The Letter n°898

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The Letter n°898
The Letter
Tuesday 30th June 2020
issue 898
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German presidency of the Council of the European Union: "... and suddenly everything is different."
Authors : Frank Baasner, Stefan Seidendorf
Frank Baasner, Stefan Seidendorf
Germany will assume the six-monthly rotating Presidency of the Council of the Union from 1 July. It is taking on this responsibility at a time when its goal of a "stronger, fairer and more sustainable" Europe is being challenged by the coronavirus crisis. For Chancellor Angela Merkel, who has just taken a major turning point by accepting a European loan, this also means preparing Europe's future before leaving office.
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Elections : Andrzej Duda and Rafal Trzaskowski will face each other in the second round on July 12
The second round of the Polish presidential election will be held on 12 July between outgoing President Andrzej Duda and Warsaw Mayor Rafal Trzaskowski. Andrzej Duda, supported by the ruling Law and Justice Party (PiS), obtained 43.5% of the votes in the first round on 28 June. Rafal Trzaskowski, candidate of the centre-right Civic Platform (PO) party, obtained 30.46%. Turnout was 64.51%, 13.64 points higher than in the first round of the 2015 election. Andrzej Duda, who was hoping for a victory in the first round, saw his advantage diminish with the postponement of the election, first scheduled for 10 May, due to the Covid-19 crisis... Read more

Foundation : "The Schuman Report on Europe, the State of the Union 2020" in digital version
The 2020 edition of the "Schuman Report on Europe, the State of the Union", a reference work for European decision-makers, is available electronically in English and French. With contributions by leading personalities and experts, original maps and annotated statistics, it offers a comprehensive view of the European Union and analyses the challenges facing Europe... Read more
End of lockdown seen from Europe
The Member States of the European Union are continuing the process of ending lockdown with the resumption of social and economic activities. From 1 July, freedom of movement should be fully restored and the external borders will be partially reopened. The Foundation offers you a summary of the measures taken and the timetable planned by each State. An indispensable resource for understanding ways being taken to exit the crisis and rediscovering a European "spirit.. Read more
Giving ambition to the multiannual financial framework 2021/2027
The Foundation organised an online debate on 23 June on the next multiannual financial framework, moderated by Pascale Joannin, Director General, with Gert-Jan Koopman, Director General DG BUDGET at the European Commission, José Manuel Fernandes, Member of the European Parliament (EPP, PT) and Alain Lamassoure, former Minister, former MEP and Chairman of the Foundation's Scientific Committee. The full discussion is available online... Read more

