Europe briefing: Russia accuses American of spying, Italy's 2019 budget, English Channel security.
1. Britain and France will step up migrant patrols in English Channel
Britain and France have announced an “enhanced action plan” over the next week to combat attempts by migrants and refugees to cross the Channel from northern France, using small boats in dangerous conditions.
The two countries’ interior ministers, the UK’s Sajid Javid and France’s Christophe Castaner, spoke to each other by phone over the weekend and have both tweeted about the plan. Javid is to chair a meeting on Monday with the relevant UK authorities.
2. At least three dead in Russia apartment building collapse
At least three people died and four others were injured after a section of a high rise apartment building collapsed in the early hours of Monday in the Russian city of Magnitogorsk in the southern Urals, reported local news agencies. Seventy-nine people are still missing according to Russia's emergencies ministry.
3. Number of Britons seeking Irish passports went up by 22% in 2018
The number of British citizens applying for Irish passports went up by 22% in 2018, said Ireland's foreign office on Monday. That's double of total annual applications since Britain voted to leave the European Union. Almost 100,000 eligible Britons applied for an Irish passport this year, up from 81,000 last year and 46,000 in 2015, the year before the Brexit vote. Anyone can apply for an Irish passport if they prove they have an Irish parent or grandparent or were born in the Irish Republic or Northern Ireland.
4. Italian parliament approves the government's 2019 budget
The Italian parliament on Saturday passed the government's 2019 budget just ahead of an end-year deadline. Italy re-drafted the budget and cut the deficit next year to 2.04% of GDP after Brussels rejected its original target of 2.4%.
5. Russian security service detains American suspected of spying
Russia's domestic security service, the FSB, said on Monday it had detained an American citizen suspected of spying in Moscow, local news agencies reported. According to the reports, the man was detained on December 28 and a criminal case has been opened against him. If found guilty he could face between 10 to 20 years in prison according to Russia's Tass news agency.