Kryon Berlin Tour & Seminar - Berlin, Germany, Sept 17-22 2019 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll)

Kryon Berlin Tour & Seminar - Berlin, Germany, Sept 17-22 2019 (Kryon Channelling by Lee Carroll)
30th Anniversary of the Fall of the Berlin Wall

Council of Europe (CoE) - European Human Rights Court - founding fathers (1949)

Council of Europe (CoE) - European Human Rights Court - founding fathers (1949)
French National Assembly head Edouard Herriot and British Foreign minister Ernest Bevin surrounded by Italian, Luxembourg and other delegates at the first meeting of Council of Europe's Consultative Assembly in Strasbourg, August 1949 (AFP Photo)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)

EU founding fathers signed 'blank' Treaty of Rome (1957)
The Treaty of Rome was signed in the Palazzo dei Conservatori, one of the Renaissance palaces that line the Michelangelo-designed Capitoline Square in the Italian capital

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'

Shuttered: EU ditches summit 'family photo'
EU leaders pose for a family photo during the European Summit at the EU headquarters in Brussels on June 28, 2016 (AFP Photo/JOHN THYS)

Merkel says fall of Wall proves 'dreams can come true'


“ … Here is another one. A change in what Human nature will allow for government. "Careful, Kryon, don't talk about politics. You'll get in trouble." I won't get in trouble. I'm going to tell you to watch for leadership that cares about you. "You mean politics is going to change?" It already has. It's beginning. Watch for it. You're going to see a total phase-out of old energy dictatorships eventually. The potential is that you're going to see that before 2013. They're going to fall over, you know, because the energy of the population will not sustain an old energy leader ..."
"Update on Current Events" – Jul 23, 2011 (Kryon channelled by Lee Carroll) - (Subjects: The Humanization of God, Gaia, Shift of Human Consciousness, 2012, Benevolent Design, Financial Institutes (Recession, System to Change ...), Water Cycle (Heat up, Mini Ice Ace, Oceans, Fish, Earthquakes ..), Nuclear Power Revealed, Geothermal Power, Hydro Power, Drinking Water from Seawater, No need for Oil as Much, Middle East in Peace, Persia/Iran Uprising, Muhammad, Israel, DNA, Two Dictators to fall soon, Africa, China, (Old) Souls, Species to go, Whales to Humans, Global Unity,..... etc.)
(Subjects: Who/What is Kryon ?, Egypt Uprising, Iran/Persia Uprising, Peace in Middle East without Israel actively involved, Muhammad, "Conceptual" Youth Revolution, "Conceptual" Managed Business, Internet, Social Media, News Media, Google, Bankers, Global Unity,..... etc.)


"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Monday, September 30, 2019

MEPs disqualify two candidates for new EU Commission

Yahoo – AFP, Marc BURLEIGH, Clément ZAMPA, September 30, 2019

Incoming European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has suffered a
blow to her choice of team with two candidates being disqualified (AFP Photo/
FREDERICK FLORIN)

Brussels (AFP) - European lawmakers vetting candidates for the new European Commission on Monday declared two of the 26 unfit to take office due to conflicts of interest.

The nominees put forward by Hungary and Romania were rejected by the European Parliament's legal affairs committee just ahead of confirmation hearings for the team picked by incoming Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

A German member of the committee, Tiemo Woelken, tweeted that members had decided that Romania's Rovana Plumb and Hungary's Laszlo Trocsanyi are "unfit to become commissioners".

French member Manon Aubry told journalists a vote confirmed the committee's finding last week that the two commissioners "cannot take office because of conflicts of interest".

The decision weakens von der Leyen's hand as the European Parliament holds confirmation hearings for the remaining commissioner candidates, running from Monday to October 8.

It also obliges Hungary and Romania to put forward new candidates.

Most of the rest of the team chosen by von der Leyen -- who is already confirmed -- are expected to get through the grilling, forming a near gender-balanced executive drawn from across the European bloc's member states.

Members of the new European Commission with their portfolios (AFP Photo/
Patricio ARANA)

But the legal affairs committee pre-empted the wider parliament's hearings by using a new power to scrutinise candidates.

Trocsanyi, meant to take charge of EU enlargement issues, was tripped up over government contracts awarded to his law firm.

