Category Archives: European Union

(Mercury) ‘No-deal’ Brexit means hard Irish border, says EU

(Mercury) The EU believes a hard border on the island of Ireland is an ‘obvious’ result of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit – as signs of a split with Dublin emerged over the issue. Brussels, Dublin and London have all stated they do not want a hard border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit. The comments prompted Ireland’s Deputy Prime Minister Simon Coveney, also his country’s Foreign Minister, to repeat Dublin’s position that it is not planning for a hard border, even with the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.

(EUobserver) Juncker used private jets for 21 out of 43 official trips

(EUobserver)

European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, chartered private jets for 21 out of 43 official trips between January and November 2018, a Daily Mail analysis has found. Travel costs for a 13-strong delegation one-night trip to Tunisia amounted to €36,000 and a dinner with world leaders in Finland before the European People’s Party conference cost €26,000. ‘Air taxis’ should only be used when no suitable commercial flights can be found.

(MI) Eurozone Industrial Production Declines More Than Expected

(MI)

(RTTNews) – Eurozone’s industrial production decreased at a faster-than-expected pace in November, preliminary data from the statistical office Eurostat showed on Monday.

Industrial production decreased a seasonally adjusted 1.7 percent from October, when it edged up 0.1 percent, revised from 0.2 percent. Economists had expected a 1.5 percent slump.

Production of capital goods registered a 2.3 percent decline and output of durable consumer goods dropped 1.7 percent.

Intermediate goods output dropped 1.2 and non-durable consumer goods by 1 percent. Energy production decreased 0.6 percent.

On a year-on-year basis, industrial production fell a calendar adjusted 3.3 percent in November after a 1.2 percent increase. Economists had predicted a 2.1 percent slump.

P.O. (FT) Juncker makes late bid to avert no-deal Brexit

In the FT:
 


Juncker makes late bid to avert no-deal Brexit

European president works with May to prevent ‘catastrophic’ vote result


P.O.

I would argue that the European Union, which has all the ticks of an imperialist dictatorship, should have thought of this, before imposing to the UK a deal, and such an horrible one, that even a child can figure out how bad and unjust it is.

The truth of the matter is that the EU is trying to show how painfull and costly it is to leave the EU…

Just to discourage all the other EU Member States that are flirting with the idea of leaving the Union.

Just look at the pressure the UE has been aplying to Switzerland (which is not a EU Member State, but has a lot of agreements with the EU) over the past few years…

Fortunately Switzerland is a Direct Democracy in which its citizens vote on everything in Sunday referendums.

And when the Swiss citizens vote it’s final!

And you know what…?

Against a Direct Democracy the non elected Eurocrats headed by Mr Junker, known to enjoy alcool a bit too much, can do nothing.

No one can defeat Democracy in the long run.

https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/267224-democracy-is-the-worst-form-of-government-except-for-all


Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.”

― Winston S. Churchill

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

In Wikipedia:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Politics_of_Switzerland


Politics of Switzerland

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to search

Switzerland is a semi-direct democratic federal republic. The federal legislative power is vested in the two chambers of the Federal Assembly, the National Council and the Council of States. The Federal Council holds the executive power and is composed of seven power-sharing Federal Councillors elected by the Federal Assembly. The judicial branch is headed by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland, whose judges are elected by the Federal Assembly.

Switzerland has a tradition of direct democracy. For any change in the constitution, a referendum is mandatory (mandatory referendum); for any change in a law, a referendum can be requested (optional referendum). In addition, the people may present a constitutional popular initiative to introduce amendments to the federal constitution. The people also assume a role similar to the constitutional court, which does not exist, and thus act as the guardian of the rule of law.

Cantonal and municipal politics vary in the different cantons, which may have different systems. The Economist Intelligence Unit has rated Switzerland as “full democracy” in 2016.[1]

Contents

Direct representation[edit]

See also: Voting in Switzerland

Switzerland features a system of government not seen in any other nation: direct representation, sometimes called half-direct democracy (this may be arguable, because theoretically, the Sovereign of Switzerland is actually its entire electorate).[2] Referenda on the most important laws have been used since the 1848 constitution.

Amendments to the Federal Constitution of Switzerland, the joining of international organizations, or changes to federal laws that have no foundation in the constitution but will remain in force for more than one year must be approved by the majority of both the people and the cantons, a double majority.

Any citizen may challenge a law that has been passed by parliament. If that person is able to gather 50,000 signatures against the law within 100 days, a national vote has to be scheduled where voters decide by a simple majority of the voters whether to accept or reject the law.[3]

Also, any citizen may seek a decision on an amendment they want to make to the constitution. For such a federal popular initiative to be organised, the signatures of 100,000 voters must be collected within 18 months.[4] Such a federal popular initiative is formulated as a precise new text (general proposal initiatives have been canceled in 2009[5]) whose wording can no longer be changed by parliament and the government. After a successful signature gathering, the federal council may create a counterproposal to the proposed amendment and put it to vote on the same day as the original proposal. Such counter-proposals are usually a compromise between the status quo and the wording of the initiative. Voters will decide in a national vote whether to accept the initiative amendment, the counter proposal put forward by the government if any, or both. If both are accepted, one has to additionally signal a preference. Initiatives (that are of constitutional level) have to be accepted by a double majority of both the popular votes and a majority of the cantons, while counter-proposals may be of legislative level and hence require only simple majority.

Federal level[edit]

Federalism refers to a vertical separation of powers. The aim is to avoid the concentration of power in a forum, which allows a moderation of state power and the easing of the duties of the federal state.

In Switzerland, it is above all a matter of designating the independence of the cantons vis-à-vis the Confederation.

Executive branch[edit]

Main articles: Swiss Federal Council and Federal administration of SwitzerlandSee also: List of members of the Swiss Federal Council and List of Presidents of the Swiss Confederation

The Swiss Federal Council is a seven-member executive council that heads the federal administration, operating as a combination cabinet and collective presidency. Any Swiss citizen eligible to be a member of the National Council can be elected;[6] candidates do not have to register for the election, or to actually be members of the National Council. The Federal Council is elected by the Federal Assembly for a four-year term. Present members are: Doris Leuthard (CVP/PDC), Guy Parmelin (SVP/UDC), Ueli Maurer (SVP/UDC), Ignazio Cassis (FDP/PRD), Simonetta Sommaruga (SP/PS), Johann Schneider-Ammann (FDP/PRD) and Alain Berset (SP/PS).

The largely ceremonial President and Vice President of the Confederation are elected by the Federal Assembly from among the members of the Federal Council for one-year terms that run concurrently. The President has almost no powers over and above his or her six colleagues, but undertakes representative functions normally performed by a president or prime minister in single-executive systems. The current (As of 2018[update]) President and Vice President are Alain Berset and Ueli Maurer, respectively.

The Swiss executive is one of the most stable governments worldwide. Since 1848, it has never been renewed entirely at the same time, providing a long-term continuity. From 1959 to 2003 the Federal Council was composed of a coalition of all major parties in the same ratio: 2 each from the Free Democratic PartySocial Democratic Party and Christian Democratic People’s Party and 1 from the Swiss People’s Party. Changes in the council occur typically only if one of the members resigns (merely four incumbent members were voted out of the office in over 150 years);[7] this member is almost always replaced by someone from the same party (and often also from the same linguistic group).

The Federal Chancellor is the head of the Federal Chancellery, which acts as the general staff of the Federal Council. The Chancellery is divided into three distinct sectors. The Chancellor is the formal head of the Federal Chancellor Sector, comprising the planning & strategy section, the Internal Services section, the political rights section, the federal crisis management training unit of the Federal Administration, and the Records and Process Management section.

Two sectors are headed by the Vice-Chancellors: the Federal Council sector manages the agenda of the Federal Council’s meeting. This sector comprises the Section for Federal Council Affairs, the Legal Section, the Official Publications Centre and the Central Language Services. The Information & Communications Sector is led by Vice-Chancellor André Simonazzi, this role also has expanded to become the official spokesman for the Federal Council in 2000. This sector includes the e-Government Section, the Communication Support Section and the Political Forum of the Confederation.

The Swiss government has been a coalition of the four major political parties since 1959, each party having a number of seats that roughly reflects its share of electorate and representation in the federal parliament. The classic distribution of 2 CVP/PDC, 2 SPS/PSS, 2 FDP/PRD and 1 SVP/UDC as it stood from 1959 to 2003 was known as the “magic formula“.[7]

This “magic formula” has been repeatedly criticised: in the 1960s, for excluding leftist opposition parties; in the 1980s, for excluding the emerging Green party; and particularly after the 1999 election, by the People’s Party, which had by then grown from being the fourth largest party on the National Council to being the largest. In the elections of 2003, the People’s Party received (effective January 1, 2004) a second seat in the Federal Council, reducing the share of the Christian Democratic Party to one seat.

Legislative branch[edit]

The Federal Palace, in Bern, hosts the Federal Assembly and the Federal Council.

Switzerland has a bicameral parliament called the Federal Assembly, which is composed by:

  • the Council of States (46 seats, 2 seats per canton, except for six cantons which only have 1), also known as the upper chamber
  • the National Council (200 seats, split between the cantons based on population), also known as the lower chamber

The Federal Assembly convenes to elect the members of the Federal Council. The two chambers are equal (perfect bicameralism). This power-sharing system serves to avoid monopolization of federal politics by more populated cantons to the detriment of smaller and rural cantons.

Members of both houses serve for 4 years and only serve as members of parliament part-time (so-called “Milizsystem” or Citizen legislature).[8]

Political parties and elections[edit]

This section needs to be updated. Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. (April 2016)

For other political parties, see List of political parties in Switzerland. An overview on elections and election results is included in Elections in Switzerland.

Switzerland has a rich party landscape. The five parties represented in the Federal Council are generally called the government parties: Free Democratic PartySocial Democratic PartyChristian Democratic PartySwiss People’s Party, and Conservative Democratic Party of Switzerland.

