The French think differently about refugees than Germans


French President Emmanuel Macron and Chancellor Merkel during an EU summit on refugee policy in 2018
Image: dpa

In France, given the pictures from Greek refugee camps, the mood is completely different from that in Germany. Calls to take in more people go unheard. A majority calls for isolation.

Dhe fate of the people in Moria affects the French public far less than the German. When demonstrators marched through German cities with “We have space” banners for the admission of migrants, the yellow vests movement was rehearsing a comeback in France. Voices like those of the Green MEP Damien Carême that the French government was failing to accept it again went unheard. “Once again, it is Angela Merkel who is giving Europe a lesson in humanity,” said Carême.

The Green had failed as mayor in Grande-Synthe (2001-2019) on the English Channel coast with his plan to rebel against the course of the government in Calais and to create a “humane” reception center made of log cabins in his city. The warehouse, which was built at great expense for the city, fell victim to a deliberate fire in 2017, which was the result of a dispute between conflicting migrant groups. It was not rebuilt. Incidents like this fuel suspicion in France. A majority not only tolerates the restrictive admission policy, it demands it.

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Re-registration of the Boeing 737 Max breakdown plane is getting closer

Dhe re-registration of the Boeing 737 Max, which has been banned from flying worldwide for a year and a half after two crashes, is getting closer: According to the EU flight control authority Easa, the machine could get the green light for flights in Europe “by the end of the year”. The head of the American air traffic control (FAA), Steve Dickson, also wants to personally take part in a test flight next Wednesday, as the authority announced on Friday. “For the first time in a year and a half, it can be said that the end of work on the Max is in sight,” said Easa boss Patrick Ky on Friday at a video press conference. It is being examined “how we can put the Max back into operation by the end of the year”. Previously, the machine had successfully completed a number of test flights by regulatory authorities in the United States, the EU and Canada.

The worldwide flight ban for the 737 Max has been in effect since March 2019. It was imposed after two machines of this type had crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia. A total of 346 people were killed. Investigators assume that the crashes were caused by a problem in a stabilization system that pushes the aircraft’s nose down when a stall is imminent. Other technical problems were also discovered, including electrical wiring. Boeing has now made technical changes, including revising the software for the stabilization system.

The disasters also put the FAA under severe pressure. In mid-September, a report by the US House of Representatives certified that the American aircraft manufacturer as well as the American air traffic control authorities had “repeated and serious failures” in the approval of the aircraft. The authority has now emphasized that it will only lift its flight ban when its security experts are certain that the aircraft meets all the requirements. According to the FAA, their boss Dickson will personally take the helm on Wednesday’s test flight in Seattle.

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How does a region become a risk area?


Pandemic in the air: a flight attendant on a flight from Cairo to Sharm al Sheikh
Image: dpa

The Federal Foreign Office is working on the new rules for travel during the corona pandemic. Some warnings could be omitted. But that is no reason to be too excited about the autumn and winter holidays.

WWhile Federal Health Minister Jens Spahn currently generally considers holiday trips abroad in autumn and winter to be unwise, the Federal Foreign Office is preparing the differentiation of its global corona travel warning: From October 1, the official concerns about travel to some countries could therefore be eliminated. The Federal Foreign Office is already dampening hopes that there will be many; the virus pandemic warnings are expected to remain in force for most countries. On Friday evening even more countries and regions were added: The federal government classified the Czech Republic, Luxembourg and the Austrian state of Tyrol as risk areas.

The travel warnings that relate to other reasons, such as crime, terrorist threats or other health hazards such as the Ebola epidemic, remain in place anyway and are then specifically identified for the respective countries.

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European Union: Crisis Policy in Slow Motion (neue-deutschland.de)

Hardly any other European country is currently as badly affected by the corona pandemic as Belgium. The number of reported infections in the past two weeks was 139 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. Only five countries in the EU had higher values ​​during this period. It was therefore only a matter of time before the virus reached the circles of top politicians. In the middle of the week it became known that a bodyguard of Charles Michel was infected. The Belgian EU Council President had to be quarantined and the special summit of the heads of state and government planned for Thursday and Friday was postponed by a week.

The shift is symbolic of the current situation of the union of states, which is making slow progress in its crisis management. Not only Brexit and its consequences are a constant topic that should be on the agenda again at the summit. The British left the European Union at the beginning of the year. But things get complicated again because the London government wants to violate parts of the Brexit treaty with a single market law. The British plans could override special clauses for Northern Ireland, which should avoid a hard border with the EU state Ireland.

