The EU and US agreed on Wednesday to "launch immediately a process of discussion" over the tarrifs on steel and aluminium US president Donald Trump had threatened to impose from Friday (23 March). EU commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmstrom and US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said they want to "identify mutually acceptable outcomes as rapidly as possible." The issue will be discussed by EU leaders at a summit on Thursday.
A proposal by the European Commission will be discussed on Thursday night at the EU summit, with member states divided over the principle of taxing tech companies - amidst ongoing concerns of a trade war with the US.
The EU-Turkey deal was agreed two years ago in Brussels. Focus has largely been on reducing migrant flows across the Mediterranean and helping Syrian refugees in Turkey, while the plight of those on the Greek islands are ignored.
Jordi Sanchez, the leader of the separatist movement the Catalan National Assembly (ANC), will not be candidate to become president of Catalonia's regional government, the region's parliament speaker Roger Torrent said on Wednesday. Sanchez, who has been in prison since October on charges of sedition, was the candidate put forward by Junts per Catalunya, the party of former Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont, who is in exile in Belgium.
The European Commission approved on Wednesday a merger between Bayer and Monsanto, but qualified it with "the divestiture of an extensive remedy package" to avoid overlaps in seeds, pesticides and data-based digital agriculture. Competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager said that the package, agreed in principle by the German and US multinationals, was "worth well over €6bn" and would meet her "competition concerns in full".
Poland has filed its response to EU objections to its judicial reforms, but European ministers did not take kindly to its previous paper on the affair.
US authorities have arrested the chair of the Maltese-registered Pilatus Bank for tax evasion. The bank facilitated political corruption in Malta but its whistleblower is now facing jail in Malta and fears for her life.
A hard Brexit would increase the cost of living in Ireland by 2 to 3.1 percent, or €892-€1,360 per household, a study from the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) showed. Costs would affect lower-income households most. Following a hard Brexit, prices of bread and cereals could rise by up to 30 percent, while milk, cheese and eggs prices could increase by 46 percent.
Finland is hosting secretive talks between North Korea, South Korea and the United States, each represented by six delegates, at Koenigstedt Manor in Vantaa, close to Helsinki, reported Finnish public broadcaster Yle. Finland's role in the talks is limited, according to President Sauli Niinistoe. "There was a desire to come to Finland. We are happy to host and we hope that discussions will move things forward," he said.
The EU Commission will present plans on Wednesday for hitting digital companies such as Google and Facebook, who reap significant revenues in Europe while paying little tax, with a tax of around three percent. It would apply to companies with taxable revenues above €50m on services offered in the EU. Unanimous approval from all 28 EU countries is required, meaning one dissenting country, for example Ireland, could block it.
German MEP Udo Bullmann was on Tuesday evening elected the new president of the S&D group in the European Parliament, following Gianni Pittella, who gave up his seat in the parliament when elected a member of the Italian senate in March. The 61-year old university lecturer has been a member of the European Parliament since 1999 and will be heading the assembly's second largest political group, with 188 members.
The German Federal Employment Agency paid in 2017 around €343 million in child benefits into accounts abroad, according to newspaper reports citing figures provided at request of the AfD parliamentary group. Child benefit payments abroad have increased almost tenfold since 2010, when €35.8m was paid, the figures showed. Most children lived in Poland (103,000), Croatia (17,000) and Romania (17,000). Some 34,000 German children living abroad also received the benefits.
Sylvi Listhaug resigned on Tuesday as Norway's justice minister over a Facebook post, saving the government lead by Erna Solberg from collapse. Listhaug represented the anti-immigration Progress Party, which is part of Norway's tripartite coalition government. A fresh Kantar TNS survey showed her party almost doubled support in the past month, from 9.8 percent to 20.6 percent, while 77 percent found stepping down was the right thing to do.
Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy was Tuesday taken into police custody for questioning over allegations that he received funding from the late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi for his 2007 presidential campaign. French investigative newspaper Mediapart reported in November 2016 how three suitcases stuffed with €5m in notes had been handed over to Sarkozy and Claude Gueant, his chief of staff. Sarkozy has denied wrongdoing in the case.
EU foreign ministers had "exchange of ideas" on new Russia sanctions in the margins of Monday's meeting, Lithuania's Linas Linkevicius told EUobserver
European Council president Donald Tusk said on Tuesday that he needs "a couple more hours" to consult with member states about Monday's EU-UK agreement on parts of the Brexit deal. A top EU official said that he was "quite optimistic" that after the agreement, EU leaders will adopt "unanimously" on Friday the guidelines for the next negotiation, over the future relationship between the EU and the UK.
The EU must "prepare for all possible scenarios" in the dispute with the US over tariffs on steel and aluminium, European Council president Donald Tusk said in a letter to EU leaders ahead of their summit this week, where the issue will be discussed. He added that the EU should "continue to engage with the US in order to strengthen the transatlantic economic relationship, not weaken it. Despite seasonal turbulences."
The next European elections will be held on 23-26 May 2019, EU member states agreed on Tuesday after the dates were proposed by the European Parliament. The vote will take place between a Thursday and a Sunday, according to national traditions. The dates will be definitively approved in June.
EU agriculture ministers agreed a process on Monday (19 March) to determine their common candidate for the post of director-general at the United Nation's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). Member states are invited to put forward their candidate before 2 May. The single EU candidate will then be selected in the margins of a ministerial agriculture meeting in June. In the past, multiple Europeans ran against each other.
Washington would still like to block a planned gas pipeline between Russia and Germany but is not yet considering hitting companies involved in the project.