In a statement, Trocsanyi slammed the "blatant injustice" of his disqualification and vowed to fight it "before the responsible court of justice".

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban had claimed the committee's move was motivated by Trocsanyi -- his former justice minister -- helping "to stop migration".

Plumb, a former Romanian labour minister, was stymied over two problematic loans that raised suspicions of corruption.

A vice chairman on the legal affairs committee, Sergey Lagodinsky, tweeted that the disqualifications were "a victory for parliamentary democracy".

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban claimed his candidate ran into trouble 
for helping to 'stop migration' (AFP Photo/ATTILA KISBENEDEK)

Uncomfortable questions

Hungary and Romania, while initially standing by their candidates, have said they have no lack of replacement names if necessary.

A spokeswoman for the European Commission said that von der Leyen would decide whether or not to ask for new nominees after she is officially informed by the parliamentary speaker of the committee's decision.

Some of the other designated commissioners also have clouds hanging over them.

But, while they were likely to have uncomfortable questions thrown at them in the public hearings, they were seen as being under less pressure.

The EU's anti-fraud office OLAF declined to recommend charges against Poland's candidate commissioner, Janusz Wojciechowski, after he reimbursed 11,250 euros ($12,300) for travel expenses improperly claimed while he was an MEP.

Ireland's Phil Hogan -- named to be EU commissioner for trade -- will be one 
of the first to appear in the hearings (AFP Photo/EMMANUEL DUNAND)

A similar OLAF probe into France's Sylvie Goulard remains open, but she too has already paid back 45,000 euros.

Belgium's Didier Reynders had a corruption probe against him set aside on Friday, while Spain's Josep Borrell -- named to become the EU's foreign policy chief -- was fined 30,000 euros last year for insider trading.

No British candidate

The European Parliamentary hearings were expected to also touch on a controversy over von der Leyen's decision to give the title of "Protecting our European Way of Life" to the commissioner in charge of migration.

Three commissioners-designate were to appear for hearings on Monday: Slovakia's Maros Sefkovic, to handle interinstitutional relations; Ireland's Phil Hogan, for trade; and Bulgaria's Mariya Gabriel, for innovation and youth.

The hearings end with von der Leyen's three executive vice presidents being quizzed.

Britain is the one EU member state without a future commissioner in the mix as its government is intent on it leaving the bloc on October 31, the day before the new European Commission takes office.

Tuesday, September 24, 2019

EU loses big Starbucks tax case, wins on Fiat

Yahoo – AFP, Catherine KURZAWA, September 24, 2019

In cases keenly being watched by Apple, ordered to repay Ireland 13 billion euros 
in 2016, Brussels saw its unpaid taxes claim against Starbucks annulled -- but 
upheld in the case of Fiat (AFP Photo/Kenzo TRIBOUILLARD)

Luxembourg (AFP) - An EU court on Tuesday annulled an order by Brussels that Starbucks pay 30 million euros to the Netherlands, saying regulators had failed to demonstrate it received illegal state aid.

In a separate decision, however, the same court said Fiat must pay roughly the same amount to Luxembourg, upholding a similar EU order from 2015.

The split decision will be closely watched by Apple, which was ordered to repay Ireland 13 billion euros in 2016 in a blockbuster case that is also making its way through EU courts.

The cases can now be appealed at the EU's highest court, the European Court of Justice.

"The general court annuls the commission's decision on the aid measure implemented by the Netherlands in favour of Starbucks," the statement said.

"The commission was unable to demonstrate the existence of an advantage in favour of Starbucks," it added.

The cases from 2015 were the first out of the gate in the crackdown by the EU's anti-trust supremo Margarethe Vestager against member states that had sealed sweetheart tax deals with multinationals.

In her landmark rulings, Vestager said Dutch authorities must recoup unpaid taxes from Starbucks because it illegally allowed an elaborate tax set-up that allowed it to shift revenue abroad.

"I am pleased that the European Commission's case on Starbucks against the Netherlands on state aid has been clarified," Dutch secretary of state for finance Menno Snel said in a statement.

"This decision proves that the Dutch tax authorities treated Starbucks like any other company, and no better or different," he added.

