EU Tries to Ease German, Italian Concerns Over Migration

European Union leaders will try to reassure Germany and Italy over migration at a summit next week as a stand-off in Berlin threatens Chancellor Angela Merkel’s ruling coalition.

The EU could take steps to stop asylum seekers moving on from the country in which they are registered and start deciding asylum requests at centers to be established beyond EU borders in the future, according to a draft summit statement.

The proposed steps come ahead of the June 28-29 summit in Brussels at which EU leaders will attempt to agree on a joint migration policy three years after more than 1 million people arrived in Europe, causing a crisis for the union.

Their joint draft statement is not public and its wording might change. But it showed the bloc is trying to accommodate a new, anti-establishment government in Italy, as well as Berlin where Merkel’s coalition partner issued an ultimatum for an EU-wide deal on migration.

If the summit fails to reach a satisfactory outcome, Berlin would issue a unilateral ban on refugees already registered in other EU states from entering the country, said the junior governing Christian Social Union that has the interior ministry.

German police data suggest any such ban would only affect several hundred people a month and hence have no big impact on the overall number of refugees in Germany.

The EU border agency Frontex said more than 90 percent of current arrivals in Italy, Greece and Spain register for asylum there. Many still often go north, including to Germany. This “secondary movement” violates EU law but has been widespread.

“Member States should take all necessary internal legislative … to counter such movements,” the text said in an indirect response to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer.

Merkel opposes the proposal that comes from a party facing a tough vote in its home base in Bavaria in October against a resurgent far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD), which has advocated harsh anti-immigration line.

The AfD on Tuesday accused the CSU of copying its ideas on how to deal with the migrant crisis.

French President Emmanuel Macron and Merkel called in a joint statement on Tuesday for a European solution on migration and said secondary movement must be tackled.

Immigration low, tensions high

The EU is bitterly divided over migration. It has struggled to reform its internal asylum rules, which broke down in 2015, and has instead tried to tighten its borders and prevent new arrivals. To that end, it has given aid and money to countries including Turkey, Jordan, Libya and Niger.

Next week, EU leaders will also agree to look into opening “disembarkation platforms” in regions such as north Africa to decide asylum requests before people get to Europe.

European capitals from Rome to Budapest advocate such centres but concerns that processing people outside EU borders could violate the law have long blocked any such initiative.

“Such platforms should provide for rapid processing to distinguish between economic migrants and those in need of international protection, and reduce the incentive to embark on perilous journeys,” the draft statement said.

Italy closed its ports to rescue ships and said it prefers Frontex to work in Africa to prevent people from coming rather than patrol the Mediterranean and rescue those in distressed boats.

Tripoli already runs migrant camps in Libya where the EU pays the U.N. migration and refugee agencies to help resettle people to Europe legally or deport them to other African countries.

But reform of EU internal asylum rules is stuck. Southern and wealthy central states demand that all EU members host some new arrivals but eastern states refuse leading to a stalemate.

In evidence of that division, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said on Tuesday the CSU demand for internal border checks is unacceptable.

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said it would be “very difficult to reach a solution” on hosting asylum seekers next week. There is, however, agreement on strengthening external borders and bringing together the border protection databases.

“So much progress has been made, we can’t let all slip away now. So we need to give key countries something to keep them on board,” one EU official said of the proposed text.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Russia to Slam Retaliatory Tariffs on US Imports

Russia has announced retaliatory measures in response to the U.S. move to impose tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.

Economic Development Minister Maxim Oreshkin said a statement on Tuesday Moscow has decided to apply retaliatory measures in line with the World Trade Organization’s rules to compensate for damage incurred by the U.S. tariffs.

Oreshkin said that additional tariffs will be applied to a range of U.S. imports, but he declined to immediately name them. He added that the tariffs will be applied to the U.S. goods that have domestic equivalents to avoid hurting the national economy.

The European Union, India, China and Russia all have applied to the WTO to challenge the tariffs that took effect March 23. Washington argued they were for national security reasons.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Italian Interior Minister Plans to Expel Non-Citizen Ethnic Roma

Italy’s far-right anti-immigrant interior minister, Matteo Salvini, has announced plans to count the ethnic Roma community living in the country and deport those without Italian nationality.

Salvini, who also serves as deputy prime minister and leads the Northern League party, said he has ordered a new census aimed at expelling non-Italian Roma. But reaction to his idea came from all sides.

