⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃
UK to unveil lockdown easing plans this week: The government will reduce its two-metre social distancing rule this week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday, following pressure from the hospitality industry. Pubs and restaurants are due to reopen on 4 July, but the industry has warned that keeping customers two metres apart to reduce the spread of coronavirus is impossible for many establishments. Asked why government advisers had placed such emphasis in the past on the two-metre rule Hancock suggested that new knowledge about the virus meant it was possible to reduce the distance.
New rules to protect British firms amid virus: The government will introduce new measures on Monday to protect businesses critical to public health from foreign takeovers. Changes to legislation would give ministers extra powers to protect those needed to help in future pandemics, who might be struggling now. Changes to the 2002 Enterprise Act will mean that the government can intervene if a business that is involved in a pandemic response – a personal protective equipment manufacturer, for example – is the target of a takeover by a foreign firm. They will also expand the government’s ability to scrutinise takeovers involving companies who work in artificial intelligence or encryption technology.
Finance Minister Sunak plans emergency cut in value-added tax: Rishi Sunak is ready to cut the value-added tax (VAT) as part of the government’s latest efforts to tackle economic fallout from the coronavirus outbreak, according to the “Sunday Times”. Sunak has ordered officials to prepare options for reducing the sales tax, including a cut in the headline rate, and zero rating more products for a fixed period, the newspaper reported.
⊂ POLITJOBS UNITED KINGDOM ⊃
Association of Directors of Children’s Services seeks Policy Officer *** The Royal Society seeks Senior Policy Adviser (Education) *** ITV Cymru Wales seeks Public Affairs Manager *** Independent Age seeks Public Affairs Officer *** Dogs Trust seeks European Policy Advisor (Publish your job ad)
⊂ EUROPE ⊃
British police treat Reading stabbing attack as terrorist act: Police on Sunday said that a stabbing attack in a southern English town that left three people dead and another three injured was being treated as a terrorist attack. The incident took place at Forbury Gardens at around 7 pm on Saturday. Police have arrested a 25-year-old man on suspicion of murder who remains in police custody. Security sources have told the BBC the suspect is thought to be Libyan. According to the “Guardian”, the suspect was known to security services and other authorities. Thames Valley Police said they are not looking for any other suspects, and that there is nothing to suggest there is further danger to the public. Police also ruled out reports that the attack was related to a Black Lives Matter protest in Reading on Saturday afternoon. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said his thoughts were with all of those affected by the appalling incident in Reading.
reuters.com, politico.eu, bbc.com, theguardian.com
EU leaders consult with Chinese government: This Monday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU Council President Charles Michel will hold a meeting via video conference with China’s President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Li Keqiang. The discussions will address the sluggish negotiations on an investment agreement as well as the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and its consequences, among other things.
Trump renews criticism of Germany’s military budget: US President Donald Trump has said he is reducing the number of US troops in Germany because the country doesn’t spend enough on defence and supports the Nord Stream 2 pipeline project with Russia. Trump spoke Saturday in Tulsa, Oklahoma, in the first political rally he’s held since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Trump recalled a dispute with German Chancellor Angela Merkel over her country’s defence spending, urging her to meet the 2% target for Nato members. “They’re delinquent, for many years they’re delinquent,” Trump said. “They say ‘yes, we think by 2030, maybe 2032, we could get current.’ I said ‘no, Angela, Angela please, don’t say that Angela.’ It’s true.” Meanwhile, TikTok users and Korean pop music fans were being partly credited for inflating attendance expectations at Trump’s rally, as part of a coordinated effort which helped to leave hundreds of seats empty in a 19,000-capacity venue.
bloomberg.com, reuters.com, theguardian.com
AI&I vTalk with Luciano Floridi: The development of a corona tracing app is shaping the public debate. Aside from data protection, complex ethical questions arise from the use of such an app. On May 12th from 5 pm Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Information Ethics at the University of Oxford, will speak about the trust of European citizens in the use of mobile tracing apps and the ethical principles of government, business and science in the second edition of the AI&I vTalk.
People interested in participating in the discussion and asking questions to Professor Floridi are invited to visit the Vodafone Institute’s YouTube channel.
