Thursday, 25 June 2020: Johnson confronted over claim no country has working coronavirus app, European MPs reject Israel West Bank annexation, EU considers barring Americans from travel list, Some US troops withdrawn from Germany will go to Poland

⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃

Jenrick under pressure to resign after donor-row documents released: Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick is under pressure to resign after newly released documents indicated that he insisted a planning decision for a £1bn property development should be rushed through so a Tory donor’s company could reduce costs by £45m. Text message exchanges reveal how businessman Richard Desmond lobbied Jenrick to expedite the development to avoid the need to pay an extra £45m to Labour-run Tower Hamlets council, the poorest borough in London, saying: “We don’t want to give Marxists loads of doe [sic] for nothing!” Jenrick texted the businessman while preparing to decide whether to approve the planning application, telling Desmond he hoped to see him soon, after sitting next to him at a dinner the night before. Labour said it showed discrepancies in Jenrick’s account of events. But Downing Street said Prime Minister Boris Johnson now considered the matter closed.
theguardian.com, bbc.com

Johnson confronted over claim no country has working coronavirus app: German ministers were quick to point out Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s error after he claimed that no country has a functioning coronavirus tracking app. During the weekly Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Johnson asked if opposition leader Keir Starmer could name a single country in the world that had a functional contact-tracing app. Starmer replied: “Germany,” referring to the Corona Warn app launched on 16 June and since downloaded nearly 13 million times. “Other countries are ahead of us. When are we going to have a working app?” the Labour leader demanded to know. German Health Minister Jens Spahn retweeted a clip of the exchange, while State Minister for Digital Dorothee Bär weighed in on Twitter to clarify “that’s the case.” In fact, France, Australia, Singapore and Latvia are among other countries that have launched an app, although uptake has been fairly low in some of those countries. Ireland will launch its voluntary phone-tracking app next week.
politico.eu, independent.co.uk, reuters.com

Ed Davey and Layla Moran in race to be next Lib Dem leader: Sir Ed Davey and Layla Moran will fight it out to become the next Liberal Democrat leader after securing the support required to stand. Both candidates obtained the necessary backing from 200 members in 20 constituency parties and one other MP after nominations opened on Wednesday.
bbc.com

Excessive control over ministers’ advisers: Dominic Cummings could face inquiry over special advisers theguardian.com
Coronavirus: Government seeks to restart stalled hospitality sector on 4 July uk.reuters.com

⊂ 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 ⊃

European MPs reject Israel West Bank annexation: More than 1,000 parliamentarians from across Europe have signed a letter opposing plans by Israel to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. The letter, which was published in several newspapers and sent to European foreign ministries, warns that unilateral annexation of West Bank territory could be fatal to the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace and would challenge the most basic norms guiding international relations. “Acquisition of territory by force has no place in 2020,” said the lawmakers. The European lawmakers called for consequences if Israel, which has more than 400,000 settlers in the West Bank, went ahead with annexation. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday it was up to Israel to decide whether to annex settlements in the West Bank. He also criticised Palestinian leaders for rejecting the US Middle East plan. The proposal would create a Palestinian state but impose strict conditions. Palestinian leaders have dismissed the initiative.
bbc.com, reuters.com (European MPs); reuters.com (Pompeo)

EU considers barring Americans from travel list: EU ambassadors are to continue talks on Friday to plan reopening external borders on 1 July, and travellers from the US could be among those not allowed in. Some European countries are keen to open up to tourists but others are wary of the continued spread of the virus. On Wednesday, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he expected a solution in the coming weeks. Officials have been drawing up lists detailing which countries whose travellers the EU could allow in when external borders are reopened. Other countries to be excluded according to a draft list include Russia, Brazil and Qatar. An official announcement is expected early next week.
bbc.com, euronews.com

Macron wants to convince EU partners of recovery fund: French President Emmanuel Macron said talks on the proposed EU coronavirus recovery fund were advancing, after he met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, a key holdout against the plan. The Netherlands is one of the so-called “frugal four”, along with Austria, Denmark and Sweden, trying to rein in spending mainly for poorer southern European countries hardest hit by the pandemic. Macron will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the German town of Meseberg on Monday to discuss the recovery plan, Macron’s office said on Wednesday. They will also discuss the pandemic, environmental issues and other international affairs. The EU Commission has presented its budget draft for 2021, to be topped up with around €344 billion which accounts for almost half of the proposed recovery fund.
euractiv.com (Macron), reuters.com (Merkel), euractiv.com (Budget)

Kosovo President Thaci indicted for war crimes: Hashim Thaci and nine other former militants have been charged with crimes against humanity and war crimes by the Office of the Special Prosecutor in the Hague on Wednesday. They are responsible for nearly 100 murders, according to prosecutors. The victims included Kosovar Albanians, Serb and Roma people, with political opponents also targeted. The group also faces charges of torture, persecution, and enforced disappearance. Thaci was a former commander with the Kosovo Liberation Army during the war for independence from Serbia between 1998 and 1999, which left more than 10,000 dead and 1,641 unaccounted for.
dw.com, politico.eu, euronews.com

