Category: Europe

Germany’s top court to rule on compensation for Volkwagen ‘Dieselgate’ scandal
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Germany’s top court to rule on compensation for Volkwagen ‘Dieselgate’ scandal

Issued on: 25/05/2020 – 04:48

Almost five years after Volkswagen's admission to cheating on regulatory emissions tests involving millions of cars, Germany's top court will on Monday finally rule in a battle over compensation for tens of thousands of affected owners.

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In an early May hearing, judges at the Federal Court of Justice (BGH) said there was a chance for at least partial compensation for some VW buyers, saying they had indeed been harmed by purchasing a manipulated vehicle.

If their colleagues at the Federal Constitutional Court (BVG) agree in a ruling issued from 0900 GMT, tens of thousands of cases demanding financial compensation could be brought to a close in the coming months.

Such a ruling would be the first major legal setback for VW in its home country, although the scandal has helped drag the entire car sector — one of Germany's most vital — into a historic crisis.

In recent weeks, an out-of-court settlement covering hund..

Spain lifts Covid-19 lockdown measures in Madrid and Barcelona and reopens beaches
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Spain lifts Covid-19 lockdown measures in Madrid and Barcelona and reopens beaches

Issued on: 25/05/2020 – 04:24

Coronavirus lockdown measures will finally be eased for people in Madrid and Barcelona from Monday, while elsewhere in Spain the first beaches are due to reopen.

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Residents in the two cities can now meet in groups of up to 10 people in their homes or on the terraces of bars and restaurants.

The gates of the capital's parks will also be reopened, and major museums will be able to receive a limited number of visitors.

The Madrid and Barcelona regions, the most populated in the country, and a large part of Castile-Leon in the northwest are moving into the first phase of Spain's four-phase deconfinement programme, following what has been one of the strictest lockdowns in the world.

These regions have been on a slower deconfinement track as they bore the brunt of the pandemic in Spain, which has killed more than 28,700 people to date, one of the world's highest tolls.

Everyone must continue to wear a mask, which i..

France has lowest daily increase in new Covid-19 cases and deaths since lockdown
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France has lowest daily increase in new Covid-19 cases and deaths since lockdown

Issued on: 25/05/2020 – 03:45

French authorities reported the smallest daily rise in new coronavirus cases and deaths on Sunday since before a lockdown began on March 17, raising hopes that the worst of the epidemic is over in France.

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The number of confirmed cases rose by 115 to 144,921, health ministry data showed, and the death toll increased by 35 to 28,367 – an increase of just 0.1% for both tallies.

The weekend totals for new cases and deaths were also both the lowest since France began easing its strict coronavirus restrictions on May 11.

Epidemiologist Laurent Toubiana, director of the IRSAN health data institute, suggested the worst of the epidemic had passed and said the coronavirus may not come back, unlike previous pandemics such as the 1918 Spanish flu.

"If we do not see a quick resurgence of the epidemic, we might get a break for a few weeks," he said on BFM TV.

Despite the easing of restrictions, social distancing rules remain in place in..

We will represent France: Video gamers ready for Euro 2020 e-tourney
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We will represent France: Video gamers ready for Euro 2020 e-tourney

Issued on: 23/05/2020 – 13:53Modified: 23/05/2020 – 13:56

Euro 2020 may have been swept from the calendar due to coronavirus, but UEFA's video-game eTournament version kicks off on Saturday regardless.

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Instead of Kylian Mbappe, Harry Kane or Cristiano Ronaldo racing around the pitch, gamers will slug it out, contesting the first ever eEuro from their armchairs.

"The weight of the whole thing is on our shoulders," said 21-year-old Frenchman Lotfi Derradji, who comes from the Paris suburbs but 'plays' for Monaco where he was crowned French champion in 2018.

"We will represent France not on the pitch but on the console, we're getting huge amounts of support," said Derradji's international and club teammate, Walid Rachid Tebane, who won the individual European title in June 2019.

"We are disappointed that the Euros have been postponed but at the same time it switches more attention on to us," added Derradji, who has been playing wit..

France ready to mirror UK quarantine on visitors
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France ready to mirror UK quarantine on visitors

Issued on: 23/05/2020 – 10:48Modified: 23/05/2020 – 10:48

France regrets a British decision to impose a quarantine on people arriving from mainland Europe, and stands ready to impose reciprocal measures, France's AFP news agency quoted the interior ministry as saying on Friday.

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Britain's interior minister Priti Patel said earlier on Friday she will introduce a COVID-19 quarantine for travellers arriving from abroad from June 8, a measure that airlines have warned will devastate their industry.

All international arrivals, including returning Britons, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and provide details of where they will be staying to the authorities. In France, however, visitors will be invited to voluntarily self-quarantine at home.

