This Week in Europe: EU-US trade talks set to resume, new Brexit delay and more

, by Juuso Järviniemi, Pascal Letendre-Hanns

All the versions of this article: [Deutsch] [English]

This Week in Europe: EU-US trade talks set to resume, new Brexit delay and more
Image by Samuel Mork Bednarz.

Members of the TNF team recount big events from Europe from the past week, and point attention to news that may have passed notice. What did we miss? Comment on our Facebook page at !

Julian Assange arrested in London after seven years

Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks, was arrested this week after the Ecuadorian embassy in London invited UK police in to come and arrest him. Having stayed in the embassy for years, Ecuador decided to end his political asylum as his behaviour became increasingly intolerable for the country’s UK representatives. Assange sought out asylum after being pursued by the US for his role in releasing classified information to the public. He was also sought by the Swedish authorities due to accusations of rape and sexual assault committed in the country. Dozens of UK MPs have written to the UK government to insist that Assange face the charges in Sweden before any kind of extradition to the United States is considered.

Brexit delayed once again

EU27 leaders decided to grant a further extension to the Brexit negotiations after the UK Parliament again failed to pass and ratify the deal negotiated between the EU and the UK government. UK Prime Minister Theresa May went to this week’s European Council to request an extension until 30 June. EU leaders responded by saying that there would be an extension until 31 October with the possibility to cut this off early if a deal is passed before then (in which case the UK would leave the EU on the first day of the month following ratification). The UK accepted this offer. This means that the UK is increasingly likely to participate in the European Parliament elections and with falling support for the Conservatives and Labour and the emergence of two new parties (The Brexit Party and ChangeUK), the results of these elections are looking anything but predictable.

Slovenia and Croatia caught in diplomatic dispute

Slovenia recalled its ambassador to Croatia this week over a the emergence of a spying scandal. The two countries have long disputed the exact division of territorial waters and tried to resolve this through an arbitration court some years ago (which ruled in favour of Slovenia but whose judgement Croatia did not accept). In 2015 a Croatian newspaper reported that there had been illegal communication between one of the judges and the Slovenian agent in the court. Since then, accusations have emerged in the Slovenian press that it was the Croatian intelligence service that had recorded these communications and passed them on to the media. This was followed by another story that media organisations in Croatia were trying to suppress the broadcast of the spying revelations in Slovenia. This led the Slovenian government to accuse Croatia of interfering in Slovenia’s affairs and the independence of the media, triggering the recall of the ambassador. Croatia has denied any interference.

EU set to begin new trade talks with the USA

On Thursday, the EU’s ambassadors agreed on the negotiating directives for EU trade talks with the United States, with agriculture ministers now set to accept the mandate. France was opposed to starting the negotiations, citing the American withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement as a reason. Politico reports that the extent of the trade agreement would be limited so that negotiations would be quicker, but there are concerns that US President Donald Trump’s belligerence in trade policy would make any agreement possible.

European social democrats “freeze relations” with Romanian member party

The Party of European Socialists (PES) announced that until the Romanian Social Democratic Party (PSD) addresses the European Commission’s concerns over rule of law in the country, the relations between the European and Romanian levels would be “frozen”. The PSD is Romania’s ruling party. The Romanian party responded by saying that they were subject to “groundless accusations”, and that “the way some PES colleagues treat us is unacceptable”.

Pro-European “Democracy Alive” festival organised in Texel, Netherlands

This week, European Movement International and the Alliance for Democracy co-organised a festival to “bring trust and optimism back to the European project”. The Democracy Alive festival took place in the Dutch island of Texel, featuring debates, concerts, book readings, silent discos and other activities. The event was attended by young people, but also high-profile politicians campaigning in the European elections, such as the liberal Margrethe Vestager and the Green Spitzenkandidat Bas Eickhout.

Governing Centre Party set to lose Finnish parliamentary elections

This Sunday in the Finnish parliamentary elections, the early results suggest that the Social Democrats are going to be the biggest party, rising from its defeat in the 2015 election. Prime Minister Juha Sipilä’s Centre Party is set to be the biggest loser in the elections, with losses of up to 20 seats anticipated in Finland’s 200-seat legislature. The full vote count is expected to be finalised by early Monday morning.

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