EU: “Farmers can’t help rising food prices”

Dhe European Commission, the powerful administration of the EU, has sent practically all employees home in the corona isolation. This also applies to their highest representatives. EU Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski is currently working from his home country Poland.

At the moment, however, he comes to the EU representation in Warsaw every day – because he needs the right technology for the regular video discussions with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the Commissioner colleagues and the national capitals. However, he picked up the telephone receiver for the conversation with WELT.

WORLD: During these weeks, consumers regularly face empty supermarket shelves. So far, replenishment has only been lacking for individual products such as yeast, pasta or canned tomatoes. But can consumers rely on food supplies to work even in the corona crisis?

Janusz Wojciechowski: The supply of food is secure. We produce enough food in Europe and farmers continue to work even in times of crisis. Nobody has to fear bottlenecks. At the moment we only have problems in individual areas such as flour production, but they too will subside.

WORLD: Why do consumers sometimes face empty shelves?

Wojciechowski: The problems lie in transportation and distribution. We sometimes have too few truck drivers, and over the past few weeks too tight border controls have caused bottlenecks. However, the EU Commission has reacted to this and made recommendations to the member countries to improve the situation at the borders. There are now special lanes for food and animal transport, and this has greatly accelerated clearance at the borders.

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WORLD: Another problem is that EU countries have closed the border for harvest workers and other agricultural workers. Germany, for example, only allows a limited number of seasonal workers to enter the country. What does this mean for care in the coming months?

Wojciechowski: The Commission recommended early on that people with critical care jobs should continue to travel freely. In addition to medical personnel and many other professions, this also includes harvest workers and other employees in agriculture. Nevertheless, too few seasonal workers cross the borders.

Fruit and vegetable growers in particular and some meat producers clearly feel that seasonal workers are missing. Corona is a wake-up call for the farmers. The strong specialization of many companies becomes a problem in the corona crisis. Our lesson for the future must be that politics encourages farmers to specialize less. Companies that produce different products can theoretically master the current situation better.

WORLD: With decommissioned businesses, workers working at home and closed borders, consumers are now facing rising prices.

European Commissioner for Agriculture Janusz Wojciechowski. |

Janusz Wojciechowski, Commissioner for Agriculture of the EU Commission

Source: pA / Radek Pietrus

Wojciechowski: In the crisis, food becomes more expensive; this applies not only to Germany, but also to many other EU countries. But farmers cannot help rising prices, they earn even less. In March, prices for agricultural products in Europe fell by 4.3 percent. The farmers got twelve percent less for vegetables, 19 percent for sugar, three percent for milk and one percent for meat.

Responsible for consumer price increases are the problems with transportation and distribution, the lack of manpower in these areas and the many restrictions due to Corona. But that’s only part of the truth. Traders could use Corona to raise prices. Large chains in particular have the ability to monitor demand and supply very closely and to raise prices accordingly.

We currently have no evidence of such anti-competitive practices, but Member States should monitor this very closely. And I emphasize again: farmers are not responsible for rising prices. Farmers are also victims of the crisis.

WORLD: What does the crisis mean for farmers?

Wojciechowski: Farmers were the first to feel the financial consequences of the crisis. The problem is the breakdown of exports. The EU is the world’s largest exporter of food, and many areas of agriculture depend on doing business with the rest of the world. This business is very limited now.

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WORLD: How can the EU help the businesses concerned?

Wojciechowski: We have to become more independent from the rest of the world. That is what we have to do now, but especially after the crisis. It must be our priority to ensure that agricultural products are consumed where they are made. To do this, we need to improve cooperation between farmers, processing plants and traders.

WORLD: Do you mean the EU as a whole or do you speak of individual regions?

Wojciechowski: I am concerned with the local and regional level. We have to reduce the distance between farmers and consumers. We transport three billion tons of food through Europe every year. Can you imagine that? Every piece of fruit or vegetable, every cup of yogurt and every sausage that we eat has traveled an average of 100 kilometers. We can’t go on like this.

Less transport not only means fewer emissions, but also lower prices, because farmers and consumers pay for the transport. That is why we have to examine all rules and laws at European and national level to see how they hinder the development of local markets.