As of 2011 only the five government parties were represented in the Council of States. In the National Council the party landscape is more diverse with six non-government parties having at least one seat.Main article: Swiss federal election, 2011

PartiesAbbr.AlignmentIdeologyVotes[9]%+/– (%)Seats%+/– (seats)
Swiss People’s PartySVP/UDCRight wingNational conservatism648,67526.6−2.35427−8
Social Democratic PartySPS/PSSCentre-left/Left-wingSocial democracy457,31718.7+0.84623.0+3
FDP.The LiberalsFDP/PLRCentre-rightClassical liberalism368,95115.1−0.73015.0−1
Christian Democratic People’s PartyCVP/PDCCentre/Centre-rightChristian democracy300,54412.3−2.22814.0−3
Green PartyGPS/PESLeft wingGreen politics205,9848.4−1.2157.5−5
Green Liberal PartyGLP/PVLCentreGreen liberalism131,4365.4+4.0126.0+9
Conservative Democratic PartyBDP/PBDCentre-rightConservatism / Economic liberalism132,2795.4+5.494.5+9
Evangelical People’s PartyEVP/PEVCentreChristian democracy48,7892.0−0.421.0±0
Ticino LeagueLdTRight wingRegionalism / Right-wing populism19,6570.8+0.221.0+1
Geneva Citizens’ MovementMCGRight wingRegionalism / Right-wing populism10,7140.4+0.310.5+1
Federal Democratic UnionEDU/UDFRight wingChristian right31,0561.3±000−1
Party of LabourPdALeft wingSocialism21,4820.5−0.200−1
Christian Social PartyCSP/PCSCentre-leftChristian left6,2480.3-0.100-1
Other54,6222.210.5+1
Total (turnout 48.5%)2,442,648200
Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office (in French) Statistics Switzerland (in German)
PartiesIdeology2007Seats±
Christian Democratic People’s Party (CVP/PDC)Christian democracy1513-2
FDP.The Liberals (FDP/PRD)Classical liberalism1211-1
Social Democratic Party (SPS/PSS)Social democracy911+2
Swiss People’s Party (SVP/UDC)National conservatism75-2
Green Party (GPS/PES)Green politics22±0
Green Liberal Party (GLP/VL)Green liberalism12+1
Conservative Democratic Party (BDP/PBD)Conservatism / Economic liberalismNew1+1
IndependentIndependent01+1
Total4646
Source: http://www.politik-stat.ch/srw2011CH_de.html

Judicial branch[edit]

Switzerland has a Federal Supreme Court, with judges elected for six-year terms by the Federal Assembly. The function of the Federal Supreme Court is to hear appeals of cantonal courts or the administrative rulings of the federal administration. Switzerland does not have a Constitutional Court, and the Supreme Court cannot comment on law put forward by the parliament. This role is assumed by the people, which acts as a guardian and can repeal any legislation or constitutional change.

Cantonal level[edit]

Executive branch[edit]

Main article: List of cantonal executives of Switzerland

Legislative branch[edit]

Main article: List of cantonal legislatures of Switzerland

Political conditions[edit]

Political positions of the Swiss political parties based on their referendum voting recommendations, 1985-90 and 2010-14

Switzerland has a stable government. Most voters support the government in its philosophy of armed neutrality underlying its foreign and defense policies. Domestic policy poses some major problems, to the point that many observers deem that the system is in crisis[10] but the changing international environment has generated a significant reexamination of Swiss policy in key areas such as defense, neutrality, and immigration. Quadrennial national elections typically produce only marginal changes in party representation.

In recent years, Switzerland has seen a gradual shift in the party landscape. The right-wing Swiss People’s Party (SVP), traditionally the junior partner in the four-party coalition government, more than doubled its voting share from 11.0% in 1987 to 22.5% in 1999, rising to 28.9% in 2007, thus overtaking its three coalition partners. This shift in voting shares put a strain on the “magic formula“, the power-broking agreement of the four coalition parties. From 1959 until 2004, the seven-seat cabinet had comprised 2 Free Democrats, 2 Christian Democrats, 2 Social Democrats, and 1 Swiss People’s Party, but in 2004, the Swiss People’s Party took one seat from the Christian Democrats. In 2008 the Conservative Democratic Party split from the SVP, taking both of their Federal Council seats with them. However, the SVP eventually retook both seats, in 2009 and 2015 respectively.[11]

The Swiss Federal Constitution limits federal influence in the formulation of domestic policy and emphasizes the roles of private enterprise and cantonal government. However, in more recent times the powers of the Confederation have increased with regard to educationagriculturehealthenergy, the environmentorganized crime, and narcotics.[citation needed]

The Index of perception of corruption puts Switzerland among the least corrupt nations. In the 2005 survey, Switzerland ranks 7th (out of 158 surveyed), with 9.1 out of 10 possible points, representing an improvement of 0.4 points over the past four years.

Together with seven other European nations, Switzerland leads the 2005 index on Freedom of the Press published by Reporters Without Borders (with a score 0.5 points, zero being the perfect score).

Foreign relations[edit]

Main article: Foreign relations of Switzerland

Switzerland has avoided alliances that might entail military, political, or direct economic action. In June 2001, Swiss voters approved new legislation providing for the deployment of armed Swiss troops for international peacekeeping missions under United Nations or Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe auspices as well as international cooperation in military training. The Swiss have broadened the scope of activities in which they feel able to participate without compromising their neutrality.

Switzerland maintains diplomatic relations with almost all countries and historically has served as a neutral intermediary and host to major international treaty conferences. The country has no major disputes in its bilateral relations.

Energy politics[edit]

The emergency switch-off button of the Beznau Nuclear Power Plant. In 2011, the federal authorities decided to gradually phase out nuclear power in Switzerland.See also: Energy in Switzerland and Nuclear power in Switzerland

The energy generated in Switzerland comprises 55.2% hydroelectricity, 39.9% from nuclear power, about 4% from conventional sources and about 1% other.

On May 18, 2003, two referenda regarding the future of nuclear power in Switzerland were held. The referendum Electricity Without Nuclear asked for a decision on a nuclear power phase-out and Moratorium Plus asked about an extension of an existing law forbidding the building of new nuclear power plants. Both were turned down: Moratorium Plus by a margin of 41.6% for and 58.4% opposed, and Electricity Without Nuclear by a margin of 33.7% for and 66.3% opposed. The former ten-year moratorium on the construction of new nuclear power plants was the result of a federal popular initiative voted on in 1990 which had passed with 54.5% Yes vs. 45.5% No votes (see Nuclear power in Switzerland for details).

In May 2011, due to the Fukushima accident in Japan, the Swiss government decided to abandon plans to build new nuclear reactors. The country’s five existing reactors will be allowed to continue operating, but will not be replaced at the end of their life span. The last will go offline in 2034.[12]



(FT) Juncker makes late bid to avert no-deal Brexit

European president works with May to prevent ‘catastrophic’ vote result

(DN) A UE deve eliminar a hipótese de o Reino Unido adiar o Brexit – Wolfgang Munchau

(DN)

Para que o acordo de Theresa May seja aprovado, Bruxelas deve remover a opção de protelar o Artigo 50.º

Até agora, a UE ficou de fora das convulsões internas do Reino Unido sobre o Brexit, por um bom motivo. É mais fácil para um europeu continental aprender as regras do críquete do que entender a Câmara dos Comuns e o papel constitucional do seu presidente.

Apelo à UE para que reconsidere a sua posição e interfira ativamente no debate no Reino Unido, a fim de inclinar a balança das probabilidades a favor do acordo de saída proposto por Theresa May. O Conselho Europeu deveria fazer dois anúncios relativos a esta questão e, de preferência, muito em breve. O primeiro seria afirmar a disponibilidade da UE para renegociar a declaração política para que esta permitisse diferentes hipóteses para a futura relação. Isso poderia incluir, por exemplo, a opção da Noruega (pertença à Associação Europeia de Comércio Livre) ou uma união aduaneira. O segundo seria uma decisão política para descartar uma extensão do prazo de 29 de março para o Brexit, exceto para dar mais tempo para a ratificação.

(EUobserver) Iran blamed for four terror plots in EU

(EUobserver)

  • EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini with Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif in 2016 (Photo: eeas.europa.eu)

By ANDREW RETTMAN BRUSSELS, TODAY, 09:28

Iran ordered four terrorist attacks in Europe in recent times, the EU has said, while imposing new sanctions.

Its agents plotted to bomb an Iranian opposition rally in France and to assassinate an opposition member in Denmark last year.

  • Iran counter-accused the EU of sheltering anti-Iranian “terrorists” (Photo: Recovering Sick Soul)

They also murdered two opposition members in the Netherlands in 2015 and 2017, the Dutch foreign ministry revealed on Tuesday (8 January).

Member states’ officials in Brussels the same day added the names of two Iranian nationals and of Iran’s main spy agency to the EU’s counter-terrorism register.

The move froze the assets and banned entry to the EU of Assadollah Assadi, an Iranian diplomat suspected of plotting the French attack, and Saeid Hashemi Moghadam, a senior intelligence official.

It also froze the assets of the directorate for internal security of the Iranian ministry for intelligence and security.

The sanctions were the first imposed by the EU since world powers and Iran agreed a nuclear arms control treaty three years ago.

The EU lifted financial, oil and gas, and transport sector sanctions in line with the nuclear accord.

It maintained an arms embargo and a ban on missile technology, however.

It also maintained a travel ban and asset freezes of 82 Iranians and one entity on grounds of human rights abuse.

The Dutch government had “strong indications that Iran was involved in the assassinations of [the] two Dutch nationals of Iranian origin” in 2015 and 2017 Dutch foreign minister Stef Blok said in a letter to the Dutch parliament justifying Tuesday’s move.

“Hostile acts of this kind flagrantly violate the sovereignty of the Netherlands and are unacceptable,” he said.

“Iran is expected to cooperate fully in removing the present concerns and, where necessary, aiding in criminal investigations. If such cooperation is not forthcoming, further sanctions cannot be ruled out,” Blok added.

The new sanctions were a “strong signal from the EU” that it “would not accept” assassination plots on its territory, Denmark’s foreign minister Anders Samuelsen said.

“EU stands united – such actions are unacceptable and must have consequences,” Danish prime minister Lars Lokke Rasmussen added.

The EU move was welcomed by the US.

“Important day for European foreign policy!,” US secretary of state Mike Pompeo said on Twitter the same day.

“Iran and Hezbollah have terrorised Europe since 1979,” he added, referring to an Iranian-backed militant group in Lebanon.

He also posted a map showing 14 alleged Iranian attacks in EU countries, as well as Albania and Turkey, in the past 39 years.

Pompeo’s reaction came amid an EU-US rift on Iran after US leader Donald Trump walked out of the Iran nuclear arms control deal last year and threatened sanctions against EU firms who did business there.

The EU is currently trying to create special payment channels to shield EU companies from Trump’s wrath while keeping Iran on board with the nuclear pact.

Pompeo had previously said he was “disturbed and … deeply disappointed” by the EU.

But his good cheer on Tuesday was matched by a hostile reaction from Iran.

“Europeans, including Denmark, Holland, and France, harbour MEK – who killed 12,000 Iranians and abetted Saddam’s crimes against Iraqi Kurds – as well as other terrorists staging murder of innocent Iranians from Europe,” Iranian foreign minister Javad Zarif said on Twitter.

