Posts Tagged ‘Emmanuel Macron’

Theresa May at European Council admits for the first time that Brexit negotiations have been in ‘difficulty’ — Angela Merkel says the UK has not done enough

October 20, 2017

PM makes urgent plea to leaders over dinner

By Jon Stone Brussels
The Independent


Theresa May has admitted for the first time that Brexit negotiations have hit “difficulty” as she beseeched European leaders to give her a deal she can sell to the British people.

The Prime Minister explicitly conceded last night that talks were in trouble ahead of her key intervention in Florence two weeks ago, prompting her to try and get negotiations back on track.

She told Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and other EU leaders that there is now the “urgent” need for progress with the threat of the UK crashing out of the EU without a deal looming.

Speaking on Thursday evening at a working dinner with other heads of government in Brussels, Ms May said that at the end of the summer she “recognised the difficulty the process was in”.

“I took stock, listened to what the people in the UK were saying, and what my friends and partners in Europe were saying, and I made a step forward,” she said.

 Image result for Theresa May ,, october 20, 2017, photos

“There is increasingly a sense that we must work together to get to an outcome we can stand behind and defend to our people,” she said, adding that when the 27 remaining member states convene tomorrow to discuss Brexit in private “the clear and urgent imperative must be that the dynamic you create enables us to move forward together”.

The PM and world leaders dined on gnocchi and pheasant supreme at the dinner, followed by fresh pineapple.

European Commission chief negotiator Michel Barnier has repeatedly said he is “worried” about “deadlock” in negotiations, but the line from the UK government has always been significantly more optimistic, stressing “concrete progress”.

The PM’s intervention comes as the European Council appears set to refuse to allow the UK to move to trade and future relationship talks – which it has said can only start once “sufficient progress” has been made on settling the divorce bill, Northern Ireland border, and EU citizens’ rights.

The 27 remaining EU leaders will meet tomorrow to discuss Brexit without Ms May, whose address to dinner was not followed by any discussion or debate.

Theresa May: No Brexit breakthrough on the cards

They are expected to tell Britain to come back in December once more progress has been made for another assessment of whether it is ready for trade talks.

Senior UK government officials also admitted that the prime minister was “working against a difficult political backdrop” at home – an apparent reference to Tory MPs who were pushing her for a no deal.

Arriving at the summit on Thursday Angela Merkel said she believed there were “encouraging” signs that sufficient progress could be made in December. Ms May said the summit was a time to take stock of the progress that had been made in talks so far.

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte however told reporters in Brussels that Ms May had to “come up with more clarity on what she means by ‘other commitments’ in her Florence speech”.

“I phoned her last week, and tried to encourage her to do that and so far she hasn‘t,” he said.

Image result for Theresa May ,, october 20, 2017, photos

The Prime Minister’s spokesperson told journalists in Brussels: “The Florence speech intended to create momentum and we achieved that. In all our talks with EU leaders they have been responsive and we hope that will continue.”

Other issues such as forest fires and migration have dominated the first day of European Council discussions, with Britain’s departure not even getting a mention in the first press conference between Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk after hours of talks.

See also:

Theresa May calls for new dynamic for Brexit deal – but Angela Merkel says it’s ‘still not enough’


The Prime Minister has played down hopes of a breakthrough in Brexit negotiations as she arrives at this week’s European Council summit.

On her way into the Justus Lipsius building in Brussels on Thursday the Prime Minister said the summit was an opportunity to “take stock” of progress in talks.

The Independent confirmed yesterday that the PM would have no opportunity for a direct dialogue with EU leaders about leaving the EU at the summit – sticking to the strict framework of negotiations.

The PM said she would be setting out “ambitious plans” for further negotiations in the weeks ahead, and said she wanted to inject a new “urgency” into discussions on the post-Brexit rights of EU citizens living in the UK and Britons on the continent.

It had previously been hoped that the UK would be judged to have made “sufficient progress” in Brexit talks at the summit, so that negotiations could move to trade and transition. The latest indications are that this next phase has been delayed until at least December, however.

