EU Publishes 585-Page Draft Brexit Deal


The European Union and the British government jointly published Wednesday the detailed draft of their Brexit divorce deal that must be agreed by EU leaders and the London parliament.

The 585-page agreement and a shorter political statement on ambitions for a future relationship beyond Brexit were released after Prime Minister Theresa May’s cabinet endorsed the deal.

European Leaders Agree To Defence Cooperation

European Leaders Agree To Defence Cooperation
European Union’s President Donald Tusk

European leaders meeting in Brussels gave their backing to increased defence cooperation on Thursday as Britain, a long-time opponent of the move, prepared its exit from the bloc.

Speaking at a news conference after a first meeting of the leaders, President of the European Council, Donald Tusk told journalists that the development was “historic”.

Quizzed about an earlier reference to John Lennon’s “Imagine”, Tusk said he refused to see a possible reversal of Britain’s decision to leave the EU as an illusion.

“If you had my experience from my part of Europe, you’d know that miracles do happen and some of my political dreams have come true and this is maybe the best part of politics that everything, in fact, is possible,” he said.

The head of the EU executive Jean-Claude Juncker also said that a joint fund for research and development would help iron out inefficiencies in European defence spending.


Dutch Town Riots Over Asylum Centre Plan

AsylumDutch police on Wednesday fired warning shots in an effort to disperse a crowd, as a protest against plans to house asylum-seekers in a small town turned into a riot.

Protesters in Geldermalsen tore down fences and threw fireworks at police who responded with warning shots but no serious injuries were reported.

Chanting slogans against the proposed centre for asylum-seekers, around 2,000 people joined the protest in a town of 27,000, according to national broadcaster, NOS.

The Police in Geldermalsen, near Utrecht, said via their official Twitter account that they had “so far made numerous arrests, it’s is not clear yet how many”.

A meeting in the Dutch town to discuss whether to build the new centre for migrants had to be abandoned. It was evacuated by policemen as rioters sought to force their way into the building.

The incident was the biggest display of anti-migrant sentiment in the Netherlands since hooligans attacked a Syrian refugee centre in October.

Deputy Justice Minister Klaas Dijkhoff, who oversees immigration and asylum policy, called the incident in Geldermalsen “un-Dutch.”

He said that the protesters had crossed a line. “Finding shelter for asylum seekers poses difficult questions but there is a limit when it comes to expressing your opinion,” he said on Dutch TV.

“The line is crossed when you barge in yelling and rioting. That’s not appropriate in a discussion and, thankfully, we have seen that it went much quieter in other places and a solution was found. This is not ok.”

European countries are struggling to cope with the largest movement of migrants since World War Two, many of them Syrians who have come via Turkey, Greece and the Balkans.

The migration crisis is expected to dominate a meeting of EU leaders on Thursday.

Migrant Crisis: EU Leaders Meet With Focus On Turkey

migrants-euAs thousands seeking greener pastures continue to flock to Europe, The European Union (EU) leaders will meet in Brussels to discuss measures to ease the region’s migration crisis, with Turkey being the focus of their efforts.

Nearly 600,000 migrants have reached the EU by sea so far in 2015, and Turkey is hosting some two million migrants, most of them fleeing the war in neighboring Syria.

Ahead of the summit, German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, stressed the need for a joint EU effort to tackle the crisis, saying that Turkey played a ‘key role’.

The 28 EU leaders meeting in Brussels are hoping the Turkish government will sign up to a joint action plan that includes greater financial and procedural support for Turkey to deal with migrants and combating people smuggling.

EU Leaders Agree To Relocate 40,000 Migrants

eu on migrantsEuropean Union (EU) leaders have agreed to relocate tens of thousands of migrants who have arrived in Italy and Greece.

At a late-night meeting in Brussels, the summit Chairman, Donald Tusk, said 40,000 migrants will be relocated to other EU states over the next two years.

However, there will be no mandatory quotas for each country.

