Tag Archives: COVID19

XV EU-India Summit

“…Our meeting clearly shows the importance that both the EU and India attach to our relationship. As the world’s two largest democracies, we share common values – freedom, rule of law, and respect for human rights. We have converging interests” said in his concluding remarks by President Charles Michel after the EU-India summit via video conference.

Today we focused on 3 important topics: Covid-19 and rebuilding our economic prosperity, our EU-India bilateral relationship and regional and security issues”  Michel continued.

“As power dynamics shift across the globe, the EU wants to play a stronger role in the region, and as a global actor. Today’s substantive dialogue with India will reinforce these strategic goals.

The EU and India are banding together to fight COVID-19 and I welcome India’s role in tackling the virus, both at the regional and global level. And their contribution to the research and manufacturing of a vaccine, which should be available to all. We will cooperate to strengthen our health systems and ensure the WHO is effective.

We agree that the economic and social recovery must be more sustainable, more resilient and leave nobody behind. Keeping the global trading system open will play an important role. Efforts in the G20 and UN will also be vital. We welcome India’s support for debt relief as well”.

Today’s meeting marked the 15th Summit between India and the European Union.

“The EU is India’s largest trade and investment partner. But India represents only about 2% of EU external trade. This is clearly an area that offers impressive potential for significant future growth. We agreed to enhance conditions for traders and investors.

We called for ambitious climate and environmental action. The EU is a partner of India’s sustainable modernisation, including through investments by the European Investment Bank, over 4 billion euros. We will also work together to deploy digital technologies based on our shared values and global standards.

We have just signed the Euratom-India Agreement that boosts cooperation on research and development for peaceful nuclear energy. We welcome India’s proposal to build a connectivity partnership that is open, sustainable and rules-based.

The EU and India will further develop security and defence consultations and military contact. We will step up our cooperation to fight terrorism and cyber threats. Europol and its Indian counterpart will join forces to tackle organised crime. We will also work to reinforce maritime security, especially in the Indian Ocean, where 40% of our trade passes. And we will continue our dialogue on human rights.

India will serve on the UN Security Council in 2021-2022 and assume the Presidency of the G20 in 2022. The EU looks forward to working with India in these organisations, and others, to strengthen multilateralism and the rules-based international order. The EU and India are more than economic partners – we are political partners, committed to the peaceful resolution of conflicts, security and rule of law.

Today’s meeting clearly showed that both the EU and India want a stronger strategic relationship for the future. The concrete commitments we made today reflect this strong and clear ambition. India can count on the European Union. And we count on India to be a key partner”.

 

EU economy plunges into deep recession

The EU economy will experience a deep recession this year due to the coronavirus pandemic, despite the swift and comprehensive policy response at both EU and national levels. Because the lifting of lockdown measures is proceeding at a more gradual pace than assumed in our Spring Forecast, the impact on economic activity in 2020 will be more significant than anticipated.

The Summer 2020 Economic projects that the euro area economy will contract by 8.7% in 2020 and grow by 6.1% in 2021.
The EU economy is forecast to contract by 8.3% in 2020 and grow by 5.8% in 2021.

The contraction in 2020 is, therefore, projected to be significantly greater than the 7.7% projected for the euro area and 7.4% for the EU as a whole in the Spring Forecast.

Growth in 2021 will also be slightly less robust than projected in the spring.

NATO civil-military response to COVID-19

NATO Policy Directors for Civil Preparedness met by secure video conference on 8 July, to exchange views and best practices in their response to the COVID-19 crisis and how to strengthen national resilience.

They welcomed the decision by NATO Defence Ministers at their meeting on 18 June 2020 to update NATO’s baseline requirements for resilience, covering critical sectors such as energy, telecommunications and the security of supply chains. The updated baseline requirements will help Allies prepare for possible further pandemic waves, and support a common approach to current and future challenges in the interests of the security of populations across the Alliance.

Deputy Secretary General Mircea Geoană opened the session and highlighted the contribution by the Alliance and Allies’ military forces to the COVID-19 response.

“COVID-19 has demonstrated the indispensable role of civil-military cooperation for resilience and preparedness. Between the months of March and May 2020, over half a million military personnel, supported by innumerable military assets, have worked side-by-side with our civilian authorities in managing the crisis and in serving our citizens”, he said.

Policy Directors also discussed NATO’s approach to learning lessons from COVID-19, including the importance of further cooperation with partners and the EU.

