A new Austrian government will shift the country to the right with members of a nationalist party in several key ministries, while conservative party head Sebastian Kurz will become Europe's youngest leader, according to details announced Saturday.
Conservative and nationalist parties in Austria reached a deal on Friday to form a new coalition government that will shift the country to the right and make 31-year-old Sebastian Kurz Europe's youngest leader.
Divisions on relocating asylum seekers remain entrenched following an EU summit. The east-west divide opens up the possibility of relying on a majority vote for a key asylum in June, further exacerbating disputes among opposing capitals.
The European Union completed a giant first step in the Brexit negotiations with Britain, giving the green light on Friday to move to trade talks which are poised to be even trickier than the acrimonious divorce proceedings have been so far.
The European Commission adopted on Friday a legal act requiring a 'track-and-trace' system for tobacco products to tackle smuggling and tax avoidance. Tobacco control groups were worried , but the commission said in a statement on Friday that control of the system will be fully "in the hands of the national authorities (and not the tobacco industry)".
Luxembourg announced on Friday it will appeal the European Commission's decision that the Grand Duchy . The commission said in October that Luxembourg's tax deal with Amazon amounted to unfair competition, but Luxembourg disagrees. The EU member said that the appeal did not "put into question Luxembourg's strong commitment to tax transparency and the fight against harmful tax practices".
EU leaders agreed on Friday that "sufficient progress" has been made in the Brexit negotiations to "move on to the second phase", European Council president Donald Tusk tweeted during an EU summit in Brussels. Tusk added "congratulations" to UK prime minister Theresa May. Phase two focuses on transition and trade, phase one agreed on citizens' rights, the Irish border and a financial settlement.
European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said Friday that UK prime minister Theresa May "made big efforts and this has to be recognised." He said that the second phase of Brexit negotiations, which is set to be agreed by EU leaders meeting in Brussels, will the "hardest". He added that stopping the process "depends on the British Parliament and the British people".
Brexit will dramatically change the balance between EU members states that have the euro and those that don't. The thinking on the future of the eurozone is done at EU-27 level - but opposing camps will have to be reconciled.
German chancellor Angela Merkel took a "tough" line against lifting sanctions on Russia during summit talks in Brussels on Thursday, diplomatic sources said. She said lifting them "would send the wrong signal" to Moscow. Some leaders said sanctions "can't go on like this for ever", but others said to lift them would "would be giving a present to [Russian leader] Putin just as he's running again [for president]" in 2018.
EU leaders added a line to their formal summit conclusions reiterating their support for a two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict, after the recent US decision to recognise Israel's claim to Jerusalem. The move came despite the fact that were wary of taking steps to annoy US leader Donald Trump, diplomatic sources said. The summit statement was initiated by Belgium.
EU leaders on Thursday to have some twenty 'European Universities' established by 2024 in order to strengthen international competitiveness of the higher education sector. According to the conclusions students would be able to obtain a degree by combining studies in several EU countries and increase mobility with a 'European Student Card'. More language learning would enable youth to speak two European languages in addition to their mother tongue.
The Belgian justice system ended on Thursday extradition proceedings against ousted Catalan premier Carles Puigdemont and four former members of his government, after Spain had dropped a European arrest warrant against them. Puigdemont said last week they would return if they won elections in Catalonia on 21 December. Some 45,000 Catalan independence supporters rallied in Brussels last week to back Puigdemont, urging the EU to stop siding with Spain.