Salvini has been very clear about not wanting anyone who is illegal on Italian soil. He set off a storm of controversy in Europe last week when he refused to let a charity ship carrying more than 600 mainly African migrants dock in Italy.

He said his ministry is looking at what he called “the Roma question” and wanted to see “who, and how many” there were. He was particularly clear that he did not want what he described as “these criminals” to be kept in Italian prisons and was looking at ways to deport them.

He said an agreement is needed with the countries that must take them back, like Romania, Albania and Tunisia. He claimed that they are the countries of origin from which criminals in Italian prisons are most numerous and added that Italy would “unfortunately” have to keep Roma found to have Italian nationality.

The policy was met with resistance by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, who was quoted in Italian press reports as saying Salvini had gone “too far.” The leader of the anti-establishment M5S, Luigi Di Maio, called Salvini’s order “unconstitutional.”

Anna Maria Bernini, of the center-right Forza Italia party, said the government should guarantee the respect of the law without discrimination.

The leader of the right-wing Brothers of Italy party, Giorgia Meloni, said a census of the Roma was “OK” — obviously a first step. But the problem is much wider, she added, and requires strong decisions.

The center-left Democratic Party (PD) was highly critical of Salvini, saying his call revived memories of “ethnic cleansing.”

Acting party secretary Maurizio Martina said nationalist and sovereignty positions like these are the worst and provide no real solutions to an enormous historical issue.

Salvini subsequently explained that the government had no intention of setting up a separate archive for Roma. He said he wanted to protect Roma children whose parents bar them from going to local schools and instead  instigate them to criminality.

Tens of thousands of Roma live across Italy, many in squalid shantytowns on the outskirts of major cities. According to an Italian national statistics report in 2017, there were believed to be up to 180,000 Roma in the country, with 40 percent under age 14. About half were believed to be Italian citizens.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Right-Wing Italian Interior Minister Wants to Look into ‘Roma Question’

Italy’s new right-wing interior minister Matteo Salvini said his department has to look into “the Roma question” in Italy — a comment the opposition said reminds them of Italian fascism.

Salvini said Monday he wants to take a census of Italy’s Roma population.

“Unfortunately, we will have to keep the Italian Roma because we can’t expel them,” Salvini told Telelombardia television.

Center-left politicians immediately jumped on Salvini’s comments, likening it to ethnic cleansing.

“You can work for security and respect for rules without becoming fascistic,” lawmaker Ettore Rosato tweeted. “The announced census of Roma is vulgar and demagogical.”

But Salvini said he wants to help the Roma, an itinerant ethnic group. He said he wants to know who they are and where they live, and protect Roma children, whose parents he said did not want them to integrate into society.

“We are aiming primarily to care for the children who aren’t allowed to go to school regularly because they prefer to introduce them to a life of crime,” he said.

The interior minister said he has no desire to take fingerprints of the Roma or keep index cards of individuals. He also said he wants to see how European Union funds earmarked to help the Roma are spent.

Many Roma live in camps on the outskirts of Italian cities. They complain of lifelong discrimination, being denied job and educational opportunities.

But officials say many Roma are responsible for petty crimes, such as pickpocketing and theft.

Salvini’s comments about the Roma came a week after Italy refused to let a shipload of migrants dock at an Italian port. Spain gave permission for the ship to dock in its country Sunday.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

France’s Macron Sets Out Corporate Law Shake-up in Reform Bill

France’s finance minister promised to cut red tape on companies, open up more financing for them and create incentives for employee profit-sharing under a new bill presented on Monday.

The proposed law is part of President Emmanuel Macron’s pro-business reform drive that has already eased labour laws and cut companies’ and entrepreneurs’ taxes.

“The law’s ultimate objective is more growth and the creation of a new French economic growth model,” Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told reporters.

Le Maire said that by 2025 the overhaul of French corporate law was expected to boost overall gross domestic product by one percent over the long term.

The new law aims to address one long-standing complaint from business owners about a complex system that imposes new charges in multiple stages as companies increase their workforce.

The bill would simplify the system, Le Maire said, by halving the number of those stages to three — bringing in new charges and obligations when a company has 11, 50 and then 250 employees.

It would also make it easier, cheaper and faster to register a company, giving entrepreneurs a single online platform to replace the current round of seven administrative bodies.

Liquidation of insolvent companies will be sped up so business owners can move on and bankruptcy law will give more power to creditors who have a stake in seeing the firm survive, the minister added.

