FREE Newsletter: 24th of January

EU MEMBERSHIP

MEPs welcome progress of Balkan countries towards EU membership

Europa Rapid: “MEPs praised the reforms of the Balkan countries and their progress towards achieving EU membership but identified areas for further improvement. On 21 and 22 January, EP’s foreign affairs committee adopted a progress report on Montenegro, discussed Kosovo’s European integration process and questioned Suzana Grubjesic, Serbia’s deputy prime minister for European integration…”

Cameron’s referendum gives ideas to Austrian far-right
Euractiv: “The leader of Austria’s far-right Freedom Party (FPÖ) has called for a referendum on whether the country should give up the euro and said leaving the European Union was a possibility, according to a newspaper interview.

Saying he was inspired by British Prime Minister David Cameron’s promise of a referendum on whether to leave the European Union, FPÖ head Heinz-Christian Strache the daily Österreich this was just the kind of direct democracy Austria needed as well.

“If the EU develops into a centralised super-state then the final consequence for Austria would be an EU exit. I would rather have an alliance with Switzerland,” Strache said.
“It would make sense to have a referendum on a euro exit,” he said.
Strache, whose opposition party has consistently scored more than 20% in opinion polls in the run-up to parliamentary elections due by September, has long been a eurosceptic.
He has opposed bailouts of struggling countries in the currency bloc, and proposed splitting the eurozone into two camps: economically stronger northern European countries and weaker ones on the periphery…”

DATA PROTECTION

Estonian President: EU citizens should trust the state on data rights

Euobserver: “Estonia’s President told data protection experts in Brussels on Wednesday (23 January) that the state is the only “fundamental guarantor of a citizen’s digital life.”

Toomas Hendrik Ilves, who also chairs a steering group that advises the European Commission on cloud computing, said the state has to step in where the market has failed to protect people’s online data.
“We need to be much less concerned today about the state being the bad guy. It’s not gone away, but that’s not the big problem,” said Ilves at a panel on cyber security moderated by Dutch Liberal MEP Sophie In’t Veld.
For their part, other panellists noted that state sanctioned digital espionage is on the rise…”

TERRORISM

Mali mission could increase risk of anti-EU terrorism

Euobserver: “A top counter-terrorism official has said the EU military training mission in Mali will increase the risk of revenge attacks in Europe.
Asked by EUobserver in an interview on Tuesday (22 January) whether France’s intervention in Mali could expose French citizens in Africa or in the EU to greater danger, Gilles de Kerchove, the EU counter-terrorism co-ordinator, said: “We do indeed have concerns … But I would not just link this to the French. As we become more engaged with the EUTM [EU training mission], EU visibility will increase. France is leading the process. But soon we’ll have troops from other countries on the ground and greater visibility and, possibly, retaliation elsewhere.”EU countries are to send about 500 soldiers to Mali in February, with the EUTM’s French commander, Francois Lecointre, visiting Bamako this week to make plans.
De Kerchove is currently drafting a Mali terrorism threat assessment for a meeting of EU interior ministers on 7 March…”

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