"Now we are past the peak of this virus, we must take steps to guard against imported cases triggering a resurgence of this deadly disease," Patel said at a news conference.

Priti said those who breach..

Covid-19: France allows religious gatherings to resume
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Covid-19: France allows religious gatherings to resume

Issued on: 23/05/2020 – 07:59Modified: 23/05/2020 – 07:59

France is to allow the resumption of religious gatherings after a two-month hiatus caused by the COVID-19 outbreak, but worshippers will have to wear face masks, the French interior ministry announced.

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The ministry said late on Friday that it would issue a decree setting out the new rules for religious gatherings.

Under the decree, a ban on gatherings imposed in March, as part of government efforts to contain the spread of the coronavirus, would be rescinded. But collective worship would have to observe conditions, including the wearing of masks, a distance of at least one metre between worshippers and hand-washing, the ministry said in a statement.

The French government relaxed some of its lockdown restrictions earlier this month, but did not ease the ban on collective worship. That prompted complaints from faith groups, which said they were being treated unfairly.

The ministry statement said it..

UK PM Johnson resists calls to fire adviser Cummings over breaking lockdown
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UK PM Johnson resists calls to fire adviser Cummings over breaking lockdown

Issued on: 23/05/2020 – 21:18Modified: 23/05/2020 – 21:18

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson resisted calls on Saturday from opposition parties to sack senior adviser Dominic Cummings after he travelled 400 km (250 miles) to northern England while his wife showed COVID-19 symptoms.

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Cummings, who masterminded the 2016 campaign to leave the European Union during the Brexit referendum, travelled to Durham in late March, when a strict lockdown was already in place.

Johnson's office said Cummings made the journey to ensure his 4-year-old son could be properly cared for as his wife was ill with COVID-19 and there was a "high likelihood" that Cummings would himself become unwell.

"I behaved reasonably and legally," Cummings told reporters outside his house after telling them to stay 2 metres apart in accordance with government guidelines.

Asked if he would consider his position, he said: "Obviously not." He then chided reporters for being wrong about th..

Britain to quarantine all international travellers from June 8
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Britain to quarantine all international travellers from June 8

Issued on: 22/05/2020 – 19:39Modified: 22/05/2020 – 19:39

Britain will introduce a COVID-19 quarantine for all travellers arriving from overseas from June 8, interior minister Priti Patel said on Friday, a measure that airlines have warned will devastate their industry.

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All international arrivals, including returning Britons, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days and provide details of where they will be staying to the authorities.

"Now we are past the peak of this virus, we must take steps to guard against imported cases triggering a resurgence of this deadly disease," Patel said at a news conference.

She said those who breached the quarantine in England could be fined 1,000 pounds ($1,218), and that spot checks would be carried out by health and border officials.

The quarantine measures will not apply to those arriving from the Irish Republic, and there are also exemptions for freight drivers, medical professionals and seasonal agricultural wor..

Animal trafficking, ‘wet markets’ increase human exposure to viruses, says top biodiversity researcher
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Animal trafficking, ‘wet markets’ increase human exposure to viruses, says top biodiversity researcher

Issued on: 22/05/2020 – 17:05Modified: 22/05/2020 – 17:05

Philippe Grandcolas, a senior researcher at Frances National Centre for Scientific Research, told FRANCE 24 on the International Day of Biodiversity on Friday that decades of deforestation and pollution have been "a disaster" and that animal trafficking puts humans at risk of viral infections.

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Grandcolas, who leads the biodiversity laboratory at Frances Natural History Museum, said that viruses are part of the planets natural environment, but that animal trafficking and "wet markets" in cities can lead to human exposure.

“We need to educate people and try to break the connection between people that are using animals for food in a traditional way and the big cities where these kinds of food and markets should not be developed anymore,” he said.

“Its … also a matter of economic policy to replace the income [made by] these people poaching and trafficking by other kinds of incomes that could be more b..

French Finance Minister Le Maire balks at signing €5 billion Renault bailout loan
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French Finance Minister Le Maire balks at signing €5 billion Renault bailout loan

Issued on: 21/05/2020 – 23:56Modified: 22/05/2020 – 00:26

France's Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said he has not signed off on a 5 billion euro ($5.47 billion) state-guaranteed loan to help Renault cope with the fallout from the coronavirus, and that discussions continued.

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Le Maire told newspaper Le Figaro that the government was seeking commitments from carmakers in three areas in return for help: electric vehicles; the fair treatment of sub-contractors; and that they base hi-tech activities in France.

"Renault is fighting for its survival," Le Maire said in the interview published late on Thursday. "I haven't yet signed the loan."

Sources told Reuters on Monday that Renault had reached an agreement on the loan with banks and that it should be submitted to the board of directors soon, before being formally approved by the finance ministry.

Le Maire said France's response to the worst depression since World War Two totalled 450 billion ..