The Mojahedin-e Khalq (MEK) is an Iranian opposition group with branches in EU states. Saddam Hussein was the former leader of Iraq.

“Accusing Iran won’t absolve Europe of responsibility for harbouring terrorists,” Zarif, who had earlier complained about slow progress on EU nuclear sanctions relief, added.

(OBS) Google conquista licença para competir com a banca na Europa

(OBS) A Google obteve a sua primeira licença bancária, na Lituânia, o que lhe permitirá fornecer serviços financeiros em todo o espaço económico europeu. Google fica assim mais perto de se tornar um banco.Partilhe

WALTER BIERI/EPA

Autor
Mais sobre

É o primeiro passo para uma gigante tecnológica ficar mais parecida com um autêntico banco: a Google obteve a sua primeira licença bancária, a partir da Lituânia, e vai poder disponibilizar serviços financeiros idênticos aos que os bancos tradicionais fornecem em todo o espaço económico europeu.

Segundo explicam o jornal espanhol El Economista e o Jornal de Negócios, a Google vai passar agora a atuar como qualquer outra finetch — empresas que juntam os termos finanças e tecnologia e se dedicam à inovação e otimização de serviços financeiros e que beneficiam de custos operacionais menores quando comparado com os bancos tradicionais. Apesar de ter funções limitadas em comparação com a banca, a empresa tecnológica vai poder processar pagamentos, depósitos e transferências bancária,s assim como remessas internacionais.

Por ter adquirido a licença na Lituânia, que é um país mais permissivo neste tipo de processos, a permissão estende-se a todos os países do espaço económico europeu, repetindo-se o que aconteceu com o Facebook, que obteve a mesma licença na Irlanda, e com a Amazon que obteve no Luxemburgo.

As fintech, contudo, ainda não são regulamentadas como a banca tradicional, o que faz com que muitos especialistas alertem para os perigos que as grandes plataformas digitais representam para a banca.

Segundo o Negócios, Carlos Costa, governador do Banco de Portugal, tem vindo a alertar para o facto de as extensas bases de dados das gigantes tecnológicas representarem grandes desafios para os bancos. É que, segundo o governador, os bancos tradicionais têm bases de dados mais limitadas geograficamente do que as bases de dados das gigantes tecnológicas, e têm sistemas mais pesados e menos ágeis do que as empresas tipo Google, Facebook, Apple e Amazon.

(BBG) Editorial Board: The Problem With Europe’s Fiscal Truce

(BBG) The European Union has compromised with Italy and France. It may come to regret it.By Editorial Board24 de dezembro de 2018, 07:30 WET

The governments of France and Italy, under pressure from voters to change their policies, have put forward rule-breaking budgets for next year, and the European Union has decided to let things slide. Under the current testing circumstances, this flexibility on enforcing the rules is understandable — but it isn’t necessarily wise.

To be sure, Italy’s populist administration has climbed down a long way from its initial position. It first submitted a plan involving an even bigger deficit, and promised to carry on whether the European Commission liked it or not. Soon it had second thoughts. Its revised plan has a more realistic growth forecast and reduces its expected deficit from 2.4 percent to 2 percent of gross domestic product. That’s still more than the rules require — but close enough, the Commission decided. There’ll be no “excessive deficit procedure” and no fines.

French President Emmanuel Macron settled on a bundle of tax cuts and higher spending to appease his country’s “yellow vest” protesters. The government aims to recoup some of the cost elsewhere in the budget, including with a tax on digital services. But France now expects a budget deficit of 3.2 percent of GDP next year, rather than 2.8 percent. Again, this is higher than the rules require, but the Commission isn’t objecting.

Europe clearly thinks this is no time to start fighting its member states. “We cannot ignore the context,” said Pierre Moscovici, the EU commissioner for economic and financial affairs, taxation and customs. 

But these compromises come at a cost. The Commission will stand accused — not for the first time — of double standards, particularly when it comes to large countries such as Italy and France. And bear in mind that the rules, correctly applied, already allow for some flexibility, for example by setting budget targets that take the business cycle into account. Because of “the context,” the Commission has decided to be more flexible than the system was intended to be.

The concessions to Italy are especially questionable. The new budget includes a reduction in the retirement age and a new income-support scheme — innovations that a country with a public debt of more than 130 percent of GDP cannot afford unless it finds sizable savings elsewhere. In future years, the government says, a steep increase in value-added tax will get the deficit under better control, but the country’s politicians are already saying it won’t happen. When the next recession comes, Italy will have no fiscal buffer to help cope with it.  

No less important, Europe’s fiscal forbearance also risks undermining efforts to strengthen the monetary union. The euro zone needs a modest but effective joint budget that can be used to support countries in recession. But this reform requires that all member states — including its most fiscally restrained, and above all Germany — believe that greater fiscal solidarity won’t be abused. This, in turn, requires well-designed rules that are obeyed and intelligently enforced. Europe has again called its commitment to this principle into question.

(BBG) Italy Strikes Budget Deal With EU, Dodging Sanctions Process

(BBG

By Nikos Chrysoloras and Viktoria Dendrinou19 de dezembro de 2018, 10:59 WET Updated on 19 de dezembro de 2018, 12:08 WET

  •  Italian markets rallied on news of the agreement with the EU
  •  The bloc won’t launch a so-called excessive deficit procedure

European Commissioner Dombrovskis: We Found Solution for 2019 Italy BudgetEuropean Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis discusses Italy’s budget and the country’s deal with the EU.LISTEN TO ARTICLE 2:43SHARE THIS ARTICLE Share Tweet Post EmailIn this articleFTSEMIBFTSE MIB INDEX18,941.90EUR+297.05+1.59%

The European Commission decided against launching a disciplinary procedure against Italy over its budget after the country’s populist government pledged to rein in its spending. Italian assets rallied.

Following a meeting of its top officials, the commission, the EU’s executive arm, concluded that concessions by Italy on its budget meant the country didn’t warrant a triggering of the so-called excessive deficit procedure that could eventually lead to financial penalties.

“Intensive negotiations over the last few weeks have resulted in a solution for 2019,” Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis told reporters in Brussels on Wednesday. “Let’s be clear, the solution is not ideal but it avoids opening the excessive deficit procedure at this stage and it corrects the situation of serious non-compliance.”

Italian 10-year bond yields fell as much as 18 basis points to 2.75 percent, the lowest level in over three months while the FTSE MIB index of shares rallied as much as 1.8 percent with banking stocks leading gains.

The decision comes after weeks of negotiations between Italian and EU officials and caps a months-long tussle with Brussels that roiled markets. It also marks a climbdown for the country’s firebrand populist leaders, who rose to power with expensive election promises including a lower retirement age and more welfare benefits.

Brussels and Rome met each other half way for the compromise to be reached, as Italian populists held off on their most ambitious spending plans, while the Commission turned a blind eye on Italy’s failure to comply with the obligation to lower its structural deficit next year — which excludes one-off expenditures and the effects of the economic cycle.

Budget Concessions 

As part of the deal, Italy cut its deficit target for next year to 2.04 percent of gross domestic product and shaved about 4 billion euros ($4.6 billion) off its spending plans. Rome’s initial plan for a deficit of 2.4 percent was rejected by officials in Brussels because it was in breach of the EU’s budget rules, while analysis by the commission last month suggested that the deficit would actually be close to 3 percent.

While far from what the EU had hoped, the deal is a relief for EU officials, who had fretted for months over the possible impact a prolonged budget standoff could have on the country’s finances and the euro-area economy.

“The composition of the announced measures and the budget overall still raise concern,” Dombrovskis said, adding that Italy urgently needed to restore confidence in its economy and put its debt on a downward path.

Discussions were further complicated by measures taken by the French government to calm the Yellow Vest protests, which will likely push the country’s budget deficit over EU limit next year. The move by France gave rise to complaints from Rome that Paris gets special treatment when it comes to its budget.

(ECO) Portugal consegue “máximo histórico” nas quotas de pesca. Subida de 21% soma 35 milhões de euros ao mercado nacional

As possibilidades de pesca para Portugal vão subir 21% em 2019, para 131 mil toneladas, um aumento de valor de mercado na ordem de 35 milhões de euros. Setor está satisfeito, mas pede mais apoios.

Setor está satisfeito com a subida das quotas de pesca em 2019.Pixabay

Portugal conseguiu esta quarta-feira um aumento de 24% para as 131 mil toneladas nas quotas de pesca para 2019, o que representa “um novo máximo histórico” desde que há registo das capacidades de capturas, disse a ministra do Mar, Ana Paula Vitorino.

“Temos muito boas notícias para Portugal, para os nossos pescadores e armadores de pesca, com um aumento de 24% do total de capturas possível, atingindo as 131 mil toneladas”, disse a ministra, no final do Conselho de ministros das Pescas, marcado, como habitualmente, por uma maratona negocial.

Em termos de valores, as quotas de pesca atribuídas a Portugal para o próximo ano representam, acrescentou a ministra, um aumento de 35 milhões de euros face a 2018, permitindo atingir “um valor global de cerca de 220 milhões de euros”. Estas 131 mil toneladas, sublinhou, “é um novo máximo histórico”, comprometendo-se a cumprir, em 2020, o objetivo do rendimento máximo sustentável das unidades populacionais.

Considerando as espécies comercialmente mais importantes, a ministra salientou a manutenção, face a este ano, da quota da pescada, quando a Comissão Europeia tinha proposto um corte de 14%. No caso do tamboril, o aumento das capturas é de 5%, em vez dos 2% inicialmente propostos.Bruxelas quer proibir pesca de bacalhau em águas nacionais Ler Mais

Outras espécies comercialmente importantes são o atum rabilho — muito consumido pelos apreciadores de ‘sushi’ — cuja captura pode aumentar 11% em 2019, e as raias, cuja quota sobe 10% quando estava prevista não ser alterada. No que respeita ao bacalhau, a frota pesqueira portuguesa beneficia de um aumento de 12% para o conjunto das três quotas de pesca desta espécie, incluindo nas zonas NAFO (Atlântico Noroeste), nomeadamente o Canadá.

A quota do carapau teve um aumento de 69%, salientando a ministra que há uma grande aceitação deste stock devido às campanhas para o aumento do consumo desta espécie. A obrigação de desembarque de todas as espécies capturadas, que entra em vigor no dia 1 de janeiro não irá, por seu lado, afetar a frota pesqueira portuguesa.

Armadores estão satisfeitos, mas pedem mais apoios

O presidente da Associação dos Armadores das Pescas congratulou-se com o aumento para 131 mil toneladas na possibilidade de pesca para 2019, mas salientou que o setor também precisa de apoios e de uma reformulação da legislação. O presidente da Associação dos Armadores das Pescas Industriais (ADAPI), Pedro Jorge Silva, reagia em declarações à agência Lusa ao anúncio da ministra do Mar, esta madrugada.

