Riot police detain a protester during an opposition rally to protest against the presidential inauguration in Minsk, Belarus, Wednesday, September 23, 2020. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has been sworn in for his sixth term at an unannounced inauguration ceremony ahead amid massive protests over weeks of saying that the authoritarian leader’s re-election was rigged. Hundreds of people took to the streets in several cities at night to protest the inauguration. (AP / TUT.by Photo)
France is increasing pressure on long-time Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko, with President Emmanuel Macron telling the leading French weekly that “Lukashenko must leave.”
The European Union said Thursday it did not recognize Lukashenko as the president of Belarus because of massive protests by Belarusians who questioned the outcome of last month’s presidential election which Lukashenko claims he won so much. Opposition members and some polling officials in Belarus say the vote was rigged.
Ahead of Monday’s trip to Lithuania and Latvia, Macron was quoted as saying in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper on Sunday as saying it was “clear that Lukashenko had to leave.”
“What is happening in Belarus is a crisis of power, an authoritarian force that cannot accept the logic of democracy and endures violence,” the paper quoted Macron as saying.
In a speech Saturday before the UN General Assembly, Belarus’ foreign minister warned Western countries against meddling or imposing sanctions over the country’s disputed presidential election and government crackdown on protesters.
Thousands of Belarusians have taken part in major rallies since the August 9 elections, which they say were rigged in support of Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years and has just taken secret oaths of office for a new term.
The coronavirus pandemic is having a bigger impact on jobs than previously feared, the United Nations said on Wednesday, with hundreds of millions of jobs lost and workers suffering a “massive” drop in income.
In a new study, the International Labor Organization (ILO) found that by the midpoint of the year, global working hours had fallen 17.3 percent compared to last December – the equivalent of nearly 500 million full-time jobs.
That is nearly 100 million more jobs equivalent than the figure estimated by the ILO in June, when it was estimated that 14 percent of working hours would be lost by the end of the second three-month period this year.
“The impact has been catastrophic,” ILO chief Guy Ryder told reporters in a virtual briefing, pointing out that global labor income has shrunk by 10.7 percent during the first nine months of this year compared to the same period in 2019.
That translates to an estimated $ 3.5 trillion, or 5.5 percent reduction in total global gross domestic product (GDP), the ILO said.
Since emerging in China late last year, the new coronavirus has killed nearly a million people worldwide from the more than 31 million infected.
In addition to health challenges, lockdowns, travel restrictions and other measures taken to contain the virus have had a devastating effect on jobs and incomes around the world.
The ILO also warned that the outlook for the last three months of 2020 has “deteriorated significantly” since its last report in June.
The organization previously estimated that global working hours would be 4.9 percent lower in the fourth quarter than a year earlier, but said it now expects an 8.6 percent decline, which corresponds to 245 million full-time jobs.
This explains that workers in developing countries and emerging economies, especially those working in informal jobs, are more affected than in the previous crisis.
The ILO also pointed out that although many of the most stringent workplace closures have been relaxed, 94 percent of the world’s workers are in countries where some sort of workplace restriction remains in place.
Dan Sangheon Lee, head of the ILO’s labor policy division, warned that the labor situation could worsen.
If the second wave of infections brings tighter restrictions and new lockdowns, he said, “the impact on the labor market could be comparable to the magnitude we saw in the second quarter of this year”.
Ryder warned those encouraging policymakers to focus on the economy rather than health in response to the pandemic.
“It is very clear … that the capacity and speed of the global economy to emerge from a labor market slump is closely linked to our capacity to contain the pandemic,” he said.
“These two things are very closely related, and we must act on that understanding.”
Meanwhile, the ILO report shows that the labor market crash could be worse without the many fiscal stimulus packages provided by the government.
Without such stimulus efforts – totaling about $ 9.6 trillion globally – global working hours would have shrunk by a full 28 percent in the second quarter, he said.
But he warned that fiscal stimulus was being delivered very unevenly, with low and middle-income countries receiving about $ 982 billion less in overall support than their wealthy counterparts.
Ryder urged international efforts to close the loophole, insisting that “no group, country or region can resolve this crisis alone.”
The recent controversial ruling on the European Central Bank by the German Federal Constitutional Court could not have come at a worse time. But that is a necessary reminder that the EU is a community based on the rule of law, and only its sovereign member states can develop it further.
MUNICH – In addition to the euro, Brexit, and COVID-19 crises, Europe is now facing a constitutional crisis, because the European Court of Justice (CJEU) and the German Federal Constitutional Court (GCC) are fighting over European Central Bank policy. Although this latest crisis has erupted at the wrong time, this crisis has been represented by a series of decisions and previous opinions about ECB policy and as such should not surprise anyone.
In its latest ruling, the GCC accused CJEU of exceeding its mandate and used arbitrary reasons in a December 2018 ruling in favor of the ECB. But widespread anger over the GCC’s decision shows the disconnect between what many commentators want and the legal reality.
