Friday, 26 June 2020: Starmer dismisses shadow education secretary Long-Bailey, Germany and France to increase contribution to WHO, Pompeo says US and EU must face down China together, Austrian ski resort has record rate of coronavirus antibodies


Starmer dismisses shadow education secretary Long-Bailey: Labour leader Keir Starmer sacked one of his top team for sharing an article which he said contained an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. Starmer took the decision on Thursday, hours after Labour MP Rebecca Long-Bailey approvingly retweeted an article published by the “Independent” in which actress Maxine Peake was quoted as saying: “The tactics used by the police in America, kneeling on George Floyd’s neck, that was learnt from seminars with Israeli secret services.” The article initially suggested Amnesty International supported the claim but was subsequently updated to clarify that there was no suggestion by the charity that this training including neck-kneeling tactics. Israel also disputed the allegation. Long-Bailey stressed that her retweeting of the article was not intended to be an endorsement of all aspects of the text. But a spokesperson for Starmer said in a statement that the article contained an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory. The swift action brought praise from Jewish groups and from Labour MPs who had been critical of Jeremy Corbyn’s handling of complaints about antisemitism in the party.,

Major incident declared after thousands flock to UK beaches: Officials in southern England have declared a major incident after thousands of people flocked to local beaches.
Bournemouth and Sandbanks, in Dorset, were hit particularly hard as crowds came to enjoy the hottest day of the year so far. Dorset Police said there were reports of gridlocked roads, fights and overnight camping. By Thursday evening the Sandbanks peninsula was heavily congested, the council said, repeating its warning for people to please stay away. According to the council, the large number of beachgoers completely drained local resources, leading to problems of illegal parking, excessive waste, gridlocked roads and behaviour that defied social distancing.,,

Johnson played Trump like a fiddle, says Bolton: In an interview with Channel 4 News on Thursday, Donald Trump’s former national security adviser John Bolton claimed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was playing the US president “like a fiddle.” Bolton said Trump could not distinguish between personal relationships and national relationships. Bolton also said that there was a “sea change” in president-to-prime-minister relations when Theresa May was replaced by Boris Johnson in July 2019.,

Former health secretary Hunt: Groupthink slowed coronavirus response
Planning row: Housing Secretary Jenrick faces questions over meeting with Israeli mining heir
Justice system: Johnson accused of misleading MPs over race review response
Coronavirus: Health Secretary Hancock introduces walk-through test centres following criticism


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Germany and France to increase contribution to WHO: The two countries have expressed political and financial backing for the World Health Organisation WHO in its fight against the coronavirus. German Health Minister Jens Spahn announced additional donations of funds and medical equipment to the WHO that would bring Germany’s total support to €500 million this year, the highest amount ever, as it assumes the EU presidency. France said it would give €90 million to a WHO research centre in Lyon as well as an additional contribution of €50 million. “We need a strong, efficient, transparent and accountable WHO today more than ever,” Spahn said, though warning that continued support was conditional on reform of the organisation.,

EU agency recommends remdesivir to fight Covid-19: The European Medicines Agency EMA has recommended the anti-viral drug remdesivir be authorised for use to treat patients with Covid-19 in the EU. The EMA said it would be tested on adults and adolescents from 12 years of age with pneumonia who require supplemental oxygen. The EU Commission is still required to approve the drug, marketed as Veklury, but this is viewed as a formality. Regulators in the US and Japan have already signed off on its use.,

Pompeo says US and EU must face down China together: The United States and European Union need a shared understanding of China to resist it, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Thursday, calling Beijing a threat and accusing it of stealing European know-how to develop its economy. Pompeo said he had accepted a proposal by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell to create a formal US-EU dialogue on China and would travel to Europe soon to host the first session.

Spain, Ireland and Luxembourg vie for Eurogroup leadership: Three ministers have put forward their candidacy to become president of the Eurogroup. On 9 July, euro zone finance ministers will choose between Nadia Calvino of Spain, Pascal Donohoe of Ireland and Pierre Gramegna of Luxembourg. “This excellent pool of candidates shows the relevance of Eurogroup today,” the outgoing chairman Mario Centeno of Portugal said on Twitter. The odds are in favour of Calviño, who would be the first woman to coordinate the interests of the 19 euro countries. Several German government officials have described her as a strong candidate.,,

EU court rejects French challenge to budget vote: The European Court of Justice has rejected a complaint from France that the EU Parliament improperly held a budget vote in Brussels rather than Strasbourg. Protocol 6 of the Treaty of Lisbon requires the parliament to hold twelve sessions in Strasbourg, including the budget session. This results in what is often referred to as the travelling circus, as lawmakers and their staff trek the nearly 300 miles from their home base in Brussels to Strasbourg. France had argued that the treaty is clear on the scheduling and by not adhering to the terms, the budget was illegitimate.,

Increase in asylum applications in Europe: In 2019, applications for asylum in EU countries rose by 11% to 738,425. The European Asylum Support Office EASO found that 2019 was the first time since 2015 that applications increased on an annual basis, in part due to a sharp rise in applicants from Venezuela and Colombia. Some EU countries – such as Cyprus, France, Greece, Malta and Spain – received more asylum applications in 2019 than during the so-called migration crisis in 2015 and 2016.

