FILE PHOTOS: Passengers wearing protective masks sit on planes at Sharm el-Sheikh International Airport, after an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, 20 June 2020. REUTERS / Mohamed Abd El Ghany / Photo File
BERLIN (Reuters) – European Union countries have agreed to general hygiene standards such as social distance and wearing masks on planes and at airports to help curb the spread of the new corona virus, German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer said on Thursday.
“I am pleased that the German proposal was accepted by my colleagues at the European level and that we can agree on this uniform standard,” Scheuer said at the European aviation conference.
Agreed measures include mouth and nose protection for six-year-old passengers and social distance at the airport during security checks and check-in. High fresh air quota on aircraft must be guaranteed and information must be available in several languages.
However, the middle seat does not have to stay free on the plane.
The joint regulation fulfills at least some of the requests made by airlines because various standards have caused confusion.
The German transport ministry said agreement was reached by officials and has not been officially approved by ministers.
Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Mark Potter
FILE PHOTOS: Michel Barnier, head of the EU Brexit negotiator, attended the start of the round of post-Brexit trade agreement talks between the EU and the UK, in Brussels, Belgium on 29 June 2020. John Thys / Pool via REUTERS
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union chief negotiator Brexit said on Thursday that Britain did not show a willingness to break the deadlock in the same field of play and fisheries problems, making sealing a new trade agreement impossible.
“With its current refusal to commit to conditions of open and fair competition and to a balanced agreement on fisheries, Britain makes trade agreements – at this point – impossible,” said Michel Barnier.
He added that as long as London’s position on these two core issues remained unchanged, there was a risk of failure of negotiations and disunity without agreement between Britain and the 27-nation bloc by the end of this year.
Speaking after this week’s negotiating round in London, Barnier said there was no progress at all in the matter of ensuring justice in state aid.
“The time for answers is fast running out,” he said at a press conference in London, referring to the five months remaining before the end of the UK transition period since officially leaving the European Union at the end of January.
“If we don’t reach agreement on our future partnership, there will be more friction.”
Barnier noted some progress on lateral issues this week but said the European Union would not seal an agreement that would damage the fishing industry and noted that the two sides were still “far away” from each other with only a few weeks to go.
“We will not accept to pay bills for British political choice,” he said.
Speaking separately in London on Thursday, British Brexit negotiator David Frost said he thought it was possible to seal the deal in September.
Reporting by Gabriela Baczynska and John Chalmers; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne
PHOTO PHOTO: German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer awaits the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Berlin, Germany, July 15, 2020. Michael Kappeler / Pool via REUTERS
BERLIN (Reuters) – German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer aims to clear toll roads that are almost closed to cars throughout Germany and Europe during the country’s presidency in the European Union, a draft document seen by Reuters on Wednesday showed.
Within eight years, almost all vehicles on the highway, including trucks, vans and cars, had to pay tolls, according to a draft for EU toll directives.
“Regarding member countries that have established filling systems, tolls or levies will be imposed on all vehicles except coaches and buses,” the document said Scheuer wanted to be approved by the German ministry on Wednesday.
That would make it Germany’s official proposal to become president of the bloc which began on July 1 and runs until the end of the year.
However, government officials told Reuters that several German ministries wanted to put the project on ice even though long-distance casualties were seen as a step to help protect the climate.
This is particularly sensitive for a ministry led by the Social Democrats (SPD), which shares power with conservative Chancellor Angela Merkel and has long been critical of car tolls.
Reporting by Markus Wacket; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Michelle Martin
BERLIN, July 21 (Reuters) – The possibility of a gradual economic recovery that occurred in the second half of 2020 has increased thanks to EU leaders agreeing to a large stimulus plan for their economies affected by the coronavirus, German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said.
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, he said the deal was good news for millions of people in Germany and Europe, adding: “The chance that we will experience a cautious and slow recovery in the second half of this year, from around the end of October, has been very increased. ”
He expects continued recovery in 2021 and 2022, adding that he hopes all European countries to return to growth in 2021.
European Union leaders hope the 750 billion euro ($ 857.85 billion) recovery fund and its associated 1.1 trillion euro budget in 2021-2017 will help the continent face the deepest recession since the Second World War after a coronavirus outbreak closed the entire economy. ($ 1 = 0.8743 euros) (Reporting by Michelle Martin, edited by Thomas Escritt)
MILAN, July 20 (Reuters) – Italy’s high administrative court on Monday referred a case of fines for Enel’s utility for alleged abuse of dominant market position to the European Court of Justice, a court document showed.
