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News on Europe - March 2020

 
31 March 2020​​​​

Image Source: Pixabay


On 30 March, the European Commission announced up to €38 million immediate support for the Western Balkans to tackle health emergency caused by coronavirus, and reallocation of €374 million to help with economic recovery of the region. A further €140 million was announced for the EU’s eastern partner countries – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

Read more: https://www.euractiv.com/section/eastern-europe/news/eu-announces-covid-19-help-for-balkans-eastern-neighbours-after-criticism/

 

Related articles:

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_561

https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/sites/near/files/coronavirus_support_wb.pdf

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_562

https://ec.europa.eu/neighbourhood-enlargement/sites/near/files/coronavirus_support_eap.pdf




30 March 2020​​​​

Image Source: Pixabay


European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen said on 28 March that the Commission will propose changes to the multi-annual financial framework (MFF) (EU’s long term budget from 2021-2027) to address the fallout from the Covid-19 pandemic. A stimulus package will be proposed to address the economic damage and at the same time ensure cohesion within the Union.

Read more: https://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/news/von-der-leyen-announces-new-post-virus-economic-stimulus-package/

 

Related articles:

https://www.politico.eu/article/von-der-leyen-corona-bonds-slogan-firestorm-in-italy/

https://www.politico.eu/article/commission-to-put-forward-changes-to-mff-proposal/

https://www.euronews.com/2020/03/28/eu-commission-to-revise-its-budget-proposal-in-light-of-covid-19-crisis

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/statement_20_554




27 March 2020​​​

Image Source: European Commission


During the European Parliament Plenary Session on 26 March, European Commission President Ursula Von Der Leyen stressed the importance of solidarity and staying united against Coronavirus challenges. To deal with COVID-19, the EU has put in place investment package to support health systems in member states and extend the EU solidarity fund to cover health emergencies in European countries.

Read more: https://www.euractiv.com/section/coronavirus/news/commission-chief-meps-slam-lack-of-eu-solidarity-in-covid19-crisis/

 

Related articles:

https://www.politico.eu/article/von-der-leyen-slams-only-for-me-covid-19-response/

https://www.euronews.com/2020/03/26/coronavirus-europe-is-in-a-fight-for-its-life-says-ursula-von-der-leyen

https://www.neweurope.eu/article/von-der-leyen-calls-for-united-front-against-coronavirus/

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/speech_20_532

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/statement_20_539

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/headlines/priorities/eu-response-to-coronavirus/20200325IPR75812/covid-19-meps-call-for-a-more-unified-eu-response

https://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20200325IPR75811/covid-19-parliament-approves-crucial-eu-support-measures




26 March 2020​​

Image Source: Pixabay

 

According to new figures published by the European Environmental Agency (EEA) on 25 March, the pollution levels have dropped more than 50% in parts of Europe.

The EEA data notes a large decrease in nitrogen dioxide (NO2) pollution; in particular, the air quality in Italian cities has improved. NO2 levels in Milan have dropped nearly 25%, pollution has decreased 35% in the Lombardy city of Bergamo, and concentrations are up to 35% lower in Italy’s capital Rome.

However, the EEA’s executive director Hans Bruyninckx was also cautious not to laud the corona-effect as a win for air quality activists, and instead called for a just and well-managed transition to a sustainable future.

Read more: https://www.euractiv.com/section/transport/news/air-pollution-plummets-as-virus-curbs-traffic-new-data-reveals/

 

Related articles:

https://www.neweurope.eu/article/coronavirus-outbreak-leads-to-dramatic-air-quality-improvement/





25 March 2020​

Image Source: Pixabay


On 24 March, Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi announced that the European Union has opened membership talks with North Macedonia and Albania.

The decision – made via video conference – means two Balkan nations will be the first countries to begin EU membership negotiations since Serbia started on the same path in 2014. As the decision was taken in a video conference, it will be formally endorsed by EU leaders via a written procedure later this week.

Read more: https://www.euractiv.com/section/enlargement/news/balkan-hopefuls-get-green-light-to-start-eu-talks-conditions-still-weigh-on-tirana/

 

Related articles:

https://www.politico.eu/article/north-macedonia-albania-eu-membership-talks/

https://www.euronews.com/2020/03/24/brussels-can-open-eu-membership-talks-with-albania-and-north-macedonia




23 March 2020

Image Source: Pixabay


Following discussion with the Internal Market Comm​issioner Thierry Breton, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has agreed to reduce its streaming quality across Europe for at least 30 days to reduce traffic congestion on European networks.

Europe’s Internet infrastructure is ‘under strain’ as the demand for internet capacities increased following several countries in lockdown, and some with citizens in self-isolation and teleworking. In a statement by Netflix spokesperson, it is estimated that by reducing streaming quality, Netflix will reduce traffic on European networks by around 25% while ensuring a good quality services for their members. Commissioner Breton also urged users to switch to standard definition when HD is not necessary to secure internet access for all.

Alphabet’s YouTube is the second company after Netflix to act after Commissioner Breton urged streaming platforms to cut the quality of their videos to prevent internet overload.

