagpipe player Issa Musallam, 23

As a bagpipe player, and knowing the history of bagpipes, I like to call it an instrument of war, The Scots used to have bagpipes on the battlefield, so for me, it’s part of resistance. But as Palestinians, like everyone else, we want our own state. The Scottish want their independence, their state, so they can live in a country that’s theirs and theirs alone” – Majeed Qonqar, Palestinian bagpipe player

Argentina

“In four days, we will know whether this perfect storm was just a passing breeze, or if Great Britain should prepare itself to take its place in the coffers of history alongside the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and so many other old broken states” – Martin Rodriguez Yebra, La Nacion newspaper.

Courtesy of Telegraph UK Staff

Source:

#ANS2014

#argentina, #australia, #bavaria, #britain, #canada, #catalonia, #china, #eu, #france, #germany, #india, #italy, #north-korea, #palestinian-authorities, #quebec, #scotland, #spain, #united-kingdom, #usa

‘ YES or NO Everyone in Scotland Has an Opinion Either Sassenach or Scot ‘

#AceWorldNews – SCOTLAND – September 15 – Travellers to Scotland, beware. In buses, pubs and street rallies, people have only one thing on their mind these days: Scottish independence.

yes-or-no-480

They wear bumper stickers with “Yes” or “No thanks”, dye their hair white and blue, sing folk songs and hand out leaflets.

' YES or NO The Scottish People Decide '

‘ YES or NO The Scottish People Decide ‘

Posters are everywhere.

For the yes camp, it is about a nation going its own way, breaking away from a political elite in Westminister.

To “naysayers”, it is a foolish decision instigated by populists, that will ruin two nations for generations to come.

Both camps are virtually equal, with pollsters saying the referendum on Thursday (18 September) can go either way.

The referendum will also have an impact on other independence-minded regions in the EU, such as Catalonia in Spain and Flanders in Belgium.

Scotland will set a precedent for how Brussels deals with territories breaking off from an EU member state.

Aye or nay

Any person over 16 who resides in Scotland, irrespective of their nationality, will be allowed to answer the question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Several foreign students and an English shopkeeper told this website they will not cast their vote, however, because this is a “Scottish matter”.

But David Warren, a 50-year old accountant who is originally from Trinidad and has been living in Edinburgh for over 20 years, said he will vote yes “because I want Scotland to experience what my home country experienced in 1962 when it became independent from the UK”.

#ANS2014

#belgium, #brussels, #catalonia, #eu, #flanders, #saasenach, #scotland, #spain, #yes

BRUSSELS: ‘ Gas Supplies for Poland and Slovakia Dip As EU Imposes Sanctions ‘

#AceNewsServices (Exclusive) – BRUSSELS – September 12 – Poland and Slovakia have said gas supplies from Russia are down, as the EU impose’s new sanctions.

Gazprom

A Polish diplomat told EUobserver on Thursday (11 September) that volumes fell by 20 percent on Monday and were down by 45 percent by Thursday.

The same day Slovak PM Robert Fico said supplies to his country had dipped by eight to 11 percent.

Both countries are trying to find out what is going on amid denials by Russian supplier Gazprom that its shipments are any lower than normal.

The Polish diplomat said the enquiries are being made by Polish gas distribution firms. But Fico told press he has tasked officials to contact Moscow.

Poland, Slovakia, and Hungary are involved in shipping “reverse-flow” gas to Ukraine after Russia cut off Ukraine gas in a price dispute.

But a Hungarian diplomat told this website its Russia gas deliveries are normal for now.

We did not see a drop in supplies. But we are filling up our storage tanks so that we are prepared for any scenario that may come”, the source noted.

The Polish diplomat added: “On the Polish side, there is no risk to national consumers at this stage. We have generous reserves. But the supply reductions could be a burden on reverse-flow and I have heard talk that this is being scaled down”.

Gazprom’s reductions come the same week the EU adopted a new round of economic sanctions against Russia following its invasion of east Ukraine.

Some EU states had wanted to wait and see if a ceasefire deal with Russia holds before implementing the new measures.

But EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy announced on Thursday that they will enter into life the following morning.

