Monthly Archives: November 2017

Concluding Session, Second Committee Passes 14 Draft Resolutions, Including Texts on Macroeconomic Policy, Trade Liberalization

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) today concluded its work for the main part of the General Assembly’s seventy‑second session, approving 14 draft resolutions including texts on macroeconomic policy questions.

A draft on “international trade and development” (document A/C.2/72/L.17/Rev.1) would have the Assembly promote a universal, rules-based, open, transparent, predictable, inclusive, non‑discriminatory and equitable multilateral trading system under the World Trade Organization (WTO), as well as promote meaningful trade liberalization.

By further terms, the text would have the Assembly urge the international community to support measures to eliminate the use of unilateral economic, financial or trade measures.

The representative of the United States said his country was unable to join consensus, as such trade measures would be inconsistent with the basic principles of the WTO.  Each State reserved the sovereign right to determine how to conduct trade with other countries and by passing the resolution, he said the Assembly would limit the ability of States to respond effectively to threats against democracy, human rights, peace and security.

The draft was approved by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

Switzerland’s delegate, who supported the resolution, expressed regret that a vote was needed as his country believed in strengthening the multilateral system on consensus.

Similarly, a text on “international financial system and development” (document A/C.2/72/L.19/Rev.1) would have the Assembly resolve to strengthen the coherence and consistency of multilateral financial, investment, trade and development policy and environment institutions and platforms.

By further terms, it would have the Assembly call for the completion of the fifteenth general review of quotas of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), including a new quota formula.

The representative of the United States said he did not join consensus on the resolution.  He stated that limited concessional resources should be allocated with reference to income and credit worthiness.  Regarding unilateral economic measures, he said economic sanctions could be considered appropriate and useful alternatives to use of force.

The draft was then approved by a recorded vote of 173 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

The Committee also took action on the draft “commodities” (document A/C.2/72/L.9/Rev.1) which would have the international community address the factors that created structural barriers to international trade, impeded diversification and limited access to financial services, particularly for developing countries.

Similarly, it would also call upon all relevant stakeholders to address the issue of the low industrialization and diversification of the economies of some commodity-dependent developing countries.

The representative of the United States said the resolution inappropriately called on international institutions to take actions beyond their scope.  Similarly, he was unable to support language which would commit to reduce food imports and promoted a “blanket” call to address trade and market mispricing.

The Committee then adopted the resolution by a recorded vote of 177 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Bulgaria’s representative said she voted in favour of those three drafts, as she supported coherence among global trade policies and regional and bilateral initiatives that promoted a progressive trade agenda and economic development, especially in developing countries.

Also speaking today were representatives of the Russian Federation, Canada, Norway and Venezuela, as well as the Holy See.

Other texts the Committee approved focused on information and communications technologies for development; sustainable development; implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development; globalization and interdependence; countries in special situations; eradication of poverty; South‑South cooperation; and the programme of work of the Second Committee for the seventy‑third session of the General Assembly.

Action on Draft Resolutions

The Second Committee (Economic and Financial) first took up a draft on “information and communications technologies for development” (document A/C.2/72/L.66).

ABDELLAH LARHMAID (Morocco) presented the text as orally revised.  The Committee then approved the draft without a vote.

After the approval, the representative of the United States expressed concern about language on technology transfer which could undermine intellectual property rights.

The Committee then withdrew a text on the same topic.

Next, it turned to a text on “international trade and development” (document A/C.2/72/L.17/Rev.1).

The representative of the United States said much of the trade-related language in the outcome document of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development had been overtaken by ongoing work and negotiations.  Such language contained in the draft text was therefore immaterial.

Furthermore, he said his country would be unable to join consensus, as matters on international trade and development were the responsibility of the World Trade Organization (WTO).  As such, he would not accept the General Assembly’s statement on economic, financial or trade measures.  Noting that such measures were inconsistent with the basic principles of the WTO, he said each State reserved the sovereign right to determine how to conduct trade with other countries.  By passing the resolution, the Assembly would limit the ability of States to respond effectively to threats against democracy, human rights, peace and security.

