13 EU countries “deeply concerned” with democracy

13 EU countries “deeply concerned” with democracy

Thirteen European governments said they are ‘deeply concerned’ about the risk of violations of rule of law, democracy and fundamental rights, in a stab at Hungary’s recent emergency measures giving the government wide powers, including the right to rule by decree. In a joint statement published on Wednesday (1 April), member states agreed that ‘unprecedented situation’ posed by the COVID-19 pandemic required ‘legitimate’ extraordinary measures, but stressed these must come with clear limits. “Emergency measures should be limited to what is strictly necessary, should be proportionate and temporary in nature,…

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EU announces COVID-19 assistance for Balkans, eastern neighbors after criticism

EU announces COVID-19 assistance for Balkans, eastern neighbors after criticism

The EU on Monday (30 March) announced nearly €40 million to help Western Balkan countries deal with the coronavirus, after Brussels came under fire for not doing enough for its neighbours. A further €140 million euros was announced for the European Union’s “eastern partner” countries — Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine. The moves come as the EU seeks to fight back in a publicity battle with China and Russia, who have made a great show of their gestures of support to countries struggling with the COVID-19 crisis. In…

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Negotiations on a new partnership between the EU and the UK in difficult times

Negotiations on a new partnership between the EU and the UK in difficult times

It is now nearly two months since the United Kingdom left the European Union. It left with the legal certainty and clarity provided by the Withdrawal Agreement and the accompanying Political Declaration, writes MEP David McAllister. David McAllister is a German Christian-Democrat member of the Group of the European People’s Party in the European Parliament. Currently, the UK is in the transition period until the end of 2020. During this period, it maintains its rights and obligations stemming from EU law. In the European Parliament, the UK Coordination Group (UKCG)…

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German government signs “freight agreement” to ensure food supplies

German government signs “freight agreement” to ensure food supplies

The German logistics industry is taking measures to ensure the security of supply chains. Regulation on driving times will be relaxed, special lanes established and capacities increased, using taxi companies and car rental agencies. However, for the food industry, there remain the problems of finding enough harvest workforce. The German government is issuing a number of special regulations to ensure the continued functioning of food supply chains. At a press conference in Berlin on Thursday (26 March), Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer (CSU) announced a “Freight Transport Agreement,” which had been…

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Italian Conte calls for ‘full firepower “of the EU against the virus

Italian Conte calls for ‘full firepower “of the EU against the virus

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte called Friday (20 March) for the European Union to tap the “full firepower” of its rescue fund to combat the coronavirus outbreak. In an interview with the Financial Times, Conte urged the EU to adapt its European Stability Mechanism (ESM) — the war chest for eurozone countries with serious debt problems — to fight the COVID-19 pandemic in the bloc. “The ESM was crafted with a different type of crisis in mind, so it must be adapted to the new circumstances so that we can…

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EU leaders agree to close external borders, fight coronavirus response

EU leaders agree to close external borders, fight coronavirus response

EU leaders confirmed the proposed closure of the EU’s external and Schengen borders for at least 30 days on Tuesday (17 March) as the bloc continued struggling to come up with a unified response to the coronavirus outbreak. They also decided to establish fast-track lanes at their countries’ frontiers to keep medicines and goods moving. Medical professionals and scientists would be exempt from the travel restrictions. “To limit the spread of the virus globally, we agreed to reinforce our external borders by applying a coordinated temporary restriction of nonessential travel…

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Greece is completely blocked, all new arrivals will be quarantined

Greece is completely blocked, all new arrivals will be quarantined

The Greek government has decided to shut down commercial stores in addition to schools, cinemas, bars and restaurants, in response to the escalating coronavirus outbreak. It has also announced that people who enter the Greek territory will be put in a 14-day quarantine. “As Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has repeatedly pointed out, the difficult times are still ahead of us, next month will be very tough, seriousness, accountability and restraint will be needed,” Greek government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni said on Monday (16 March). The new extraordinary measures come after there…

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Romanian prime minister ‘at risk’ of having caught COVID-19

Romanian prime minister ‘at risk’ of having caught COVID-19

The Romanian government has entered auto-isolation mode after a senator was confirmed positive with novel coronavirus, COVID-19. In a news conference at the headquarters of the National Liberal Party (PNL), interim prime minister Ludovic Orban told journalists that the senator attended a recent meeting of the party leadership, so that all who attended the meeting, including all ministers, will self-isolate in their homes. Orban was also in contact yesterday with the President of Romania, Klaus Iohannis. Orban will, therefore, be self-isolated in a government protocol house. Moreover, Orban told journalists…

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EU privacy rules do not prevent the fight against coronaviruses

EU privacy rules do not prevent the fight against coronaviruses

Europe’s privacy rulebook does not create obstacles to taking action to curb the coronavirus epidemic but mass tracking of people’s movements and contacts using smartphone location data would represent a clear violation. Technophiles support the use of such data to reconstruct the movements of people exposed to the flu-like virus and identify others at risk of infection. Privacy advocates counter that this approach, used in China, subjects people to the kind of digital surveillance that has no place in a Western democracy. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which took…

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The rule of law mechanism within the EU was discussed in Sofia

The rule of law mechanism within the EU was discussed in Sofia

A conference in Sofia debated the European Commission’s proposal for an EU-wide rule of law mechanism on Friday (6 March) and one European lawmaker said there is already a clear majority in the European Parliament to set up a new control mechanism for the rule of law. The conference in the Bulgarian capital was attended by MEPs, lawyers, NGOs and diplomats but ignored by the country’s authorities. The conference titled “The EC’s intentions for a common judicial mechanism and the crisis of rule of law in Eastern Europe” was organised…

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