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Agriculture and corona

WORLD: Would that also mean that there will be fewer animal transports in the future?

Wojciechowski: Naturally. Animal transport is inhumane and we have to reduce it. Developing strong local markets can help.

WORLD: Apart from such long-term changes, what can the EU do in the short term?

Wojciechowski: We do a lot to help farmers. The EU Commission has allowed the member states to support agricultural businesses in the crisis with up to 100,000 euros, normally only aid of up to 20,000 euros is possible. The EU Commission continues to advocate competition in Europe, but this is a special emergency. Farmers can also spend more time applying for EU funds.

We also have 100 billion euros in the rural development fund that have not yet been used. We are open to the member countries changing their applications for these funds so that they can use the money for farmers affected by the crisis.

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WORLD: The upcoming EU long-term budget is to be used to cushion the economic consequences of the corona epidemic. This would imply that less money will be available to farmers in the next seven years than planned.

Wojciechowski: I hope that the current crisis will ensure that the Member States agree more quickly on the medium-term financial framework. We don’t have time for long discussions now. In view of the Corona crisis, the EU Commission may change its budget proposal.

The new proposal should provide more money for agriculture than the current proposal. Agriculture needs a lot of money, not only to overcome the crisis, but also to reduce CO2nd– reduce emissions. One thing has become clear in this crisis: the EU must secure food supplies. Not only now, but also for future generations. And that has to be worth something to the Europeans.

Harvest workers are allowed to enter Germany under these conditions

Now it is decided: 80,000 urgently needed seasonal workers are allowed to enter Germany. Under strictly regulated conditions. But that’s not all, the federal government is asking the population for help.

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Meat producer worries about its Eastern European workers

Dusseldorf, Rheda In addition to flour and toilet paper, sausages in a jar are high on the shopping list for many hamster buyers. “Böklunder” sausages are in demand as never before. The plant in Böklund is now looking for 100 temporary helpers from the catering trade to be able to cope with the rush for Viennese and Frankfurt sausages.

“Corona has increased the demand for our meat products in the food retail sector by a third,” says Clemens Tönnies, managing partner of the slaughter and meat group of the same name from East Westphalia. Böklunder is part of the Zur Mühlen Group and is Tönnies, the number one in the German meat industry.

The German Farmers’ Association confirms a “very strong demand” for fresh meat and sausages. Due to the forced closings, the catering trade, which otherwise takes up 20 percent of the volume at Tönnies, orders practically nothing. Nevertheless, the butchers and cutters are working at full speed. At its headquarters in Rheda-Wiedenbrück alone, Tönnies employs more than 6,500 people, half of whom are employees from southern and eastern Europe who are employed by subcontractors.

The family company Tönnies is now facing major problems. Because since Wednesday 5 p.m., seasonal workers from third countries such as Romania and Bulgaria are no longer allowed to enter Germany. The Federal Ministry of the Interior had ordered this on Tuesday to interrupt the chain of infection of the coronavirus. Poland has also imposed a two-week forced quarantine on its commuters since Friday.

“We make it clear to our employees from Southern and Eastern Europe that in Corona times they are safest here with us and that they provide the best health care,” says Tönnies. After all, all Tönnies employees – whether directly employed or under a work contract – are covered by social and health insurance in Germany. “For us, this is a cost factor that is now paying off in the crisis,” emphasizes the entrepreneur.

“The work is hard and poorly paid”

Meat companies such as Tönnies are dependent on employees from Eastern Europe. “They keep the industry going in this country. Because the work is hard and badly paid, ”says Armin Wiese from the trade union for food and pleasure in restaurants Detmold-Paderborn. That is why the loyalty of these employees is sometimes not too great. “Some have always let their job drop in the Easter high season and drive to their families,” observes Wiese.

“If many workers now return home or are prevented from entering the country, it would be a disaster for meat companies like Tönnies,” says the union secretary. Because of the entry restrictions, no new staff from abroad could be brought in and incorporated quickly.

Since the outbreak of Corona, Tönnies employees have hardly traveled to their homeland to Poland, Romania or Bulgaria, Tönnies states. Especially since many couples are busy. “Our Eastern Europeans currently prefer to stay here. That is why we also employ special shifts at the weekend so that it is worth staying for them. ”The North Rhine-Westphalia Ministry of Labor supports this.

