Tuesday, 17 November 2020: Hungary and Poland block EU budget package, EU strikes deal with CureVac, Data protection complaint about Apple’s online tracking


Hungary and Poland block EU budget package: The two countries have followed through on their threat to block the adoption of the 2021-2027 budget and Covid recovery fund by EU governments. Hungary and Poland are opposed to a rule-of-law mechanism that could see them lose EU subsidies if they continue with policies seen as eroding democratic standards. The budget and recovery fund together make up a 1.8 trillion euro financial package. The German EU presidency said ambassadors did vote through the link between EU money and the respect for the rule of law, because this vote required only a qualified majority and the opposition of Warsaw and Budapest could not stop it. But when it came to voting on the 1.1 trillion euro budget itself and the 750 billion euro recovery package, which require unanimous support, two EU member states expressed reservations, the presidency said. EU leaders were due to hold a video conference on Thursday to discuss the coronavirus crisis. They may now be focusing on convincing Poland and Hungary to resolve the budget stand-off.
dw.com, politico.eu, reuters.com

EU strikes deal with CureVac: The EU Commission has agreed to purchase up to 405 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine candidate created by German biotech company CureVac, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced Monday. The contract will be authorised Tuesday, von der Leyen said, making it the Commission’s fifth deal for coronavirus vaccines. Another deal with Moderna should be completed in the coming weeks.

Data protection complaint about Apple’s online tracking: An Austrian privacy advocacy group led by lawyer and privacy campaigner Max Schrems has filed complaints with data protection watchdogs in Germany and Spain alleging that an online tracking tool used in Apple devices illegally enabled Apple to store users’ data without their consent. According to the privacy group, Apple’s iOS mobile operating system breaks the EU’s so-called cookie law by creating a tracking code without users’ knowledge or consent. This identifier for advertisers allows Apple and app providers to monitor what users are doing and build profiles for targeted advertising.
reuters.com, fortune.com

EU aims for 25-fold growth in offshore wind by 2050: Offshore wind capacity in the EU should be multiplied by 25 times by 2050 as the EU Commission looks for all possible ways of boosting the share of renewables in energy consumption, according to a draft policy document seen by „Euractiv“. The North Sea, the Baltic, the Atlantic, the Mediterranean and the Black Sea all have potential for greater deployment of wind turbines, with the North Sea currently holding the world’s top spot for offshore wind.

Polisario Liberation Front announces end of ceasefire with Morocco: The leader of the Western Sahara’s independence movement has vowed to end a 29-year-old ceasefire with Morocco. Brahim Ghali, leader of the independentist Polisario Front, announced the group will no longer abide by the commitment of the decades-long truce in the area. Morocco, which says it continues to support the ceasefire, announced last week that it would resume military operations in the El Guergarat crossing, a buffer zone between the territory claimed by the state of Morocco and the self-declared Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic. The Western Sahara is a long-disputed territory to the southwest of Morocco controlled mostly by the Moroccan state, which occupies about 75% of the territory, according to the CIA World Factbook. Morocco and the Polisario Front fought over the territory after Spain gave up the rule in 1976 and Mauritania withdrew their claim of control in 1979. After negotiating a truce in 1991, the UN has recognised the area as non-self-governing territory.

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RCEP: China signs huge Asia Pacific trade deal with 14 countries cnn.com
Solidarity Fund: 823 million euros in EU aid for eight member states europarl.europa.eu
EU Parliament considers whether to lift Puigdemont’s parliamentary immunity euronews.com
EU Commission aims to tackle greenwashing in new consumer agenda euractiv.com
Former EU Commissioner Oettinger: „Many European capitals overestimate their own economic power“ handelsblatt.com


I have to honestly admit that I was very disappointed. Disappointed that the European Council and the European Parliament are sticking to an agricultural policy that is not sustainable [and] that cannot continue like this.
EU Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans is disappointed about how member states and MEPs are managing the reform and greening of the EU’s flagship farming policy.


Maia Sandu wins Moldova presidential election: Moldovan opposition candidate Maia Sandu ís the eastern European nation’s first female president after a scoring a landslide victory in Sunday’s presidential election. Sandu won with 57.7% of the vote against 42.3% for Igor Dodon, the incumbent president of Moldova. Sandu, a former World Bank economist and former prime minister of Moldova, is known for her pro-European stance and support in Brussels and European capitals. By contrast, Dodon was endorsed by Russian President Vladimir Putin and has moved the country closer to Russia since 2016. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen congratulated Sandu for winning the presidency, adding that the EU was ready to support Moldova.
nytimes.com, bbc.com, euronews.com

French President Macron criticises German defence minister: Emmanuel Macron has criticised Germany’s Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer over a pro-American opinion article. Kramp-Karrenbauer had called for an “end to illusions of European strategic autonomy” in an op-ed for „Politico“ published earlier this month. Strategic autonomy is a concept championed by Macron, who argues the EU should become more powerful on the world stage and able to operate independently. Macron told Le Grand Continent, a journal published by French think tank Groupe d’études géopolitiques, that Kramp-Karrenbauer’s view was “a historical misinterpretation” and he said Chancellor Angela Merkel does not share it. German chief government spokesperson Steffen Seibert on Monday stressed Germany’s strong commitment to close ties with Washington.

100th day of protests in Minsk: Crowds of retirees marched Monday in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, marking 100 days since mass protests began and became an almost-daily feature of life in the country after authoritarian President Alexander Lukashenko won his sixth term in a widely disputed election. More than 2,000 pensioners were estimated to have taken part in the rally, demanding the resignation of Lukashenko and a halt to the government’s violent crackdown on dissent.

Italy expects decisive week in Covid fight handelsblatt.com
Czech Republic wants to extend Covid emergency rnd.de
Sweden limits public gatherings to eight people amid Covid surge theguardian.com


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Bulgaria says to block EU accession talks with North Macedonia: Bulgaria plans to voice its opposition on Tuesday to starting EU accession talks with neighbouring North Macedonia as the two countries have yet to settle disputes over history and language, Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said. Bulgaria wants North Macedonia to recognise that its nation and language have Bulgarian roots and it wants it to put an end to anti-Bulgarian rhetoric. North Macedonia says its identity and language are not open to discussion.


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