Wednesday, 21 July 2021: EU proposes cash limit to tackle money laundering, Macron’s phone identified for Pegasus spyware targeting, German politicians pay tribute to resistance to Nazi regime

⊂ EUROPE ⊃

EU proposes cash limit to tackle money laundering: The European Commission proposed Tuesday a single rulebook for combating dirty money and a new anti-money laundering authority, dubbed AMLA, to police it across the EU. The new agency will be designed to supervise cross-border financial activities and have the power to impose fines. It would also have oversight of cryptocurrencies and a new limit on cash payments at €10,000 would be imposed to limit the reach of criminal gangs. Companies that transfer bitcoin or other cryptoassets must collect details of senders and recipients. Exceptions will apply to transactions between private individuals or people without an account. The aim is to have the AMLA up and running by 2024, but, first, it will need to get approval from the European Parliament and national governments.
politico.eu, euronews.com, cnbc.com, spiegel.de

EU Commission proposes draft mandate for negotiations on Gibraltar: The European Commission released its proposal Tuesday to launch post-Brexit negotiations with the UK over Gibraltar, Britain’s overseas territory attached to the Spanish mainland. Gibraltar was not included in the scope of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement agreed between the EU and UK at the end of 2020. The Commission committed to begin the negotiation of a separate agreement on Gibraltar, should Spain request so. That is why the Commission is now recommending that the Council authorises the launch of specific negotiations on Gibraltar. The EU’s recommendation builds upon the political understanding reached between Spain and the UK on 31 December last year. It is without prejudice to the issues of sovereignty and jurisdiction, and focuses on cooperation in the region. Meanwhile, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson told his Irish counterpart Micheal Martin on Tuesday that the EU had to show pragmatism to end a stand-off over rules for post-Brexit trade involving Northern Ireland. The prime minister emphasised that the way the protocol is currently operating is causing significant disruption for the people in Northern Ireland, Johnson’s Downing Street office said.
ec.europa.eu, politico.eu, reuters.com

EU threatens fines against Poland over judiciary ruling: The European Commission published its annual report on the state of the rule of law in the EU on Tuesday, warning Poland that it would face fines if the country did not adhere to a ruling from the EU’s top court on judicial reforms. Last week, Poland had been ordered by the EU court to cease all activities of the disciplinary chamber, a recently created organ that oversees Polish judges, with the power to lift their immunity to expose them to criminal proceedings or cut their salaries. EU Commission Vice President Vera Jourova said Poland needed to inform Brussels about the measures foreseen to that effect by 16 August. If it failed to do so, the Commission would request the European Court of Justice to impose a penalty payment on Poland. The Commission also singled out Hungary as a country where judicial independence was under threat, criticising the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orbán for failing to apply anti-corruption measures. The report further noted that media pluralism remained at risk in the country. Hungary and Poland get the most attention because they are considered the main offenders when it comes to undermining the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary and media pluralism. But numerous other member states, including Austria, Bulgaria, Malta, Slovenia and the Czech Republic, also have serious problems with the same issues.
dw.com, politico.eu, nytimes.com

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Macron’s phone identified for Pegasus spyware targeting: A mobile phone number used by French President Emmanuel Macron was selected for possible targeting with Pegasus spyware by a Moroccan intelligence service, according to a collaborative investigation by The Washington Post, The Guardian, Le Monde and other media outlets. It’s unclear whether the president’s phone was actually infected by the spyware and whether any information was extracted from it. Aside from Macron, then-Prime Minister Edouard Philippe and 14 members of the French government were also selected for possible targeting by the spyware, the report said. Prosecutors in Paris said Tuesday they had opened a probe into the allegations. The revelation came in the latest in a series of reports by the international consortium of media outlets and NGOs investigating the use of the Pegasus spyware, made by Israeli company NSO. Amazon Web Services has disabled cloud accounts linked to NSO.
politico.eu, france24.com, cnn.com