The Italian competition watchdog last year ordered Enel and his two subsidiaries to pay a fine of 93 million euros ($ 106 million), imposed on operations in the Italian power market.
The fine was later reduced to 27.5 million euros after an appeal by the energy group, although Enel denied making a mistake and asked to cancel the reduced sentence.
The European Union Judiciary Court must clarify some aspects of European legislation regarding market abuse, which are important for assessing Enel’s appeal, the administrative court of the State Council said in a decision seen by Reuters.
Enel was not immediately available to comment.
$ 1 = 0.8743 euro Writing by Giulio Piovaccari; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – European Union leaders may not reach agreement on a coronavirus stimulus plan on Sunday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said when marathon negotiations went into the third day and severity increased at the request of rich but thrifty countries.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel made a statement when she arrived for the first face-to-face EU summit since the coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19), in Brussels, Belgium July 19, 2020. Francisco Seco / Pool via REUTERS
Germany and France, the European Union’s power makers, are looking for an agreement on a 1.8 trillion euro ($ 2.06 trillion) economic recovery package to save bloc economies facing their worst recession since the Second World War.
After two tiring days of negotiations, a group of rich nations in the richer north led by the Netherlands no longer seemed to back down from demands for package cuts, underscoring the depth of the EU’s north-south separation.
“There are many good intentions, but also many positions. I will try my best but there will be no results, “Merkel said in Brussels when he arrived for the third day of talks.
On Saturday night, he and French President Emmanuel Macron left informal talks late that day early, refusing to accept that the level of free grants for the ailing economy in the package fell below 400 billion euros.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte had previously accused the Netherlands and its allies Austria, Sweden, Denmark and Finland as “extortion”. Stockholm proposes to cut grants to 155 billion euros.
In their first face-to-face meeting since the spring break of the corona virus in Europe, leaders wearing face masks have framed the summit as a ‘make or break’ moment for nearly 70 years of European integration.
Failure to unite amid an unprecedented economic and health crisis will raise serious questions about the continuation of the bloc, officials and experts said.
Macron said there was a desire to compromise, but that should not deter “from the legitimate ambitions we need to have,” referring to the level of money available in the planned 750 billion euro recovery fund, which will be funded by money collected on the capital market.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, who faces parliamentary elections in March 2021, was honest about the split with France and Germany on Saturday night.
“They were walking upset,” Rutte said of Merkel and Macron. “The big difference still exists,” he said.
While the Netherlands and its allies survived, other obstacles remained, not least because Britain’s departure from the EU meant that others had to add more money to cover the gap in the bloc’s shared cash.
Hungary, supported by Poland’s euro allies, has threatened to veto the package over a proposed new mechanism, supported by the Netherlands and most other EU countries, to freeze countries that violate democratic principles.
“There is a very different position,” Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis told reporters. “The Netherlands insists that the rule of law must be one of the conditions for providing funds.”
Additional reporting by Tom Sims in Frankfurt, Bart Meijer in Amsterdam, Jan Lopatka in Prague, Marine Strauss in Brussels, writing by Robin Emmott, edited by Alexandra Hudson
BRUSSELS / BERLIN (Reuters) – The German Minister of Health urges the World Health Organization (WHO) to speed up its review of how to deal with a pandemic, which seems to mark a tougher European line on the UN body.
PHOTO FILE: Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attended a press conference organized by the Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by a new corona virus, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. July 3, 2020. Fabrice Coffrini / Pool via REUTERS / File Photo
Berlin, which holds the rotating presidency of the European Union, has so far largely protected the organization from the strongest criticism by Washington, which wants to leave the WHO because of its proximity to China.
But now Germany seems to be taking a firmer position.
Spahn told reporters that he had discussed the WHO crisis management review with its leader Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus twice over the past 20 days.
“In both conversations I encouraged it very clearly to launch this independent expert commission and to accelerate its launch,” said Spahn.
WHO said last week it would form an independent panel to review its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic and the response by the government.
US President Donald Trump accused WHO of being too close to China and not doing enough to question Beijing’s actions at the start of the crisis. Tedros has rejected the suggestion and said that his agency made the world know.
Tedros said the panel would provide an interim report for the annual meeting of health ministers in November and present a “substantive report” next May.
Spahn said the review was important now, even if the pandemic was still raging around the world, because “we can already draw conclusions.”
