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US bombers and allied aircraft integrate to fly over all 30 #NATO nations in a day

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In a unique spin on regularly recurring Bomber Task Force (BTF) missions in Europe, six US Air Force B-52 Stratofortress strategic bombers will fly over all 30 NATO nations in Europe and North America today (28 August).

This single-day mission titled Allied Sky is intended to demonstrate NATO solidarity, enhance readiness and provide training opportunities aimed at enhancing interoperability for all participating aircrews from the US and NATO allies.

Allied Sky is the latest iteration of routine BTF missions that have occurred in the European theater of operations since 2018, with more than 200 sorties co-ordinated with allies and partners. BTF missions are long-planned and not in response to any current political events occurring in Europe.

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Allied Sky will be conducted by two teams:

- Four B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft currently deployed to Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford, UK, will fly the European portion of the mission. Strategic bombers will integrate throughout the day with several NATO nations’ air force fighter aircraft and aerial refueling aircraft in the skies above each host nation.

- Two B-52 Stratofortresses assigned to the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, ND, will fly over the NATO nations of Canada and the United States.

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“US security commitments to the NATO Alliance remain ironclad,” said General Tod Wolters, commander of US European Command (USEUCOM). “Today's bomber task force mission is another example of how the Alliance sustains readiness, improves interoperability and demonstrates our ability to deliver on commitments from across the Atlantic.”

NATO nations scheduled to participate in the mission and integrate with the bomber aircraft include Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Spain, Turkey, the UK and the US.

Operations and engagements with Allies and partners serve as cornerstones highlighting USEUCOM’s commitment to global security and stability. These opportunities also serve as a reminder that, despite ongoing challenges presented by COVID-19, US forces remain fully ready to execute their missions across all domains while enhancing interoperability alongside Allies and partners.

“By further enhancing our enduring relationships, we send a clear message to potential adversaries about our readiness to meet any global challenge,” Wolters added.

Footage of the B-52 Stratofortress bomber aircraft in flight is available here.

US European Command is one of two US forward-deployed geographic combatant commands whose area of focus spans across Europe, portions of Asia and the Middle East, the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. The command is composed of approximately 70,000 military and civilian personnel and is responsible for U.S. defense operations and relations with NATO and 51 countries. For more information about U.S. European Command, click here.

Belgium

'When the Smurfs meet Monkey King'

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'When the Smurfs meet Monkey King' is a children's art exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium.

The successful art exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium in La Louvière, the birthplace of Surrealism in Belgium that ended on 24 October gave the opportunity to nearly 300 local primary and middle school students in just one week to depict their vision of friendship between China and Belgium.

On 17 October, during the opening ceremony, Françoise Ghiot, Laurent Wimlot, aldermen of La Louvière, and their guests from China and Belgium attended the event. Counsellor Yang Qing, wife of the Chinese Ambassador to Belgium, also recorded a video for the inauguration of the event.

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Counsellor Yang Qing said in her speech that she admired the exhibition held in La Louvière. Using pure and innocent artistic perspective, extraordinary creativity and imagination, the children have well defined the cultural elements of both countries. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium with children’s eyes, sincere feelings, those future ambassadors of friendship have expressed their visions of a better collaborative future between the two nations.

Ghiot said in her speech that she was very happy on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium to see children’s paintings from China. The art exhibition opened a skylight of artistic exchange for local children.

This children's art exhibition was jointly curated by the city of La Louvière, the Nardone Gallery, and Yellow Vitamines. Through the LPGA (Little Painter Global International Art Exhibition), covering 40 cities and 500 aesthetic education training institutions in China, 5000 children’s work were collected and 200 were finally selected to focus on Belgium. With the innocent help of children's brushes, imagination and understanding, art and culture provided an ideal medium to understanding differences and strengthening the bond between China and Belgium.

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Animal welfare

Commission carries out unannounced inspections in the animal health sector in Belgium

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The European Commission is conducting unannounced inspections at the premises of a pharmaceutical company active in animal health in Belgium.

The Commission has concerns that the inspected company may have infringed the EU antitrust rules that prohibit the abuse of a dominant position. The Commission officials were accompanied by their counterparts from the Belgian competition authority.

Unannounced inspections are a preliminary investigatory step into suspected anti-competitive practices. The fact that the Commission carries out such inspections does not mean that the companies are being found guilty of anti-competitive behaviour nor does it prejudge the outcome of the investigation itself.

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The Commission fully respects the rights of defence in its antitrust proceedings, in particular the right of companies to be heard.

The inspections are conducted in compliance with all coronavirus health and safety protocols to ensure the security of those involved.

There is no legal deadline to complete inquiries into anti-competitive conduct. Their duration depends on a number of factors, including the complexity of each case, the extent to which the companies concerned co-operate with the Commission and the exercise of the rights of defence.

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Belgium

Commission approves €45 million Belgian scheme to support companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved a €45 million Belgian scheme to support companies active in the Brussels-Capital region affected by the coronavirus outbreak and the restrictive measures that the Belgian government had to implement to limit the spread of the virus. The public support was approved under the State Aid Temporary Framework. Under the scheme, which goes under the name 'la prime Relance', the aid will take the form of direct grants. Eligible beneficiaries are companies of all sizes active in the following sectors: nightclubs, restaurants and cafés (‘ReCa') and some of their suppliers, events, culture, tourism, sport and passenger transport. In order to be eligible, companies must have been registered in the Central Bank for Enterprises (‘la Banque-Carrefour des Enterprises' ) by 31 December 2020. The Commission found that the Belgian scheme is in line with the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. In particular, the support (i) will not exceed €1.8 million per company; and (ii) will be granted no later than 31 December 2021.

The Commission concluded that the measure is necessary, appropriate and proportionate to remedy a serious disturbance in the economy of a member state, in line with Article 107(3)(b) TFEU and the conditions set out in the Temporary Framework. On this basis, the Commission approved the measure under EU state aid rules. More information on the Temporary Framework and other actions taken by the Commission to address the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic can be found here. The non-confidential version of the decision will be made available under the case number SA.64775 in the state aid register on the Commission's competition website once any confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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