Friday, 12 June 2020: Patel clashes with MPs over experiences of racism, Visegrad countries call for fair distribution of EU aid, Amazon could face antitrust charges from EU, Trump authorises sanctions against International Criminal Court officials


Home Secretary Patel clashes with MPs over experiences of racism: More than 30 Labour MPs from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds have accused Priti Patel of trying to silence debate by using her own experience of racism. On Monday, Patel told MPs of discriminaton she had previously faced. 32 MPs, including Diane Abbott and Clive Lewis, expressed their dismay after Patel said that she would “not take lectures from the other side of the house” because she had been racially abused as a child. In a strongly worded letter, the MPs told the home secretary they were disappointed at the way she had used her “heritage and experiences of racism to gaslight the very real racism faced by black people and communities” across the UK: “Our shared experiences allow us to feel the pain that communities feel when they face racism, they allow us to show solidarity towards a common cause; they do not allow us to define, silence or impede on the feelings that other minority groups may face.” Health Secretary Matt Hancock accused the MPs of divisive identity politics. Former chancellor Sajid Javid called the letter utterly misguided and irresponsible: “Imagine listening to an ethnic-minority woman’s history of suffering racist abuse – and then deciding that you’d rather condemn the victim than her abusers,” he tweeted.,

Courts prepare fast-track prosecutions for BLM protests, “Times” reports: British courts are preparing to fast-track prosecutions for the Black Lives Matter protests, as Justice Secretary Robert Buckland has told magistrates to model the process along the lines of the response to rioting in London in 2011, “The Times” newspaper reported. The plans made by Buckland and Interior Minister Priti Patel will lead to offenders being jailed within 24 hours of arrest to defuse disorder if they are found causing vandalism, criminal damage or assault on police officers, the report said. A British statue of Robert Baden-Powell, founder of the worldwide scouting movement, will be given 24-hour security until it is removed or until the threat subsides after it became a target of anti-racism protests. More than 1,000 people gathered in Newport to march in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. (Courts), (Statue), (Newport)

Jenrick ducks Commons question on planning intervention: Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick is facing increased political pressure to explain his intervention in a planning decision to save a property developer millions of pounds, after ducking a parliamentary question on the subject and sending his deputy instead. Labour have demanded Jenrick release the correspondence showing his contacts with the former Express newspapers owner Richard Desmond ahead of the decision over a residential development in east London. The Lib Dems want an investigation into the minister’s conduct.,

Coronavirus 1: MPs pile pressure on Prime Minister Johnson to cut 2-metre distancing rule
Coronavirus 2: England test and trace system identifies 31,000 contacts
Coronavirus 3: Britain asks private bankers to discuss potential wealth taxes, according to senior banker
Immigration: Councils ask for UK to lift bars on emergency help for migrants
Domestic abuse: Misogyny should be treated as a hate crime, say MPs


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Visegrad countries call for fair distribution of EU aid: The Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia on Thursday edged towards backing an EU plan to fund recovery from the coronavirus but said it should not favour larger, richer states or hurt smaller ones that managed the outbreak well. Poorer countries should not bear the cost for richer ones, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis said. Slovakia’s Prime Minister Igor Matovic said the existing compromise was not fair. Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki insisted on a high degree of flexibility when awarding the aid. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said Budapest was opposed to large borrowing – at the core of the EU recovery plan – but would get on board if funding is distributed more favourably. Eurogroup President Mario Centeno said the protection of the common currency should be kept in mind during the recovery after the coronavirus crisis. The Eurogroup started looking for a new chairman on Thursday after Centeno announced his resignation. Euro zone officials have mentioned Spanish Finance Minister Nadia Calvino as one of the top candidates., (Visegrad);, (Centeno); (Calvino)

German biotech company receives million euro loan from EU: German company Biontech will receive up to 100 million euros in debt financing from European Investment Bank EIB for the development and manufacturing of a coronavirus vaccine. The deal will also allow the company to expand its manufacturing capacity in order to supply the vaccine fast worldwide in response to the pandemic. This will be done at the company’s own risk while the clinical studies are ongoing. EIB Vice-President Ambroise Fayolle said in recent years the EIB had become a unique player in supporting highly innovative venture-stage biotech and medtech companies. The EIB would do everything it could to step up its support in the current crisis. US biotech company Moderna on Thursday confirmed it plans to start a trial of 30,000 volunteers of its much-anticipated coronavirus vaccine in July as the company enters the final stage of testing., (Biontech); (Moderna)

EU countries should open internal borders on Monday: European countries have gradually begun to lift internal border restrictions, put in place to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Now the EU Commission is urging members of the Schengen visa-free travel area to coordinate on how external borders are opened. “You should open up as soon as possible,” said Home Affairs Ylva Johansson when asked about internal borders, explaining that the European Centre for Disease Control had said internal border controls were not an effective way of dealing with the pandemic. The German government wants to agree on common coronavirus standards with the most important travel countries in Europe to guarantee a safe tourist season.,

Amazon could face antitrust charges from EU: The EU is planning formal antitrust charges against over its treatment of third-party sellers, “The Wall Street Journal” reported Thursday, citing sources familiar with the case. The charges could come as early as next week or the week after and would focus on Amazon’s dual role as both a seller and operator of the marketplace, according to the Journal. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager had launched a preliminary probe into Amazon in 2018, focusing on the company’s use of third-party merchants’ data.,