Clemens Tönnies

The entrepreneur advocates flexible regulations in the corona crisis.


(Photo: dpa)

But Tönnies knows: “If our Eastern Europeans go on a home visit, but there have to be in a forced quarantine for two weeks or are no longer allowed to enter Germany, then our bikes will soon stand still,” he warns. The entrepreneur demands that European politicians take a sense of proportion for cross-border workers. Practical regulations must exist for systemically relevant areas such as the health and food industries. “Something has to happen because Easter is just around the corner.”

In the meantime, Tönnies tries to switch off contagion possibilities with the corona virus as far as possible when operating under full load. A balancing act. Every morning at seven o’clock the ten-man Corona crisis team meets. He is headed by Gereon Schulze Althoff, who is responsible for quality and veterinary matters at Tönnies.

For example, a labor lawyer who is in contact with the authorities, the works council and occupational safety are involved. The external plants are activated via Skype. Three to five people sit at the headquarters in Rheda. “Far apart,” emphasizes Tönnies. “We have to set a good example.” He has never used as much disinfectant for his hands as he currently does. If necessary, there will be a second crisis meeting at 5 p.m.

Employees are informed in 27 languages

Tönnies worked out an emergency plan early on. The company tries to sensitize all employees with app in 27 languages, posters, multilingual company hotline with experts. “If you have symptoms, do not go to the company, but contact us, we will help you,” is the urgent appeal. So far there has been no Corona case.

Employees from abroad, who often live together in groups of six or eight, are transported on the same bus and work in one shift. The layers are strictly separated. They shouldn’t meet, not even in the canteen. In queues, the employees are now at a distance. Anyone who wants can wear mouth protection. “We investigate any suspected cases because production has to be kept running,” says Althoff.

“After all, Tönnies has an important supply task in Germany,” says entrepreneur Tönnies, who otherwise exports half of the meat. That is why he initially put the lucrative business in China on hold. Because of the African swine fever there the demand and with it the prices exploded. Sales of Tönnies had therefore increased by almost ten percent to 7.3 billion euros in 2019, with the slaughter volume remaining the same.

“The meat industry in Germany is strongly export-oriented, overall Germany has an export surplus, especially for pork and poultry meat,” says Werner Motyka, partner of the Munich Strategy consultancy. China is urgently waiting for pork deliveries from the rest of the world, Tönnies and the other big ones could benefit from the situation.

Fewer exports to China

Entrepreneur Tönnies has been rethinking since Corona: “It is now not about the last euro more income in China, but about being able to supply our customers here.” served the lucrative Chinese market. Sausage producers in Germany could only supply themselves with difficulty. Many therefore slipped into the red.

After the Corona outbreak in China, Tönnies had delivery problems to the Middle Kingdom for some time. Because the refrigerated containers with meat could not be unloaded due to the shutdown. “Thanks to the local authorities, the knot in the Chinese ports has now been removed,” says Tönnies. Large quantities of empty containers would come back to Europe, even if they are currently really expensive.

In the meantime, Tönnies also had great difficulty bringing his meat to Poland. Every truck driver was measured for fever at the border. A number of Tönnies trucks were stuck in the traffic jams, which were up to 60 kilometers long. Now there should be problems again if Polish commuters come into forced quarantine for 14 days on their return. The situation is confused.

But even if the borders were tight, Germany has enough meat to slaughter. “94 percent of our slaughter animals come from Germany. Our country can feed itself on pork and beef, ”says the trained meat technician and businessman. It is enormous what the farmers did in the corona crisis.

As always, Clemens Tönnies eats his own piece of meat every day: “Animal protein is particularly important now to strengthen the immune system.”

More: Fight against empty shelves – Deutsche Bahn launches Pasta-Express from Italy

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The new, old anti-Germanism


German is the first foreign language to be lost in Europe, there is a struggle for German as a second foreign language: How dealing with the EU languages ​​undermines the European idea. And how the Germanists try to save cultural identities. .

Football news coronavirus leagues, which are still underway, Belarusian Premier League, A-League

This is the latest European football outpost, where the country’s president believes that “tractor therapy” can cure a deadly virus.

