Cuts to innovation, space, neighbourhood and other programme-spending push down the latest budget proposal on the table of EU leaders. Rebates could stay on, to win the support of the net-payers for a deal.
Catalan police and the anti-corruption prosecutor's office are investigating Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov for alleged involvement in money laundering and organised crime, according to on Friday. However, Borissov said no authority has ever contacted him to investigate the allegations. Law enforcement said that they could not give further details until the investigation is concluded.
Hungary's PM Viktor Orban appointed controversial former commissioner Guenther Oettinger to a government council in a way that might break EU rules. Oettinger claims he did not know about the appointment.
About 50 Greenpeace activists on Friday broke into the Tricastin nuclear plant in France, a day before the planned shutdown of the oldest nuclear reactor in the country at Fessenheim, Reuters reported. "We are protesting and drawing attention to an ageing nuclear power plant that is dangerous and should be shut down," said Greenpeace spokeswoman Cecile Genot, warning that Tricastin, like Fessanheim's main reactor, will reach its 40-year lifespan soon.
German interior minister, Horst Seehofer, announced on Friday an increased police presence all over Germany, and especially in mosques, train stations, airports and at borders, after nine people were killed by a gunman earlier this week at two predominantly Turkish bars in the western city of Hanau, the DW reported. Seehofer warned that this was the "third far-right attack in a few months".
Oxfam warned on Friday that the US and some EU countries, such as Sweden, Ireland, Denmark and Belgium, are trying to water-down global tax reform, ahead of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governments summit in Saudi Arabia this weekend. "If these countries get their way, big corporations will continue to get away without paying their fair share of tax," said Oxfam tax policy advisor, Johan Langerock.
On Friday, 8 AM local time, Iranians started voting in parliamentary elections. Some 58m people are entitled to vote, and senior leaders have called the electorate not to stay at home, fearing a low turn-out. Conservatives are likely to win as reformists are divided on how to respond to US president Donald Trump's decision to leave the nuclear deal and America's recent assassination of Iran's top general Qassem Suleimani.
The chiefs of 33 leading Belgian firms, such as Eneco and Upsi, wrote a letter on Friday to Belgian dailies L'Echo et De Tijd calling for politicians to avoid new elections, 270 days after the last vote had still failed to produce a coalition government. "There is nothing worse than the appalling uncertainty" in which the firms have begun "stagnating", they said, adding that new elections would not help.
Vigils in Hanau, Berlin, and Frankfurt for victims of the shooting in Germany by a far-right fanatic voiced anger that the government was not doing enough to combat extremism. The Kon-Med association of Kurds in Germany said it was "furious" that authorities were "not resolutely opposing right-wing networks and right-wing terrorism". Germany had the second highest number of far-right terrorism alerts (eight) after France (32) in Europol's 2019 threat report.
Individual contributions of member states to the next EU budget could soon depend on the amount of plastic not recycled. There could also be revenues from a possible carbon border tax on imports into the EU.
The EU could blow up the Kosovo-Serbia negotiations' reset. Should Miroslav Lajčák indeed be appointed, the two senior EU diplomats dealing with Kosovo would both come from the small minority of member states that do not recognise Kosovo.
EU leaders continued discussing the terms and sums of the next seven-year EU budget on Thursday night. The 27 leaders gave feedback on the latest proposal from EU Council president Charles Michel and shared their domestic constraints on their priorities in a session one EU official described as "therapeutic". Leaders also began bilateral meetings with Michel. A new proposal could emerge early on Friday morning for leaders to continue talks.
EU leaders arriving at the Brussels summit criticised the budget proposal of EU Council president Charles Michel, as richer member states insisted holding onto their rebates, while poorer countries wanted to avoid deep cuts to their subsidies.
French president Emmanuel Macron in Brussels on Thursday ahead of an EU summit said he will press all 26 other heads of state and government to condemn the surge in attacks against civilians in Syria's besieged city of Idlib. "I hope that as 27 we can take a strong position on the issue and that we can launch a new initiative at the United Nations-level," he said.
The European Commission is set present its new pact on migration at the end of March. Margaritis Schinas, the commissioner in charge, says its 2016 Dublin-reform proposal will be "taken off and be repackaged, redrafted."
As much as one sixth of foreign development aid vanishes into offshore banking havens such as Switzerland according to a by the World Bank, called Elite Capture of Foreign Aid, out this week, which traced what happened to 22 separate payments to poor nations. "The effectiveness of foreign aid remains controversial," the study noted. The EU is the world's largest donor of poverty relief.
A German national with a gun licence shot dead nine people, most of them of Kurdish origin, at two shisha bars in Hanau in central Germany on Wednesday, German media say. The body of the attacker and one other person were later found at the attacker's home, police said. The attacks come after a shooting at a Turkish comedy centre in Berlin four days ago, which left one person dead.