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Biden win would bring relief but few fixes, says Merkel ally



A sigh of relief would go around the world if Democratic challenger Joe Biden wins the US presidency but Berlin would still face many of the same policy problems with Washington, Germany’s co-ordinator for transatlantic ties said on Friday (23 October), writes .

Peter Beyer (pictured), a member of Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservative Christian Democrats, said Biden would offer a more collaborative tone than US President Donald Trump who has called Germany’s trade and spending policies “very bad”.

Trump trails Biden in polls ahead of the 3 November vote.

“A big sigh of relief would go around the planet if Joe Biden wins,” Beyer told Reuters.

“Would it help? I don’t think so because (from) what we’ve heard from Joe Biden...we will see that many of the existing transatlantic topics will remain, such as Nord Stream 2, energy security, economic issues,” he added.

Trump has attacked Berlin for supporting the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline spanning the Baltic Sea, accusing Germany of being a “captive” of Russia due to reliance on its energy.

“We would be well advised to expect a president Joe Biden to be much more collaborative, he would be much friendlier in tone, but many of the issues will remain on the table, some would be much easier to address, others would be tough,” Beyer said.

“One of his top priorities would be healing the wounds of his own country. There’s a lot to do.”

Trump has also accused Germany of taking advantage of the United States while not meeting financial obligations to NATO, the military organization he once called obsolete to the chagrin of shocked allies.

Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said Germany was looking forward to more clarity in US foreign policy.

“We are not in favour of a disruptive political style,” Kramp-Karrenbauer, another close ally of Merkel, said on Friday according to a pre-distributed text of her speech.

The US military in July unveiled plans to withdraw about 12,000 troops from Germany.


Italy reports 26,323 new coronavirus cases, 686 deaths



Italy reported 686 COVID-19-related deaths on Saturday (28 November), against 827 the day before, and 26,323 new infections, down from 28,352 on Friday (27 November), the health ministry said, writes .

There were 225,940 swabs carried out in the past day, compared with a previous 222,803.

Italy was the first Western country to be hit by the virus and has seen 54,363 COVID-19 fatalities since its outbreak emerged in February, the second highest toll in Europe after Britain. It has also registered 1.564 million cases.

While Italy’s daily death tolls have been amongst the highest in Europe over recent days, the rise in hospital admissions and intensive care occupancy has slowed, suggesting the latest wave of infections was receding.

The health ministry said on Friday it would ease anti-COVID-19 restrictions in five regions as of 29 November, including in the country’s richest and most populous region, Lombardy.

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German minister says partial lockdown could last until Spring 2021



Germany’s partial lockdown measures could be extended until early spring if infections are not brought under control, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said in a newspaper interview published on Saturday (28 November), writes Caroline Copley.

Altmaier told Die Welt it was not possible to give the all-clear while there were incidences of more than 50 infections per 100,000 inhabitants in large parts of Germany.

“We have three to four long winter months ahead of us,” he was quoted as saying. “It is possible that the restrictions will remain in place in the first months of 2021.”

Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with leaders of Germany’s 16 federal states on Wednesday to extend and tighten measures against the coronavirus until at least 20 December.

Germany imposed a “lockdown light” in early November, which closed bars and restaurants but allowed schools and shops to stay open. The measures have stopped the exponential growth of cases but infections have stabilised at a high level.

There were 21,695 new confirmed coronavirus cases in Germany, data from the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious diseases showed on Saturday, bringing total cases since the pandemic began to 1,028,089.

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UK and France sign new deal to stop illegal migration across Channel




Britain and France signed a new agreement to try to stop illegal migration across the Channel on Saturday (28 November), upping patrols and technology in the hope of closing off a dangerous route used by migrants to try to reach the UK on small boats, writes Sarah Young.

UK interior minister Priti Patel said that under the deal, the number of officers patrolling French beaches would double, and new equipment including drones and radar would be employed.

This year, hundreds of people, including some children, have been caught crossing to southern England from makeshift camps in northern France - navigating one of the world’s busiest shipping routes in overloaded rubber dinghies. Some migrants have drowned.

Patel said in statement that the agreement represented a step forward in the pair’s mission to make channel crossings unviable.

“Thanks to more police patrols on French beaches and enhanced intelligence sharing between our security and law enforcement agencies, we are already seeing fewer migrants leaving French beaches,” she said.

The UK and France plan to continue a close dialogue to reduce migratory pressures at the shared border over the next year, she added.

Patel told UK media that French authorities had stopped 5,000 migrants from travelling to the UK so far this year. She said over the last ten years, the UK had given France £150 pounds to tackle immigration.

She said the recent focus by authorities on stopping small boats meant they were now seeing more migrants trying to cross the Channel via lorries, and that border security was being tightened in France to try to stop that.

Britain is also planning to introduce a new asylum system through legislation next year, Patel said.

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