⊂ EUROPE ⊃
China warns EU not to interfere in Hong Kong matters: China has criticised the EU’s decision to limit exports of surveillance equipment to Hong Kong over concerns about China’s new security law for Hong Kong. Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin stressed on Wednesday that Hong Kong was an internal matter of China alone. He told the EU to stop any interference in Hong Kong matters and China’s internal affairs. In the first police operation to enforce China’s security law for the territory, four students have been arrested in Hong Kong for “inciting secession” on social media, including former student leader Tony Chung.
euronews.com (China), bbc.com (Arrests)
EU recovery fund takes first hurdle: The Council of EU countries have paved the way for negotiations with the European Parliament. The talks will likely start in mid-August. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, EU Parliament President David Sassoli and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen agreed on an ambitious schedule so that the EU programmes can enter into force on 1 January, as planned. The step comes after EU leaders recently agreed a 1,074 billion euro EU budget and a 750 billion euro fund for economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The EU Parliament must sign off on the agreed deal and MEPs have warned they want a total rethink on cuts to key EU programmes such as Horizon and the Erasmus educational scheme.
Commission secures EU access to Remdesivir: The European Commission has signed a contract with pharmaceutical company Gilead to secure treatment doses of Remdesivir, an antiviral drug shown to be effective in treating cases of Covid-19. Starting in August, the medicine will be available to both EU members as well as the UK, and will help to cover the current needs over the next few months, the Commission said. The Commission’s Emergency Support Instrument will finance the contract, ensuring the treatment of approximately 30,000 patients presenting severe Covid-19 symptoms. Meanwhile, the UK government has also signed a coronavirus vaccine deal, securing up to 60 million doses of an experimental treatment being developed by drug giants GSK and Sanofi.
ec.europa.eu, politico.eu, bbc.com
Europe had 50% excess mortality at Covid peak: Europe experienced a 50% rise in excess mortality over a week in March and April due to the coronavirus outbreak, according to data released by France’s Insee statistics agency Wednesday. Excess mortality is the number of deaths in a given period over and above what one would have expected to see, and is a measure widely used to estimate how many people died due to Covid-19. Insee said Spain, Italy, Belgium and France had the highest number of excess deaths over the week from 30 March to 6 April.
EU keeps LGBT-hostile towns out of fund programme: Six Polish towns that declared themselves as “LGBT Free” zones or banned campaigning for the rights of same-sex couples had their requests for EU community funding rejected, EU spokesman Adalbert Jahnz said Wednesday. He confirmed that the EU turned down six applications from Poland for an EU programme that funds activities to build links between communities in different nations.
EU Humanitarian Air Bridge flights deliver over 1,000 tonnes of medical aid: The EU Commission has now coordinated and financed the delivery of over 1,100 tons of medical equipment to critical areas in Africa, Asia and the Americas. Countries supported include Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Iran, Sudan, South Sudan, Haiti, Somalia, Guinea Bissau, Iraq and Yemen.
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.
Entry restrictions: US not set for EU safe travel list forbes.com
EU liberals: German EU Council presidency to campaign for media freedom in Hungary handelsblatt.com
Study: Journalists in the EU are increasingly exposed to attacks handelsblatt.com
European Investment Bank: European backing for Northvolt’s battery gigafactory in Sweden ec.europa.eu
EU banking authority EBA tells UK banks to get ready for full Brexit reuters.com
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
“The pandemic is exhausting for everyone. The pandemic is annoying to some extent. The pandemic costs people’s strength. But the pandemic is also a threat to many people.”
German Research Minister Anja Karliczek has called on citizens not to become careless in the coronavirus pandemic.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
US to pull 12,000 troops from Germany: The Pentagon on Wednesday laid out a plan to shift nearly 12,000 service members out of Germany after President Donald Trump repeatedly said the country was delinquent on defence spending. The US will bring about 6,400 forces home and shift about 5,600 to other countries in Europe, Defence Secretary Mark Esper said. He stressed that the plan would enhance Nato’s ability to deter Russian aggression and strengthen US alliances in Europe, yet also reiterated the president’s criticism of Germany. German officials, however, immediately trashed the plan: CDU politician Norbert Röttgen noted that the move would weaken the Nato alliance and reduce the effectiveness of the US military against Russia and in the Middle East.
Germany moves to fight abuses in meat industry: The German cabinet on Wednesday approved a draft bill aiming to put an end to the use of subcontractors to hire workers in the meat industry, after its often dire working conditions were highlighted by several outbreaks of Covid-19 among employees. Labor Minister Hubertus Heil, who drew up the bill, spoke of a good day for workers’ protection and emphasised that the new regulations targeted large companies, and not the smaller butcher’s businesses in rural areas. The bill stipulates that when any meat-processing company has 50 or more workers, only those employed directly may slaughter and process animals. “With today’s decision, we have put a stop to the untenable practice of subcontracting in the meat industry,” said Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner. In the future, there would be clear responsibility instead of cascades of shadow companies.
Police dismantle migrant camp in Paris suburb: French police on Wednesday removed more than 1,250 people from a migrant camp on a canal bank in the northern Paris suburb of Aubervilliers. The local prefecture tweeted that more than 1,000 men in addition to 250 people in families were moved in the operation. Local media said as many as 1,500 people had been living at the camp.
Is Sweden’s coronavirus strategy working after all? Sweden took a different approach to its Nordic neighbours in trying to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The Swedish strategy allowed people to keep living largely as normal. Stores, restaurants and schools remained open. Sweden’s mortality rate from the disease is now around a quarter higher than that of the US, when adjusted for population size. However, authorities insist that the number of deaths has considerably dropped in recent weeks.
Bulgaria: Protests against the government escalate zeit.de
Germany: Lawmakers grill ministers over Wirecard scandal nytimes.com
Netherlands: Nazi victims demand compensation from Germany for transports to extermination camps during World War II rnd.de
Austria: Short-time work is extended by six months orf.at
Switzerland: Significant increase in coronavirus infections handelsblatt.com
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
+++ Terre des Hommes Netherlands seeks EU Advocacy & Funding Officer (m/f/d) +++ European Platform for Electro-mobility seeks EU Representative (m/f/d) +++ EU-LISA seeks Intern (m/f/d) +++ Verband Kommunaler Unternehmen e.V. sucht eine/n Policy Advisor/ReferentIn (m/w/d) mit Schwerpunkt Energiewirtschaft +++ Europagruppe GRÜNE sucht ReferentIn Presse/Öffentlichkeitsarbeit (m/w/d) +++ Jobs at politjobs.eu +++ Don’t miss any jobs with the politjobs.eu job alert +++
⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
German government admits problems with coronavirus app: Due to technical difficulties, the government has advised users of the coronavirus warning app to open the application at least once a day. At the moment, this was the easiest solution to ensure that information in the app was updated, deputy government spokeswoman Ulrike Demmer said on Wednesday. The interaction between the code of the app and the operating system is currently not working as it should. Demmer said the government was working around the clock to improve the app.