Welcome to the Belarusian Premier League.

Former Arsenal and Barcelona star Alexander Hleb admits that “nobody cares” about the coronavirus in his homeland.

On Thursday, while UEFA was discussing how to save the season, a country was doing its business as usual.

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Football fans of FC Bate, one of whom wears a mask, watch the football game of the Belarusian championship between Energetik-BGU and Bate in Minsk, Belarus.
Football fans of FC Bate, one of whom wears a mask, watch the football game of the Belarusian championship between Energetik-BGU and Bate in Minsk, Belarus.Source: AP

At 14:00 local time in the Belarusian capital of Minsk, Energetyk-BGU kicked off the new top flight season against BATE Borisov.

After the Turkish Super Lig finally stopped games on Thursday, the Eastern European nation is the last on the continent to play again.

Minnows Energetyk-BGU scored a 3-1 shock victory over the country’s most successful club in front of 730 fans – meaning the stadium at the city’s state university was half full.

Last year Hleb hung boots in Isloch Minsk. On Saturday, when his old club kicked off their season, he stayed away. But there is little caution being exercised elsewhere in Belarus.

Hleb said: “The whole world is now watching the Belarusian league. Everyone should go to television and see us.

“When the NHL ended the season, many ice hockey players went to Russia to play. Maybe Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo could come to the Belarusian championship to continue. You know?

Former Arsenal player Alexander Hleb.
Former Arsenal player Alexander Hleb.Source: AFP
A view of the stadium.
A view of the stadium.Source: AP

“It is the only place in Europe where you can play football. At least then the Belarusian people will be happy.”

Given the country’s largest response to the pandemic, it is perhaps not surprising that the authorities have yet to suspend the football championship.

While European governments took aggressive action last week, Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko proposed “tractor therapy” to fight the virus.

He said: “People work in tractors, nobody talks about the virus. In villages, the tractor will heal everyone. The fields heal everyone.”

Lukashenko, in power in Belarus since 1994 and nicknamed the last European dictator, leads one of the continent’s most secret and authoritarian regimes. Freedom of the press and political opposition are severely limited.

In response to the outbreak of the virus, which recorded 51 confirmed cases in the country last Thursday, the President said that Belarusians “do not suffer from the same psychosis as those in Western Europe”.

But Hleb isn’t buying it. He added: “The coronavirus has closed the Champions League and the Europa League. This is fine, because you have to try to stop it. Uefa has done the right thing.

Juve Star is positive

Juve Star is positive

00:27

“But in Belarus, it’s as if nobody cares. It’s incredible. Maybe in a week or two we will stop here. Maybe our President is just waiting to see what happens with the virus.

“Everyone here knows what happened in Italy and Spain. It doesn’t look good.

“But in our country, the people of the presidential administration believe that it is not as extreme as the news say.

“Many young people and students here think so. I keep home with my family. But when I go out, the streets and restaurants are still busy. “

The national team was due to face Georgia in a game sold out in Tbilisi next week in a Euro 2020 qualifying playoff, the largest game in the country’s history.

Since winning independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, he has been the closest to qualifying for a major international tournament.

Hleb said: “Everyone trained normally, preparing for the new season. They don’t care.

“I worry about my health and my family. I am keeping minimal contact. I won’t go to Isloch.

“It is very difficult to explain our country. All the championships have closed but we don’t seem to think it’s a problem. Why? I don’t know.”

This story originally appeared on The Sun.

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Corona virus stops the boom in Eastern Europe

Vienna The corona virus put an end to the economic boom in Eastern Europe. “This is the worst year since the financial crisis with major downside risks,” said Executive Director of the Vienna Institute for International Economic Comparisons (WIIW), Mario Holzner, on Tuesday in Vienna.

After the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008, the region experienced a slump in economic growth of more than five percent. But it shouldn’t be that bad this time. “But we are not yet assuming that,” said the economist from Eastern Europe.

The Vienna Economic Research Institute expects growth of only 1.1 percent this year. The prognosis is that the coronavirus crisis will end in six months.

The WIIW had previously forecast growth of three percent for the region. The economic research institute, founded in 1973, is financed by the Austrian government, the Austrian National Bank, the City of Vienna and the Chamber of Labor.

