Italy says ‘much more’ needed for EU recovery plan

European Union and Italian flags are seen in downtown Rome, Italy, October 19, 2018. (Reuters)
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Updated 20 May 2020

Italy says ‘much more’ needed for EU recovery plan

MILAN: Italy’s Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned Wednesday that the EU’s recovery plan needed to be more ambitious or the bloc risked fueling nationalism and widening long-term divisions.
While he welcomed the surprise entente between Berlin and Paris to back a 500 billion euro ($550 billion) rescue plan as “a bold and significant step,” he said “much more needs to be done.”
“The coronavirus crisis is a symmetric shock, affecting all countries and regions, that cannot be effectively faced by individual countries alone,” he said in an op-ed on the politico.eu news website.
He said Europe could not afford to repeat the mistakes of the past “by doing too little or reacting too slowly,” and warned failure to act swiftly would result in “a sharp widening of divergences among EU member countries.”
Some were “exerting pressure for a ‘business-as-usual’ European budget and a modest recovery fund, with a negligible share of grants,” a stance which showed they had failed to grasp the seriousness of the situation, he said.
“If we allow the coronavirus crisis to increase the EU’s economic and social divergences... we will fan the flames of nationalism and widen long-term divisions in our union,” he warned.
Four European countries — Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden — are expected to propose an alternative to the Franco-German recovery plan, asking for more guarantees that states receiving aid will adopt reforms.
They will also say aid should take the form of loans rather than grants, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said Wednesday.


Britain’s Iraq war crimes probe dismisses thousands of complaints

Updated 02 June 2020

Britain’s Iraq war crimes probe dismisses thousands of complaints

  • Former lawyer Phil Shiner and a team in Berlin drew on the accounts of more than 400 Iraqis who allegedly witnessed or experienced crimes

LONDON: An independent British investigator looking into allegations that UK soldiers committed war crimes in Iraq between 2003 and 2009 said Tuesday that all but one of the thousands of complaints have been dropped.
The Service Prosecuting Authority director Andrew Cayley told BBC radio that it was “quite possible” that none of the original allegations will lead to a prosecution.
Cayley did not provide details of the allegation in the last remaining case.
British combat troops fought alongside other coalition forces in an effort to quell an Islamic insurgency that followed the 2003 US invasion and subsequent fall and execution of dictator Saddam Hussein.
Former lawyer Phil Shiner and a team in Berlin drew on the accounts of more than 400 Iraqis who allegedly witnessed or experienced crimes ranging from rape and torture to mock executions and other atrocities.
A UK tribunal struck off Shiner after finding him guilty of misconduct and dishonesty in connection with the allegations in 2017.
Cayley told the BBC that it was likely that no action would be taken in a separate International Criminal Court (ICC) probe.
“My sense is these matters are coming to a conclusion,” he said.
A lawyer representing some of the soldiers accused by Shiner called for a public apology over the “vile war crime slurs.”
“At long last, this witch hunt is coming to an end,” lawyer Hilary Meredith said.
The UK Defense Ministry said in 2012 that it had paid £15.1 million ($19 million, 17 million euros) to more than 200 Iraqis who had accused British troops of illegal detention and torture.