Friday, 16 October 2020: Johnson could walk out of Brexit talks as early as Friday, Police search homes of top French officials, Cypriot parliament speaker quits


Johnson could walk out of Brexit talks as early as Friday: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will decide after the conclusion of an EU summit on Friday whether to press ahead with trade negotiations with the EU or walk away with no deal, Downing Street has said. On Thursday, the 27 European heads of state signed off on a statement calling on the UK to make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible. Despite steady progress on minor side-issues, two major sticking points remain before a free trade agreement can be reached. The first is the extent to which EU fishing fleets will have access to UK waters, and the second is the so-called level playing field of regulations. UK chief negotiator David Frost said he was disappointed by the EU summit conclusions and surprised that the EU was no longer committed to working intensively to reach a future partnership. EU Commission Chief Ursula von der Leyen had to leave the EU summit early because she had been in contact with someone who tested positive for Covid-19. Meanwhile, EU leaders pushed a decision on how deeply to cut emissions by 2030 to their next summit in December.,,,,

EU leaders divided over new climate goals: European Union leaders agreed Thursday they need to raise their climate ambition above the existing target but stopped short of endorsing a proposal to cut greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% compared to 1990 levels. A group of eleven countries including Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Ireland, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and Sweden had supported the proposal. The Czech Republic has insisted that the emissions cut should be an EU-wide average, not a binding national target. Poland, which gets most of its power from coal, wants more detailed analysis of the new goal’s impact on individual countries.,

Coronavirus cases hit records in Europe, surpassing US numbers: Europe set a record this week for new Covid-19 infections, overtaking the United States in cases per capita. Hans Kluge, the World Health Organisation’s regional director for Europe, warned that the WHO was seeing exponential increases in daily cases in Europe, adding that death rates on the continent this winter could be five times worse than the April peak if people are not strict about masks and social distancing.

EU sanctions senior Russians over Navalny poisoning: The EU is hitting six high-placed Russian officials with sanctions over the suspected assassination attempt of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, citing the use of forbidden chemical weapons. The sanctions punish two men who work directly for President Vladimir Putin’s executive office along with his representative in Siberia, where Navalny fell dangerously ill. The sanctions also name Aleksander Bortnikov, director of the Federal Security Service, along with Defence Ministry deputies who manage Russia’s military research and weapons.

Russia withdraws from MH17 talks: Russia announced on Thursday it would withdraw from consultations with the Netherlands and Australia over the downing of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot down over Ukraine in 2014. Russia’s foreign ministry accused the Netherlands and Australia of not trying to establish what happened in the disaster and instead making attempts to pin the blame on Moscow. Dutch Foreign Minister Stef Blok said that the Netherlands greatly regretted Russia’s decision to withdraw from talks.

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Gas dispute: German foreign minister criticises Turkey’s behaviour in the Mediterranean Sea
Daphne Caruana Galizia: EU Parliament launches Caruana Galizia Prize for Journalism on anniversary of her murder
Libya: Further sanctions over violations of arms embargo
Taiwan Strait: China says US undermines Taiwan Strait’s stability


In no case shall our fishermen be sacrificed for Brexit.
French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday France was ready for a no-deal should Britain refuse to agree to conditions for a future relationship that would preserve French fishermen’s rights in British waters and non-dumping rules.


Police search homes of top French officials: Police raided the homes and offices of France’s health minister, its public health director and former prime minister on Thursday as a judicial investigation into the government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic deepened. The court received some 90 complaints lodged by doctors, nursing homes and local authorities over the government’s handling of the pandemic. The complaints included accusations of involuntary homicide and endangering life.

Cypriot parliament speaker quits: Parliament speaker Demetris Syllouris resigned on Thursday in the wake of Cyprus‘ cash-for-passports scandal. Syllouris was secretly filmed by the Al Jazeera network talking to an undercover reporter posing as a representative of a Chinese businessman with a criminal record. Syllouris is shown promising to facilitate the businessman’s passport application.

Czech army builds field hospital: In the Czech Republic, the army is scrambling to build a field hospital in Prague, amid warnings that the country’s medical capacity could be completely subsumed by covid-19 within weeks.

Weimar Triangle: Foreign ministers from Germany, France and Poland meet in Paris
Italy: Prime minister says avoiding new lockdown is main aim of new Covid curbs
Slovakia: Parliamentarians to get drinking water from restrooms because of Covid


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Committee of Regions warns of growing inequality risks because of Covid: The first EU-wide survey of the current challenges the pandemic has posed for local and regional governments across the bloc shows risks of a widening divide between the EU’s regions and calls for closer involvement of local authorities in drawing up recovery plans.


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