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British Parliament To Vote On Withdrawal Agreement Negotiated With The EU

Some lawmakers have proposed holding a second referendum like the one in 2016 that set Britain on the path toward leaving the EU.

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Britain, European Union, May
Anti-Brexit supporters hold European Union flags as they demonstrate outside the Houses of Parliament on Jan. 14, 2019. VOA

Britain’s parliament votes Tuesday on the withdrawal agreement that Prime Minister Theresa May’s government negotiated with the European Union.

May canceled a previous vote in December when it was clear she did not have enough votes for the deal to pass, and since then little seems to have changed.

Both pro- and anti-Brexit lawmakers oppose the terms of the agreement. May sought to garner last-minute support Monday by asking them to examine it again while warning of the consequences if the deal fails.

The biggest point of contention has been the arrangement to have an open border between Northern Ireland and EU member Ireland that would keep Britain in some way tied to EU trade policies until the two sides can negotiate a new trade deal.

In a Tuesday radio interview International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said it was not acceptable for the unelected House of Lords to try to block the democratic will of the British people, who voted by a 52-48 margin in June, 2016 to leave the EU.
The Independent newspaper Tuesday night reported that May was preparing for a Brexit meeting with select cabinet ministers Wednesday at which they will try to come up with a joint position on post-withdrawal customs relations following rejection of Britain’s existing proposals. wikimedia commons

EU leaders said Monday the so-called “backstop” arrangement would only be in place as long as necessary.

Negotiators from Britain and the European Union agreed to the terms of the Brexit deal in November after difficult talks, and if the British parliament votes against the agreement there is great uncertainty about what will happen next.

Also Read: Brexit Consequences Getting Tougher for Theresa May

May would have until next Monday to put forth a new proposal. There is also the chance Britain could reach its March 29 withdrawal deadline with no terms in place to specify just how it will relate to the European Union when it is no longer a member.

Some lawmakers have proposed holding a second referendum like the one in 2016 that set Britain on the path toward leaving the EU. Others want parliament to take control of the Brexit process from May and her Cabinet. (VOA)

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EU Rolls Out a Plan to Become Carbon Neutral by 2050

EU Investment Plan Aims for Carbon Neutrality by 2050

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Climate Europe carbon
Greenhouse Gases such as Carbon Dioxide rises from chimneys of the Turow power plant located by the Turow lignite coal mine near the town of Bogatynia, Poland. VOA

By Lisa Bryant

The European Union rolled out a massive, trillion-dollar investment plan Tuesday to deliver on promises to make Europe the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050.

The EU would designate one-quarter of its budget to fighting climate change over the next decade. The trillion-dollar price tag would come from a mix of EU and national government funds, as well as investment from the private sector.

It targets the EU’s ambitious goal of ensuring greenhouse emissions reach net zero in 30 years. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who late last year announced that goal — a plan she calls the “Green Deal” — says the investments are for the climate, as well as EU citizens.

“It will be invested in the huge transition ahead of us, which consists of upskilling people in new jobs, clean technologies, green financing, new procedures,” she said.

Climate Europe carbon
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks during a media conference about the Carbon Neutrality plan of the EU. VOA

The plan prioritizes investment to help coal-dependent countries like Poland transition to green energy. Poland is the only EU member that has not yet signed onto the Green Deal, which would support scientists, businesses and other players in the energy transition. Some of the financing is seed money aimed at triggering much bigger investment.

States that want to qualify for funding must present proposals on low-emission projects as part of how they plan to restructure their economies to be climate friendlier.

The European commissioner for budget and administration, Johannes Hahn, detailed the investment plan at the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

“We have no time to waste if we want to deliver results for the citizens,” Hahn said. “Or, again in a nutshell, we provide climate cash in order to avoid a climate crash.”

A recent poll shows Europeans fear climate change more than terrorism or losing their jobs.

Still, some EU lawmakers suggest details of the green investment plan are too sketchy. Others believe it should link the funds to deadlines for phasing out coal.

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The European Investment Bank, which is mobilizing the chunk of money, announced last year it would end financing for all fossil fuel projects by the end of 2020, and align future financing goals with the Paris climate agreement.

EU lawmakers are expected to hold a non-binding vote Wednesday on the Green Deal. Von der Leyen aims to have climate legislation adopted by March. (VOA)