Thursday, 24 September 2020: Reform of EU asylum system, Austria sued over ski resort’s Covid outbreak, Thousands urge Bulgarian government to resign


Reform of EU asylum system: The EU Commission has proposed a plan for member states to share the responsibility for asylum seekers under a solidarity mechanism. The proposal includes tougher border controls and streamlined procedures for expelling rejected asylum seekers. EU member states who do not want to volunteer to house more refugees could instead take charge of deporting rejected asylum seekers. The plan disappointed migrants’ rights activists and refugee agencies who had hoped for compulsory quotas for refugee settlement and an end to a “Fortress Europe” ringed by squalid refugee camps. Observers said the plan as unveiled maintains more or less the same principle as Dublin, with some flexibility.,

Thousands protest after Belarusian leader sworn in: Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko was sworn in for a sixth term on Wednesday, prompting citizens in Minsk to take to the streets to protest against the government. Ignoring calls for an end to his 26-year grip on power, Lukashenko was sworn in after last month’s election that the opposition and several foreign governments say was rigged. The United States and the European Union are drawing up sanctions against officials involved in the election and a subsequent crackdown on protesters by the security forces.,

Poisoned Russian opposition leader Navalny leaves hospital: The German hospital treating Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny for poisoning said Wednesday that his condition improved enough for him to be released, and suggested a complete recovery from the nerve agent was possible. Navalny, who has built a huge following on social media, described his condition in an Instagram post featuring a photo in which he is staring into the camera from a Berlin park bench. German chemical weapons experts have determined he was poisoned with the Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok — findings corroborated by labs in France and Sweden. Germany and other countries have called for Russia to fully investigate.,

Bulgaria asks EU to stop “fake” Macedonian identity: In another Balkan historical dispute, the Bulgarian government has asked its fellow EU members to stop North Macedonia’s accession bid. Sofia wants its neighbour to admit to sharing a common history with Bulgaria.

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Europe has to move away from ad hoc solutions and put in place a predictable and reliable migration management system.
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has unveiled a long-awaited plan to overhaul EU asylum procedures.,


Eiffel Tower reopens after bomb scare in Paris: The Eiffel Tower was closed to visitors for two hours on Wednesday after a phone-in bomb threat turned out to be a hoax, police said. The Paris monument was searched, with no explosives found. The tower’s operator confirmed the evacuation and several hundred people were seen leaving the building.

Austria sued over ski resort’s Covid outbreak: A consumer rights group is taking legal action against the Austrian government over Covid-19 outbreaks at ski resorts in the western Tyrol region this year. The group has filed four civil suits for now, but said it hoped to bring at least one class action lawsuit next year on behalf of thousands of people. In the meantime, the Austrian parliament has adopted new measures to combat the coronavirus. (Ischgl), (Parliament)

Thousands urge Bulgarian government to resign: Thousands of people took to the streets in cities across Bulgaria on Tuesday – the country’s Independence Day – calling on the prime minister and the chief prosecutor to step down over allegations they allowed an oligarchic mafia to seize control of the Balkan country.

Former Maltese PM’s chief of staff arrested in fraud probe: Maltese police arrested former prime minister Joseph Muscat’s chief of staff Keith Schembri on Tuesday, as part of a probe into alleged kickbacks connected to the sale of so-called golden passports. Schembri was arrested in the early hours after a court issued an order for all his assets and companies to be frozen, police told journalists. The order also applied to the assets of most of his family. The former top advisor had been accused by murdered investigative reporter Daphne Caruana Galizia of corruption.

Breakthrough in Belgian coalition talks: The next Belgian prime minister will be either Alexander De Croo from the Flemish liberals or Paul Magnette from the Walloon socialists — if they can form a government in the coming days. King Philippe on Wednesday asked De Croo and Magnette to take the lead in the next stage of coalition talks, appointing them so-called formateurs, the final step in government formation.

Madrid to extend virus restrictions: The Spanish capital will on Friday extend partial lockdown measures to more areas to try to stem the surge in new coronavirus infections, officials said Wednesday. France will order bars and restaurants shut in Marseille and restrict their opening hours in other cities including Paris as part of efforts to stem a continuing rise in the daily number of infections. Belgian authorities announced an easing of coronavirus prevention measures Wednesday, including no longer mandating masks in most outdoor places, despite a rising number of infections in the country. (Spain), (France), (Belgium)

France: Marseille official says ready to welcome migrant boat heading for France
Germany: Covid warning app goes European – but infected people shy away from entering positive tests
Czech Republic introduces curfew
Spain: Second-quarter GDP falls less than expected, still worst decline on record


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Coronavirus-sniffing dogs go into action at Helsinki Airport: Travellers arriving at Helsinki’s airport are being offered a voluntary coronavirus test that takes ten seconds with no uncomfortable nasal swab needed. And the test is done by a dog. In the Finnish trial, which began Wednesday, there is no direct contact between dogs and passengers and those detected with the virus will receive an additional conventional check so as to be completely certain.,


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