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Spy scandal: Luxembourg court acquits secret service agents in scandal that brought down Juncker
EU antitrust chief Vestager calls for more cross-border telecom deals
European Court of Justice: Migrants cannot be detained for lack of space
German virus app also available for many European users
European Central Bank bond purchases: Governing Council defuses conflict with Karlsruhe
Competition law: Ryanair intends to challenge Lufthansa rescue package


The WHO very much values the EU’s leadership qualities in these unprecedented times.
World Health Organisation Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has praised the EU’s role in the global fight against the pandemic.


Austrian ski resort has record rate of coronavirus antibodies: More than 42% of residents in the Austrian ski resort of Ischgl carry coronavirus antibodies, the highest rate ever found, according to a study conducted by the University of Innsbruck. The study tested 1,473 people, almost 80% of Ischgl’s population. Only 15% of those who tested positive for antibodies had been aware they had contracted the virus, further underlining the high rate of infections with no or mild symptoms. The first positive test result in Ischgl was on 7 March, days after Iceland alerted the Austrian authorities to several of its nationals who it believed caught the virus there. A quarantine was declared a week later but tourists were allowed to leave, further spreading the virus across Europe.,

Donors pledge $1.8 billion for Sudan: Western and Arab countries pledged a total $1.8 billion in aid to Sudan on Thursday to help the struggling African nation a year after pro-democracy protesters forced the removal of the country’s longtime autocratic ruler, Omar al-Bashir. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said that the conference was just the start of helping Sudan and that donors would reconvene early next year. Germany intends to spend €118 million to support Sudan in areas such as water, food security and education, while a further €32 million will be allocated to humanitarian aid and stabilisation. German Development Minister Gerd Müller praised the enormous efforts of the civilian transitional government for peace, democracy and reforms. Sudan’s interim government has been grappling with an economic crisis since it took office last year while also navigating a treacherous transition to civilian rule. The coronavirus pandemic has exacerbated the economic despair, throwing millions of laborers out of work.,

Portugal to bring back coronavirus lockdown to several areas of Lisbon: Portugal will bring back coronavirus stay at home orders for several areas of Lisbon, said Prime Minister António Costa on Thursday. The reinstated lockdown will apply to 19 boroughs in the Lisbon Metro Area, not including the capital city’s downtown area, as local authorities fight a surge in infections in the city’s outskirts.

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Lukashenko accuses Russia and Poland of election meddling: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko accused Russian and Polish forces on Thursday of meddling in his country’s presidential election campaign and trying to discredit him and his family members. He said he would discuss the alleged meddling with Russian President Vladimir Putin, although he did not say when.

Hungary’s asylum policy breaks EU law: Hungary is breaking EU law by thwarting asylum seekers, Advocate General Priit Pikamaee of the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg said Thursday in a non-binding opinion. Hungary failed to fulfill its obligations under EU law by not ensuring effective access to the asylum procedure and by unlawfully detaining applicants in transit zones.

Norway and Denmark to lift travel curbs on European countries: Norway will lift travel restrictions to and from European countries that meet criteria regarding their Covid-19 situation from 15 July, Prime Minister Erna Solberg said on Thursday. From mid-July Norwegians will be able to travel to all countries in the European Economic Area or Schengen without undergoing a ten-day quarantine upon return – but only if these countries respect certain criteria set by Norwegian health authorities. In Denmark, those who have booked a stay for at least six nights will be allowed to enter the country, as well as anyone who has a valid reason.,

Germany: Wirecard committed elaborate and sophisticated fraud, say auditors
Poland: Irritation in Russia over transfer of US troops
France was allowed to withdraw citizenship after crime
Belgium sued for abducting mixed-race children in the Congo under colonial administration


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EU summit spoils Danish PM’s marriage plans: Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen has postponed her wedding so she can attend a summit of EU leaders in Brussels on 17 and 18 July. The Social Democrat was supposed to marry her partner, Bo Tengberg, as early as summer 2019. But the couple chose to postpone the wedding because of last year’s general election.


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