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#BELLA project: A new digital data highway will bring Europe and Latin America closer

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The contract to construct a fibre optic cable running under the Atlantic Ocean that will connect Latin America and Europe is now in force. This new transatlantic cable is scheduled to be ready for use in 2020 and will run between Portugal and Brazil. It will provide high broadband connectivity, advancing business, scientific and cultural exchanges between the two continents.

A key participant in the project is the BELLA (Building the Europe Link to Latin America) Consortium, an international partnership of research and education networks whose leading investor is the European Commission with a contribution of approximately €26.5 million from Horizon 2020Copernicus, and the regional Development Cooperation Instrument.

International Cooperation and Development Commissioner Neven Mimica, Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska,Research, Science and Innovation Commissioner Mariya Gabriel and  Digital Economy and Society Commissioner Carlos Moedas said in a joint statement: "Latin America and Europe have never been so closely connected: we are pleased to see this intercontinental cable becoming a reality. The new digital highway will support innovation for improved earth observation services, be a step forward in the creation of an EU–Latin America common research area, and tackle Latin America's digital divide with Europe and within the region, with potential for even more collaboration in the years to come. This project also reflects the EU's commitment to work together with Latin America towards the implementation of the 2030 Agenda."

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In addition to facilitating collaboration in areas such as cloud computing, telemedicine, business and research and education communities this new undersea connection will bolster the uptake of earth observation data and enable new scientific discoveries. Furthermore, it will support further interconnectivity among Latin American countries.

For more information see here.

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France to impose 10-day quarantine for travellers coming from Brazil

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France will order a strict 10-day quarantine for all travellers coming from Brazil starting 24 April, the prime minister's office said on Saturday (17 April), in a bid to prevent the spread of a coronavirus variant first found in the South American county.

France decided this week to suspend all flights to and from Brazil. The measure will be extended until April 23, the prime minister's office said in the same statement. Read more

Starting April 24, only people residing in France or holding a French or European Union passport will be allowed to fly to the country.

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The government will impose a 10-day quarantine on all travellers upon arrival, the prime minister's office said, and authorities will make checks before and after the flight that the travellers made the proper arrangements to isolate themselves.

The police will also be used to ensure the quarantine is respected, it said. Prior to boarding on the plane, authorised travellers will be required to present a negative polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that is less than 36 hours old.

The same measures will also gradually be put in place by April 24 for people returning from Argentina, Chile and South Africa, where the presence of other coronavirus variants were detected, the prime minister's office said.

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A 10-day quarantine will also be imposed on travellers coming from the French Guiana, an overseas department of France on the northeast coast of South America.

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France suspends all flights to and from Brazil due to COVID variant

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France will suspend all flights to and from Brazil in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus variant first detected there, French Prime Minister Jean Castex said in parliament, writes Geert De Clercq.

“We take note that the situation is getting worse and we have decided to suspend all flights between France and Brazil until further notice,” Castex said.

Several leading French doctors have been calling on the government for days to stop all air traffic with Brazil.

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A month ago, Health Minister Olivier Veran said that around 6% of COVID-19 cases in France were from the more contagious variants first found in Brazil and South Africa.

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#Brazil chamber of deputies chief warns against shunning #Huawei

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The head of Brazil’s Chamber of Deputies warned the country’s 5G auction policies should not be swayed by ideology, Reuters reported, days after rumours emerged the US was potentially offering incentives for operators to shun Huawei equipment, writes Chris Donkin of Mobile World Live.

Rodrigo Maia, who leads Brazil’s lower house, said communications regulator Anatel should be left to focus on encouraging free and fair competition designed to keep consumer prices low in its 5G auction policies, rather than getting involved in political debates about China.

The country is yet to hold its 5G spectrum auction, which had been scheduled for March but was pushed back earlier this year with a new date yet to be revealed.

Maia’s comments follow widespread reports of the US offering to provide finance to help operators in Brazil purchase equipment from alternative suppliers to Huawei.

If a funding deal materializes, it would be a significant step-up a US campaign to try and persuade allied countries to follow its own policies and shut Huawei and other vendors it deems a security risk out of 5G.

So far few other countries have slapped outright bans on operators using equipment from specific vendors, though a number have introduced various limits or restrictions to ensure a mix of suppliers.

Huawei has consistently denied all allegations related to the security of its equipment and Chinese state influence.

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