Morning briefing: May meets Tusk / European Parliament weighs Poland sanctions / Putin makes an address

By Billy

Good morning, here’s your Thursday morning briefing to set you up for the day ahead. Look out for these three things happening around the world today.

May to meet Tusk amid Northern Ireland Brexit customs union row

British prime minister Theresa May will meet top European Union official Donald Tusk today, amid tensions over the EU’s draft withdrawal treaty which was released yesterday.

The treaty proposes a “common regulatory area” after Brexit on the island of Ireland — in effect keeping Northern Ireland in a customs union — if no other solution is found.

Meanwhile, speaking at an event of business leaders in Brussels just hours before his meeting with May, Tusk warned the UK its plan to leave the EU’s customs union and single market on Brexit could mean a return to a “hard border” on the island of Ireland.

May will chair a meeting of the British government cabinet before her talks with Tusk and has already pledged not to accept the draft treaty as it stands.

Tomorrow May will make a major speech on British relations with the bloc after Brexit.

EU votes on Poland sanctions

The European Parliament will vote today on whether Poland’s nationalist government should face sanctions for backsliding on democracy.

The European Union could theoretically strip Poland of its voting rights in EU forums if it pushes ahead with reforms seen as placing the judiciary under political control.

However, the EU is keen to seek compromise because it knows that Poland’s allies — notably Hungary — will block any sanctions move.

Putin makes state of the nation address ahead of Russian elections

Russian president Vladimir Putin will makes his State of the Nation Address to Russia’s Federal Assembly today.

It’s expected his speech will focus on domestic issues ahead of the country’s presidential elections, avoiding foreign policy.

The presidential address is meant to provide an overview of the nation’s current state of affairs and set major directions for domestic and foreign policy.

Russian leaders have made 22 addresses to the parliament, with Putin making 12 of them.

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