The Letter n°862

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The Letter n°862
The Letter
Tuesday 8th October 2019
issue 862
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What does the future hold for the Libra?
Author : Olivier Perquel
Olivier Perquel
The cryptocurrency launched by Facebook in cooperation with on-line traders and major stakeholders in the payment industry raises many practical, ethical and strategic issues. Some States like France and Germany have rejected the project, whilst others insist on the need for strict regulation. Olivier Perquel gives an enlightening analysis of mining, a strange process in the creation of this cryptocurrency, and congruence.
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Elections : Antonio Costa's PS wins the Portuguese general election
The Socialist Party of outgoing Prime Minister Antonio Costa came out ahead in the general election on 6th October with 36.65% of the vote, ahead of the centre-right Social Democratic Party (27.90%). The PS will now have to find partners if it is to have a majority in the Assembly of the Republic. Turnout lay at 54.50%, one of the lowest rates ever recorded... Read more
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Foundation : The Big Shift - the 21st European Century
Contrary to popular discourse, in the Big Shift published by Ecole de Guerre, Jean-Dominique Giuliani shows that the European Union has the means to address the new challenges of the 21st century. Europe has succeeded beyond the expectations of its founding fathers. It can still succeed in guaranteeing its place among the three greatest powers in the world by the end of the century... Read more

Commission : Launch of inquiry into Boeing and Embraer
On 4th October the Commission opened an inquiry into the project to create two joint ventures by the plane manufacturers Boeing (US) and Embraer (Brazil). It fears that an operation like this will reduce competition on the regional airplane market and lead to a rise in prices and a reduction in choice... Read more
Launch of trade negotiations with East and South Africa
On 2nd October the EU launched trade negotiations with East and Southern Africa - the Comoros, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe - to deepen the present economic partnership agreement, that has been in place for the last 8 years. The Union hopes to stimulate bilateral trade and investment flows... Read more

Council : Conclusions of the Environment Council
Meeting on 4th October the Environment Ministers adopted the Union's position for the UN Conference on the Climate (COP25) which will take place in December in Santiago, Chile. They also called on the Commission to put forward a new strategy for the circular economy and defined political guidelines for the Union's 8th action programme that the Commission is due to set out in 2020... Read more
Measure in support of workers in the event of a no-deal Brexit
On 2nd October the Council adopted measures to protect wage earners and independent workers who might be affected by a no-deal Brexit. The draft regulation would allow those involved to benefit from the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund... Read more
Conclusions of the Justice Council
On 7th October the Council adopted the directive on the protection of whistleblowers, which will enter into force in 2021. They also agreed on the need to draft of a new strategy to counter corruption and for the Union to join the Group of States against corruption of the Council of Europe (GRECO). On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Charter of Fundamental Rights, they re-iterated that the Union is based on values such as the respect of human dignity and democracy and it hopes to join the European Convention for Human Rights. They confirmed the importance of allocating adequate resources to the agency for judicial cooperation, Eurojust... Read more
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Diplomacy : Western Balkans: call for the launch of membership negotiations
In a joint letter, the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk and the President of Parliament David Sassoli, the President of the Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the President elect of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, called for the launch of membership negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. Whilst the decision is to be taken by the Member States mid-October, they deem that this will be a test of the Union's "ability to fulfil its promises and look to the future.".. Read more

Court of Justice : Platforms like Facebook must delete illicit content
On 3rd October the Union's Court of Justice deemed that internet platforms are obliged to delete illicit content. It gave its decision regarding the case of an Austrian national who was slandered on Facebook and who requested the deletion of comments that tainted her honour. The Court stated that Union law allowed for the deletion of content worldwide... Read more
The Storing of Cookies requires the active consent of internet users
In a decision published on 1st October the Union's Court of Justice deemed that a pre-ticked box was not enough to establish the consent of an internet user and the use of cookies by the internet site that he is visiting. The Court deemed that consent to these files which collate information on the user must be specific... Read more