The government aims to boost the more than 220 billion euros French people currently hold in long-term retirement savings, which it hopes will make more funds available to be invested in companies’ capital.

To do that, employees’ voluntary contributions will largely be made tax-deductible for all types of savings products and they will be able to transfer savings from one money manager to another at no cost, potentially boosting competition, according to a statement on the bill.

The government aims to make profit-sharing much more common in small companies by scrapping charges employers currently have to make on payouts to employees.

Largely because of that measure, the new law is expected to cost the government 1.2 billion euros annually, which Le Maire said would be paid for by planned cuts in subsidies to companies.

The law also sets the stage for several large privatizations with the proceeds already earmarked for a new 10 billion euro innovation fund.

It will in particular lift legal restraints on selling down stakes in airport operator ADP and energy group Engie while allowing the national lottery FDA to be privatized.

While some left-wing and far-right politicians have said the sales amounted to selling the family jewels, Macron’s party has a sufficiently large parliamentary majority to pass the bill with little trouble early next year.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Spain’s Government to Remove Franco’s Remains from Mausoleum

The remains of fascist dictator Francisco Franco could soon be removed from a state-funded mausoleum under a plan by Spain’s new socialist government to transform the monument into a place to remember the civil war rather than glorify the dictatorship.

This would be the latest of a raft of high-profile measures launched by Spain’s new Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez to cement his power and lure left-wing voters ahead of a general election due by mid-2020.

Sanchez, who toppled his conservative predecessor Mariano Rajoy in a confidence vote last month, controls less than a quarter of the seats in parliament.

“The decision about exhuming Franco’s remains is quite clear,” Oscar Puente, a senior member of the socialist party who is close to Sanchez, told a news conference.

The civil war still casts a shadow over the country nearly eight decades after its end. Lack of accountability for the war has left wounds unhealed, and pressure has grown to turn the site into a memorial honoring those who died on both sides.

Puente said the government’s plans were to transform the state-funded Valley of the Fallen mausoleum into “a place of recognition and memory of all Spaniards.”

The 150-meter cross of the monument, built by prisoners of war, towers over the Guadarrama Sierra, a mountain range just outside Madrid.

Opened by Franco himself in 1959, the Valley houses a Catholic basilica set into a hillside, where the founder of Spain’s fascist Falange party, Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera, is also interred. It has long been a site of pilgrimage for far-right groups in Spain.

The conservative People’s Party has opposed attempts to exhume Franco’s body when they were in power, saying it would only stir up painful memories more than four decades after his death and nearly 80 years after the end of the war.

The Spanish parliament, however, passed a motion last year to remove Franco’s remains as well as those of tens of thousands of other people buried at the mausoleum.

Many of those interred there fought for the losing Republican side and were moved to the monument under Franco’s dictatorship without their families’ permission.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Mexico Euphoric Over Germany World Cup Defeat

Thousands of exuberant Mexican soccer fans took to the streets Sunday to cheer their national team’s long-shot win against Germany in Mexico’s first match of the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament.

 

The 1-0 stunner, with Hirving Lozano scoring the winning goal, has given Mexicans hope that their team might win the tournament for the first time ever. Mexico has competed in the FIFA World Cup since the sporting event kicked off in 1930. The highest it has ever advanced is to the quarter-finals, placing sixth in both 1986 and 1970.

 

Lozano’s goal set off such a commotion that seismic detectors in Mexico City registered a false earthquake, which the geological institute said may have been generated by “massive jumps” across the city. Spectators who had gathered to watch the match on a big TV screen in the central Zocalo square screamed with joy after the score.

 

After the match, throngs of fans dressed in green converged around the iconic Angel of Independence monument, bouncing with joy and waving the Mexican flag. Small groups chanted “Mexico” and “Yes we could!” Some broke into song, including the traditional Cielito Lindo tune best known for its “Ay, Ay, Ay, Ay” chorus. Car horns blared, whistles were blown and drums beat for hours after the match.

 

“We aspire to win a World Cup this time,” said Miguel Paez, a 31-year-old who donned a Mexican wrestling mask in the colors of the national flag as he celebrated on Mexico City’s main avenue, Paseo de la Reforma.

 

Paez described the game as a welcome distraction from Mexico’s upcoming July 1 presidential election. “Mexico needs a break. Mexico needs to shout,” he said, jumping up and down.

 

Some Twitter commentators and fans were quick to draw parallels between the Mexican team’s long odds ahead of the Germany match and the big lead in surveys enjoyed by leftist presidential candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, or AMLO.