The four factors of production, tourism, aviation and energy are particularly difficult for the countries from the Czech Republic to Russia. The Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) – the successor states of the former Soviet Union – was hit hardest. The massive drop in oil and gas prices due to the sharp drop in demand is particularly troubling Russia and Kazakhstan.

In addition, the health system is overwhelmed as a result of the pandemic. Holzer referred to the poor health care system in the countries of the Western Balkans and the CIS countries. “We have better prospects in the Czech Republic and Slovakia,” said WIIW economist Richard Grievson.

The “pessimistic forecast” announced by the Vienna Eastern Europe experts on Tuesday, however, still contains many unknowns. For example, the economists underestimated the negative pull effect of the stock market crash and its effects on companies.

For example, the market capitalization of the Russian oil company Rosneft has more than halved within four weeks due to the coronavirus crisis. Should the pandemic also last longer, the earlier economic recovery could very quickly turn into a profound crisis. For Russia, the WIIW predicts a decline in gross domestic product of only 0.1 percent this year.

Meanwhile, the Viennese economists do not see the risk of growing public debt in Eastern European countries. “We will have very low interest rates globally for years, even decades,” predicted Holzner.

The former CEO of the Eastern Europe Bank Erste Group, Andreas Treichl, is also convinced of the stability of the Eastern European financial system. “The systems from Poland to Croatia are all very healthy and are among the best capitalized systems. It can be expected with great certainty that no negative developments will come from this region. I see no danger there, ”said the banker, who until recently headed Austria’s largest bank for twelve years, said this week. If the coronavirus crisis is overcome within a few months, WIIW economist Holzer believes that the economies, including the financial systems in Eastern Europe, will recover quickly.

Automotive industry suffers

At the beginning of the crisis in February, there were first signs of a massive slump in the Eastern European EU countries. The companies, particularly in Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Poland and Croatia, were extremely pessimistic.

The reasons are obvious. For example, the Czech Republic has above-average trade with China. Due to their close ties with Italy, Slovenia and Albania felt the effects much more than other countries in Eastern Europe.

The years of the boom are passé for an uncertain time. For example, for Slovakia, which has been booming in recent years due to the automotive industry, economists are only forecasting GDP growth of 0.8 percent. Volkswagen is the largest employer in the country with its plant in the capital, Bratislava.

The lack of legal security in the EU country now threatens to take revenge. Most recently, an expert from the German-Slovak Chamber of Commerce and Industry sharply criticized the miserable prosecution of white-collar crime in Slovakia. “At the moment, procedures that are at first glance obviously fraudulent and should be prosecuted are being dismissed by the police and public prosecutors as” commercial disputes “, which is understandably causing great frustration for the affected, injured companies,” said Margareta Sovova, legal expert of the Bratislava Chamber.

More: Economist Felbermayr expects the “mother of all recessions”

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Greece closes shops, quarantines all arrivals from abroad

FILE PHOTO: a worker in protective overalls and with disinfection equipment walks in front of the parliament building in Athens, Greece, on March 14, 2020. REUTERS / Alkis Konstantinidis

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece announced Monday that it will close all stores except supermarkets, pharmacies, banks, gas stations and grocery delivery services and will quarantine anyone who arrives from abroad for two weeks to fight coronavirus. .

Greece had already canceled mass gatherings and closed bars, restaurants, playgrounds and gyms. So far the country has reported 352 confirmed cases of infections and four deaths, an increase of 21 people in 24 hours. Health authorities expect an increase in the number of infections.

The 14-day quarantine would apply to anyone who enters the country, regardless of nationality, government spokeswoman Aristotelia Peloni told reporters. The closure of retail stores will begin on Wednesday.

Athens also banned Italian passenger ships and cruise ships from docking in Greek ports.

Reporting by Renee Maltezou and George Georgiopoulos; Editing by Peter Graff

Our standards:Thomson Reuters’ principles of trust.

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European leaders propose a 30-day travel ban for all European countries

About 500 million people across the European Union could go on temporary blockade due to a 30-day ban on people entering the 27-member block, proposed the President of the European Commissioner.

