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Europe: Brussels proposes free movement deal for UK’s 18- to 30-year-olds – as it happened

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Commission proposes Brexit deal for 18 to 30 year olds

Lisa O’Carroll

The European Commission has proposed opening negotiations with the UK to allow free movement enjoyed before Brexit to millions of 18 to 30 year olds in a major post Brexit concession.

It said it will now seek approval from individual EU leaders to start the talks which will see one of the most controversial elements of Brexit, a block on the right to live in each others countries visa free, partially eliminated.

Under the envisaged agreement, both EU and UK citizens aged between 18 to 30 years would be able to stay for up to 4 years in the destination country, the European Commission said in a detailed statement.

“The objective would be to facilitate youth exchanges, making it easier for young EU citizens to travel, work and live in the UK, with reciprocity for young UK nationals in a member state,” the Commission said.

Key events

We are now closing this blog but you can read all our Europe news here. Our story on Brussels proposing opening talks to bring back pre-Brexit rights of free movement for people aged 18 to 30 in the UK and EU is here.

Summary of the day

  • The EU’s 27 heads of state and government met for a second day in Brussels.

  • Their discussions focused on the future of the European economy.

  • Enrico Letta, a former Italian prime minister and the author of a report the leaders are discussing on the economy, said “there’s no time to waste.”

  • Charles Michel, the European Council president, told leaders that “the single market and the economic base is our best asset” and “we need to identify what we should do to make sure that this asset can be developed.”

  • Ulf Kristersson, the Swedish prime minister, said “we need simpler, better and less regulations, lower trade barriers for services and more trade deals.”

  • Ireland, Luxembourg, Sweden and at least a dozen other countries lined up against a French move to centralise supervision of financial markets amid fears it would lead to flight of capital and hard fought inward investment.

  • On the sidelines of the talks, some leaders continued raising concerns about the situation in Ukraine.

  • Donald Tusk, the Polish prime minister, said that “if all the words that were said in the last years here in Brussels about common defence, could be changed into bullets and rocket launchers, Europe would have become the strongest power in the world. And the safest place,” he said.

  • The Lithuanian president, Gitanas Nausėda, said the leaders spoke about concerns about Russia and Iran working together in the Middle East.

  • The Latvian prime minister, Evika Siliņa, said leaders last night said they would prepare further sanctions against Belarus.

  • “Ukraine needs our help now,” the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, said. “If you look away, it will cost more. Security and prosperity in Europe and the U.S. are tied. Giving Ukraine aid saves American jobs and tax dollars.”

  • Speaking to the BBC, the Ukrainian prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, warned of the possibility of a third world war.

  • The Turkish foreign ministry has issued a statement criticising the EU’s leaders for their conclusions on relations with Ankara as “yet another example of the EU’s lack of strategic vision on Türkiye and the global developments.”

  • The European Commission proposed opening negotiations with the UK to allow free movement enjoyed before Brexit to millions of 18 to 30 year olds in a major post Brexit concession.

Commission proposes Brexit deal for 18 to 30 year olds

Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

The European Commission has proposed opening negotiations with the UK to allow free movement enjoyed before Brexit to millions of 18 to 30 year olds in a major post Brexit concession.

It said it will now seek approval from individual EU leaders to start the talks which will see one of the most controversial elements of Brexit, a block on the right to live in each others countries visa free, partially eliminated.

Under the envisaged agreement, both EU and UK citizens aged between 18 to 30 years would be able to stay for up to 4 years in the destination country, the European Commission said in a detailed statement.

“The objective would be to facilitate youth exchanges, making it easier for young EU citizens to travel, work and live in the UK, with reciprocity for young UK nationals in a member state,” the Commission said.

Manfred Weber, the head of the centre-right European People’s party, has congratulated Croatia’s Andrej Plenković.

Congratulations to @HDZ_HR and @AndrejPlenkovic on the successful outcome in Croatia’s 🇭🇷 parliamentary elections!