Recovery : Support Measures to the economy
In France, the government launched a call for expressions of interest (AMI) to stimulate investment and modernisation in the automotive sector and the airline KLM received a €3.4 billion loan from the Dutch authorities. In Germany, the government has presented a €500 million plan to support companies hiring apprentices. In Spain, the government has presented new support measures for the agricultural sector of €25 million to promote the consumption of domestic food products and the support measures for the self-employed have been extended until 30 September. In Poland, the government has announced a plan to support the health system with 100 billion zlotys (€22 million). In the United Kingdom, the government has made £22 million (€26.4 million) available for associations dealing with domestic and sexual violence and £200 million (€240 million) for innovative businesses... Read more
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The re-opening of schools set for 14th September
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced on 26 June that the new school year will start on 14 September, with strict sanitary measures to avoid congestion in classrooms. Schools have been closed in the country since 5 March... Read more
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Meeting of Environment Ministers
On 23 June, Environment Ministers discussed the implementation of the Green Deal in conjunction with the European Recovery Plan. They agreed on the importance of making the two policies coincide, and of allocating sufficient resources to the ecological transition within the framework of the recovery plan. The ministers reiterated their support for the objective of climate neutrality by 2050, and want biodiversity to be taken into account in recovery policies. Finally, they consider that the Commission's initiatives on the circular economy and "farm to fork" should also be important vehicles for recovery... Read more
Adoption of temporary banking rules
On 24 June, following a vote by the Parliament on 19 June, the Council definitively adopted temporary rules to help banks and the European economy to cope with the crisis. The rules amend in particular capital requirements and provide for measures to facilitate lending to SMEs, pensioners, employees and businesses... Read more
Tripartite Social Summit
A tripartite social summit was held on 23 June between Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic, the country holding the Presidency of the Council, and the European social partners. Participants were able to exchange views on the role of the social partners in economic recovery. They called for an ambitious European recovery plan and coordination between national plans to deal with the economic shock caused by the pandemic. They hope that these plans will help them start their ecological and digital transition... Read more
Conclusions regarding sport
On 22 June the Council adopted conclusions concerning aid to the sports sector. It calls on the Member States to support the sector through existing European programmes such as the Erasmus programme, the European Solidarity Corps, and the CRII and CRII+ pandemic investment initiatives. The Council also calls on the Commission to communicate regularly on the flexibilities of EU funds from which the sport sector could benefit. Finally, it invites the players in the sector to follow the guidelines of national and international health organisations for the resumption of sporting activities... Read more
Adoption of financial aid for agriculture
On 24 June the Council adopted a regulation making the use of EU funds for agriculture more flexible. It will allow member states to distribute up to €7 000 to farmers and €50 000 to SMEs processing, developing or promoting agricultural products, to help them deal with the economic consequences of confinement measures taken in Europe. This aid may be distributed until 30 June 2021 and should represent a maximum of 2% of the total contribution to the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD)... Read more
National measures
In France the second round of local elections was held on 28 June. In Belgium, swimming pools, theatres and cinemas are reopening, market stalls are no longer limited and activities for up to 15 people will resume on 1 July. In Germany, the canton of Gütersloh in North Rhine-Westphalia went into lockdown again until 30 June. In Austria, the wearing of masks will no longer be compulsory in catering services from 1 July. In Spain, the border with Portugal reopens and the quarantine measures are lifted on 1 July. In Poland, the first round of the presidential election was held on 28 June. In the United Kingdom, restaurants, pubs, hairdressing salons, gyms, cinemas, museums, libraries and places of worship reopen on 4 July. In Ireland, public gatherings of up to 50 people are now allowed, with crèches reopening on 29 June. The EU's external borders are due to reopen for 14 countries on 1 July... Read more
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Meeting between Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron
German Chancellor Angela Merkel received French President Emmanuel Macron at Meseberg Castle on 29 June to prepare for the European Council on 17 and 18 July and the German Council Presidency starting on 1 July. The two leaders reiterated their commitment to reach an early agreement with their partners on the Recovery Plan and the next Multiannual Financial Framework. "The cohesion of Europe and the functioning of the Single Market are at stake", stressed Chancellor Merkel... Read more
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Commission : Draft budget 2021
On 24 June the Commission presented its budget proposal for 2021. This budget will be the first of the next multiannual financial framework and the first budget without a UK contribution. The Commission is proposing a total expenditure of €388 billion, of which €166.7 billion for the annual budget and €211 billion under the 'Next generation EU' recovery plan. In addition, it is proposing €133 billion in loans, also as part of the Recovery Plan... Read more
Assessment of the regulation regarding the protection of personal data
On 24 June, the Commission published its report on the evaluation of EU data protection rules. It notes that 69% of Europeans are aware of the existence of the GDPR, and that data protection authorities have seen their budgets and staff strengthened. It also considers that in terms of governance, the one-stop-shop system is working well, with 141 draft decisions between May 2018 and December 2019, 79 of which have resulted in a final decision. The Commission now wishes to develop international mechanisms for the transfer of secure data, as well as to negotiate data protection agreements with its international partners... Read more
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Strategy for the protection of victims
On 25 June, the Commission published its strategy for safeguarding victims' rights. It proposes five lines of action aimed at strengthening European legislation in this area and coordination between actors. In particular, the Commission proposes to carry out awareness-raising campaigns, to strengthen victim protection, to review European compensation rules and to create cooperation platforms. Finally, it would like to develop victims' rights throughout the world by supporting the efforts of the United Nations and its partner countries... Read more

Parliament : Agreement regarding the reorganisation and rescue of clearing houses
The Council and Parliament reached an agreement on 23 June on the Regulation concerning the reorganisation and rescue of clearing houses. The aim of the regulation is to reduce systemic risks on European financial markets by limiting the risk of failure of clearing houses, which act as intermediaries in market transactions. The regulation provides for the establishment of colleges of cross-border resolution authorities and a three-stage recovery protocol to limit the risk of failure upstream, as well as to limit the cost to the taxpayer if failure cannot be avoided... Read more
Agreement on appeals: European Class Actions
Negotiators from the Council and the Parliament reached an agreement on 22 June on the directive establishing European class actions. Each state will have to designate a private or public organisation authorised and funded to carry out such actions. However, each state is free to define criteria for collective redress at national level. In order to avoid abusive actions, the "loser pays" principle will be applied and administrative judges of first instance will be allowed to dismiss a case that is manifestly unfounded. Parliament must now adopt the text in plenary session... Read more