European Commission leader Ursula von der Leyen spoke on Monday to propose a 30-day ban on anyone entering the EU unless their trip is essential.

“I propose to heads of state and government to introduce temporary restrictions on non-essential travel to the European Union.”

“The less travel, the more we can contain the virus,” he said in a video message.

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Those who are long-term residents or the family of EU citizens would be exempted from the ban and transport workers could also be allowed to move to maintain the flow of goods.

“We must take exceptional measures to protect the health of our citizens. But we ensure that essential goods and services continue to flow into our internal market. This is the only way to prevent shortages of medical equipment or food, “he said.

Europe has now become the global center of the COVID-19 epidemic with Spain overtaking South Korea to become the fourth most virus-infected country in the world after cases have increased by 1000 in 24 hours to reach 9,191. Monday.

OTHER: The “Immunity to Herds” plan causes fear and anger

The army has been deployed to clean streets and stations, with 46 million people said to stay home and private hospitals have been taken over by the government. About half of the deaths occurred in the capital, Madrid, and the Portuguese border was closed.

France is expected to outline stricter measures on Monday evening (local time) to contain the virus. In the UK, “COVIDwalkout” was trending online while many enjoyed the government’s “flock immunity” tactic that saw schools, restaurants and bars open.

Italy on Sunday reported its largest daily increase in infections – 3,590 more cases – for a total of 24,747. With 1,809 virus-related deaths, the country is responsible for over a quarter of the global death toll.

The Netherlands recorded the largest daily jump in infections with 278 new cases confirmed in the past 24 hours. New cases reported on Monday brought the country’s total to 1,413. The Dutch Institute of Public Health said four other people died of COVID-19, bringing the national death toll to 24.

On Sunday, the government ordered the closure of all schools, bars, restaurants, sports clubs and sex clubs until April 6th. The closures also affected the country’s famous coffee shops selling marijuana, triggering panic buying before the bars closed on Sunday evening.

Germany has also moved to close shops, bars, museums and other unnecessary facilities.

COVID-19 disease causes mild or moderate symptoms, but most people, but severe symptoms are more likely in the elderly or in people with existing health problems.

More than 77,000 people have recovered from this, especially in China.

USA WARNING: IT MAY BE ITALY

The U.S. surgeon general said Monday that the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. has reached the level that Italy recorded two weeks ago, a sign that infections are expected to increase in America as the government intensifies tests. and the financial markets continue to decline.

“We are at a critical point of inflection in this country, people,” Dr. Fox told Fox News. Jerome Adams, general surgeon.

“When you look at the projections, there is every chance that we could be Italy.”

Two weeks ago, Italy had 1,700 coronavirus cases and reported 34 deaths.

Now, Italy is reporting about 25,000 cases and over 1,800 deaths. About 3,800 cases have been reported in the United States and so far, over 65 people have died from coronavirus.

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Coronavirus, tennis news, Wimbledon, French Open, ATP and WTA to announce a six-week break

Wimbledon is likely to be wiped out rather than being played behind closed doors if the coronavirus pandemic continues through the summer.

Tennis leaders ATP and WTA are expected to announce a six-week break on their tours later today in response to the growing global spread of COVID-19.

Watch over 50 LIVE sports on Kayo! Streaming on TV, mobile phone, tablet or computer. Only $ 25 a month, cancel anytime. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial and start streaming right away>

This would wipe out the clay court season and potentially put the French Open, which starts on May 24, at risk.

Empty seats. Many of them. This could be Wimbledon in 2020.
Empty seats. Many of them. This could be Wimbledon in 2020.Source: Getty Images

This follows the news that U.S. President Donald Trump has taken the unprecedented step to suspend all flights between the United States and almost all of Europe for the next 30 days.

It is understood that the All-England Club would be reluctant to play the iconic Grand Slam without fans.

A final decision will be made in consultation with the government and relevant health authorities, but the policy of major sporting events taking place behind closed doors should be implemented across the UK.

The virus clears Indian Wells

The virus clears Indian Wells

00:34

The last time Wimbledon was canceled was during the Second World War.

If the worst case scenario occurs, SunSport understands that their insurance policies mean they can offer refunds to ticket and bond holders.

