Thursday, 18 June 2020: Oxford University to remove statue of imperialist after anti-racism protests, German MEP describes being victim of Belgian police brutality, Von der Leyen admits lack of diversity in EU institutions, Ukraine gets US military aid


Oxford University to remove statue of imperialist after anti-racism protests: The controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes at a University of Oxford college will be removed following anti-racism protests. The Rhodes Must Fall campaign received renewed support as Black Lives Matter protests spread across the UK following the death of George Floyd in the US. The campaign argued the statue of Rhodes glorified racism, but the college had previously resisted calls to remove it. Meanwhile, workmen began removing protective hoarding around a statue of Britain’s wartime leader Winston Churchill on Wednesday ahead of a visit from French President Emmanuel Macron, after the monument was covered up during racial equality protests. (Rhodes), (Churchill)

Labour quizzes PM on planning decision that saved Tory donor £40m: Prime Minister Boris Johnson is facing pressure to disclose any meetings he had with Richard Desmond before a minister overruled planners, saving the former Express newspapers owner about £40m on a London property development. After Johnson was quizzed about the issue at prime minister’s questions, Labour formally asked for details of any contact with Desmond since he had entered No 10, and with other Conservative party donors.

Starmer accuses Johnson of failing to tackle child poverty: Labour leader Keir Starmer has accused Prime Minister Boris Johnson of inaction and delay over a crisis in childhood poverty, one exacerbated by coronavirus. Starmer quoted a government report that 600,000 more children are living in relative poverty than there were in 2012. The PM said Starmer was wrong about child poverty, saying both absolute and relative poverty had declined. Johnson said he was proud of his record on free school meals and would be delivering a summer food package for some children.,

Campaigners urge pet theft law as cases go through the roof in lockdown
Red, white and blue: Johnson’s plane gets a patriotic makeover


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German MEP describes being victim of Belgian police brutality: EU lawmaker Pierrette Herzberger-Fofana said on Wednesday she was a victim of racist police violence outside a Brussels railway station, and lodged a complaint against Belgian police. Herzberger-Fofana, a German Green party deputy who was born in Mali, told the EU Parliament she was pushed and grabbed by four officers on Tuesday after she began to film police harassing two young black people outside the Gare du Nord. “Four of those armed police officers brutally pushed me against the wall, they grabbed my handbag away from me, spread my legs and a police officer wanted to frisk me and they dealt with me in a very humiliating way,” she told the parliament during a discussion about racism and police violence . A police officer did not believe she was an MEP, despite her German passport, Belgian residency card and official EU accreditation.,

Von der Leyen admits lack of diversity in EU institutions: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has acknowledged a lack of racial and ethnic diversity within EU institutions as she pledged Wednesday to keep talking about racism and discrimination. Von der Leyen told the EU Parliament that she wanted to get to the bottom of these questions. “Let us look around us, here in this very hemicycle,” she said. “The diversity of our society is not represented. And I will be the first to admit, things are not better in the College of Commissioners, nor among the European Commission staff.” Senior figures within the EU will have a debate on racism next week as George Floyd’s death continues to resonate on the continent.,,

EU wants to accelerate vaccine development: The EU Commission proposed on Wednesday to temporarily relax rules on trials of drugs involving genetically engineered organisms as an emergency measure to speed the development of a coronavirus vaccine. EU officials said many promising vaccines under development could face delays in European trials if rules were not relaxed. The proposal, which needs to be backed by EU governments and lawmakers, would be valid only during the coronavirus emergency.

EU wants more protection from foreign takeovers: The EU is making it harder for Chinese and other foreign state-backed firms to buy stakes in European companies, as concerns grow over unfair competition. The Commission has proposed to have a bigger say when foreign state-backed firms buy stakes in European companies to a point where it could prohibit the merger — if it is deemed that it could create market distortions. At the moment, when national governments look to buy stakes in European companies, the process needs to be approved by the Commission under state aid rules. However, this legislation does not cover firms that receive support from foreign governments.

