The UK's withdrawal from the EU will heighten fears of marginalisation among the eight member states - Bulgaria, Denmark, Croatia, Poland, Romania, Sweden, Czech Republic and Hungary - that have not adopted the euro.
British prime minister Theresa May announced on Monday that the proposed £65 [€74] fee for EU nationals in the UK to apply for "settled status" after Brexit would be scrapped, and previously-paid fees reimbursed. The U-turn came as May detailed to British MPs her 'Plan B' Brexit deal, following the defeat by 230 votes last week of the agreement with Brussels she had spent two years negotiating.
The French data protection authority CNIL handed Google a €50m fine on Monday for violations of the general data protection regulation (GDPR). It said Google was not transparent about the data it collected. "The relevant information is accessible after several steps only, implying sometimes up to five or six actions," CNIL said in a statement. It also said users were not sufficiently informed when consenting to personalised advertisements.
The EU on Monday imposed travel bans and asset freezes for chemical weapons' use for the first time against individuals linked to the poisoning of Russian former double-agent Sergei Skripal and his daughter in Britain last year. The sanctions target the two GRU [Russia's intelligence agency] officials "responsible for possession, transport and use in Salisbury of a toxic nerve agent," and the head and deputy head of the agency.
The EU commission warned on Monday that the British government should not look for concessions from the EU in their search for an alternative Brexit plan. "Don't look for answers to Brussels. This is the moment for London to speak, not for us," a commission spokesman said. Last Friday the EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and British prime minister Theresa May talked on the phone.
Germany's economy minister, Peter Altmaier, on Monday warned the UK not to 'misuse' the patience of the EU over a Brexit deal compromise ahead of the scheduled 29 March exit date. Altmaier, a close confidante of chancellor Angela Merkel, tweeted: "Sympathy, patience & readiness to wait until the UK's position will be clarified are of utmost important to avoid the worst. They should not be misused for party politics."
Under the EU's Dublin rules, Germany deported 8,658 asylum-seekers to other EU countries in the first eleven months of 2018, significantly more than the year before, when 7,102 were deported, according to information from the interior ministry given to the Left Party and published in German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung. Almost one-in-three were sent to Italy, while Hungary received none of the refugees deported in 2018.
French president Emmanuel Macron's popularity has risen four percent since December, to 27 percent, an Ifop/Journal du Dimanche poll showed on Sunday, following a drop in popularity for Macron when the 'Yellow Vest' protests were at their height. An Ifop poll published last week on the May 2019 European parliament elections showed Macron's centrist movement at 23 percent support while Le Pen's Rassemblement National stood at 21 percent.
"Our economy is broken, with hundreds of millions of people living in extreme poverty while huge rewards go to those at the very top," Oxfam concluded in their , published ahead of this week's Davos gathering. Oxfam says last year 26 people owned the same as the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity. The number of billionaires doubled since the financial crisis.
A plan by Siemens and Alstom to create a European rail champion to face Chinese competition hangs on approval from EU antitrust regulators, with French media reporting that company representatives will meet EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager in Paris on Monday over the matter. The rail merger deal would create the world's second-largest rail company, but Vestager has maintained Europe should not build industrial champions by undermining competition.
Protesters clashed with police in Athens on Sunday at a rally to oppose the government's deal to rename the country's northern neighbour as North Macedonia. The Greek parliament is set to vote on ratifying an agreement this week. The name Macedonia is sensitive for many Greeks who say it implies a claim on the northern Greek province of the same name. Police estimated 60,000 took part in Sunday's protest.
Populists and Eurosceptics are slowly realising that the goal of dismantling the EU is not only unrealistic, costly and unpopular - but also deprives them of valuable opportunities to accumulate political capital and exert influence.
The EU commission has sent draft mandates to EU governments for trade negotiations with US. "These [...] will enable the commission to work on removing tariffs and non-tariff barriers to transatlantic trade in industrial goods," trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said. One mandate would make it easier for companies to prove their products meet technical requirements in both US and EU, another is on the elimination of tariffs for industrial goods.
EU commission vice-president Maros Sefcovic said Friday he would run for president of Slovakia in March's election, backed by the ruling Smer party. Sefcovic will take unpaid leave from his position at the EU executive from 1 February, a commission spokesman said. Centre-left Smer has been leading in the polls, but sought a fresh candidate for the election, after it lost support following the murder of an investigative journalist.