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Gibraltar, the UK exclave near Spain, cannot be part of the EU's passport-free 'Schengen' travel area after Brexit, despite calls by some Gibraltar officials for special arrangements, Britain has said. "The UK, including Gibraltar, is not part of the borderless Schengen zone," a UK government spokesman told the BBC. About 15,000 people enter Gibraltar every day work and Britain would try to "promote fluidity and shared prosperity", the spokesman added.
EU foreign ministers decided to revive Operation Sophia, a naval mission originally intended to stop illegal migration in the central Mediterranean, to enforce a UN arms embargo on Libya. "The mandate of Operation Sophia will be to refocus especially on the issue of the embargo ... it will require satellite and air tools ... not included in the old Operation Sophia," EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell said on Monday.
China will have to move further than the EU to secure a trade deal due to its bars to market access, trade commissioner Phil Hogan has said. "Meeting halfway won't work for the EU. Our markets are largely open, probably the most open in the world. We ... are demanding a rebalancing of the asymmetry," he said in Brussels on Monday, amid hopes to clinch the pact this year.
German chancellor Angela Merkel wants her CDU/CSU party lawmakers to wait until the March EU summit before taking a position on whether China's Huawei can take part in the rollout of Germany's 5G network, Reuters reported. Merkel has been unable to bridge differences within her CDU/CSU bloc, with some supporting the Social Democrat position of shutting Huawei out, while Merkel herself has argued against moving toward isolationism.
Bulgaria's main opposition party, the Socialist Party (BSP), has filed a motion of no-confidence against the government of prime minister Boyko Borissov over lack of progress in the fight against corruption, Reuters reports. "Combating corruption is a pro-European policy, not an anti-European one," socialist party leader Ninova said. Chances are low there will be a majority for the no-confidence vote, however.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell will meet with Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido in Brussels on Wednesday, Borrell said in a press conference. Guaido is recognised as Venezuela's president by more than 50 countries including the United States and most European Union members. Last year, the EU said it "fully supports the National Assembly [Venezuelan parliament] as the democratically elected institution whose powers need to be restored and respected".
The head of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) Donald Tusk, will present his "assessment" on what to do with its Hungarian member, prime minister Viktor Orban's ruling Fidesz party, at the EPP's next leadership meeting in February. Fidesz was suspended last March after Orban's drift to the far-right. The EPP tasked a committee led by former EU council chief Herman Van Rompuy to make a suggestion regarding its future.
Norway's populist Progress Party decided to leave government after a decision to repatriate a woman suspected of having ties with the so-called Islamic State during her stay in Syria, Deutsche Welle reports. The woman was allowed to return to get medical treatment for her child. The split means Conservative prime minister Erna Solberg no longer has a majority in parliament, but she said she wants to continue with a minority.
Justyne Caruana, Malta's minister responsible for the island of Gozo, has resigned after a paper reported links between her policeman husband and the man suspected of masterminding the murder of journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, Reuters reports. "I am submitting my resignation as minister with immediate effect in view of the press story issued, even though I am completely extraneous to it and have no connection to the facts," she said.
EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell has written a letter to the European Parliament in which he states that the EU will cut pre-accession aid to Turkey by 75 percent, Deutsche Welle reports. The cut is a response to Turkey's invasion of Syria and its illegal gas drilling off Cyprus' coast. It will receive just €185m for strengthening democracy and rule of law and rural development.
The Libya conference in Berlin on Sunday concluded with a "new spirit" to find a lasting solution for peace, German chancellor Angela Merkel said. World leaders agreed on applying a stricter arms embargo to Libya and to refrain from intervening in the conflict. But the warring parties of prime minister Hayez al-Sarraj and war lord Khalifa Haftar refused to sit together at the talks.
About 1,000 EU financial services firms plan to open offices in the UK after Brexit to serve British clients in a sign Britain will remain the continent's banking hub, consultancy firm Bovill has said, Reuters reports. Firms from Ireland, France, Cyprus, and Germany have applied for 228, 170, 165 and 149 temporary permits respectively, to do so already. The investments will offset British firms' opening new offices on the mainland.

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