The Starbucks and Fiat cases are dwarfed by the blockbuster order in 2016 that Apple repay Ireland 13 billion euros.

That case drew global attention, helping Vestager become the EU's highest-profile official.

In the new commission, she has been promoted to executive vice president and will effectively become Europe's tech regulation czar, while still holding on to her powerful anti-trust portfolio.

EU member states such as Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and the Netherlands have attracted multinationals over many years by offering extremely favourable tax deals to generate jobs and investment.

The issue hit close to home in 2014 with the LuxLeaks scandal which revealed that European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker's native Luxembourg gave companies favourable tax deals while he was prime minister.

Luxembourg has also been ordered by Brussels to recoup 250 million euros from Amazon and 120 million euros from French energy giant Engie.

The same court handed the commission a first setback in 2019, when it threw out a tax deal decision against Belgium, but mainly on procedural grounds. The commission last week refiled the case.

The commission is also investigating tax deals with Ikea and Nike in the Netherlands. Brussels dropped a keenly-watched case against McDonald's.

UK court ruling leaves Queen in ‘hideous’ position

24matins, Dmitry ZAKS,  24 September 2019

Queen Elizabeth II approved Prime Minister Boris Johnson's advice to cut down the
number of days MPs will meet before Brexit, set for October 31© POOL/AFP Victoria Jones

Queen Elizabeth II was left exposed Tuesday to suggestions that Boris Johnson used her as a political pawn by having her approve a suspension of parliament that the Supreme Court has unanimously ruled broke the law.


Constitutional experts say the 93-year-old head of state had no choice but to give royal assent to Johnson’s request to slash the number of days parliament meets before Britain is due to leave the European Union on October 31.

Britain has functioned for centuries as a constitutional monarchy in which the sovereign can only act on the prime minister’s advice.

In other words: the monarch has authority in name only while her prime minister wields the political power that counts.

It’s the oldest rule in the constitution,” Durham University constitutional expert Robert Craig said.

Yet the five-week suspension she signed off on looked suspiciously long from the start. The court noted Tuesday that most prorogations last for a matter of just days.

These are required when parliament’s session draws to an end and the prime minister prepares to set out the agenda for the year ahead.

And the one Johnson had asked for came in the politically-explosive run-up to Britain’s scheduled withdrawal from the European Union on October 31.

This is a hideous moment for the palace,” BBC royal correspondent Jonny Dymond wrote.

It also raises even bigger questions as Brexit day nears and the debate over the monarch’s role in UK politics rumbles on.

For decades, for centuries, (Britain’s constitutional monarchy) has been governed by convention and precedent, and an unspoken agreement not to push things too far,” Dymond said.

Boris Johnson blew that apart.

Breaking conventions

University of Liverpool law professor Mike Gordon speculated before the ruling that Johnson’s “government might advise the queen not to give the royal assent” to the parliamentary law ruling out the possibility of Britain’s crash exit from the EU.

And at that point we’ll be in difficult constitutional territory,” said Gordon.

The convention she gives the royal assent to anything parliament will pass clashes with the convention she acts on ministerial advice.

The last monarch to refuse royal assent — signing a bill into law — was queen Anne in 1708.

But much of what has been happening in UK politics has not been recorded in history for centuries.

It is hard to imagine anyone better-versed in the sovereign’s duties than Britain’s longest-serving monarch — on the throne since 1952 and holding a special place in most Britons’ hearts.

The sovereign is usually only approached by ministers when their attempts to sort out the various political debates among themselves all fail.

The closest this queen has come to being drawn into politics was during the 1975 constitutional crisis in Australia.

Her governor-general John Kerr had sacked Australian prime minister Gough Whitlam and the queen refused to get involved in the political furore that followed.

Former British prime minister John Major said he hoped the queen is spared any more possible blushes by Johnson.

No prime minister must ever treat the monarch or parliament in this way again,” Major said.


Dr Barbie, nurse Ken: French toymakers to fight stereotypes

Yahoo – AFP, Mariëtte Le Roux, September 24, 2019

Des poupées dans un magasin parisien, le 30 novembre 2011 (AFP Photo/
PIERRE VERDY)

Paris (AFP) - French toymakers signed a pact on Tuesday, three months before Christmas, to rid games and toys of gender stereotypes the government blames for keeping women out of maths and science careers.

