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Germany, Italy, France urge to shut ski slopes until Jan 10; EU waves off
Germany, Italy, France urge to shut ski slopes until Jan 10; EU waves off
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Germany joins Italy and France in their demand to ban ski resorts from opening until January 10, stating it would be a "great risk, even crazy, to open ski-slopes."

German Chancellor Angela Merkel and multiple prime ministers addressed an appeal to all citizens to refrain from "all not absolutely necessary professional and private journeys, in particular, tourist journeys to foreign countries, especially considering the start of the ski season."

"The Federal Government is asked to come to coordinated regulations at European level in order to prevent ski tourism from being permitted before 10 January", the paper continues.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides opposes a Europe-wide ski ban over the Christmas holidays, saying that "there is no formula that applies to all EU countries because every country has a different situation."

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European Union faces crisis as Hungary and Poland vetoed a new seven-year budget
European Union flags
European Union flags Credit: Thijs ter Haar (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The European Union faces a crisis after Hungary and Poland vetoed the bloc's historic €1.8tn budget and coronavirus recovery plan over attempts to link funding to respect for democratic norms.

The move unravels months of negotiations over the scale and terms of the EU's spending and sets the stage for a stormy videoconference meeting of the bloc's leaders on Thursday. The 27 EU heads of state and government had signed off on the broad spending package and the inclusion of a link to respect for the rule of law in July, after days of hard debate.

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German Social Democratic party proposes creation of independent EU army
German Social Democratic party proposes creation of independent  EU army
Credit: unsplash.com / Daniel Stub

According to a paper of the Working Group on Security and Defence Policy, quoted by "Welt am Sonntag", the SPD calls for the introduction of a "28th EU army". The force would be directly subordinated to the European Commission and would be under the responsibility of a newly appointed Commissioner for Defence.

"Our aim is to improve the EU's ability to act, regardless of the tiresome questions of sovereignty," Fritz Felgentreu, defence policy spokesman for the SPD parliamentary group, told the newspaper.

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EU to buy 300 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine
EU to buy 300 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: unsplash.com / GR Stocks

The European Union will sign a fourth contract with the US pharmaceutical giant Pfizer and their German lab partner BioNTech to procure up to 300 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine, if proven to be safe and effective against the virus.

"As a company founded in the heart of Europe, we are looking forward to supplying millions of people upon regulatory approval," so BioNTech's CEO Ugur Sahin in a statement Wednesday. On Tuesday, Sahin said on a call with reporters that said BioNTech's goal is to ramp up production of their vaccine candidate in the hopes of manufacture up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.

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EU finalizes contract for Covid-19 vaccine
EU finalizes contract for Covid-19 vaccine
Credit: unsplash.com / Guillaume Périgois

The EU Commission has ended talks with the pharmaceutical companies Biontech and Pfizer on the supply of a corona vaccine. The vaccine developed by them prevents in more than 90 percent of cases a disease caused by the corona virus Covid-19, the pharmaceutical companies had announced.

According to the German Federal Minister of Health Jens Spahn, the EU has also already concluded agreements with the pharmaceutical companies Astra Zeneca and Sanofi, which are also working on corona vaccines.

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Initiative against terrorism discusses ban on end-to-end encryption in the European Union
Initiative against terrorism discusses ban on end-to-end encryption in the European Union
Credit: unsplash.com / Scott Webb

Germany, Austria and France are planning a joint initiative against terrorism. In terms of content, a ban on end-to-end encryption, the deportation of "extremist conspicuous" people and the training of imams will be discussed.

The German EU Council Presidency has previously prepared a draft resolution on the handling of encryption on behalf of the EU states, as confirmed by the German Federal Ministry of the Interior.

This week, the EU interior ministers' council will also discuss this. However, individual claims have already been publicly denied.

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EU's von der Leyen predicts Covid-19 vaccine for April 2021
EU's von der Leyen predicts Covid-19 vaccine for April 2021
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has stated that a Covid-19 vaccine could be available in April 2021.

"The big numbers of supplies are due to start in April," so von der Leyen, adding that up to 50 million doses could be delivered monthly.

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EU to restrict spyware exports
EU to restrict spyware exports
Credit: unsplash.com / Rob Sarmiento

The European Union wants to introduce restrictions on the sale abroad of technologies used for espionage and surveillance. This is reported by "Politico" with reference to informed persons. In the future, facial recognition systems and hacking programs will require a license to be sold outside of the Union. Governments would also have to publish details of the exact nature of the licenses granted to individual companies.

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Mayor of Copenhagen steps down over sexual harassment
Frank Jensen
Frank Jensen Credit: News Oresund (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Frank Jensen, mayor of Copenhagen since 2010, resigned on Monday following several allegations of sexual harassment. Jensen will also step down from his role as deputy leader of Denmark's governing Social Democratic Party.

Jensen's exit came after two women said they were sexually harassed at social events by Jensen in 2012 and 2017, respectively with both saying he touched them without consent.

Denmark’s Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, called Jensen’s resignation the "right decision" in a Facebook post and told the local news agency Ritzau it is "obvious" there are problems in the Social Democratic Party that must change immediately.

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Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin leaves EU summit as contact tests positive
Sanna Marin
Sanna Marin Credit: FinnishGovernment (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Sanna Marin, Finland's Prime Minister, will immediately leave the EU summit in Brussels, return to Helsinki to take a Covid-19 test and self-isolate.

Marin came into contact with Tom Packalenin, who has since tested positive for Covid-19, in the Finnish parliament.

The Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven will represent Marin for the rest of the summit.

On Thursday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen left the summit after a member of her team tested positive, entering voluntary self-isolation "as a precaution".

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EU ministers decide on recommendation for EU wide Covid-19 travel system
EU ministers decide on recommendation for EU wide Covid-19 travel system
Credit: unsplash.com / Eliobed Suarez

On Tuesday the EU European ministers decided on a recommendation for a Europe-wide Corona traffic light. As the EU Council of Ministers announced, travel restrictions are to be coordinated.

For green, the new infections must be below a value of 25, the positive tests below four percent. No restrictions of the member states should apply here. For orange, new infections must be below 50 and the rate of positive tests below four percent. If the new infections are between 25 and 150, the rate of positive tests must be less than four percent for a region to still be classified orange. The traffic light turns red if the new infections are higher than 50 and the rate of positive tests is four percent or higher, or if the new infection rate is more than 150.

For orange and red, the EU states can prescribe quarantine and testing on entry.

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European Court of Justice prohibits bulk data retention
European Court of Justice prohibits bulk data retention
Credit: unsplash.com / ev

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has decided that a comprehensive and flat-rate storage of Internet and telephone connection data is not permissible. Exceptions are only possible when it is a matter of combating serious crime or the specific case of a threat to national security, the ECJ announced in a ruling on Tuesday.

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EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in quarantine
EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in quarantine
Credit: European Parliament from EU / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has gone into quarantine following contact last Tuesday with a person who later tested positive, according to the Commission.

Von der Leyen was tested on Thursday with negative results, but had herself tested again on Monday. Von der Leyen had attended the summit of EU heads of state and government on Thursday and Friday.

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European Union drafts Digital Services Act to regulate large technology companies
European Union drafts Digital Services Act to regulate large technology companies
Credit: Corentin Béchade / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 4.0)

The European Commission is working on a new legislative package in order to regulate major online platforms such as Facebook, Amazon, Google, Apple, Microsoft, and others. According to an internal paper, one of the goals is to prevent "unfair practices". One rule could specify that the platforms would "not be allowed to pre-install their own applications exclusively" such as installing mobile apps on smartphones and preventing users to uninstall them.

In addition, there could be new restrictions on the usage of data generated by their services for their own commercial activities. This kind of data could only be used if made "accessible to other commercial users".

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European Union announces legal action against Great Britain
European Union announces legal action against Great Britain
Credit: © European Union 2019 – Source: EP / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

The European Union is taking legal action against Great Britain for violation of the withdrawal agreement. Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced that the EU Commission has sent a letter to the British government over the new British Market Act passed by the House of Commons which is intended to override parts of the already valid withdrawal agreement with the EU.

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EU Commission removes upload filters from digital package
Archive - protest against European Upload Filters in 2019
Archive - protest against European Upload Filters in 2019 Credit: unsplash.com / Markus Spiske

In a new proposal the legislators at the European Commission have removed a general filter obligation for uploaded content to digital platforms.

The original proposal would've required operators of digital communication platforms who want to continue to enjoy freedom from liability - the non-responsibility for content published by users - should proactively check for violations. This includes checking for copyright infringements or illegal content such as child pornography.

Whether and what replaces the filter obligation is currently still open.

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EU Commission presents plans for EU asylum system reform
EU Commission presents plans for EU asylum system reform
Credit: Amio Cajander / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution ShareAlike 2.0)

The European Commission has presented plans for faster asylum procedures at the external borders, more deportations and the appointment of a "repatriation coordinator".

In case of high refugee numbers, all member states are to be obliged to show "solidarity" with the countries of arrival - be it through the reception of refugees or through assistance with deportations. At the same time, the Commission is planning more legal possibilities for immigration.

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President of the European Commission proposes stricter EU climate goals
President of the European Commission proposes stricter EU climate goals
Credit: European Parliament from EU / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen has proposed stricter climate goals for the European Union in her first State of the European Union address. Following her proposal, 55 percent of emissions should be cut until 2030, compared to 1990.

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German government announces it will allow 2750 refugees from Moria into the country
German government announces it will allow 2750 refugees from Moria into the country
Credit: Offical Statement via Twitter

The spokesperson of the German government Steffen Seibert has announced that 1553 people, that have already been granted a protective status by the Greek government, will be allowed to come to Germany from the multiple Greek islands.

In addition, unaccompanied minors and children in need of medical treatment as well as their families will be allowed into Germany and receive asylum and help. In total 2750 people will be allowed into the country.

The government states that in addition to this measure it aims to find a European solution for the help of refugees.

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Phil Hogan resigns as EU trade commissioner after breaching Ireland Covid guidelines
Phil Hogan
Phil Hogan Credit: European Parliament (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Phil Hogan, the EU trade commissioner, resigned Wednesday after the Irish government accused him of breaching Covid-19 guidelines during a visit to the country.

On August 19, Hogan attended a golf dinner in County Galway after not complying with quarantine rules when he arrived from Brussels.

Hogan said in a statement, "It was becoming increasingly clear that the controversy concerning my recent visit to Ireland was becoming a distraction from my work as an EU Commissioner and would undermine my work in the key months ahead."

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Violence against women: Poland to leave European treaty
Zbigniew Ziobro
Zbigniew Ziobro Credit: Ryszard Hołubowicz (Creative Commons Attribution 3.0)

The justice minister of Poland, Zbigniew Ziobro, has announced that his country will leave the Istanbul Convention - a treaty that aims to prevent violence against women.

He claims that it "contains elements of an ideological nature" as it requires all signed countries to teach children about gender.

Women across the country have protested on thousands.

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European Court of Justice declares "Privacy Shield" regulation for unlawful
European Court of Justice declares "Privacy Shield" regulation for unlawful
Credit: Christian Alexander Tietgen / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 4.0)

The European Court of Justice follows the argumentation of a lawsuit made by the Austrian lawyer and activist Max Schrems and declares the "Privacy Shield" unlawful. The pact has until now regulated how companies can share data of European citizens with companies in the United States.

Other regulations based on so-called standard contractual clauses are not affected by the decision. Still, data transfer needs to be suspended if it seems given that the contractual agreements can't or won't be fulfilled in the data receiving country.

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Merkel: Approval of EU Covid-19 recovery fund this week unclear
Merkel: Approval of EU Covid-19 recovery fund this week unclear
Credit: FinnishGovernment / © Bernhard Ludewig / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

According to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel it is unclear if the European Union will manage to agree on a multi-year budget and a recovery fund for the economic consequences from Covid-19 during this week.

She stated that "What we want now, the recovery fund or the next generation EU program, it has to be staggering, something special. Because the task at hand is huge, and therefore the answer has to be big as well".

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Catalonia to make face masks mandatory starting Thursday
Men wearing face masks in public
Men wearing face masks in public Credit: unsplash.com/Marco Testi

The Spanish region Catalonia will make it mandatory to wear face masks in all public spaces, even if people can maintain a safe distance of 1.5 metres. The Catalan government’s spokesperson Meritxell Budó announced the final decision will be made during a Civil Protection Meeting on Wednesday but the order is set to take effect on Thursday.

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European Union will bar most travelers from dozens of countries, including U.S. and Russia
European Union will bar most travelers from dozens of countries, including U.S. and Russia
Credit: unsplash.com/Miguel Ángel Sanz

A European vacation won't be happening for many this summer. On Friday, E.U. officials announced that most travelers from a list of dozens of countries that still haven't contained the coronavirus outbreak wouldn't be allowed into the E.U. as they are considered a risk.

Among those countries are Russia and the United States. Chinese travelers will be allowed to visit but only if E.U. travelers won't be barred from entering China.

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EU member states discuss entry restrictions from multiple countries
EU member states discuss entry restrictions from multiple countries
Credit: unsplash.com / Christian Lue

According to CNN politics, the different member states of the European Union are discussing entry restrictions for travelers from countries "where the virus is circulating most actively" as the Covid-19 pandemic restrictions are being eased across Europe while the first Covid-19 wave is still active in various countries around the world. The European Commission is set to make recommendations to the EU member states on which countries to restrict travel from with the criteria being " focused on circulation of the virus".

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New details surface of police brutality against asylum-seekers at the Croatian border
Injuries sustained by an asylum-seeker
Injuries sustained by an asylum-seeker Credit: Danish Refugee Council

Gruesome reports and photographs have surfaced of migrant and asylum-seekers abuse by Croatian special police. Massimo Moratti, Amnesty International’s Deputy Europe Director, calls for the European Commission to investigate.

There have been reports of abuse at the Croatian border since late 2017.

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Germany backs France in new EU recovery fund proposal

The Franco-German agreement supports a €500 billion recovery fund to be distributed as grants, not requiring direct repayment from the countries receiving the funds. Recognizing the exceptional nature of the challenges posed by the pandemic, this is the first time Berlin has agreed to a plan based on grants instead of loans. The proposal is now in the hands of the European Commission and would require approval from all EU member states.

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EU politicians deem Hungary's emergency law "incompatible with EU membership"

Politicians from the liberal group in the European parliament have claimed that the legislation that enables the Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orban to rule by decree without time limits is incompatible with an active membership in the European Union. The chair of the European parliament's rule of law group, Sophie in’t Veld, who's a Dutch member of parliament and part of the liberal group in the MEP said in a statement that Orban has succeeded with "killing democracy and the rule of law in Hungary".