SpaceX, Boeing design risks threaten new delays for U.S. space program | Reuters


NASA is paying SpaceX $2.6 billion and Boeing $4.2 billion to build rocket and capsule launch systems to return astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil for the first time since America’s Space Shuttle program went dark in 2011.

Just ahead of the first scheduled un-manned test flight slated for March 2 under NASA’s multibillion-dollar Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s safety advisory panel cited four “key risk items” in its 2018 annual report earlier this month.

For Boeing, they include the capsule’s structural vulnerability when the heat shield is deployed.

For SpaceX, the report mentioned the redesign of a SpaceX rocket canister following a 2016 explosion and its “load and go” process of fueling the rocket with the crew already inside the capsule.

“Parachute performance” remained an issue for both companies.

Source: Exclusive: SpaceX, Boeing design risks threaten new delays for U.S. space program | Reuters

House Democrats to Block Border Emergency Declaration Friday | Time


House Democrats plan to file a resolution as soon as Friday that’s aimed at blocking President Donald Trump’s declaration of an emergency at the Southwest border.

That could set up a vote by the full House by mid-March. The clash is over a declaration that Trump is using to try spending billions of dollars beyond what Congress has authorized to start building border barriers.

Source: House Democrats to Block Border Emergency Declaration Friday | Time

Eastern Europe’s problem isn’t Russia | POLITICO


There’s an enemy stalking the post-Soviet states of Eastern Europe — undermining governments, attacking the economy and sowing instability.

Russia? No. The greatest threat to countries like Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine lies in their own poor governance and abuse of informal power.

And while these weaknesses make them more vulnerable to their powerful eastern neighbor, the blame for their consequences ultimately lies at home.

Source: Eastern Europe’s problem isn’t Russia – POLITICO

Google, Amazon among those targeted in EU unfair practices digital rules | EURACTIV.com


Google, Amazon and other tech firms will have to tell companies how they rank their own or rival products on their platforms under new rules agreed by EU negotiators aimed at stopping unfair practices by online platforms and app stores.

Proposed by the European Commission in April last year, the platform-to-business (P2B) law is targeted at Google Play, Apple App Store, Microsoft Store, Amazon Marketplace, eBay and Fnac Marketplace.

Facebook, Instagram, Skyscanner and Google Shopping, Google Search, Seznam.cz, Yahoo!, DuckDuckGo, Bing are also among the 7,000 online companies covered by the proposed rules.

Source: Google, Amazon among those targeted in EU unfair practices digital rules – EURACTIV.com

Europe strengthens monitoring of foreign investment | EURACTIV.com


The European Parliament approved on Thursday (14 February) the proposal to screen foreign investment at EU level, clearing the path for closer monitoring of third country companies willing to invest in the EU’s critical sectors.

The proposal put forward by the European Commission in 2017 will allow the EU for the first time to collectively address investments that represent potential risks to the bloc’s security or public order.

It will not harmonize existing national screening mechanisms or remove national powers to approve foreign investment operations, but instead, it will boost cooperation in this field among the EU partners.

Source: Europe strengthens monitoring of foreign investment – EURACTIV.com

EU banking watchdog investigates Estonia and Denmark over Danske scandal | EURACTIV.com


The European Banking Authority launched a formal investigation on Tuesday (19 February) to determine if Estonian and Danish authorities had failed to enforce EU rules that would have prevented one of the largest-ever money-laundering scandals affecting Danske Bank.

Last September, the Commission told the EBA to investigate, “with the necessary degree of urgency”, whether the Danish and Estonian supervisors had conducted the appropriate inspections and applied the right sanctions to the Danish bank’s Estonian branch.

“The need for effective supervision and the need to apply effective, proportionate and dissuasive sanctions is a requirement that stems directly from Union legal framework,” the letter read.

Source: EU banking watchdog investigates Estonia and Denmark over Danske scandal – EURACTIV.com

What comes after the last chance Commission? | EURACTIV.com


In 2014, the EU was still suffering through the euro crisis.

Unemployment had hit unprecedentedly high levels; intergovernmental emergency measures burdened the Union’s democratic quality; the trust in European institutions of a politics-fatigued electorate had hit an all-time low.

Then came Juncker. Building on his ‘election’ as a Spitzenkandidat, he sought to give the Commission democratic legitimacy through becoming more ‘political’ and leveraging this new bond with the Parliament into bolder agenda-setting vis-à-vis the European Council.

He restructured the internal set-up to enable what he called the “last chance Commission” to turn the corner, by channeling its attention towards ‘big-ticket’ items and easing off on hyper-regulation

Five years on, the EU still seems to be stumbling from one summit to the next, even if migration and rule of law have supplanted economic issues at the top of the agenda.

Source: What comes after the last chance Commission? – EURACTIV.com

Germany needs a quarter of a million migrant workers a year | EURACTIV.com


Germany is dependent on migrant workers but a decreasing number of them will be EU citizens in the future. In the long term, about 146,000 immigrants from outside of the EU will have to be integrated into the German labor market every year, according to a recent study. EURACTIV Germany reports.

It is always difficult to make forecasts, particularly when they concern the period until 2060. Nevertheless, a study by three researchers, from the German Research Institute of the Federal Employment Agency (IAB) and Coburg University, has done exactly this, predicting different scenarios for how the German labour market will develop.

Germany has an aging population, meaning that fewer and fewer young workers are paying into a welfare state that is growing ever more expensive.

Source: Germany needs a quarter of a million migrant workers a year – EURACTIV.com

Brexit turns EU into landlord in the City of London | EURACTIV.com


The European Medicines Agency is looking to sublet its former headquarters in the financial district of London, after a British court ruled on Wednesday (20 February) that it cannot break its lease despite the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

The EMA, one of the EU’s most powerful regulatory agencies, will move from the business district of London to Amsterdam as of 1 March.

But it will still have a foothold in the City of London until the end of its lease in 2039, a British court ruled on Wednesday.

The agency is renting its building in Canary Wharf until 2039, for an estimated cost of £500 million (€575 million). The agency has been located in this area since 1995.

Source: Brexit turns EU into landlord in the City of London – EURACTIV.com

Fitch warns of British debt downgrade on ‘hard’ Brexit risk | EURACTIV.com


The country’s departure from the European Union without a divorce agreement would create a risk of “substantial disruption to UK economic and trade prospects, at least in the near term,” Fitch said.

Fitch put Britain’s long-term debt on credit watch “negative” for a possible downgrade from the current “AA” rating.

Source: Fitch warns of British debt downgrade on ‘hard’ Brexit risk – EURACTIV.com