Monday, 19 October 2020: France holds rallies after murder of teacher, Italy approves new stimulus package, Protests against Covid measures in Czech Republic


Brexit chaos: Battle of words between London and Brussels: British Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove has warned the EU that it needs to change its approach and show it is serious before Brexit talks can resume this week. He said the European Union had squandered some of the progress made in negotiations because it had not been willing to intensify talks or produce detailed legal texts. The latest talks broke down on Thursday when the EU said Britain needed to give ground. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson hit back on Friday, telling Brussels there was no point in continuing the negotiations unless the EU fundamentally changed course. He said the UK should now prepare for the alternative of a much more limited relationship, based on the EU’s existing arrangements with Australia. Johnson has accused the EU of resisting the UK’s preferred outcome of a deal based on the one the bloc has with Canada. Credit ratings agency Moody’s has downgraded Britain’s credit status, citing a decline in economic strength amid continued Brexit uncertainty.,,,

UN arms embargo on Iran expires: A decade-long United Nations arms embargo on Iran that barred it from purchasing foreign weapons expired on Sunday, despite US protests. The UN Security Council imposed the embargo on Iran in 2007. The restrictions expired on Sunday in line with conditions agreed to under the 2015 nuclear deal among Iran, Russia, China, Germany, Britain, France, and the United States. Iran in theory can now purchase weapons to upgrade military armament. After the Security Council rejected the Trump administration’s attempt to expand the arms embargo on Iran in August this year, the US unilaterally reinstated the UN sanctions against Iran that were lifted under the accord.,,

Thousands turn out for protests in Belarus: For the tenth weekend rally in a row, tens of thousands of protesters opposing long-time President Alexander Lukashenko marched through the capital despite threats of force from authorities to open fire. Over 200 protesters were arrested during Sunday’s protests, Belarusian Interior Ministry spokeswoman Olga Chemodanova said.

European Bauhaus movement for sustainability: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen wants to initiate a new movement to promote sustainability and climate protection. In an article for the “Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung”, she writes that it will take more than just reducing emissions to tackle climate change. The launch of a New European Bauhaus movement is intended to be a bridge between the world of science and technology and the world of art and culture. According to von der Leyen, the New Bauhaus is about bringing the European Green Deal closer to people’s minds and homes and making tangible the comfort and attractiveness of sustainable living.,

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This game of buck passing is just for show and isn’t getting anyone any further.
Manfred Weber, the leader of the European People’s Party (EPP) in the European Parliament, has accused British Prime Minister Boris Johnson of irresponsibility.


France holds rallies after murder of teacher: Thousands of demonstrators took part in protests on Sunday to pay tribute to a French teacher who was beheaded outside a school near Paris after discussing caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in class. Protestors gathered in major French cities including Paris, Lyon, Toulouse, Strasbourg, Nantes, Marseille, Lille and Bordeaux. Prime Minister Jean Castex, who attended the Paris rally, said the government was working on a strategy to better protect teachers from similar threats. French President Emmanuel Macron, who visited the scene of the attack on Friday, called the killing an “Islamist terrorist attack” and described France as being in an existential fight against terror. A national tribute for the teacher will be organised for Wednesday. French authorities said they have detained an 11th person following the atrocity, including four family members of the attacker, a young Russian Chechen man. France is preparing to expel 231 foreigners on a government watch list for suspected extremist religious beliefs.,,,,

Italy approves new stimulus package: Italy has approved a new stimulus package in its 2021 budget to foster an economic rebound from the recession caused by the pandemic. Among several measures, the government has set up a 4 billion euro fund to compensate companies worst hit by coronavirus lockdowns and extended until January a moratorium on repayments for loans to small and medium-sized businesses. The budget also extends temporary lay-off schemes for companies with workers on furlough at a cost of 5 billion euros. Almost 6 billion euros are aimed at offering tax breaks to support employment in the poor south of the country, Economy Minister Roberto Gualtieri said. The budget is expected to keep Italy’s deficit next year to 7% of economic output, up from a 5.7% forecast in April.

Protests against Covid measures in Czech Republic: More than 1,000 people gathered for a rally in the Czech capital Prague on Sunday to protest against the government’s Covid measures. The rally was organised by so-called ultra football and ice-hockey fans angry at the increasingly strict limitations introduced in response to the soaring number of cases in the Czech Republic, currently the worst-hit in Europe by head of population. Organisers ended the rally after an hour because it exceeded the number of participants allowed. Several people started rioting, throwing beer bottles, cans and bicycles, and setting off firecrackers.

Slovenia suspends contact tracing: Slovenia has suspended its contact tracing efforts citing the country’s swelling caseload. The country’s public health body said the number of cases was so high that it was unable to successfully conduct tracing of those who test positive. Instead, those infected will be asked to self-isolate and contact those with who they may have come into contact.

Switzerland tightens measures to combat Covid-19 second wave
Greece builds new fence on border with Turkey
Albania wants to improve situation of Roma


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US support for Europe’s Three Seas Initiative: Twelve countries between the Baltic, Adriatic and Black Seas started the Three Seas Initiative back in 2015 to foster dialogue and develop the region’s relatively weak infrastructure. There is support from the US, which wants to prevent China from penetrating further into Europe. In February 2020, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo pledged 850 million euros for the initiative. Further funding measures are expected to be discussed at the initiative’s fifth summit that will take place in the Estonian capital Tallinn this Monday.


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