Tuesday February 19, 2019
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EU negotiators arrive in Athens for bailout talks

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By NewsGram Staff Writer

European Union (EU) negotiators arrived in Athens on Friday to begin discussions on a third Greek bailout.

Greek government officials are expected to hold talks during the first high-level negotiations in the Greek capital since leftist Alexis Tsipras became prime minister in January, BBC reported.

The negotiators comprise representatives of the European Commission, European Central Bank (ECB) and European Stability Mechanism (ESM) – the eurozone’s main bailout fund.

The move comes after Greek MPs approved tough new conditions set by the EU lenders last week.

The new conditions included an increase in Value Added Tax (VAT) and pushing back the retirement age. On Wednesday, the ECB increased its cash lifeline to Greek banks by 900 million euros (about $980 million).

The IMF confirmed on Monday that Greece had cleared its overdue debt repayments of 2.05 billion euros ($2.24 billion) and was no longer in arrears.

Greece’s next major deadline is August 20, when it must pay 3.2 billion euros ($3.5 billion) owed to the ECB, followed by a payment of 1.5 billion euros ($1.6 billion) to the IMF in September.

(With inputs from IANS)

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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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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)