Jean-Claude Juncker at the podium in Strasbourg delivering his final state of the union address as European Commission president. Photo credit: European Union/Fred Marvaux
State of union, copyright directive and Hungary on agenda at EP, Apple unveils products, SNCF unveils driverless trains plan and Sistine Chapel corruption. Delano’s breakfast briefing.
Juncker: Europe stronger if it speaks as one
In his final state of the union address as European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker stressed the importance of unity within the European Union, called for solidarity on the issue of migration and a “balanced reform of the asylum system”. Addressing international trade, Juncker said that “whenever Europe speaks as one, we can impose our position on others.” He also delivered an olive branch to the UK saying that post-Brexit it “will never be an ordinary third country for us”, while warning that the EU would always “show loyalty and solidarity with Ireland when it comes to the Irish border.” Reuters has gathered a selection of highlights from the speech to the European Parliament on Wednesday.
EP passes copyright directive
Also in Strasbourg, MEPs voted in favour of the controversial EU Copyright Directive. Once adopted, the new law will give more power to artists, news and traditional media companies as opposed to tech giants like Facebook, Microsoft and Google, says Deutsche Welle. But some analysts reckon it could lead to censorship and content blocking. The Telegraph cites Silicon Valley experts who say the tech giants could face an "astronomical bill" to comply with the law.
Official rebuke for Hungary
And in a busy day at the European Parliament, MEPs voted in favour by 448 to 197 (and 48 abstentions) of imposing an Article 7 procedure against Hungary, warning there is a "clear risk" of breaching EU values by its government. The Economist has an insightful article on the context of the move and its consequences.
EC wants more power for EBA
While Juncker was addressing the European Parliament, the European Commission unveiled proposals to give the European Banking Authority a powerful new mandate to ensure anti-money laundering rules are enforced effectively across EU countries according to The Guardian. “Anti-money laundering supervision has failed all too often in the EU,” said Valdis Dombrovskis, vice-president for financial services policy.
Apple launches new product
Apple’s annual product launch event in Cupertino on Wednesday saw CEO Tim Cook unveil new iPhones and upgraded smartwatches. They include a lower cost iPhone XR and new versions of the iPhone X, called iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max. These are pronounced “ten S” rather than “excess” says The Guardian.
SNCF’s driverless train plans
French railway operator SNCF has announced plans to introduce prototypes of driverless trains by 2023. The Guardian cites SNCF’s Pierre Izard saying the move will be introduced in stages, “up to the most extreme of automatisation, when there is no human presence onboard” --which is something we could say many commuters from Metz and Thionville have already experienced.
The Guardian reports on a story that the Vatican has launched an investigation in to the Sistine Chapel Choir over allegations of embezzlement, fraud and money laundering.
First drawing found
Scientists reckon they have discovered what could be the world’s very first abstract drawing on a small fragment of rock in South Africa. The BBC reports on the find, which is estimated to be about 73,000 years old.
Today's breakfast briefing was written by Duncan Roberts