Mali says President Assimi Goïta survives assassination attempt: Mali’s interim leader Colonel Assimi Goïta announced on national television that he is doing „very well“ following an attempt on his life in the capital Bamako on Tuesday. The incident occurred at the great mosque, in the capital Bamako, during prayers for the Islamic festival of Eid al-Adha. An official in the president’s office later said Goïta was „safe and sound“, after what was labelled an assassination attempt. Security had subdued one attacker, and investigations are ongoing, the presidency added in a statement. The attack follows months of political turmoil in Mali. In June, Colonel Goïta was sworn in as the transitional president after leading an internationally condemned coup. It was the second time he had led such a coup, after a similar putsch in August 2020.
france24.com, dw.com

Rockets land near Afghan presidential palace: Three rockets landed in two different areas near the presidential palace in Kabul, Afghanistan on Tuesday morning, as President Ashraf Ghani joined other high ranking officials for prayers to mark the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha. Images shown on national broadcaster Tolo TV showed Ghani and the group calmly continuing their prayers at the outdoor palace gathering as security guards rushed from the crowd. The three rockets were fired from Kabul’s police district 4, landing in police districts 1 and 2, near the presidential palace compound, the Ministry of Interior Affairs said Tuesday. There were no casualties, it said. Taliban insurgents denied they were involved in the attack.
cnn.com

Leftist rural teacher declared president-elect in Peru: Rural teacher-turned-political novice Pedro Castillo on Monday became the winner of Peru’s presidential election. Castillo, whose supporters included Peru’s poor and rural citizens, defeated right-wing politician Keiko Fujimori by just 44,000 votes. Electoral authorities released the final official results more than a month after the runoff election took place in the South American nation. Castillo previously claimed victory, but a series of legal challenges by Fujimori delayed an official verdict from election officials.
apnews.com, bbc.com

Agriculture: EU countries back cage-free farming initiative with some caveats euractiv.com
European Central Bank: Credit demand picked up in spring handelsblatt.com
Swiss UBS challenges EU Commission fine over bond cartel nau.ch
Iraq: Isis attack apparently intended to fuel religious conflicts sueddeutsche.de
Middle East: Israel shells Lebanon after rockets fired over border apnews.com

⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃

Clear, ambitious targets are necessary, very clear definitions of old growth, secular and primary forests are needed so that each member state knows exactly what obligations is has.
Romania supports the European Commission’s plan to protect forests and harness their ability to fight climate change, but more talks are needed to clarify goals and funding sources, Environment Minister Tánczos Barna said on Monday.
euractiv.com

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Merkel visits flood-hit North Rhine-Westphalia and promises quick financial aid: During a visit to flood-hit areas in the country’s west, German Chancellor Angela Merkel promised emergency financial aid, distributed quickly and without bureaucratic hurdles. A huge financial aid package is being prepared for the affected region and Merkel said the federal government will do everything in its power to ensure that the money reaches people quickly. The federal government plans to provide 200 million euros in emergency aid to repair buildings, damaged local infrastructure and to help people in crisis situations, the draft document, due to go to cabinet this Wednesday, showed. If the 16 federal states also contribute 200 million, a total of 400 million euros will be available in immediate aid, it said. Merkel said the next stage would be looking at what worked and what didn’t in terms of disaster control and early warning systems. Southern Germany has also been hit by floods and the state of Bavaria is initially making 50 million euros available in emergency aid for victims, Bavaria’s premier said on Tuesday. Belgium held a day of mourning Tuesday for the victims of the recent floods. European Council President Charles Michel and EU ambassadors observed a minute of silence to pay respect to the victims.
dw.com, dpa-international.com, news.trust.org (Germany); politico.eu (Belgium)

German politicians pay tribute to resistance to Nazi regime: Leading politicians have commemorated the failed assassination attempt on Hitler 77 years ago. Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer spoke of a „desperate and late attempt“ to free Germany from the Nazi reign of terror. That attempt continues to provide meaning today, even though it failed, she said in Berlin, adding that the 20th of July was part of the DNA of Germany’s military. Obedience in the military need always be subject to conscience, she said. Berlin’s mayor Michael Müller said the assassination attempt was rightly one of the most important days in German history. Courageous men and women had set an example against inhumanity and fought for values that must also be defended today. On 20 July 1944, a group of German officers led by Claus Schenk Graf von Stauffenberg attempted to assassinate Adolf Hitler with explosives and failed.
dw.com

