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Round-up of news stories from across the EU
17.6.16
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Bulgarian DefMin Dismisses Reports about Proposed Joint Naval Force with Romania, Turkey (Novinite, link): "Reports about an alleged proposal to set up a joint naval fleet with Romania and Turkey to counter a perceived Russian threat in the Black Sea were a “propaganda war with elements of hybrid warfare tactics", Bulgaria’s Defence Minister Nikolay Nenchev has said.

Romania had only proposed joint actions and training with the aim to boost defence capabilities, Nenchev told Bulgarian broadcaster Nova TV on Friday.

No proposal had been made to Bulgaria to establish a joint naval force in the Black Sea with Romania and Turkey; no participation had been offered to non-NATO Ukraine either, Nenchev added."

BULGARIA: Fears Grow of Clashes at Bulgaria Pride March (Balkan Insight, link): "Tensions have grown ahead of the Sofia Pride in support of LGBTI people on Sunday, after the municipality gave the go-ahead for ultra-nationalists to stage a counter-protest at the same time in the centre of the capital.

The routes of the two marches will even meet at one location, which worries the organizers of the Pride in terms of the safety of their supporters.

“One month after we notified the municipality [about the Pride parade] we were aghast to learn that the route of the traditional counter demonstration against the march is going to coincide with some parts of the route of the Pride,” Radoslav Stoyanov, member of the organizational committee of Sofia Pride, told BIRN on Friday."

EU: Parliament slams Commission's 'unworkable' gun law proposals (The Parliament, link): "MEPs from across the political divide have joined forces in condemning Commission gun law proposals as "unworkable."

The proposals were brought forward in the wake of last November's Paris terrorist attacks.

A meeting on Tuesday of Parliament's internal market and consumer protection (IMCO) committee debated a raft of "compromise" proposals put forward by UK Tory MEP Vicky Ford.

Her proposals, which were generally welcomed by committee members, are designed to pave the way for formal negotiations to start on the draft legislation between Parliament, the Commission and member states."

EASTERN/CENTRAL EUROPE: Visegrád Group to contribute company of soldiers to NATO Baltic mission (Politics.hu, link): "Countries in the Visegrád Group(V4) will add a company of soldiers to NATO’s mission in the Baltic aera, the Hungarian defence ministry said. The security of NATO members in the Baltics has considerably worsened in wake of the Ukraine crisis. In such a situation “federal solidarity is extremely important”, and Visegrád countries want to make a tangible contribution to efforts aimed at ensuring the security of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, it said. Czech, Polish, Hungarian, and Slovak units will take three-month turns and will hold joint exercises with local forces, the statement said."

Germany must protect Bin Laden bodyguard, court rules (The Local, link): "A man believed to have once been Osama bin Laden's bodyguard cannot be sent back to Tunisia because the risk of torture would be too high, a German court ruled on Wednesday.

Sami A. has already had his asylum application rejected by the German authorities and has been handed a deportation order.

But the 39-year-old, who prosecutors allege traveled to Afghanistan in the late 1990s, where he worked as Osama bin Laden’s bodyguard, will be allowed to stay in Germany after the administrative court in Gelsenkirchen ruled on Wednesday that he cannot be sent back to his home country of Tunisia."

GERMANY: Jewish group outraged by Munich auction of Nazi relics (The Local, link): " Germany's top Jewish group Thursday labelled as "disgusting" plans for a weekend auction of Nazi memorabilia, including Hermann Goering's silk underpants.

The Central Council of Jews in Germany appealed to the auction house Hermann Historica to cancel the controversial sale of Nazi relics planned for Saturday in the southern city of Munich."

Macedonia Braces as Protesters' Deadline Looms (Balkan Insight, link): "Two days before the deadline expires for a fresh wave of protests, supporters of Macedonia's “Colourful Revolution” blocked three key bridges in Skopje and painted a giant number two on the city's Goce Delcev bridge as a reminder.

The actions took place as protesters found out that one of their key demands, which is for the Constitutional Court to guarantee that it will not rule the Special Prosecution - tasked to investigate high-level crime - unconstitutional, is unlikely to be met in the coming days.

The court's web page significantly did not include this motion on the agenda for next week’s sessions."

SCOTLAND: Staffing shortages hit healthcare at Scotland's open prison (STV News, link): "Healthcare in Scotland's only open prison suffered due to "significant" staffing shortages, an inspection report has found.