Germany : Growth forecasts revised downwards
On 2nd October the five main German economic institutions published a joint report announcing the slowing of German growth, down to 0.5% of the GDP in 2019 - against a previous 0.8%. They explain that the slowing of industry recorded since the start of the year has affected the services sector... Read more
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France : Emmanuel Macron visits the Council of Europe
French President Emmanuel Macron went to the Council of Europe in Strasbourg on 1st October on the occasion of the institution's 70th anniversary. In a speech delivered to the parliamentary assembly he recalled its major achievement such as the abolition of the death penalty, the creation of the European Court of Human Rights and standards to protect the rule of law and democracy. He insisted on the need for the "unity of our continent on the basis of our common values," and said he welcomed the upkeep of Russia in the "shared house"... Read more
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The Netherlands : Visit by Dutch Prime Minister to Germany
German Chancellor Angela Merkel hosted Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on 2nd October on the occasion of the 3rd German-Dutch consultation. The two leaders worked on their joint European priorities in terms of energy, climate, immigration and preparation for a no-deal Brexit... Read more

Poland : Polls a week before elections
According to a Kantar poll published 7th October the party in office, Law and Justice is due to win 42% of the vote during the parliamentary elections on 13th October. The Civic Coalition is due to win 29% of the vote and the left coalition, Lewica 13%... Read more
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Czech Republic : Meeting of Presidents of the countries of the Visegrad group
The heads of State of the four Visegrad countries (V4) - Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland and Hungary - met on 2nd and 3rd October in Prague. They agreed on their European priorities such as the upkeep of the sums allocated to the Cohesion Funds as part of the Union's financial framework 2021-2027 and their common position regarding Brexit. The Slovenian and Serb presidents joined the summit under the V4's enhanced cooperation framework with the Western Balkans. The Visegrad Group have decided to support Serbia in its bid to join the EU... Read more
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UK : New draft agreement for Brexit
On 2nd October British Prime Minister Boris Johnson submitted a new draft agreement for Brexit, which plans for the alignment of Northern Ireland with the European regulatory area but its upkeep in the British customs union. The President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker noted "positive progress" and "problematic points". On 3rd October the Brexit steering group at the European Parliament deemed that the draft did not present the necessary guarantees to the European Union and Ireland... Read more
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Kosovo : Victory for the opposition in the general elections
The opposition came out ahead in the elections in Kosovo on 6th October, bringing down the PDK, the party of the former independence warlords, led by Hashim Taci, in office for over a decade. The left-wing party, Vetevendosje, led by Albin Kurti came out ahead with 26% of the vote, according to provisional results, ahead of the centre-right party LDK (25%). Because no majority was won a coalition between the two parties is being planned... Read more

Court of Auditors : Annual report on Union finances
In its annual report 2018 the European Court of Auditors concluded that the EU's accounts reflected a "true image" of the Union's financial situation and that its financial management has improved for the third successive year. It deems however that difficulties persist in areas of high risk spending, such as rural development and cohesion... Read more

European Agencies : Agreement with Montenegro on the management of borders
On 7th October the European Union signed an agreement with Montenegro for coooperation between Frontex (the European border and coastguard) and the Montenegrin authorities for the management of the country's border with the Union. The aim is to counter illegal migration and cross-border criminal activities... Read more

Council of Europe : Celebration 70th anniversary
On 1st October the Council of Europe celebrated its 70th anniversary at a ceremony in Strasbourg. Given the challenges made to the institution's role, its new Secretary General Marija Pejcinovic Buric, recalled that the "Council of Europe" had been created to counter political extremism and remain steadfast when rights and individuals are threatened.".. Read more
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Report on national minorities in Montenegro
Montenegro is typified by a general climate of tolerance, the legal framework to counter discrimination is satisfactory and the settlement of the question regarding displaced people from Kosovo has progressed significantly, deemed the Consultative Committee of the Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (FCMN) at the Council of Europe in a report published on 2nd October. The Committee demands however "urgent" action to improve the socio-economic situation of the Roma, as well as the re-introduction of civic education at school... Read more

