Wednesday, 17 June 2020: Johnson bows to footballer’s pressure to provide food fund, Apple faces two EU antitrust probes, France vows to halt violent gang clashes in Dijon, France to strengthen domestic pharmaceutical production

⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃

Johnson bows to footballer’s pressure to provide food fund: Prime Minister Boris Johnson will provide a summer food fund for struggling families in England, bowing to pressure from England forward Marcus Rashford and his campaign to prevent children from going hungry during the coronavirus pandemic. Ministers had originally said school food vouchers would not be available over the long summer holiday. Rashford had pleaded with lawmakers to put their rivalries aside and make a U-turn as many families continue to struggle with the economic impact of the coronavirus. On Tuesday, Johnson’s spokesman said the government would be providing a Covid summer food fund costing around 120 million pounds. The spokesman added that the prime minister understood the issues families faced during the pandemic.
nytimes.com, cnn.com

Racism contributed to risk of Bame communities dying from coronavirus, report finds: Racism and social inequality have contributed to the disproportionally high risk of Covid-19 for black and minority ethnic (Bame) communities, a government-commissioned report has revealed. More than 4,000 people consulted for the latest paper pointed to racism and discrimination experienced by communities and more specifically by Bame key workers as a root cause affecting health, exposure risk and disease progression risk. The report made clear that those consulted did not feel the pandemic had created health inequalities, but instead exposed and exacerbated longstanding issues for Bame groups.
independent.co.uk

Spain may quarantine British tourists, minister tells BBC: Conflicting statements by Spanish officials have sparked confusion over the country’s rules for UK travellers. Spanish officials said on Monday that travellers from the UK would not have to quarantine on arrival from Sunday. But Spain’s foreign affairs minister then said the country may impose a two-week quarantine on Britons, if the UK maintained its current travel rules. On Monday evening, a Spanish government spokeswoman said that the UK would be added to the list of countries whose citizens could travel to Spain. But later, Spain’s foreign affairs minister Arancha González Laya appeared to give new guidance on the travel rules for UK travellers arriving in Spain, saying Spain was considering imposing a quarantine on British travellers when it reopens its borders next week, in response to a similar policy at London’s end.
bbc.com, reuters.com

Government departments: International development and Foreign Office to merge bbc.com
Dominic Cummings: Public prosecutor faces legal action over Cummings’ Durham trip theguardian.com
Domestic abuse: Rough sex defence will be banned, says justice minister bbc.com
Watchdog: Home Office has no idea how many people are in the UK illegally theguardian.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 ⊃

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.
cnbc.com

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.
nytimes.com, techcrunch.com

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.
reuters.com, politico.com

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.
politico.com

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.
cnbc.com

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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.
dw.com

⊂ 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.
france24.com, uk.reuters.com

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.
euronews.com

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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.
reuters.com

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.
bloomberg.com, zeit.de

 

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