“As medidas anunciadas hoje [quarta-feira] são positivas, mas não são surpreendentes. Isto vem em linha com o que estávamos à espera porque a proposta também era francamente simpática, mas também não podia deixar de ser porque há todo um trabalho de ajustamento feito no passado para que se conseguisse a sustentabilidade dos recursos”, disse. De acordo com Pedro Jorge Silva, o setor teve de fazer sacrifícios no passado com desmantelamento de frota e perda de postos de trabalho e este aumento agora anunciado “é o corolário mais ou menos lógico”.Governo: Fundo de pescas não está suspenso, mas interrompido Ler Mais

Contudo, Pedro Jorge Silva sublinha que, apesar de ser importante, o setor da pesca não se resume só a stocks e quotas, mas também de outras questões importantes. “Nomeadamente a questão do mercado, dos apoios à frota, da questão da legislação que devia ter sido reformulada que há duas legislaturas andamos a pedir e que ainda está por atualizar. Claro que ficamos mais tranquilos do que há anos atrás com este aumento, mas é preciso atacar outras coisas que a frota precisa para sobreviver”, disse. No entanto, na opinião do presidente da ADAPI este aumento vem trazer “estabilidade para quem está na pesca”.

Além disso, a ADAPI lamenta contudo as descidas significativas de espécies muito relevantes como o bacalhau ao largo da Noruega (-201 toneladas ou -6%), o bacalhau ao largo do Svalbard (-150 toneladas ou -6%), e a sarda (-1.271 toneladas ou -20%). Pedro Jorge Silva congratulou-se, por fim, com a manutenção da quota da pescada e sobre o aumento de 69% da quota do carapau, apesar deste último não ter sido pedido pelo setor.

A ADAPI pediu mais apoios para o setor.

Pesca do Cerco questiona subida na quota do carapau

Já o presidente da Associação das Organizações de Produtores da Pesca do Cerco também considerou positivo o aumento para 131 mil toneladas na possibilidade de pesca para 2019, mas salientou que se deve sobretudo à subida “incompreensível” do carapau. “Um aumento é sempre um aumento e é bem-vindo, mas esta vitória deve-se sobretudo a um aumento significativo e até incompreensível de uma espécie que é o carapau”, disse à agência Lusa Humberto Jorge, presidente da Associação Nacional das Organizações de Produtores da Pesca do Cerco (ANOP – Cerco).

No seu entendimento, o aumento de 70% na produção de carapau é excessivo e até “um bocadinho absurdo”. “Achamos um bocadinho absurdo. Como é que pareceres científicos podem aumentar e baixar 70% [em anos diferentes] numa espécie. Está bem que se deve gerir as pescarias de acordo com os pareceres científicos, mas a gestão não deve seguir só os pareceres científicos porque isto pode introduzir problemas no mercado”, disse.

De acordo com Humberto Jorge, Portugal já captura o máximo que o mercado de frescos consome e, por outro lado, entra no país carapau proveniente de Espanha muito mais barato. “Lembro que o carapau é uma espécie que não tem grande possibilidade de tratamento industrial a não ser pelo frio, mas com mercados limitados pelo preço. Este aumento não nos vai trazer nada de excecional”, esclareceu.Pesca da sardinha continuará com nível “baixo e rigoroso” Ler Mais

No que diz respeito às restantes quotas, o presidente da ANOP-Cerco reconhece que no geral estão dentro das expetativas e são positivas. “Algumas mantêm-se, o que é muito importante uma vez que havia intenção de reduzir como por exemplo na pescada. Depois temos alguns pequenos aumentos no lagostim, tamboril e no atum rabilho, que são aumentos ligeiros, mas importantes”, disse.

Apesar disso, para Humberto Jorge algumas espécies e pescarias portuguesas vão continuar num “colete-de-forças porque não têm quota suficiente para poder operar de forma regular e continuada”. “Contudo, o aumento em si vai provocar uma margem maior em termos de captura e da atividade das embarcações. Mas, este cenário poderá não se refletir nos rendimentos da pesca na medida em que o mercado também tem uma palavra a dizer sobre isso”, concluiu.

A ANOP – Cerco considera que a subida da quota de pesca do carapau é “um bocadinho absurda”.

Europa comprometeu fim da sobrepesca em 2020, considera a plataforma PONG-Pesca

A PONG-Pesca defendeu esta quarta-feira que a Europa comprometeu o fim da sobrepesca em 2020 e que “nos stoks mais importantes para Portugal terá havido dois pesos e duas medidas”, indicou em comunicado enviado à agência Lusa. Para a Plataforma de Organizações Não Governamentais Portuguesas sobre a Pesca (PONG-Pesca), em causa estão as decisões tomadas durante o conselho de ministros das Pescas, que terminou esta madrugada em Bruxelas.Especialistas querem proibir pesca da sardinha em 2019 Ler Mais

Em relação a Portugal, sublinhou o presidente da PONG-Pesca, “os pareceres terão sido desrespeitados para stocks com informação menos robusta – como o linguado, a solha e as raias – mesmo quando as capturas dos últimos anos têm sido próximas ou mesmo abaixo dos pareceres científicos”. “A exigência de seguir os melhores pareceres científicos aplica-se a todos os ‘stocks’. Para os que têm dados científicos menos robustos, é ainda mais crucial ter uma abordagem precaucionária e respeitar as recomendações”, referiu Gonçalo Carvalho, citado na nota.

Para a PONG-Pesca, “os ministros [das Pescas da UE] voltaram a tomar muitas decisões acima dos pareceres científicos, tendo-se registado, tudo indica, uma estagnação da tendência lentamente positiva que tinha sido registada em anos anteriores”.

(BBG) No One Wants to Buy Europe Stocks Anymore. Will They Ever?

(BBG) This has been the year of outflows for European stocks, when they went from buoyant to borderline forgotten to brutally dumped.

You can blame a litany of reasons: trade tensions, slowing economic and earnings momentum, China’s slowdown, political risks. But analysts like to say persistent outflows — nearly a 40-week streak now, according to Bank of America Merrill Lynch — and cheap valuations set the stage for a recovery. So will money return in 2019?

With valuations at a five-year low, European shares have a low bar for good news. But with risks from Italy to Brexit still unsettled, and uncertainty rising in Germany and France, global funds waiting for the political all-clear may not find it yet. At the same time, the economic cycle is slowing, and earnings growth might soon follow.

“Europe can look too big and too diverse to govern coherently. While that can be a feature and not a bug from a political angle, it does make it daunting on investors,” Brian Jacobsen, senior investment strategist at Wells Fargo Asset Management, said in an email. “The proof would have to be in the pudding of better earnings growth. Investors wouldn’t be throwing in the towel so much as they’d just be looking for more evidence before reengaging.”

The Stoxx Europe 600 dropped 0.6 percent as of 9 a.m. in London amid a global sell-off, taking its slide in 2018 to 12 percent.

Here’s what to watch next year:

Politics

Many of Europe’s political issues are existential, and with weaker earnings and economic growth, there’s little incentive for overseas investors to even try to understand them. Here are the political flashpoints in 2019:

  • Italy’s locked in a tussle with the European Union over its budget deficit, though a compromise offered by the populist government may break the impasse. Another election may be in store.
  • The U.K. Parliament has yet to pass a Brexit deal, which means a chaotic exit at the end of March is still possible. Even if a deal is reached, the concrete details of future relations with the EU still have to be hammered out.
  • In France, protests have weakened centrist President Emmanuel Macron’s ability to pass further reforms or lead European integration. It was his election that ushered a European stock rally in 2017. How times have changed.
  • Germany’s Angela Merkel, a longtime anchor of Europe and champion of continental integration, is stepping down as the leader of her party. This raises the risk that she might be replaced as chancellor before her term ends in 2021, though at least her handpicked successor is taking over as party leader.
  • European Parliament elections in May are looking a bit less stale next year, with the possibility that anti-EU parties could win enough seats to disrupt legislative business.
  • In Spain, an early election is also possible, and in Sweden, a snap votemay be close amid a political impasse.

“It is thus likely that European equities will remain hostage to messy politics in 2019; many clients we speak to simply believe that the market is not investable anymore,” Barclays Plc strategists led by Emmanuel Cau wrote in a note last week. The silver lining? “No one appears to be positioned for good news anymore.”

Earnings

For now, consensus estimates are still projecting faster earnings growth for the Stoxx 600 in 2019 — 9 percent versus 6 percent this year — but that’s probably too optimistic. Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs are both far less sanguine, citing growing margin pressures. Citigroup says its modelsuggests zero growth.

The region will also lose this year’s profit mega-engine, as once-euphoric commodity prices fall. Forecasts have started to drop, but as Barclays Plc’s strategists put it in a note, they’re still “way too high” and have to be more realistic before equities can recover.

Economy

Europe’s economic renaissance can feel a little like it’s over before it even began in earnest. Euro-zone data have deteriorated lately, with Italy on the verge of a recession, and growth is forecast to slow next year.

The market’s bugbear now is a U.S. recession. While that’s not the base case, growth in the world’s largest economy is expected to slow next year. Many European industries — especially resources — will also be watching Chinese growth. It’s projected to slow in 2019, but many analysts are increasingly anticipating a more forceful stimulus.

Trade

European shares have been sensitive to the oscillating headlines on trade, even when they only involved the U.S. and China. The risk of a further rise in U.S. tariffs on Chinese goods will loom again in March after the recent detente. American tariffs on their auto imports might also be adjusted — both raises and cuts have been floated by President Donald Trump. If 2018 has taught investors anything, it’s that a long-term resolution is difficult and more saber-rattling is likely.

Monetary Policy

With economic momentum slowing, bets on a rate hike next year by the European Central Bank are falling. But no doubt liquidity will be tighter, as the ECB ends its bond-buying program this year and the Federal Reserve continues to raise rates.

(JTA) The latest poll on anti-Semitism in Europe looks bad. Trust me: It’s true.

(JTA

AMSTERDAM (JTA) — The last time that a stranger directed an anti-Semitic insult at me, I was carrying supplies for my son’s birthday party.

It was on a Sunday afternoon on Dam Square. Carrying Star of David party decorations in a see-through bag, I paused to snap some pictures on my cellphone of an anti-Israel rally.

I was busy sending them to a friend who had inquired about such events in the Netherlands when a bearded man sporting a Moroccan accent said loudly in my direction: “Cancer Jew. You’re all made up, you’re fake. You’re fake dogs.”

The incident was far from extraordinary — I have experienced much worse abuse during my years of covering European Jewry and its problems — but I found myself recalling it Monday following the publication of the unsurprisingly grim results from Europe’s largest survey of Jews on anti-Semitism.

