Friday, 20 November 2020: EU leaders fail to solve fight blocking budget, Brexit talks suspended after positive Covid test, Ireland signals likely end to fur farming


EU leaders fail to solve fight blocking budget: European Union leaders discussed the bloc’s budget crisis during a video conference on Thursday evening but made no progress toward resolving the dispute to unlock the 1.8 trillion-euro budget and pandemic recovery package. Hungary and Poland are opposed to the inclusion of a „rule of law“ mechanism tying payments of EU money to adherence to European values. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has said that the mechanism was intended to blackmail „those countries that oppose immigration with budgetary sanctions.“ Speaking after the meeting, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said talks to break the impasse had begun and she rebuffed the idea that the EU was beholden to threats from Warsaw and Budapest. Leaders are due to meet in a critical summit on the 10th and 11th of December.,,

EU to agree on criteria for Covid easing: Following the EU video summit on Thursday, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced that the EU wants to coordinate more closely on the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions. The EU countries are also planning to agree on common standards for rapid antigen tests. The rapid tests should work in at least four out of five infected people, according to von der Leyen. There are many different tests of different quality on the market, which is why a common EU framework is needed for the recognition of tests that should be used in addition to the more complex PCR tests. Von der Leyen also announced a pilot project for a digital return travel form, in which two EU countries are initially participating.

Pompeo visits Israeli-occupied West Bank and Golan Heights: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Thursday became the first-ever US top diplomat to visit an Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank. He also announced that products from the Israeli settlements in the West Bank can be labeled “Made in Israel.” The two moves reflected the Trump administration’s acceptance of Israeli settlements, which the Palestinians and most of the international community view as a violation of international law and a major obstacle to peace. Pompeo further announced that the US would brand the international Palestinian-led boycott movement against Israel as anti-Semitic and bar any groups that participate in it from receiving government funding.,,

Brexit talks suspended after positive Covid test: Chief Brexit negotiators suspended direct talks after a member of the EU team tested positive for Covid-19. Officials continued working remotely to clinch an EU-UK trade deal that would come into force in just six weeks. The two sides had been aiming to strike an agreement by next week to allow time for the European parliament to ratify any potential deal, with a possible emergency sitting on 28 December pencilled in.,

EU to impose more Belarus sanctions: European Union foreign ministers have agreed to push ahead with a new round of sanctions on Belarus, in response to state repression of pro-democracy protests. Brussels has imposed a series of punitive measures against President Alexander Lukashenko and those close to him since a controversial presidential election in August. The EU claims Lukashenko forged election results to declare himself the winner. The new sanctions are expected to target more senior officials and also entities that finance Lukashenko and his government.,

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Migration and asylum: Time to find balance between solidarity and responsibility
European Court of Justice: Conscientious objector from Syria could get refugee status
Climate neutrality: Boosting renewable offshore energy
Human rights: Council of Europe criticises Greece’s handling of refugees
Covid-19: EU warns Hungary against use of Russia’s Covid vaccine


The euro area economy is expected to be severely affected by the fallout from the rapid increase in infections and the reinstatement of containment measures, posing a clear downside risk to the near-term economic outlook.
European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde called on EU leaders to end a potentially damaging budget impasse and repeated a promise to keep monetary policy super easy to help a recession-hit euro zone recover from the pandemic shock.


Ireland signals likely end to fur farming: Ireland is ordering the nation’s three mink farms to cull all of their 120,000 animals to halt a potential spread of a mutated form of coronavirus, signalling a likely end to Irish fur farming after years of debate and delay. A variant of the virus was detected in mink on a farm in Denmark. Authorities worry that a mutated form of coronavirus found in mink could potentially hamper the effectiveness of a future vaccine. Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer Tony Holohan has said the country’s farmed mink population should be culled.,

France’s Macron issues ultimatum to Muslim leaders: French President Emmanuel Macron has asked Muslim leaders to accept a „charter of republican values“ as part of a broad clampdown on radical Islam. On Wednesday he gave the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM) a 15-day ultimatum to accept the charter. The CFCM has agreed to create a National Council of Imams, which will reportedly issue imams with official accreditation which could be withdrawn. It follows three suspected Islamist attacks in little more than a month.

Commission green-lights national spending plans: The EU Commission has given its blessing to the draft budgetary plans submitted by the 19 eurozone countries, containing the extra spending to combat the risk of a new recession, but warned about the growing imbalances in many EU economies.

Why is Finland coping so well with the coronavirus crisis? Finland currently belongs to the countries around the world which is coping best with the pandemic. As of 19 November, Johns Hopkins University recorded around 19,900 cases and 374 deaths. No other European country has lower rates. Back in Spring, as the number of infections skyrocketed around the world, the Finnish government reacted promptly and imposed a two-month long lockdown. Finland also relies on the capability to swiftly trace people who have been in contact with those who tested positive. Unlike Germany, where there’s increasing doubt over the government’s response or people simply don’t take the virus seriously, trust in what the Finnish government is doing is relatively high. And the transition to working from home and home schooling has also been much smoother thanks to Finland’s high digitalisation standards.

Croatia: Government under pressure for violence against refugees
Spain: Protests against educational reform
Sweden in the second wave: Government takes initiative
Abortion rights: An open wound in many European countries
Italy: President of the Calabrian parliament arrested for alleged connections to the mafia


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Paris and Zurich are the world’s most expensive cities to live in: Paris and Zurich have joined Hong Kong to become the costliest cities in the world as the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the prices of everyday items. Overall, cities in the Americas, Africa and Eastern Europe have become less expensive while those in Western Europe have become costlier. This is partly explained to the rise of European currencies against the US dollar.


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