Prisoners at Castle Huntly were not given "continuity of care" because health workers were moved between different prisons to cover shifts.

A report by the HM Inspectorate of Prisons for Scotland said the site health centre did not offer the range of services and health promotion which was expected.

Concerns were also raised about how controlled drugs were issued, as in some cases only one signatory was present when there should have been two."

Spain’s influence in Brussels shrinks under Rajoy (El País, link): "Rajoy has been apathetic during every visit to the European capital, in contrast with the proactive attitudes of his foreign and economy ministers, José Manuel García-Margallo and Luis de Guindos. The rest of his cabinet are nowhere to be seen. Spain may head the global unemployment charts, but the acting labor minister, Fátima Báñez, has missed half the EU meetings on the subject."

SWITZERLAND: Swiss civil society struggles against digital surveillance laws (EDRi, link): "In June 2016, Swiss civil society activists are redoubling their efforts to collect signatures in support of a referendum vote on the revision of a surveillance law best known under the German acronym BÜPF, “federal law concerning surveillance of postal communications and telecommunications”. This revision would legalise surveillance by means of IMSI catchers (fake relay antennas for mobile phone) and govware trojans (spyware used by the government). It would require even private persons and associations to be subject to internet wiretapping on their premises, mailservers, etc."

UK: INQUEST: Belmarsh inmate who died in custody was cutting himself to avoid facing jail in Albania (News Shopper, link): " An Albanian inmate at Belmarsh prison who died in custody after a “dirty protest” was self-harming to avoid being extradited to his home country, a jury has found.

It has previously been reported that Ndricim Sadushi, 43, was on the run for 15 years after being convicted in his absence of three murders and one attempted killing in Albania in 1997.

The jury at Southwark Coroner’s Court came to the conclusion Mr Sadushi, a builder, did not intend to kill himself.

But it did find the condition of his cell, which was covered in faeces and urine, and him being mute may have contributed to his death around 7am on January 20, 2014. "

UK: Lords question creating new criminal offences ‘by regulation’ (The Law Society Gazette, link): "A House of Lords committee has criticised the government for introducing legislation heavily reliant on delegated powers, questioning a bill which would enable ministers to create new criminal offences ‘by regulation’ instead of being subject to ‘full and proper’ parliamentary scrutiny.

The constitution committee, which assesses the impact of a public bill, also investigates wider constitutional issues, publishing reports with recommendations principally aimed at the government.

In its report on the Children and Social Work Bill, which has its second reading today, the committee says the bill’s provisions appear to continue a ‘trend’ of introducing legislation ’that leaves much to the subsequent discretion of ministers’."

UK: Prisoner at Serco-run facility found dead in cell by fellow inmates (The Guardian, link): "A prisoner who apparently hanged himself in his cell was found and cut down by fellow inmates after staff who unlocked his cell failed to notice the deceased man, the Guardian has learned.

James Sullivan, 27, was found dead in his cell at Lowdham Grange prison in Nottinghamshire on 24 March . He was serving a life sentence for the murder of his partner.

Prisoners at the jail have told the Guardian they were worried about Sullivan’s mental state and checked up on him when their cells were unlocked shortly after 8am."

UK: Race failures are damaging the police, says top Met officer (The Guardian, link): "Scotland Yard’s new head of diversity has said the Met still treats black people worse than white people on the street and blights the careers of its own ethnic minority staff by racially discriminating against them.

Ch Supt Victor Olisa said discrimination by officers includes negative typecasting of black people, leading to more force and coercive tactics being used against them by officers in the street.

In a Guardian interview, the Met’s most senior black officer said: “My view is that on occasions we work on stereotypes and that stereotypes of black men being more aggressive, more confrontational, is a stereotype that plays on some officers’ minds and that can lead to a different level of policing style and force being used on a black suspect than it probably would do otherwise.”"

USA: The Danger of Corporate Facial Recognition Tech (Electronic Frontier Foundation, link): "Supporters of unregulated corporate facial recognition systems are waging a sneak attack against our nation’s strongest protection of biometric privacy. On one side are business interests seeking to profit by using invasive facial recognition technologies to identify and track vast numbers of people without their consent. On the other side are EFF and many other digital privacy and consumer rights organizations. Our side won the latest round. But the future of biometric privacy will require all of our constant vigilance."

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