The draft was approved by a recorded vote of 167 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

The delegate of Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she voted in favour of the draft, as it supported coherence among global trade policies and regional and bilateral initiatives that would promote a progressive trade agenda and economic development, especially in developing countries.

The representative of Switzerland said his country supported the draft, however he expressed regret that a vote was needed, as his State believed in strengthening the multilateral system on consensus.

The Committee then took up a draft on “international financial system and development” (document A/C.2/72/L.19/Rev.1).

The representative of the United States, speaking in explanation of vote, highlighted his concerns regarding references to scaling up international cooperation on tax matters and attempts to prescribe appropriate characteristics of international systems that were independent of the United Nations system.

Regarding concessions, he said following through on recommendations in the text would not be financially sustainable and limited concessional resources should be allocated with references to income and credit worthiness.  On illicit financial flows, he opposed its inclusion as a term with no agreed-upon international definition.  Concerning unilateral economic measures, he said sanctions could be considered appropriate and useful alternatives to use of force.

The draft was then approved by a recorded vote of 173 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

The delegate of Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said she voted in favour of the resolution, as it fostered coherence in trade policies for the advancement of economic development, particularly in developing countries.

The Committee next took up a text on “commodities” (document A/C.2/72/L.9/Rev.1), putting it to a recorded vote.

Speaking before the vote, the representative of the United States said the resolution made obsolete references to the world’s economic and financial crisis.  The text also inappropriately called on international institutions to take actions beyond the scope of what it should address.  His country was concerned by language in the draft committing to reduce food imports and hoped to hold further discussions with the African Union on that issue.  Adding that it was also unable to support a “blanket” call regarding trade and mispricing, he said the resolution should include the effects of exchange rates and unfavourable business practices.  His country was also unable to join consensus with language that undermined the work of the WTO or attempted to shape its agenda.

The Committee then adopted the resolution by a recorded vote of 177 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

Speaking after the vote, the delegate of Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said her group had voted in favour of the resolution, as it attached great importance to strengthening the multilateral trading system.  Only such a system fostered coherence across the globe as well as the independence of its members.

Next, it turned to a draft on “follow-up to and implementation of the SIDS Accelerated Modalities of Action (SAMOA) Pathway and the Mauritius Strategy for the Further Implementation of the Programme of Action for the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States” (document A/C.2/72/L.48).

The representative of Barbados thanked delegations for their work on the text.

The Committee then approved the resolution as orally revised without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

It then took up a text on “protection of global climate for present and future generations of humankind” (document A/C.2/72/L.69).

The Committee approved the draft without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

The representative of the United States said it had joined consensus, but was continuing to develop policies on climate change.  The United States had communicated to the United Nations that it planned to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change.  International agreements regarding climate change did not change that decision, although his country was continuing to work with others on that important issue.

The Committee then turned to a draft on “implementation of the outcomes of the United Nations Conferences on Human Settlements and on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development and strengthening of the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN‑Habitat)” (document A/C.2/72/L.67).

The delegate of Zambia made amendments to the draft.

The Committee then approved the draft as orally revised without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

The Committee next took up a text on “role of the United Nations in promoting development in the context of globalization and interdependence” (document A/C.2/72/L.11/Rev.1).

Speaking before the vote, the representative of the United States expressed her concern around references to the WTO and the need to strengthen cooperation between that organization and others, both of which were outside the responsibility of the United Nations.  She also objected to language that would unfairly promote State ownership or the deprivation of resources without compensation.  Her country supported efforts to fight unfair trade practices, such as forced technology transfers and other distortions of markets.  Therefore, the United States would not join in consensus.

Furthermore, she expressed disappointment that such efforts would promote “stale” commitments against protectionism.  She said the United Nations was not a forum for regional trade agreements or negotiations.  She additionally opposed language which would undermine intellectual property rights.

The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 179 in favour to 1 against (United States), with no abstentions.

