EU to start down under trade talks
Formal negotiation rounds to free trade agreements between the EU and Australia and New Zealand are scheduled begin in Brussels in July. That news came from the European Commission on Tuesday after the EU’s foreign affairs council for trade greenlighted negotiating directives. Commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmström will visit both countries in June. “Together, we will now negotiate win-win trade deals that create new opportunities for our businesses, as well as safeguard high standards in key areas such as sustainable development,” she said. The news was also welcomed by commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, who tweeted: “The message is clear: Europe is open for business.”
Zuckerberg hearing ends in acrimony
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s long-awaited appearance before the European Parliament in Brussels on Tuesday appears to have ended in disappointment for many observers. The Guardian reports of a “chorus of complaints that the Facebook founder had been allowed to evade questions and give vague answers.” The format of the hearing didn’t help matters as MEPs asked overlapping questions that mean Zuckerberg only had 30 minutes to respond during the 90-minute session. However, with GDPR looming, Zuckerberg did say he expected Facebook “to be compliant by May 25”.
Monsanto lawsuit gets go-ahead
A California judge has ruled that a 46-year old groundskeeper can take chemical giant Monsanto to court, The Guardian reports. DeWayne Johnson, who has cancer and has just months to live, is being allowed to sue Monsanto over allegations that it suppressed evidence of the risks of its Roundup weed killing products.
Sony becomes largest music publisher
The Guardian reports that Sony has paid $2.3bn to take control of EMI Music Publishing. The deal for the catalogue of 2.1m EMI songs, including Motown classics and works by Kanye West, makes Sony the world’s largest music publishing company.
Call for schools to close for religious events
Tuesday’s traditional Sprangprëssessioun, the jumping procession, in Echternach was the catalyst for calls from the Catholic church in Luxembourg to demand school children be given the day off for religious ceremonies. RTL reports (in Luxembourgish) that Archbishop Jean-Claude Hollerich called it a “disgrace” that education minister Claude Meisch has not given kids the day off next year, when the jumping procession doesn’t fall during school holidays. Hollerich also complained that many pupils were unable to take a day off school to attend the Octave this year because they had exams.