The charter for a "balanced representation (of genders) in toys" was signed by the government, the FJP toy industry federation and the association of toy manufacturers.

Explaining the initiative, junior economy minister Agnes Pannier-Runacher said many toys project an "insidious" message that discourages girls from pursuing careers as engineers or computer coders -- fields perceived as more appropriate for their male counterparts.

"There are toys for girls that are generally very pink and generally very focused on domestic life, whereas toys for boys are generally themed around construction, space travel, and science and technology," she told broadcaster RTL.

This message that jobs are gender-specific is hammered home from a young age, with the result that "very few women" enter science and technology, Pannier-Runacher lamented.

"If you go to a shop to buy a toy for your young niece or nephew, the first question is: 'Is it for a girl or a boy?' and not: 'Do they like to play outside? Do they like to play construction games? Do they like to play at taking care of a baby?'," she said.

This has the effect that girls, even though they tend to perform better than boys at maths and physics at school, are underrepresented in the sector as adults.

"Today, ten percent of coders are women, which means that 90 percent of coders are men designing the algorithms of tomorrow," said Pannier-Runacher.

At France's national research centre, the CNRS, women represented just 38 percent of researchers in 2017, and less than a third of research managers. Women are more than half the French population.

Toys have a "fundamental" role in helping girls find their calling, says Florence 
Barnier, who heads the Elles Bougent (They Move), which seeks to boost the 
number of girls in the sciences (AFP Photo/Alastair Pike)

Apart from changes in toy design, the charter also envisages that manufacturers will adapt the way their products are advertised.

And there will be retraining for toyshop attendants, so they can learn that "what is important is the potential of the child and what they love", that "a baby in the arms of a small boy or a Meccano (building set) in the arms of a girl is also good," said Pannier-Runacher.

Girls can be knights

"A little girl may not wish to be a princess. She might want to be a knight... and go to combat rather than being confined to a castle hosting her friends for tea," the junior minister added.

Pannier-Runacher tweeted a picture of the new charter along with "you can be anything" Barbie dolls dressed as an astronaut and a robotics engineer.

Last year, Barbie-maker Mattel announced a campaign to teach young girls not to buy into sexist stereotypes.

It has given the decades-old doll known for her original impossible physique a number of metamorphoses in recent years, including as an engineer, a scientist and a mathematician.

The charter signed at the economy ministry does not envision sanctions for not complying, Pannier-Runacher said, but companies stand to receive a reputational boost if they do.

The FJP federation said in a statement it was committed to taking "measurable" steps towards boosting gender neutrality in toys.

Toys play a "fundamental" role in helping girls find their calling, added Florence Barnier, who heads the Elles Bougent (They Move) movement which seeks to boost the number of girls in the sciences.

"If we do not give science-themed toys to young girls, they will not be able to see themselves in these jobs," she said.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Lagarde urges policymakers to resolve manmade economic threats

MSN – AFP, 20 September 2019

Eric BARADAT Outgoing IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde gives an
exclusive interview to AFP journalists at the IMF headquarters in Washington
on September 19, 2019

Accustomed to being the first woman in influential leadership positions and speaking frankly to men in power, Christine Lagarde says manmade threfinats to the global economy can be "man-fixed."

Lagarde only last week left her post as head of the International Monetary Fund after eight years, the first woman to serve in that role, and she is expected to put another "first" on her resume by the end of the year: first woman to serve as president of the European Central Bank.

Eric BARADAT Christine Lagarde is expected to take over
leadership of the European Central bank and calls for
 policymakers to address manmade threats to global growth

She sees a world economy where growth is "fragile" and "under threat" from trade frictions and Brexit, and perhaps an over-reliance on the efforts of central banks like the ECB.

But while she tried to urge action during her time at the IMF -- she took over in 2011 in the aftermath of the global financial crisis -- she said a central bank should "stick to its mandate," which perhaps is a clue to how she will run the ECB.

Or perhaps not.

She carefully avoided a commitment about how she would use her influence in the new post.

Manmade problems can be 'man-fixed'

In perfect English and always engaging and crisply professional, Lagarde sat down with AFP on Thursday to review her legacy at the Washington-based crisis lender, where she arrived after being the first woman finance minister of France.