The two-day European Council summit comes as Ms May spoke directly to the estimated three million European Union citizens living in Britain, to tell them that she wants them to be able to stay after Brexit and that a deal on their rights are “in touching distance”

Britain’s hopes of getting the green light for trade talks at the European Council meeting in Brussels were dash after a series of top EU figures came out against them. Chief negotiator Michel Barnier, Council President Donald Tusk, European Parliament Brexit Chief Guy Verhofstadt, and European Parliament president Antonio Tajani also said talks had not reached a mature enough stage.

But Ms May is hoping to persuade the leaders of the 27 remaining EU states to at least agree to begin discussions among themselves on the transition to Brexit and the future trade relationship. She will address them in an after-dinner speech on Thursday evening but there will be no discussion or reply from the leaders, a spokesperson for the European Council presidency confirmed.

The other 27 EU leaders will then discuss Brexit in full without Ms May on Friday – sticking to the strict protocol of only conducting negotiations within the framework agreed by the Council.

Arriving in Brussels, Ms May said: “This Council is about taking stock. It is also about looking ahead to how we can tackle the challenges that we all share across Europe.


UK leader makes surprise Brussels trip to undo Brexit logjam

October 16, 2017

OCTOBER 16, 2017 10:30 AM

Jean-Claude Juncker Promises an “Autopsy Report” After Meeting Theresa May To Discuss Brexit Monday Evening

October 16, 2017

Jean-Claude Juncker has said that there will be an “autopsy report” after his dinner with Theresa May tonight as the Prime Minister seeks to break the deadlock over Brexit negotiations

Mrs May has embarked on a diplomatic offensive ahead of a crucial meeting with European leaders later this week. She is speaking to Emmanual Macron, the French President, and Leo Varadkar, the Irish Taoiseach, before flying to Brussels this evening for dinner with Mr Juncker, the President of the European Commission.

Asked about the meeting, Mr Juncker said: “I never understood why journalists even the most eminent journalists ask for an outcome of a meeting before the meeting takes place. I will see Mrs May this evening, we will talk and you will have the autopsy report afterwards. ”

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Theresa May to appeal to Macron over Brexit transition period

Prime minister to phone French leader in hope of broadening negotiations to include talks on interim phase before leaving EU

Emmanuel Macron receives Theresa May at the Élysée Palace earlier this year.
 Emmanuel Macron receives Theresa May at the Élysée Palace earlier this year. Photograph: Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images

Theresa May is to appeal to the French president, Emmanuel Macron, to widen the Brexit negotiations to discuss a transition period, in the latest move amid a high-stakes flurry of diplomatic activity.

May is due to phone the Élysée Palace on Monday afternoon, it is understood, as the prime minister seeks to convince European leaders that talks on a transition phase should be approved at a European council summit on Friday. She will also call the Irish taoiseach, Leo Varadkar, before departing for Brussels for an early dinner with the European commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, and the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier.

Downing Street’s efforts are unlikely to be rewarded, however, unless May is willing to offer concrete guidance on how many of the UK’s financial commitments to the EU budget she is prepared to honour.

The EU leaders have concluded that insufficient progress has been made in the first phase of talks to open negotiations on the future trading relationship or discuss a transition period, a judgment they will formally deliver at the summit later this week.

The mood music ahead of the dinner with Juncker, to which the commission president’s chief of staff, Martin Selmayr, and May’s Brexit adviser, Olly Robbins, have also been invited, was soured earlier on Monday when the commission president gave a hint of his feelings about the forthcoming event. “I’m going to see Mrs May tonight. And, yes, you will have a postmortem report,” he told reporters.

It is understood that May will spend only 90 minutes in Brussels before returning to London. The last meal between the two leaders, in Downing Street, was heavily leaked to the newspapers, with Juncker allegedly describing the prime minister as “deluded”.

