⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃
Minister quits over Cummings’ lockdown actions: Junior minister Douglas Ross resigned on Tuesday over top aide Dominic Cummings’ alleged breach of the UK’s lockdown guidelines, saying he could not in good faith tell his constituents that the advisers’ actions were justifiable. Ross said that the public reaction to reports of Cummings’ 260-mile drive from London to Durham in late March demonstrated that the adviser’s interpretation of the government guidance was not shared by the vast majority of people who have done what the government asked. His is the first resignation in connection with the issue and will increase pressure on Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who has faced calls to sack Cummings from opposition parties and from more than 35 Tory MPs.
David Evans appointed Labour’s new general secretary: Labour’s ruling body has appointed David Evans as its new general secretary, a move welcomed by the party’s leader, Keir Starmer, who said it would restore trust and build a team that could win the next election. The vote was allegedly a close run between Evans, assistant general secretary in the early 2000s, and a trade unionist candidate, Byron Taylor, favoured by those on the left of the party. Evans was Starmer’s preferred choice, and the appointment strengthens his leadership over the party. One of Evan’s first challenges will be responding to the findings of an inquiry by the equalities watchdog into Labour’s handling of anti-Semitism cases within the party.
UK to provide remdesivir to some coronavirus patients: A drug treatment called remdesivir that appears to shorten recovery time for people with coronavirus is being made available on the NHS. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said it was probably the biggest step forward in the treatment of coronavirus since the crisis began. Remdesivir is an anti-viral medicine that has been used against Ebola. UK regulators say there is enough evidence to approve its use in selected Covid-19 hospital patients.
Coronavirus: Crisis a chance to end rough sleeping 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 ⊃
Netherlands insists on alternative to Merkel-Macron plan: The Dutch government insists that the planned European Recovery Fund should hand out financial aid for coronavirus-hit member states only as loans rather than grants that would not have to be paid back, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said on Tuesday. “We need an emergency recovery fund to stimulate the recovery. We believe this should consist of loans, without any mutualisation of debts,” Rutte told reporters. Swedish Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson said on Tuesday that her country supports a united response by the EU, but would not back the proposal from Berlin and Paris that would see the EU tap the bond market for an unprecedented amount of money and distribute that as grants to countries that have suffered economically from the global pandemic.
New taxes could fund EU coronavirus aid: Tech giants could be forced to pay higher taxes in Europe as governments search for new revenue to deal with the ongoing coronavirus crisis. This Wednesday, the EU Commission will propose taxing digital companies as well as plastic users. In addition, the proceeds from trading in emission certificates could flow to the EU coffers in the future. The EU Commission of Ursula von der Leyen wants to present a new draft for the EU finances from 2021 to the end of 2027 this Wednesday, which will also include a reconstruction plan for the EU economy affected by the pandemic.
ECB warns of challenge for eurozone from soaring public debt: Rising government debt levels threaten to make investors reassess European sovereign risk and could reignite pressures on more vulnerable countries in the region, the European Central Bank has warned. The ECB said a more severe downturn than expected risked putting public finances on an unsustainable path in already highly indebted countries, if combined with higher government borrowing costs and borrowers’ defaults resulted in loan guarantees being called in by lenders. Significantly higher debt, weaker bank profitability, and market fragility will continue to cast a shadow over the EU. Highly indebted companies may also fail to cope while ultra-low bank profitability and the rising risk of a real estate correction are also part of a volatile mix, the ECB said.
ft.com, bloomberg.com, reuters.com, ecb.europa.eu
Italy pushes coordinated reopening of European borders: Italy is pushing for a coordinated resumption of travel in Europe from 15 June, Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said Monday evening. “For tourism, 15 June is a bit like the European D-Day”, Di Maio stated on Italian television channel Rai 1. “Germany aspires to reopen on 15 June,” Di Maio pointed out, and “we are working on this together with Austria and other countries,” he added. So far, announcements of plans to reopen borders have been made by individual European countries despite the EU Commission calling for more consultation. Di Maio hopes to be able to present homogeneous indications to tourists in all regions of Italy so tourists can move freely from one region to another.
EU citizens want more competences for the EU to deal with crises: In a new survey commissioned by the EU Parliament, a majority of EU citizens state that they have experienced financial difficulties since the start of the coronavirus crisis. Nearly seven out of ten respondents want a stronger role for the EU in fighting this crisis. In parallel, almost six out of ten respondents are dissatisfied with the solidarity shown between EU member states during the pandemic. Around two-thirds of respondents agree that the EU should have more competences to deal with crises such as the coronavirus pandemic.
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.
