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EU accused of adopting ‘fascist rhetoric’ with new Commissioner For Protecting Our European Way of Life to oversee immigration policy

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EU accused of adopting ‘fascist rhetoric’ with new Commissioner For Protecting Our European Way of Life to oversee immigration policy 3

The EU commission has been accused of adopting “grotesque” and “fascist” rhetoric after it created a new “Commissioner for Protecting our European Way of Life” role to oversee immigration policy.

Incoming president Ursula von der Leyen unveiled the new job along with the rest of her cabinet at a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday, explaining that it would cover migration issues.

But critics said the new job’s Orwellian-sounding name suggested that immigrants were a threat to the European way of life. 

Ms Von der Leyen said the new Commission cabinet was “as diverse as Europe is” – though critics also pointed out that all of its members are white.

Many of the posts in Ms Von der Leyen’s new cabinet, which will serve for five years, have avoided traditional ministerial titles for more goal-orientated names like Commissioner for “A Stronger Europe in the World” and “An Economy that Works for People”.

But it is the migration commission’s rebrand that has raised the most eyebrows. Labour MEP Claude Moraes said that “calling the European Commission migration portfolio ‘protecting our way of life’ is deeply insulting”, adding that the “weird and odd titles’ of the Commission would create “confusion”.

Molly Scott Cato, a British Green MEP, told The Independent: “This looks like the portfolio to fight back against the rise of the fascists, but only by adopting their divisive rhetoric around ‘strong borders’. 

“What Greens value about our European way of life is our role as a beacon of compassion and diversity. We will continue our work to ensure that Europe remains a safe harbour for those fleeing persecution and to champion global human rights.”

Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld told The Independent: “The very point about the European way of life, is the freedom for individuals to chose their own way of life. We do not need a Commissioner for that, thank you very much.”

“The implication that Europeans need to be protected from external cultures is grotesque and this narrative should be rejected.

“The only threat to “our way of life” is autocrats and populists like Orbán, Kaczinsky or Johnson trampling all over the rule of law, fundamental rights and democracy. Instead of creating fake portfolios, the Commission should show some more guts in upholding the values we have laid down in our treaties, laws and case law.”

The job has gone to Margaritis Schinas, former chief spokesperson for Jean-Claude Juncker (EbS)

NGOs also criticised the mode. Eve Geddie, director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, said: “Linking migration with security, in the portfolio of the Commissioner for Protecting our European Way of Life, risks sending a worrying message. 

“People who have migrated have contributed to the way of life in Europe throughout its history. We trust that Commissioner designate Margaritis Schinas will work hard for an EU in which safe and legal routes allow migrants to continue to contribute to the future of Europe.

The ‘European Way of Life’ that the EU exists to protect is one which respects human dignity and human rights, freedom, democracy, equality and the rule of law.”

The role was given to Greece’s EU commissioner, Margaritis Schinas, who previously served as the Commission’s chief spokesperson under Jean-Claude Juncker.

Mr Schinas said in a statement: “I am trilled to be nominated for the position of Vice-President for Protecting Our European Way of Life. 

“From better protecting our citizens and borders and modernising our asylum system, to investing in Europeans’ skills and creating brighter future for our youth, I am confident that we can take great strides over the next five years to both protect and empower Europeans.”

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Political News

World leaders believe ‘it’s pointless’ trying to show unity with Trump at G7

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World leaders believe ‘it’s pointless’ trying to show unity with Trump at G7 5

World leaders believe ‘it’s pointless’ trying to show unity with Trump at G7 6

After they wooed him in Taormina, Italy, in 2017, Donald Trump snubbed world leaders by dropping out of the Paris climate accords.

When they reached consensus in Charlevoix, Canada, a year later, Mr Trump abruptly refused to sign their joint statement and escalated his trade war with personal insults.

And as the Nato allies gathered in Brussels last summer, summit organisers avoided another Trumpian eruption only by prewriting the meeting’s formal policy agreement and keeping it from the American president until the last minute.

Now, as French president Emmanuel Macron prepares to host Mr Trump and leaders from some of the world’s leading democracies in the south of France this weekend, the United States’ closest allies have all but given up on the idea that the Group of 7 summit will produce the kind of unity and consensus about global issues that has been its hallmark for more than four decades.