A senior EU source all but dismissed the prime minister’s hopes of pushing transition talks, claiming that European leaders had overruled Barnier when he suggested opening talks on a transition phase, and were in no mood to offer May any succour. “The problem is not in the commission so you will not find the solution in the commission,” he said.

The source said European capitals were insistent that phase one of the negotiations, taking in citizens rights, the financial settlement and the Irish border, needed to be settled first.

“What the British have in mind is some sort of stage one and a half. Not sufficient progress but you can start talks on negotiations on the transition,” the source said. “That is not going to happen because I think in the capitals they are very much in touch with this idea that we have a staged approached. We were very specific when it came to the guidelines what we meant by the first phase.”

The source said May was doing her best to get the best possible outcome from the EU27 meeting on Friday. The best the UK could hope for, however, was for the group to offer to scope out among themselves how a transition period would work, in the hope that Britain would have delivered concrete proposals on the financial settlement by the next European council summit in December.

In her speech in Florence, May had announced that the UK would “honour commitments we have made during the period of our membership”, without spelling out what those commitments were.

“Until the speech in Florence, the feeling in the capitals was that it was going nowhere and the no-deal scenario was the most likely one’, the source acknowledged. “Since florence Theresa May did manage to change this assumption. The message from Florence was: ‘I mean business, the UK is in the negotiating business,’ which was not so clear before.”

The source added, however, that without additional firm commitments on the financial settlement, there would be limited reward for May’s efforts.

“I have to admit they [the British] are not happy with the conclusions,” the EU official said. “They would like to go further but that will be the landing zone with the current input.”

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France: Public workers stage nationwide strike against Macron’s labor reforms — Schools, hospitals and transport will be affected

October 10, 2017

Nine public sector unions have called the one-day strike for Tuesday to protests Emmanuel Macron’s labor reforms. Schools, hospitals and transport will be affected.

Emmanuel Macron (Reuters/L.Marin)

French civil servants are to go on strike Tuesday in a bid to put pressure on President Emmanuel Macron’s cost cutting plans in the public sector.

Nine public sector unions representing more than 5 million workers called the nationwide strikes and demonstrations against Macron’s plans to cut 120,000 civil service jobs, freeze pay, alter sick leave policy and cut social employment schemes.

Read: What are French President Emmanuel Macron’s labor reforms? 

Schools, hospitals, government offices and train and air transport are all expected to be impacted by the strikes, the first in a decade joined by all public sector unions.

Thirty percent of flights across the country had been cancelled, although Air France said it would run all long-distance flights to and from Paris’ airports.

The strikes are the fourth seeking to get Macron to roll back his pro-business reform plans, which are aimed at reducing stubbornly high unemployment and kickstarting the economy.

But previous one-day strikes called last month by the CGT union and the left-wing France Unbowed party had limited impact. Those strikes failed to clinch the support of other unions, which said they were willing to negotiate with the president over labor reforms.

Under Macron’s reforms, employers may to hire and fire workers more easily, as well as set new conditions for companies to negotiate directly with employees over working conditions.

Macron saw his poll numbers drop to nearly 30 percent this summer, but have since risen slightly.  He has vowed to press on with his labor reform agenda.

cw/kms (AFP, dpa, Reuters)

Macron invites Iraqi PM to Paris to discuss Kurdish vote

September 30, 2017


© AFP | Iraqi Kurds take part in a demonstration at Arbil airport, in the capital of Iraq’s autonomous northern Kurdish region, after the central government ordered the indefinite halt to all foreign flights to and from Iraqi Kurdistan, on September 29, 2017

PARIS (AFP) – French President Emmanuel Macron has invited Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi to visit on October 5 to discuss the Kurdish independence referendum, offering France’s help in calming tensions over the vote.

In a statement, the presidency said France wanted to “help Iraq to stop tensions from setting in” after the deeply divisive vote on Monday saw Iraqi Kurdistan overwhelmingly support secession.