The delegate of Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said it voted in favour of the resolution, as it supported a progressive trade agenda and economic development, especially for developing countries.  As such, she agreed with the language contained in the resolution.

The Committee then turned to a draft on “culture and sustainable development” (document A/C.2/72/L.13/Rev.1).

The representative of the United States expressed concern around references on the repatriation of cultural property without clarifications on the rights of indigenous peoples.  Similarly, her country was unable to join consensus on references to cultural appropriation and support to consolidate cultures and cultural industries.  It also opposed any language which would undermine intellectual property rights.

The Committee then approved the draft by a recorded vote of 181 in favour to 2 against (Israel, United States), with no abstentions.

Following that, it took up a text on “follow-up to the second United Nations Conference on Landlocked Developing Countries” (document A/C.2/72/L.62).

The Committee adopted the draft as revised without a vote.

Speaking after the approval, the representative of the United States expressed concern around language on climate change.  He said he remained “confused” by references on technical and capacity-building assistance.  In reviewing the demand for assistance, he said he was not aware of any needs to enhance technical or capacity-building assistance.

Similarly, he said his country opposed any language which undermined intellectual property rights.  Noting the Aid for Trade initiative, he said development partners had not effectively implemented that outcome and that his country did not agree that the special needs listed in the text were considered necessary for its effective implementation.  Similarly, he expressed concern that measures by the General Assembly were unnecessary as such matters were the responsibility of WTO.

The delegate of the Russian Federation said the language in the resolution did not adequately reflect the agreements between States.

The Committee then turned to a draft on “women in development” (document A/C.2/72/L.65).

The representative of the United Arab Emirates made amendments to the text.

The Committee then approved the draft as orally revised without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

The observer of the Holy See stressed that women’s dignity must be respected without diverting attention from their development.  He welcomed the intention of the resolution, but expressed concern about the attempt to shift its focus from the integral development of women to other issues.  Sexual and reproductive health applied to a holistic concept of health, which did not include abortion.  Access to sexual and reproductive health should be age-appropriate in a manner consistent with the evolving capacities of the child.

The representative of the United States said his country was committed to advancing the status of women and had joined consensus on the resolution.  However, he disagreed with language in the text referring to the global economic crisis, when the world was not currently in that state.  Such language detracted attention from relevant challenges facing global stability.  While agreeing that women should have equal access to health care, he stressed that his country did not recognize abortion as a method of family planning.

The representative of Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said gender equality would remain at the forefront of the bloc’s efforts to ensure the rights of all women and girls.  Gender equality was of central importance in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the text of the resolution now in certain aspects better reflected that agreement.  However, the draft did not reflect the Agenda in terms of women having full power over their sexual and reproductive health.

The delegate of Canada, also speaking on behalf of New Zealand, Australia, Switzerland and Lichtenstein, noted that the resolution addressed women and development but some key issues had been left out.  Sexual and reproductive health had not been properly addressed on the grounds that it should be dealt with in the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian & Cultural).  She disagreed with that notion, as the resolution should reflect the 2030 Agenda.  The specific commitment to gender equality made in that document now seemed to be forgotten, although women still faced violence and discriminatory practices.

The representative of Norway said the promotion of women’s rights led to their empowerment.  If the international community was to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, gender equality must be at the heart of any efforts.  Progress had been made in the resolution with the inclusion of equal pay for equal value.  However, it was still necessary to heed remaining barriers to women’s equality.  The resolution did not adequately reflect sexual and reproductive rights.

The Committee then approved the draft as orally revised without a vote, withdrawing a previous text.

The Committee then took up a text on “human resources development” (document A/C.2/72/L.64), approving the draft as revised and without a vote.

The representative of Bulgaria, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed concern around amendments to the text which did not reflect the agreements reached by States.  She called for future sessions to ensure that draft texts would be reflective of agreements reached during negotiations.

