⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Joe Biden and Boris Johnson sign new Atlantic Charter: US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson held their first in-person talks ahead of the G7 Summit in Cornwall in southwest England, where heads of state and government from seven wealthy economies will meet this Friday. After the meeting, Johnson said that the talks with Biden were a „big breath of fresh air,“ adding that the two leaders are „working very hard together.“ Biden and Johnson signed a new Atlantic Charter, modelled after the 1941 agreement, that outlines eight key areas on which the US and the UK plan to collaborate. The revamped charter, which comes during Biden’s first trip abroad as president, says it builds „on the commitments and aspirations set out eighty years ago, affirms our ongoing commitment to sustaining our enduring values and defending them against new and old challenges.“ Johnson also announced Thursday that the G7 nations are set to commit to sharing at least 1 billion coronavirus shots with the world. French President Emmanuel Macron expressed support late Wednesday for waiving patents for Covid-19 vaccines. The European Parliament has also called for a temporary Covid-19 vaccine patent waiver
dw.com, nbcnews.com, apnews.com, politico.eu, europarl.europa.eu
European Parliament prepares to sue Commission for failure to act: EU lawmakers threatened Thursday to sue the European Commission within weeks if it fails to take action against countries allegedly violating democratic standards, notably Hungary and Poland. In a resolution, adopted by 506 votes to 150 with 28 abstentions, they urged European Parliament President David Sassoli to demand that the EU Commission “fulfil its obligations” within two weeks, under a system tying access to some EU funds to a country’s respect for the rule of law. MEPs note that the new conditionality instrument to protect the EU budget has been in force since 1 January 2021 and also applies to the recovery funds. Despite this, the Commission has not proposed any measures under the new rules and has not respected the deadline of 1 June given by Parliament in its 25 March resolution to finalise the guidelines on the application of the Regulation.
EU Parliament calls for end of caged farming: The European Parliament overwhelmingly demanded a ban on the use of cages in animal agriculture by 2027, in a non-binding resolution passed on Thursday. Alternatives to cage farming exist and are being successfully implemented in a number of member states, MEPs said. These alternative systems should be further improved and encouraged at member state level, but to ensure a level-playing field for farmers across the European Union, MEPs agreed EU legislation is needed. Olga Kikou, Head of Compassion in World Farming EU and one of the citizens leading the ‘End the Cage Age’ petition told Euronews that some animals never leave their cages during their lifetime.
politico.eu, europarl.europa.eu, euronews.com
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Council of Europe urges Navalny’s immediate release: Dunja Mijatović, the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, has spoken about the high-profile case of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition politician, who was hospitalised in Germany after a reported poisoning and then imprisoned immediately upon his return to Russia. Sebastian noted that the Kremlin had clearly flouted the orders of the European Court of Human Rights, and asked where that left Mijatovic’s body, given that despite being a member state of the Court, „Russia’s justice minister called the ruling enforceable and threw it in the bin.“ The commissioner referred to the events as a clear disregard of human rights and international obligations. The situation also „shows that beneath [it] there are many more problems like lack of independent judiciary in Russia, human rights abuses in Chechnya, lack of investigation, repression of dissent and harassment of human rights defenders. So it’s not just Navalny.“ Mijatovic said the case was just one example of „where we see that Russian Federation is completely disregarding the decision of the European Court of Human Rights.“
EU Parliament condemns Czech PM over conflicts of interest: The European Parliament has overwhelmingly voted to condemn Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis for conflicts of interest regarding EU subsidies paid to his Agrofert agricultural conglomerate. The resolution is the consequence of a years-long EU Commission audit into subsidies granted to Agrofert, which Babis founded. Released in April, the audit concluded that, despite placing the company in trusts in 2017, Babis still controlled the business and the disbursement of the subsidies.
New EU rules also affect voice assistants from Google, Amazon and Apple: The EU Commission has expressed concerns about smart home gadgets and voice assistants. These products can now be found in numerous households and thus create a certain degree of market control for manufacturers. That is why the EU wants to work on regulation plans in the coming months. For example, the “Law for Digital Markets” is supposed to prohibit all those providers from their business practices that control access to individual markets. For this purpose, a “black list” was drawn up with almost 20 business practices, which were inspired by the concluded and ongoing competition proceedings against the internet companies Google and Facebook.
