⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Apple faces two EU antitrust probes: The EU Commission announced Tuesday that it is launching two antitrust investigations into Apple’s App Store rules and the Apple Pay platform. The Commission will assess whether Apple’s rules for app developers on the distribution of apps via the App Store breach EU competition rules. Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager, in charge of competition policy, said it appeared that Apple obtained a “gatekeeper” role when it came to the distribution of apps and content to users of Apple’s popular devices. The EU needed to ensure that Apple’s rules did not distort competition in markets where Apple was competing with other app developers. She said it was important that Apple’s measures did not deny consumers the benefits of new payment technologies, including better choice, quality, innovation and competitive prices.
EU states agree tech spec for coronavirus apps to work across borders: EU member states have agreed technical standards for interoperability between smartphone apps that track the risk of coronavirus infections. The EU Commission said it would be responsible for managing a central gateway for national apps to “talk” to each other. The key caveat attached to the agreed interoperability system is that it currently only works to link up decentralised contacts tracing apps — such as the Corona-Warn-App launched on Tuesday by Germany — or the national apps recently released in Italy, Latvia and Switzerland.
EU criticises Trump over International Criminal Court: The EU has voiced grave concern about US President Donald Trump’s decision to authorise sanctions against the International Criminal Court. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said any punitive measures were unacceptable and unprecedented. He called on Trump to reverse course. “The European Union expresses grave concern about the announced measures and reconfirms its unwavering support for the International Criminal Court,” Borrell said in a statement. Trump last week signed an executive order authorising the possible imposition of economic sanctions and visa restrictions on the court’s employees involved in an investigation into whether American forces committed war crimes in Afghanistan.
White House to host Kosovo peace talks: The White House will host leaders from Serbia and Kosovo later this month in an effort to kickstart stalled efforts to reach a permanent peace settlement, according to Richard Grenell, the US special envoy for the talks. The two Balkan states have been locked in a frozen conflict since 1999, when a Nato air war ended Serb control of Kosovo in the last of a series of conflicts that raged as Yugoslavia was torn apart. The EU has overseen years of dialogue between the two sides but the Trump administration has seized the initiative in recent months, sidelining European powers.
North Korea blows up liaison office with South Korea: South Korea has accused North Korea of demolishing an inter-Korean liaison office building just north of the border between the two countries on Tuesday, as tensions continue to escalate on the Korean peninsula. Earlier this month, North Korea threatened to permanently shut the liaison office with South Korea as it condemned its rival for failing to prevent activists from sending anti-North Korean leaflets across the border. North Korea’s military on Tuesday threatened to move back into zones that were demilitarised under inter-Korean peace agreements in 2018. The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army said it was reviewing a ruling party recommendation to advance into unspecified border areas that had been demilitarised under agreements with the South.
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.
EU transport projects too slow, costs skyrocketing, auditors say nytimes.com
European Council President Michel sets out sticking points in EU recovery debate politico.eu
World Trade Organisation: EU Commission muzzles trade chief Hogan over WTO conflicts of interest politico.eu
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
“From our standpoint, US forces in Germany also serve our security. We would want that presence in Germany to be continued.”
Polish Foreign Minister Jacek Czaputowicz has said he did not see a link between the boosting of US troops numbers in Poland and any withdrawal from Germany.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
France vows to halt violent gang clashes in Dijon: The French government on Tuesday vowed to bring an end to violence in the usually placid eastern city of Dijon after it was hit by a fourth night of unrest linked to score-settling by members of the Chechen community. The incidents appear to have been sparked by an assault on a 16-year-old Chechen boy. Chechens reportedly had travelled to Dijon from all over France and even from neighbouring Belgium and Germany. Their actions have focused on the low-income district of Gresilles which has a large community of people originally from North Africa. Deputy interior minister Laurent Nunez travelled to Dijon, vowing a strong response with more than 150 police and para-military gendarmes mobilised to halt any unrest. Meanwhile, Paris police blamed violent fringe groups for hijacking a peaceful protest by health workers in central Paris on Tuesday, where at least one car was overturned and projectiles were hurled at police lines. French police will still be allowed to use chokeholds to carry out arrests until alternative methods are put in place in September, according to media reports.
france24.com (Dijon); reuters.com (Health worker protest); politico.eu, lemonde.fr (Chokeholds)
France to strengthen domestic pharmaceutical production: French President Emmanuel Macron and the country’s top drugmaker Sanofi have announced plans to bolster domestic production of medicines amid an international scramble to strengthen public healthcare industries to counter the pandemic. Macron pledged 200 million euros to help domestic research and manufacturing of medicines and said his government would announce plans on Thursday to bring back some drug production facilities to France. Sanofi, which is working on two potential coronavirus vaccines, said it would invest 610 million euros at two French sites to turn them into a hub dedicated to research, development and production of vaccines.
Hungary ends emergency powers: The Hungarian Parliament voted on Tuesday to end the nation’s state of emergency, revoking a controversial law that handed extra powers to Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s government to fight the spread of coronavirus without a predefined end date. The new law leaves the possibility for the government to declare another state emergency granting it extra powers to handle an epidemic. Critics of Orbán’s government at home and abroad have accused him of using the crisis to cement his rule and push the country toward authoritarianism by removing legal limitations to his power.
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Austrian government approves fresh stimulus package: Austria’s conservative-led government approved a fresh stimulus package on Tuesday that it said boosts the sum of its coronavirus-related economic measures to some 50 billion euros and will further swell its debt pile. It comes on top of 38 billion euros, or about 9.5% of last year’s economic output, in aid for companies and workers first announced in March.
Greece apparently abandons refugees at sea: A joint investigation by German newspaper “Spiegel” with Lighthouse Reports and Report Mainz has revealed that the Greek Coast Guard intercepts refugee boats, puts the migrants in life rafts, tows them toward Turkey and then abandons them on the open sea. These pushbacks represent both a violation of international law and of the European Union’s Charter of Fundamental Rights. In the meantime, the German state of Berlin has announced that it wants to take in 300 vulnerable refugees from Greek camps.
spiegel.de (Griechenland), tagesspiegel.de (Berlin)
Spain: 16 billion euros for autonomous regions euractiv.de
Germany: Foreign Minister Maas on visit to Warsaw rnd.de
Switzerland: Government expects GDP to drop by 6.2% nytimes.com
Italy’s children mentally severely affected by lockdown tagesspiegel.de
Latvia: Huge statue for doctors unveiled krone.at
⊂ 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 ⊃
Sipri warns of nuclear stockpiling: Although the number of nuclear weapons across the globe dropped by around 3.5% in 2019, the International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) warned of new stockpiling in its annual report. India and China have added to their nuclear warhead stockpile in the last year while all other nuclear-armed nations like the US, Russia and France, continued to modernise their arsenal. “What worries us overall is the growing importance of nuclear weapons,” said Shannon Kile, director of Sipri’s Nuclear Disarmament, Arms Control, and Nonproliferation Programme. Researchers are also concerned that the so-called START contract between Russia and the United States will expire in 2021.