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Europe briefing: Spain threatens to veto Brexit, UAE considers clemency request for Matthew Hedges

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Europe briefing: Spain threatens to veto Brexit, UAE considers clemency request for Matthew Hedges
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1) Spain threatens to veto Brexit deal over Gibraltar

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez has threatened to veto the EU's draft Brexit deal with the UK if no changes are made over Gibraltar.

European Union negotiators will be meeting on Friday to clear the last hurdle before Sunday's summit to endorse the Brexit deal. However, Spain's 11th-hour objections over Gibraltar mean the final text could not be ready until the last minute.

2) Czech prime minister faces no-confidence vote

Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis faces a vote of no confidence on Friday amid accusations he tried to hinder a probe into an EU funds fraud involving himself and his family.

Police charged the billionaire turned prime minister and his two adult children last year with manipulating ownership of one of his firms a decade ago to receive a two million euro subsidy, which he denied.

3) UAE to consider "clemency" request in jailed British academic case

The ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to London said Friday that his government was debating whether or not to grant clemency to Matthew Hedges — the British academic who was sentenced to life in prison for spying.

Ambassador Sulaiman Hamid Almazroui said Hedges' family had requested clemency and that his government was reviewing it.

He also said Hedges had been convicted based on "compelling evidence" after a "fair" trial. But that the academic could be potentially freed in an "amicable solution".

4) Yellow vest protesters plan more mass demonstrations across France this weekend

The yellow vest protesters are planning on more mass demonstrations across France this weekend.

The "gilets jaunes" are angry that French President Emmanuel Macron is planning on rising fuel prices through tax hikes. People protesting see these as disproportionately affecting those who use their cars to get to and from their jobs every day.

5) Hungary's Orban defends asylum for Macedonian ex-leader

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban defended granting asylum to former Macedonian prime minister Nikola Gruevski, who's facing jail term at home.

Orban described him as an "ally" and accused Macedonia's justice system of being involved in "political games". Gruevski fled to Hungary earlier this month after being sentenced to two years in prison over corruption-related charges.