Amazon faces possible $425 million EU privacy fine wsj.com
Belarus: MEPs call for more sanctions against Belarus following Ryanair hijacking europarl.europa.eu
Immunisation: Every second adult in the EU has been vaccinated against Covid once stuttgarter-zeitung.de
Travel industry: EU states agree on easing Covid travel rules sn.at
Cyberattack: EU Parliament calls for beefed-up EU security against cyber threats europarl.europa.eu
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
„The development in terms of numbers is extremely gratifying.“
A recent improvement in the number of new coronavirus cases in Germany was pleasing, Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Thursday.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Greek unions launch general strike against labour reforms: Large parts of Greece shut down on Thursday as workers across the country joined a general strike to protest a proposed labour reform. The proposed reform — which is being voted on in the Greek parliament next week — has been slammed by unions and left-wing parties as an attack on the eight-hour workday. It would make it possible for workers to work up to 10 hours in a day — getting time off later in compensation. The bill would also increase the legal overtime limit to 150 hours a year and introduce a „digital work card“ to monitor the hours worked, according to the daily Greek newspaper Kathimerini. More than 16,000 people took part in various demonstrations in Athens, with another 10,000 in Thessaloniki, organised by unions and opposition parties.
Germany introduces digital Covid pass: German Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Thursday that Germany will roll out a digital immunity certificate „CovPass“ by the end of June, making it easier to definitively prove that a person has been fully vaccinated. People who have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, and those who have recovered have recently become exempt from many restrictions in Germany. This includes travel restrictions, something that is very relevant in all of Europe ahead of the summer vacation time. Starting next week, Germans will be able to prove they have been fully vaccinated by simply showing an app on their smartphones. Those who have already received all their jabs are supposed to be able to receive their digital certification retroactively.
Four months for man who attacked Macron: A French court has ordered a man who slapped French President Emmanuel Macron across the face this week to serve four months in jail. The 28-year-old Frenchman, who described himself as a right-wing or extreme-right „patriot“, was also banned from ever holding public office in France and from owning weapons for five years. During Thursday’s trial, Tarel testified that the attack was impulsive and unplanned, and prompted by anger at France’s „decline.“
npr.org, reuters.com, bbc.com
France ends Sahel military operation: French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday said he was ending France’s eight-year operation in the Sahel region of Africa, particularly in Mali, where the country’s military has been waging a battle against Islamist insurgents. France currently has 5,100 soldiers in the Sahel region, which spans half a dozen countries. A flash point is Mali, a former French colony that has seen a second military coup inside nine months. At a press conference in Paris ahead of the G7 summit, Macron said the Sahel region has become „the epicentre of international terrorism“ in recent years, but said that France could not maintain a constant presence there.
EU Commission joins Czechia in legal case over Polish coal mine: The European Commission has decided to join the Czech Republic in a bitter lawsuit against Poland over what plaintiffs say is an illegal extension of a license to operate the Turów coal mine near the Czech and German border. Czechia and Poland are locked in a dispute since April 2020 when the Polish authorities prolonged a license to operate the open-pit mine located close to the German and Czech border. In February 2021, Czechia brought the case to the European Court of Justice. Czechs argue that the Polish mine is draining their water supplies, a stance recently supported by the European Court of Justice, which preliminary ordered an immediate halt to mining activities in Turów. However, Polish said it will not follow the Court’s decision and will continue mining in the area
Second vaccine dose on holiday? Italy gets organised: The fear of Covid has eased in Italy with the roll-out of vaccinations but a more pressing concern has arisen – will getting the second dose interfere with summer holidays? The problem has dominated the front pages of Italy’s newspapers in a country where many people leave for a long vacation in July or August. Finally, after weeks of top-level political discussions, many Italians will now be able to get their second dose of AstraZeneca, Pfizer or Moderna vaccines away from home.
Germany: Frankfurt police unit to be disbanded over far-right chats dw.com
Albania: Parliament impeaches President Ilir Meta, removes him from office dw.com
Poland eases further Covid restrictions aerzteblatt.de
Austria: New FPÖ leader sees overlap with Identitarian Movement spiegel.de
Catholic church: Pope rejects German cardinal’s resignation over abuse scandal dw.com
As Germany acknowledges its colonial-era genocide in Namibia, the brutal legacy of diamond mining still needs a reckoning time.com
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
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⊂ LAST BUT NOT LEAST ⊃
Ukraine told to change Euro 2020 football kit after Russia complaints: Ukraine has been ordered to change its kit for the Euro 2020 football championships after complaints from Russia, the sport’s governing body said Thursday. UEFA said in an email that having the “specific combination” of slogans on the kit was “deemed to be clearly political in nature, having historic and militaristic significance.” One of the slogans — on the inside of the collar and reading “Glory to our heroes” — “must therefore be removed for use in UEFA competition matches.”