About a third of the 16,395 Jews polled this year in 12 countries by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights said they avoid Jewish events or places out of fear for their safety. A similar number said they have considered emigrating in the past five years because they did not feel safe as Jews.

More than 80 percent of respondents said anti-Semitism was “the most pressing problem” facing them. Nearly 40 percent said they had experienced an anti-Semitic incident over the past five years, and of those, 79 percent said they didn’t report it because they thought doing so would be a waste of time.

Vera Jourova, the EU commissioner for justice, consumers and gender equality, called some of the poll’s data “shocking” in an address she delivered Monday in Brussels during the presentation of the report.

She vowed tougher action on anti-Semitic crimes, especially online, and called on all EU member states to adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of anti-Semitism, which includes some forms of anti-Israel rhetoric, because “you cannot fight it if you can’t define it,” she said.

The respondents appeared more affiliated than the average European Jew, with 45 percent saying they eat kosher at home and 84 percent declaring they fast on Yom Kippur. A sample with more respondents for whom Judaism is a less central element of life may yield different results.

But even for a secular Jew like me, the report was no more shocking than the presence of the armed special forces officers at our children’s Jewish kindergarten, where they block off the entire road twice a day, during pickup and drop-off hours.

My reporting has made me so used to such sights – the result of several terrorist attacks by Islamists on Jewish institutions, including the 2012 bloodbath at a Toulouse school — that I was genuinely surprised by how disturbing this is to my wife, who is Jewish but rarely attends Jewish community events.

Certainly the head of the European Jewish Association wasn’t surprised by the EU report.

Anyone who is shocked, Rabbi Menachem Margolin said in a statement, is ”disconnected from the reality on the ground.”

Like so many of the poll’s respondents, I also brushed off the anti-Semitic incident I had experienced without reporting it to police.

After all, I do not believe Dutch police would have identified the man who accosted me. But if they did, he could have accused me of assaulting him and back his claim with false witnesses from his rally — who would land me in trouble.

The refusal by Dutch police to even investigate a Jewish community leader’s complaint for assault did little to assure me that they have my back.

The Dutch government’s resistance to adopting an internationally accepted definition of anti-Semitism was also of little assurance. Nor was a Dutch court’s failure in July to charge a Syrian man with a hate crime for smashing up a kosher restaurant while waving a Palestinian flag.

EU anti-Semitism conference

European Union officials Frans Timmermans, left, and Vera Jourova at a news conference on the EU’s response to a new survey about anti-Semitism at the body’s headquarters in Brussels, Dec. 10, 2018. (John Thys/AFP/Getty Images)

These problems are not exclusive to the Netherlands.

In France, where half a million Jews live and the volume of anti-Semitic incidents increased by 69 percent in 2018, such occurrences have become a “daily occurrence,” Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said last month.

In the United Kingdom, the country’s former chief rabbi, Jonathan Sacks, said that many people in his community feel they are facing ”an existential threat” in the supporters of Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn. Sacks, one of contemporary Judaism’s most eminent representatives, called the far-left politician an anti-Semite. Corbyn, who has called Hamas and Hezbollah his “friends” and who had suggested that British “Zionists” are incapable of irony, has rejected the allegation vociferously.

In Sweden, anti-Semitic harassment by far-right activists led for the first time since World War II to the shuttering of a Jewish community anywhere in the European Union out of security concerns. The dissolution of Umea’s Jewish community was a sad precedent in a country where Jews are regularly assaulted by Muslim extremists, often with Israel as a pretext.

Still, the news out of Brussels isn’t all bad when it comes to the fight against anti-Semitism.

Last week, the European Council — the EU’s executive branch — made a declaration against anti-Semitism, calling on EU member states to shoulder Jewish communities’ security costs and urging coordinated action against anti-Semitism.

And whereas some European governments 20 years ago took pains to deny the resurgence of anti-Semitism after the Holocaust and the reasons driving it forward, mainstream politicians in Europe today seem to be more conscious of the problem’s nature and more interested in confronting it.

Significantly, Jourova mentioned in her address not only anti-Semitism, but also anti-Zionism – a reference that many believe would have been unthinkable only several years ago coming from a high-ranking EU official. She also mentioned “Islamist anti-Semitism.”

Such rhetoric reflects a reluctant acceptance in Europe of the effect of the arrival to the continent of millions of immigrants from anti-Semitic societies in the Muslim world. Whereas many integrated seamlessly into European societies and adopted their values, others have rejected them and reintroduced into the mainstream anti-Semitic sentiments that have been suppressed in Europe as part of the lessons of the Holocaust.

Labeled “new anti-Semitism,” this mutation of Jew hatred has baffled European progressives, who struggled to come to terms with the systemic targeting of one minority group by members of another.

Watchdog groups say that the vast majority of violent attacks on Jews in Western Europe today come from people with Muslim background. But accepting or admitting this has proven difficult for some advocates of Europe’s immigration policies.

Yet last year, French President Emmanuel Macron vowed that France will “not surrender to anti-Zionism because it is a reinvention of anti-Semitism.” It was the first time that a French president made such an equation.

Following France’s lead, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and several other countries mounted formidable efforts to protect Jewish community institutions, in some cases leading to a reduction in incidents.

Yet even under Macron, French authorities, who in the early 2000s downplayed the scale of anti-Semitic crimes, showed signs of relapsing. Last year, France’s National Consultative Commission on Human Rights asserted that it “had no evidence” to support what it called “the new anti-Semitism hypothesis.”

In May, a study published by a German federal entity said that anti-Semitism in Europe is unaffected by recent Muslim immigration, prompting a prominent critic to call the report selective and flawed.

As the debate rages on, many Jews like me are increasingly contemplating their futures in Europe – despite major steps designed to ensure our ability to live freely and safely here.

Because amid polls, reports, discussions and declarations about the need to balance freedoms, for too many European Jews “freedom of belief and the freedom to live without fear remain distant aspirations,” as Michael O’Flaherty, the director of the EU Agency for Fundamental Rights, put it Monday during his address in Brussels.

P.O. (GUA) Juncker: ‘no room whatsoever’ to renegotiate Brexit deal

P.O.

What a mess!
The EU acting with imperialistic ticks imposed an extremely bad deal to the UK.

The current deal can morph into practically anything.

The problem is that until everything is settled the UK cannot put in place the vital bilateral trade agreements with other Countries.

They are so many ridiculous aspects that i wouldn´t know were to start.

Why for God sake France wants to continue to have the right to fish in UK waters after the UK leaves the EU…?

We all saw in Portugal what happened with the EU fishing policy…

A disaster!

The Spanish came in and almost destroyed everything, in all species.

in the meanwhile the EU was paying the Portuguese fishermen big money to destroy their boats…

Now the EU wants to”help” Prime Minister May to sell the deal in the UK…!

Let’s wait for the next chapters of this idiocy…

Francisco (Abouaf) de Curiel Marques Pereira

(GUA) European commission leader says backstop must stay in EU withdrawal agreement

Jean-Claude Juncker
 Jean-Claude Juncker told MEPs: ‘Everybody has to know the withdrawal agreement will not be reopened.’ Photograph: Patrick Seeger/EPA

Jean-Claude Juncker has said there is “no room whatsoever” for renegotiating the Brexit deal as Theresa May returns to Brussels in an attempt to reopen talks.

The prime minister embarked on a frantic round of diplomacy with other EU leaders on Tuesday to try to salvage some concessions, but the European commission president reiterated that Brussels would not revisit the withdrawal agreement.

Junker offered May only additional “clarifications and interpretations” of the contentious backstop solution, designed to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland.

The prime minister on Monday postponed the Commons vote on her Brexit deal, telling MPs that she recognised concerns that the backstop could trap the UK in a customs union without any means of leaving it.

Speaking to the European parliament in Strasbourg, Juncker told MEPs: “There is a surprise guest at the European council, which is Brexit, I am surprised. I am surprised because we had reached an agreement.

“Notwithstanding that it would appear that there are problems right at the end of the road, I will meet Mrs May this evening.”

He said the withdrawal agreement was the best and only deal possible. “There is no room whatsoever for renegotiation but of course there is room, if used intelligently, to give further clarifications and interpretations without opening the withdrawal agreement. Everybody has to know the withdrawal agreement will not be reopened.”

Juncker said Brussels recognised the backstop was the main problem. The EU could reiterate in writing that it would do everything to avoid the need to use it, he said, but the backstop protocol had to stay in the withdrawal agreement.

“It is necessary for the entire coherence of what we have agreed with Britain, and it is necessary for Ireland,” he said. “Ireland will never be left alone.

Arriving at a meeting in Brussels, the Brexit minister Martin Callanan shed some light on what May was hoping for from her last-minute tour of EU capitals. “She wants additional legal reassurances that the UK cannot be permanently trapped in the Irish backstop,” he said. “That’s been the issue all along and that’s the issue at the heart of concerns expressed by many members of parliament.”

Denmark’s foreign minister, Anders Samuelsen, said he and other EU leaderstook the same view as Juncker. “It’s always a political option to clarify, if that is needed, what is meant, what kind of underlining is needed, but it is not a question of renegotiating everything.”

May will meet the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, in Berlin and the Dutch prime minister, Mark Rutte, in the Hague on Tuesday to seek further assurances that the backstop would never come into force.

Germany’s EU affairs minister, Michael Roth, told of his exasperation with the UK.

He said: “Sometimes I don’t understand the world anymore. We spent so much energy and time and creativity on something that we neither want in Berlin nor in Brussels.

“Nobody wants Great Britain do leave. Now the decision has been delayed again in the House of Commons, there are further talks but I’m lacking imagination to figure out where we could change something about the substance of the deal. Which means, what we have negotiated in painstaking negotiations, which has been demanding for both sides, the EU27 as well as the UK, it can’t be unravelled again now. At least I don’t see a basis for this right now.”

The Commons leader, Andrea Leadsom, told the BBC there were “plenty of options” available to May that did not involve reopening the 585-page withdrawal agreement.

She suggested May was seeking change that would give parliament the “democratic ability to decide” about the use of the backstop.

“That might include an addendum to the withdrawal agreement that sets out that parliament will vote prior to going into a backstop, should that prove necessary, and potentially that the EU parliament and UK parliament must vote every year thereafter to provide that legitimacy for the UK to stay in the backstop, should that prove necessary,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

EU sources insisted that while such joint statements on the need for regular debates would be possible, they would not change the legal reality that the backstop would need to stay in force if alternative arrangements for avoiding a hard border were not available.

The 28 heads of state and government are to meet at the scheduled European council summit on Thursday and Friday, though there is no anticipation of an immediate breakthrough that would allow May to go back to parliament before Christmas.

