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BRUSSELS (Reuters) - EU antitrust regulators will decide by Aug. 3 whether to clear Mastercard Inc's bid for part of Scandinavian payments group Nets, according to a European Commission filing.

Mastercard's planned acquisition of European rival Nets' three divisions covering corporate clearing, instant payments and e-billing, has already triggered regulatory concerns.

The EU competition enforcer, which agreed to review the deal following requests from Austria, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden and Britain, in April said the deal threatens to significantly affect competition in the Nordic area, Europe and Britain.

Mastercard sought EU approval on June 26, the Commission site showed.

The Commission can approve the deal with or without concessions in its preliminary review or open a four-month investigation if it has serious concerns.

(Reporting by Foo Yun Chee, editing by Louise Heavens)

Copyright 2020 Thomson Reuters.

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New York AG recommends Mayor Bill de Blasio give up sole control over hiring of NYPD commissioner during investigation into policing of protests

New York Attorney General Letitia James recommended that New York City's mayor give up sole control over the NYPD commissioner's hiring among several sweeping changes aimed at restoring New Yorkers faith in the police. 

In a preliminary report released on Wednesday on her probe into the policing of recent protests, James urged for the creation of a new commission that would take over control of the hiring. 

It would also have final say on the department's budget and disciplining of officers. 

'It is impossible to deny that many New Yorkers have lost faith in law enforcement,' James said of the report. 

'We must address the breakdown in trust between the police and our communities.' 

New York Attorney General Letitia James on Wednesday recommended that New York City's mayor Bill de Blasio give up sole control over the city's police commissioner's hiring

The commission would include representatives from the mayor, the City Council, the public advocate and the comptroller, who would have control over hiring and promotion of senior New York Police Department officials. 

'There should be an entirely new accountability structure for NYPD,' James said in her report, noting that 'the public lacks a way to have meaningful input on the policies and major decisions that NYPD chooses to make'.

Her investigation began in May after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said he was alarmed by 'disturbing violent clashes' between NYPD officers and New Yorkers protesting against police violence, sparked by the killing in Minneapolis of George Floyd.

She did not rule out criminal charges. 

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James told reporters on a conference call her investigation was ongoing and a final report and set of recommendations would be released later.

'The police should not police themselves - period,' James, a Democrat, told reporters. 

'It's really important that we think of major reforms and not tinkering around the edges.'

In the meantime, she outlined several reforms intended to restore New Yorkers' faith in law enforcement. 

She made clear that none of her recommendations are binding upon city leaders but portrayed her report as a blueprint for transforming accountability in the nation's largest police department. 

A spokesperson for Mayor Bill de Blasio, pictured, criticized the commission recommendation

Mayor Bill de Blasio quickly shot down the prospect of an independent police commission, with a City Hall spokeswoman saying 'change comes from accountability, something a commission lacks'.

'If we want to continue moving forward, more bureaucracy is not the answer,' de Blasio spokeswoman Freddi Goldstein said in a statement.

De Blasio has come under fire in recent weeks after a surge in shootings in NYC.   

Last week he confirmed a hefty $1billion budget cut for the NYPD amid calls from protesters. The money will be shifted from policing to education and social services. 

 In addition to a new oversight committee, James called for decriminalizing 'quality of life' offenses like jaywalking and a 'statewide certification process that would prevent bad officers from simply being passed from one agency to another'.

'Everything should be on the table,' the attorney general said. 'The ultimate goal must be democratizing policing to create trust and systems worthy of that trust.'

Pat Lynch, president of the Police Benevolent Association, said James' report 'tells only one side of the story and delivers reheated proposals that have been part of the anti-police agenda for decades.'

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo  called on James to compile the report after he was alarmed by 'disturbing violent clashes' between NYPD officers and New Yorkers protesting against police violence. It included an incident when New York police officer Vincent D'Andraia, right pushed protester Dounya Zayer to the ground, pictured above

'If the goal is to heal the rift between police officers and the public, that won´t be achieved without giving meaningful consideration to the perspective of police officers on the street,' he said in a statement.

James' report followed harrowing testimony about New York City police officers slamming peaceful protesters to the ground, kicking a woman in the face and beating people with batons.

The attorney general said she had received more than 1,300 submissions over the past month, and that most of the complaints involved NYPD officers using excessive force, 'indiscriminate use of pepper spray, brandishing firearms at protesters, and pushing vehicles or bikes into protesters'.

Other complaints concerned 'troubling arrest-related practices,' including the use of 'extremely tight zip ties' misgendering detainees and holding protesters in cramped cells.

In one instance, an NYPD officer was seen on video shoving a young woman to the ground, resulting in her suffering a concussion while another filmed incident showed  an officer pulling down the mask of a protester before pepper-spraying him in the face. 

Police Commissioner Dermot Shea told James last month that fewer than 10 officers were being disciplined for alleged misconduct toward protesters, including one suspended without pay and later charged with assault after he was caught on camera shoving a woman to the ground. Shea said he was 'very disturbed' by the incident.

The police oversight commission James proposed would redirect power from the department's commissioner to a new board with representatives appointed by the City Council, public advocate, comptroller and mayor.

'The commission should also hire and, if necessary, terminate the NYPD Commissioner as well as approve all promotions above the rank of captain,' the report says.

James also recommended NYPD officers be required to live within the five boroughs 'so that they better reflect the communities they are required to serve and protect'.

De Blasio has said the city complied with James' investigation and pointed to recent steps to reform the police department, including disbanding the plainclothes anti-crime unit and the recent budget cut.

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