Your win, hard work, and vision set the stage for exciting times ahead and reflect people’s confidence in your leadership. pic.twitter.com/Cj2IDN9aIU

— Manfred Weber (@ManfredWeber) April 18, 2024

Croatia’s ruling conservatives secure third consecutive parliamentary election victory – video

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Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

Ireland, Luxembourg, Sweden and at least a dozen other countries have lined up against a French move to centralise supervision of financial markets amid fears it would lead to flight of capital and hard fought inward investment.

Their opposition was raised amid proposals aimed at unlocking up to €9 trillion in private money held in the EU ranging from personal savings to pension funds, to finance defence and other big potential challenges such as another pandemic.

One diplomat said that 80% of private investment went to the US because there was not sufficient options for ordinary investments, outside the banking or government savings schemes.

But some smaller countries fear “activity follows regulators” and they could lose their financial services and are determined to stop any bid by France or Germany to centralise supervision.

Ireland fears that a bloc-wide supervisory authority could undermine years of political efforts to lure financial services and fund management which now employs 60,000 people.

The Irish government supports strengthening of the capital markets and believes that consumers should have different options, as they do in the US, to be able to grow their own wealth, through decent alternatives to banks.

A source from another European country said it was imperative that European supervision of capital markets was strengthened.

We are falling behind when it comes to our competitors, especially in the US, but also India and China, are catching up, and we are fragmented,” the diplomat said.

Political uncertainty in Croatia as ruling party wins most seats but no majority

Jon Henley

Jon Henley

Croatia is heading for an extended period of political uncertainty after the ruling conservative Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ) emerged victorious in the parliamentary election, but with fewer seats than before and without a majority.

Led by Andrej Plenković, who has served two terms as prime minister, HDZ won 61 seats in the 151-seat assembly with the votes from 99.8% of polling stations counted, the state electoral commission said on Thursday, down from 66 seats in the previous parliament.

A coalition headed by the opposition Social Democratic party (SDP) of president Zoran Milanović finished second with 42 seats, while the right-wing Homeland Movement came in third with 14, potentially handing it the role of kingmaker.

Mario Bikarski, an analyst at the risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft, said: “Regardless of the final distribution of seats, it is likely the parliament will be more fragmented and coalition negotiations will drag on for longer.”

Read the full story here.

‘Lack of strategic vision’: Turkey criticises EU leaders

The Turkish foreign ministry has issued a statement criticising the EU’s leaders for their conclusions on relations with Ankara as “yet another example of the EU’s lack of strategic vision on Türkiye and the global developments.”

“Türkiye will never accept an approach that links progress in Türkiye-EU relations to the Cyprus issue,” the ministry said.

“Türkiye, as a candidate country, remains committed to membership to the EU. However, we reject the selective limitation of the bilateral cooperation to certain areas. In the coming period, we will review our dialogue with the EU on the basis of reciprocity, taking into account the pace, level and scope of the EU’s steps towards Türkiye,” it added.

‘Actions to defend Israel must lead to boosted air defence for Ukraine,’ Lithuania says

Gitanas Nausėda, the Lithuanian president, has stressed that “the example of allied actions to defend Israel must lead to boosted air defense for Ukraine.”

“Ukrainian cities are getting attacked on a daily basis while their skies remain unprotected. European air defense coalition for Ukraine might be a game changer,” he added.

The example of allied actions to defend #Israel must lead to boosted air defense for #Ukraine.

🇺🇦 cities are getting attacked on a daily basis while their skies remain unprotected.

European air defense coalition for Ukraine might be a game changer.

— Gitanas Nausėda (@GitanasNauseda) April 18, 2024

Swedish PM calls for ‘simpler, better and less regulations’

Ulf Kristersson, the Swedish prime minister, has said the “EU must get back to the core of the single market.”

“We need simpler, better and less regulations, lower trade barriers for services and more trade deals,” he added.