Council : Meeting of Education Ministers
Ministers of Education met on June 23 to share lessons learned from the pandemic. They agreed that distance education must be developed in the future, although it cannot replace interaction between teachers and students. They noted, however, that challenges will have to be met: developing the digital skills of students and teachers, improving their computer equipment, developing cyber security in schools and improving the inclusion of all students. Ministers also discussed the next school year: its organisation will depend on epidemiological criteria, although the resumption of classes in June did not accelerate the spread of the virus... Read more
Deferral of new tax information exchange rules
On 24 June the Council endorsed the postponement of the application of new rules on the exchange of tax information between Member States due to the pandemic. Tax administrations will have a further 6 months to exchange information on financial accounts whose beneficiaries are taxable in another member state and on cross-border tax arrangements. If necessary, this period may be extended by 3 months. As regards the e-commerce VAT scheme, the Council decided to postpone its implementation until July 2021... Read more
Conclusions on the future relationship with the UK
On 25 June the Council adopted its conclusions on the future relationship between the Union and the United Kingdom. It noted the United Kingdom's wish to end the transitional period on 31 December and reiterated its wish to maintain the deepest possible relationship with the United Kingdom. The Council reiterated its confidence in the Union's negotiator, Michel Barnier, and supported his resolve to step up negotiations. The Council will closely monitor the implementation of the withdrawal agreement, in particular as regards citizens' rights and the protocol on the Irish border. Finally, it calls on all public and private actors to prepare for all possibilities, including the failure of the negotiations... Read more
Three candidates for the presidency of the Eurogroup
Three candidates have stepped forward to succeed Mario Centeno as President of the Eurogroup: Nadia Calvino of Spain, Paschal Donohoe of Ireland and Pierre Gramegna of Luxembourg. The election will be held on 9 July by a simple majority of the euro area finance ministers... Read more
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Court of Justice : Decision on asylum procedures
In a judgment delivered on 25 June, the Court of Justice replied to a preliminary question on the admissibility of an application for international protection. The Court considers that judges fall within the category of "other authorities" provided for in the "procedure" directive, and can therefore receive an application for asylum, which does not require any administrative formality. It also states that the applicant may not be detained solely on the ground that he has lodged an application for protection or that there is no more room in a reception camp... Read more
Opinion of the Advocate General on the right of asylum in Hungary
The Advocate General of the Court of Justice ruled on 25 June that Hungary does not fulfil its obligations in the field of asylum. It takes too long to process asylum applications. Neither the processing of applications in detention camps at the border, nor the accommodation of applicants in these camps for more than 4 weeks is compatible with European law, as is the systematic placement in detention camps and the lack of guarantees on the right to remain in Hungary during the asylum procedure. The Advocate General, whose opinion is advisory, also takes the view that Hungary does not apply the Returns Directive to all persons residing illegally on its territory... Read more

European Agencies : Europol report on terrorism
On 23 June Europol published its report on terrorism in the Union in 2019. 119 attacks were carried out, foiled or failed in 13 Member States, resulting in the death of 10 people, injury to 27, and the arrest of 1004 people in 19 states. The European agency notes an increase in extreme right-wing terrorism and a decline in jihadist terrorism, which remains significant. It is particularly concerned about the frequent use of explosives and firearms by activists, their ability to finance themselves and to spread their propaganda, and considers that both forms of terrorism contribute to the climate of hatred and animosity in the Union. Europol also stresses that anarchism and extreme left-wing terrorism continue to be a threat in many States... Read more
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Report on asylum in the Union: increase in number of requests in 2019
The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) published its annual report on asylum in the EU on 25 June. 738,425 asylum applications were lodged in 2019, an increase of 11%, for an acceptance rate of 40%. The states receiving the most applications were Germany (22%), France (17%) and Spain (16%). This increase is partly explained by the sharp rise in asylum applications from Colombian (+214%) and Venezuelan (+103%) citizens. This trend was confirmed during the first two months of 2020 with a 16% increase in asylum applications, before collapsing by 87% in April, due to the pandemic... Read more
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France : Meeting with the Dutch Prime Minister
French President Emmanuel Macron met Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on 23 June in The Hague. The two leaders discussed the European Recovery Plan and the next multiannual financial framework with a view to preparing an agreement at the European Council on 17 and 18 July... Read more

Ireland : New government led by Micheal Martin
Fianna Fail leader Micheal Martin became Taoiseach (Prime Minister) on 27 June, heading a coalition government between his party, the centre-right Fine Gael, and the Greens. On 26 June, members of the three parties approved the government agreement reached on 15 June, which provides, inter alia, that Mr. Martin will hand over his post in December 2022 to the Fine Gael leader, outgoing Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, who has become Minister of Trade and Enterprise. Of the 17 members of government, 4 are women.. Read more

