Friday, 19 June 2020: Hungary broke EU law with foreign funding rules, EU Parliament criticises China’s Hong Kong policy, France accuses Turkey of aggression in the Mediterranean Sea


Hungary broke EU law with foreign funding rules: The European Court of Justice has ruled that a Hungarian law concerning the foreign funding of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) is illegal. The court found that the law introduced discriminatory and unjustified restrictions on the organisations affected, as well as their backers. The judges argued that the rules were in breach of the EU-enshrined right to the free movement of capital, as well as rights to the respect for private and family life, the protection of personal data and freedom of association. The law stipulates that categories of NGOs that receive more than $27,000 of foreign funding per year have to register as such and publish the names of donors. In the meantime, the Hungarian government has ended its emergency rule by decree — and introduced a system that allows the government to continue issuing decrees with little oversight. Hungary is also allowing entry to citizens of all EU countries., (EU court); (Rule by decree); (Entry)

EU Parliament criticises China’s Hong Kong policy: Striking the right balance in EU-China relations has not proven easy of late. Pressure has mounted after the G7 issued a statement expressing concern about China’s plans to impose new security laws in Hong Kong. For the moment, the EU is reluctant to impose sanctions on Beijing. “China is clearly a necessary partner, like it or not,” EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said in a debate with MEPs on Thursday. He added the EU needed to work with China on global challenges such as climate change, but admitted that human rights remained a contentious issue in relations with the country. Some in the EU Parliament called on the EU Commission to take a harder line when it comes to protecting Hong Kong’s autonomy. In particular, they are asking for sanctions to be put on the table. Belgian MEP Assita Kanko said Europea shouldn’t just issue statements of support for Hong Kong democratic forces – it should back up words with actions.

EU apparently in talks with Johnson & Johnson: The EU Commission is in advanced talks with pharmaceuticals giant Johnson & Johnson to reserve or make an up-front purchase of its Covid-19 vaccine under development, two officials familiar with the talks told “Reuters”. The Commission’s deal with the US company was in the pipeline, a top health official from an EU member state said, asking to remain anonymous. A second EU source said the Commission had a call with Johnson & Johnson on Tuesday about the possible agreement. A Commission spokesman had no comment.

Refugee numbers hit record high in 2019: Global displacement reached a staggering 79.5 million people last year – almost double the number of people in crisis registered a decade ago, the UN refugee agency UNHCR said on Thursday. That figure represented approximately 1% of the world population, said agency chief Filippo Grandi. He pointed out that 68% of refugees come from only five countries: Myanmar, Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan and Venezuela. Nearly 46 million people were displaced within their own country at the end of 2019, while 26 million others had fled across the borders as refugees. The surge in refugees was chalked up in part to new displacement in the persistent trouble spots of the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Sahel region of Africa, Yemen and Syria. The countries that hosted the most refugees were Turkey, Colombia, Pakistan, Uganda and Germany.,,,

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German Chancellor Merkel urges EU unity to counter coronavirus crisis
EU Social Commissioner Schmit: Employers must protect seasonal workers from coronavirus
Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea: EU renews sanctions by one year
Thyssenkrupp: EU clears sale of elevator division
European Central Bank hands out 1.3 trillion euros in loans


Especially with a strategic partner like China, it is important that all 27 EU member states speak with one voice.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel sees China as a strategic partner of the EU and called for an open dialogue with the country.


France accuses Turkey of aggression in the Mediterranean Sea: The French defence ministry on Wednesday denounced an aggressive intervention by Turkish frigates against a French navy vessel participating in a Nato mission in the Mediterranean. The French sailors were trying to check a cargo on suspicion it was taking arms to Libya – forbidden under a UN embargo. Turkish frigates carried out radar targeting three times, suggesting a missile strike was imminent, France’s defence ministry said. The disclosure of the incident, which occurred a few weeks ago, came as Nato defence ministers held talks via video conference on Wednesday. France has also accused Turkey of violating the UN arms embargo.

Johnson against extending Brexit talks into autumn: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told French President Emmanuel Macron that it doesn’t make sense to extend talks on a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU into autumn, a statement issued by Johnson’s office said on Thursday. The prime minister welcomed the agreement to intensify Brexit talks in July. Macron told Johnson that he still supported reaching a deal on Brexit. Negotiations on the future trade relationship between the EU and the UK have yielded rather little, so far, with both sides accusing the other of dragging their feet and having unreasonable expectations. Nonetheless, they have ruled out extending the transition period. Macron was visiting the UK to mark the 80th anniversary of General Charles de Gaulle’s 1940 appeal to the French people to fight against the Nazi occupation of France during World War II.,

Spain announces billion-euro plan to help tourism industry: The Spanish government announced on Thursday a near 4.3 billion euro plan to help the crucial tourism industry recover from the coronavirus crisis that halted leisure travel for three months. Most of the package, about 2.5 billion euros, is made up of credit guarantees offered by the government for tourism operators. The government will then help companies by suspending mortgage payments for up to 12 months and will grant a series of aid to pay for increased health safety measures and training for workers. The plan comes ahead of Sunday’s planned re-opening of Spanish borders to travellers from EU and Schengen countries. Tourism contributes more than 12% to Spain’s GDP.,,

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Italy launches holiday bonus to boost tourism sector: The Italian government has unveiled details of a new “holiday bonus” scheme under which low-income households will receive up to 500 euros each to help get the country’s battered tourism sector back on its feet. The government said it was setting aside 2.4 billion euros for households earning less than 40,000 euros a year to receive a financial incentive to holiday in Italy rather than go abroad. Italy reopened its borders to tourists from the EU and from Schengen countries on 3 June. Tourism accounts for around 13% of Italy’s GDP.

Germany 1: Prosecutors accuse Russian government over contract killing of Georgian man
Germany 2: Largest Covid-19 outbreak since early May
France indignant: US ends digital tax negotiations
Greece: Jobless rate drops to 16.2% in first quarter
Czech Republic: Further easing of coronavirus measures


Bitkom sucht Referent europäische Digitalpolitik (w/m) *** Int. Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory seeks Innovation Project Manager *** Int. Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory seeks Project Assistant for EU Funded Projects *** PwC seeks Public Affairs Senior Manager Belgium *** Johnson & Johnson seeks Policy Assistant, Government Affairs & Policy EMEA *** Public Policy Manager, Connectivity *** Ryanair offers Public Affairs internship, (Inserat schalten)


Eiffel Tower welcomes back visitors – with stairs only: The Eiffel Tower is preparing to welcome back visitors after the coronavirus lockdown, but they will need to be fit: Because of lingering concerns about infection, the elevators will initially be off-limits.


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