Thursday, 9 July 2020: Sunak unveils £30bn plan to save jobs, Merkel criticises populism in the wake of the pandemic, EU secures potential coronavirus drugs from pharmaceutical companies, Serbia backs down on coronavirus curfew after protests

⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃

Sunak unveils £30bn plan to save jobs: Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced cuts to VAT from 20% to 5% entertainment and hospitality sectors as part of a £30bn plan to prevent mass unemployment as the economy is hit by coronavirus. The government will also pay firms a £1,000 bonus for every staff member kept on for three months when the furlough scheme ends in October. And Sunak announced a scheme to give 50% off to people dining out in August. The measure will cost an estimated £4.1 billion, according to the Treasury. Sunak warned that “hardship lies ahead”, but vowed no-one would be left without hope. He said significant job losses were the most urgent challenge the UK economy faces. The coronavirus pandemic has plunged Britain into its worst recession in 300 years, with the economy on track to shrink by 14% this year, according to the Bank of England.
bbc.com, telegraph.co.uk, cnn.com

UK nominates Liam Fox to lead World Trade Organisation WTO: The UK government has nominated former cabinet minister Liam Fox as its candidate to lead the WTO. In a statement, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Fox was a passionate advocate of multilateralism, who brought detailed knowledge of the global trading system from his years as a UK Cabinet Minister and Secretary of State for International Trade. Labour warned that the WTO would immediately discount Fox for the role. Shadow international trade secretary Emily Thornberry said it was extraordinary Johnson would choose a candidate he fired from his role after becoming PM, adding: “There will be little trust in somebody who promised so much in regards to Britain’s future trade yet delivered so little.”
bbc.com, uk.reuters.com

Johnson and Starmer clash over blame for care home virus deaths: Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to apologise for his claim that some care homes “didn’t really follow the procedures” to protect residents and staff from the coronavirus. Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer challenged the prime minister on his wide-criticised remarks at PMQs in the House of Commons and asked him to say sorry to Britain’s care workers. Starmer has said government failings were directly to blame for the chilling death toll in care homes. He criticised Johnson’s refusal to apologise for his comments and said it rubbed salt in the wounds of staff let down during the crisis.
independent.co.uk, bbc.com

Sir Mark Sedwill: UK’s top civil servant to receive £250,000 payout bbc.com
Leicester mayor accuses Health Secretary Hancock of not sharing Covid-19 data theguardian.com
Russia report: PM urged to set up security committee bbc.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 ⊃

Merkel criticises populism in the wake of the pandemic: The coronavirus pandemic is showing the limits of fact-denying populism, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said in the EU Parliament on Wednesday, as she urged EU countries to quickly agree on an EU economic recovery package and deprive nationalists of any opportunity to take advantage of the crisis. “We must not be naive: In many member states, opponents of Europe are just waiting to misuse the crisis for their ends,” Merkel said. “We must show them all where the added value of cooperation in the European Union lies. We must show that a return to nationalism means not more, but less control.” Germany took over the task of chairing EU meetings on 1 July and faces the challenge of seeking a compromise on the EU coronavirus recovery fund. Merkel told the chamber that there was no time to waste on finding an agreement for the fund, saying they needed it before the summer recess. “It is right and important for the regions particularly hard hit by the crisis, and above all the people who live there, to be able to count on our solidarity,” Merkel said. She highlighted five areas that Europe needs to work on if it wants to emerge unified and strong from the current crisis: fundamental rights, solidarity and cohesion, climate change, digitisation and Europe’s role in the world.
europarl.europa.eu, apnews.com, euronews.com

Italy and Spain to press EU Frugal Four for virus funds: Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez have called for a quick agreement on the planned EU economic recovery package. Sanchez said the package should be ready before the end of July. Conte warned that the single European market could be at risk if the area’s response to the economic fallouts of the pandemic was not strong and coordinated. European leaders will meet in Brussels on 17 and 18 July to try to reach a deal on the fund’s structure, although differences remain, also on whether it will be based on loans or outright grants to those in need. The so-called Frugal Four countries — Sweden, the Netherlands, Denmark and Austria — are pushing for a “loans for loans” approach for the fund.
handelsblatt.com, nytimes.com