The delegate of the United States said each State had an interest in boosting its economic performance and should always be done in a manner consistent with international rules and regulations.  He expressed concern around language which would undermine intellectual property rights.  He also concurred with the European Union’s statement concerning the language in the draft text.

The representative of Canada also expressed concern around amendments to the text.  She said there was no clear rationale for such changes and she would not consider the amendments to be the basis for future negotiations.

The delegate of Israel joined consensus on the resolution, but expressed disappointment that the zero draft contained politicized text and undermined the rights and obligations of States.  She expressed objection to the inclusion of such language.

The Committee then withdrew a previous text on the same topic.

Following that, it turned to a text on “South‑South cooperation for development” (document A/C.2/72/L.68).

The Committee approved the draft without a vote.

The representative of the United States joined consensus on the resolution.  He said his country had supported South‑South cooperation and voiced concerns around wrongdoings.  Accordingly, he called upon the Secretary-General and senior managers to remedy and strengthen management oversight.  He noted steps were taken, but some States’ resistance to address issues in a forthright way undermined collective oversight responsibility.  He therefore called for a comprehensive review of entities involved in South‑South cooperation work.  Additionally, he opposed language that would promote technology transfer that was not voluntary or on agreed-upon terms.

The Committee withdrew a previous text on the same topic.

The representative of Venezuela said her country presented its misgivings, reservations and points of clarification in the document “Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development” and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.  Regarding all the resolutions which were approved, she once again expressed her reservations to those references.

The Committee next took up a text titled “revitalization of the work of the General Assembly” (document A/C.2/72/L.70).

SVEN JÜRGENSON (Estonia), Committee Chair, said that of the 42 proposals approved, 12 were agreed upon by a recorded vote and that a large majority of the drafts were approved by consensus.

The Committee then approved the draft programme of work without a vote.

THOMAS GASS, Assistant Secretary-General for Policy Coordination and Inter‑Agency Affairs, noted remaining challenges on global financial, economic and sustainable development.  He said the United Nations was mobilizing resources to guarantee that the mandates which emanated from the session would be fulfilled.  He also highlighted the successes of the side events of the Committee and the annual joint meeting with the Economic and Social Council.

In closing, the Committee Chair said that, for the first time since 2000, the Committee concluded its substantive work in November.  He expressed gratitude to the delegates and extended congratulations to all States on the conclusion of the session.

Aviation: Commission updates the EU Air Safety List to ensure highest level of protection for passengers

The EU Air Safety List seeks to ensure the highest level of air safety for European citizens, which is a top priority of the Commission’s Aviation Strategy. With today’s update, one airline, Avior Airlines (Venezuela), is added to the list, while two others – Mustique Airways (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) and Urga (Ukraine) – are removed following safety improvements.

Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc said: “Our objective is to offer the highest level of safety in European skies. The EU’s Air Safety List remains one of our most effective tools to achieve this. Today we are showing that with our help, airlines can be quickly removed from the list when they tackle their safety issues. Work pays off and I hope that the example of Mustique Airways and Urga will inspire others.”

Avior Airlines (certified in Venezuela) is added to the list due to unaddressed safety deficiencies that were detected by the European Aviation Safety Agency during the assessment for a third country operator authorisation (TCO)[1]. On the contrary, Mustique Airways and Aviation Company Urga – which are respectively certified in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Ukraine – made safety improvements since their inclusion to the Air Safety List in May 2017. This allows them to be today removed from the list.

The EU Air Safety List not only helps to maintain high levels of safety in the EU, but it also helps affected airlines and countries to improve their levels of safety, in order for them to eventually be taken off the list. In addition, the EU Air Safety List has become a major preventive tool, as it motivates countries with safety problems to act upon them before a ban under the EU Air Safety List would become necessary.

Following today’s update, a total of 178 airlines are banned from EU skies:

  • 172 airlines certified in 16 states[2], due to a lack of safety oversight by the aviation authorities from these states.
  • Six individual airlines, based on safety concerns with regard to these airlines themselves: Avior Airlines (Venezuela), Iran Aseman Airlines (Iran), Iraqi Airways (Iraq), Blue Wing Airlines (Suriname), Med-View Airlines (Nigeria) and Air Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe).