Borrell on travel restrictions for Turkey

“Turkey is not only a close neighbour for the European Union, especially for some Member States – it is clear it is a closer neighbour to Greece than to Portugal for example, or Ireland – but it is a key partner, it is a candidate country for accession, and the fact that we in Europe discuss extensively and frequently about Turkey just reflects the importance that we attach to this relationship” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, at the press conference following his meeting with the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mevlut Çavuşoğlu in Ankara, Turkey.

“The advantage of our talks, dear Minister [[of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu], is that we can talk openly, frankly, in a constructive approach. Because currently the situation is far from being ideal. There are many serious issues that require our immediate attention. I want to change for the best the dynamics in our relationship because I believe that we have a mutual interest to get out of this situation and chart a new and positive trajectory, avoiding any kind of incident that could spark more troubles.

“First, the Eastern Mediterranean is a key region for Europe. It is time to tackle this, in order to create a way forward, conductive to confidence building, dialogue, good neighbourhood relations, stability and security. And this cannot be done by unilateral actions but requires cooperation and dialogue.

“The COVID-19 requires cooperation, unhappily it has not been the case worldwide, there is more confrontation than cooperation, but among us we should try to look for more cooperation than confrontation. I will have also the opportunity to discuss with the Minister of Defence [of Turkey, Hulusi Akar]. We are going to talk about the deterioration of the situation in the Aegean Sea, in the Eastern Mediterranean and what it means for EU-Turkey relations…

“…Let me just say that I understand the preoccupations of Turkey about the travel restrictions. I just want to say that Turkey has not been included in this list because we are adopting a progressive lifting of the travel restrictions on non-essential inbound travel. Only 15 countries have been selected to be part of this list, the approach that the Commission’s services in charge of these issues has followed is based on objective criteria related primarily to the health situation. These criteria are objective, applying them is not a mechanical exercise, it involves some qualitative judgement that is not set in stone. It will be revisited at least every two weeks, taking into account the evolving health situation.

“Moreover, not being on the list does not mean a complete travel ban. Citizens and people with an essential reason to come to Europe should be allowed to travel. As I said at least every two weeks we are going to reassess the situation according with the data provided by the health authorities of the states with which we would like to open our borders as soon as possible”.

Amsterdam Red Light district reopens

Amsterdam’s Red Light district has reopened after coronavirus pandemic shutdown, with sex professionals and clients having to observe new sanitary rules to prevent contamination.

The Netherlands ordered all brothels closed in mid-March and had originally planned to keep them shut until September, but recently changed the date forward as Covid-19 cases dropped.

The workder of the district are glad to be back to work, Dutch media reports. Many of sex-services faced financial problems during long periond of forced lockdown.

Dutch deputy Prime minister Hugo de Jonge said that a “new phase in the approach to coronavirus begins” but urged people to remain vigilant, and respect strict sanitary norms.

The Netherlands legalised prostitution in 2000 and sex workers have to register with the local chamber of commerce and pay income tax. Around 7,000 now work in Amsterdam, manily in the historic Red Light district according to official statistics.

Sassoli: «time to deliver» recovery

Parliament President David Sassoli urged EU leaders to take action on Europe’s recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
Sassoli addressed heads of state and government at the start of a video conference of the European Council on 19 June to discuss the recovery plan and the EU’s next long-term budget.

“Time is a luxury we cannot afford,” he said. “We need to act urgently and courageously, as EU citizens, businesses and economies need an immediate response. Our citizens expect bold action. Now it is time for us to deliver.”

Sassoli called the Commission proposal “ambitious” but added: “In our view it only scratches the surface of what needs to be done.”
The President also spoke out against issuing loans as part of the recovery plans. “Parliament is keen to stress that any common debt issued must be repaid fairly, without burdening future generations,” he said.

“Let us not forget that providing support solely in the form of loans would have an asymmetric impact on the indebtedness of the individual member states and would be more costly for the Union as a whole. We have an opportunity now to refashion Europe and make it more equal, greener and more forward-looking. To this end, we should seize our chance to introduce a basket of new own resources.”
Sassoli called the introduction of new own resources for the EU “an essential prerequisite” for any overall agreement on the EU’s long-term budget.

Stressing the importance of an ambitious recovery plan and budget, he said: “Now is not thetime to water down our ambitions. We need to show our citizens the value of Europe and our ability to come up with solutions that matter in their lives.”

The President also addressed the ongoing EU-UK talks on future relations. The previous day Parliament had adopted a report setting out its views. “We will push for an ambitious, overarching and comprehensive agreement in line with the joint commitments undertaken in the political declaration. We believe that this is the best possible outcome for both sides and, despite the limited time available, with goodwill and determination, it is still possible. We have every faith in our negotiator, Michel Barnier.”

