Tuesday, 23 June 2020: Italy and Germany call for Libya cease-fire after Egypt threat, EU criticises China’s human rights violations, EU lagging behind on climate and gender equality goals


Italy and Germany call for Libya cease-fire after Egypt threat: Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio and his German counterpart Heiko Maas pushed Monday for a cease-fire and de-escalation of tensions in Libya following a warning by Egypt that it would intervene militarily if Turkish-backed forces attack the strategic Libyan city of Sirte. Di Maio and Maas said after talks in Rome that a cease-fire was urgent given the Egyptian threat. Di Maio also called for the quick naming of a new United Nations envoy and the strong enforcement of a UN arms embargo on Libya. Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi warned over the weekend that Egypt could intervene militarily with the intention of protecting its western border with the oil-rich country. The Libyan government said it considered el-Sissi’s comments a declaration of war, while authorities in the east welcomed his support.

EU criticises China’s human rights violations: The EU and China have held their first virtual summit. Top EU officials struck a tough tone during the talks on Monday, pressing China on its trade and investment relationship and warning of negative consequences if it goes ahead with its proposed security law for Hong Kong. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen demanded that China step up efforts to negotiate various trade disputes, including an investment agreement, which she insisted should be concluded by the end of this year. European Council President Charles Michel said a deal could still be possible this year if China made concessions. He called for intensified talks in the next few months. Von der Leyen said she and Michel had also forcefully conveyed the EU’s position on human rights and its alarm over China’s threat to impose a national security law on Hong Kong. “For the European Union, human rights and fundamental freedoms are non-negotiable,” she said. Michel said the EU had called on China to follow the promises made to the people of Hong Kong and the international community regarding Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and guaranteed freedoms. For the first time, the EU Commission has imposed punitive tariffs on companies that receive state aid from China but are not based in China themselves.
dw.com, politico.eu (EU-China summit); welt.de (Tariffs)

France and Germany appeal for swift deal on recovery aid: Germany and France both agree that the European Recovery Fund should pay out its proposed 500 billion euros of coronavirus aid from 2020 until 2022, not until 2024 as suggested by some member states, French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said on Monday. Speaking to reporters after talks in Berlin, Le Maire and German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said they were confident that a deal on the European Recovery Fund could be reached soon, ideally at an EU summit next month.
reuters.com, nytimes.com

Changing of guard at top German court signals de-escalation for ECB: Changes to the composition of Germany’s top court are likely to make it less confrontational towards the European Central Bank. In a ruling last month, Germany’s Constitutional Court gave the ECB three months to justify bond purchases under its flagship stimulus programme or lose the Bundesbank as a participant. German Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said on Monday there would soon be a resolution to the ruling. A key change is new judge Astrid Wallrabenstein, who has suggested there should be a thaw in relations with the European Court of Justice, which cleared the ECB’s programme. ECB Vice President Luis de Guindos has said that the ECB was ready to provide the German central bank the necessary information to resolve the issue and that the ECB was willing to engage German institutions if this did not threaten its independence. Meanwhile, ECB policymaker Jens Weidmann said the ECB’s massive buying of government bonds shouldn’t become a form of unbound, permanent help to indebted governments.
uk.reuters.com, nytimes.com, spiegel.de (Guindos); reuters.com (Weidmann)

EU lagging behind on climate and gender equality goals: Eurostat has warned that the EU is lagging behind its goals in the fight against climate change and to promote gender equality. In a report published Monday assessing the EU’s progress in reaching the United Nations’ sustainable development goals, Eurostat noted improvement in reducing poverty and improving health over the past five years of data. But only slow progress, or no overall progress at all, was achieved toward environmental objectives. As for gender equality, the report noted that the EU has moved away from its own goals.

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Brexit: British Prime Minister Johnson wants to revive talks ft.com
Digital tax: Finance ministers call for taxation of digital companies this year handelsblatt.com
Live animal transport: EU Parliament approves new committee on live transport of animals euractiv.com
Virology: Virology, physics and genetics join forces to beat Covid-19 euronews.com


EU law should protect animals from such suffering, yet most EU countries do not comply with the legal requirements regarding transport and allow such cruelty to continue. This must stop.
Olga Kikou, head of Compassion in World Farming EU, has welcomed that the EU is setting up an inquiry committee on live animal transport.


Italy plans stimulus package to fight economic crisis: The Italian government is preparing a new spending package worth 15 to 20 billion euros to help its battered economy through the coronavirus crisis, a government source told Reuters. The new package, which must be approved by parliament, will involve additional borrowing and drive Italy’s public debt towards 157% of national output from the 155.7% currently targeted. Italy’s public debt as a proportion of GDP is the euro zone’s largest after that of Greece.

France brings home jihadists’ children from Syria: The French government announced Monday that it has repatriated ten French children of suspected jihadist fighters from a refugee camp in Syria. A total of 28 children have now been repatriated to France. Thousands of children of foreign-born fighters have been living in camps in north-eastern Syria since Isis was ousted in March 2019.

German finance minister defends plans to rescue Lufthansa: The German government on Monday held last-ditch talks about a 9 billion euros Lufthansa bailout on Monday, Finance Minister Olaf Scholz said. Billionaire investor Heinz Hermann Thiele, the airline’s biggest shareholder, has threatened to block the bailout unless its terms are adjusted. Asked about the meeting, Scholz said the conversation had been good. “The proposal that is now up for vote at the shareholder meeting is a good, carefully weighed, proposal, agreed with the company’s management, with the supervisory board, with the European Commission,” Scholz said.

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Dutch do Danish deal to hit clean energy target: The Netherlands agreed on Friday to pay Denmark €100 million as part of an arrangement that will allow the Dutch government to declare at least 8 terawatt hours of Danish surplus renewable power on its books, in an effort to meet its EU target. According to a recent evaluation of clean energy deployment across Europe, the Netherlands is among the worst performers when it comes to hitting country-specific benchmarks for 2020. On Monday, the Netherlands registered 69 new coronavirus cases, and no deaths from the disease, the country’s health authorities said. It was the first 24-hour period with no new deaths registered by the National Institute of Health since 9 March.
euractiv.com (Clean energy target), nytimes.com (Coronavirus deaths)

Germany: Stuttgart reckons with youth rage after riots rock city dw.com
Poland elects a new president on 28 June faz.net
Poland 2: President Duda to visit US President Trump nytimes.com
Portugal steps up measures to contain virus in Lisbon suburbs bloomberg.com
Bulgaria: Masks once again mandatory n-tv.de


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)


EU coronavirus concert with Shakira, Coldplay and The Rock: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will join former wrestler turned action movie lead Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson as co-hosts of a global coronavirus pledging concert on Saturday. The goal is to raise donations from everyone — not just major countries and philanthropists — to help find diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines to fight coronavirus. The event will include performances by Christine and the Queens, Shakira, Coldplay, Usher, Jennifer Hudson, Miley Cyrus and Justin Bieber.
ec.europa.eu, politico.eu


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