Author Archives: Europe correspondent

Spain: Cupid fraud for migrants

On 10 December 2019, the Spanish National Police (Policía Nacional), supported by Europol, dismantled an organised crime group involved in the facilitation of illegal immigration by arranging sham unmarried partnerships in Spain. The partnerships of convenience were set up to ensure legal permanent permits of residence for irregular migrants.

The operation led to 11 searches of properties and companies, 30 arrests and the seizures of a luxury car, over €10 000 in cash and a high number of documents. Solid evidence of facilitation of illegal immigration and document fraud was found during the searches.

The organised crime group recruited Spanish women willing to be part of unmarried partnerships. Non-EU migrants, wanting to migrate or formalise their stay in Europe, acquired similar rights of EU citizens through the fraudulent partnerships with the Spanish women. Each migrant had to pay between €8 000 and €12 000 for this service. The woman in these pretend partnerships were paid €3 000 for their “I do” as a pretend partner.

The members of this highly complex organised crime group owned several shell companies and were Moroccan and Spanish nationals. The women, also members of the crime group, were registered as employees in these companies. Their employment contracts allowed them to justify their revenues and gave the companies a legitimate legal appearance. A money laundering component was also detected during the investigation.

Europol provided coordination and analytical support and facilitated the information exchange. On the action day, Europol also deployed experts on-the-spot to cross-check operational information in real time against Europol’s databases and to provide technical expertise.

Orban considers quitting EPP

“This cannot go on,” Prime Minister Orbán said in his regular Friday morning interview on the public Kossuth Rádió on January 17. If the European People’ Party doesn’t stand up for Hungary, then we will have to start a new, Christian-Democratic European movement.”

Besides the European Parliament vote yesterday, the Prime minister talked about Vicegrad Four – V4 relations with Austria, “prison deals” in Hungary and the Roma segregation case in Gyöngyöspata.

In a resolution adopted in the European Parliament Plenary with 446 votes to 178 and 41 abstentions, MEPs note that reports and statements by the Commission, the UN, OSCE and the Council of Europe indicate that “the situation in both Poland and Hungary has deteriorated since the triggering of Article 7(1)”.

MEPs point out that the hearings organised by the Council under Article 7 of the Treaty are neither regular nor structured. They call on the Council to address concrete recommendations to the countries concerned, including deadlines, to ensure EU law is respected.
The failure by the Council to make effective use of Article 7 continues to undermine the integrity of common European values, mutual trust and the credibility of the European Union as a whole”, claims the EP.

The text also urges the Commission to use all tools at its disposal to prevent a serious breach of common values, such as expedited infringement procedures and applications for interim measures before the Court of Justice.

Duma approves new Prime Minister

President Putin has signed a decree appointing Mikhail Mishustin as the Prime minister.
“In accordance with Article 83(a) of the Russian Constitution, Mikhail Vladimirovich Mishustin is appointed as Russia’s Prime Minister,” says the decree issued on the Kremlin’s website.

The decree comes into force on the day of its signing.
Earlier on 16 of January the State Duma endorsed the appointment. As many as 383 lawmakers voted ‘yes,’ and 41 abstained. Nobody rejected the candidacy.

Former Prime Minister Medvedev, appointed deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council, will hold a meeting with new Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin on January 17, the Russian government’s press service informed.
The meeting between the deputy chairman of the Russian Security Council and the Russian Prime minister will take place tomorrow [January 17] at the House of Government of the Russian Federation,” the press service stated.

The entire Russian government, headed by Dmitry Medvedev, resigned on January 15.
The Duma plenary session Mishustin promised to announce the new composition of the Cabinet of Ministers within a few days.

Zarif rejects revision of JCPoA

Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif has dismissed a proposal for a new nuclear deal proposed by the U.S.President Trump to replace the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, saying the accord is not previous US president Barack Obama’s deal to expire.

We did not sign an “Obama deal” to go for a “Trump deal” now. Even if we did, who’s to say we won’t need Biden, Sanders or Warren deal next year?” Zarif said in a tweet on referring to American nominees competing against Trump in the 2020 presidential race.

Zarif added that Iran believed in diplomacy “but not in re-negotiating a UNSC Resolution we agreed on with six Governments and the EU.”

JCPOA remains a topical issue despite all the challenges. We advocate its purposeful and comprehensive implementation under the parameters that were coordinated during the conclusion of the agreements in 2015 and formalised in UNSC Resolution 2231″ Russian Foreign Affairs stated on their Twitter microblog.

Borrell meets Zarif in New Delhi

On the margins of the multilateral conference in New Delhi, the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell met with the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif. For Borrell it was the first meeting with Zarif in his EU High Representative capacity on Thursday, 16 January 2020 in New Delhi.

In a frank dialogue, they discussed the latest developments around the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Josep Borrell underlined the continued interest of the European Union to preserve the agreement, which is now more important than ever, in light of the dangerous escalations in the Middle East and the Gulf region.

Both partners agreed to remain in close touch and continue their engagement in the coming weeks.

High Representative Borrell and Minister Zarif met in the Indian capital on the margins of the Raisina Dialogue 2020, which is a multilateral conference committed to addressing the most challenging issues facing the global community.

Their meeting follows a series of contacts they had since the start of the current crisis on 3 January.

EU renews terrorist list

The Council today renewed the so-called EU terrorist list, which sets out persons, groups and entities subject to restrictive measures with a view to combating terrorism. Persons, groups and entities on the list are subject to the freezing of their funds and other financial assets in the EU. It is also prohibited for EU operators to make funds and economic resources available to them.

The Council is empowered to establish a EU list and impose related restrictive measures under Council Common Position 2001/931/CFSP, and Council Regulation (EC) No 2580/2001.

The Council first set up the list as implementation of UNSC Resolution 1373/2001 that followed the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001. It reviews the list at regular intervals, and at least every six months, on the basis of a regular exchange of information between member states on any new facts and developments relating to the listings.

This sanctions regime is separate from the EU regime implementing UN Security Council resolutions 1267 (2011), 1989 (2011) and 2253 (2015 and targeting Al-Qaida and ISIL/Da’esh. The EU also has its own sanction regime which allows the EU to apply sanctions autonomously to ISIL/Da’esh and Al-Qaida and persons and entities associated or supporting them.

Sassoli removes national flags

To indignation of some Members of the European Parliament, the January Plenary session in Strasbourg started with removal of national flags from the desks in the Chamber.
The European Union is slipping further. The autocratic socialist Sassoli, who was appointed President of the European Parliament, has ordered to bailiffs to seize all national flags on the banks of parliamentarians. Continuation follows!”wrote Gerolf Annemans, MEP from Vlaams Belang party.

Nigel Farage leading the UK Brexit party expressed his content to leave the bloc.

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