Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko said on Thursday troops would be pulled from the street to guard its borders with EU countries, Deutsche Welle writes. "We are compelled to withdraw our troops from the streets, have half our army on guard and close our state border with the West, first of all with Lithuania and Poland," said Lukashenko. Polish officials said Lukashenko's threat was propaganda, as the borders were already closed.
Lebanese militant group Hezbollah has stored caches of ammonium nitrate, the chemical in the recent Beirut blast, in Europe with a view to future attacks ordered out of Iran, US counterterrorism coordinator Nathan Sales said Thursday, The Guardian reports. "I can reveal that such [Hezbollah] caches have been moved through Belgium to France, Greece, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland," he said. "This activity is still under way," he added.
The EU's top court has ruled that Europe acted legally when imposing sanctions on Russian energy firms and banks over its invasion of Ukraine in 2014. "The companies in question could not reasonably have been unaware of the reasons why the targeted restrictions at issue were imposed on them," it said Thursday. The verdict overturned an earlier, lower court ruling which had been in Russia's favour.
Britain would renege on Brexit withdrawal treaty provisions only if the EU "engaged in a material breach of its duties of good faith or other obligations, and thereby undermining the fundamental purpose of the Northern Ireland Protocol", the British government said in new guidelines out Thursday. It would also "activate appropriate formal [withdrawal treaty-based] dispute settlement mechanisms with the aim of finding a solution through this route," it added.
France recorded 10,593 new coronavirus infections in the past 24 hours on Thursday, with a surge among young people and the over-75s. The rate of infections to people tested stayed stable at 5.4%, however. Authorities, the same day, said the crowd to welcome the finale of the Tour de France bicycle race in the Champs-Élysées boulevard in Paris this coming Sunday would be limited to 5,000 people.
Greek police launched an operation early on Thursday to relocate the more than 10,000 people without shelter following the fire which destroyed the overcrowded Moria refugee camp, the Guardian reported. Asylum seekers have been transferred into a temporary facility outside the port town of Mytilene on the Greek island. Earlier this week, five former residents of Moria camp were arrested in connection with the fire.
The World Health Organization's European director, Hans Kluge, warned national governments against reducing the 14-day quarantine period, especially given the "alarming rates of transmission" in Europe this month, the BBC reported. Last week, France reduced its quarantine for people possibly exposed to someone with Covid-19 from 14 to seven days. "The September case numbers should serve as a wake-up call for all of us," Kluge said.
MEPs adopted a resolution on Thursday calling on the European Council to "finally act" in light of "overwhelming evidence" of breaches of EU law regarding the legislative and electoral system, the independence of the judiciary, and fundamental rights in Poland. MEPs expressed concerns about how the situation has deteriorated since the Article 7 procedure was initiated in 2017, calling on member states to use this system to its full potential.
Commissioner for home affairs, Ylva Johansson, would like to win the approval of all EU member states for a new proposal for a common asylum and migration policy - something her predecessors failed to do.
Leuven's Catholic University, one of Belgium's best, has decided to close one of its respected but controversial chairs. And many say that is not because of an academic failure or scandal, but a result of the Turkish government's relentless pressure.
Twenty-nine German police officers of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia have been suspended and face investigation on suspicion of exchanging far-right propaganda in online chat groups. Police union representatives called the revelation "unbearable." At least five private WhatsApp chat groups contained 126 electronic images, including photos of Adolf Hitler and a fictional depiction of a refugee in a gas chamber,
The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, has accused Cyprus of illegal pushbacks of migrant boats from Lebanon and Turkey on grounds of coronavirus safety measures. There were "credible reports of incidents involving overcrowded boats that are not allowed disembarkation" in September and were "forced to return to the high seas or ... left at sea for a long time," Katja Saha, a UN official told Deutsche Welle. Cyprus denied wrongdoing.
Belarusian authorities have charged the opposition figure Maria Kolesnikova with "actions aimed at undermining national security", which could lead to a maximum sentence of five years in prison, the Guardian writes. It is the latest move of Belarus' president Alexander Lukashenko after weeks of street protests against the result of the presidential elections. In a speech on Wednesday, Lukashenko said he had no plans to step down.
EU governments were given the green light by MEPs in a vote Wednesday to assign new "own resources" to the EU budget, in the form of potential new taxes on plastic goods, tech giants, or CO2 emissions. The money is to help pay for the €750bn post-pandemic recovery fund. "We'll ensure the debt is repaid by tech giants, tax dodgers, big foreign polluters," French liberal MEP Valerie Hayer told Reuters.