 

“AMLO can be beat. The surveys are based on few people,” said Jose Antonio Bohon, a 51-year-old national team supporter on his way to the Angel.

 

The win has also helped Mexican fans move beyond the team’s recent indiscretions.

 

The Mexican squad entered the 2018 tournament under a cloud of scandal. The problems began last year when the US Treasury Department accused team captain Rafael Marquez of being a front man for a drug kingpin. The accusation cost Marquez sponsorships and called into question whether he would play in the tournament. Marquez took to the field toward the end of Sunday’s match against Germany, notching his fifth appearance in a World Cup.

 

Also, earlier in June, gossip magazine TVNotas reported that nine members of the Mexican squad indulged in an all-night party with 30 female escorts following their farewell match against Scotland in Mexico City. Commentators worried that family tensions could distract the players from their goal of winning World Cup matches.

 

“They’ve always done things like that,” 53-year-old fan Magdalena Martinez said Sunday of the partying Mexican players. “It wasn’t my boyfriend or my husband, so as long as they continue to play well, who cares.”

 

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Turkish Presidential Candidate Gives Jail Cell TV Speech

A Turkish presidential candidate made his campaign speech Sunday from jail.

Selahattin Demirtas of the pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party spoke on television from his cell in western Turkey.

Turkish law grants all presidential candidates 20 minutes of television time.

Demirtas said he was illegally jailed 20 months ago, not because of any crime but because the Turkish government “fears” him.

He warned voters against casting a ballot for President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to prevent a “one-man regime.”

He said under the new Turkish law, no government institution would be able to oversee Erdogan or limit his rule.

Demirtas told viewers that voting for him and the People’s Democratic Party for parliament would be a vote for peace.

Demirtas was arrested on allegations of being a threat to national security. His party is accused of having ties to Kurdish rebels, whom the government regards as terrorists. The party disputes the charge and Demirtas says he will be acquitted.

Turkey is holding early presidential and parliamentary elections on June 24. Voters approved a referendum changing the constitution to scrap the office of prime minister and granting the president executive powers.

 

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Trump Lawyer’s Advice to President: Don’t Pardon Russia Probe Figures

One of U.S. President Donald Trump’s lawyers said Sunday he is advising him to not pardon anyone linked to the year-long investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election because it would “just cloud” the perception that there was wrong-doing.  

Rudy Giuliani, a former New York mayor and part of Trump’s legal team, told CNN, “You’re not going to get a pardon because you’re involved” in the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller. But he said that in the months to come pardons were “certainly not excluded” if Trump concluded “you’ve been treated unfairly.”

“The president has issued no pardons in this investigation,” Giuliani said. “The president is not going to issue pardons in this investigation.”

“And my advice to him, as long as I’m his lawyer, is not to do it,” he said. “Because you just cloud what is becoming now a very clear picture of an extremely unfair investigation with no criminality involved of any kind. I want that to come out loud and clear and not get clouded by anybody being fired or anybody being pardoned.”

Trump has pardoned several conservative icons in recent weeks, but Giuliani said no one being investigated by Mueller “should rely on it.”

Even so, he said, “When it’s over, hey, he’s the president of the United States. He retains his pardon power. Nobody’s taking that away from him. He can pardon in his judgment based on the Justice Department, counsel’s office, not me. I’m out of it. And I shouldn’t be involved in that process because I’m probably too rooted in his defense, but I couldn’t and I don’t want to take prerogatives away from him.“

Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort was jailed last week, prompting new questions whether Trump might pardon him. Manafort is accused of witness tampering in a criminal case that stems from his lobbying efforts for Ukraine years before he was a top Trump aide for nearly five months during the 2016 campaign.

Trump attacked Manafort’s jailing, saying on Twitter, “Wow, what a tough sentence for Paul Manafort …. Didn’t know Manafort was the head of the Mob…. Very unfair!”

There is no indication when Mueller’s investigation might end. He is probing whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian interests to help him win and whether Trump obstructed justice by firing former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey when he was leading the agency’s Russia investigation before Mueller, over Trump’s objections, was appointed to take over the probe.