Vaccine: Global fundraising for Covid-19 vaccine exceeds $10 billion, EU says reuters.com
Japan: EU and Japan commit to avoiding unnecessary barriers in times of Covid-19 euractiv.com
Hong Kong: EU urges China to respect Hong Kong autonomy reuters.com
Coronavirus apps: Five EU countries blast Big Tech over approach to corona apps politico.eu
College of Europe: Federica Mogherini approved as rector politico.eu
Venezuela: Donor conference raises more than $3 billion for Venezuelan refugees nytimes.com
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
“This is apparently Cummings and his Brexit friends’ rule: that they leave when they should stay.”
Former EU Council President Donald Tusk couldn’t help a Brexit quip as he waded into Britain’s row over Dominic Cummings, Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s top adviser who is accused of violating coronavirus travel curbs.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Ryanair vows to appeal against Lufthansa aid package: Ireland’s Ryanair will contest a 9 billion-euro German aid package for Lufthansa, the budget airline’s Chief Executive Michael O’Leary said in a statement on Tuesday. The government-backed aid will allow Lufthansa to engage in below-cost selling and make it harder for Ryanair, its Laudamotion subsidiary and rival low-cost carrier EasyJet to compete, O’Leary said. Ryanair will appeal against this latest example of illegal state aid to Lufthansa, which will massively distort competition, he added. “Lufthansa is addicted to state aid. Whenever there is a crisis, Lufthansa’s first reflex is to put its hand in the German government’s pocket,” said O’Leary, pointing out that the Lufthansa Group, which includes Brussels Airlines, had also requested aid in Switzerland, Austria and Belgium.
France deploys 8 billion euros to rescue car industry: The French government is injecting more than 8 billion euros to save the country’s car industry from huge losses wrought by coronavirus lockdowns. Starting next week, consumers can get up to 12,000 euros from the government for buying an electric car under the plan unveiled Tuesday by President Emmanuel Macron. The 8-billion-euro plan does not include a 5-billion-euro French government loan guarantee under discussion for struggling Renault, or the millions the government has already spent on temporary unemployment payments to auto workers told to stay home for weeks to keep the virus at bay. In the meantime, France’s privacy watchdog gave the green light to a government-backed cellphone app that will alert users if they have been in contact with an infected person.
nytimes.com (Car industry), rappler.com (App)
Hungarian PM’s power to rule by decree to end in June: Hungary aims to lift a state of emergency spurred by the coronavirus crisis on 20 June, Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga said on Tuesday. Asked to clarify whether that meant the special powers for Prime Minister Viktor Orban would also end on 20 June in addition to the standard state of emergency invoked to tackle a crisis, government spokesman Zoltan Kovacs said the two by definition go hand in hand. Varga went on to say the legislation had been a success and criticised opposition parties for running a supposed disinformation campaign. Parliament was expected to vote to rescind Orban’s emergency powers in the coming weeks.
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Spain declares official mourning for coronavirus victims: The Spanish government has declared a 10-day official mourning period from Wednesday to honour the nearly 30,000 people who died from the coronavirus pandemic in the country. During the mourning period, flags will fly at half-mast all over the country’s public buildings and navy ships. The period will end with an official ceremony led by the head of state in remembrance of the 26,834 fatalities recorded in Spain.
Pompeii reopens its ruins to public: Pompeii, the ancient Roman city buried in an eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and later unearthed, is ready to rise again from the catastrophe of the coronavirus pandemic. The sprawling archaeological site reopened to tourists on Tuesday after a closure of more than two-and-a-half months. Visitors will have to reserve ahead and have their temperatures checked by a thermal scanner on entering.
Hungary, Slovakia, Czech Republic to mutually open borders: Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic will open their borders to each others’ citizens from midnight on Tuesday, with some conditions. Cross-border travel without having to undergo mandatory quarantine amid the pandemic will be allowed for Hungarians, Slovaks and Czechs whose stay in the other country does not exceed 48 hours. In addition, Hungarians can travel to the Czech Republic by crossing Slovakia but cannot cross Slovakia on their way back; they will have to detour through Austria. The same applies to Czechs returning home from Hungary.
France clamps down on hydroxychloroquine use for Covid-19 politico.eu
Germany extends social distancing rules until 29 June reuters.com
Swedish minister: No reason to keep Swedes out when Nordics reopen borders reuters.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 ⊃
European contract signed for Moon mission hardware: The European Space Agency has asked the aerospace company Airbus to build another service module for the Americans’ “Orion” crew capsule. The hardware will be part of the mission that returns astronauts to the Moon’s surface for the first time in 52 years. The European Service Module pushes the capsule through space, is responsible for its power supply and temperature control, and holds all the water and gases needed to sustain those riding onboard.