Kosovo : Hashim Thaci charged with war crimes and crimes against humanity
The Kosovo Specialized Prosecutor's Office - a specialized international judicial body established in 2016 - filed an indictment on 24 June against Hashim Thaci, President of Kosovo, among others, for war crimes and crimes against humanity allegedly committed during the war of independence against Serbia between 1998 and 1999... Read more
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Council of Europe : Action Plan regarding bioethics
On 24 June, the Bioethics Committee of the Council of Europe launched its new action plan on human rights and technologies in biomedicine for the period 2020-2025. The action plan covers 4 areas: ensuring fair access to health care, integrating human rights in the development of technologies, setting up a guide to good practice, and strengthening cooperation and communication... Read more
Confirmation of deprivation of nationality in cases of terrorism
The European Court of Human Rights ruled on 25 June that the deprivation of nationality pronounced by France against five dual nationals convicted in terrorism cases was in conformity with the European Convention on Human Rights. It considered that this decision did not lead to immediate expulsion, did not render the 5 men stateless, and did not constitute a double penalty, as it was an administrative and not a criminal decision. The Court also noted that terrorism is a serious act threatening democracy, whereby terrorists deny their bond of loyalty to the country of their nationality... Read more

IMF : Economic forecasts fall sharply
On 24 June, the International Monetary Fund estimated that the euro zone will suffer a 10.2% drop in GDP in 2020, while the global recession will be 4.9%. Italy, Spain and France are the most affected countries. The IMF thus forecasts a 6-point growth of the euro zone in 2021. It underlines the importance of multilateral cooperation, particularly in building up global stocks of essential goods and protective equipment, financing research, consolidating public health systems, and setting up aid schemes for the most deprived populations... Read more

Eurostat : Report on Sustainable Development Goals
On 22 June Eurostat published a report on the implementation of sustainable development objectives (SDOs) in the Union, announced as one of the Commission's priorities. The statistical agency notes progress towards achieving most of them over the last five years. SDO 16 "Peace, justice and effective institutions" has seen the most progress, while for SDO 13 "Measures to combat climate change" there has been no progress and for SDO 5 "Gender equality" the Union has even deviated from the targets... Read more
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Studies/Reports : 2020 innovation scoreboard
On 23 June the Commission published the 2020 Innovation Scoreboard, which provides an analysis of innovation performance in the Union and identifies the strengths and weaknesses of Member States. It notes that Europe's performance improved in 2019, surpassing the US for the second year, although it remains below the performance of South Korea, Australia and Japan. Sweden, Finland and Denmark remain the most innovative Member States... Read more
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Report on the framework directive on a maritime strategy
In a report on the 2008 Maritime Strategy Framework Directive, published on 25 June, the Commission notes that the overall state of Europe's marine environments has improved: almost all North Atlantic fishing grounds are considered healthy, and many marine sites are regenerating. However, almost half of Europe's coasts are suffering from eutrophication, the number of plastics and chemicals in the seas is increasing and fishing sites in the Mediterranean remain too polluted... Read more
Member States must improve the fight to combat air pollution
According to the Commission's report on the evaluation of Member States' first air emission control programmes, published on 26 June, the fight to combat air pollution must be improved in order to achieve the objectives set for 2020 and 2030, and to meet the zero pollution target of the Green Pact. Efforts are particularly necessary in the area of agriculture... Read more
Report on the implementation of the Code of Conduct regarding online hate speech
On 22 June, the Commission published its report on the implementation of the Code of Conduct regarding online hate speech, which since 2016 involves European institutions, associations and online platforms. The Commission welcomes the fact that 90% of reported content is now reviewed within 24 hours, compared to 40% in 2016, and that 71% of content declared as hate speech has been removed, compared to 28% in 2016. On the other hand, the number of returns made to users by the platform has stagnated at 67%, compared to 65% in 2016. The Commission calls on the platforms to be more transparent and to give more systematic feedback to users... Read more

Culture : Art and Spirits at the Maillol Museum
Until 1 November, the Maillol Museum in Paris is presenting "Esprit es-tu là", an exhibition devoted to the spiritualist artists of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, a movement that links art with magic and the afterlife... Read more
Riley-Klee in London
Until 31 July, the David Zwirner Gallery in London is showing an exhibition of studies by the English artist Bridget Riley inspired by the work and writings of Paul Klee, some of which are also on display... Read more
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Unfinished Stories in Hamburg
The Hamburg Kunsthalle is hosting two exhibitions during the summer. One, which runs until 2 August, is devoted to the theme of mourning and loss in contemporary art. The second, "Unfinished Stories", explores how artists since the 1960s have dealt with the connection between individuals, society and the passage of time... Read more
Drawings by Joaquin Sorolla
The Sorolla Museum in Madrid is extending an exhibition devoted to the drawings of Joaquin Soralla, a painter of the Impressionist period, until 30 August... Read more
Urszula Broll retrospective in Warsaw
The Sculpture Museum in the Krolikarnia Palace in Warsaw presents "Urszula Broll. Atman means breath", a retrospective of this artist, who died at the beginning of the year, which evokes the relationship between man and nature, mysticism and Zen philosophy... Read more

29th June-3rd July 2020


Negotiations between the European Union and the UK

30th June 2020

EU-Korea Meeting

Conference on the future of Syria

1st July 2020

Start of Germany Presidency of the Council

5th July 2020


General Elections

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