⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Turkey condemns “Charlie Hebdo” cartoon: Turkey on Wednesday vowed to take legal and diplomatic actions over a “Charlie Hebdo” cartoon mocking Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The cartoon on the cover of the magazine showed Erdogan sitting in a white T-shirt and underpants and holding a canned drink, while lifting up the skirt of woman in a hijab, with the caption: “Erdogan: In private, he is very funny.” The Ankara prosecutor’s office launched an official investigation into the publication, the Anadolu news agency reported. Insulting the head of state is a crime in Turkey with a penalty of up to four years in prison. Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sis said on Wednesday freedom of expression should stop if it offends more than 1.5 billion people. The controversy also follows French President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to defend secularism after the gruesome murder of a French teacher who showed cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in class.
france24.com, cnbc.com, dw.com, bbc.com
Pressure on Frontex boss Leggeri: The EU’s border agency Frontex is allegedly involved in illegal pushbacks in the Aegean Sea. EU Interior Commissioner Ylva Johansson has called on the agency to investigate the accusations. She said it would be completely unacceptable if it turned out that there had been such pushbacks with the participation of Frontex. The agency has announced that it has launched an internal inquiry into the suspicious incidents recently reported by the media.
EU moves to avoid Covid shortages: The European Commission proposed new tax and trade measures on Wednesday to fight the Covid-19 pandemic in the EU and avoid shortages of goods and medical gear, saying the new rise in infections on the continent was alarming. The Commission warned that even though EU member states were better prepared and more coordinated than in the early months of the pandemic, citizens, families and communities across Europe continued to face an unprecedented risk to their health and well-being. To better trace the spread of infections, Brussels said EU governments should coordinate their testing strategies and make greater use of rapid antigen tests, despite the fact that the global supply for these kits is now tightening. It said the current shortfalls in testing capacity required swift action.
Proposal for EU minimum wage guarantee: The EU Commission has proposed an EU directive to ensure that the workers in the union are protected by adequate minimum wages allowing for a decent living wherever they work. When set at adequate levels, minimum wages do not only have a positive social impact but also bring wider economic benefits as they reduce wage inequality, help sustain domestic demand and strengthen incentives to work. Adequate minimum wages can also help reduce the gender pay gap, since more women than men earn a minimum wage. The proposal also helps protect employers that pay decent wages to workers by ensuring fair competition.
Chemnitz to be European Capital of Culture 2025 in Germany: The eastern German city of Chemnitz has been recommended to win the European Capital of Culture 2025, the chairwoman of the jury, Sylvia Amann, announced on Wednesday. A European Capital of Culture is awarded to a city in the EU and holds the title for one year. During the year, the city holds a series of cultural events which also promote pan-European themes. Alongside Germany, Slovenia will also nominate a city to hold the European Capital of Culture title in 2025.
MEP goes on hunger strike to protest EU budget deal: French MEP Pierre Larrouturou has gone on hunger strike to protest against the EU’s budget plans and demand the EU introduce a tax on financial markets. Larrouturou also denounced the “obscene” lack of funding for the climate and public health in the EU’s long-term budget. In July, European leaders agreed on a historic 1.82 trillion euro budget and coronavirus recovery package and laid out a path to add new bloc-wide sources of revenue to finance the EU budget, including a levy based on non-recycled plastic. But the European Parliament is unhappy with several aspects of the deal, notably the lack of a strong mechanism to punish rule of law breaches by national capitals and cuts to some programmes.
Prospects for EU reform and strategies for a new progressive agenda 2022+: Cerstin Gammelin in conversation with Wolfgang Schmidt. 2020 Progressive Governance Digital Summit with more than 2,800 fellow progressives from 70+ countries, 114 speakers, 25 partner organisations.
EU Economy Commissioner Gentiloni: Economic support will last as long as necessary euractiv.com
Rule of law: MEPs hope for a compromise tagesspiegel.de
Trade: EU reaches political agreement on updated enforcement regulation consilium.europa.eu
European Court of Justice: Road tolls may not include police costs brusselstimes.com
Chemicals: Commission to consider halting export of banned pesticides, EU source says euractiv.com
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
“I think that this year’s Christmas will be a different Christmas.”