In bare numbers, her record is impressive: the IMF helped to avoid a global depression, 90 countries -- nearly half of its members -- benefitted from some form of lending or credit line during the crisis, and the lending capacity was doubled to $1 trillion.

One of her main regrets is that she ran out of time to convince the member governments to increase those resources further, since the IMF, which sits "right at the core, at the center of the global financial safety net," may not have enough cash to address the next inevitable crisis.

Still, the IMF remains influential over economic and financial policy matters.

"I think we have spoken truth to power, not always to the power's pleasure," Lagarde said.

But as she leaves Britain is poised to crash out of the European Union, with no deal to cushion the blow in place as yet, while "America First" President Donald Trump has waged a multi-front trade war primarily targeted at China.

Those threats have undercut confidences and business investment as well as exports, and global growth could by some estimates fall to the slowest pace since 2008 at the start of the financial crisis.

But Brexit and trade frictions "are manmade and can be man-fixed," and Lagarde quipped, "A bit of woman wouldn't hurt."

Where are the roof fixers?

She has often urged governments to "fix the roof while the sun is shining," borrowing from former US President John F Kennedy, pushing for spending while times are good to fix long-term problems and help people left behind by globalization and technological change.

Yet even amid a worldwide wave of anger against trade and globalization, officials who control the purse strings of governments have not done enough, Lagarde said.

Instead central banks have done much of the heavy lifting in preventing the financial crisis from becoming a depression.

"I think central bankers have done an awful lot and were for many years regarded as the only game in town," she said.

If confirmed, Lagarde will step into her new post as one of those central bankers in an environment where Trump has maintained a relentless campaign against the US Federal Reserve for not cutting interest rates aggressively to stimulate growth, while others in Europe have criticized outgoing ECB President Mario Draghi for cutting rates further into negative territory to juice a sluggish EU economy.

Experience shows that when politicians meddle with central bank independence it "doesn't pan out very well," she cautioned, but at the same time "a central bank has to do the job that it is assigned to do... they should stick to facts and data so that they could be predictable."

In her new post leading the ECB, she pledged to focus on job creation and stability, but stability alone may not be enough in the lives of real people.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Two priests should be tried in altar boys abuse case: Vatican

Yahoo – AFP, September 17, 2019

Pope Francis has apologised for predatory priests but cover-ups in the
Vatican have severely damaged trust (AFP Photo/Alberto PIZZOLI)

Vatican City (AFP) - An Italian priest accused of sexually abusing altar boys in a seminary and another priest who allegedly facilitated that abuse have been referred to Italian justice, the Vatican said Tuesday.

A statement said the Vatican’s Promoter of Justice has recommended that Father Gabriele Martinelli stand trial over charges of sexual abuse, and that Father Enrico Radice also be tried over charges of covering it up.

The alleged abuse took place at the pre-seminary of St Pius X, an institution located on Vatican grounds that trains altar boys and is very close to Pope Francis's residence.

"The investigation was launched in 2017 following press reports," the Vatican said.

Martinelli was a seminarian and aged 21 when the alleged abuse took place and was in charge of training the boys.

A Polish roommate of one of the victims said he had witnessed repeated sexual assaults, according to Italian media.

He along with two other seminarians denounced Martinelli to superiors and also in a letter written to cardinals.

The alleged abuse was the subject of 2017 book called "Original Sin" by Italian journalist Gianluigi Nuzzi.

Nuzzi said the young seminarian, who lived there between the ages of 13 and 18, was sent back in 2014 after sounding the alarm on the alleged abuse.

The seminarian claimed that Martinelli came to his room to have sexual relations with his roommate -- who was then aged 17.

He claimed he had witnessed such acts up to 140 times and that Martinelli used "power and intimidation" to impose his will on young seminarians.

The Polish man, who says he is gay, accused the priests of double standards, saying: "During the day, they are homophobes and at night they unwind in gay discos."

Pope Francis has apologised for predatory priests but cover-ups in the Vatican have severely damaged trust in the centuries-old institution, and there is still much to be done to protect minors from clerical paedophiles.