EU must get back to the core of the single market. We need simpler, better and less regulations, lower trade barriers for services and more trade deals. We need more clean energy – including nuclear, and lower energy prices – PM Kristersson #EUCO #competetiveness pic.twitter.com/YMo5SaQVmA

— Sweden in EU (@SwedeninEU) April 18, 2024

‘Giving Ukraine aid saves American jobs and tax dollars’, Kallas says

“Ukraine needs our help now,” the Estonian prime minister, Kaja Kallas, said.

“If you look away, it will cost more. Security and prosperity in Europe and the U.S. are tied. Giving Ukraine aid saves American jobs and tax dollars,” she added.

Agree with @SpeakerJohnson: history judges us for what we do. Hope Congress will do the right thing.

Ukraine needs our help now.

If you look away, it will cost more. Security and prosperity in Europe and the U.S. are tied. Giving Ukraine aid saves American jobs and tax dollars. https://t.co/TRJOaspcas

— Kaja Kallas (@kajakallas) April 18, 2024

The Ukrainian foreign minister, Dmytro Kuleba, has meet with his American counterpart, Antony Blinken.

“We both emphasized the urgent need for the U.S. Congress to pass the supplemental aid package for Ukraine. This will send a message of strength and confidence, allowing Ukraine to save lives and improve the situation on the battlefield,” Kuleba said.

I met with @SecBlinken to thank the United States for standing with Ukraine.

We went over in detail our joint global efforts to get more “Patriot” air defense systems and missiles to Ukraine as soon as possible. I appreciate Secretary Blinken’s efforts to facilitate the… pic.twitter.com/MWMc1jiX3J

— Dmytro Kuleba (@DmytroKuleba) April 18, 2024

Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

The EU has edged closer to calling for an immediate ceasefire in the Middle East after a meeting of the 27 bloc leaders last night.

Leaders have struggled to agree language from the outset of the conflict, engaging in torturous discussions over whether they should use the word ceasefire, pause, or pauses in the first official bloc-wide declaration in October.

Although piggybacking on a UN resolution, Ireland’s taoiseach indicated the significance of the hardened up language in the official communique issued last night reiterating “commitment to work with partners to end the crisis in Gaza without delay and implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2728, including through reaching an immediate ceasefire and the unconditional release of all hostages”.

“I welcome the language that has been agreed around ceasefire, not pause but ceasefire, I think that is important,” said Simon Harris, Ireland’s taoiseach.

Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

The Latvian prime minister, Evika Siliņa, said leaders last night said they would prepare further sanctions against Belarus in relation to circumvention of the existing sanctions against Russian allies of Vladimir Putin and trade in goods for the Kremlin’s war machine.

“We discussed yesterday that the benefits of [Russian] frozen assets should be used for the gain of Ukraine. We are ready as well to deal with sanctions not just against Russia but as well against Belarus, because Belarus is being used by Russia to not comply with the sanctions,” she said on arrival at the EU leaders summit.

Lisa O'Carroll

Lisa O’Carroll

The Lithuanian president, Gitanas Nausėda, said the leaders spoke about concerns about Russia and Iran working together in the Middle East.

They agreed sanctions against Iran last night on missiles and drones and will now expand the existing Russian sanctions list against those supporting Iran, leaders said.

“We had the opportunity to talk about Iran’s engagement in the war with Ukraine and I think it should be one of the reasons why we have to introduce and expand the sanctions to Iran. Not only because of Iran’s role in the conflict in the Middle East but also because of Iran’s role in the war in Ukraine.

“On the one hand we are supporting Ukraine and on the other Iran is standing on the other side of the conflict and this is not acceptable for the European Union as a whole,” the Lithuanian leader told reporters on arrival.

Ukrainian prime minister cautions of third world war if Ukraine loses war

Speaking to the BBC, the Ukrainian prime minister, Denys Shmyhal, warned of the possibility of a third world war.

Addressing the issue of US security assistance, he said: “We need this money yesterday, not tomorrow, not today.”

“If we will not protect … Ukraine will fall,” he added. “So the global, the global system of security will be destroyed … and all the world will need to find … a new system of security.

“Or, there will be many conflicts, many such kinds of wars, and in the end of the day, it could lead to the third world war,” he said.

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