“I know the points of disagreement with the US,” Mr Macron lamented to reporters earlier this week as he acknowledged that the group would not even try to issue its usual joint statement, known as a communiqué. “It’s pointless.”

With the world facing ominous signs of a global economic slowdown and vexing political turbulence in hot spots around the world, Mr Trump will arrive on Saturday morning in Biarritz, France, with a blunt tariff club in his hand. And that poses a challenge to America’s trading partners.

“Their operating strategy is damage limitation,” said Charles Kupchan, a professor of international affairs at Georgetown University who served on the National Security Council staff during President Barack Obama’s tenure.

“The first G7. The second G7. The Nato summit. Trump has basically blown them all up. I’m guessing that Macron is hoping to get out of Biarritz with no blood on the floor.”

He added: “If you go in with low expectations and no communiqué, that lowers the risk of a fiasco. You have a nice chat, you have some good wine, and you go home.”

The leaders of France, Germany, Britain, Italy, Japan, Canada and the United States will meet at the beachfront resort town amid escalating alarms over the health of the global economy, which is slumping under the weight of Mr Trump’s multi-front trade wars.

In the decades after World War II, such a slowdown typically spurred American presidents to help lead a global response to prevent or mitigate recessions.

But Mr Trump’s willingness to use tariffs as leverage over allies as well as adversaries has severely strained the relationships with other leaders.

On the day he was to leave Washington for the summit, Mr Trump significantly escalated his tariff war, responding to China’s retaliation with another increase in his own levies on Chinese goods.

“China should not have put new tariffs on £75bn of United States product (politically motivated!),” the US president tweeted.

Trump says ‘Tianenmen Square’ violence in Hong Kong could harm China trade deal

Meanwhile, his disdain for multilateral institutions like the United Nations, Nato and the World Trade Organisation has undermined the expectation of cooperation and collaboration in any combined effort to confront China or other countries.

“The post-war world, which the US built, was essentially one where, if there was a theme, it was: ‘everyone benefits from everyone else’s growth’,” said Raghuram Rajan, an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, who once led India’s central bank. “It’s a positive-sum game. The idea was to help everyone grow through a rules-based system.

“What’s changed,” Mr Rajan said, “is the view that the growth of others is actually good for the US. There’s much more of a zero-sum rhetoric: ‘if they grow, it’s at my expense’.”

Despite the warnings of difficult headwinds, Mr Trump continues to insist that the US economy has nothing to worry about.

In a tweet on Friday morning, he wrote that “the Fake News Media, together with their partner, the Democrat Party, are working overtime to convince people that we are in, or will soon be going into, a recession.”

American officials say Mr Trump is eager to contrast the economic success of his policies with those in slumping economies like Germany and France during a session that he called for on the global economy on Sunday morning. But his fellow world leaders are not expected to hold back either.

“I think he will get an earful from the others,” said Peter Westmacott, a former ambassador to the United States from Britain. “There will be a sense that Trump’s trade policies are part of what is taking the world’s economy in the wrong direction.”

Mr Macron, as this year’s host of the G7 gathering, is not counting on the United States to be a constructive part of other discussions.

He has invited several leaders from African nations to be part of sessions on the challenges facing that continent.

‘I wouldn’t want to get into it’ Donald Trump dodges simple question about the bible

The leaders of India, Australia, Chile and Spain will participate in conversations about the environment, terrorism, nuclear weapons and other issues.

French officials conceded that there is no hope that Mr Trump joins the group in expressing its concern about climate change despite news that fires in the Amazon rainforest could accelerate the planet’s environmental crisis.

A few seemingly anodyne statements that diplomats from the seven countries prepared in advance will be released at the end of the summit, an EU official said, among them a document on the partnership between African nations and the G7 countries and one on biodiversity.

For his part, Mr Trump has already vented his frustration about France’s imposition of a tax on companies like Facebook. He called it “foolishness” and risked insulting the G-7 host by threatening tariffs on French goods, including wine, in response. 

Beyond trade, disagreements about how to contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions remain stark.

“Rather than being defined by ambition, they seem to be more about survival and just getting through it,” said Derek Chollet, executive vice president for security and defence policy at the German Marshall Fund. “They have seen the movie before. They don’t want to repeat it.”

That may be difficult, in part because of the presence of another larger-than-life personality: Boris Johnson.