In May, the pontiff passed a landmark new measure to oblige those who know about sex abuse in the Catholic Church to report it to their superiors, in a move which could bring countless new cases to light.

Related Article:


".... Let me tell you what else is in the field. Two things: These are going to be things that exist now in the field and they are upcoming potentials. The reason I give you these potentials is so if they happen, just like the handshake, you might believe a little more in this process.

There will come a time when Big Pharma will fall over because of a growing higher consciousness of the public. [Applause in the audience] There is a consciousness growing here that begins to have a new respect for each other, so that abuse of women will no longer be tolerated. Things that never happened before will begin happening, like bishops and cardinals resigning. [All 34 bishops in the Catholic Church resigned May 2018 after the new wild card pope called them on their reaction to child abuse for years by their colleagues.] All the things my partner brought today [in the seminar] are actually happening now. Why should some of these drug companies fail? Because there will be a strong reaction from your general public when they realize there are companies that have policies that would keep a Human sick or let him die for money. [Applause in the audience] It would be unconscionable, and the potential grows stronger daily that it's going to happen. The trigger? It's coming. When it does, that industry will be in trouble. Not all pharma is this way, dear ones - understand this - but the ones who are will fall. ..."

Apple slams EU as epic court battle over tax bill begins

Yahoo – AFP, Catherine KURZAWA, 17 September 2019

The EU has taken a 13-billion-euro bite out of Apple

Apple went on the offensive against Brussels in an EU court on Tuesday, fighting the European Commission's landmark order that the iPhone-maker reimburse Ireland 13 billion euros ($14 billion) in back taxes.

The EU's tax demand, made three years ago, "defies reality and common sense," Apple's lawyer Daniel Beard told the EU's lower General Court.

The commission's "conclusion... is wrong," he added at the start of two days of hearings.

Lawyers for the world's biggest company faced EU officials in the Luxembourg court, challenging a decision that CEO Tim Cook slammed at the time as "total political crap" with no basis in law.

Ireland, which is similarly appealing the decision, lashed out at the EU's "astonishing" interpretation of tax law.

"The Commission decision simply ignores Irish laws," Ireland's representative Maurice Collins told judges.

The commission's historic decision was delivered in August 2016 by Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, a shock decision that put Europe at the forefront of an emerging effort to rein in the power of America's largest technological companies.

The EU accuses Apple of parking untaxed revenue earned in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and India in Ireland, which has become a European hub for US-based big tech.

This privilege allegedly gave Apple an advantage over other companies, allowing it to avoid Irish taxes between 2003 and 2014 of around 13 billion euros which, according to Brussels, constituted illegal "state aid" by Ireland.

An EU lawyer pushed back at Apple and Ireland's arguments, insisting that the iPhone-maker was on the hook to pay taxes in Ireland.

The judges are not expected to hand down their decision before 2020. Any appeal would then go the EU's highest court, the European Court of Justice, for a final ruling that could land as late as 2021.

Apple CEO Tim Cook, in charge of the world's biggest company, has called the 
EU tax case "total political crap"

'Rewrite history'

Apple fiercely rejects the tax bill, while the US government insists the order by Brussels constitutes a major breach of international tax law.

"The European Commission has tried to rewrite Apple's history in Europe, to ignore Ireland's tax laws and, in doing so, to disrupt the international tax system," Tim Cook said in an open letter in 2016.

The group insists that it is in the United States, where the company invests in research and development and thus creates wealth, that it must pay taxes on the revenue in question.

This became possible after a major tax overhaul in the US at the end of 2017 that allowed Apple to repatriate profits made abroad. Apple has promised to pay Washington a tax bill of $37 billion, in addition to the taxes already paid in the United States.

That argument is "perfectly irrelevant", said the commission's lawyer.

"There is no tax mismatch here," said the lawyer.

The two days of hearings are taking place in a tense trade context between the EU and the United States. President Donald Trump accuses Europeans of deliberately attacking American technology giants.

The EU's competition supremo, Vestager, has in particular been accused by Trump of "hating" the US. He has slammed her as the "tax lady" because of the investigations and heavy fines imposed on US tech firms such as Google.

Pending the conclusion of the case, Apple has blocked the funds in an escrow account: a total of 14.3 billion euros after interest.