An additional six airlines are subject to operational restrictions and can only fly to the EU with specific aircraft types: Afrijet and Nouvelle Air Affaires SN2AG (Gabon), Air Koryo (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), Air Service Comores (the Comoros), Iran Air (Iran) and TAAG Angola Airlines (Angola).

Background information

Today’s update of the Air Safety List is based on the unanimous opinion of the aviation safety experts from the Member States who met from 13 to 15 November within the EU Air Safety Committee (ASC). This Committee is chaired by the European Commission with the support of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The update equally got the support from the European Parliament’s Transport Committee. Assessment is made against international safety standards, and notably the standards promulgated by the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO).

The Commission is constantly looking at ways to improve air safety. One such way is to work with aviation authorities worldwide to raise global safety standards. With this in mind, EASA is therefore implementing technical cooperation projects with partner countries and regions. An example is the “Improving air transport in Central Africa” (ATA-AC) project, where EASA works with a number of African states on several aspects of aviation safety. More information on technical cooperation projects is available here.

For more information:

List of airlines banned within the EU 

Importance of aviation for the European economy

EASA Technical Cooperation Projects

[1] Since November 2016, all non-EU airlines wishing to fly to the EU need a single safety authorisation valid throughout Europe, called “third country operator authorisation” or TCO.

[2]Afghanistan, Angola (with the exception of one airline which operates under restrictions and conditions), Republic of the Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Gabon (with the exception of 2 airlines which operate under restrictions and conditions), Indonesia (with the exception of 7 airlines), the Kyrgyz Republic, Liberia, Libya, Nepal, São Tomé and Príncipe, Sierra Leone and Sudan.

African Union – European Union Summit: Investing in Youth for a Sustainable Future

The EU was represented by the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and the President of the Council of the EU Donald Tusk, joined by the High Representative of the EU for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy & Vice-President of the European Commission Federica Mogherini, Vice-President responsible for the EU’s Digital Single Market Andrus Ansip and Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development  Neven Mimica. The African Union was represented by the President of the African Union Alpha Condé and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, Moussa FakiMahamat.

On the occasion, President Juncker said: “We spoke a lot about young people during this summit. Already today, the majority of African citizens are under 25 years old, and by the middle of this century, one in four people on earth will be African. But this demographic dividend cannot deliver without smart investments. This is precisely why we are going to put our investments in education, in infrastructure, in peace and security, as well as in good governance – all of which will in turn inspire good business environments and create much needed jobs and growth.” Read the President’s full remarks here.

In their political declaration, the European and African leaders set out their joint commitment to invest in youth for a sustainable future. Concretely, they committed to focussing their work on four strategic priorities. On this basis, the European and African Union Commission will put forward concrete projects and programmes within three months.

Mobilising investments for African structural and sustainable transformation

European leaders presented, and African partners welcomed the EU’s innovative External Investment Plan (EIP), which will mobilise €44 billion of private investments for sustainable development and job creation. Special attention will be paid to enhancing entrepreneurship of women and young people. The newly launched Sustainable Business for Africa Platform (SB4A) will allow for structured dialogue with the European and African private sector.

Investing in people through education, science, technology and skills development

The importance of supporting inclusive education and vocational training was highlighted. Leaders also agreed to enhance the mobility of students, staff and academics across the African continent, as well as exchange programmes between Africa and Europe, such as ERASMUS+.

Strengthening Resilience, Peace, security and governance

Leaders will step up their work to enhance peace and security on both continents. In this regard, they will strengthen strategic, political and operational cooperation between the African Union and European Union, in close partnership with the United Nations. Support to ongoing work to fight against terrorism was reiterated, including the Multinational Joint Task Force against Boko Haram, the Joint Force of the G5 Sahel and the African Union Mission in Somalia, to all of which the EU is the biggest contributor.

