Macron's cabinet presents tougher bill on migrants and asylum seekers, faces stormy debates
French government presented its first big immigration bill last Wednesday, which is expected to face stormy debates in Parliament with migrant charities and left-wingers blasting the bill as repressive. Even some members of French President Emmanuel Macron's party are reluctant to back the law, observers believe. The bill will double the time for which undocumented migrants can be detained to 90 days and shorten the deadlines to apply for asylum, from 120 days to 90 days after a migrant's arrival in France. It will also make the illegal crossing of borders an offence punishable by one year in jail and fines. The new bill aims to cut the waiting time on asylum applications from 11 months to six, while providing help to those who want to go home.
A single regime would embrace 'digital presence' as well
Firms would be taxed where they earn their profits under new proposals for a harmonised corporate tax system, agreed last Wednesday by the Economics Committee, the EP press service reported. The new approach for the first time considers in a fair and proper way companies' online activities in order to calculate their tax. The so-called Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) is a part of a wide-ranging proposal aimed at creating a single and clear EU corporate tax regime. It is complimented by a separate measure, which creates the basis for the harmonised corporate tax system.
 
Every year around 95% of the economic value of plastic packaging is lost to the economy
Maria Koleva, Brussels
The transition to a circular, resource-efficient and low-carbon economy is well on track, placing industry and consumers in the driver's seat. What's next in this field was debated at the Circular Economy Stakeholder Conference in Brussels on 20 and 21 February by more than 400 people from industry, EU institutions, public authorities, NGOs and citizens.
 
Banking scandal shatters Latvia
Latvia was shattered last week by a scandal involving Central Bank Governor Ilmars Rimsevics, who was arrested and questioned for several hours on corruption suspicion, news wires reported. His office and one of his private properties had been raided by the special Corruption Prevention and Combating Bureau (KNAB). No details from the questioning have emerged, but according to people close to the inquiry Rimsevics is suspected of demanding a huge bribe of no less than €100,000.
Direct payments: simplified and targeted at active farmers
European Agriculture Ministers meeting in Bulgaria on 19 February said direct payments could be more targeted at active farmers. During the debate, the ministers underlined the importance of direct payments and considered that their design could be further improved by making them fairer, more targeted and effective for farmers across the EU.
EU defence industry programme approved
The new European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP), with a budget of €500m for 2019-2020 period, was last Wednesday approved by the Industry and Research Committee, the EP press service reported. The main aim of the programme is to foster the EU's strategic autonomy in the field of defence. EU financial assistance will cover the development of new and upgraded products to make the EU enhance its defence capabilities. Under the programme, Member States will be able to work together to pool resources and spend defence budgets more efficiently.
Europe can double renewables
The European Union can boost the share of renewables to 34% of its energy mix by 2030, triggering hundreds of billions of euros in investment and accelerating reduction of greenhouse gases blamed for global warming. This is one of the main findings from a new report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), on request from the European Commission. Lawmakers in the 28-nation bloc are currently discussing policies for the next decade.
Pressure on EU borders remains
The number of migrants trying to reach Europe through the Mediterranean will remain high this year, with more expected to arrive through Spain, Fabrice Leggeri, the head of EU border agency Frontex warned last Tuesday.
Modernising economy with everyone on board
A smart sensor in kids shoes can monitor their motor development, namely from the first steps. The BIOsenSHOES project designed 'shoe' sensor that collects all the data, and a special app calculates the parameters and stores it.
Major mafia trial opens in Spain
A major trial concerning Russian mafia murky deeds opened last week in Spain, news wires reported.
UK urges EU to work jointly reaching fair Brexit deal
Brexit minister David Davis claimed last Tuesday Britain and the EU could reach a deal to access each others' markets and dismissed fears that the UK would use Brexit to cut regulation to attract global businesses, news wires reported.
French villages for sale in protest against reform
French villages were published for sale in protest against the government's reform of the areas receiving agriculture aid.
Innovation through education
A conference on “Intellectual Property in Education - tendencies and perspectives” took place in Sofia on 20 February 2018. Participants stressed the importance of open science and of the new approaches in education for bringing forth the next generation of inventors and creators.
Cutting cash to terrorists
Member States must share intelligence more proactively and track transactions more closely in order to cut off the cash flows to terrorists, MEPs said last Wednesday.
MEPs call for cosmetics' animal testing worldwide ban
The EU should launch a diplomatic drive for a worldwide ban on the animal testing of cosmetics by 2023, Environment Committee MEPs said last Tuesday. Within the EU itself, the sale of all animal-tested cosmetics has been banned since 2013.
Auditors assess wind, solar power initiatives
The European Court of Auditors published last Tuesday a background paper detailing its enquiry into EU and Member State support for wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) power generation, news wires reported.
Consumers get more choice and greater energy security
Consumers should have more choice at the energy market and should enjoy greater security, the Industry and Energy Committee MEPs claimed in a proposal discussed last Wednesday, the EP press service reported.
In Brief
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Spain's Luis De Guindos to become ECB vice-president
 
aSpanish Finance Minister Luis de Guindos will become ECB vice president later this year, after his sole rival stepped down last Monday. His election was confirmed by the Eurozone finance ministers, after Philip Lane, the Central Bank of Ireland governor, withdrew his candidacy. “It's a personal challenge. I face it with humility, with enthusiasm to learn and defend the independence of the ECB,” De Guindos said after the meeting. The Spanish minister would replace Portuguese Vitor Constancio, who leaves the bank in June.

Making it easier for citizens, businesses to go online
 
A single digital gateway would help citizens and firms to access information and administrative procedures online, according to MEPs. The proposal sets up a single digital entry point, available in all EU languages and to be integrated in the Your Europe portal. It would provide access and links to relevant national and EU websites and webpages, making it easier to find information, forms and assistance for people and businesses across EU. “Easy access to improved online information, administrative procedures and problem-solving solutions are key elements for the success of the digital single market,” Marlene Mizzi (S&D, MT) said.

Railway connection between Romania, Hungary upgraded
 
Up to €1.3bn from the Cohesion Fund is to be invested in the modernisation of the rail corridor from the town of Curtici, on the border between Romania and Hungary, and Constanta, by the Black Sea. Works will focus on significantly increasing speed and safety on the railway, upgrading several train stations on the line, improving signalling and passenger information systems and building adjacent infrastructure such as bridges and tunnels. The railway connection is part of the Orient-East Med and Rhine-Danube corridors of the Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T).

Common rules for safe, secure drones operations published
 
The EU published last Thursday a set of common rules for safe and secure drones operations as an important milestone under the Commission's Aviation Strategy for Europe. The opinion by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has kept the rules as simple as possible with a strong focus on the risks. This risk-based approach is best suited to address the safety challenges posed by drones without creating red-tape or stifling innovation. “A clean, safe and secure drone ecosystem in Europe is now becoming a reality, as we move to the implementation phase of our rules,” Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc said.

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