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Historic FYROM vote; Spanish well rescue; and Renault chief 'resigns' | Europe briefing

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Historic FYROM vote; Spanish well rescue; and Renault chief 'resigns' | Europe briefing
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1. Greek MPs set for historic vote on FYROM name change

MPs in Greece are tonight (Thursday) set to vote on a controversial name change for their northern neighbours, the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Athens and Skopje agreed to end a longstanding dispute over FYROM’s name in the summer.

Some people in Greece are upset over FYROM because they think it implies Skopje has territorial claims over the northern Greek region of Macedonia, which shares a name with the country over the border.

Macedonian MPs approved the deal earlier this month and now it is the turn of their Greek counterparts.

Leftist Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras is thought to have enough support to get it through parliament.

But latest opinion polls show two-thirds of respondents were against the agreement.

There were violent clashes in Athens on Sunday as protesters demonstrated against the name change.

2. Bid to rescue boy, 2, from Spanish well ‘reaches final stage’

A mission to save a toddler who fell down a well in Spain 11 days ago has reached its final stage, a miner involved with the rescue told Euronews.

Santiago Suarez said rescuers were preparing to descend a shaft parallel to the well and then tunnel their way to the two-year-old boy.

But, he added, the presence of hard rock is likely to slow progress.

The boy, Julen, fell down the borehole shaft as his family walked through a private estate in Totalan, Malaga, on January 13. There have been no signs of life since.

Read the full story.

3. Carlos Ghosn ‘has resigned’ as Renault chief

Carlos Ghosn has resigned as chairman and chief executive of French carmaker Renault, according to France’s finance minister.

Bruno Le Maire told Bloomberg Television at the World Economic Forum in Davos that Ghosn stepped down on Wednesday evening.

Ghosn was dismissed as Nissan chairman in November amid allegations of financial misconduct.

Renault and Nissan have been in a strategic partnership for nearly two decades.

Renault’s board was set to meet on Thursday morning to decide on a replacement for Ghosn.

Carlos Ghosn

4. ‘The UK’s aerospace sector stands at the precipice’

Airbus has warned it might shift wing-building out of Britain if London’s divorce deal with Brussels hits the rocks.

"The UK's aerospace sector now stands at the precipice," CEO Tom Enders said in a video released on Airbus' website. "If there is a no-deal Brexit, we at Airbus will have to make potentially very harmful decisions for the UK."

The firm employs 14,000 people in Britain but some critics have cast doubt on whether Airbus would follow through on its threats.

"Please don’t listen to the Brexiteers’ madness which asserts that, because we have huge plants here, we will not move and we will always be here. They are wrong," Enders said.

"Of course, it is not possible to pick up and move our large UK factories to other parts of the world immediately. However, aerospace is a long-term business and we could be forced to re-direct future investments in the event of a no-deal Brexit. And make no mistake there are plenty of countries out there who would love to build the wings for Airbus aircraft."

It comes amid a deadlock in the UK parliament over Brexit with MPs having defeated Theresa May’s EU divorce deal last week.

5. 'No backstop, no deal,' says European Parliament Brexit group

The European Parliament's Brexit group said on Thursday it would not approve an agreement on Britain's departure from the European Union that did not contain a "backstop" provision to avoid a hard Irish border.

It comes as British Prime Minister Theresa May looks at ways of appeasing some Conservative MPs who voted down her Brexit deal last week because the backstop could keep the UK in the EU indefinitely.

The parliament's Brexit Steering Group, chaired by Guy Verhofstadt, "reiterated that the withdrawal agreement is fair and cannot be re-negotiated. This applies especially to the backstop ... without such an 'all-weather' backstop-insurance, the European Parliament will not give its consent to the withdrawal agreement."