Trump authorises sanctions against International Criminal Court officials: US President Donald Trump on Thursday authorised sanctions and additional visa restrictions against International Criminal Court personnel, the latest attempt by the US administration to strong-arm the international body out of an investigation into potential war crimes by US military and intelligence officials. The move comes months after the International Criminal Court authorised a probe into alleged war crimes committed in Afghanistan by US and Afghan forces. The EU’s foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said Trump’s decision was a matter of serious concern. He reiterated that the EU was a steadfast supporter of the International Criminal Court.,

Passengers not entitled to compensation for delays caused by unruly behaviour: The European Court of Justice on Thursday ruled that airlines do not necessarily have to compensate passengers who incur delays or cancellations to their flights because of the disorderly behaviour of other travellers. Under certain conditions, unruly conduct by passengers could be deemed an “extraordinary circumstance,” alleviating airlines of the responsibility of paying damages. The ruling specified that this would not apply if the crew contributed to the passenger’s bad behaviour or if they had not paid attention to warning signs before boarding. The court has also ruled that drugmakers can’t hand out free samples of prescription medicines to pharmacies, in a dispute between a Novartis AG unit and generic drug maker Ratiopharm. Furthermore, the court ruled against a German woman seeking damages over defective breast implants. In another ruling, the European Court of Justice decided that wolves are protected by EU law wheresoever they roam. (Compensation), (Medicines), (Implants), (Wolves)

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Greek bailout neglected social impact, report for euro fund says
Brexit: British Prime Minister Johnson and EU leaders to hold video summit Monday
Counterfeiting: EU governments lose €15bn a year due to counterfeiting, EUIPO says
Russia’s military intelligence (GRU): Germany seeks EU sanctions for 2015 cyberattack on its parliament
George Floyd: Ex-Minneapolis officer charged in George Floyd’s death is released on bond


There is no other solution than having a deal by July. If we do not have a stimulus plan, we will have a problem.
The EU must reach a deal on a proposed 750 billion euro economic recovery plan to cope with the impact of the coronavirus crisis by July, French Junior European Affairs Minister Amelie de Montchalin said on Thursday.


Swiss parliament passes marriage for all: Switzerland’s lower house of parliament approved draft legislation on Thursday to let same-sex couples marry in a country that has lagged behind other parts of western Europe in gay rights. Despite opposition from conservatives, legislators also voted to let lesbian couples use sperm donations to conceive children. The legislation will now move to the upper house for a final vote.

China needs to do more on market access, Merkel tells Li: German Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed in a video conference with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang that Beijing needs to take action to open up its market and treat foreign companies fairly, her spokesman said on Thursday. German firms want better market access in China and more legal certainty for investment. They also complain that the government in Beijing distorts competition with high subsidies. Merkel and Li also discussed their cooperation on dealing with the coronavirus pandemic, human rights, the situation in Hong Kong, investment and trade issues in various economic sectors including public procurement and global economic issues. Prior to the talks, Merkel faced pressure from human rights groups and German politicians — including within her own party — to take a strong stance against China’s clampdown on Hong Kong.,

German airline Lufthansa to cut 22,000 jobs despite bailout: Lufthansa said Thursday it would need to slash 22,000 full-time positions as it predicted a muted recovery in demand for travel following the coronavirus pandemic. Lufthansa’s supervisory board last week approved a €9 billion bailout deal with the government, which has yet to be given the green light by investors at a 25 June shareholder meeting. Germany’s opposition Left party criticised Lufthansa’s announcement about potential layoffs. Party chief Bernd Riexinger questioned how the state could give €9 billion in bailout money to a company worth only €4 billion, and then for the state not have a say in personnel-related matters. A spokeswoman for the economics ministry rejected the criticism, saying the support package for Lufthansa was important so that the company remained a central German carrier. Without government support, the company would have no future.,

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Norway mosque shooter jailed for 21 years: A far-right Norwegian man was jailed for 21 years on Thursday for the racially motivated murder of his Chinese-born stepsister and attempting to kill worshippers in a mosque shooting spree. The man had expressed strong anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim views before last year’s attack and was unrepentant at trial. He had shot and killed his stepsister in their family home and then drove to the nearby al-Noor Islamic Centre and entered the building, firing several shots but hitting no one before being overpowered by a 65-year-old member of the congregation who wrestled away his guns.,

25,000 Serbians go to match as lockdown eases: Serbia’s President Aleksandar Vucic on Thursday defended authorities who allowed 25,000 fans to attend a cup tie between Belgrade’s leading soccer clubs as Serbia’s coronavirus restrictions eased. The game was Serbia’s biggest mass event in months. But although the curfews and weekend lockdowns that marked a two-month coronavirus emergency have gone, there are still fears about a resurgence of cases.

Coronavirus cases hit daily record in Sweden: Sweden announced its highest daily tally of coronavirus infections on Thursday, a record 1,474 new cases that authorities said was due to a long-delayed surge in testing. The country’s tactics to contain the epidemic have come under close scrutiny since it eschewed a lockdown in favour of mainly voluntary measures and its chief epidemiologist acknowledged last week it could have done more.

Germany: Government starts investigation into police racism
France 1: President Macron denies reports he might trigger snap election
France 2: Court orders reopening of investigation into rape allegation against minister Darmanin
Bulgaria experiences second coronavirus wave
Croatia: Shocking evidence of police torture of migrants


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US general apologises for appearing in photo-op with Trump: America’s top general Mark Milley has apologised for appearing in a photo-op with US President Donald Trump following the forceful dispersal of peaceful protesters outside the White House last week, calling the move a mistake and saying his presence created a perception of the military involved in domestic politics. Milley said during a pre-recorded speech released on Thursday that he regrets accompanying Trump on a walk from the White House to St. John’s Church last week where he was photographed wearing his combat uniform and moving with the president’s entourage through Lafayette Square.


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