Gazprom Gas supplies - 50f5940df92d861b9e51de5bd2c5f517

The most vulnerable to gas cuts is Finland and according to report by EUobserver

“A Russian gas export embargo during the winter of 2014/15 lasting for more than 6 months would cause supply shortfalls in many European countries, in particular, in central and eastern Europe, including Germany,” according to a study published Wednesday (3 September) by the Institute of Energy Economics at the University of Cologne. 

#ANS2014

#aceworldnews, #russia, #brussels, #cologne, #eu, #finland, #gazprom, #hungary, #moscow, #poland, #polish, #russian, #slovakia, #ukraine

BRUSSELS: ‘ EU Publishes New Sanctions on Russia in Bloc’s Official Journal ‘

#AceNewsServices – BRUSSELS – September 12 – EU countries have added Russia’s top oil firms, an oligarch, and a leading nationalist MP to their blacklist.

The names were published in the bloc’s Official Journal on Friday (12 September) in reaction to Russia’s invasion of east Ukraine last week.

The new regulation forbids EU entities from buying debt with a 30 or more day maturity, issuing loans, or selling financial services to five banks, three oil firms, and three defence companies.

The banks, already named in an earlier ban on 90-day bonds, are: Gazprombank; Rosselkhozbank; Sberbank; VEB; and VTB.

The newly named oil firms are: Rosneft; Transneft; and Gazprom Neft. The newly sanctioned defence companies are: Oboronprom; United Aircraft Corporation; and Uralvagonzavod.

The regulation blocks the sale of “dual-use” items to eight more newly named defence and technology firms: Almaz Antey; Bazalt; Chemcomposite; Kalashnikov; Sirius; Stankoinstrument; Technologii Maschinostrojenija; Wysokototschnye Kompleksi.

It forbids EU entities from supplying services for Russian deep water, Arctic, or shale oil exploration, including: drilling; well testing; logging and completion services; and supply of specialised floating vessels.

It also imposes an asset freeze and visa ban on 24 people, bringing the total since the Ukraine conflict erupted in March to 119.

Ten of the people are pro-Russia rebel chiefs in east and south Ukraine and in Crimea, including Donetsk region “prime minister” Aleksandr Zakharchenko, who recently co-signed a peace deal with Ukraine and Russia.

Twelve more are Russian MPs who supported the war on Ukraine, including firebrand nationalist Vladimir Zhirinovsky.

The new blacklist also names Russian oligarch Sergey Chemezov and major-general Aleksey Naumets.

It says that Chemezov, who chairs the Rostec arms conglomerate, is a “close associate” of Russian leader Vladimir Putin, and that one of his firms is now building an energy plant in Crimea, which Russia annexed in March.

It says Naumets “is the commander of the 76th airborne division, which has been involved in the Russian military presence on the territory of Ukraine”.

EU Council head Herman Van Rompuy noted in a statement on Thursday the EU will assess “before the end of the month” whether Russia’s recent peace deal with Ukraine is being implemented.

He added that “in the light of the review and if the situation on the ground so warrants” the EU will “amend, suspend or repeal the set of sanctions in force, in all or in part”.

The White House on Thursday said it will also publish details of new measures on Friday.

Courtesy of EUobserver 12/04/2014 Publication Download Link  
#ANS2014


#russia, #banking, #blacklist, #brussels, #crimea, #defence, #eu, #european-union, #finance, #oil, #ukraine, #white-house

‘ US Imposing New Sanctions on Russia Joining EU Targeted at Defence, Financial and Energy ‘

#AceBreakingNews – UNITED STATES (Washington) – September 11 – The United States will impose a new round of sanctions on Russia on Friday, joining the European Union in ramping up pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin over the Russian presence in Ukraine.

President Obama said the broadened sanctions will target Russia’s financial, energy, and defence sectors.

“These measures will increase Russia’s political isolation as well as the economic costs to Russia, especially in areas of importance to President Putin and those close to him,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House Press Office.

“As I said last week, if Russia fully implements its commitments, these sanctions can be rolled back. If, instead, Russia continues its aggressive actions and violations of international law, the costs will continue to rise.”

#ANS2014

#russia, #eu, #european-union, #president-obama, #russian, #russian-president-vladimir-putin, #united-states, #washington, #white-house