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has warned that Europe is deep in the second Covid wave.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Poland abortion ruling: Workers strike nationwide: Employees across Poland took part in nationwide strike on Wednesday to protest a controversial top court ruling on abortion. Local media reported on female and male employees of public institutions, universities and private firms, taking a day off work to show solidarity with the protesters. The strike follows protests and other actions after the Constitutional Tribunal last Thursday banned abortions related to fetal congenital defects. The ruling ended the most common of the few remaining legal grounds for abortion in the predominantly Catholic country. Abortion is now only permitted in cases where the mother’s life is at risk or if the pregnancy was caused by rape or incest.
Germany to impose one-month partial lockdown: German leaders have agreed to mandate the closure of bars, restaurants and many non-essential businesses nationwide while limiting contact between households as part of efforts to halt a surge in coronavirus cases, Chancellor Angela Merkel said Wednesday. The so-called nationwide “lockdown light” is a less intense version of the measures that brought German society and economic activity to a standstill in the spring. Members of one household should only meet outdoors with members of one other household under the plan, with the total number of people restricted to 10. Schools and nurseries will remain open, but non-essential businesses such as gyms, cosmetic studios and tattoo parlors have to close. Emergency loans will be made available for self-employed workers such as artists and stagehands, while small businesses with less than 10 employees will gain access to very cheap loans.
France announces second lockdown: France will go back into lockdown from Friday to combat a surge in cases of Covid-19, President Emmanuel Macron has said in a televised address to the nation. Schools and creches will remain open, he added. People can only leave home to go to work, to go to school, for a medical appointment, to give assistance to loved ones, for essential shopping or for one hour of physical exercise. Bars, restaurants and nonessential businesses will be closed, and universities and higher education will mostly be taught online. International borders will remain largely closed. The new measures will be reassessed every 15 days to see if they are working, Macron added.
Swiss take middle path in curbs to slow Covid: Switzerland on Wednesday ordered dance clubs closed and added new mask requirements while leaving the nation largely open for business as it tries to contain surging Covid-19 cases without resorting to a stricter, economy-crippling lockdown.
Protests and stimulus package in Italy: Demonstrations have continued across Italy as hundreds of people gathered to protest against measures imposed by the government to contain the spread of coronavirus. After four days of protests, supporters of the rightwing group Forza Nuova gathered in Piazza del Popolo where they clashed with riot police. The government has introduced a relief package for businesses affected by the restrictions, which include a 6pm curfew for bars and restaurants and the closure of gyms, swimming pools, cinemas and theatres.
Judge probes Catalan separatism links with Russia: A judge in Barcelona is probing possible links between some of the promoters of Catalonia’s 2017 attempt to declare independence from the rest of Spain with an alleged misinformation campaign and overall effort to destabilise Europe that Spanish investigators link to Russia. The probe led to the arrest of 21 suspects on suspicions of corruption and promoting public disorder. Judge Joaquín Aguirre partly based the probe on police evidence that purported Russian agents allegedly offered to provide military aid to Catalan separatists at the height of their failed secession bid in 2017.
Lithuania restricts events due to Covid situation handelsblatt.com
Slovakia extends partial lockdown reuters.com
Czech Republic: The Covid crisis continues to worsen tagesspiegel.de
Belgium: Foreign Minister Wilmès leaves intensive care unit brusselstimes.com
Romania: Winemakers have the Covid blues dw.com
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
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⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Amazon’s Sweden launch snagged by embarrassing language errors: The online retailer’s long-awaited website launch in Sweden has been criticised for translation errors. Sweden’s Aftonbladet newspaper reported that a greeting card with a giant rooster was translated into words rudely referencing male genitalia. The word “rapeseed” for several products was simply translated as “valdtakt,” which means rape in Swedish. The Swedish flag on the country selection function was also mistakenly shown as Argentina’s.