Round-up of news stories from across the EU 18.4.16

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EU: New passenger regulation spells end of data privacy (Times of Malta, link): "Where did you travel on your last flight? How did you pay for it? Did you book a hotel through your airline and what did you eat on board? The government wants to know – and under a new measure approved by the European Parliament this week, your airline is obliged to tell them."


France vows crackdown after rolling protest clashes (Reuters, link): "France's interior minister on Friday ordered a crackdown on violent fringe demonstrators after they smashed shopfronts and cars on the edge of a bigger youth protest rally held overnight against labour law reforms.

Police used teargas and pepper gas late on Thursday to disperse mobile groups of mostly hooded youths who targeted cars, an auto showroom and a state job-search agency in central Paris. Violence was also reported in other French cities.

"There will be no let-up in the pursuit of these visionless people inspired solely by violence, no let-up in arresting them and bringing them to justice," Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve said."

SWEDEN: Most of Swedish citizens unsure about EU Membership (New Europe, link): "The popularity of the EU membership is falling in Sweden, according to the results of an opinion poll conducted by TNS Sifo for the Swedish public broadcaster SVT.

According to the poll results, only 39 percent of Swedes think it’s a “good idea” that Sweden is in the European Union, compared to 59 percent in autumn 2015. However, the percentage of the Swedish people who are definitely against the EU membership, is much lower, as only 21 percent believe that the EU membership was a “bad idea.” According to TNS the researchers asked 1142 people aged between 18 and 79: “What do you think in general about Sweden being a member of the EU?”"

UK legal aid residence test to be challenged in supreme court (The Guardian, link): "The government’s residence test that deprives those who have lived in the UK for less than 12 months of legal aid faces a major challenge at the supreme court.

Seven justices will hear arguments on Monday, in a case brought by the Public Law Project (PLP), insisting no minister has the power to impose such discriminatory regulations and that the yet to be implemented residence test is unlawful.

The Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has argued that only those who have an established link to the UK should be entitled to legal aid, which is a scarce and costly resource that must be rationed."

UK-EU: Finding the facts: The truth behind referendum claims on EU borders and security (ITV, link): "The UK in a Changing Europe provides independent impartial information, from leading academics, on the UK’s relations with the EU. The ITV News series 'Finding the Facts' is based on the initiative’s work, together with fact check organisation Full Fact, around claims made by both the Leave and Remain campaigns in the upcoming EU referendum."

UK: Home Office deports three times more teenagers to war-torn countries than previously admitted (The Independent, link): "The Government has deported three times as many teenagers to countries ravaged by war and poverty than ministers have previously admitted, figures seen by The Independent reveal.

Charities and politicians have warned the “life or death” decisions of whether to deport young people are being mishandled by a “callous” Home Office without a grip on the facts.

Despite spending their formative years in Britain, children granted temporary leave to remain in the UK as asylum seekers are often sent back to a country they have not lived in for years when they turn 18."

UK: Protesters who blockaded London arms trade fair acquitted after judge sees evidence of illegal weapons on sale (The Independent, link): "There is compelling evidence that arms were illegally being sold at the world’s biggest arms fair which takes place in London, a judge has ruled.

Acquitting eight anti-arms trade protesters who tried to disrupt the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) event at Stratford's ExCel Centre last September, District Judge Angus Hamilton accepted the defendants’ argument that they had tried to prevent a greater crimes, such as genocide and torture, from occurring by blocking a road to stop tanks and other armoured vehicles from arriving at the exhibition centre."

UK: The torture timebomb that could see Jack Straw and an MI6 chief in the dock (Daily Mail, link): "Briefly, Belhaj — a known dissident of Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi — was living in China in 2004 when he decided to seek asylum in Britain.

While en route here, he was abducted at Bangkok airport in Thailand by U.S. authorities — after a reported tip-off by British intelligence — and flown to Libya to be locked up and tortured.

The police started looking into the case more than four years ago. Alison Saunders, Director of Public Prosecutions at the Crown Prosecution Service, must decide whether to prosecute.

If she gives the green light, it will lead to one of the most sensational trials in British political history.

We could see a former Foreign Secretary, Jack Straw, in the dock, charged as a participant or accessory to the Common Law offence of kidnapping, as well as a statutory offence of torture under the Criminal Justice Act 1988. This carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

We could also see a former senior MI6 officer, Sir Mark Allen, charged with the same set of offences. It is not inconceivable that Mr Straw and Sir Mark could appear alongside one another as co-defendants."

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