Wednesday, 1 July 2020: Trump allegedly insulted Merkel and May, China passes national security law for Hong Kong, Belgian king breaks silence on colonial past


Trump allegedly insulted Merkel and May: CNN has reported that US President Donald Trump was consistently unprepared for phone calls with foreign heads of state like Russian President Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Erdogan and abusive to leaders of America’s principal allies. Trump regularly bullied former British Prime Minister Theresa May on phone calls, calling her a fool and spineless on Brexit, according to officials privy to the conversations. He also called German Chancellor Angela Merkel “stupid” and accused her of being in the pocket of the Russians. Merkel is said to have remained calm in the face of Trumps rants, often reciting facts and figures in response, “like water off a duck’s back”. German officials were so alarmed by Trump’s aggressive conversations with Merkel that they kept their calls secret, sources told CNN.,,,

6.9 million euros for Syria: The EU and dozens of donor nations have pledged a total of 6.9 billion euros to help tackle the humanitarian crisis deepening in Syria and neighbouring countries hosting millions of Syrian refugees as the coronavirus pandemic and economic crises compound the misery of nearly a decade of civil war. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell announced that EU institutions would donate 2.3 billion euros for this year and next. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas pledged 1.584 billion euros on Germany’s behalf as he, too, warned that the global pandemic was exacerbating the grim realities of life in war-shattered Syria.

China passes national security law for Hong Kong: China’s top legislative body has unanimously passed a sweeping national security law for Hong Kong, a controversial move that could effectively criminalise most dissent in the city. Hong Kong’s pro-democracy Demosisto party disbanded shortly after the legislation was passed. A final text of the law released on Tuesday reveals China will set up its own national security agency to prosecute cases on Hong Kong soil, but which is not beholden to Hong Kong’s laws. Beijing will also appoint an advisor to supervise the local Hong Kong administration on national security issues. Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong said he expects to be targeted under the new law. He has been rallying support for Hong Kong’s pro-democracy movement overseas. European Council President Charles Michel said the law risked seriously undermining Hong Kong’s autonomy and would have a detrimental impact on the judiciary and the rule of law. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said she was in touch with international partners to weigh up a potential riposte to the law.,,,

European Central Bank sees slow post-virus recovery: The European Central Bank can adjust its Covid-19 crisis measures depending on how financial markets adapt to what is likely to be a slow economic recovery from the pandemic, ECB Executive Board member Isabel Schnabel said on Tuesday. She said the eurozone economy was not expected to recover to it is pre-virus size until 2022 the earliest.

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Euro zone inflation unexpectedly ticks up
Brexit: UK sets September deadline for EU trade deal; Theresa May criticises PM over choice of Brexit envoy for security role;
EU Vice-President Jourová wants a dialogue with Poland
Decarbonisation: MEPs want to boost energy storage in the EU to help spur decarbonisation


In all honesty, every time European politicians meet and talk about refugee policy, there is not much good that comes out of it. There is no need for a crisis. Many politicians’ fear of the refugee question has become completely disproportionate.
UN Refugee Commissioner Filippo Grandi spoke about the EU’s refugee policy in an interview with German newspaper “Spiegel”.


Belgian king breaks silence on colonial past: Belgium’s King Philippe has written a letter to the president of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Félix Antoine Tshisekedi Tshilombo, expressing his “deepest regrets” for Belgium’s colonial abuses and the acts of violence and cruelty that were committed in Congo under Belgian occupation. “I will continue to fight all forms of racism. I encourage the reflection that has been initiated by our parliament so that our memory is definitively pacified,” King Philippe wrote. There is a renewed focus on Belgium’s history after the death of George Floyd in police custody in the US and the Black Lives Matter protests that followed. Thousands of Belgians have demonstrated in recent weeks and statues of Belgium’s colonial leader King Leopold II have been vandalised.,

Greece builds floating barrier to keep out refugees: A floating barrier of almost 3 kilometres long and over a metre high off the Greek island of Lesbos is in its final phase, according to the Greek defence ministry. The barrier will be installed in the north-east of the island, where since 2015 hundreds of thousands of refugees have crossed the Aegean Sea in overcrowded rubber boats to reach Greece and Europe. The cost of the design, installation and maintenance of the barrier for four years was estimated at €500,000. The project has sparked the concern of human rights organisations.

Macron wants greater European involvement in Sahel counterterrorism: More European countries need to get involved in the fight against terrorism in the Sahel region of Africa, according to French President Emmanuel Macron. International and regional powers agreed at the G5 Sahel summit on Tuesday to intensify a military campaign against Islamist militants in the region. “It is our desire to Europeanise the fight against terrorism in the Sahel,” Macron said. “We are all convinced that victory is possible in Sahel.” The French president explained that his first trip outside Europe since the beginning of the coronavirus crisis aimed at showing solidarity toward the African continent.,,

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Spain closes half of its coal-fired power plants: On Tuesday, seven of the 15 coal-fired power plants in Spain stopped operating. Around 1,100 employees are affected by the closures. Operators have already applied for decommissioning for the remaining plants, with two exceptions. “The way things are going, I think there will no longer be any coal generation by 2025,” said Tatiana Nuño, an energy and climate change specialist at environmental NGO Greenpeace in Spain.,

Bulgaria to bolster intensive care capacity: Bulgaria wants to increase the capacity of its hospitals immediately due to the rapidly rising number of coronavirus cases. The Covid-19 intensive care units will be equipped with more beds, protective clothing, masks and glasses. Prime Minister Boiko Borissow also ordered that Health Minister Kiril Ananiew ensure adequate funding for the treatment of Covid-19.

Salvini is shouted down in Mondragone: Italy’s former interior minister and Lega party leader Matteo Salvini is already in campaign mode for this autumn when regional elections take place in Italy. But his recent campaign appearance in Mondragone was over after only two minutes. Continued protests caused Salvini to leave without speaking. The three-month lockdown due to the pandemic has hurt Salvini, his personal approval ratings have suffered. People tend to favour the executive in times of crisis. But Salvini hasn’t been part of the government since August 2019, when he quit his government alliance with the populist Five Star Movement in the hopes of winning new elections.

Germany to dissolve special forces unit over far-right links
France and Spain: Hospital workers protest,
Austria: VAT cut expanded
Border between Portugal and Spain will reopen this Wednesday


Bitkom sucht Referent europäische Digitalpolitik (w/m) *** Int. Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory seeks Innovation Project Manager *** Int. Iberian Nanotechnology Laboratory seeks Project Assistant for EU Funded Projects *** PwC seeks Public Affairs Senior Manager Belgium *** Johnson & Johnson seeks Policy Assistant, Government Affairs & Policy EMEA *** Public Policy Manager, Connectivity *** Ryanair offers Public Affairs internship, (Inserat schalten)


Germany calls for tightened AI regulation at EU level: Four months after the EU Commission presented its “white paper” on Artificial Intelligence (AI), the German government said it broadly agrees with Brussels but sees a need to tighten up on security. The government is particularly concerned by the fact that only AI applications with high risk have to meet special requirements.


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