French lawmakers adopt climate bill: France’s parliament on Tuesday approved a climate bill that touches on issues central to French culture and the economy, including farming, historical buildings and the aviation and motor vehicle industries. The final draft included measures to encourage cleaner cars and phase out the most-polluting vehicles; aid for the renovation of energy-inefficient homes and other buildings; and a ban on domestic flights under two and a half hours on routes that can be travelled by train. A panel of 150 citizens convened by Macron worked for months to produce recommendations for the legislation, but critics say the president weakened their proposals. And conservative and some other lawmakers amended several measures once the bill reached parliament.
apnews.com

Taiwan to open diplomatic facility in Lithuania: Taiwan has announced that it will open a representative office bearing the name Taiwan in Vilnius, the first of its kind to include Taiwan in the name in Europe. Come fall, Lithuania will also have a diplomatic mission in Taipei. The announcement is the latest in growing signs that some Baltic and central European countries are seeking closer relations with Taiwan, even if that results in angering China. Beijing claims the island which is officially known as the Republic of China and rejects any use of the „Taiwan“ name on the international stage. It has vowed to retake the island, warning it would use force if necessary.
dw.com, france24.com, euronews.com

France seeing an unprecedented rise in COVID-19 cases: France has recorded 18,000 new Covid cases in 24 hours – more than double the figure from just a week ago, according to Health Minister Olivier Véran. In Spain, the vast majority of new Covid cases in the past five weeks were detected among non-vaccinated people, Health Minister Carolina Darias said on Monday, as new infections rose by 27,286. The European Medicines Agency has announced that it will begin assessing early data supporting Sanofi’s coronavirus vaccine. In the meantime, anti-vaccination protesters demonstrated in both France and the UK.
euronews.com, reuters.com, politico.eu, apnews.com, euronews.com

Ten years on, Utoya massacre survivors seek to confront demons: Ten years after the bloodiest attack in Norway’s post-war history, survivors of the Utoya massacre say the country needs to finally face up to the far-right ideology behind the massacre. The island of Utoya, located in a lake northwest of the capital, Oslo, where most of the 77 killings occurred, has received a fresh look. But bullet holes in the walls of the old cafeteria have been preserved and a memorial now hangs in a clearing, both reminders of that fateful day.
france24.com

Revival of Cyprus ‘ghost town’ condemned by EU: The EU’s foreign policy chief has criticised Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his statements while reopening the town of Varosha in Cyprus. On Tuesday the EU’s top diplomat Josep Borrell said plans announced by Erdogan and the Turkish Cypriot leader, Ersin Tatar, to further open the former resort, abandoned since Ankara’s invasion of the island in 1974 and viewed as a ghost town, constituted an “unacceptable unilateral decision”. He added that the EU would monitor how a closed-door consultation on Cyprus went at the UN security council on Wednesday and decide on next steps accordingly. Erdogan vowed that life would restart in Varosha as he took an uncompromising stance during a visit to mark 47 years since the invasion that split the island of Cyprus.
theguardian.com

Migration crisis: Record 430 migrants cross English Channel in single day; Alarm grows over migrants’ hunger strike in Brussels bbc.com; theguardian.com
Batumi summit: EU support and demands de.euronews.com
Italy: The devastating conditions in Italy’s prisons welt.de

⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃

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⊂ LAST BUT NOT LEAST ⊃

Bill Clinton cancelled appointment with the Queen to go shopping: Bill Clinton turned down tea with the Queen and dinner at Chequers because he wanted to “be a tourist” and try out an Indian restaurant during his first official visit to the UK with Tony Blair as prime minister, formerly classified documents reveal according to the „Guardian“.
theguardian.com

 

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