EU Affairs Daily Briefing – 24 June 2020
Today’s edition covers further announcements by the EU to support businesses and how do EU citizens feel about the block’s role during the pandemic. Turkey responds to Macron’s statement on Libya and further splits in foreign policy between the US and EU.
Commission approves €145 million Hungarian scheme to compensate large companies for damages suffered due to Coronavirus outbreak, EU Reporter
As businesses around the EU continue to struggle amidst the pandemic, The EU Reporter (Brussels) announced that the EU commission recently approved a €145 million support package in a bid to rescue large companies. This is yet another support package approved by the supranational body. This package will be available to companies operating in all sectors, with the exception of businesses operating in agricultural and fishery sectors. One estimate places that between 50 to 100 enterprises will benefit from this support. This announcement comes following the yesterday’s package support for Portuguese scheme to support companies affected by the Coronavirus outbreak in autonomous region of Madeira.
France and Germany appeal for swift EU deal on #Coronavirus recovery aid, EU Reporter
The EU has been gradually releasing relevant packages to help businesses across Europe in coping with the government-imposed lock downs. Still, there is a general sense that the EU is not doing enough. A survey of the European Council for Foreign Relations (ECFR) has found that many of those surveyed stated the EU was “irrelevant” in the coronavirus crisis and 63 percent overall believed there ought to be further EU cohesion. The EU Reporter (Brussels) released an article stating that the German Finance minister Olaf Scholz and his French counterpart Bruno Le Maire will be pushing for a broader EU-wide agreement for a swifter and definitive support package. “It’s time to decide, we have everything on the table to support our economies and the quicker the better. Having strong economies in the single market is of course an advantage for all the members of the EU,” Le Maire said.
Coronavirus: EU considers barring Americans from travel list, BBC
The EU ambassadors are scheduled to today (24 June) to plan the gradual reopening of the EU borders. BBC (UK) reports that the US is currently considered to not be included in the list of countries from which travel will be allowed. For now, there is a lack of agreement amongst the member states on how far the reopening should go and those countries who heavily rely on tourism are trying to push for a broader reopening. As the virus continues to spread in the US, it is likely that it will be barred from entering the EU. The commission declared that instead, the priority is to reopen border with non-EU states in Western Balkans.
EU pushing ahead with digital tax despite US resistance, Vestager says, Politico
Politico (Brussels) reports that Margrethe Vestager, The EU’s powerful antitrust and COVID-19 bailout enforcer, declared that the EU will push for a sweeping digital tax. The EU would like to see the enforcement a global effort but has been met with fierce resistance from the US. Vestager said the EU would “really, really prefer a global consensus” on digital tax, but will push ahead with a regional tax, “if we need to.” Vestager argued that the the new tax is crucial because it will make it easier for many large tech companies to minimize their European taxes. The lack of digital tax makes it “so difficult to defend the many, many, many businesses all over the world who pay their taxes,” she said. French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire told the French Senate this month that the U.S. was the lone holdout on a deal: “We were a few inches from an agreement.”
Turkey: Macron suffered ‘an eclipse of the mind’ on Libya, EU Observer
Yesterday we mentioned that President Macron has rebuffed Turkey for their operations in Libya as “playing a dangerous game.” The EU observer (Brussels) now reports that Turkey responded by stating that Macron suffered an “eclipse of the mind” to oppose Ankara’s support for the internationally recognised Tripoli government. The current troubles in Libya are caused by the attacks of putschist Haftar, whom (Macron) supports,” a Turkish foreign ministry spokesperson said.
Israel West Bank annexation rejected by European MPs in letter, BBC
As Israel plans to formally annex parts of already occupied West Bank, the BBC (UK) reports that over 1,000 parliamentarians from across Europe have signed a letter stating their firm opposition to Israel’s move. The push is being led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. If he succeeds, the move could incorporate up to 30% of the territory – land claimed by Palestinians for a future independent state of their own. The letter raises “serious concerns” about the proposals and calls for “commensurate consequences”. The US President Donald Trump’s Vision for Peace plans gave Israel permission to incorporate the settlements, widening the split in foreign policy between the EU and the US.