Lack of clear UK stance making Brexit talks tough - French PM

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe. (Reuters)
Updated 16 September 2017

Lack of clear UK stance making Brexit talks tough - French PM

BERLIN: French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said during a visit to Berlin on Friday that Britain had still not clearly defined its positions on Brexit and that this was making negotiations with the EU-27 more difficult.
Answering questions from an audience in Berlin after a speech on the French government’s reform drive, Philippe rejected a suggestion that other European countries were being “tough” on Britain and said it bore blame for difficulties in the talks.
“Our aim is not to be tough with the British. What is true is that these are difficult negotiations,” Philippe said.
“And they are difficult, they have been made difficult, because the initial positions of British diplomats still need to be clearly defined to a certain extent,” he added, before heading to the chancellery for a meeting with Germany’s Angela Merkel.
Nearly three months into talks on the terms of Britain’s departure from the European Union, the two sides have made little progress on the issues that Brussels wants resolved before talks on a future trading relationship begin.
These include expatriate citizens’ rights, the Irish border and the bill that London should pay its EU partners to settle existing financial commitments.
Philippe said he regretted Britain’s decision to leave the EU and, coming from Normandy, felt like he was among cousins when he traveled to the United Kingdom.
But he said it was important for the EU-27 and its lead negotiator, Frenchman Michel Barnier, to ensure that the interests of citizens on the continent were protected. For that, the bloc had to stick to its sequencing plan.
“It is our responsibility to ensure that the exit is done in an orderly manner,” Philippe said.


Philippine court dismisses case seeking $3.9bn of Marcos wealth

Updated 32 min 19 sec ago

Philippine court dismisses case seeking $3.9bn of Marcos wealth

  • The country’s anti-graft court decided in favor of the Marcoses for the fourth time since August
  • Judges ruled that photocopied documents could not be used as evidence, so the case would not proceed

MANILA: A Philippine court threw out a high-profile, 32-year-old forfeiture case on Monday involving the family of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, citing insufficient evidence to order the return of $3.9 billion of allegedly ill-gotten wealth.
The country’s anti-graft court decided in favor of the Marcoses for the fourth time since August, with judges ruling that photocopied documents could not be used as evidence, so the case would not proceed.
It has been referred to widely as the “mother” of cases in a three-decade effort by a special presidential panel to recover an estimated $10 billion allegedly siphoned off by Marcos and a family that had lived lavishly during his 20 years in power, 14 of which were ruled under martial law.
The case lodged by the Presidential Commission on Good Government had sought the return of 200 billion pesos ($3.93 billion) it said was tied up in equities, numerous local and foreign banks and real estate at home and in the United States and United Kingdom.
It also included the value of 177 paintings and 42 crates of jewelry worth nearly $9 million.
In a 58-page verdict, the court “acknowledged the atrocities committed during martial law under the Marcos regime and the ‘plunder’ committed on the country’s resources.”
“However, absent sufficient evidence that may lead to the conclusion that the subject properties were indeed ill-gotten wealth, the court cannot simply order the return of the same to the national treasury.”
The same court dismissed similar cases against the family in August, September and October, all for lack of evidence.
Despite being overthrown in a 1986 revolt and driven into exile, the Marcos family remain a powerful force in the Philippines, with loyalists throughout the bureaucracy and political and business elite.
The late leader’s wife Imelda was a four-term congresswoman, daughter Imee is currently a senator, as was son and namesake Ferdinand Marcos Jr, who has been tipped as a possible candidate for the presidency in 2022. A relative is the current Philippine ambassador to the United States.
The family has a powerful ally too in President Rodrigo Duterte, who has spoken well of the former dictator, backed Imee’s senate run and expressed a desire for Marcos Jr to have been his vice president.