“Emmanuel Macron stressed the importance of preserving the unity and integrity of Iraq while recognising the rights of the Kurdish people. Any escalation must be avoided,” the presidency said in the statement late Friday.

“Faced with the priority of fighting Daesh and the stabilisation of Iraq, Iraqis must remain united,” it added, referring to the Islamic State group.

While Monday’s independence vote was non-binding, it has nonetheless sent tensions in the country and the region soaring.

In response to the poll, The Iraqi government has cut Kurdistan’s direct air links with the outside world, partially isolating the northern region.

Turkey and Iran, which both have their own Kurdish minorities, have denounced the referendum, while the United States described it as “unilateral” and lacking legitimacy.

EU leaders look to digital future — High tech companies seen as “freeloaders of the modern world”

September 29, 2017


© AFP / by Alex PIGMAN | German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the EU’s most powerful leader, has indicated her support for French President Emmanuel Macron’s vision for the future of the bloc

TALLINN (AFP) – EU leaders will look to the bloc’s digital future at a summit in Tallinn on Friday, a day after debating wider plans unveiled by French President Emmanuel Macron to strengthen the union.Macron is expected to seek to persuade sceptical counterparts to overhaul tax rules so that more of the profits from Silicon Valley giants like Facebook and Google fall into Europe’s public coffers.

The proposal was part of a wider vision that the 39-year-old leader unveiled in a landmark speech in Paris on Tuesday, aimed at reviving a European project hurt by Brexit, populism and the migration crisis.

At dinner in the Estonian capital on Thursday, EU national leaders held a debate about Macron’s plans.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the EU’s most powerful leader, indicated her support for Macron’s new vision.

“There is a wide agreement between France and Germany when it comes to the proposals, although we must work on the details,” Merkel said.

The leaders discussed the ideas — over courses of flank steak, salmon and rabbit liver — “in a very constructive and positive atmosphere”, an EU source told AFP.

Based on the discussion, European Council President Donald Tusk, who coordinates EU summit meetings, “will consult with his colleagues in the coming two weeks and propose how to take the work forward”, the EU source added.

British Prime Minister Theresa May was also present for the summit, and was set to meet Merkel for a bilateral discussion on Friday as well as a visit to a NATO military base with Macron. Brexit negotiations, however, were not on the official menu.

– Silicon Valley ‘freeloaders’ –

The summit will discuss the opportunities and dangers of the digital economy, as well as cybersecurity.

The tax push by France, already backed by Germany, is part of a wider regulatory onslaught by the EU on Google and other US tech behemoths.

In his closely watched speech on Europe Tuesday, Macron thundered against high tech companies that had become the “freeloaders of the modern world”.

Macron’s proposal seeks to tax digital multinationals on the revenue generated in an EU country, instead of on profits booked in a low-tax EU HQ, often Ireland or Luxembourg.

So far about a dozen of the EU’s 28 member states have signed on to the idea, though many urge action to take place on a global level, instead of just in Europe.

But smaller EU states have expressed strong resistance to the idea, which they say will chase US tech giants from their shores, especially Ireland, which serves as a low-tax hub for Apple, Facebook and Google.

The hope is to have a formal proposal by December that would be made into law in 2018.

– Tax fights –

Britain meanwhile has warned that the new tax may anger Washington, which could abandon tax reform in retaliation.

Several national authorities in the EU have opened up tax fights with Google, Airbnb and other Internet giants.

The discussion on a digital tax is one component of a full day of talks by EU leaders that will also touch upon cybersecurity and the free flow of data in the Europe.

The two-day meeting in Estonia was originally intended to chart out a digital future for the continent but became upstaged by more down-to-earth issues including Brexit and the unexpected rise of the far right in Germany.

Estonia, which holds the EU’s six-month rotating presidency, bills itself as among the avant-garde of the digital revolution and called the talks to help bring the rest of the bloc up to speed.