In a new broadside against the investigation, Trump tweeted, “WITCH HUNT! There was no Russian Collusion. Oh, I see, there was no Russian Collusion, so now they look for obstruction on the no Russian Collusion. The phony Russian Collusion was a made up Hoax. Too bad they didn’t look at Crooked Hillary like this. Double Standard!” His reference to “Crooked Hillary” is his oft-repeated pejorative for his 2016 challenger, Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Giuliani called for investigation of the origins of the Mueller investigation, contending it was “premised on Comey’s illegally leaked memo” about the FBI’s director’s private conversations with Trump.

“There’s a lot of unfairness out there, but we don’t know the scope of it,” Giuliani said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.

Merkel’s Coalition Government Teeters as Migration Disputes Fray EU

A deep rift over migration policy between Angela Merkel and a rebellious interior minister is threatening to upend the German chancellor’s fragile governing alliance formed earlier this year after weeks of laborious talks.

The German chancellor’s 13-year rule will be on the line in the event Horst Seehofer, a member of the Bavaria-based Christian Social Union, a junior partner in the coalition government, defies Merkel by ordering border guards to turn back migrants arriving Monday at German borders.

Neither the chancellor nor minister appeared Sunday to be in any mood to compromise. Seehofer blamed the chancellor in remarks to German newspapers for the crisis, saying it is a consequence of her 2015 decision to adopt an “open border” policy that has allowed more than a million migrants and refugees to enter Germany.

CSU’s top official in Bavaria, Markus Soder, tweeted: “We must finally secure our borders effectively. This, of course, includes rejection. Asylum tourism must be terminated.”

Analysts say Merkel would likely have no choice but to fire Seehofer for his open revolt against her if he goes ahead with his threat to shutter the border for migrants, collapsing the coalition as a consequence and triggering likely elections.

Merkel fears an abrupt shutting out of asylum-seekers by Germany will prompt other EU countries to follow suit, imperiling an orderly negotiated EU-wide deal. The stakes are high not only for her, but also for the bloc as it searches to craft a migration policy all its fractious states can agree to, and for the CSU, which faces elections in October in its home region of Bavaria and fears the rising support for the far-right AfD party.

In her weekly podcast, Merkel acknowledged the need for changes, but said, “This is a European challenge that also needs a European solution. And I view this issue as decisive for keeping Europe together.”

At the moment the member states are anything but united over migration, and in the words of British commentator and historian Niall Ferguson, the EU melting pot is at risk of melting down.

The German crisis is playing against the backdrop of drama in the Mediterranean, where Rome is refusing to allow NGO ships carrying migrants rescued at sea to dock at Italian ports. It comes as the nationalist populist-led governments of Italy, Austria and Hungary are negotiating what they are terming an “axis of the willing,” an alliance of anti-migration member states that will adopt a hard collective line on asylum-seekers in order to provoke a confrontation with EU leaders later this month.

In 2016, 2.4 million migrants entered the European Union, bringing the total of the foreign-born population in the bloc to nearly 40 million.

Having ridden into power on a tide of anti-migrant sentiment, populists in Central Europe have been further galvanized by Italy’s coalition government formed by Matteo Salvini’s far-right Lega and Luigi Di Maio’s Five Star Movement (M5S).

The new Italian government increased the political temperature over migration earlier this month when Interior Minister Salvini announced a ban on humanitarian rescue ships docking at Italian ports after picking up migrants in the waters off Libya. Salvini argues the rescue ships are indirectly encouraging smugglers and migrants and are in effect in league with traffickers.

On Sunday three ships, an NGO vessel and two Italian naval ships, carrying more than 600 migrants docked in the Spanish port of Valencia. They were rescued a week ago off the coast of Libya and have remained at sea while the European Union insisted Italy had a duty to admit them. The ban prompted an exchange of insults between Paris and Rome.

Speaking Friday in Paris after meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron, Italian Prime minister Giuseppe Conte said EU rules have to change with a re-writing of the Dublin Treaty that requires migrants to claim asylum in the first country they arrive.” The concept itself of the ‘state of first entry’ must be rethought,” he said. President Macron argued against any unilateral action by individual member state, saying there had to be an overall European response to migrants.

But Macron accepts change is needed, saying “the existing European response has not adapted.”

In Valencia, the Spanish Red Cross set up a reception center staffed by more than 1,000 volunteers and 400 translators.

More than 23,000 migrants have reached European shores this year, with about 42 percent arriving in Italy from Libya. Thirty-eight percent arrived in Greece from Turkey and 20 percent arrived in Spain from Morocco, according to the International Organization for Migration.

Build a better website in less than an hour. Start for free at us.