Tuesday, 11 May 2021: Hamas launches new attack on Israel after Jerusalem clashes, EU to launch new legal action against AstraZeneca, Agent Orange: French court rejects claim against Bayer


Hamas launches new attack on Israel after Jerusalem clashes: The Hamas militant group on Monday launched a rare rocket strike on Jerusalem after hundreds of Palestinians were hurt in clashes with Israeli police at an iconic mosque, as tensions in the holy city pushed the region closer to full-fledged war. Israel responded with airstrikes across the Gaza Strip, where 20 people, including nine children, were killed in fighting. More than 700 Palestinians were hurt in clashes with Israeli security forces in Jerusalem and across the West Bank, including nearly 500 who were treated at hospitals. EU Ambassador to Israel Emanuele Giaufret said he was extremely concerned by the spiralling tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. The US State Department called the rocket attacks into Israel an unacceptable escalation. The UN Security Council held an urgent meeting Monday on the unrest in Jerusalem but issued no immediate statement.
apnews.com, dw.com, france24.com

EU to launch new legal action against AstraZeneca over vaccine deliveries: This Tuesday, the European Commission will start a second legal case against AstraZeneca over its delayed deliveries of Covid-19 vaccines, a spokesman for the EU executive said on Monday. The move is mostly procedural after a first case was launched in April, an official familiar with the case said, adding however that this new legal action will allow the EU to seek possible financial penalties. The first legal action was about requesting faster deliveries, whereas the new one will concern the merit of the case.

EU Recovery Fund success could the pave way for a repeat: The EU’s huge post-pandemic recovery fund could become a more permanent feature if it is successful in firing up growth and fostering a greener and more digital economy, the EU Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis said on Monday. The 27 EU nations made an unprecedented agreement last year to jointly borrow 750 billion euros for a fund to help fight the economic slump caused by Covid-19 and address the challenges of climate change. “The more successful we are in the implementation of this facility the more scope there will be for discussions on having a permanent instrument, probably of a similar nature,” Dombrovskis said.

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Albania and North Macedonia’s EU membership bids must go ahead together, says EU foreign policy chief: EU membership talks with Albania and North Macedonia cannot be decoupled, said the bloc’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borell. Brussels had been considering both applications together, but last week Oliver Varhelyi, the European commissioner for enlargement, told Euronews that decoupling the bids might be an option if Bulgaria continues to oppose North Macedonia’s entrance in the bloc. Bulgaria demands North Macedonia, which has been a potential candidate for EU membership since 2003, to acknowledge the Bulgarian origins of the Macedonian language and nation. „We need to advance the accession process of Albania and North Macedonia and, by the way, there has never been any intention of decoupling both countries on the accession process,“ said Borrell, speaking after a meeting of the EU’s foreign affairs ministers.

Raising pace of bond buys not off the table for ECB: The European Central Bank (ECB) could still increase bond purchases at its June meeting if such a move is needed to keep borrowing conditions favourable, ECB Chief Economist Philip Lane told a French newspaper. He also said unemployment is not expected to return to its pre-pandemic level before 2023, a long process that will require a sustained effort from both the ECB and governments.

EU foreign ministers discuss Russia and US relations nau.ch
Kremlin critic Navalny: Former chief doctor at Russian hospital that treated Navalny found alive cnn.com
EU lawmakers call on Pakistan to implement reforms dw.com
Belarus: EU prepares new round of Belarus sanctions from June, diplomats say reuters.com
Horn of Africa: EU to deepen strategic relationship with the region consilium.europa.eu


If we look at it in a certain way, we could say that the US reaction was stronger, faster than the European one.
EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said Monday that the recovery measures the EU and its 27 member states have in the works to emerge from the pandemic total around $5.85 trillion. Gentiloni told an EU Parliament committee said that if comparisons are made with the US pandemic stimulus relief package, the EU can confidently stand next to to Washington when all efforts are counted together.


EU member states should help Italy with migrant relocation: European countries need to show solidarity towards Italy after the arrival by boat of hundreds of migrants on the country’s southern island of Lampedusa at the weekend, the EU’s home affairs commissioner Ylva Johansson said on Monday. „When we see … a huge amount of people coming in a very short time there is a need for solidarity towards Italy, and I call on other member states to support with relocation,“ Johansson told a news conference. „I know it’s more difficult in the pandemic time but I think it’s possible to manage and now it’s time … to show solidarity towards Italy and to help in the situation,“ she added.

Agent Orange: French court rejects claim against Bayer: A French court on Monday ruled a complaint against 14 firms over the production or sale of the highly toxic Agent Orange defoliant to the United States during the Vietnam War was inadmissible. The court in the Paris suburb of Evry said it did not have the jurisdiction to judge a case involving the wartime actions of the US government. The case was brought forward by Tran To Nga, a French woman of Vietnamese origin. The defendants included US agrochemical firm Monsanto, now owned by German giant Bayer. The court’s ruling meant that it believed that the companies, which the plaintiff had sued, were not responsible for the production of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War, said DW correspondent Marina Strauss.

France in preelection push to soften the eurozone’s budget rules: Less than a year before France’s next presidential elections, President Emmanuel Macron seems to be pushing for a softening of the eurozone’s budget rules to gain voter support. But some economists throw their hands up in despair.

Portuguese defence minister: We should make better use of ‘Coalitions of the Willing’: There is clarity of understanding that circumstances for European defence have changed and there is an increased recognition Europe cannot be geopolitically relevant without having a military dimension, Portugal’s defence minister Joao Gomes Cravinho told „Euractiv“ in an interview.

UK: How easy would it be for Scotland to rejoin the European Union? euronews.com
Greece welcomes young students back to school; courts reopen washingtonpost.com
Austria eases restrictions: These are the rules kurier.at
Czech Republic: Retail reopens after six months handelsblatt.com
France: Poll sees right-wing populist Marine Le Pen’s party on the rise rnd.de


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Denmark loans 55,000 AstraZeneca vaccines to neighbouring German state: Denmark says it will loan 55,000 doses of the AstraZeneca Covid-19 vaccine to neighbouring Germany. The Danish Foreign Ministry confirmed in a statement that the unwanted vaccines would be donated to the German border state of Schleswig-Holstein. Denmark was the first European country to announce that it was abandoning AstraZeneca’s jab over concerns of rare but serious side effects. Denmark’s health authority has continued the rollout of the vaccines using other jabs developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. But Denmark has indicated that it may reintroduce the AstraZeneca vaccine at a later date if the situation changes.


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