Europe Daily Briefing: Lagarde's 'crucial test', Swedish PM backs Covid strategy, Catalan leaders to sue in 'spying' row

16 July: Your round-up of the issues leading today's agenda

16 July: Your round-up of the issues leading today's agenda

  • The European Central Bank and its president, Christine Lagarde, face another crucial test this week as they hold off on any new monetary stimulus, but try not to destroy a belief that more firepower is available, CNBC reports. The Frankfurt institution will likely stay put after last month’s extension and enlargement of its PEPP (Pandemic Emergency Purchase Program), which climbed by 600 billion euros ($686 billion) to 1.35 trillion euros. “As (the) lender of last resort, the ECB has stabilised markets and prevented a major financial crisis which would have exacerbated the recession,” said Florian Hense, an ECB watcher at Berenberg Bank in a recent research note. “Financial conditions have eased significantly, equity markets have surged.”

  • Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said he’s in no doubt his country’s highly controversial strategy for fighting Covid-19 remains appropriate, Bloomberg says. Lofven, who has seen his popularity flag as Sweden’s decision not to impose a proper lockdown was followed by a spike in deaths, said he still thinks “the strategy is right, I’m completely convinced of that,” according to an interview with Aftonbladet. The comments follow signs that, despite much higher rates of exposure to the coronavirus in Sweden than in many other places, immunity remains elusive. Meanwhile, Sweden’s mortality rate per 100,000 is higher than that in the U.S.

  • Two leading members of the Catalan independence movement whose mobile phones were targeted with spyware are to take legal action against the former head of Spain’s national intelligence centre (NIC), The Guardian reports. The announcement came after a joint investigation by the Guardian and El País revealed that Roger Torrent, the speaker of the Catalan parliament, and the former regional foreign minister Ernest Maragall were among at least four pro-independence activists targeted using Israeli spyware that its makers say is sold only to governments to track criminals and terrorists.

  • The EU’s top court issued a stinging rebuke of U.S. surveillance, striking down the so-called Privacy Shield, a key method to transfer data across the Atlantic, Bloomberg says. Thursday’s decision means Facebook Inc. and thousands of companies that ship commercial data across the Atlantic risk turmoil in their day to day activities. Still, the court did approve another system to transfer data known as called Standard Contractual Clauses. “The limitations on the protection of personal data arising from the domestic law of the United States on the access and use by U.S. public authorities such data transferred from the European Union” mean EU citizens data isn’t safe, the EU Court of Justice said in a decision on Thursday. The ruling can’t be appealed.




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