Although the hierarchy of authority between the two courts clearly exists on the issue of monetary policy, it is not in other policy areas, especially when it comes to the comprehensive and unconventional fiscal rescue policy that the ECB has pursued in recent years with money from press printing. The ECB should be specifically authorized to take these steps under Article 5 of the EU Agreement. But this authorization was not given.
In addition, the EU and its institutions do not have absolute sovereign status, as some observers believe. Under the current agreement, Europe is far from the country that might be desired which would give the ECB and the strength of the CJEU comparable to similar institutions in the nation-state or confederation. For now, the European nation-state is the master of the EU treaty, and under this agreement, the highest court in Denmark and Czech Republic in other cases, have been able to pronounce and enforce ultra vires an assessment of the CJEU’s ruling.
Regarding disputes about the purchase of government securities by the ECB, consider this: even in the United States, the Federal Reserve has not bought public debt from each country, a problem that has become a struggle in Europe. When California, Minnesota, and Illinois were on the verge of bankruptcy, the Fed did not come to save these countries by buying their bonds.
In the euro zone, however, the ECB has allowed the central banks of eurozone members to buy one-third of the government securities in circulation in member countries (issuer limits). This purchase has protected bondholders from losses and kept interest rates low despite high levels of public debt, thus encouraging the government to borrow even more. In doing so, the ECB does not support economic policy, as allowed, but directly addresses it by weakening various EU fiscal and debt agreements aimed at preventing an increase in national debt.
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Even with a two-thirds majority in favor, the German Bundestag cannot approve the terms of a European Union treaty that will allow the ECB to pursue a country’s bailout policy that involves predictable large risks for eurozone taxpayers. Instead, the Federal Republic must first be re-established and a new constitution adopted by the referendum.
In addition, the EU and CJEU do not have legal means to enforce such policies. True, the EU can begin the process of violating Germany. But that will not help, because the German government will not be allowed to pay European Union fines for not complying with CJEU’s decision that the GCC has been considered illegal. CJEU cannot rule out the problem itself, because it is the object of the violation procedure (nemo judex in causa sua). Conflicts resulting from competence will have devastating consequences for the EU.
The GCC decision is a necessary reminder that the EU is a community based on the rule of law, and only its sovereign member states can develop it further. It cannot be developed arbitrarily by expanding the jurisdiction of CJEU or through decisions of a technocratic body such as the ECB Governing Council.
To be sure, European Union sovereign nations must stand together and help those hardest hit by the crisis – especially Italy, which is the first European country to be affected by a pandemic and has suffered 31,000 COVID-19 deaths, the highest number in the EU. In addition to unilateral transfers, which each national government can decide freely, member states must increase the EU budget to provide special assistance to the Italian public and hospitals.
If that is not enough, then a debt moratorium for Italy can be introduced under the Paris Club rules of creditor countries. This must be combined, as in the case of Greece, with capital controls to stop the massive capital flight from Italy to Germany and the United States that has occurred since March.
Despite all this, EU member states must unite to form a political union which in reality will allow the bloc to achieve the desired sovereignty. Such unity should not primarily involve wallet communication. The claim of political union over sovereignty depends first and foremost on the formation of a European army, with everything needed. A mere fiscal union, in fact, will block the path to political unity, because some member states will provide money while others will hold a military trump card.
As the world struggled to stem the spread of new coronaviruses, two Bahraini entrepreneurs decided to add enthusiasm to items that are now almost part of the mask of everyday life.
Noor Khamdan and Nada Alawi wanted to raise awareness and increase enthusiasm for wearing masks in the small Gulf state.
The Khamdan design includes symbols from Gulf culture, ranging from traditional ghutras (headdresses) or the Bahrain flag to the local viral hashtag #Team_Bahrain.
“The mask you are wearing is to protect you and others from COVID-19 and also bring color and excitement to your life in these difficult times,” Khamdan, founder of BH Masks, told AFP.
“By giving people the choice to invest in colorful washable masks, we make sure medical masks are saved for those who need them most, such as medical staff,” said the mother of three children whose masks cost around $ 3.
Like many other Gulf states, Bahrain has required wearing masks outside the home, after loosening some restrictions at the start of the fasting month of Ramadan.
Alawi, one of the founders of the Annada lifestyle brand, reused the uniquely designed scarf into a mask, saying he wanted to serve people who wanted “something different”.
“Some people want to wear something that gives them a little happiness, a little inspiration,” he told AFP.
“With a mandatory mask … you can’t tell someone’s feelings, you can’t know whether they smile at you.”
“At the very least, this is a way to tell someone’s personality when they have color on their faces.”
Annada’s mask, which consists of three sets, is wrapped in a gift box with a ribbon and costs around $ 52.
Twenty-five percent of the proceeds go to charity.
“Even at times like this, you want to get a surprise and feel like you get beauty,” Alawi said.