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European Union launches naval operation against human traffickers in Mediterranean

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Brussels: The European Union (EU) on Monday launched a naval operation against human traffickers in the Mediterranean.

According to an EU statement, the mission titled “EUNAVFOR Med” is aimed at identifying, capturing and seizing vessels used or suspected of being used by migrant smugglers or traffickers, Xinhua news agency reported.

EUNAVFOR Med will run for 12 months. The first phase is to focus on surveillance and assessing human smuggling and trafficking networks in the southern central Mediterranean.

The second stage of the operation is to search and, if necessary, apprehend suspicious vessels.

The third phase would dispose of the vessels, and arrest traffickers and smugglers.

The European Council will assess when to move beyond the first step, taking into account a UN mandate and the consent of the coastal states concerned.

The cost of the operation is estimated at 11.82 million euros (about $13 million). (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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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)