This could lead to swift action on governance and to enhance “cooperation between political and scientific levels” of the organization, Spahn added.
The European Union government said the review should be followed by organizational reform, possibly already being discussed with the United States and other members of the G7 rich nations group, officials told Reuters.
An official said the aim was to ensure WHO independence.
Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio in Brussles, Joseph Nasr, and Andeas Rinke in Berlin, Edited by William Maclean
BRUSSELS, July 16 (Reuters) – The European Union’s higher court said on Thursday that the overhaul of joint banks adopted in Italy in 2015 was in line with EU rules, some rejecting appeals filed by consumer organizations.
The court said the reform was legal but ordered national judges to assess whether some provisions were proportional. This reform was adopted by the government of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and obliged large Italian lenders to become joint-stock companies, in an effort to improve governance and increase their attractiveness to potential investors.
Of the 10 biggest ‘popolari’ banks targeted by reform, all have complied with the terms of the reshuffle, except Banca Popolare in Sondrio. (Reporting by Francesco Guarascio; Editing by Edmund Blair)
BERLIN (Reuters) – Very few of the 2,000 school children and teachers tested in the German state of Saxony showed antibodies to COVID-19, a study found on Monday, showed that schools might not play a big role in spreading the virus as some people feared. .
Germany began reopening schools in May, although debate continued about the role children might play in spreading the virus to vulnerable adults at home as well as to teachers and older school staff.
Research by the University Hospital in Dresden analyzed blood samples from nearly 1,500 children aged between 14 and 18 and 500 teachers from 13 schools in Dresden and the Bautzen and Goerlitz districts in May and June.
The largest study conducted in Germany in school children and teachers includes testing in schools where there is a coronavirus outbreak.
Of the nearly 2,000 samples, only 12 had antibodies, said Reinhard Berner of the University Hospital in Dresden, adding that the first results did not provide evidence that school children had a role in spreading the virus very quickly.
“Children can even act as a brake on infection,” Berner said at a press conference, saying infections in schools do not cause epidemics, while the spread of the virus in the household is also less dynamic than previously thought.
Saxony’s Minister of Education Christian Piwarz said the study showed schools in the state could be reopened as usual after the summer holidays in late August with a number of conditions, such as wearing masks and maintaining social distance if possible.
Berner said the study was representative for the state of Saxony, which has a relatively low infection rate compared to other parts of Germany.
For other countries with low infection rates, the study shows schools can be reopened without causing widespread virus outbreaks, he said.
A separate study on antibodies to COVID-19 among blood donors showed that antibodies were only found in 1.3 percent of 12,000 blood samples, the head of the Robert Koch Institute for public health, Lothar Wieler, said on Monday.
Reporting by Caroline Copley and Markus Wacker, edited by Ed Osmond
FILE PHOTOS: Swedish Foreign Minister Ann Linde attends a press conference with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov (no photo) in Moscow, Russia, February 4, 2020. REUTERS / Evgenia Novozhenina
BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Sweden said on Monday that it supported Franco-German efforts to respond strongly to China’s new security law in Hong Kong, joining Denmark and the Netherlands in encouraging the European Union to consider preventative measures against Beijing.
Like much of the West, the European Union condemned the Chinese parliament’s decision to pass national security laws for the former British colony in Hong Kong despite international protests.
But the threat of retaliation is unclear.
“There are proposals for specific steps proposed by Germany and France which I will support because we need to react to what is happening in Hong Kong,” Swedish Foreign Minister Anne Linde said before the rare meeting in private with her EU colleagues. in Brussels.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen last month warned of “very negative consequences” for Beijing if it restricted guarantees of freedom in Hong Kong that were not enjoyed on the mainland.
EU officials refused to elaborate on the steps, but two EU diplomats said they did not provide formal sanctions against China, the bloc’s second-largest trading partner.
Instead, they require an extension of the EU export ban on equipment that can be used for torture or repressive policing, such as barbed sticks or rubber bullets, giving Hong Kong activists long-term refugee status on the block and supporting more opportunities for Hong Kong students to learn in Europe.
Sweden is seeking the release of its citizen Gui Minhai, who was sentenced to 10 years in prison in February, accused by Beijing of illegally providing intelligence abroad.
Gui, a bookseller who was previously based in Hong Kong who sold books critical of China’s political leadership, was detained by mainland police in 2018. He was arrested while together with Swedish diplomats on a train bound for Beijing.
Reporting by Robin Emmott; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky