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Nations demand higher animal welfare standards from European Commission

March 17, 2016 5:16 PM

If Britain exits from the [European] union, it will damage the political idea - never more timely than now - that a nation can pursue a policy mission that benefits itself and its neighbors, writes Jochen Bittner, a political editor for the German weekly newspaper Die Zeit, in an op-ed in the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/17/opinion/why-a-brexit-would-be-bad-for-britain.html?emc=edit_ee_20160317&nl=todaysheadlines-europe&nlid=74103272&_r=0

A group of northern and western European ministers called on the European Commission to come up with new rules to improve animal welfare standards on Tuesday (15 March), as an EU-wide poll suggests increasing concern among EU citizens about the treatment of farm animals, reports EUobserver: https://euobserver.com/environment/132706

The idea that the EU will not advance any further is false, states Elmar Brok, a member of the European Parliament's Committee on Constitutional Affairs, in an interview with EurActiv: http://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/interview/elmar-brok-the-idea-that-the-eu-will-not-advance-any-further-is-false/

[F]rom the moment the possibility of a "Brexit" was suggested, states European Council president Donald Tusk in an interview with the New York Review of Books, he has been looking for a way to protect the EU from that outcome. 'And this means reaching an agreement with London that will enable Prime Minister David Cameron to conduct an effective campaign to stay in Europe before the referendum. For me the red line in these negotiations was fundamental European values, such as the free flow of people. And this has been guaranteed in my proposal': http://www.nybooks.com/daily/2016/02/18/the-case-for-europe-an-interview-with-donald-tusk/

Angela Merkel stressed Wednesday that brokering a deal with Turkey will "demand a lot from us" and sought to quell domestic fears that EU membership would be offered to Ankara, during a speech in the Bundestag ahead of a decisive European Council summit, EurActiv Germany reports. Merkel emphasised again that the refugee crisis can only be addressed by a "European solution".

Pope Francis has criticised governments who refuse to help migrants, ahead of the EU summit on the migration crisis, reports EUobserver. The Roman Catholic leader called for more compassion, saying migrants were waiting at borders "because so many doors and so many hearts are closed": https://euobserver.com/tickers/132718

A new legal opinion from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) could topple Germany's tight restrictions on free Wi-Fi-and internet service providers say it might also help boost the number of free Wi-Fi points across Europe, reports EurActiv: http://www.euractiv.com/section/digital/news/ecj-wi-fi-opinion-could-boost-free-internet-in-europe/

Eight EU governments have signed a letter objecting to the Nord Stream-2 project that would double the amount of gas shipped directly from Russia to Germany, according to a document seen by Reuters: http://uk.reuters.com/article/uk-eu-energy-nordstream-idUKKCN0WI1YV

In Europe, we are lucky to have a candidate who more than adequately fulfils the criteria for next secretary general of the United Nations. Her name is Irina Bokova [Bulgaria's European Commissioner], writes Sir Graham Watson, a member of the European Economic and Social Committee, in EurActiv: http://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/opinion/europe-is-lucky-to-have-a-candidate-fitting-the-criteria-for-un-secretary-general/

In a bid to spur the EU into action, the French ban on neonicotinoids [a pesticide poisonous to bees] could be set back several months and subject to a number of exceptions. EurActiv France reports.