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Maia Sandu wins presidential election in Moldova

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After processing more than 99% of the data, Maia Sandu (pictured) obtained more than 57% of the votes in Moldova. In the diaspora, the candidate of the Action and Solidarity Party (PAS) received over 92% of the vote, writes Cristian Gherasim.

The Central Electoral Commission of the Republic of Moldova confirmed that in several polling stations abroad, including Frankfurt and London, the ballots were exhausted before their official closure. In many European cities, very long queues have formed in front of polling stations.

The first ballot, which took place on 1 November, was won by Maia Sandu with 36.16% of the vote. President Igor Dodon had obtained 32.61%.

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Maia Sandu is perceived as the pro-EU candidate who won against Putin's pick Igor Dodon, incumbent president.

The diaspora voted for keeping the pro EU candidate with the 1st chance of winning the presidency after losing in 2016. This represents a major swift in the region, the Republic of Moldova being sandwiched between east and west.

Sandu, 48, has three degrees in economics and public administration, one from Harvard. Between 2010 and 2012, she was an advisor to one of the World Bank's executive directors. However, she chose to leave Washington, where she earned $ 10,000 a month and returned to Moldova.

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Involved in politics across the Prut since 2012, Sandu relied on an anti-corruption platform in the election campaign, promising to lift the country out of poverty, hold the authorities accountable and strengthen ties with the European Union.

Sandu also ran in the 2016 presidential election, but was defeated in the second round by pro-Russian candidate Igor Dodon, who won 52.11% of the vote.

On 8 June 2019, she was appointed Prime Minister of the Republic of Moldova, but on the same day the Constitutional Court invalidated her appointment as unconstitutional, triggering a political crisis across the Prut. Her government was dismissed by motion of censure on 12 November 2019.

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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