Formerly part of the Soviet Union, Estonia has reinvented itself by taking a jump to the digital world, modernising and digitising all aspects of public life.

by Alex PIGMAN

France’s Macron seeks joint defence force under EU reforms

September 26, 2017

BBC News

French President Emmanuel Macron delivers a speech on the European Union at the Sorbonne University on 26 September 2017 in Paris
Image captionMr Macron wants a major overhaul and greater integration of the EU. AFP photo

The French president has called for a joint EU defence force as part of his vision for the future of the bloc.

Setting out a series of reforms, Emmanuel Macron proposed greater cooperation on security and the fight against terrorism.

He came to power in May promising to strengthen the eurozone and deepen EU integration ahead of Brexit.

But his plans face fresh hurdles after Sunday’s German election with the rise of eurosceptic Alternative for Germany.

The nationalist AfD won its first seats in the German parliament, while Angela Merkel was re-elected for a fourth term as chancellor amid falling support.

In a major speech at the Sorbonne university in Paris, Mr Macron said he wanted the European Union to boost its common defence systems and have “autonomous capacity for action” through a joint military force.

He called for a shared defence budget and common policy, and said a European training academy should also be created.

In his other key proposals, Mr Macron said the EU should:

  • Strengthen borders and protect the “sovereignty” of member states against uncontrolled migrant flows – speeding up asylum applications and helping countries where immigrants come from to stabilise their economies
  • Set up a single, EU-wide tax on financial transactions
  • Forge a common policy on sustainable development by harmonising subsidies for green technology and introducing a bloc-wide carbon tax
  • Reform the Common Agricultural Policy, by making it more flexible and less bureaucratic
  • Set up a European agency to encourage the emergence of “champions” in digital technology

“Europe as we know it is too weak, too slow and too inefficient,” Mr Macron said.

“But only Europe can give us the means to act on the world stage as we tackle the great challenges of the day.”

The French president is pressing other EU leaders, including Germany’s Mrs Merkel, to work with him.

However, the German election result means the chancellor must now try to form a government that is likely to include the Free Democratic Party (FDP), whose leader is an outspoken critic of Mr Macron’s European agenda.

EU’s Juncker Hails Macron Speech as ‘Very European’

September 26, 2017

BRUSSELS — European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hailed Emmanuel Macron’s major speech on EU reform on Tuesday as “very European” and thanked the French head of state for his support for the EU’s efforts in Brussels.

“A very European speech from my friend Emmanuel Macron,” the EU chief executive wrote in French on Twitter. “Europe needs courage. Thank you for your support for the work of the EU institutions.”

“What we need now is a roadmap to advance the Union at 27. We have to openly discuss all ideas and decide before May 2019,” Juncker added, referring to his call in a keynote address of his own two weeks ago for a summit after Britain leaves the Union in March 2019 to decide the future for the remaining 27 members.

Juncker’s chief-of-staff Martin Selmayr, who kept up a stream of tweets throughout Macron’s address at the Sorbonne highlighting similarities between his proposals and those of Juncker, tweeted: “Rarely Europe saw such convergence of views between a French president a Commission president.

“Some nuances, yes. But also strong commonalities.”

Among key proposals made by Juncker and Macron was for the euro zone to have its own budget and finance minister. However, Juncker has warned against Macron’s suggestion that euro zone states create their own separate institutions.

Juncker says that may renew divisions between the richer west and poorer east of the continent and wants countries like Poland to be encouraged to join the euro zone and for a euro zone budget to managed by existing institutions of the whole EU.

(Reporting by Alastair Macdonald)

France’s Le Pen ‘determined’ to revitalise far right — “Macronism is the triumph of the dominant class whose only moral veneer is human rights and whose only values and purpose is money.”

September 9, 2017


© AFP | Back from holiday with a ‘burning sense of duty’

BRACHAY (FRANCE) (AFP) – France’s far-right leader Marine Le Pen, whose National Front (FN) party emerged weakened and divided from this year’s elections, said Saturday she was “determined” to revitalise her movement.