No-deal Brexit will hit Britain harder, EU’s Barnier says: A failure to agree a post-Brexit trade deal with the EU will hurt the British economy more, the EU’s negotiator Michel Barnier said on Wednesday. He said he was disappointed with Britain’s refusal to negotiate on foreign policy and defence but that he was open to finding flexibility on fishing and the state aid fair play guarantees. Barnier called on Britain to send clear signals that it wants to seal a deal with the EU on their relationship after Brexit. He added that a deal was still possible before the end of the year.
reuters.com, nytimes.com

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Survey: Majority of EU citizens have little confidence in established parties spiegel.de
Dispute over EU subsidies for Airbus: US to review tariffs on EU goods nytimes.com
Agricultural policy: EU Commission irks Council, Parliament by opposing two-year bridging CAP gap euractiv.com
ECB chief economist Philip Lane says don’t get too excited by solid euro zone data reuters.com

⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃

We have to actively monitor how member states transpose the GDPR into national law.
Due to poor implementation of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in some member states, EU Commission Vice-President Vera Jourova is considering initiating infringement proceedings.
handelsblatt.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Some US troops withdrawn from Germany will go to Poland: US President Donald Trump held a joint press conference at the White House on Wednesday with Polish President Andrzej Duda, who was the first foreign leader to travel to the White House since the start of the pandemic. Trump and Duda discussed the security partnership between the US and Poland, as well as the decision by the US to reduce its forces in Germany. Trump cited German delinquency in defence spending. He added that some troops withdrawn from Germany would probably go to Poland. Duda said he would be ready to receive American troops in Poland, but also pointed out that withdrawing US forces from Germany would be detrimental to European security.
cbsnews.com

Austria warns against travel to German state after coronavirus outbreak: Austria has implemented a partial travel ban for the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia amid a coronavirus outbreak at a meat plant. More than 1,500 workers at a slaughterhouse in the town of Gütersloh have tested positive for the virus, prompting the state to put Gütersloh and a neighbouring town back under lockdown. Politicians have slammed Germany’s biggest meat producer Tönnies for poor working conditions that apparently led to the massive outbreak. Bulgaria wants to find all Tönnies employees who have returned from Germany in order to avoid a possible further spread of the virus.
af.reuters.com, dw.com (Austria); welt.de (Bulgaria)

Netherlands and Belgium set to further ease coronavirus measures: The Dutch government announced a widespread easing of lockdown measures on Wednesday that will allow outdoor gatherings, group restaurant visits and regular public transport services from 1 July. Face-to-face professions will be allowed to open their doors next week. After the summer, soccer matches will be opened to the public, but crowds will have to adhere to social distancing rules. Belgium is also loosening its lockdown restrictions, Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès said Wednesday. Swimming pools, amusement parks, casinos, cinemas and theaters can reopen from 1 July, with 200 people allowed to gather inside and 400 outside if safety measures are respected.
reuters.com (Netherlands), politico.eu (Belgium)

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Swedish epidemiologist regrets high death rate: Sweden’s state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell has admitted that he misjudged the deadly potential of the coronavirus in its early stages, but has refused to consider abandoning his strategy. He said he advised against restrictions on movement because of the detrimental side effects they often entail, including increased domestic abuse, loneliness and mass unemployment. Sweden now has one of the world’s highest Covid-19 mortality rates, with more deaths per 100,000 than the US, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
bloomberg.com

Coronavirus outbreak among migrants on German rescue ship: Dozens of migrants rescued in the Mediterranean Sea have tested positive for the coronavirus while held in a quarantine ship off the southern Italian coast, Sicily’s regional leader Nello Musumeci said on Wednesday. After saving more than 200 people stranded at sea last week, the German “Sea-Watch 3” charity boat arrived on Sunday in Sicily. The mainly African passengers were immediately moved to the Italian ferry Moby Zaza, where 28 of them, or 13%, tested positive.
nytimes.com

Slovakia: President Caputova is in quarantine n-tv.de
Croatia re-imposes 14-day quarantine for four Balkan countries reuters.com
Switzerland: Government to assume coronavirus test costs reuters.com
Italy complains about lack of tourists orf.at
Bulgaria: Lack of strategy leaves Bulgaria last in terms of digital performance euractiv.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 ⊃

Louvre with millions of euros in losses because of pandemic: The Louvre in Paris will reopen on the 6th of July. The lockdown loss of ticket and souvenir sales and other income punched a 40 million euro hole in the museum’s revenues. Jean-Luc Martinez, the museum director, can’t say when visitor numbers might recover. Almost three quarters of the Louvre’s 9.6 million visitors last year came from abroad.
france24.com, apnews.com

 

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