31 July: Your round-up of the issues leading today's agenda
- Euro zone economic sentiment rebounded more than expected in July as governments relaxed restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, with the sharpest gains in industry and services even though consumers became more gloomy, data showed on Thursday, Reuters reports. The European Commission said economic sentiment rose to 82.3 points in July from an upwardly revised 75.8 in June, beating market expectations of an increase to 81.0. Separately, the European Union’s statistics office said euro zone unemployment rose to 7.8% of the workforce in June, up from an upwardly revised 7.7% in May as 203,000 people lost jobs bringing the total unemployed to 12.685 million people.
- Scotland’s first minister Nicola Sturgeon has been censured by the UK’s chief statistician after using incomplete and unpublished data to claim the coronavirus was five times less prevalent in Scotland than in England, The Guardian says. Ed Humpherson, the director general of the Office for Statistics Regulation, said Sturgeon’s’s claims earlier in July were not based on comparable or published data, and should not have been made. “The sources used to underpin this claim have been difficult to identify,” he told Sturgeon’s government.
- Italy's Senate has voted to allow the prosecution of ex-interior minister Matteo Salvini for blocking a migrant ship off Italy's coast last August, the BBC reports. More than 100 migrants were stuck on the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms for 19 days off the isle of Lampedusa. Prosecutors in Sicily accuse Mr Salvini of illegal detention, which could bring a jail term of up to 15 years.
- German retail sales dropped in June after a sharp rise in May when Germany eased restrictions imposed to stop the spread of the coronavirus, data showed on Friday, according to Reuters. Retail sales fell by 1.6% on the month in real terms after a revised rise of 12.7% in May, data from the Federal Statistics Office showed. A Reuters forecast had predicted a 3.3% drop. On the year, retail sales rose by 5.9% in real terms after an increase of 3.2% the previous month, the data showed.