EU secures potential coronavirus drugs from pharmaceutical companies: The European Commission has struck deals with drugmakers Roche and Merck KGaA to secure supplies of experimental treatments for Covid-19, a Commission source told Reuters on Wednesday. The deals cover Roche’s arthritis drug RoActemra and Merck’s multiple sclerosis drug Rebif – both seen as potential Covid-19 therapies – and will secure supplies for any of the 27 EU member states wanting to buy them, the source said. Later on Wednesday, Merck said it had been asked by the Commission to be prepared to supply Rebif to EU states upon request if and when the indication for Covid-19 treatment is adjudicated. Roche also confirmed talks with the EU.
nytimes.com

EU to boost green hydrogen use: The EU Commission has unveiled a strategy to scale up renewable hydrogen projects across polluting sectors from chemicals to steel and push for clean fuels and energy efficiency to meet the EU’s net-zero emissions goal by 2050. The EU strategies for energy system integration and hydrogen will pave the way towards a more efficient and interconnected energy sector, driven by the twin goals of a cleaner planet and a stronger economy. “The new hydrogen economy can be a growth engine to help overcome the economic damage caused by COVID-19,” said Frans Timmermans, the Commission executive vice-president in charge of the Green Deal. “In developing and deploying a clean hydrogen value chain, Europe will become a global frontrunner and retain its leadership in clean tech,” he said.
ec.europa.eu, reuters.com, euractiv.com

United Nations criticises foreign meddling in Libya: With battle lines shifting, foreign interference growing, thousands fleeing their homes and Covid-19 cases on the rise, time is running out for bringing a peaceful end to the conflict in Libya, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said on Wednesday. “The conflict has entered a new phase, with foreign interference reaching unprecedented levels, including in the delivery of sophisticated equipment and the number of mercenaries involved in the fighting.” The warring parties are currently mobilising forces at the new frontlines between the cities of Misrata and Sirte. Egypt has warned that any Turkish-backed effort to take Sirte could lead its army to directly intervene.
news.un.org, reuters.com

US and China trade tit-for-tat visa curbs over Tibet: China said on Wednesday it will impose visa restrictions on US citizens who have engaged in what it called egregious behaviour over Tibet, in apparent retaliation against US restrictions on Chinese officials. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Tuesday the United States would restrict visas for some Chinese officials because Beijing obstructs travel to Tibet by US diplomats, journalists and tourists and human rights abuses in the Himalayan region. Meanwhile, a senior Chinese diplomat said Wednesday that China would be happy to join trilateral nuclear arms control talks with the United States and Russia, on the condition that Washington significantly reduces its arsenal to match China’s own level. US President Donald Trump wants China to join in a three-way treaty designed to replace the Measures for the Further Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms, known as the New START nuclear agreement, between Washington and Moscow, which is expected to expire in 2021.
reuters.com (Tibet), cnn.com (New START)

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progressive-governance.eu

Dispute over Europe’s finances: EU Council chief Michel wants to accommodate Frugal Four tagesspiegel.de
Eurostat: Huge decrease in hours worked in the EU ec.europa.eu
French bank: European Central Bank erred in Crédit Agricole fine, EU court rules reuters.com
Infineon fine cut by 7%, EU court faults antitrust regulators’ ruling nytimes.com
European Central Bank: Lagarde to explore every avenue available to tackle climate change cnbc.com

⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃

We are facing an unprecedented situation of economic collapse, and concern about jobs.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel has called on the EU Parliament to be willing to compromise in the debate about the EU’s economic recovery programme.
tagesspiegel.de