New figures from the United Nations (UN) refugee agency, UNHCR, show that 63,000 migrants have arrived in Greece by sea this year and 62,000 in Italy.

The summit Chairman had earlier called on EU member states to share the burden of the loads of illegal migrants who have crossed the Mediterranean.

Media reports says that leaders have agreed to resettle another 20,000 refugees who are currently outside the EU.

It is also reported that French President, Francois Hollande, said he expected most of the refugees to be Syrians and Iraqis.

Meanwhile, details of where the refugees will go is yet to be decided.

Ukraine Crisis: EU Leaders Set For Putin Talks

ukraineFrench President, Francois Hollande and German Chancellor, Angela Merkel announced a new peace plan for Ukraine on Thursday, flying to Kiev with a proposal they would then take on to Moscow.

The coordinated trip by Chancellor Angela Merkel and President Francois Hollande comes as rebels advanced on a railway hub held by Ukrainian troops after launching an offensive that scuppered a five-month-old ceasefire.

It comes as civilians in the key town of Debaltseve are being forced to hide underground as Ukrainian forces tried to hold out against rebel attacks.

Moscow is accused of arming pro-Russian separatists – a claim it denies.

Russia also rejects claims by Ukraine and the West that its regular troops are fighting alongside the rebels in the eastern Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

Clashes had left nearly 5,400 people dead since April.

Ukraine is also set to dominate an annual multilateral security conference in Munich and meetings between US Vice-President, Joe Biden and top EU officials in Brussels.

The importance of reaching a deal was demonstrated by a dramatic collapse in Ukraine’s hryvnia currency, which lost nearly a third of its value after the central bank halted daily auctions at which it sold hard currency to banks.

Moscow said it hoped talks with Merkel and Hollande would be “constructive”.

German government sources said the key problem for resuming peace talks was that the current front line no longer tallies with what was agreed at talks in Minsk, Belarus in 2014.

For talks to begin anew, Kiev would have to accept that the separatists now control several hundred square kilometers more than agreed in Minsk without Kiev having to give up its claim to these areas as part of the Ukrainian state.

In the end, the goal of the peace process should be the restoration of Ukraine’s territorial integrity.

Ukrainian Prime Minister, Arseny Yatseniuk, said that Kiev would not consider any peace plan that casts doubt on the nation’s territorial integrity, sovereignty or independence.

The Franco-German plan looks like an eleventh-hour bid to halt the escalation of the conflict ahead of diplomatic deadlines likely to make east-west confrontation even worse.

Peace talks collapsed on Saturday in Belarus and EU leaders are expected to consider new sanctions against Moscow next week.

Holland and Merkel met President Petro Poroshenko in Kiev on Thursday and were expected to go to Moscow to see Russia’s Vladimir Putin on Friday.
Poroshenko said the talks “gave hope that there will be a result in a ceasefire”.

Ukraine Extends Ceasefire For East

Petro-PoroshenkoThe President of Ukraine, Petro Poroshenko, has extended a week long ceasefire with pro-Russian separatists in the East for another three days.

Some rebel leaders in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions have said they would observe the truce, but others rejected it.

Mr Poroshenko’s announcement came hours after he had signed a landmark EU trade pact on the issue that has been triggering the recent crisis.

The ceasefire extension had been undertaken, it said, in line with a deadline set by EU leaders for Ukrainian rebels to agree to ceasefire verification arrangements, return border checkpoints to Kiev authorities and free hostages including detained monitors of the OSCE rights and security watchdog.

Poroshenko and national security chiefs have also said that during the 72 hours, recruitment centers for Russian fighters across the border in Russia should be closed.

Movements of rebel forces around the east and the setting-up of rebel checkpoints or barricades should also cease.

Ukrainian government forces would have the right to end the ceasefire ahead of time in any areas where ceasefire conditions were not being implemented, the announcement said.

Meanwhile, Russia warns that Ukraine might split in two because of the consequences.