The group, which has been present in Ireland since the 1980s, employs around 6,000 people in Cork, the country's second-largest city.

The first indications of how the Apple case may finish will come as early as September 24 when the same EU court will rule on whether Vestager was right to demand unpaid taxes from Starbucks and a unit of Fiat Chrysler.

Monday, September 16, 2019

New EU chief doubles down on 'European way of life' tag

France24 – AFP, 16 September 2019


Brussels (AFP) - The European Commission's incoming chief, Ursula von der Leyen, on Monday defended a controversial "Protecting our European Way of Life" title for her new migration commissioner, rejecting calls to change it.

The monicker is under fire from European lawmakers, rights groups and some member states for echoing the xenophobic rhetoric of the far-right.

But, in a statement run by various European newspapers, she said it was grounded in the "tolerance" and "non-discrimination" expressed in the European Union treaty.

Von der Leyen, a former German defence minister, acknowledged that the wording "triggered a debate" and that "for some, the European way of life is a loaded, politicised term".

But she called the polemic "a good thing" that promoted transparency.

"We cannot and we must not let ourselves have our linguistic expressions taken away -- they are also part of who we are," she said, warning against "adversaries of Europe" trying to undermine "this European way of life".

While von der Leyen's statement focused on the wording in the EU treaty and appealed to higher ideals, she made no mention of the link she made between the title and the tasks linked to it.

In her mission letter to the incoming commissioner, Greece's Margaritis Schinas, von der Leyen wrote she wanted him to be one of several vice presidents whose mandate would cover education, integration, migration and cross-border security.

"Protecting our European way of life... highlights the need for well-managed legal migration, a strong focus on integration and ensuring our communities are cohesive and close-knit," the letter stated.

"We must address and allay legitimate fears and concerns about the impact of irregular migration on our economy and society," it said.

"This will require us to work together to find common solutions which are grounded in our values and our responsibilities."

Confirmation hearings

The row that has blown up around the term could threaten confirmation hearings for von der Leyen's that the European Parliament is to hold from September 30.

Several major political groupings, apart from the European People's Party (EPP) of von der Leyen and Schinas, have demanded the wording of the migration portfolio be changed.

But the head of the EPP in the European Parliament, Manfred Weber, wrote in an opinion piece for the French daily l'Opinion that the controversy "to me seems particularly misplaced" and asked: "Should we be ashamed of our values?"

The outgoing Commission chief, Jean-Claude Juncker, who hands over the reins to von der Leyen at the end of next month, also criticised the title in an interview with Euronews last week.

"I think that this (title) will have to be changed," he said, adding: "I don't like the idea that the European way of life is opposed to migration."

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Key EU ministers ignore budget rule revamp for Italy

France24 - AFP, 14 September 2019


Helsinki (AFP) - The EU's most powerful members on Saturday ignored a call by Italy to reform the European Union's budget rules, handing an early setback to the pro-European government in Rome.

EU finance ministers meeting in Helsinki discussed a possible update to the EU's rules on public spending, but key countries Germany, France and the Netherlands were represented by subordinates.

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called this week for the EU's Stability and Growth Pact, which limits budget deficits to three percent of gross domestic product in member states, to be "improved" and simplified.

The pact was the main bone of contention between the European Commission and the previous populist government in heavily indebted Italy, which must submit a balanced budget to Brussels in the coming weeks.

Reforming the rules, which also include a 60 percent of GDP cap on debt, sharply splits Italy from the EU's richer members that are loathe to ease the pressure on Rome's chronic overspending.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said any attempt to modify the rules would be too contentious and the EU must prioritise other challenges, especially investment.

"I am very cautious on ideas to change the rules," Le Maire said in Helsinki on Friday before jetting off early from the two-day meeting.

A reform would be "very difficult, very long, and very uncertain," added Le Maire, who was seen as a potential ally for Rome in the debate.

Officials said the long-planned discussion on Saturday very generally explored ways to simplify the rules and new ways to measure national spending.

Northern countries, led by the Netherlands, accuse the European Commission of loosely interpreting data in order to give deficit-running countries leeway. The current system has helped absolve countries such as Spain, Belgium and France, critics allege.

EU commission vice president Valdis Dombrovkis said an overhaul would only take place if an agreement seemed possible.