Read more: https://www.euractiv.com/section/digital/news/youtube-to-reduce-streaming-quality-in-europe-due-to-coronavirus/

 

Related articles:

https://www.neweurope.eu/article/following-talks-with-brussels-netflix-cuts-streaming-quality-to-ease-internet-congestion-in-europe/

https://www.politico.eu/article/netflix-moves-to-reduce-traffic-on-european-networks/

https://www.euractiv.com/section/digital/news/commission-internet-under-strain-amid-covid-19-overuse/

https://www.politico.eu/article/brussels-in-talks-with-netflix-about-reducing-internet-congestion/

https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-51968302

https://www.politico.eu/article/youtube-adjusts-video-quality-to-help-with-european-internet-congestion/




19 March 2020

Image Source: Pixabay


Misinformation has been spreading widely recently on the Facebook-owned messaging app – WhatsApp.

In a recent example, a false voice message was shared on WhatsApp claiming that researchers at the Medical University of Vienna has found a link between ibuprofen and the coronavirus. With lightning speed, an audio recording of the message spread among German language users of WhatsApp, and similar recordings in other languages like Slovak also began circulating on the service. WhatsApp encourage all users to check the facts online before sharing messages that have been forwarded to them, and to engage directly with trusted and official sources for important information.

Read more: https://www.politico.eu/article/the-coronavirus-covid19-fake-news-pandemic-sweeping-whatsapp-misinformation/

 

Related articles:

https://www.euronews.com/2020/03/18/coronavirus-whatsapp-bids-to-stop-its-platform-being-used-to-spread-covid-19-lies

https://www.euractiv.com/section/digital/news/eu-auditors-probe-blocs-disinformation-fight-amid-covid-19-concerns/

https://www.euronews.com/2020/03/18/coronavirus-fact-check-what-do-we-know-about-ibuprofen-and-covid-19




18 March 2020​​​


Image Source: Pixabay


The second round of post-Brexit trade talks planned for 18 March have been put on hold due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.

A joint statement suggests that there might be some contact this week between the two chief negotiators – David Frost for the UK and Michel Barnier for the EU – and they’re still exploring the possibilities of holding upcoming talks via virtual negotiations.

Read more: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-51935677

 

Related articles:

https://www.euractiv.com/section/coronavirus/news/brexit-talks-cancelled-due-to-covid-crisis-uk-confirms/

https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-51871155

https://www.politico.eu/article/brexit-talks-could-be-held-via-video-link-due-to-coronavirus/




 17 March 2020​​


Image Source: European Commission


On Monday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a temporary 30-day restriction on non-essential travel to the EU in an effort to halt COVID-19 from rapidly spreading across the continent. At the same time, she also proposed ‘green lanes’ to give priority to the transport of goods in the internal market to ensure economic continuity.

Read more: https://www.euractiv.com/section/global-europe/news/eu-executive-proposes-shutting-down-blocs-external-borders-for-30-days/

 

Related articles:

https://www.neweurope.eu/article/commission-proposes-30-day-non-essential-travel-ban-to-the-eu/

https://www.euronews.com/2020/03/16/eu-introduces-30-day-restriction-on-all-non-essential-travel-to-bloc

https://www.politico.eu/article/von-der-leyen-calls-for-ban-on-travel-to-eu/

https://www.politico.eu/article/europe-hunkers-down-for-war-against-coronavirus/




16 March 2020


Image Source: Pixabay


Europe has now become the epicentre of the Coronavirus outbreak. European countries are taking action to contain the outbreak and protect their economies.

As of 15 March, the number of confirmed cases in Italy is 27,247 of which 2,335 have been cured, and Italy’s government is finalising a stimulus package as a response to the spread of the virus. With effect from 16 March at 8am, Germany will partially close its borders with Austria, Denmark, France, Luxembourg and Switzerland in the effort to stem the spread of the coronavirus. Spain and Portugal will limit transit across their common border starting 16 March.

Read more: https://www.euractiv.com/section/coronavirus/linksdossier/coronavirus-whats-happening-in-europe/

 

Related articles:

https://www.politico.eu/article/coronavirus-live-updates-latest-news-blog/

https://www.euronews.com/2020/03/15/coronavirus-latest-trump-tests-negative-australia-orders-self-quarantine

https://www.euractiv.com/section/coronavirus/news/spain-goes-under-lockdown-to-fight-coronavirus/

https://www.euractiv.com/section/health-consumers/short_news/italy-update-covid-19/​

https://www.euractiv.com/section/future-eu/opinion/prominent-europeans-call-for-a-european-answer-to-the-coronavirus-threat/?fbclid=IwAR16wXYSL5b-6Q_Bc68nVlhen2UWP04msDsbHkrppBsi8Jplppsf3D1-l9Q​




13 March 2020
 
 Image Source: European Commission
 

The new Circular Economy Action Plan was unveiled by the European Commission on 11 March. It is one of the main building blocks of the European Green Deal that aims to achieve climate-neutrality by 2050.

The plan – although doesn’t contain hard legislation at this stage – aims at cutting waste in areas like textiles, buildings and electronic equipment. This can be a turning point for sustainability and climate action in Europe.

Read more: https://www.euractiv.com/section/circular-economy/news/eu-unveils-circular-economy-plan-2-0-drawing-mixed-reactions/

 

Related articles:

https://www.politico.eu/article/throwing-away-throwaway-society/

https://ec.europa.eu/commission/presscorner/detail/en/ip_20_420




12 March 2020
 
 Image Source: European Union
 

President of the European Council Charles Michel and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in Brussels on Monday to review the EU-Turkey deal signed in 2016 on managing migrants and refugees. The meeting was an effort to resolve the emerging crisis that saw thousands of people moving to the Turkey-Greece border in the hopes of reaching Europe.​

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