EU encourages lifting Schengen controls

European Commission issued a statement on travel restrictions in which it “strongly encourages the remaining member states to finalise the process of lifting the internal border controls and restrictions to free movement within the EU by 15 June 2020.”

The EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, insisted on the recommendation that internal borders must “reopen as soon as possible.” But she added that the main thing is for everyone to open internal borders completely before opening the EU’s external ones to third-country travelers.

While Germany, France and Belgium have said that they will lift travel restrictions on June 15, Spain is still preventing full mobility between its own regions. This situation is due to end by June 22, when the state of alarm declared to fight the Covid-19 epidemic expires.

The EU Commission said it is aware that coordination issues will not be easy. “We understand that reopening on Monday for countries that have not yet decided to do so could be complicated, and that some might take an extra week or two,” Johansson added.

EU €55M aid to Syria refugees

As part of the EU’s global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis has mobilised an additional €55 million for refugees from Syria and vulnerable persons in Jordan and Lebanon to fight the pandemic. It will provide critical and targeted support in key areas such as health, water, sanitation and hygiene. The newly adopted package brings the total assistance mobilised through the EU Trust Fund to over €2.2 billion since 2015, doubling the target originally set.

“Jordan and Lebanon are showing huge resilience and solidarity in hosting Syrian refugees. It is our duty to continue supporting them, especially in the current coronavirus pandemic situation. The EU will host the fourth Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region on 30 June in direct support of the UN efforts for a comprehensive political solution to the Syrian conflict and to mobilise necessary financial support for Syria and neighbouring countries. The Conference will also continue to provide a unique platform for dialogue with civil society organisations from the region,” High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security  Josep Borrell, said.

“Our continued commitment to support Syrian refugees and partner countries like Jordan and Lebanon hosting them remains unwavering. We are responding today to the urgent needs in fighting the COVID-19 crisis with a substantial and targeted assistance package. Despite the European Union’s continued strong solidarity with partner countries, the needs of the Syrian refugees continue to be important and cannot be neglected. In this regard, the 2020 Brussels IV Conference will provide an opportunity for the international community to mobilise the necessary financial assistance” Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, commented.

COVID19: Russian colonel fallen from window

Russian police colonel has fallen from a window on the fifth floor of a Moscow hospital treating coronavirus patients, Russian media reported. She died later in intensive care from fatal wounds. The incident comes after three physicians in Russia fell out of windows amid mysterious circumstances during the coronavirus outbreak.

The reports said the incident occurred at Moscow City Clinical Hospital No. 24 on the evening of May 30.

The woman, identified as 45-year-old Yulia B. newspapers, was described as a senior expert at the Forensic Center of the Interior Ministry.

According to the press reports the police colonel left her ward to go into the corridor, then “fell” from the fifth floor window, and landed on the grass below.

It was not clear what exactly happened. She had arrived at the hospital on May 23 after being diagnosed with the coronavirus.

“The 45-year-old Yulia B. *, who had fallen out of the window, was urgently intubated and transported to the intensive care unit, where they fought for her life for several hours. The victim was even connected to a ventilator, but she could not be saved. The patient died in intensive care from injuries. ” – a source in healthcare told KP.RU

According to available information, 45-year-old Yulia B. * worked as a senior expert in the forensic center of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia and was a lieutenant colonel of the police.

Image: illustration

Malta Airport may open June 15

Malta airport could reopen on 15 June but decision still depends on agreement granted by the health authorities the Tourism Minister Julia Farrugia Portelli indicated.

Farrugia Portelli said the Prime Minister will be announcing an official date for reopening the airport in the coming days.

The target date has been set earlier, and all stakeholders agreed that a confirmation is needed as soon as possible, she continued.

“We have always said the airport should be closed until 15 June but we will continue assessing this with the health authorities,” she said on TVM’s Xtra on May 28 night programme, pointing to the government intention of mid-June reopening.

Farrugia Portelli underlined that there will be a summer vacation possible for the guests of the archipelago country.

“It will be a safer summer than ever before,” she said, adding that safety protocols will be introduced once the airport reopens.

Tourism operators have been waiting for the reopening of the airport and lifting of travel restrictions to encourage tourism, contributing to about 15% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP). All travel came to standstill when the COVID-19 pandemic reached Malta in March.

Malta medical experts have established 616 cases, 501 patients received treatment and recovered, but still 108 cases remain active. Seven from COVID-19 infections resulted in related deaths.

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