⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃
Cummings refuses to resign or apologise for lockdown breach: Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s chief adviser Dominic Cummings has said he does not regret driving 264 miles from London during the coronavirus lockdown. After an outpouring of public anger rattled No 10, he attempted to explain why he drove from London to his parents’ estate in Durham despite suspecting that both he and his wife had coronavirus. He said he believed he had acted reasonably and within the law. Cummings claimed he drove to Durham because he needed possible back-up childcare from his teenage niece. He insisted he and his wife and child stayed in a separate building and communicated with his parents by shouting from a distance. He added that, despite days of criticism in the press, he had not considered resigning, saying: “I don’t regret what I did.” Cummings has faced several days of attacks in the media, with many people, including some Conservative MPs, calling for him to go. Johnson said Cummings had acted reasonably and with integrity and care for others, but Labour and the Liberal Democrats accused both men of double standards. “It makes it much harder for the police going forward,” Martin Surl, the top police commissioner for the English county of Gloucester, told the BBC on Monday. “This will be quoted back at them time and time again when they try to enforce the new rules.”
bbc.com, theguardian.com, nbcnews.com
Johnson says all non-essential shops to reopen from 15 June: All non-essential retailers will be able to reopen in England from 15 June, Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Monday, as part of plans to further ease the lockdown. Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June. However, the move is contingent on progress in the fight against coronavirus, and retailers will have to adhere to new guidelines to protect shoppers and workers, the PM added. “Shops now have the time to implement this guidance before they reopen,” he said. Commenting on the development, Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Enabling these businesses to open will be a critical step on the road to rebuilding our economy, and will support millions of jobs across the UK.”
Government draws up plan to rescue key firms: The government has indicated it is prepared to rescue large British companies severely affected by the coronavirus crisis. The Treasury said last resort support could be made available if a firm’s failure would disproportionately harm the UK economy. The move follows indications that a number of big firms are seeking government help to survive the crisis.
Coronavirus: UK death toll rises by 121 to 36,914 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 ⊃
Council of Europe warns of bioterrorism after pandemic: Security experts from the Council of Europe have warned that the global coronavirus outbreak may increase the use of biological weapons by terrorists in the future. The council’s Committee on Counter-Terrorism said the pandemic has shown how vulnerable modern society is to viral infections and their potential for disruption. The deliberate use of disease-causing agents — like viruses or bacteria — as an act of terrorism could prove to be extremely effective. Damage to humans and economies could be significantly higher than that of a traditional terrorist attack. The council’s security experts called on the 47 Council of Europe member states to prepare to fight a biological weapons attack by engaging in training exercises.
Agreement on coronavirus aid from the European Investment Bank: The EU countries have agreed on the details of a multi-billion-euro loan programme from the European Investment Bank EIB for companies in the coronavirus crisis. This is the last element of the 540 billion euro aid package agreed at the beginning of April, Eurogroup leader Mario Centeno confirmed on Monday. The EIB programme itself is expected to mobilise 200 billion euros in investments. Meanwhile, French MEP Pierre Larrouturou has suggested a European tax on financial transactions and corporate profits to bring an annual 120 billion euros to the EU budget and finance a green recovery from the crisis.
EU weighing next steps after German court ruling on ECB: The EU is still weighing its next steps after German constitutional judges delivered a stinging rebuke of the EU’s top court. All rulings by the EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg must be followed by member states and national courts, Vera Jourova, an EU commissioner in charge of values and transparency, told lawmakers on Monday. “We have made very clear declarations on the principles and at the same time we need some more time to study in detail the judgment and to decide whether and what legal action” the European Commission will take, Jourova told a European Parliament committee.
First Covid-19 lung transplant in Europe: Vienna’s medical university successfully conducted the first coronavirus lung transplant in Europe last week, the medical centre said in a press release Monday. The hospital said the 45-year-old Covid-19 patient would not have survived otherwise but is now recovering well. The hospital said the patient was in good health without prior illnesses before coming down with coronavirus eight weeks ago. Shortly after falling ill, her condition deteriorated dramatically.
GDPR enforcement held back by lack of resources, report says: Enforcement of EU data privacy rules is being stifled by a lack of resources across national authorities, according to a new study published on the second anniversary of the EU’s landmark general data protection regulation (GDPR) on Monday. The report, published by the advocacy group Access Now, finds that due to a significant disparity in the funding of national data protection authorities, larger firms could try and use their economic wherewithal to potentially circumvent privacy provisions laid out in the GDPR.
AI&I vTalk with Luciano Floridi: The development of a corona tracing app is shaping the public debate. Aside from data protection, complex ethical questions arise from the use of such an app. On May 12th from 5 pm Luciano Floridi, Professor of Philosophy and Information Ethics at the University of Oxford, will speak about the trust of European citizens in the use of mobile tracing apps and the ethical principles of government, business and science in the second edition of the AI&I vTalk.
People interested in participating in the discussion and asking questions to Professor Floridi are invited to visit the Vodafone Institute’s YouTube channel.
Holiday season: EU Commission wants coronavirus apps that can be used across borders welt.de
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
“This is now happening in front of our eyes.”
EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell has called for the EU to have a more robust strategy toward China amid signs that Asia is replacing the United States as the centre of global power. He said that analysts have long talked about the end of an American-led system and the arrival of an Asian century.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
European countries continue to ease coronavirus restrictions: Coronavirus lockdown measures were finally eased for people in Madrid and Barcelona from Monday, while elsewhere in Spain the first beaches reopened. Residents in the two cities can now meet in groups of up to ten people in their homes or on the terraces of bars and restaurants. The gates of the capital’s parks will also be reopened, and major museums will be able to receive a limited number of visitors. Spain’s Tourism Minister Reyes Maroto said foreign tourists could be allowed to book vacations in Spain starting in July. Italy is reopening gyms and swimming pools, but with strict hygiene and social distancing rules. Greece is opening up its many islands to travellers from the mainland, but not to foreign tourists yet. The Czechs can finally get back into pubs, albeit with social distancing and mask-wearing indoors. Denmark is once again allowing transit traffic.
france24.com, dw.com, bbc.com, ndr.de
German government agrees Lufthansa bailout: The German government and national carrier Lufthansa on Monday reached an agreement on a state bailout of the airline in order to help it cope with losses suffered during the pandemic. The government approved a €9 billion bailout package for Lufthansa in return for an initial 20% stake in the airline. The deal will give the government two seats on Lufthansa’s supervisory board but the agreement worked out over the last few weeks stipulates these should be taken by independent experts, which would appear to exclude political appointees. The financing includes a €3 billion loan through the national development bank with €600 million of that coming from commercial banks. Around €5 billion comes in return for the ownership stake; a final €1 billion could be converted into an additional 5% stake. The deal must now be approved by Lufthansa’s advisory board as well as various governing bodies including the EU Commission.
Controversial judge becomes head of the Supreme Court in Poland: Polish President Andrzej Duda has appointed Malgorzata Manowska, a judge backed by the ruling party, to be the new head of the Supreme Court. Duda appointed Judge Michal Laskowski to head the court’s Criminal Chamber. Manowska is also head of the state-run National School of Judiciary and Public Prosecution. She is under disciplinary investigation for keeping the school job after being appointed to the Supreme Court in 2018. The school itself is also under criminal investigation after personal data of its employees was leaked. Critics said there were procedural flaws in the process of choosing Manowska that will weaken her position. One of them was a lack of a formal court resolution naming her and other candidates. The former head of the top constitutional court, Andrzej Zoll, said Duda was taking into account the ruling party’s interests more than the interest of the state. In the meantime, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has been criticised for failing to observe coronavirus-related social distancing rules in a cafe.
nytimes.com (Manowska), rnd.de (Morawiecki)
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More money for French health care workers: The French health ministry is negotiating with healthcare personnel over a suite of reforms to hospitals and nursing homes. French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe said health workers’ would see a significant salary rise as he launched the process to fundamentally review the French healthcare system. “The coronavirus has required not that we change the course, but that we change the pace,” said Philippe. Although the crisis had revealed and accelerated processes that needed to be done, the hospital system had done the job during the height of the epidemic. “The French system was remarkable. It held,” he said, referring to the rapid transformation of hospitals in hot-spots as well as a mass-transportation of patients between regions.
Switzerland starts pilot phase of coronavirus tracing app: A Swiss smartphone app that uses Apple-Google technology to help trace coronavirus infections has widespread support among the population, a new survey shows. From Monday, employees of the Swiss army, of several hospitals and cantonal administrations, and of federal technology institutes are able to download and use the “SwissCovid” app on a voluntary basis, as part of a large-scale pilot phase in Switzerland. The authorities hope that at least 60% of the general public will later adopt the app voluntarily alongside more traditional human tracing efforts.
Deaths in Sweden top 4,000: The death toll from the outbreak of the coronavirus in Sweden has topped 4,000, statistics published by the Public Health Agency showed on Monday. Sweden has taken a soft-touch approach to fighting the virus, leaving most schools, shops and restaurants open and relying on voluntary measures focused on social distancing and good hygiene. A big problem in Sweden are retirement and nursing homes. More than half of all coronavirus deaths in the country are reported from such facilities.
France: First transgender mayor elected bbc.com
Montenegro becomes Europe’s first coronavirus-free state, PM says nytimes.com
Luxembourg: Restaurants are allowed to open this week sr.de
The Czech Republic does border controls only on a random basis sueddeutsche.de
Serbia partially reopens border with Hungary reuters.com
Germany: VW has to pay damages for manipulated diesel cars dw.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 ⊃
Eurowings flies to closed airport: The low cost carrier Eurowings has messed up the start of the holiday season on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. An Airbus A320 had to fly back to Düsseldorf on Saturday because the airport in Olbia on the Costa Smeralda is closed to international flights until 24 June. The Lufthansa subsidiary could have known that, a Eurowings spokesman admitted. However, there had been a misunderstanding beforehand when interpreting the mandatory “Notice to Airmen”. The passengers were rebooked – at least the costs were manageable: Only two passengers were on the plane.