UN World Refugee Day: Protests in Athens and Paris de.euronews.com
EU Parliament: Better Covid-19 protection for foreign workers handelsblatt.com
Bridge loan: EU countries interested in Swiss coronavirus loans tagesanzeiger.ch
European Central Bank: German judge Wallrabenstein sees solutions to dispute between Karlsruhe and ECB faz.net
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Ruling conservatives win Serbian parliamentary election: Serbia’s ruling Progressive Party (SNS) has won a landslide victory in Sunday’s parliamentary election, results projected by pollsters showed. A sample of polling stations put President Aleksander Vucic’s SNS firmly in the lead with 63.4% of the vote. Pollsters put turnout at 48%, lower than in previous years, likely due in part to fears of Covid-19 infection. A number of main opposition groups boycotted the vote, saying the election was a risk to public health and wasn’t being held under free and fair conditions. Critics warn that Vucic is becoming increasingly authoritarian, and say he has sought to erode democratic freedoms since coming to power in 2012.
Bruges mayor stabbed by ex-client: The mayor of the Belgian city of Bruges, Dirk De fauw, has been released from hospital after surviving a knife attack. De fauw was seriously injured on Saturday when he was stabbed by a man he now says he knew. The 62-year-old mayor was taken to the hospital and had to undergo emergency surgery. The mayor, who is also a lawyer, said the assailant was a former client whom he had defended in court multiple times.
Rioters attack German police after drug check in Stuttgart: Police in the German city of Stuttgart said Sunday that 24 people were arrested and 19 police officers injured after a drug check sparked attacks on officers and police vehicles followed by widespread vandalism of storefronts in the city centre. Police said several hundred people were involved. The disturbance started after officers stopped a 17-year-old German with a migration background on suspicion of drug possession. Crowds immediately rallied around the young man and began throwing stones and bottles at police. The groups, mostly men, also used sticks or poles to break the windows of police vehicles parked in the area. Police said 40 businesses were vandalised and nine of them had been looted, while 12 police vehicles were damaged before officers brought the situation under control early Sunday morning.
apnews.com, euronews.com, theguardian.com
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Protest against coronavirus restrictions in The Hague turns violent: Dutch police arrested about 400 protesters and used a water cannon Sunday after violence erupted around a demonstration in The Hague against measures put in place by the government to rein in the spread of the coronavirus. People had gathered for a protest that was initially banned by The Hague’s mayor last week. On Sunday, authorities gave permission for a brief protest, because fewer people attended than had been predicted, before asking demonstrators to leave. Police made the arrests when a group of about 200 people refused to leave.
Italy close to announcing Fiat Chrysler’s loan: Italy is close to unveiling the approval of guarantees for a 6.3 billion euro financing of Fiat Chrysler, sources familiar with the matter said. Crisis loans in Italy are subject to a number of conditions, including a temporary dividend suspension. The loan would be disbursed by Italy’s biggest retail bank Intesa Sanpaolo, which has already authorised it pending the approval of guarantees the government will provide on 80% of the sum through export credit agency SACE.
Spain reopens its borders as state of emergency comes to an end: Spain ended its state of emergency on Sunday after three months of lockdown amid the pandemic. People can now freely move around the whole country for the first time since 14 March. Border restrictions have also been lifted for all European countries, including the UK and those in the Schengen area. Portugal is the only exception, as it decided to keep its border with Spain closed until 1 July. Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez sent his thanks to all sectors of society that contributed halting and fighting the virus spread in the country, and praised the spirit of sacrifice, responsibility and discipline of the nation.
Germany: Over 600 people test positive for coronavirus at slaughterhouse dw.com
France: Climate council urges President Macron to hold referendum on making destruction of nature a crime france24.com
Slovenia: Police find 22 migrants hidden in trucks nytimes.com
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
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
politjobs.eu, politjobs.eu/submit (Inserat schalten)
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Controversial Lenin statue unveiled in German town: The western German city of Gelsenkirchen on Saturday unveiled a new monument to the controversial Soviet leader Vladimir Lenin. Not all residents of Gelsenkirchen were happy about the new monument. “Lenin stands for violence, repression, terrorism and horrific human suffering,” representatives from mainstream parties on the town’s district council said in a resolution passed in early March, in an attempt to block its installation. But the upper state court in Münster later rejected the council’s attempt to halt the statue, which it argued would interfere with a historic building on the same site.