Wednesday, 3 June 2020: Top EU diplomat condemns police violence in the US, Protests against police violence in France, Italy’s far-right leaders join protest against government


Top EU diplomat condemns police violence in the US: Europe is shocked and appalled by the police killing of black suspect George Floyd in the United States, EU High Representative Josep Borrell said Tuesday. He described Floyd’s death as an abuse of power, adding his voice to growing international unease over the killing as well as Washington’s subsequent violent crackdown against protesters. “I think that all societies must remain vigilant against the excessive use of force and ensure that all such incidents are addressed safely, effectively and in full respect of the law and human rights,“ Borrell said. He warned that democratic societies bore a special duty to act responsibly and not to use their capacities in the way that had been used in Floyd’s death: “This is an abuse of power and this has to be denounced, has to be combatted, in the States and everywhere.“ The leading United Nations human rights official, Michelle Bachelet, said the coronavirus pandemic was exposing endemic inequalities that had too long been ignored: „Protests triggered by the killing of George Floyd are highlighting not only police violence against people of colour, but also inequalities in health, education, employment and endemic racial discrimination.“,

EU wants tougher tech rules: EU industrial chief Thierry Breton on Tuesday signalled a tougher line with US tech giants as he launched consultations on the EU’s proposed new rules for the sector. In a blog outlining why new regulations are needed, Breton said chief executives should be held responsible for their company’s actions whether they run a physical or a digital business. He welcomed Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey’s willingness to take responsibility for his company’s actions.

EU proposes more money for farmers and fishermen: According to EU Commission plans, farmers and fishermen will benefit more from the EU budget in the coming years than previously planned. With additional funding in the billions, the main aim is to combat the consequences of the coronavirus crisis and to advance the European “Green Deal” for a climate-neutral Europe by 2050. Rural areas will have a vital role to play in delivering the green transition and meeting Europe’s ambitious climate and environmental targets. The Commission is proposing to reinforce the budget for the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development by €15 billion under Next Generation EU to support farmers and rural areas in making the structural changes necessary to implement the European Green Deal, and in particular to support the achievement of the ambitious targets in the new biodiversity and Farm to Fork strategies.,

EU to expand crisis response tools: The Commission has proposed giving the EU the tools to react more quickly when a serious cross-border emergency such as the coronavirus strikes and affects EU countries at the same time. rescEU – part of the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism – will be significantly reinforced with €2 billion over 2021-2027. The aim is to create reserves of strategic equipment to cover health emergencies, forest fire outbreaks, chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear incidents or other major emergencies.

Which European countries have opened their borders? There is a mixed picture across Europe, with the usually easy travel across the Schengen Area restricted. Almost every country has its own rules in place and its own timetable for reopening to tourists, both from its EU neighbours and further afield. Austria has closed its land borders with Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Entry by air is prohibited to citizens coming from countries outside the Schengen Area. Belgium’s borders are closed and the country has banned non-essential travel abroad. Bulgaria is set to open borders with Serbia and Greece from 1 June. Denmark has closed its borders for foreign travellers. Only citizens or residents of Denmark, Greenland or Faroe Islands can currently enter, or those with a worthy purpose. Italy will open its borders this Wednesday.,

Donor conference for Yemen: International donors raised $1.35 billion in humanitarian aid for Yemen on Tuesday but the amount fell short of the United Nations’ target of $2.4 billion needed to save the world’s biggest aid operation from severe cutbacks. Britain – which sells weapons to coalition members – and Germany announced respectively $201 million and $140 million. They called on the warring parties to immediately end the conflict that has killed more than 100,000 people, mostly civilians.

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Protests against police violence in France: Thousands gathered Tuesday in Paris to protest a medical report that seemingly exonerated law enforcement over the 2016 death of a black man in the Paris region. Adama Traore died after being taken into custody and gendarmes reportedly used what was described as an „abdominal tackle“ on him. Last Friday, a court-ordered medical report found that he didn’t die from asphyxiation but from a cardiac condition, seemingly exonerating the officers. In response, Traore’s family and a number of organisations called for the protest outside the Paris courthouse. Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire meanwhile announced on Tuesday that the French economy is set to contract 11% this year due to the coronavirus crisis and more hard days lie ahead until things bounce back next year. France has rolled out an official coronavirus contact-tracing app aimed at containing fresh outbreaks as lockdown restrictions gradually ease. (Police violence), (Recession), (App)

Italy’s far-right leaders join protest against government: Italian opposition parties and hundreds of supporters defied social distancing rules on Tuesday to pack Rome’s central streets in an anti-government protest rally. Banned from holding large rallies due to the coronavirus, the demonstration was announced as a silent sit-in respecting physical distancing rules. It soon turned into a procession, however, led by Salvini and two other party leaders: Giorgia Meloni of the far-right Brothers of Italy, and Antonio Tajani, co-founder of former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi’s centre-right Forza Italia. Some protesters were not wearing face masks, made compulsory in Italy when sufficient distancing between people is not possible.,

Spain reports no new deaths for first time since coronavirus outbreak: For the second day in a row, Spain’s health ministry registered no new Covid-19 deaths on Tuesday. But Health Emergency Coordinator Fernando Simon did not rule out that new cases could still be reported with a delay.

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German economy could do worse than expected: Germany’s economic downturn this year could be even sharper than previously expected, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Tuesday. The government’s latest forecast is for Europe’s largest economy to shrink by 6.3% in 2020, its biggest post-war slump, due to the coronavirus pandemic. Altmaier said he could not rule out that it could be more.

VW could face further fines in the United States: A US appeals court has ruled that Volkswagen cannot escape potential financial penalties from two counties in Florida and Utah that may amount to a staggering additional liability arising from the German automaker’s diesel emissions scandal. Volkswagen settled US criminal and civil actions prompted by the cheating scandal for more than $20 billion, but that did not shield it from liability from local and state governments, the 9th Circuit noted. Volkswagen has admitted to using illegal software to cheat US pollution tests in 2015, allowing up to 40 times legally allowable emissions.

US Ambassador to Germany Grenell resigns: The United State’s ambassador to Germany, Richard Grenell, resigned from his post after just over two years on the job, an embassy spokesman confirmed on Tuesday. Robin Quinville, deputy chief of mission at the embassy, will take over as Charge d’Affaires until a new ambassador is confirmed. Grenell announced his resignation from the US State Department in a post on Instagram with US President Donald Trump giving him a Cabinet chair as a goodbye present. Fiercely loyal to Trump, Grenell spent his time as ambassador actively advocating for the president’s „America First“ foreign policy vision. Grenell frequently echoed the president’s repeated criticism of Germany’s defence spending as well as Germany’s involvement in the NordStream 2 gas pipeline project with Russia.

Germany: Coalition parties put off decision on coronavirus stimulus package
France: No major conditions on Renault’s state-backed loan, chairman says
Czech Republic: Cabinet feuds over bill seen as helping tycoon premier
Austria: Unemployment rate hits 11.5% in May
Armenia: Government threatens another complete lockdown


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Austria turns Hitler’s birthplace into police station: Austria presented an architectural plan on Tuesday to turn the house where Adolf Hitler was born into a police station in the hope of neutralising the space and ensuring it does not attract neo-Nazis. After decades of debate about what to do with the building in the town of Braunau am Inn on the German border, Austria carried out a compulsory purchase in 2017 and said last year it would be turned into police offices so that it would never again evoke the memory of National Socialism.


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