Category Archives: EU

HMA Open Letter To British Citizens In Spain On Brexit Negotiations

As many of you are no doubt aware, this autumn will be an important period in the ongoing Brexit negotiations, leading up to the European Council meeting on 18 October

Parliament Street

Parliament Street

Ahead of that, you might have seen that the Government has published a series of techncal notices on a range of areas, to help businesses and citizens prepare in the unlikely event of a no deal Brexit. Firstly, let me reassure you though that the Government does not want, nor does it expect, a no deal outcome in the negotiations. As a result of the significant progress made in negotiations, I remain confident that the UK will agree a positive and ambitious deal with the EU – an outcome that is in the interests of both the UK and the EU, and in the interest of both British and EU citizens.

And of course, we continue to discuss the implementation of the deal agreed last December on the rights of UK citizens currently living in the EU and EU citizens living in the UK with the Spanish authorities. But as a responsible government, we must prepare for all eventualities, however unlikely. Hence these technical notices on driving licences, and travelling between the UK and the EU, amongst other subjects.

I appreciate that this is a period of uncertainty and many of you have questions and want more advice for UK nationals living in Spain. We want to help you prepare for all scenarios and further relevant information will continue to be made available on gov.uk over the coming weeks. And both the Embassy and Consulates will continue with the outreach events that we have planned throughout Spain, with some 20 such events planned between now and the end of the year, and ensure that your questions and concerns are shared with the relevant UK government departments.

In the meantime, please ensure you are correctly registered here in Spain, and stay up to date with the latest news, by signing up for email alerts and visiting the Living in Spain guide on gov.uk, and continue to follow our “Brits in Spain” social media channels, including on facebook. Both I and our UK in Spain consular teams will continue to share with you what we know, when we know it, to provide you with as much clarity as possible.

Assistant Secretary Marie Royce Travels To The United Kingdom, Greece, And Finland

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce will travel to the United Kingdom, Greece, and Finland, September 10–19, to promote and strengthen the State Department’s cultural and educational diplomacy efforts in Europe.

While in the United Kingdom, Assistant Secretary Royce will provide remarks at the House of Commons on September 12 to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-U.K. Fulbright Commission. She will also meet with government officials, academic leaders, and alumni of the Fulbright, International Visitor Leadership Program, and other State Department-sponsored exchange programs.

In Greece, Assistant Secretary Royce will deliver closing remarks to the Digital Communications Network Influencers Forum at the Thessaloniki International Fair, where the United States is being recognized as the Honored Country. She will also speak about the 70th anniversary of the U.S.-Greece Fulbright Commission at a Greek-American Relations conference, and will meet with Alumni Engagement Innovation Fund grantees, as well as government officials.

Finally in Finland, Assistant Secretary Royce will visit the European Center for Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats, engage with Fulbright Finland Foundation and the Finnish National Agency for Education, meet with government officials, and provide opening remarks at the Institute of International Education Generation Study Abroad Symposium, an initiative launched in 2014 to double and diversify the number of U.S. students studying abroad by the end of the decade.

For further information, contact ECA-Press@state.gov. Follow along on Twitter at @ECA_AS.

German Court Hears Appeal Against Kuwait Airways’ “Racist Policy”, Verdict Expected On September 25

Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project: "Justice hangs in the balance: if the German court again finds in favor of Kuwait Airways, it will be providing cover for the racial purity laws of a foreign dictatorship"

The Lawfare Project

The Lawfare Project

The High Court of Hesse has today heard an appeal against a previous Frankfurt court ruling regarding Kuwait Airways’ discriminatory policy of banning Israeli passengers from flying on the airline. The case was brought by an Israeli student, represented by The Lawfare Project and its German counsel Nathan Gelbart, after he booked a flight from Frankfurt to Bangkok in 2016 but was not allowed to take his seat because of a Kuwaiti law that bans all citizens and companies from doing business with citizens of the Jewish state.

The Frankfurt court found in favor of the airline last year, prompting outrage in Germany. The Israeli plaintiff appealed with support from The Lawfare Project, resulting in today’s hearing.

The appeal argued that the verdict applied the racist law of a radical, totalitarian, and theocratic regime and allowed it to overrule German national air transportation laws, which obligate every air carrier to transport any passenger with valid travel documents. In so doing, the court had aided and abetted Kuwait in imposing its anti-Jewish, anti-Israeli laws even though such discrimination is illegal in Germany. According to an archaic and anti-Semitic 1964 Kuwaiti law, all relations with Israeli citizens are prohibited.

In today’s hearing, the court made clear that it shared the view of The Lawfare Project that this Kuwaiti law must not be applied in Germany as it contradicts important German values, including the value of friendship towards the State of Israel. The court explicitly said that the Kuwaiti law was also not applicable in Germany because it represents a collective punishment against all Israelis. It cannot be tolerated, the court argued, that such a law could be applied by a German court to justify Kuwait Airways’ discrimination. This means that the contract for transportation—the plaintiff’s plane ticket—should be considered valid and the airline should have flown him to Bangkok.

Yet the court also expressed doubts that, in the event of a verdict against Kuwait Airways, the verdict would be respected and practicably fulfilled for factual reasons. Factually, the court said, our client would not be able to leave the first plane after it landed in Kuwait, because even the transit area of the airport is under the territorial integrity of Kuwait. Kuwait Airways had therefore sold the plaintiff an impossible product. Nonetheless, the court continued, the Kuwaiti law banning any involvement with Israeli citizens could not be used to justify discrimination. That law is not applicable, the court said, and is most probably an act of discrimination against Jewish people given that 74% of Israeli citizens are Jewish. It is also a contravention of the German Air Transportation Act.

