EU bulletin 3rd February 2016 Britain risks becoming "dirty man of Europe"

February 3, 2016 11:50 AM

US President Barack Obama waded into the boiling debate over Britain's European Union membership on Tuesday (2 February), telling Prime Minister David Cameron his country was best served inside the 28-country bloc, EurActiv reports.Obama spoke with Cameron by phone and "reaffirmed continued US support for a strong United Kingdom in a strong European Union," according to the White House: http://www.euractiv.com/sections/uk-europe/obama-phones-cameron-stay-eu-321529

EUobserver reports that the EU's draft agreement with the UK received moderate backing from governments in eastern Europe, who had been critical of British prime minister David Cameron's plans to curb benefits for EU workers. Governments across Europe are still studying the small print of EU Council chief Donald Tusk's proposals for a deal with the UK to keep it in the EU, but gave tentative backing to the plan on Tuesday (2 February): https://euobserver.com/political/132115

The text of Donald Tusk's letter to Members of the European Council on his proposal for a new settlement for the United Kingdom within the European Union can be accessed here: http://www.consilium.europa.eu/en/press/press-releases/2016/02/02-letter-tusk-proposal-new-settlement-uk/

Children now make up over a third of the migrants making the perilous sea crossing from Turkey to Greece, the UN has said, as two more babies drowned off Europe's shores, EurActiv reports: http://www.euractiv.com/sections/global-europe/third-migrants-sailing-greece-are-children-unicef-321530 EUobserver reports UNICEF saying migrant women and children entering Macedonia from Greece outnumber men for the first time ever. Women and children now make up around 60% of those crossing the border. Unicef said men had made up 73% of the "migration flow" last June: https://euobserver.com/tickers/132113

Now is the time for Europe to pull together to solve the refugee crisis, before barbed wire fences and xenophobia destroy our fundamental values, writes Dimitris Papadimoulis, a Syriza MEP, in an opinion piece in EurActiv: http://www.euractiv.com/sections/global-europe/refugee-crisis-european-problem-and-demands-european-solution-321498

The EU wants to examine the contracts which Gazprom has signed with European companies, amid suspicions that the Russian state energy giant has imposed unfair prices which breach the bloc's trading rules, according to a report in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung picked up by EurActiv: http://www.euractiv.com/sections/energy/eu-wants-see-gazprom-contracts-european-clients-according-german-newspaper-321532

Members of the Civil Liberties Committee of the European Parliament welcomed the progress made in the ongoing talks on a new Safe Harbour framework on EU-US data transfers laid out by Commissioner Jourová on Monday evening. Civil Liberties Committee Chair Claude Moraes promised that the European Parliament will play the role of watchdog for citizens over any new Safe Harbour agreement: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/news-room/20160202IPR12410/EP-will-play-the-role-of-watchdog-over-new-Safe-Harbour-deal

Following the announcement of the conclusion of the data transfer negotiations (Safe Harbour) between the EU and the US, the EPP Group's Spokesman on Data Protection, Axel Voss MEP, welcomed the agreement: "This new arrangement is of paramount importance to our digital economy. It gives a clear and reasonable legal framework for the transatlantic transfer of data: http://www.eppgroup.eu/press-release/EU-US-privacy-shield%3A-EPP-Group-supports-agreement However, the agreement was attacked by the Greens as steamolling the right to data protection: http://www.greens-efa.eu/eu-us-data-protectionsafe-harbour-15127.html

The European Commission on Tuesday announced it wanted to end the anonymity of digital currency exchanges as part of its wider crackdown on terrorism financing: EUobserver reports. Virtual currency exchange platforms would now be included in the scope of its fourth anti-money laundering directive, it stated: https://euobserver.com/tickers/132112

EU ombudsman Emily O'Reilly is demanding more transparency on so-called expert groups that help frame future EU proposals, EUobserver reports. In 2015 the European Commission consulted around 800 groups with a total of roughly 6,000 members, mostly composed of people from industry, to help it draw up new legislation: https://euobserver.com/justice/132102

Britain risks becoming the "dirty man of Europe" again with filthy beaches, foul air and weak conservation laws if it leaves the European Union, a group of leading environmentalists warned on Wednesday (3 February), according to EurActiv: http://www.euractiv.com/sections/uk-europe/brexit-would-return-britain-being-dirty-man-europe-321531

The European Commission has earmarked 10 million euros for Zika virus research, EurActiv reports: http://www.euractiv.com/sections/health-consumers/commission-earmarks-eu10-million-zika-virus-research-321520

National governments must announce their plans to move TV broadcasters below the 700 MHz band by 2017, which will be assigned exclusively to wireless broadband by 2020. EurActiv reports. "Spectrum is a scarce resource: we need to make the best of it," said the Eurppean Commission's Vice-President for the Digital Agenda, Andrus Ansip on Tuesday (2 February): http://www.euractiv.com/sections/digital/commission-shakes-radio-spectrum-lead-mobile-internet-321516