Andy Murray had hoped to fly to Florida next week for the Miami Open, but although there hasn’t been an official confirmation yet, he is expected to be postponed.

The Indian Wells Masters was canceled on Sunday following confirmed cases in the Coachella Valley region.

The virus forces Nix to move

The virus forces Nix to move

01:43

The Fed Cup inaugural finals in Hungary and the playoffs were also rejected.

World No. 11 father Fabio Fognini said last night that players had been told that Miami was out.

Fulvio said: “Common sense prevails. Fabio has just informed me. At this point I believe that the whole European season is in great danger. “

This article originally appeared on The Sun and is reproduced with permission

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Russian interference casts “dark shadows” on the proceedings, prosecutors say

Dutch prosecutors accused Russia on Tuesday of interfering with the spacecraft in shooting down flight MH17 and casting a dark shadow in the four-suspect disaster trial.

Moscow sought to track down witnesses in the trial that began in the Netherlands on Monday, leaving some in fear of their own lives if they were identified, prosecutors said.

Three Russians and one Ukrainian are tried in absentia following the 2014 crash of the Malaysia Airlines jet to eastern Ukraine held by the rebels with the loss of all 298 people on board, 196 of whom are Dutch.

Prosecutors have described fears that Russia was trying to track down potential witnesses, some of whom will give anonymous testimony.

“There are clear indications that Russian security services are actively attempting to stop efforts to establish the truth behind the shooting down of flight MH17,” prosecutor Thijs Berger told the judges.

“The use of Russian security services to find out the identification of witnesses in this investigation is a very real scenario. These agencies have the ability to intercept communications and monitor people’s travel movements.

“Several witnesses in this investigation say they fear for their lives if their identities come to light.” Prosecutors added that Russian security services were already “accused of multiple murders that have been committed in various European countries”.

Berger said some witnesses were interviewed anonymously to prevent them from “taking unjustified risks.”

“Every effort has been made to find people who have taken photos and videos and interview them as witnesses … some people interviewed were present or disseminated material online,” continued the prosecutor.

“Where possible, the camera in question, including the memory card, has been seized and handed over to the Netherlands Forensic Institute.”

Russia had also targeted investigators in several disaster-affected countries, the prosecutor said on the second day of the hearing in a maximum security court near Amsterdam Schiphol airport.

“The British and Dutch authorities determined that Russian GRU agents were involved in an attempt to penetrate the systems of the Malaysian investigative authorities,” said Berger, referring to the Russian military espionage agency.

There have also been attempts to join the Dutch Security Council which was investigating the MH17 disaster, he said.

“Taken together, this information casts a dark shadow over these proceedings,” said Berger.

The trial opened in the absence of the four suspects: Russian citizens Igor Girkin, Sergei Dubinsky, Oleg Pulatov and Ukrainian citizen Leonid Kharchenko.

International investigators say that the Boeing 777 jetliner was hit by a Russian-made BUK surface-to-air missile, fired from a territory held by pro-fly rebels fighting against Kiev.

“DISINFORMATION CAMPAIGN”

Relatives of those who died have repeatedly called for trial to examine Russia’s role in the accident, which investigators say was caused by a Russian-made missile fired from separatist territory.

“The court made it clear that the Russian government is organizing a disinformation campaign,” said Anton Kotte, a board member of a foundation for the victims of the MH17 who lost their son, daughter-in-law and grandson.

“And we’ll have to be prepared for far more distortion of the truth as the case progresses.”

Special protection had been given to a witness, who was willing to be appointed later in the proceedings but remained anonymous for security reasons, according to prosecutors.

Called only M58 at this stage, the witness was a Russian volunteer connected to a separatist unit that was close to BUK when it was launched on the day MH17 was shot down.

The witness testified that Russian military personnel – who according to the separatists came from the Russian security agency of the FSB – were with the missile at the launch site, they added.

“Once it became clear in the following hours that it was not a military plane but a civilian flight, MH17, the disinformation campaign began immediately,” said prosecutor Dedy Woei-a-Tsoi.

Another witness identified only as S24 had “expressed fear of reprisals from the Russian Federation” while a third known as V9 asked to remain anonymous because “I could be taken by Russian special services,” added the prosecution.

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