She returned from summer holidays “with a great determination and a burning sense of duty not for me but for you, not alone, but with you”, she said.

Speaking to a crowd of about 500 in the northeastern town of Brachay, an FN stronghold, the populist leader said: “Our political family is the only one capable of embodying” a force that could counter the new centrist movement of President Emmanuel Macron.

Le Pen garnered 34 percent of the vote against 66 percent for Macron in the May presidential runoff.

In June, the anti-EU, anti-immigration FN went on to win eight seats in the 577-seat parliament.

While the result was a historic high for the FN, many within the party were deeply disappointed, faulting Le Pen for running a poor campaign.

The party split over its key policy of wanting to scrap the euro — seen as too risky by many voters, particularly from the older generation.

The radical left Unbowed France party of Jean-Luc Melenchon, with 17 seats in parliament, touts itself as the country’s leading opposition force.

But on Saturday, Le Pen, 49, said: “We are the exact antithesis of Macronism.”

She lambasted the president for what she called a “policy of perpetual precariousness”, in a reference to his reforms to the labour code that will make it easier for employers to hire and fire staff.

“Macronism is the triumph of the dominant class whose only moral veneer is human rights and whose only values and purpose is money,” she said.

The stunning success of Macron’s centrist Republic on the Move party redrew France’s political landscape, sidelining traditional left and right parties that had alternated power for decades.

As a result, no party has the clear profile of a political opposition, in the opinion of 39 percent of respondents to a poll published Saturday.

Unbowed France was cited by 32 percent, while 14 percent pointed to the FN.

The right-wing Republican scored nine percent, according to the poll by BFMTV.

Polish PM rejects ‘blackmail’ on EU migrant quotas

September 3, 2017


© AFP/File | Polish Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said the country doesn’t agree to “the forced relocation of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East”

WARSAW (AFP) – Poland’s rightwing premier said Sunday that her country would not be “blackmailed” by its “largest” EU partners into accepting thousands of asylum seekers under a quota system for spreading them throughout the bloc.”We cannot be blackmailed by the threat that part of our EU funds will be cut off as punishment, because we don’t agree to the forced relocation of migrants from North Africa and the Middle East,” Prime Minister Beata Szydlo said in an excerpt of an interview with Sieci, a rightwing news magazine, published Sunday on the wPolityce news website.

EU Migration Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos said in July that Brussels was taking legal steps against the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland “for failing to meet their legal obligations on relocation” under the quota program.

The three countries could be brought before the European Court of Justice and eventually fined, something Warsaw argues would be tantamount to a cut in EU funding.

“EU funds and cohesion policy are pillars of the European Union just like the free movement of goods and services. We have a right to them… Therefore, we insist that EU treaties must be adhered to and we reject the diktat of the largest states” on migrant quotas, Szydlo said.

Her remarks come as the ECJ is expected on Wednesday to dismiss a challenge by Hungary and Slovakia to the mandatory quota program, created at the height of Europe’s 2015 refugee crisis.

The wave of people fleeing the war in Syria and conflict and poverty in the Middle East and many African countries triggered Europe’s biggest migration crisis since World War II.

But of this July, only 24,000 of the 160,000 refugees involved in the EU relocation scheme were moved from frontline states like Italy and Greece to other member countries.

Aside from garnering criticism for its rejection of migrant quotas, Szydlo’s conservative Law and Justice (PiS) government has come under heavy fire both at home and abroad since taking office in 2015 for a slew of reforms that critics say erode democratic standards and the rule of law.

French President Emmanuel Macron said last month that Poland was going “against European interests”, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel called Poland a “serious issue”.

The EU launched legal action in July against the government over reforms that it fears will limit judicial independence.

In the interview, Szydlo also rejected claims that her government’s actions were gradually pushing Poland out of the EU, calling the allegations “the greatest of lies, a horrible manipulation” and insisting that “we want to be in the EU, we value it”.

Surveys show that nearly 90 percent of Poles support EU membership, viewing it as a major source of funding and development.