The court therefore said that while the plaintiff’s ticket remains valid, it is skeptical that it could reach a verdict knowing from the start that this verdict would be factually impossible to fulfil.

Nathan Gelbart responded that he did not think it would be reasonable for the court to avoid issuing a verdict against Kuwait Airways just because its verdict would not be enforced by the airline. By this logic, any company can undermine the rule of law entirely by simply refusing to abide by a judicial verdict. Gelbart asked the court to reconsider this point.

The court is expected to render a decision on September 25th.

If the appeal is successful, and the court rules against Kuwait Airways for its racist policy towards Israeli citizens, it will raise questions about the airline’s ability to operate in Germany. Yet even if the court does not rule directly against the airline, it is likely that Kuwait Airways will come under political pressure. After last year’s ruling in favor of the airline, the State Secretary of the Ministry of Justice, Christian Lange, wrote to Chancellor Angela Merkel asking her to “personally ensure that the landing rights of Kuwait Airways in Germany are immediately withdrawn.”

On previous occasions, legal pressure by The Lawfare Project against Kuwait Airways in the United States and Switzerland led to the airline cancelling its NYC-London flights, and all its inter-European flights, rather than compromise its discriminatory practices. Meanwhile, in London, an Israeli passport holder who attempted to book a flight on Kuwait Airways and was prevented from doing so was recently paid damages by the airline.

Earlier this year, Acting Minister of Transport, Christian Schmidt, wrote to the Kuwaiti Minister of Labor, Economics and Social Affairs, Hind Al-Sabeeh, regarding what he called the “disconcerting” policy of Kuwait Airways. It is “fundamentally unacceptable to exclude citizens because of their nationality,” wrote Schmidt.

Since last year’s verdict, three regional parliaments in Germany—Bayern, Hessen, and Nordrhein-Westfalen—passed resolutions condemning Kuwait Airways for its racist policy.

Brooke Goldstein, Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, a legal think tank and litigation fund that takes legal action against anti-Semitic discrimination and that has been representing the plaintiff, said:

“Justice hangs in the balance: if the German court again finds in favor of Kuwait Airways, it will be providing cover for the racial purity laws of a foreign dictatorship, which is all the more disturbing given Germany’s dark past with such laws. Kuwait Airways should be given an ultimatum—either cease its anti-Semitic, unlawful practice or cease operating in Germany.”

Nathan Gelbart, The Lawfare Project’s German counsel who is representing the Israeli plaintiff, said:

“I remain hopeful that the court will finally act against this blatant bigotry. I was pleased to hear the court say today that the Kuwaiti law used by Kuwait Airways to justify its discrimination is not applicable in Germany, incompatible with German values and foreign policy, and constitutes an act of collective punishment against Israelis. The fact that Kuwait Airways would be unlikely to make any positive changes to their bigoted policy should not in my view prevent the court from issuing a verdict against the airline.

It is unbearable that we are allowing a company to do business in Germany that discriminates against Jewish individuals on no basis other than their nationality. It is vital that the court acts to protect the rights of all individuals in Germany to enjoy equal rights under the law, free from the discriminatory laws of a racist dictatorship.”

For more information, or to arrange interviews with Lawfare Project Executive Director Brooke Goldstein, Lawfare Project German counsel Nathan Gelbart, or the Israeli plaintiff, Adar M., please contact:

Nathan Miller or Hannah DeWit
(310) 571-8264
Nathan@miller-ink.com or Hannah@miller-ink.com

About the Lawfare Project: Headquartered in New York, The Lawfare Project, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, is a legal think tank and litigation fund committed to protecting the civil and human rights of Jewish communities around the world. To learn more, please visit https://www.thelawfareproject.org.

The Bureau Of Overseas Buildings Operations Announces The Architect Selection For The New U.S. Consulate General In Milan, Italy

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The Department of State announces the selection of SHoP Architects of New York, New York to design the new U.S. Consulate General facility in Milan, Italy.

The multi-building complex will be situated on an approximately 10-acre site in Milan at Piazzale Accursio.

Since 1999, as part of the Department’s Capital Security Construction Program, the Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) has completed 148 new diplomatic facilities and has an additional 54 projects in design or under construction.

OBO’s mission is to provide safe, secure, and functional facilities that represent the U.S. government to the host nation and support staff in the achievement of U.S. foreign policy objectives. These facilities represent American values and the best in American architecture, engineering, technology, sustainability, art, culture, and construction execution.

For further information please contact Christine Foushee at FousheeCT@state.gov, or visit www.state.gov/obo.

Secretary Pompeo’s Call With Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok

U.S. Department of State

U.S. Department of State

The below is attributable to Spokesperson Heather Nauert:‎

Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo spoke with Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok about the August 31 attack in Amsterdam Central Station that injured two U.S. citizens. The Secretary expressed appreciation for the quick response of Dutch law enforcement to the attack and assistance given to the victims and their families. Dutch and U.S. law enforcement are cooperating in the investigation, and the Secretary and Foreign Minister reiterated their commitment to stand together in our common fight against terrorism in all forms.

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