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Boris Johnson: UK Must Be Ready To Walk Away

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The public would welcome a British exit because people would feel they had won back control over their own lives from Brussels, the Mayor of London Boris Johnson claimed.

"If we are honest, I think, democratically, it would be a shot in the arm because people would suddenly feel, yes, we are running our own destiny again, our politics is entirely independent, British electors can choose the people who are taking decisions that affect their lives. That would be a very important benefit."

However, it would be essential to ensure British businesses did not suffer from losing trade in Europe.

Voters would feel they had regained control over their own destiny if Britain became fully independent from Brussels, the Mayor of London said.
Mr Johnson warned that the country must be ready to "walk away" from Europe if David Cameron failed to negotiate better terms of membership.
Mr Johnson's comments will fuel the increasingly fevered debate inside the Conservative Party about European policy, which has flared after the success of Ukip in last week's local elections.

The Mayor's intervention, at a conference of international business leaders in London, followed an attack from the Prime Minister on Right-wing "pessimists" who believed Britain's relations with Europe could never change.
Mr Cameron is under pressure from his backbench MPs to call a vote in the Commons before the 2015 election on a Bill allowing a referendum on EU membership.

The Prime Minister has promised to hold talks to renegotiate the terms of the UK's membership and then put a new deal to the British people in a referendum after the next election.
While Mr Cameron has said he wants Britain to remain inside the EU, Mr Johnson said quitting would not be "fatal" for Britain.
Speaking to reporters at the Global Investment Conference, Mr Johnson said he remained "narrowly in favour" of staying inside the grouping of 27 member states and supported David Cameron's policy of negotiating a new relationship for Britain in the EU.
But he added: "If that fails then yes, obviously, we should be ready to walk away," he said. "We should be ready to leave."

Earlier, PM Cameron had told the 300 conference delegates that he could negotiate a new relationship for Britain with Europe.
Mr Cameron attacked the "pessimists" who believed he would fail, in a direct rebuke to Tory grandees, such as Michael Portillo and Lord Lawson, who have called for the UK to withdraw from the EU.
"There are some pro European pessimists who say, you have to, in Europe, simply sign up to every single thing that anyone in the EU suggests.
You sign every treaty, you sign everything - there is no alternative.
"I think they are completely wrong," Mr Cameron said.
"The second group of pessimists say there is no prospect of reforming the EU, you simply have to leave. I think they are wrong too.
"I think it is possible to change and reform this organisation and change and reform Britain's relationship with it."

 

Anna van Densky

Economy

Issuance of green bonds will strengthen the international role of the euro

Catherine Feore

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Eurogroup ministers discussed the international role of the euro (15 February), following the publication of the European Commission's communication of (19 January), ‘The European economic and financial system: fostering strength and resilience’.

President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe said: “The aim is to reduce our dependence on other currencies, and to strengthen our autonomy in various situations. At the same time, increased international use of our currency also implies potential trade-offs, which we will continue to monitor. During the discussion, ministers emphasized the potential of green bond issuance to enhance the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate transition objective.”

The Eurogroup has discussed the issue several times in recent years since the December 2018 Euro Summit. Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism said that overreliance on the dollar contained risks, giving Latin America and the Asian crisis of the 90s as examples. He also referred obliquely to “more recent episodes” where the dollar’s dominance meant that EU companies could not continue to work with Iran in the face of US sanctions. Regling believes that the international monetary system is slowly moving towards a multi-polar system where three or four currencies will be important, including the dollar, euro and renminbi. 

European Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, agreed that the euro’s role could be strengthened through the issuance of green bonds enhancing the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate objectives of the Next Generation EU funds.

Ministers agreed that broad action to support the international role of the euro, encompassing progress on amongst other things, Economic and Monetary Union, Banking Union and Capital Markets Union were needed to secure the euros international role.

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EU

European human rights court backs Germany over Kunduz airstrike case

Reuters

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An investigation by Germany into a deadly 2009 airstrike near the Afghan city of Kunduz that was ordered by a German commander complied with its right-to-life obligations, the European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday (16 February), writes .

The ruling by the Strasbourg-based court rejects a complaint by Afghan citizen Abdul Hanan, who lost two sons in the attack, that Germany did not fulfil its obligation to effectively investigate the incident.

In September 2009, the German commander of NATO troops in Kunduz called in a U.S. fighter jet to strike two fuel trucks near the city which NATO believed had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.

The Afghan government said at the time 99 people, including 30 civilians, were killed. Independent rights groups estimated between 60 and 70 civilians were killed.

The death toll shocked Germans and ultimately forced its defence minister to resign over accusations of covering up the number of civilian casualties in the run-up to Germany’s 2009 election.

Germany’s federal prosecutor general had found that the commander did not incur criminal liability, mainly because he was convinced when he ordered the airstrike that no civilians were present.

For him to be liable under international law, he would have had to be found to have acted with intent to cause excessive civilian casualties.

The European Court of Human Rights considered the effectiveness of Germany’s investigation, including whether it established a justification for lethal use of force. It did not consider the legality of the airstrike.

Of 9,600 NATO troops in Afghanistan, Germany has the second-largest contingent behind the United States.

A 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and Washington calls for foreign troops to withdraw by May 1, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal after a deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan.

Germany is preparing to extend the mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan from March 31 until the end of this year, with troop levels remaining at up to 1,300, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.

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Digitalization of EU justice systems: Commission launches public consultation on cross-border judicial co-operation

EU Reporter Correspondent

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On 16 February, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the modernization of EU justice systems. The EU aims to support member states in their efforts to adapt their justice systems to the digital age and improve EU cross-border judicial co-operation. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders (pictured) said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digitalization, including in the field of justice. Judges and lawyers need digital tools to be able to work together faster and more efficiently.

At the same time, citizens and businesses need online tools for an easier and more transparent access to justice at a lower cost. The Commission strives to push this process forward and support member states in their efforts, including as regards facilitating their cooperation in cross-border judicial procedures by using digital channels.” In December 2020, the Commission adopted a communication outlining the actions and initiatives intended to advance the digitalization of justice systems across the EU.

The public consultation will gather views on the digitalization of EU cross-border civil, commercial and criminal procedures. The results of the public consultation, in which a broad range of groups and individuals can participate and which is available here until 8 May 2021, will feed into an initiative on digitalisation of cross-border judicial cooperation expected at the end of this year as announced in the 2021 Commission's Work Programme.

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