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#COVID-19 tracing apps: Ensuring privacy and data protection
Dedicated mobile apps could play a key role in the fight against Covid-19 and the EU has been working with member states to develop effective solutions. As apps could expose sensitive user data, Parliament has underlined the need to ensure they are designed carefully.
Source: EU Reporter
EU plans to reform Energy Charter Treaty falling short, activists say
An updated European Commission proposal to reform the Energy Charter Treaty is falling short of what’s needed to reinstate governments’ “right to regulate” in areas like climate change, activists say.
EU member states gave the European Commission a mandate last year to revise the 1991 Energy Charter Treaty, which has faced mounting criticism for putting the interests of fossil fuel firms over workers’ rights and the environment. The Energy Charter’s initial objective was to shield oil and gas companies from “political risk” when investing in the former communist bloc after the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. But the treaty has since backfired on governments, which have faced a growing number of lawsuits by energy firms when their investments plans were frustrated by regulators. Russia, then Italy, pulled out of the treaty after being slapped with heavy fines by private arbitration tribunals set up under the charter. The European Commission proposed reforming the charter last year, calling it “outdated”, notably when it comes to its controversial Investment-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) clause.
Wind and solar best placed to weather corona crisis, IEA says
Renewables are the only energy source set for a growth in demand in 2020 as coal, oil and gas markets shrink, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). EURACTIV’s media partner Climate Home News reports. In its first report since the coronavirus outbreak, the IEA – an influential voice among businesses, investors and governments – reviewed global energy consumption and CO2 emissions trends for the rest of the year. “Renewable energy has so far been the energy source most resilient to COVID-19 lockdown measures,” the IEA found, noting demand for renewable electricity has been largely unaffected by the overall fall in energy use. This, it said, came despite the fact the pace of additional renewable power could decline this year as supply chain disruptions and social distancing measures are significantly delaying construction and installation. Climate Home News previously reported that installations of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roofs of businesses and homes, which is expected to help drive future growth, were hard hit by the economic slowdown.
EU eyes green conditions on state aid to virus-hit firms
An imminent revision of EU state aid rules for troubled firms during the COVID-19 outbreak could either uphold the bloc’s climate goals or descend into “greenwashing”, a senior EU lawmaker has warned.
The European Commission is expected to unveil its new emergency state aid rules in the coming days, allowing national governments to pump billions into ailing companies and save them from bankruptcy. The Commission suspended its normally-strict state aid rules in mid-March, approving so far more than €1.9 trillion worth of national schemes during the pandemic. But the EU executive is still undecided on whether to make aid conditional to climate and environmental objectives of the European Green Deal. The revised state aid rules “is a fundamental test for the European Union’s ability to deliver on its climate ambitions” while preserving the EU single market, said Pascal Canfin, a French lawmaker who chairs the European Parliament’s environment committee. Germany accounts for 52% of the total aid approved by the European Commission so far, prompting concerns that countries with the deepest pockets are getting an unfair advantage from the EU single market during the crisis.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has acknowledged those risks, saying the “huge differences” in aid to troubled firms risked deepening economic disparities within the 27-member bloc. “This difference will have massive effects on the level playing field unless we counter-balance that,” von der Leyen said after an EU summit last month where state aid was one of the contentious issues up for discussion.
Coronavirus: Commission adopts package of measures to further support the agri-food sector
The Commission has published the latest package of exceptional measures to further support the agricultural and food sectors most affected by the coronavirus crisis. The exceptional measures (announced on 22 April) include private storage aid for the dairy and meat sectors, the temporary authorisation to self-organise market measures by operators in hard hit sectors, and flexibility in the implementation of market support programmes. On top of these market measures, the Commission proposed to allow Member States to use rural development funds to compensate farmers and small agri-food businesses with amounts of up to €5,000 and €50,000, respectively.
Source: European Commission.
Trade defence report: restoring the level playing field for European producers
EU trade defence measures are effective in reducing unfair international trading practices, according to an annual report published today by the European Commission. The anti-dumping or anti-subsidy duties imposed by the Commission lead on average to an 80% decrease in unfair imports, leaving other foreign supplies unaffected. EU measures protect now also 23,000 more jobs than a year before.
Source: European Commission.
Commission to adopt broad summer package on 13 May
Prospects for the coming summer season may get a bit clearer for Europeans next Wednesday (13 May) when the European Commission is expected to adopt a broad package on tourism, transport and borders in the context of the coronavirus crisis.
ICE Partners With Amazon, 3M to Identify Counterfeit Coronavirus Gear.
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and companies including 3M Co., Amazon.com Inc. and Pfizer Inc. said they are working together to curtail the flood of counterfeit masks, coronavirus tests and other equipment entering the country. The agency’s center for intellectual-property protection said Tuesday that it was working with companies to identify suspicious shipments and take down suspect online listings for masks and other gear. Agency says partnership with big companies will curtail imports of suspect masks and test kits.
Source: Wall Street Journal
U.S., China Trade Chiefs to Speak as Trump Threatens Deal.
Top Chinese and U.S. trade negotiators will speak as soon as next week on progress in implementing a phase-one deal after President Donald Trump threatened to “terminate” the agreement if Beijing wasn’t adhering to the terms.
White House Rejected C.D.C. Reopening Guidelines, Asking for Revisions.
The Trump administration has rejected detailed guidelines from health experts to help schools, restaurants, churches and other establishments safely reopen, saying they are too prescriptive, according to several administration officials.
Source: The New York Times
Oil prices rise, on pace for more than 30% gain this week.
Oil jumped more on Thursday and was on track for its second best week in history as a number of bullish factors supported prices, including U.S. companies cutting production, Saudi Arabia raising its official oil selling price and gasoline demand improving as economies around the world reopen.
Source : CNBC
Five things to watch in UK-US trade talks.
The U.K and U.S will launch trade talks on Tuesday but they carry high risks for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who is under heavy pressure not to buckle to U.S President Donald Trump’s demands on food standards and health.
U.S. trade deficit soars 12% in March as coronavirus slams exporters and tourism. The U.S. trade deficit widened by almost 12% in March as the coronavirus pandemic grounded international flights, froze the global tourism industry and caused massive disruptions in the exchange of goods such as new cars and iPhones.
Source: Market Watch