ECHR : Negationism is not the freedom of expression
The European Court of Human Rights deemed on 3rd October that the negation of the Shoah does not constitute the freedom of expression and cannot benefit from the protection of the European Convention of Human Rights. The Court was referred to in the case of a German regional far right MP which mentioned in a speech "the so-called Holocaust" and "propagandist lies"... Read more

WTO : Airbus: the US allowed to penalise the EU
On 2nd October the WTO allowed the US to impose customs duties on European products to a total of 7.5 billion $ (6.9 billion €). This will take immediate effect. The WTO's arbitrator deemed that the subsidies given by the EU to the plane manufacturer, Airbus, distorted competition. The Union said it was prepared to respond to all American sanctions. It is also waiting for a similar decision targeting Boeing, which might be delivered very shortly... Read more
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Downwards revision of growth forecasts
The WTO reviewed its trade growth forecasts downwards until 2020 due to trade tension and the slowing of the world's economy. The volume of the world good's trade is only due to rise by 1.2% in 2019, against 2.6% forecast in April. As for the projected increase for 2020, it will rise to 2.7% against an inital 3%. The projection for 2020 is conditioned by the return of more normal trade relations... Read more

Eurostat : Surplus in the balance of payments
In the first semester of 2019 the Union recorded a surplus in its balance of payments of 40.9 billion €, i.e. 1% of the GDP according to figures published by Eurostat on 4th October. The balance of services has recorded a surplus of 25.7 billion €... Read more
Inflation falls in September in the euro zone
The euro zone's annual rate of inflation lay at 0.9% in September 2019, against 1% in August, said a rapid estimate published by Eurostat on 1st October. This development is mainly due to a fall in energy prices (-1.8% in September, against -0.6% in August)... Read more

Culture : BFI London Film Festival
The London Film Festival, organised by the British Film Institute (BFI), is taking place until 13th October. This year 229 films, short works and documentaries are being screened, 40% of which are produced or co-produced by women... Read more
Photographs by Thomas Struth
The Guggenheim Musem of Bilbao is running an exhibition until 19th January 2020 of the work by German photographer Thomas Struth. The retrospective focuses on problems like "the importance of public space, the strength of the cohesion of family ties, the importance of nature and culture, as well as the limits and potential of new technologies"... Read more
Picasso, at the centre of the shadows
The Grenoble Museum is running an exhibition until 5th January 2020 entitled "Picasso, at the centre of the shadows (1939-1945)", which covers the painter's work during his years haunted by solitude and death... Read more
Bauhaus celebrates 100 years
Until 27th January 2020, the Berlinische Galerie will be celebrating the 100th year of he creation of Bauhaus, a movement which has had long lasting influence over architecture, art and design... Read more
Brancusi in Brussels
Until 12th January 2020 the Palace for Fine Arts (Bozar) in Brussels is running a retrospective of Romanian sculptor Constantin Brancusi, which inlcudes work by his contemporaries like Man Ray, Modigliani and Rodin. The exhibition is part of the Europalia festival which pays tribute to Romanian culture and arts... Read more
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The new world of Charlotte Perriand
Until 24th February 2020 the Louis Vuitton Foundation is paying tribute to Charlotte Perriand to mark the 20 years since her death. The exhibition covers the work of this visionary architect and designer, around the place of women and nature in society... Read more
Nobel Prize in Medicine
On 7th October Briton Peter Ratcliffe and Americans William Kaelin and Gregg Semenza were awarded the Nobel Prize for Medicine for their research regarding the adaption of cells to the variable provision of oxygen, enabling the fight to counter cancer and anemia... Read more

7th-8th October


Justice and Internal Affairs Council

9th October 2019


Eurogroup Meeting

10th October 2019


Economic and Financial Affairs Council

13th October 2019


Parliamentary Elections (general and senatorial)

14th October


Foreign Affairs Council

14th and 15th October 2019


Agriculture and Fisheries Council

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