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Germany's Merkel says very concerned about Navalny's health

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Germany is very concerned about Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's health, Chancellor Angela Merkel said. "The German government, together with others, is pressing for him to receive adequate medical treatment," she told the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on Tuesday (20 April). Merkel also said that a Russian troop buildup on the border with Ukraine created an "alarmingly tense" situation, saying it was important to keep a dialogue going on the issue.

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Police and protesters clash during May Day rallies in Berlin

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Police officers walk past a fire during a left-wing May Day demonstration, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Berlin, Germany, May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt
Police officers run past a fire during a left-wing May Day demonstration, as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues in Berlin, Germany, May 1, 2021. REUTERS/Axel Schmidt

Around 30,000 protesters took to the streets during May Day rallies in Berlin on Saturday (1 May), police said, adding nearly 100 officers were injured when some of the demonstrations turned violent.

Police made around 354 arrests during the demonstrations, which they said were for physical assaults and trespassing.

"The violent riots that occurred is something that I very much regret," Berlin's head of police Barbara Slowik told local broadcaster rbb24.

Some of the injuries occurred after some demonstrators threw fireworks, bottles and rocks during protests over social inequality. About 5,600 police were deployed, and some responded with pepper spray.

The demonstrations were the second May Day protests since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Turnout was much higher than last year, even though social distancing requirements remain in place.

Protests hit other European capitals too, most notably Paris, where police made 46 arrests as garbage bins were set on fire and the windows of a bank branch were smashed. read more

In Berlin, police used water cannon to extinguish fires as protesters set ablaze waste bins, barricades and cars.

Demonstrations also took place in several other German cities, including Hamburg and Leipzig, despite Europe's largest economy grappling with a third wave of the pandemic.

On Sunday, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany increased by 16,290 to 3,416,822. Read more

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German minister sees possible downward COVID-19 trend

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The number of German coronavirus infections seems to be turning down, Health Minister Jens Spahn (pictured) said on Thursday (29 April), but the decline is not yet enough to be sure the third wave of the pandemic has been broken. "The figures must not only stagnate, they must go down," Spahn told a news conference, noting that the faster vaccination campaign was helping but there were still too many people being treated in intensive care wards.

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EU

Recovery and Resilience Facility: Germany and Greece submit official recovery and resilience plans

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The Commission has received official recovery and resilience plans from Germany and Greece. These plans set out the reforms and public investment projects that each member state plans to implement with the support of the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF).

The RRF is the key instrument at the heart of NextGenerationEU, the EU's plan for emerging stronger from the COVID-19 pandemic. It will provide up to €672.5 billion to support investments and reforms (in 2018 prices). This breaks down into grants worth a total of €312.5bn and €360bn in loans. The RRF will play a crucial role in helping Europe emerge stronger from the crisis, and securing the green and digital transitions.

The presentation of these plans follows intensive dialogue between the Commission and the national authorities of these member states over the past number of months.

The Commission will assess the plans within the next two months based on the eleven criteria set out in the Regulation and translate its content into legally binding acts.

The Commission has now received a total of three recovery and resilience plans, from Germany, Greece and Portugal. It will continue to engage intensively with the remaining member states to help them deliver high quality plans.

A press release and Q&A are available online.

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