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Serbia backs down on coronavirus curfew after protests: Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic suggested Wednesday that the country would probably not reinstate a curfew this weekend, less than a day after its announcement led to protests in the capital. The country’s health ministry clarified that officials have yet to make a final decision, even as new cases have surged. Demonstrators gathered overnight in Belgrade to protest the coronavirus-prevention measure, some clashing with police outside parliament and even trying to storm the building. Protesters blame the government for the infection spread, pointing to the authorities’ decision to lift all pandemic restrictions last month. Vucic had insisted on pushing ahead with the parliamentary election in June, which saw the pro-Vucic parties score a victory. In the days following the election, however, top medical officials and Vucic himself raised the alarm over the galloping infections and the increasing strain on the country’s ineffective healthcare system.
npr.org, dw.com

Poland summons German diplomat over election media coverage: The Polish foreign ministry has summoned Germany’s charge d’affaires in Warsaw to complain of what it said were inaccuracies and bias in German media coverage of Poland’s presidential election. “In connection with a sequence of articles in German media using manipulation and creating a clear impression of favouring one of the candidates… I today summoned the German charge d’affaires to the Foreign Ministry,” Deputy Foreign Minister Szymon Szynkowski vel Sek wrote on Twitter. Poles will vote in a run-off vote on Sunday, which pits President Andrzej Duda against liberal Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski. Duda, seeking a second five-year term, has previously accused international media of misrepresenting his words.
nytimes.com

EU approves Germany’s coronavirus crisis fund: The EU Commission has approved German plans to set up a fund with a budget of up to €500 billion for providing guarantees and investing through debt and equity instruments in enterprises affected by the coronavirus outbreak. EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said the fund ensured that the state was sufficiently remunerated for the risk taxpayers assume, and, as regards recapitalisation measures, that there are incentives for the state to exit as soon as possible, and that the support comes with adequate conditions, including a ban on dividends, bonus payments as well as further measures to limit distortions of competition.
ec.europa.eu, reuters.com

Austria issues travel warnings for Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova: Austria is issuing travel warnings for Bulgaria, Romania and Moldova because of the worsening coronavirus situation in those countries and clusters in Austria involving people connected to the region. The move means arrivals from those countries must show a negative test or go into two weeks’ quarantine. The number of coronavirus infections in Romania rose by a daily record of 555 new cases on the day taking the cumulative total to 30,175 cases, the government said on Wednesday, as the country is under a state of alert that is due to end on 15 July.
reuters.com, nytimes.com

Denmark launches coronavirus passport for vacationers: Tourists from Denmark have the opportunity to get a “coronavirus passport” certifying that they are free from infection before leaving for their summer holidays. The certificate could be used to avoid quarantine when travelling abroad.
rnd.de

Lithuania bans Russian broadcaster RT: Lithuania took Russian broadcaster RT off-air on Wednesday, citing the channel’s ties to EU-sanctioned Russian media executive Dmitry Kiselyov. The move follows a similar ban on RT in Latvia last week, where regulator called RT propaganda and also said the channel was controlled by Kiselyov, the head of Russia’s state-backed Rossiya Segodnya news agency.
reuters.com

Czech Republic: Parliament approves raising record 2020 budget gap for a third time nytimes.com
Catalonia makes masks compulsory in public at all times uk.reuters.com
Slovenia: PM calls for European coronavirus app that is not totally voluntary politico.eu
Italy: Bergamo hospital’s intensive care unit now Covid-free handelsblatt.com
France plans targeted reconfinement if second wave hits brusselstimes.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 ⊃

Satirist Sonneborn makes fun of Germany’s EU Council Presidency: In a satirical speech, German MEP Martin Sonneborn made fun of the German Council Presidency at the plenary session in Brussels. Europe apparently felt an irrepressible longing to submit to German leadership, he said after German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s speech in parliament on Wednesday. Alluding to the Nazi era, he added: “Why now and not 80 years ago? The continent would have been spared a lot.” Sonneborn then went on to make fun of the plans for the multi-billion dollar coronavirus stimulus package and the EU’s dealings with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban.
tagesspiegel.de

 

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