UN rights monitors said they visited horrible prisons for detained migrants
The European Union's policy of helping the Libyan authorities intercept migrants in the Mediterranean and return them to "horrific" prisons in Libya is "inhuman", the United Nations said last Tuesday. "The suffering of migrants detained in Libya is an outrage to the conscience of humanity," the UN human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein stressed. He warned that the situation in the chaos-ridden country has turned catastrophic. UN rights monitors this month have visited four facilities in Tripoli operated by Libya's Department of Combatting Illegal Migration. The monitors were shocked at the sight of "thousands of emaciated and traumatized men, women and children piled on top of each other, locked up in hangars with no access to the most basic necessities." Those detained are exposed to torture, rape and forced labour without possibility to challenge the legality of their detention, and no access to legal aid, a UN statement noted.
After Paradise Papers MEPs urged for shifting paradigm
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Tax dodging should be stopped, paradigm shifted, while proper sanctions and tax justice should be introduced, said MEPs who debated with the Council and Commission on the Paradise Papers in the plenary on Tuesday, 14 November. The next in a row scandal was revealed again thanks to media investigations carried out by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists.
 
Joint military investment and cooperation to help Member States confront security challenges
European Union countries have officially launched a new era in defence cooperation with a programme of joint military investment and project development to help the EU confront its security challenges. France, Germany and 20 other EU governments of the EU's 28 Member States signed up on 13 November to the programme, known as permanent structured cooperation, or PESCO.
 
Brexit next stage talks set for delay
Brexit talks are unlikely to move onto the future relationship before 2018, according to prominent German MEP and chair of the centre-right European People's party Manfred Weber. “In December, it doesn't look like negotiations are going to move onto the second phase to talk about the future,” he told journalists dealing a blow to British PM Theresa May and Brexit Secretary David Davis hopes.
Mandate for re-negotiating Dublin rules endorsed
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Discarding the criteria of the first country of entry, MEPs endorsed on 16 November at their plenary session in Strasbourg the EP mandate to enter into negotiations with national governments on the Dublin asylum revamping.
Tackling fake news malaise
Maria Koleva, Brussels
Until 23 February next year, citizens, social media platforms, press organisations, academia, public authorities, fact-checkers, and NGOs can have their say on the fake news and online disinformation. EU Commissioner Mariya Gabriel, responsible for digital economy and society, chose precisely the opening of the Multi-stakeholder conference on fake news in Brussels that the Commission organised on 13 and 14 November, to announce the kick-off of a public consultation on fake news and set up of a High-Level Expert Group.
EP backs trust fund for Eastern partners
For the Eastern Partnership (EaP) Summit, to be held in Brussels on 24 November, MEPs recommended last week the setting up of a trust fund for Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova, which could focus on private and public investments in social and economic infrastructure.
Doing less but more efficiently
Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker established last Tuesday a new task force aimed at making recommendations on how to better apply the principles of subsidiarity and proportionality, and identifying policy areas where work could be re-delegated or definitely returned to Member States.
Parliament beefs up protection against online fraudsters
EU-wide rules to better protect consumers against scams and detect and stop rogue traders more swiftly were approved by MEPs on 14 November.
Romanian ruling party leader indicted for misuse of EU funds
Following OLAF investigation, the Romanian National Anticorruption Directorate (DNA) has indicted Liviu Dragnea (pictured), leader of the ruling Social Democratic party, on suspicion that he misused EU funds, news wires reported.
Slovenia's president wins second consecutive term
Slovenian voters decided to stick to status quo and last Sunday re-elected at a runoff incumbent president Borut Pahor for a new five-year term.
Spain worries about Catalan separatist crisis meddling
Spain told a meeting of EU foreign and defence ministers last Monday it suspected "disinformation and manipulation" was emanating from Russia during the Catalan independence crisis, news wires reported.
Europe-wide air quality online index launched
An online index with air quality measurements from more than 2,000 monitoring stations across Europe was launched last Thursday with the aim to provide citizens with detailed information about what they actually breathe.
If you don't pay, you are not client, but product
One of the panellists at the Multi-stakeholder conference on fake news in Brussels was Vincent F. Hendricks, Director of the Centre for Information and Bubble Studies and professor of philosophy in the University of Copenhagen.
In Brief
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EU, China start dialogue on anti-dumping measures
 
The EU and China initiated last Thursday in Beijing a discussion on anti-dumping issues, as part of a dialogue agreed in June 2017 about cooperation on competition matters. “It is in our mutual interest to work together to promote fair global competition,” Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said. The meeting came a day after the Parliament adopted new anti-dumping rules aimed namely at fighting China's trade dumping. The new rules will require trade partners outside the EU to meet international social and environmental standards. The aim is to step up protection for EU jobs and businesses.

MEPs vote to punish Poland for breaking rule of law
 
Parliament plenary voted last Wednesday to trigger the first phase of Article 7 procedures against Poland over rule of law concerns. The resolution, supported by 438 MEPs and opposed by 152, called on the Civil Liberties Committee to compile a report on Poland to be voted in plenary later. In a statement, the Polish Foreign Ministry called the resolution “a one-sided document that is based on political assessments, while making too little use of in-depth legal analysis.” “Passages are very judgemental, and contain a number of sweeping statements,” it pointed out, adding that “the resolution should be regarded as an instrument for exerting political pressure on Poland.”

Greece offers bond swap to gain financial freedom
 
The Greek government offered last Wed­nesday to convert 20 Greek bonds worth €30bn into five new bonds in a move to regain more financial freedom and become more attractive for investors. The initial bonds were issued after a 2012 restructuring of Greek debt that forced private investors to take significant losses. The swap must be approved by all existing bondholders before 28 November to go ahead. Separately, Greek PM Alexis Tsipras announced plans to distribute some €1.4bn to people suffering from the austerity measures. He pointed out the money was made available after Greece surpassed its primary surplus in the 2017 bailout target.

Association agreement with Chile to be modernised
 
A first round of talks between the EU and Chile to modernise their Association Agree­ment took place last Thursday with the aim to update the 14-year-old accord and bring its political ambitions and trade provisions into line with the EU's modern agreements. A second round will take place in early 2018. “Chile is our longest-standing trade partner in Latin America and a key ally for us. Our existing agreement has increased trade flows between us substantially. But in order to address today's full range of political and global challenges, we need a new, modern agreement in place,” Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said.

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