In addition, many other conflicts are smoldering within the EU and with its direct neighbors. After the European Commission presented its proposal for a migration pact this week, there was opposition from Hungary and the Czech Republic. The governments of these countries do not like the fact that their states should be obliged in exceptional cases to accept refugees. They also demand negotiations with dictatorships in North Africa over so-called hotspots, where the refugees are then crammed together and registered. The idea is not new, but so far there are no corresponding agreements with the North Africans.

Even so, the EU has found ways to stop asylum seekers before they reach Europe. To this end, the European Union is cooperating with the so-called Libyan Coast Guard, among others. She was trained by the Europeans and supported with technical means. A report recently presented by Amnesty International documents human rights violations committed against refugees who were picked up by the “coast guard” in the Mediterranean and brought back to Libya. Unlawful killings, enforced disappearances and exploitation of migrants are on the agenda, the report says. The perpetrators are both state and non-state actors.

War has raged in Libya since the fall of Muammar al-Gaddafi in 2011. The EU states decided on Monday to sanction individual companies from Turkey, Jordan and Kazakhstan for violating the UN arms embargo on Libya. These measures are rather symbolic given the large number of actors involved in the conflict. The government in Tripoli is militarily supported by Turkey, the opposition General Khalifa Haftar by a number of other countries, including Egypt and Jordan. It remains contradictory that the Federal Republic of Germany, for example, endorses the EU’s sanctions, but delivers armaments to countries that are involved in the Libyan conflict and create causes of flight.

This applies to Turkey, among others. When the conflict over natural gas in the Eastern Mediterranean between Greece and Cyprus on the one hand and Turkey on the other was discussed at the EU level and the question arose as to whether one should proceed with sanctions against Turkey, the German government counted the brakes. Differences between Germany and France also became clear here. In the war in Libya, the French and Turks support different parties. The government in Paris is considered an ally of the rebel General Haftar. The French want to curb Turkey’s drive for power in the Mediterranean region as a whole and have therefore held military maneuvers with Cyprus and Greece. President Emmanuel Macron recently noted that he saw “no more partner” in Turkey and threatened sanctions in the dispute over drilling rights in the Aegean.

The federal government, on the other hand, did its utmost to prevent tough action by EU states against the country, which is ruled authoritarian by head of state Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, because, in its view, it should not be lost as an economic and geostrategic NATO partner. In addition, Erdoğan can use the numerous refugees who are in his country and would like to travel on to Europe as a means of pressure against the EU.

That is why Erdoğan does not have to be too afraid of very strict punitive measures by the European Union. Its partners there also tend to overlook the fact that Turkey is acting as an aggressor in the region not only with its military activities in Libya, but also through its raids on Kurdish areas in Syria. The federal government in particular is relying on amicable agreements with Erdoğan. For this, important prerequisites have now been created. After talks with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Charles Michel, the Turkish President has shown himself ready for a dialogue with Greece.

Cyprus now lacks reasons to continue to block the EU’s sanctions against Belarus. The island state only wanted to agree to this if punitive measures were also decided against Turkey. The latter should be off the table after the offer of dialogue, when there are no more major provocations from Ankara.

The EU basically agrees that it wants to create a threat against the Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko. Despite allegations of election fraud and major protests, he remains in office. Because the European Union’s plans are not going fast enough for them, the Baltic states have already taken their own steps. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania recently agreed to expand punitive measures against more than 100 people who are held responsible for the fraudulent presidential election in Belarus and the violence against peaceful demonstrators. Those affected are thus prohibited from entering the three Baltic EU countries.

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Was Luis Suárez cheating on the language test?


Luis Suárez celebrates his goal in the 2019 Barcelona game against Dortmund.
Image: AFP

Luis Suárez was about to move to Juventus Turin. The Uruguayan striker only had to take one language test beforehand. Then the Italian authorities intervened – with embarrassing consequences for the university, the Italian club and the player.

For weeks Juventus had dreamed of bringing Luis Suárez, aka “el Pistolero”, from FC Barcelona to Turin. The quota of two non-EU purchases was already met. Why not just make Suárez, whose wife is Italian, an Italian? His application for citizenship had been running for two years anyway. The only thing missing was a language test, which gave him a command of Italian at level B1 of the European Framework of Reference. Juventus contacted the University for Foreigners in Perugia, one of four certification bodies. What happened next is now preoccupying the public prosecutor’s office. For them, the exam that Suárez passed there on September 17th was a “farce”.

Karen Kruger

Karen Kruger

Editor in the features section of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung in Berlin.

Investigations are being carried out against the rector, against the examiner Lorenzo Rocca and against the teacher Stefania Spina, whose online course Suárez attended one hour each for four days. Suárez, who, according to Italian journalists, speaks Italian “like a tourist stuttering through the country”, is said to have received the questions in advance. The result was apparently also known before the exam date.

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What else does China need to become a great power?