Steve Baker, the former Brexit minister turned May critic, said Tory MPs must submit no-confidence letters to reach the threshold of 48 needed to trigger a confidence vote in the prime minister. So far, the number of letters sent to Sir Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Conservative MPs, has not been high enough.

“We have all taken a bit of a bruising on this and it is a grave decision for every colleague to make,” Baker told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “But what I would say to my colleagues is: you now face the certainty of failure with Theresa May, you must be brave and make the right decision to change prime minister, and change prime minister now.”

Baker urged the four most prominent pro-Brexit leadership hopefuls – Boris Johnson, David Davis, Dominic Raab and Esther McVey – to decide between themselveswho would be the candidate if May was forced out, to prevent a split vote.

The Democratic Unionist MP Sammy Wilson said his party had ruled out the possibility of May succeeding in her talks in Europe. The prime minister could only return with reassurances that “don’t mean anything when they are put against a legally binding international agreement”, he said.

However, the DUP has not signed a letter from all the other opposition parties condemning May’s decision to delay the vote. Leaders of Labour, the Scottish National party, Liberal Democrats, Plaid Cymru and the Greens have written to May demanding more concrete assurances on when the vote will be held.

The opposition leaders criticised the prime minister for “unilaterally” scrapping the meaningful vote without giving parliament the opportunity to vote on a proposed delay because “they [the government] fear they cannot command a majority”.

However, the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, accused Jeremy Corbyn and his Labour party of stalling on supporting either a confidence motion in May’s leadership or a second referendum.

“As I understand it, they don’t think the time is right for a motion of confidence,” she told Today. “For goodness’ sake, if the time is not right now, when will the time be right?”

(EUobserver) Anti-semitism ‘disturbingly normalised’ in Europe

(EUobserver)

  • Commissioner Frans Timmermans said those who want to defend ‘Christian’ values should stay well away from anti-semitism (Photo: European Commission)

Anti-semitism has become “disturbingly normalised” in Europe, as almost 40 percent of the European Jewish community is considering leaving their home countries because they no longer feel safe, according to a survey by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency published on Monday (10 December).

Nearly 90 percent of respondents said that anti-semitism has been on the rise since 2013.

  • A billboard in Hungary on US billionaire Soros: ‘Let’s not allow him to have the last laugh’, with ‘vampire’ daubed sprayed on it (Photo: Lydia Gall/Human Rights Watch)

Some 70 years after six million Jews were murdered in Europe, Jews on the continent once again refrain from wearing their kippa, the religious cap, and hide their mezuzas, usually hung on doorposts, to protect themselves.

The EU’s Vienna-based agency surveyed almost 16,500 individuals who identify as being Jewish in 12 EU countries: Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom, where altogether over 96 percent of the EU’s estimated Jewish population live.

The results are “extremely worrying”, justice commissioner Vera Jourova told journalists on Monday.

Nine in 10 (89 percent) respondents feel that anti-semitism increased in their country in the last five years, more than eight in 10 (85 percent) consider it to be a serious problem and name it as their number one fear ahead of other social or political concerns.

Nine in ten also think anti-semitism is the most problematic on the internet and on social media (89 percent), while 73 percent consider it to be an issue in public spaces, in the media (71 percent) and in political life (70 percent).

Common comments Jews are faced with include: “Jews have too much power” (43 percent) and that “Jews exploit Holocaust victimhood for their own purposes” (35 percent).

People face so much anti-semitic abuse that some of the incidents they experience appear trivial to them.

Physical harassment is also an issue, with 28 percent of respondents have been harassed at least once in the past year.

From those who experienced anti-semitic harassment in the past five years, some 79 percent did not report this to the police or another organisation.

In Germany 41 percent of respondents said they had suffered anti-semitic harassment in the past year.

Seventy percent consider that efforts by EU countries to combat anti-semitism are ineffective.

Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans called anti-semitism a “disease.”

“It is slipping more and more into the political rhetoric, as those who are familiar with that rhetoric in the past are slowly passing away,” he said, calling on member states to do more.

Timmermans, who runs as the lead candidate of the socialists in next year’s European elections, also had a poke at the centre-right, whose lead candidate, Manfred Weber, often refers to Europe’s ‘Christian heritage’.

“Those who appeal all the time to ‘Christian’ values, should understand that part of the Christian values that we forever distance ourselves from anti-semitism,” Timmermans said.

“There is no Europe, if Jews don’t feel safe in Europe,” the Dutch politician added.

Warning for Orban

Asked about Hungarian government’s stance on anti-semitism, Timmermans had a warning for Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban – a hardline anti-migration politician who likes to portray himself as the defender of Christian Europe.

“Since prime minister Orban is so vocal in he wants to combat anti-semitism, and preserve our, as he calls it, Judeo-Christian heritage, I would call upon him to avoid dog-whistle words, to avoid any form of campaigning that could be seen as implicitly anti-semitic,” he said referring to a massive campaign by the Hungarian government accusing, without evidence, US billionaire George Soros, who is Jewish, of wanting to transport a million migrants into Europe.

While the Hungarian government said it had zero tolerance towards anti-semitism, the billboard campaign prompted anti-semitic comments.

“If that is the impression he [Orban] wants to avoid, he should be clearer how he operates, because clearly some of the campaigns he is been doing have led to anti-semitic responses in the Hungarian society,” Timmermans said.

“The campaign against George Soros, although the Hungarian authorities deny that there is any element of anti-semitism in it, the reactions to it by members of the Hungarian public are clearly, strongly anti-semitic,” he added.

Timmermans said his comments were not finger-pointing, but that he wants to highlight that there is a greater responsibility on public authorities in the face of the rise of anti-semitism.

“If identity politics is what is driving your politics, then sooner or later there will be references to minorities, and the first minority to be hit by that will always be Jewish minority,” he said.

Last week Orban refused to condemn a magazine run by one of his allies that featured a cover that has been widely considered anti-semitic.

It featured the president of the Federation of Hungarian Jewish Communities with banknotes floating around him, accompanying an article that accused him of financial irregularities.

After the World Jewish Congress president Ronald Lauder called on Orban to condemn the cover, the PM responded in a letter in which he said he was surprised at what he called Lauder’s request to limit freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

Israel criticism

The publishing of the survey’s result comes as the EU last week adopted a definition of anti-semitism that critics say could stifle criticism of the policies of the Israeli government.

Timmermans acknowledged that a new form of anti-semitism hides behind anti-zionism, criticism of Israel. But he said that does not mean that criticism of the actions of the Israeli government is illegitimate.

“Everybody has full right to criticise actions of the Israeli government that are incompatible with the values we stand for, with the position with the international community, that there should be a two-state solution, that [Israeli] settlements [on Palestinian territories] are illegal,” he said.

He also warned that other minorities should also be concerned by anti-semitism, saying if one minority is attacked, others will be attacked eventually too.

“Once the idea that you can target a minority is part of politics, all minorities are at risk,” he said, adding: “To mobilise the Jewish community against Muslim community, and vice-versa, runs counter to our principles and create problems for both communities.”

The survey showed that 72 percent of Jews are concerned about increasing intolerance towards Muslims in Europe.

However, in some 30 percent of the cases, respondents said the perpetrator of the most serious incident of anti-semitic harassment in the past five years was someone with Muslim extremist views.

The EU commission has attempted to address the issue in the past by appointing a coordinator on combating anti-semitism in 2016, and establishing in the same year an EU High-Level Group on combating racism, xenophobia and other forms of intolerance, and making large tech companies adheres to a code of conduct to counter illegal hate speech online.

(OBS) Está a União Europeia a caminhar para o fim? – João Marques de Almeida

(OBS) Um ponto surge evidente: a salvação da União Europeia exige realismo político e o abandono da ideologia europeísta que impede muitas das elites políticas da UE de entenderem os desafios que enfrentam.

Daqui a 50 anos, os historiadores poderão olhar para a semana que passou como o obituário da União Europeia. Em França, os “coletes amarelos” acabaram com as reformas de Macron. No Reino Unido, o Parlamento não faz a mínima ideia sobre o que fazer com o Brexit. O conflito entre a Itália e a União Europeia agravou-se. Em Espanha, as eleições na Andaluzia acabaram com a excepção ibérica em relação aos partidos nacionalistas. Finalmente, na Alemanha, Merkel está cada vez mais perto do fim da sua vida política. Dos cerca de 510 milhões de habitantes da União Europeia, 320 milhões vivem nestes cinco países, mais ou menos 65%. As cinco economias valem ainda cerca de 75% do PIB da União Europeia. Se as coisas correm mal nos cinco maiores países europeus, a União Europeia enfrenta uma crise existencial. Não vale a pena ignorar a realidade.

Macron recuou perante protestos populares. Ou seja, a sua agenda reformista acabou. Não é a primeira a ser enterrada nas ruas de Paris. Daqui até ao fim do seu mandato, como aconteceu com os seus antecessores, vai continuar a gerir o declínio económico da França. Em 2007, Sarkozy também começou o seu mandato presidencial cheio de promessas e de esperanças. Cinco anos depois nem sequer foi reeleito. Neste momento, Macron está isolado em França. Enfrenta protestos nas ruas das principais cidades, e tem todos os partidos contra ele, os radicais, da direita e da esquerda, e os moderados porque querem recuperar os eleitores que perderam em 2017. Pior ainda, o Presidente francês não tem um partido com peso na sociedade francesa. O seu movimento foi contruído em tempos de popularidade alta. Irá desfazer-se com as dificuldades. Eis o retrato politico de França: um Presidente impopular e sem partido; os partidos moderados enfraquecidos; os partidos extremistas a crescerem; e as ruas a ferro e fogo. Esta França apenas enfraquece a União Europeia, e até há dois meses atrás, Macron era a grande esperança para a renovação do europeísmo.

O Reino Unido enfrenta a maior crise desde o final da Guerra. A população está dividida em relação ao futuro do país. A Inglaterra e o País de Gales querem sair da União Europeia, mas a Escócia e a Irlanda Norte querem ficar. Os Conservadores e os Trabalhistas estão igualmente divididos e uma grande parte dos seus militantes radicalizada. Ninguém sabe o que vai acontecer na próxima terça-feira nos Comuns.

A Itália está em clima pré-eleitoral, com o Movimento 5 Estrelas e a Liga a apresentarem um orçamento para mobilizar as suas bases eleitorais. O governo está em conflito com a União Europeia e assim continuará, pelo menos até às eleições europeias em Maio. Entretanto, a economia caminha para a recessão e o sistema financeiro continua frágil. Uma crise financeira em Itália, com a maior dívida soberana da Europa, terá efeitos negativos na zona Euro.

