Facing conflict of interest proceedings under tightened EU rules, billionaire Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis may soon become the first European politician found in violation of the bloc's new law. Babis, the second wealthiest Czech, is suspected of still owning the sprawling Agrofert chemicals, food and media group despite having formally transferred ownership to trust funds to comply with the law. Separate proceedings sparked by the anti-corruption watchdog Transparency International and the opposition Pirate Party show that Babis has reason to worry. "Agrofert gets EU subsidies, Czech subsidies, and takes part in public procurement," David Ondracka, head of the Czech branch of Transparency International, told AFP. "Babis is in a conflict of interest in all these segments and they all should be suspended." Last September, Transparency and the Pirates asked the European Commission whether Agrofert was entitled to receive billions in EU agricultural subsidies if Babis still controls … [Read more...] about Billionaire Czech PM tests EU’s new conflict of interest law
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When was legal aid established? Free schemes run by volunteer lawyers to advise the poor who found themselves before a judge emerged at the end of the 19th century. The modern system was created by Clement Attlee’s Labour government, through the 1949 Legal Aid and Advice Act. The white paper preceding legislation said the aim was “to provide legal advice for those of slender means and resources, so that no one would be financially unable to prosecute a just and reasonable claim or defend a legal right; and to allow counsel and solicitors to be remunerated for their services”. Legal support and representation was to be available in all courts. There were merit tests and, above a certain limit, a sliding scale of contributions. Initially the scheme was overwhelmingly involved with divorce cases but provision gradually extended to other areas of the law. Devised at the same time as the welfare state, legal aid was not a nationalised service like the NHS or the benefits … [Read more...] about Legal aid: how has it changed in 70 years?
International rail transport Eurostar travel between London, Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam could be disrupted in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to one of the 76 notices that have been published about potential issues arising if the UK crashes out of the EU. The government says it would have to negotiate new arrangements with individual countries to keep trains heading to the continent. It will also be up to passengers to ensure their insurance and ticket terms cover them in the event of a claim over delays to Eurostar and other cross-border services. “Passengers using cross-border services are responsible for ensuring that their insurance and ticket terms and conditions are sufficient to cover possible disruption,” the technical notice on rail transport says. Consumer rights UK consumers may be in legal limbo if they buy faulty products from EU countries in the event of the no-deal Brexit, even if they take court action. The technical notice on consumer rights … [Read more...] about From rail safety to Spotify access: the key no-deal Brexit notices
Business Review has spoken to experts at EY Romania, the professional services firm, about the challenges of regulating cryptocurrencies and the role of Initial Coin Offerings (ICO) in helping entrepreneurs secure funding for their startups. Are we going to see any attempts to regulate cryptocurrencies in Europe in the foreseeable future? Gabriel Sincu | Associate Partner | Tax Advisory Services, EY România: Being the hottest topic in the beginning of the year, when the news in this field were making the headlines in media, discussions on the topic went down in the second half of the year. This is due (among others) to the fact that the domain remains non-regulated and even more, some countries like China and South Korea decided to ban the transactions with cryptocurrencies. In this context, and considering the risks and lack of a clear understanding of the phenomenon, Europe is not rushing to make a decision in the direction of regulating the cryptocurrencies and we are not aware … [Read more...] about BR Exclusive. EY Romania experts on cryptocurrency regulation, ICO potential for startups
Picture: AFP ANNOUNCER: This Week with George Stephanopoulos starts right now. DONALD TRUMP, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I've never respected him.\ I've never had a lot of respect. GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS, HOST: President Trump takes on outspoken critic and former CIA director John Brennan by taking away his security clearance. UNIDENTIFIED MALE: He's using a security clearance of a former CIA director as a pawn. He's drunk on power. STEPHANOPOULOS: Warns more could be coming. SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: James Clapper, James Comey, Michael Hayden... STEPHANOPOULOS: Sparking a fierce backlash. SEN. MARK WARNER, (D) VIRGINIA: To me this had an eerie memory, an enemy's list. STEPHANOPOULOS: The president is emboldened, unrestrained, punishing adversaries in unprecedented ways. Is it all about the Russia investigation? A move to bury those Omarosa headlines? How will Trump's actions affect America's security? Martha Raddatz takes those questions … [Read more...] about White House National Security Adviser John Bolton and Bishop David Zubik