⊂ EUROPE ⊃
UK to restart trade talks with EU: Britain will resume talks with the European Union this Thursday, the UK’s chief negotiator David Frost said on Twitter. Frost and the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier spoke on the phone earlier after talks stalled last week. Following the conversation, Downing Street said the pair had jointly agreed a set of principles for handling this intensified phase of talks. The move follows a statement from Barnier saying that despite the difficulties both sides have faced, an agreement was within reach if both sides were willing to work constructively and compromise.
bbc.com, reuters.com, dw.com
EU states agree on agricultural policy reform: Agricultural ministers from the EU member states have reached an agreement on reforming the Common Agricultural Policy. Talks lasted almost two days before agriculture ministers were able to reach an agreement following a compromise proposal by German Agriculture Minister Julia Klöckner. The compromise envisages eco-schemes that are mandatory for member states but voluntary for farmers. Ministers agreed on a bridging solution with a two-year learning phase in which member states will try to exhaust all the funds available, in response to fears in some countries that eco-schemes would be impossible to implement, which would result in the loss of EU funds for farmers.
EU and UN call for end to police brutality in Nigeria: UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Wednesday said he was closely following recent developments across Nigeria, in the wake of reports that protesters had been shot dead and wounded, and called for an end to reported police brutality and abuses. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said it was alarming to learn that several people had been killed and injured during the ongoing protests, adding it was crucial to bring those responsible to justice.
Armenian leader sees no quick diplomatic solution in Nagorno-Karabakh: Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan said the Karabakh question, at least at this stage and for a very long time, could not have a diplomatic solution. He added that “everything that is diplomatically acceptable to the Armenian side…is not acceptable to Azerbaijan any more.” Armenian President Armen Sarkissian is on his way to Brussels to discuss the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh with Nato and EU officials, his office said on Wednesday.
EU Parliament calls for ban on unpaid internships: With youth unemployment on the rise across the EU, and aggravated further by the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic, EU lawmakers called upon the European Commission and member states last week to increase their support for young people in precarious working conditions.
Prospects for EU reform and strategies for a new progressive agenda 2022+: Cerstin Gammelin in conversation with Wolfgang Schmidt. 2020 Progressive Governance Digital Summit with more than 2,800 fellow progressives from 70+ countries, 114 speakers, 25 partner organisations.
Belarus: EU Parliament calls for decisive action against Lukashenko rnd.de
Travel restrictions: EU shuts door to travel from Canada bloomberg.com
Virtual EU summit on fighting pandemics next week tagesschau.de
Research: EU science ministers want to defend freedom of research tagesspiegel.de
AI: EU Parliament leads the way on first set of EU rules for Artificial Intelligence europarl.europa.eu
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
“Our priority is to avoid a blanket lockdown.”
The leader of Bavaria’s Christian Social Union, Markus Söder, warned on Wednesday that the coronavirus is at risk of spiraling out of control in Germany.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Dresden knife attack likely motivated by Islamic extremism: A 20-year-old Syrian who stabbed one person to death and wounded another in Dresden was likely motivated by Islamic extremism, German prosecutors said on Wednesday. The man was arrested on Tuesday evening, police said. The authorities said the suspect had an extensive criminal record, including charges of soliciting support for a foreign terrorist organisation, and charges of bodily injury, and making threats. Germany’s Interior Minister Horst Seehofer and Justice Minister Christine Lambrecht called for utmost vigilance. The Dresden stabbing “draws attention, once again, to the dangers of Islamist violence” said Seehofer.
France honors memory of murdered teacher Samuel Paty: French President Emmanuel Macron led a national tribute on Wednesday to the schoolteacher Samuel Paty, who was beheaded after showing caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in class as part of a lesson on free speech. Macron cast Paty as a symbol of France’s enlightenment values and of the fight against Islamist extremists, who have killed more than 200 people in France over the past five years. On Wednesday, Jean-François Ricard, France’s anti-terrorism prosecutor, provided a clearer picture of how officials say Paty was targeted and killed. After the lesson on free expression, one parent — whose daughter was not actually present in Paty’s class that day, Ricard said — complained on social media, and prosecutors say that is how the episode came to the attention of the attacker. A total of seven people, including two minors, were handed over to a judge overnight as part of an ongoing investigation into the murder.
wsj.com, washingtonpost.com, france24.com
Spain is the first EU country with over a million Covid cases: Spain became the first country in western Europe to accumulate more than one million confirmed Covid-19 infections on Wednesday. The health ministry said that its accumulative case load since the start of the pandemic reached 1,005,295 after reporting 16,973 more cases in the past 24 hours. The vast majority of countries in Europe are declaring more cases each day now than they were during the first wave earlier this year. Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Wednesday said he will recommend imposing the highest level of coronavirus restrictions nationwide. The French government is proposing to extend a state of emergency to 16 February.
hosted.ap.org, euronews.com, reuters.com, reuters.com
Spanish court acquits Catalan police for role in secession bid: The former head of Catalonia’s regional police force, Josep Lluís Trapero, has been cleared of wrongdoing over his alleged role in the failed independence push three years ago. Prosecutors accused Trapero and his civilian bosses of having intentionally allowed voting to occur despite court orders to impede the referendum, leaving fellow national police forces to bear the brunt of the operation to stop the vote. But the court found that there was not one piece of incriminatory evidence demonstrating the agreement of the accused in acting as an instrument of the separatist movement.
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
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⊂ MALFUNCTION ⊃
Artworks vandalised on Berlin’s Museum Island: The discovery of extensive damage to artworks and artifacts on Berlin’s Museum Island is yet to be explained. Police confirmed media reports on Wednesday that unknown perpetrators sprayed oily liquid on at least 70 objects in the Pergamon Museum, the Neues Museum, the Alte Nationalgalerie and other locations. The crime had occurred on the 30th anniversary of reunification between East and West Germany nearly three weeks ago. Whether the day was deliberately chosen remains a mystery.