Boris Johnson poses with foot on table at Elysee Palace

Mr Johnson and Mr Trump are temperamental allies, and the American president sees an opportunity for a bilateral trade deal with Britain if Mr Johnson succeeds in breaking his country away from the European Union.

The result could be what Mr Chollet called “a bad buddy movie” with Mr Johnson and Mr Trump together sticking it to their colleagues.

But Mr Johnson may also have reason to keep his distance from Mr Trump — the US president’s deep unpopularity in Britain.

Mr Westmacott said that the G7 still provided an opportunity for some of the world’s most important leaders to discuss serious problems facing their countries — if Mr Trump and Mr Johnson decided to let that happen.

“It should be a moment when there are frank discussions,” he said. “The question is really whether those two narcissistic, self-absorbed individuals actually want to operate in a collegial way and work with other heads of government to make progress on the difficult issues. 

“So far the jury is out.”

The New York Times

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Donald Tusk launches scathing attack on Trump and Johnson as world leaders arrive at G7

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Donald Tusk launches scathing attack on Trump and Johnson as world leaders arrive at G7 8

Donald Tusk launches scathing attack on Trump and Johnson as world leaders arrive at G7 9

European Council president Donald Tusk launched a scathing attack on Donald Trump and Boris Johnson as world leaders gathered in the French resort of Biarritz for the G7 summit

Condemning The US president’s calls for Russia to rejoin the G7, Mr Tusk implied they were motivated by “business calculation”.  

He went on to warn Mr Johnson that the EU “will not cooperate” on a no-deal Brexit.

Ahead of Mr Johnson’s arrival at his first international summit, Mr Tusk suggested he could “go down in history as ‘Mr No Deal’”, denigrating him as “the third British Conservative prime minister with whom I will discuss Brexit”.

Mr Johnson is expected to set out his plans for Brexit in talks with Mr Tusk, building on visits in recent days to the leaders of Germany and France.

Mr Tusk said: “We are willing to listen to ideas that are operational, realistic and acceptable to all member states including Ireland, if and when the UK government is ready to put them on the table.

“The EU was always open to co-operation when David Cameron wanted to avoid Brexit, when Theresa May wanted to avoid a no-deal Brexit and we will also be ready now to hold serious talks with Prime Minister Johnson. “One thing I will not co-operate on is no deal. I still hope that Prime Minster Johnson will not like to go down in history as ‘Mr No Deal’.”

The PM plans to use the gathering to push his vision of a post-Brexit UK as an “international, outward-looking, self-confident” country.

It will be his first face-to-face meeting with the US president since entering Downing Street, and in pursuit of a trans-Atlantic trade deal will likely be seeking to appease Mr Trump, who is set to receive a frosty reception. 

Mr Trump has previously been uncompromising at such meetings, particularly on climate change and the environment, which French president Emmanuel Macron has pushed to the top of the agenda in response to fires and deforestation currently devastating the Amazon rainforest.

The Biarritz summit already looks set for conflict. Mr Trump struck back at French president Emmanuel Macron’s tax on US technology firms, threatening retaliatory taxes on French wine.

Mr Trump is also currently floating the idea of putting tariffs on EU goods, while his trade war with China escalates.

A former US ambassador told The New York Times on Friday he expected Mr Trump “would get an earful from the others” as a result of the damage to the world economy.

Mr Tusk reinforced this message on Saturday morning, warning Mr Trump’s use of tariffs “as a political instrument” could push the global economy into recession.

Yet the absence of one unlikely Trump ally still casts a shadow over the meeting. 

Boris Johnson on the Amazon fires

Mr Trump renewed calls this week for Russia to be returned its seat back at the G7, citing an alternative history of its 2014 departure that ignored the annexation of Crimea and blamed his predecessor Barack Obama.

At 2017’s G7 meeting in Canada, he suggested Russia’s actions had been partly justified.

“Under no condition can we agree with this logic,” Mr Tusk said on Saturday, saying the reasons for Russia’s exclusion “are still valid”.

“When Russia was invited to the G7 the first time, it was believed that it would pursue the path of liberal democracy, rule of law and human rights,” he said. “Is there anyone among us who can say with full conviction, not out of business calculation, that Russia is on that path?”

He added that he wished instead to invite Ukraine, as a guest, to the next G7 summit, and warned of the meeting’s importance in the face of increasingly fractured global ties.

“This may be the last moment to restore our political community,” he said.

Additional reporting by agencies

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