Em Espanha, a fragmentação do sistema partidário não pára e os nacionalistas e anti-europeus foram os últimos a chegar. Será uma questão de tempo até a crise na Catalunha se agravar de novo; e o Vox constitui em grande medida uma reação nacionalista contra o separatismo catalão. Com o apoio dos partidos nacionalistas da Catalunha e do Pais Basco em causa, o governo minoritário de Sanchez não deverá ficar muito tempo no poder.

No meio de tudo isto, a situação na Alemanha parece estável. Mas as aparências iludem. Tal como nos outros grandes países europeus, o sistema partidário alemão está a mudar e sob pressão dos partidos populistas e radicais. A liderança bicéfala da CDU e do governo não parece ser a melhor maneira de responder ao crescimento dos populistas de direita, a AfD. Além disso, liderança a dois no maior país europeu, em tempos de crise na Europa, é bizarra e insustentável a prazo. Merkel terá que sair da Chancelaria mais tarde ou mais cedo, desejavelmente mais cedo. A partir de agora, Merkel só servirá para enfraquecer a Alemanha. A política é cruel, sobretudo em tempos de crise.

Em cada um destes países há razões específicas para explicar as respectivas crises políticas. Mas é óbvio que também há causas comuns. Em todos estes países, e em muitos outros na União Europeia, o nacionalismo anti-europeu tornou-se a escolha política de dezenas de milhões de cidadãos. Podem chamar os nomes que quiserem a esses eleitores, mas é o que é. E a ofensa não parece ser o modo mais inteligente de recuperar esses votos.

O nacionalismo não aparece no vazio político. As nações europeias estão em revolta contra a ideologia europeísta, construída na década de 1990, durante os mandatos de Delors em Bruxelas. A transformação da integração europeia, que tantas vantagens políticas e económicas trouxe aos países europeus, numa ideologia política foi um erro trágico. A ideia do progresso inevitável da ‘Europa’ contra as identidades nacionais, como se nota agora, apoiava-se em numa ilusão perigosa. O outro lado da mesma (má) moeda, de que as identidades nacionais estariam condenadas a desaparecer ou, pelo menos, a tornarem-se politicamente irrelevantes, apenas aumentou a revolta dos europeus. Não é por acaso que os sistemas partidários nos principais países europeus estão ameaçados. Os partidos convencionais foram os veículos nacionais da ideologia europeísta durante as últimas duas décadas. Por isso, são os primeiros a serem derrotados.

Ninguém sabe se já é demasiado tarde para salvar a União Europeia e para evitar o triunfo dos nacionalismos. Mas há um ponto que parece evidente. A salvação da União Europeia exige realismo político e o abandono da ideologia europeísta que impede muitas das elites políticas europeias de entenderem os desafios que enfrentam. A insistência na ideologia europeísta apenas levará à derrota, como se vê com Macron em França. O confronto entre o europeísmo e os nacionalismos terá um desfecho inevitável: o fim da União Europeia. Onde estão os líderes realistas? Só eles e elas poderão salvar a União Europeia. E a paz, a democracia, a liberdade e a prosperidade na Europa.

(OBS) Quando os muros caem, caem para os dois lados – Rui Ramos

(OBS) A questão levantada pelas eleições na Andaluzia é esta: por que razão deveríamos admitir que compete aos fãs do chavismo e do estalinismo julgar os méritos democráticos dos outros actores políticos?

Durante décadas, a maior parte da Europa ocidental foi governada por partidos que, socialistas ou conservadores, se reviam nos princípios da NATO e da cooperação europeia. Em Portugal, esse “arco da governação” acabou em 2015, quando o PS levou o PCP e o BE para a área do governo. Foi a “queda do muro”, segundo António Costa. Era verdade que os seus novos parceiros não tinham mudado de simpatias norte-coreanas e venezuelanas. Mas desde que respeitassem as “obrigações internacionais”, que importava isso? Todos os votos valiam a mesma coisa. Por detrás, havia uma razão de expediente: com os socialistas em retração por toda a Europa, como governar sem comunistas e radicais? Pelos mesmos motivos e com os mesmos argumentos, Pedro Sanchez, em Espanha, arranjou também uma “geringonça“ com o Podemos e os separatistas.

Tudo correu bem enquanto correu à esquerda. O problema foi quando, à direita, houve igual necessidade. Na Andaluzia, o PP e o Ciudadanos só poderão governar aceitando o apoio de Vox, o partido da direita nacionalista, com quem aliás o PP nem quer negociar. Mas notou-se logo a diferença. O Podemos e os separatistas rejeitam a constituição espanhola e parecem frequentemente disponíveis para ilegalidades e violências. Mas são parceiros respeitáveis de governo. Vox não é. Porquê? Porque, segundo decisão do Podemos, Vox é “fascista”.

A questão andaluza será cada vez mais central na política europeia, porque é óbvio que a direita nacionalista, insuflada pela denúncia da migração ilegal e pela resistência ao “politicamente correcto”, vai integrar maiorias parlamentares e governos, como já aconteceu em Itália ou na Áustria. Pensem nisto: é provável que os conservadores aceitem que os socialistas façam maiorias com comunistas e radicais, enquanto eles próprios se condenam a ficar na oposição, por não ser admissível ter o apoio de nacionalistas? Não é. Os muros, quando caem, caem para os dois lados. Também os votos de Vox valem a mesma coisa. Foi esta a porta que Costa e Sanchez abriram.

É o fim do mundo? É o fim de um mundo, em que a direita era dominada por conservadores e liberais, mas não é necessariamente o fim do mundo. Basta que nunca haja dúvidas de que nenhuma solução de governo, à direita ou à esquerda, será aceitável na Europa, se visar limitar direitos cívicos ou comprometer o enquadramento internacional definido pela NATO e pela cooperação e integração europeias.

Qual o perigo de partidos como Vox? A política que vive da demagogia é sempre perigosa. Mas comunistas e radicais, com a sua velha manha soviética de tratar como “fascistas” ou acusar de “branqueamento” quem quer que não pense como eles, não são um bom guia a esse respeito. Como já tantos historiadores explicaram, não estamos perante os fascismos dos anos 30. A nova direita nacionalista insiste em que as sociedades ocidentais devem cultivar as identidades nacionais e os modos de vida tradicionais e fazer valer as fronteiras, se necessário limitando a integração internacional. Não haverá outros argumentos contra tais ideias, a não ser confundi-las com o “fascismo”? Os fascismos dos anos 30 eram uma coisa muito diferente: repudiavam a democracia, diziam-se revolucionários, cultivavam o militarismo e a violência. Vox diz acreditar na democracia, na liberdade e no Estado de direito. Os fascistas, no seu tempo, jamais disseram isso. E se não acreditamos no que diz Vox, porquê acreditar no que diz o Podemos?

Mas estamos no reino da má fé. O PP e os Ciudadanos não podem ter o apoio de Vox na Andaluzia, mas o Syriza governa a Grécia desde 2015 com um partido nacionalista muito mais exaltado, o Anel, e ninguém se preocupa com a democracia na Grécia. A questão andaluza, portanto, é outra: por que razão deveríamos admitir que compete aos fãs do chavismo e do estalinismo julgar os méritos democráticos dos outros actores políticos? E, mais ainda, porquê deixá-los transformar qualquer polarização política numa situação de guerra civil?

(Algemeiner) ‘People Are Ready to Die or Go to Jail in Order to Kill Jews Today,’ Warns Fr. Patrick Desbois, Pioneer of Catholic-Jewish Understanding

(Algemeiner)

Father Patrick Desbois. Photo: Embassy of France.

“I will tell you a story,” volunteered Father Patrick Desbois, during a conversation with The Algemeiner on Thursday morning.”Twenty five years ago, I was in Poland, speaking to a high-level Catholic functionary, and he said to me, ‘Hitler made a mistake.’ I asked him what this mistake was, and he told me, ‘Hitler built Auschwitz.’ And why was that a mistake? He said, ‘because the Jews came back. They never came back when they were executed in the forests.’”

As brutal as that comment must have sounded, it made sense to Fr. Desbois. For the last fifteen years, the French Catholic priest — a former director of the French Bishops’ Committee for Catholic-Jewish Relations and now a professor at Georgetown University’s Center for Jewish Civilization — has devoted his life to identifying the mass graves of Jews murdered by Nazi mobile killing squads across occupied eastern Europe. What Desbois calls the “Holocaust by bullets” — the execution by shooting of up to 2 million victims of the Nazi extermination program — is also, he said, a “paradigm” for understanding the nature of antisemitic hatred today.

An individual that has studied the Holocaust in the depth that Desbois has doesn’t make such an observation lightly. “For me, the Holocaust by bullets was Pittsburgh every day,” Desbois remarked, in a reference to the Oct. 27 massacre of 11 Jews at the Tree of Life Synagogue. “As well, people are ready to die in order to kill Jews today. They are ready to die or to be in jail, they don’t care. They think they are super-heroes.”

That was certainly the case with Pittsburgh shooter Robert Bowers, who expressed satisfaction with his murder spree after being taken alive by police. As for dying oneself while in the act of killing Jews with bullets, Desbois noted that this option was chosen by Islamist shooters in his native France — Mohammed Merah, whose victims in Toulouse in March 2012 included a Jewish school principal and his two small children along with a third child, and Amedy Coulibaly, who executed four Jewish hostages during the Jan. 2015 siege at a kosher supermarket in Paris.

US President Donald Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton met Brazil’s far-right President-elect Jair Bolsonaro on Thursday to discuss regional…

Today’s “mass killers” have reached the same conclusion as the first generation of criminals behind the “Holocaust by bullets,” Desbois said.

“No camps, no barbed wire, no trains, nothing,” he continued. “The shooters are moving to kill people in their synagogues and in their streets. And then the public sees it as just one more shooting.”

What the public should see, Desbois argued, is a manifestation of an antisemitic ideology that inevitably leads to the committing of atrocities, whether in the USSR in 1941 or Pennsylvania in 2018. “I knew it before CNN said it,” Desbois commented, when asked about the global broadcaster’s worrying survey this week of antisemitic attitudes and Holocaust awareness in Europe. “It is a part of our life, and it’s not only in Europe. In most of the planet, a great many people will deny that there was a Holocaust, or they will call it a trick by the Jews to make money.” So concerned is Desbois about the “dark shadow” of contemporary Jew-hatred that the organization he launched to research the shooting executions of Jews during World War II — Yahad – In Unum — is now turning its attentions to hate crimes against Jews in western Europe in the present.