Managing mobility and migration

European and African leaders reaffirmed their strong political commitment to address the root causes of irregular migration in a spirit of genuine partnership and shared responsibility, and in full respect of international laws and human rights, as well as creating legal pathways for migration. Leaders committed to deepen cooperation on migration and mobility in a joint framework, including a continental dialogue between Africa and Europe.

They stressed the imperative need to improve the conditions of migrants and refugees in Libya, and to undertake all necessary action to provide them with the appropriate assistance and to facilitate their voluntary repatriation to their countries of origin, as well as durable solutions for refugees. In order to jointly address the dramatic situation of migrants and refugees victims of criminal networks, in particular inside Libya, President Jean-Claude Juncker, and High Representative/Vice President Federica Mogherini, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres and the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat agreed to set up a joint EU-AU-UN Task Force to save and protect lives of migrants and refugees along the routes and in particular inside Libya. Furthermore, efforts will be intensified to enhance intra-African mobility and the free movement of persons within Africa.

Preparatory events in the run-up to the AU-EU Summit

The AU-EU Summit was preceded by a number of important events, including civil society, local authorities, economic and social actors, as well as European and Pan-African Parliament.

Young leaders from Africa and Europe gathered at the Youth Summit on 9-11 October in Abidjan, and their work intensified in the context of the AU-EU Youth Plugin-Initiative. They developed a Youth Declaration with concrete proposals to leaders, which have provided a valuable impetus in preparing and shaping the outcomes of the AU-EU Summit. Youth representatives furthermore had the chance to address African and European leaders during the Summit to present these proposals.

The 6th EU-Africa business forum took place on 27 November, where business leaders, investors, innovative start-ups, and young and female entrepreneurs from both continents developed recommendations on how to improve the business and investment climate.

On the day before the Summit, Ministers of Foreign Affairs from Europe and Africa gathered in Abidjan for a Ministerial meeting, co-chaired by the High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini.

For More Information

Political Declaration [will be available soon]

Joint Statement on the Migration Situation in Libya [will be available soon]

Joint press release of the United Nations, the African Union and the European Union on the Joint Task Force

Intervention du Président Jean-Claude Juncker à la séance d’ouverture du 5ème sommet Union africaine-Union européenne

Opening remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Mogherini at the African Union-European Union Ministerial Meeting ahead of the 5th African Union-European Union Summit

Closing remarks by High-Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the 6th European Union-Africa Business Forum

Speech by Vice-President Ansip on the conference on digital transformation in Africa

Opening statement by Vice-President Ansip at the high-level panel on the digital economy, EU-Africa Business Forum

Key results of 30 years of research cooperation with Africa and interactive Africa StoryMap

What is Britain First, and what it stands for

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Hate groupsWhat is Britain First, and what it stands for

Published 30 November 2017

Early on Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos — one of them fake — which had earlier been posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the vehemently anti-Muslim British hate group Britain First. Fransen was convicted last year by a British court for harassing a woman wearing a hijab – in front of the woman’s children. Here is a brief backgrounder of Britain First and its history.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Early on Wednesday morning, President Donald Trump retweeted three anti-Muslim videos — one entitled “Islamist mob pushes teenage boy off roof and beats him to death!”; the second entitled “Muslim Destroys a Statue of Virgin Mary!” — and the third entitled “Muslim migrant beats up Dutch boy on crutches!” – which had earlier been posted by Jayda Fransen, the deputy leader of the vehemently anti-Muslim British hate group Britain First. Fransen was convicted last year by a British court for harassing a woman wearing a hijab – in front of the woman’s children.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>The third video was fake: Dutch law enforcement said that the “migrant” in the video was not a Muslim migrant at all, but a Dutch teenager who was sent to jail for his actions. The White House spokesperson, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, said on Wednesday that it made no difference whether the videos were real or fake: The important thing, she said in her daily briefing, was that they drew attention to the risks Muslim immigration posed for Europe.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Trump has a history of disseminating, amplifying, and appearing to endorse the messages of various racist, bigoted, and white supremacist y hate-groups (see Jennifer Mercieca,

mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>There’s an insidious strategy behind Donald Trump’s retweets,” The Conversation [29 November 2017], and Peter Beinart, “Trump’s Anti-Muslim Political Strategy,” The Atlantic [29 November 2017]). He has been praised by the leaders of these groups – among them the KKK’s David Duke; the

mso-bidi-language:HE”>alt-right white supremacist Richard Spencer; and Fransen herself – for using the White House imprimatur to legitimize and mainstream their organizations’ extremist, racist positions.

The ADLsays offers a brief background on Britain First
mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”> based on information from Hope Not Hate, an organization based in London.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Origins of Britain First


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Britain First (BF) is a populist, far-right, anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant group founded in 2011 by former members of the British National Party (BNP), a far-right political party with neo-Nazi sympathies. BF is estimated to have about a thousand members. It was founded by Jim Dowson and Paul Golding in Northern Ireland. Dowson was known for his fervent religious views (he had trained to be a Calvinist minister) and his stance against Islam. Golding was closely associated with Nick Griffin, the leader of the BNP from the late 1990s until 2014.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Current leadership


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>The group is currently led by Paul Golding who has made the BF the leading U.K.-based anti-Muslim, “counter-jihad” street movement. Jim Dowson left the group in 2014. Jayda Fransen, a Roman Catholic activist, is now the deputy leader of BF.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Ideology


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>The founders of BF hoped to fill a vacuum left by the decline of the BNP and the splintering of the English Defense League (EDL), a virulently anti-Muslim hate group. BF sees itself as a Christian “army” preparing to confront Muslims directly at their homes, mosques, and in the streets in order to elicit a violent reaction from the Muslim community. According to a report by the British anti-hate group, Hope Not Hate, some activists in Britain First actually attended a series of bloody “fight clubs” and a sports academy overseen by ex-military personnel to get “military training” in order to carry out their activities.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Tactics


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>In May 2013, two Muslim converts murdered a British soldier, Lee Rigby on the streets of South London. They had been allegedly radicalized by Anjem Choudary founder of the radical Muslim group, Al Muhajiroun. After this incident, Golding issued a video warrant warning that BF would arrest Choudary if they could find his address. The groups also targeted other Muslim radicals in their homes. They launched “Christian Patrols” and intimidated Muslims in east London.    The group also has “invaded” mosques. In August 2016, Golding and Fransen were banned from entering Luton and, later, all mosques and Islamic centers in England and Wales. In 2016, Fransen was charged and convicted of intimidating a Muslim woman. That same year, Golding was charged with entering premises in Wales despite a court order preventing him from doing so. He was sentenced to eight weeks in prison for breaking the court order.


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>Spreading propaganda


mso-bidi-font-family:”Times New Roman”;mso-bidi-language:HE”>BF’s street demonstrations are relatively small. The group has used social media to spread its anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant propaganda on Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

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Written question – Construction industry challenges in the EU – E-006890/2017

The annual report of the European Construction Industry Federation (FIEC) highlights the challenges of the construction industry in the EU due mainly to the low growth rate of investments(1) and the inequalities between north European countries (led by Germany and the UK) and Balkan and south European countries. For example, in 2016, construction activities had a negative growth rate of ‐2.1% in Greece(2), ‐5.9% in Bulgaria, ‐13.2% in Slovenia, and ‐4.1% in Portugal.

1. What investment instruments will the Commission use to mitigate the impact of reduced construction and repair of buildings such as schools and hospitals in the EU?

2. What initiatives are being considered to boost employment in the construction industry in countries like Greece(3)?

(1) Construction activity in Europe, Edition 2017, FIEC
(2) ‘(…) due to cuts in public spending, the completion of pre-crisis large projects and delays in EU funding of new infrastructure projects’, id
(3) Only 175 000 jobs in 2016, Key Figures Activity 2016, FIEC