China’s President Xi Jinping in April 2019
Image: Reuters

Human history has been shaped by the rise and fall of powerful empires and states. Is America’s Crash Inevitable? China is already showing what international order it envisions.

China has achieved an ascent that one looks for in vain in human history: the country is recording above-average economic growth. Economic output, at $ 13 trillion, is 43 times as high as in 1978. Military spending has been increasing for years, and China has also caught up with innovations in recent decades. President Xi Jinping speaks of the “Chinese dream”. According to him, the People’s Republic should become a “superpower” by its 100th birthday in a good 30 years. So is the United States of America stumbling towards decline as a world power and is China taking its place?

In science, a whole line of research deals with the transfer of power and the rise and fall of the hegemon, the most powerful state in the international system. Political scientist Iris Wurm from Goethe University in Frankfurt explains that two indicators provide information about whether states are going up or down. “First, it’s about how much power you have,” says Wurm. This power can be defined and evaluated in different ways. The analysis of power transfers included “objectively measurable indicators” such as economic growth, innovative capacity and a state’s military spending. “Secondly, it depends on whether states convert this objectively gained power into a will to shape things. Does the growing state want to change the international order at all? “

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EU Commission appeals against Apple judgment

Dhe dispute over Apple’s back tax payment of 13 billion euros in Ireland is going to the supreme court of the European Union. As expected, the EU Commission announced an appeal against the ruling of the EU court in July, as the Brussels authority announced on Friday. The decision raises important legal questions about the application of the state aid rules, said the responsible EU Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. These are now to be clarified by the European Court of Justice (ECJ). Furthermore, the Commission takes the view that “the General Court erred in a number of legal errors in its judgment”.

In July, the EU court declared the EU Commission’s additional request from 2016 null and void. The Commission has not been able to show that Apple’s tax arrangements in Ireland in 1991 and 2007 constituted prohibited State aid. It was a painful setback for the Brussels authority and Competition Commissioner Vestager herself.

Vestager: “Fair competition affects”

Vestager now emphasized: “For the Commission it remains the highest priority to ensure that all large and small companies pay their fair share of taxes.” The EU states are indeed responsible for their tax laws. “If Member States grant tax advantages to certain multinational companies that are not available to their competitors, this affects fair competition in the European Union in violation of state aid rules,” stressed Vestager. The Commission must therefore use all available means.

Vestager had asked Apple in August 2016 to pay the billions in Ireland because the country had granted the group illegal special treatment in terms of tax conditions. Ireland and Apple resisted.

The key question in the process was what proportion of the money accumulated in Ireland should have been taxed in the country. The group had stressed before the EU court that the earnings of the two Irish subsidiaries in question were primarily taxable in the United States. Therefore, Apple was asked to pay twice. The commission also failed to convince the court that Apple was getting special rates in Ireland that were not available to other companies.

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Belgium says goodbye to the mask requirement

AOn the map of the EU infection control authority, Belgium is a single dark red spot. The number of reported corona infections in the past two weeks was 139 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. In the European Union the country belongs to the top group; only Spain, the Czech Republic, France, Luxembourg and Malta have even higher values. But while protective measures are being ramped up again in many countries, Belgium, with its 11.5 million inhabitants, is taking an unusual path: It is easing the restrictions again. “Our country is moving from crisis management to risk management,” said incumbent Prime Minister Sophie Wilmès after a meeting of the National Security Council. “We are learning to live with the risk of the coronavirus in our society.” Many Belgians were relieved, but experts warned that the government was sending the wrong signal.

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

Earlier than the neighboring countries, Belgium issued new regulations in the summer to stop the virus. In July, the numbers in Antwerp really exploded, where a night curfew was imposed. Restaurants and bars had to close at 11 p.m.

The online flat rate: F +


At the beginning of August it was Brussels’ turn. The capital region imposed a general obligation to wear protective masks everywhere in public spaces – even when cycling. While the infections decreased rapidly in Antwerp, only the increase was slowed in Brussels. Cafés and restaurants were full and the distance was barely maintained. All parts of the city are now colored dark red. Nevertheless, the mask requirement will be lifted on October 1st. The mayors should then only enforce them in densely populated areas. It had already started at the end of July. At that time the situation became so confusing – the capital region consists of 19 independent municipalities – that nobody knew where to wear a mask and where not. That could happen again now.

Relaxed contact restrictions

The Belgians are being freed from the unloved “bubble” in which they were supposed to move up to now: a household was only allowed to have close contact with five people per month. The new rule is: Each person can have five close contacts, i.e. twenty in a family of four. The requirements for weddings are also being relaxed. In future, an unlimited number of guests can be invited as long as they sit at tables of ten that are one and a half meters apart. This is also done in restaurants and cafés. The quarantine requirements are also being relaxed. Previously, two weeks were mandatory if someone had contact with a person who tested positive. In the future, one week will be sufficient – provided that the test result is negative at the end of the week. One of the first beneficiaries is likely to be EU Council President Charles Michel, who went into quarantine on Tuesday and wants to catch up on the European Council that has been postponed next week.

