⊂ EUROPE ⊃
UK and France’s naval standoff near Jersey resolved for now: A flotilla of French fishing trawlers that had gathered in the English Channel as part of a dispute with the UK over fishing rights vacated the area, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Thursday evening, bringing an apparent end to the naval standoff between the two countries. The French fishermen had sailed to a port on the British Channel island of Jersey to protest post-Brexit fishing rights. Tensions escalated as France deployed two maritime patrol boats to the waters, its navy said, after the British Navy dispatched two of its own vessels to the area late Wednesday. But with the French mariners having left the port, Johnson tweeted that the situation in Jersey had been resolved. The government will remain on standby to provide further assistance to Jersey if the self-governing British crown dependency requests it, No. 10 added.
EU to discuss US vaccine patent plan: European Union leaders said Thursday that in the wake of the US backing patent waivers for Covid-19 vaccine technology, the 27-nation bloc immediately will start discussing whether they should join such a move. The leaders’ first opportunity to mold a common view will come as soon as a two-day summit in Porto, Portugal, that starts this Friday. Germany poured cold water on Thursday on the US proposal, saying that it sees the protection of intellectual property as a crucial source of innovation. Meanwhile, Germany will no longer limit AstraZeneca jabs to people aged 60 and older. The EU has extended export controls for Covid vaccines until the end of June.
apnews.com, politico.eu, dw.com, orf.at
EU to rely on new drugs to treat Covid: The EU said Thursday that it will set up a portfolio of 10 potential new Covid-19 treatments, with the goal of authorising three new drugs to treat the virus by October. The antiviral medication Remdesivir is the only drug authorised across Europe for treating coronavirus patients. On Thursday, the European Commission urged the 27 nations in the EU to join forces to help deploy additional medicinal treatments across the continent. The Commission said vaccines alone would not eradicate coronavirus overnight and efficient drugs and treatment plans would be required to treat patients in hospitals or at home, including those affected by long-term symptoms of the disease.
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EU top court upholds ban on Bayer pesticides linked to harming bees: The EU’s top court on Thursday upheld the EU’s partial ban on three insecticides linked to harming bees, preventing their use on certain crops. The European Court of Justice, on Thursday dismissed an appeal by Bayer to overturn a lower EU court’s 2018 decision to uphold the EU ban. The ruling covers three active substances – imidacloprid developed by Bayer CropScience, clothianidin developed by Takeda Chemical Industries and Bayer CropScience, as well as Syngenta’s thiamethoxam.
EU mulls military training mission to steady Mozambique: The EU will consider sending a military training mission to Mozambique to help the government withstand a growing insurgency, and Portugal is already sending troops, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said on Thursday. The European Union’s top diplomat urged member states to contribute to a military training mission for Mozambique in coming months, to help its government take control of parts of the country held by extremist rebels.
Microsoft pledges to let EU users keep data inside bloc: Microsoft is pledging to let business and public sector customers in the EU keep cloud computing data inside the 27-nation bloc to avert concerns about US government access to sensitive information. Microsoft will go beyond its existing data storage commitments and enable customers to process and store all their data in the EU, said Brad Smith, the US technology giant’s president. Microsoft is responding to customers that want stronger commitments on so-called data residency, Smith said.
Covid: EU countries agree to open up to Israeli tourists reuters.com
China says it will communicate with EU to ensure investment deal comes into force reuters.com
European Central Bank: Europe’s top court dismisses challenge of ECB’s power to declare bank failing reuters.com
Eurozone: Retail sales beat forecasts in March marketwatch.com
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
„We are ready to have that discussion.“
Germany is open to a discussion on whether patents for Covid-19 vaccines should be invalidated, Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
France murder: Calls for action on guns after woman’s street killing: A women’s rights group in France is calling on the government to remove guns from violent partners, after a brutal murder shocked the country. Chahinez was shot and set alight by her husband, less than a year after he was sentenced for domestic violence. She is the 39th woman to be killed by a partner or ex-partner this year. The justice and interior ministries have launched an investigation into the case.
Germany voices cautious hope for improved EU-Turkey ties: Relations between Turkey and the EU are looking promising this year after a period of tensions, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday following a meeting with his Turkish counterpart Mevlut Cavusoglu. One of the recent issues that piled on Turkey’s strained ties with Brussels was a seating arrangement at a summit between EU leaders and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month. Turkey has been a nominal EU accession candidate since 1987, however, talks have stalled or even regressed since 2016, with some EU member states demanding negotiations be broken off for good, citing a lack of compatibility between Turkish and EU values. The European border protection agency Frontex on Thursday reported to the EU Commission that the Turkish coast guard held maneuvers in the Aegean Sea in April.
Merkel pushes for carbon pricing worldwide: Germany’s Angela Merkel, in her last climate summit as chancellor, told representatives from some 40 countries on Thursday that a carbon pricing system would help keep global CO2 emissions in check. „From my point of view, it would be very desirable if we also had a CO2 price worldwide, which would have to be introduced step by step,“ she told the Petersberg Climate Dialogue, which was held online this year. She urged other countries to follow Germany’s carbon tax example, citing the €25 per ton tax slapped on carbon dioxide emitted by the country’s transport and heating sectors this January.
US Secretary of State Blinken warns Russia over Ukraine: Antony Blinken told Ukraine’s president on Thursday that the United States strongly backed his country’s sovereignty against Russia’s military aggression but also warned that the embattled country was under threat from internal forces, including powerful oligarchs who thrive on corruption. During the one-day visit, Blinken spoke with Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba and President Volodymyr Zelensky. In a press conference with Zelensky, Blinken said that discussions between the pair had focused on „the threat Russia continues to pose to Ukraine.“ Blinken said that significant forces remained there, and that the US was monitoring the situation very closely.
Sweden passes one million coronavirus cases: Sweden has passed one million cases of coronavirus, and the spread of infection remains high. A total of 1,002,121 coronavirus infections have been confirmed in Sweden since the start of the pandemic, according to the Public Health Agency’s latest data, presented on Thursday afternoon.
Poland’s system for disciplining judges violates EU law, says advocate general politico.eu
Unprecedented situation in Austria: Finance Minister Blümel must make further files available to the Ibiza scandal committee of inquiry rnd.de
Germany: Parliament approves bill on freedoms for Covid vaccinated people dw.com
Hungary: Opposition to file police complaint after MP attends vote with virus euractiv.com
France: Senate calls for national „Agriculture Day“ euractiv.de
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
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⊂ LAST BUT NOT LEAST ⊃
France wants EU Parliament to resume sitting in Strasbourg: French President Emmanuel Macron wants the European Parliament to resume sitting in the French city of Strasbourg from June after a hiatus due to Covid-19, an official in the presidency said on Thursday. „A return to normal operations for the Strasbourg plenary sessions would seem imperative to us,“ the official said. EU law states that the parliament must hold a four-day session once a month in Strasbourg, a right defended by France, but these sessions have been suspended during the pandemic and are taking place in Brussels instead.