EU Social Commissioner calls for crisis programme for young people: The EU is facing the worst recession in history as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. To ensure that the crisis doesn’t turn into a social emergency, the EU must address issues like job security, minimum wages, or youth opportunities, the Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit, told “Euractiv” in an interview. “Young people will be one of the hardest-hit groups by this crisis,” the Commissioner explained, referring to schools and universities shutting down, crisis-induced layoffs and fewer job opportunities. The Commission is expected to unveil in the coming weeks an updated European Youth Guarantee.

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Brexit: Dispute mechanism is key sticking point in talks, says Von der Leyen
EU recovery fund: France’s Le Maire: We must prepare for long and gradual economic recovery
Competition: EU regulators probe Fiat Chrysler-PSA merger
Consumer prices: Inflation in eurozone hits a four year low
EU car sales: European new car sales fall 56.8% in May


We don’t have a strategic plan for this now.
Germany is not currently planning to take any further stakes in biotech firms, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said after Berlin announced it would take a stake in German vaccine developer CureVac.


Coronavirus deaths in Sweden pass 5,000: Deaths in Sweden from the virus passed 5,000 on Wednesday, the Public Health Agency said, far more than in neighbouring Nordic countries. The official death toll has now reached 5,041. Sweden has taken a softer approach to fighting the coronavirus, leaving most schools, shops and restaurants open and relying on voluntary measures focused on social distancing and good hygiene. The Swedish foreign ministry meanwhile announced that the country will lift its advice against non-essential travel to ten European countries starting from 30 June.,

German finance minister sees no danger of Lufthansa rescue deal collapse: German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said the bailout deal for the airline was a good, balanced solution which he hoped shareholders would approve, adding he did not think the agreement was in danger of collapse. “I am counting on that,” he told reporters after investor Heinz Hermann Thiele criticised the 9 billion euro deal, causing Lufthansa to warn that it might need to apply for creditor protection if there is insufficient shareholder support.

Greece prohibits numerous NGOs from working in refugee camps: Only 18 nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) will be allowed to enter reception and identification centres for migrants and refugees in Greece, the migration and asylum ministry said on Wednesday. Greek lawmakers earlier this year approved the establishment of a special registry for all NGOs, staff and partners in a bid to monitor their operation.

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Norway says its salmon did not cause virus at Beijing market: Chinese and Norwegian authorities have concluded salmon from Norway was not the source of the coronavirus found on cutting boards at a Beijing wholesale food market, Norway’s fisheries and seafood minister said on Wednesday. Chinese and Norwegian officials had decided on Tuesday the source of the outbreak did not originate in fish from Norway, he added.

Syrian President’s uncle jailed in France for money laundering: The uncle of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been sentenced to four years in prison by a Paris court for money-laundering. His property assets in Paris and London will be seized, the court ruled. Rifaat al-Assad was convicted of embezzling Syrian state funds to buy homes and offices to build a French property portfolio. Assad, who divides his time between France and Britain, denies the charges.

Ukraine gets US military aid: Ukraine has received military aid worth more than $60 million from the United States, the US embassy said on Wednesday. Military aid to Ukraine was at the centre of a House of Representatives impeachment inquiry in December into US President Donald Trump, on charges of obstruction of Congress and of pressuring Ukraine to investigate the son of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Malta: Government party politician resigns amidst scandal over murdered journalist Galizia
Germany: Discrimination law sparks Berlin standoff over police


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British prime minister’s car hit in fender-bender: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was in a minor car crash on Wednesday after a protester ran in front of the vehicle he was in as it left parliament. No one was hurt. Footage posted on social media showed a man running toward Johnson’s car as it drove out of the gates of parliament accompanied by a police motorcycle outrider and a Range Rover support vehicle. Johnson’s car braked suddenly and was hit from behind by the Range Rover, sustaining a large dent.


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