“For the last ten years in France, we have had Jews who have been killed, or harassed, or robbed, and so we want to develop our own investigation,” Desbois said. “Also, as an advocacy organization, we can explain that this is a criminal ideology. In my last book, I wrote about my full-time team of 29 researchers, how we discovered the mass graves of 1.4 million Jews, how we conducted more than 6,000 interviews. Through that work, we unmasked the process of the mass killing of the Jews – how it begins with propaganda and ends with murder.”

Desbois’ continued efforts to promote Holocaust education have therefore taken on an added urgency. Earlier this week, he accompanied 20 prominent members of the French Catholic clergy — among them the recently-appointed Archbishop of Paris, Michel Aupetit — on a visit to the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City. The visit gave the delegation an opportunity to understand that “what the Jews lost in Europe was not just six million of our people, but the civilization that these people represented – folk traditions, music, literature,” Jonathan Brent, YIVO’s Chief Executive Officer, told The Algemeinerfollowing Tuesday’s encounter.

Father Patrick Desbois in New York alongside YIVO CEO Jonathan Brent (l). Photo: YIVO.

“Our goal is to train leaders to be strong for tomorrow,” Desbois said, when asked about his twin focus on the Holocaust and contemporary antisemitism. That same perspective informs his energetic advocacy on behalf of the Yazidi minority in northern Iraq, who suffered a genocide at the hands of ISIS in 2014. In Desbois’ view, the assault on the Yazidis in many ways reflected the methods of the Nazis against the Jews. “It’s the same methodology, whether it’s an ISIS unit or an Einsatzgruppen (Nazi death squad) unit. They arrive at six o’clock in the morning, they leave in the evening, and everybody is either dead or enslaved.”

Desbois also accented those aspects of the Nazi slaughter of the Jews that made the Holocaust a unique mass atrocity. “The Nazis wanted to eliminate every last Jew, even the babies and the old people,” he said. Today’s antisemites, he continued, have adopted a similar strategy.

“They say to the Jews, ‘get out of France,’ ‘get out of Germany,’ ‘get out of Britain,’ ‘get out of Palestine,’” Desbois said. “And at the end, who will stay?”

Desbois offered sage advice to those combating the latest antisemitic wave, whether in Europe or in the US.

“Study your enemies,” he said. “Study what they did in ’42, ’43, ’44, study their crimes, and” – at this point Desbois let out a regretful chuckle – “don’t sleep.”

(CouncilofEurope) Portugal takes over Presidency of the Pompidou Group from Norway for four-year term

(CouncilofEurope)

Portugal takes over Presidency of the Pompidou Group from Norway for four-year term

At the 17th Ministerial Conference of the Pompidou Group (Stavanger, 27-28 November 2018), member states elected Portugal to supervise the Group’s work in the next four years, in order to ensure that the Group’s activities outlined in its work programme best meet their priorities and needs. « Under the Portuguese Presidency, the Pompidou Group will continue to be an active player on bringing the public health and the respect of human rights to the forefront of drug policy » said Raquel Duarte, Secretary of State of Health of Portugal. The Vice-Presidency will be assumed by Poland, taking over the role from Italy, for the same period. Portugal, working closely with Poland, will ensure the political representation of the Pompidou Group towards the governments of member and non-member states, as well as international organisations.

Good governance, international drug policy development and new challenges are the three thematic priorities identified by Pompidou Group member states in the work programme 2019-2022, adopted at their 17th Ministerial Conference in Stavanger, on 28 November 2018. Entitled ‘Sustainable drug policies respectful of human rights’, the work programme sets the framework for the next four years, and aims to provide knowledge, support and solutions for effective, evidence based drug policies, which fully respect human rights. The programme continues to include the hallmark activities of the Pompidou Group: law enforcement co-operation on drug trafficking, training for drug policy managers, recognition of youth projects in the field of drug prevention, regional co-operation platforms in the Mediterranean area on drug addiction as well as in South-East Europe on treatment and drug trafficking, and support to the development, implementation and review of national drug policies.

(CNN) CNN poll reveals depth of anti-Semitism in Europe

(CNNOne in 20 Europeans surveyed has never heard of theHolocaust. More than a quarter believe Jews have too muchinfluence in business and finance. One in five believe anti-Semitism is a response to the everyday actions of Jews.

CNN poll: Anti-Semitism in Europe

Anti-Semitic stereotypes are alive and well in Europe, while the memory of the Holocaust is starting to fade, a sweeping new survey by CNN reveals. More than a quarter of Europeans polled believe Jews have too much influence in business and finance. Nearly one in four said Jews have too much influence in conflict and wars across the world.

One in five said they have too much influence in the media and the same number believe they have too much influence in politics.

Meanwhile, a third of Europeans in the poll said they knew just a little or nothing at all about the Holocaust, the mass murder of some six million Jews in lands controlled by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s.

Those are among the key findings of a survey carried out by pollster ComRes for CNN. The CNN/ComRes poll interviewed more than 7,000 people across Europe, with more than 1,000 respondents each in Austria, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Poland and Sweden.

Map of European countries surveyed in exclusive CNN poll

The poll was commissioned and completed before the killing of 11 people at a synagogue in Pittsburgh — the deadliest ever attack on the Jewish community in the United States.

The poll uncovered complicated, contrasting and sometimes disturbing attitudes about Jews, and some startling ignorance.

Forgetting the Holocaust?

About one European in 20 in the countries CNN surveyed has never heard of the Holocaust, even though it’s less than 75 years since the end of World War II, and there are still tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors alive today.

Lack of Holocaust knowledge is particularly striking among young people in France: One out of five people there between the ages of 18 and 34 said they’d never heard of it.

A third of Europeans said that Jews use the Holocaust to advance their own positions or goals.

In Austria — the country where Hitler was born — 12% of young people said they had never heard of the Holocaust. Austria also had the highest number of people in the survey saying they knew “just a little” about the Holocaust. Four out of 10 Austrian adults said that.

Across Europe, half of respondents said they know “a fair amount” about the Holocaust, while only one out of five people said they know “a great deal.”

(Americans do not fare any better: A survey carried out on behalf of the Claims Conference earlier this year found that 10% of American adults were not sure they’d ever heard of the Holocaust, rising to one in five millennials. Half of all millennials could not name a single concentration camp, and 45% of all American adults failed to do so.)

One out of five people in France between the ages of 18 and 34 said they’ve never heard of the Holocaust

But Europeans do believe it is important to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive.

Two-thirds of Europeans said that commemorating the Holocaust helps ensure that such atrocities will never happen again. That figure rises to 80% in Poland, where the Nazis established Auschwitz, the deadliest concentration camp of all.

Half of Europeans said commemorating the Holocaust helps fight anti-Semitism today.

But at the same time, a third of Europeans said that Jews use the Holocaust to advance their own positions or goals. The same number disagreed and nearly a third of respondents expressed no opinion.

Complex relations

Attitudes sharpened when it comes to the relationship between the Holocaust, Israel, Jews and anti-Semitism.

A slight but solid majority of Europeans — 54% — said Israel has the right to exist as a Jewish state, with the figure rising to two-thirds in Poland.

A third of survey respondents believe that criticism of Israel tends to be motivated by anti-Semitism, while only one in five said it does not.

Nearly one in five said anti-Semitism in their countries was a response to the everyday behavior of Jewish people.

However, a third of people CNN surveyed said that Israel uses the Holocaust to justify its actions, with half the respondents in Poland agreeing. Only one in five disagreed.

A third of Europeans said supporters of Israel use accusations of anti-Semitism to shut down criticism of Israel, while only one in 10 said that was not true.

A third of Europeans said commemorating the Holocaust distracts from other atrocities today, with higher than average numbers of Germans, Austrians, Poles and Hungarians stating that.

And while many people said anti-Semitism is a growing problem in their countries — to the extent that 40% said Jews were at risk of racist violence in their countries and half said their governments should do more to fight anti-Semitism — substantial minorities blamed Israel or Jews themselves for anti-Semitism.

More than a quarter of respondents (28%) said most anti-Semitism in their countries was a response to the actions of the state of Israel.

And nearly one in five (18%) said anti-Semitism in their countries was a response to the everyday behavior of Jewish people.

“I’m not anti-Semitic, but…”

Few people said they personally have an unfavorable attitude toward Jews. Across the seven countries in the survey, one in 10 people said they did — although the figure rises to 15% in Poland and 19% — about one in five — in Hungary.

In every country polled except Hungary, significantly more people said they had a favorable opinion of Jews than an unfavorable one. (In Hungary, favorable topped unfavorable 21% to 19%, with the rest saying they had neither a favorable nor unfavorable view.)

The poll also put a spotlight on European attitudes toward other minorities.

While 10% of Europeans admitted they had unfavorable views of Jews, 16% said they had negative views of LGBT+ people, 36% said they had unfavorable views of immigrants, 37% said that about Muslims, and 39% said it of Romani people.

 

But while the number of Europeans openly admitting negative attitudes towards Jews was relatively low, CNN questions about whether traditional anti-Semitic stereotypes still resonate across the continent found clear evidence that they do.

In Poland and Hungary, about four out of 10 people said Jews have too much influence in business and finance around the world.

Roughly one out of three people there said Jews were too influential in political affairs around the world, and more than a quarter of Poles and Hungarians said they had too much influence on the media.

A third of Austrians said Jews have too much influence in finance, while a quarter of French and German respondents said so.

About one in five people in all three countries said Jews had too much influence in media, and a quarter said they had too much influence on wars and conflicts.

Numbers

The belief in Jewish power runs in parallel with enormous overestimates of the number of Jews in the world.

About two-thirds of the respondents in the survey guessed too high when asked what percentage of the world is Jewish, and similar numbers got the answer wrong for their own countries.

A quarter of Hungarians estimated that the world is more than 20% Jewish, and a fifth of British and Polish respondents said so.

They were off by a factor of 100. About 0.2% of the world’s population is Jewish, according to the Pew Research Center’s Global Religious Landscape study.

They were off by a factor of 100. About 0.2% of the world’s population is Jewish, according to the Pew Research Center’s Global Religious Landscape study.

Four out of ten respondents in the survey thought their own countries were between 3% and 10% Jewish. In fact, Israel is the only country in the world where more than 2% of the population is Jewish.

The overestimates came even as majorities or near-majorities in every country CNN polled said they were not aware of ever having met a Jewish person. Two-thirds of Germans, Austrians and Poles said they didn’t think they had ever socialized with a Jew, while about half of people in Britain, France, Hungary and Austria said the same.

ComRes interviewed 7,092 adults online in seven countries between September 7 and September 20 2018 (Great Britain, 1010; France, 1006; Germany, 1012; Poland, 1020; Hungary, 1019; Sweden 1018; Austria, 1007). Data was weighted to be representative of each country based on age, gender and region.