"We should avoid the scenario where we just open legislation without knowing how we'll close it and then have a long and divisive debate on this and not achieve results," he said.

Italy's new finance minister Roberto Gualtieri downplayed the significance of his absent counterparts, which also included Spain's finance minister.

"We are in a preliminary phase of reflection... It was an informal discussion," Gualtieri told reporters.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

EU climate chief appoints fellow Dutch Labour man to top job

DutchNews, September 11, 2019

Diederik Samsom in June. Photo: Laurens van Putten via HH

Former Labour party leader Diederik Samsom is moving to Brussels as right hand man of EU commissioner Frans Timmermans, who has been charged with implementing Europe’s climate strategy. 

Samsom, who led negotiations to draw up a climate agreement between some 600 organisations in the Netherlands, will head a 12-man cabinet which will support Timmermans in his daily work, Dutch media reported. 

Timmermans, also a former Dutch Labour MP, reportedly said that Samsom is the ‘best man’ for the job. 

Earlier this week, Timmermans was made first executive vice president for a ‘European Green Deal’

His mission is to ‘look at everything from how we use and produce energy, unlock private investment and support new clean technologies, all the way through to the transport we use, the food we eat and the packaging we throw away’, according to a briefing by incoming commission chief Ursula von der Leyen.


Frans Timmermans (Pic: Flickr/PES Communications)

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Monday, September 9, 2019

France says 'time has come' to ease tensions with Russia

Yahoo – News, Marina LAPENKOVA, 9 September 2019

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian (L) and Defence Minister Florence
Parly held the first meeting in the so-called "2+2" format suspended after Russia
seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014

France said Monday that the time had come to start easing tensions with Russia as senior ministers held four-way talks in Moscow not seen since the crisis over Ukraine broke out.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said there was a "window of opportunity" for resolving the Ukraine conflict after a landmark prisoner exchange on Saturday, but that it was too soon to talk of lifting sanctions on Russia.

Le Drian and French Defence Minister Florence Parly were in Moscow for talks under the so-called "2+2" format that been suspended since Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

French President Emmanuel Macron has launched a diplomatic push for a detente in Europe's relations with Russia.

"The time has come, the time is right, to work towards reducing distrust," Le Drian told a press conference of the four ministers after the talks.

"We have come to suggest... a new agenda of trust and security."

He said the prisoner exchange -- which saw 35 detainees handed over on each side -- had created goodwill that needed to be reinforced.

"It is not yet the deadline for lifting sanctions. It's a new state of mind, which we have not seen for several years," Le Drian said.

Lavrov said progress on rebuilding ties with Europe was "possible and necessary".

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) said progress on rebuilding ties 
with Europe was "possible and necessary"

Prisoner swap 'a good sign'

He welcomed recent statements by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky as "very, very positive" and described the prisoner exchange as "a good sign" for future progress.

Ties between Russia and Europe have been deeply strained since 2014, when the European Union and United States imposed sanctions over the annexation of Crimea and Russia's support for separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Macron embarked on his bid to bring Russia in from the cold this summer, hosting President Vladimir Putin in southern France last month and renewing high-level diplomatic contacts.

The two men spoke by phone on Sunday, hailing the prisoner exchange as a step forward in peace efforts.

Attempts to resolve the Ukraine crisis have revived since the election in April of comedian-turned-president Zelensky, who has made ending the conflict his main priority.

Macron announced a summit under the so-called "Normandy format" of France, Germany, Russia and Ukraine in his talks with Putin, but a date has not yet been set.

The focus of the summit will be reviving the Minsk accords, which Germany and France helped to negotiate but failed to stop the fighting in eastern Ukraine, where more than 13,000 have been killed.

Analysts said Macron is looking to take the lead on Russia in Europe. As head of the G7 and Council of Europe, and with Germany and Britain focused on internal politics, the French president sees an opportunity.

"Emmanuel Macron is telling himself that if there's a chance of doing something on Ukraine, it's now," said Florent Parmentier, a researcher at Sciences Po university in Paris.

"It won't be easy but it's not a rash move," he added, pointing to France's "real diplomatic advance" by promoting Russia's return to the Council of Europe, the continent's foremost human rights body, last June.