“Better a lighter measure that is observed than a drastic one that no one follows,” said Wilmès to justify the relaxation. The respected virologist Marc Van Ranst promptly disagreed. “The National Security Council wanted relaxation, but we have been overtaken by reality,” he said on Flemish television. In a few weeks he expects “big problems”. The epidemiologist Marius Gilbert withdrew from the government’s expert council – allegedly only for professional reasons. But he too said goodbye with the warning that the impression should not now arise that there were no more restrictions.

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What else does China need to become a great power?


China’s President Xi Jinping in April 2019
Image: Reuters

Human history has been shaped by the rise and fall of powerful empires and states. Is America’s Crash Inevitable? China is already showing what international order it envisions.

China has achieved an ascent that one looks for in vain in human history: the country is recording above-average economic growth. Economic output, at $ 13 trillion, is 43 times as high as in 1978. Military spending has been increasing for years, and China has also caught up with innovations in recent decades. President Xi Jinping speaks of the “Chinese dream”. According to him, the People’s Republic should become a “superpower” by its 100th birthday in a good 30 years. So is the United States of America stumbling towards decline as a world power and is China taking its place?

In science, a whole line of research deals with the transfer of power and the rise and fall of the hegemon, the most powerful state in the international system. Political scientist Iris Wurm from Goethe University in Frankfurt explains that two indicators provide information about whether states are going up or down. “First, it’s about how much power you have,” says Wurm. This power can be defined and evaluated in different ways. The analysis of power transfers included “objectively measurable indicators” such as economic growth, innovative capacity and a state’s military spending. “Secondly, it depends on whether states convert this objectively gained power into a will to shape things. Does the growing state want to change the international order at all? “

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EU commission warns: health systems, corona and influenza

Dhe EU Commission sounded the alarm on Thursday because of the sharp rise in infections with the coronavirus. “In fact, in some Member States the situation is now worse than it was during the peak in March,” said Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides. The containment measures taken by the states were either ineffective or not enforced or followed. Although it is currently mainly younger people who are infected, which is why the mortality rate remains low, the number of admissions to intensive care units is increasing. Kyriakides warned of a “deadly double pandemic” because of the flu season now also beginning, which could overload the health systems. “All Member States must take countermeasures immediately, at the first sign of new possible outbreaks.”

Thomas Gutschker

Political correspondent for the European Union, NATO and the Benelux countries based in Brussels.

The urgent warning was accompanied by a new risk assessment by the European infection control authority ECDC. It divides the Member States into three groups. The situation is therefore most threatening in Bulgaria, Croatia, Malta, Spain, the Czech Republic and Hungary. In these states there is a high proportion of older patients, and consequently also severe courses and sharply increasing death rates. In parts of these countries, the health system is already under pressure, the intensive care units are busy and the staff is exhausted.

The ECDC recorded “worrying developments” in a dozen other countries: Estonia, Denmark, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, Norway, Austria, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Germany is in the third group of countries with “stable trends”, where infections are increasing, but so far have hardly affected the older population.

Kyriakides criticizes lax behavior

The ECDC director Andrea Ammon said that in many places private celebrations have driven the infection rates high. She warned that young people could develop severe courses from Covid-19; Most recently, 44 percent of the severe courses were reported from the age group between 15 and 49 years. The states with worrying and alarming numbers should now take action to bring contagion in the younger age group under control and to protect the most vulnerable and health workers. The Commission issued urgent recommendations for this in July. So far, these recommendations have been followed “only to a certain extent,” the director said. Ammon called in particular to educate young people that they are by no means invulnerable.

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Health Commissioner Kyriakides criticized the laxity of several Member States. “If we hear today, ‘We are okay,’ that is not enough,” she said. The states must now prepare for “worst-case” scenarios. She referred to the possibility of joint procurement of medical equipment, which must be initiated in good time. Even a vaccine against the virus won’t solve all problems. The states should also quickly coordinate how they regulate entry and exit in risk areas. “We need to prevent a situation where governments believe they have no choice but to impose general lockdowns,” warned Kyriakides.

The Commissioner’s dramatic tone, who spoke with Ammon in a joint press conference, should also be seen against the background of allegations that Brussels failed to warn of the pandemic in good time at the beginning of the year. In fact, Kyriakides had already pointed out the dangers at the end of January, but that went under because the British political exit overshadowed everything else in Brussels.

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