⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Brexit fears hold back US-UK trade deal: No 10 has warned the White House not to shelve a deal to remove tariffs on UK steel and aluminium because of anger over threats to the Northern Ireland Protocol. Reports suggesting a US decision to maintain tariffs on British steel is linked to Brexit and Northern Ireland are a „false narrative“, British trade minister Penny Mordaunt has said. It comes after the Financial Times reported the issue was stopping the UK resolving the steel row with America.
independent.co.uk, bbc.com, ft.com
EU court likely to dismiss Poland, Hungary rule-of-law challenge: The European Court of Justice’s advocate general Manuel Campos Sanchez-Bordona said Thursday that the top court should dismiss a challenge to the EU’s new „rule-of-law“ mechanism brought by Poland and Hungary. The „rule-of-law“ mechanism was created by the EU in response to critics who called on it to withhold funds from member states that refuse certain obligations, for example by corroding the separation of powers. Poland and Hungary took the matter to the EU’s top court, arguing there was no legal basis for the new mechanism.
EU law supremacy dispute: The European Commission decided Thursday to end legal proceedings against Germany over a controversial constitutional court ruling, after receiving assurances from Berlin that the supremacy of EU law is being respected.
Blinken and Lavrov meet amid tensions over Russia’s intentions in Ukraine: US President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin are due to hold talks in the near future after their top diplomats made no apparent progress in Stockholm towards defusing a standoff over Ukraine, amid fears of a Russian invasion. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov would report the details of their meeting back to Biden and Putin and that the two presidents „may have the opportunity to speak directly in the near future.“ Until then, Blinken said it’s Russia’s responsibility to defuse the growing tension about its military movements and disinformation targeting Ukraine.
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EU, UK, US, Canada issue coordinated sanctions against Belarus regime: The United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom and Canada slapped simultaneous sanctions Thursday on dozens of officials, organisations and companies in Belarus. In a joint statement, they said the sanctions were in response to „continuing attacks on human rights and fundamental freedoms in Belarus, disregard for international norms and repeated acts of repression.“
Omicron may become dominant in Europe: The EU’s public health agency said on Thursday that the Omicron variant could be responsible for more than half of all COVID-19 infections in Europe within a few months.
- Previous Covid infection may not protect against Omicron, scientist warns forbes.com
- EMA starts rolling review of Valneva’s Covid vaccine ema.europa.eu
- Germany puts major restrictions on unvaccinated bbc.com
- Greece: Mixed reactions to vaccine mandate for people over 60 dw.com
EU fines banks over ‘Sterling Lads’ foreign-exchange cartel: The EU Commission has fined five big banks for taking part in a foreign-exchange trading cartel. The decision involves some of Europe’s biggest banks: Switzerland’s Credit Suisse and UBS, and U.K.-based RBS, HSBC and Barclays. The Commission found that some traders at these banks exchanged sensitive information and trading plans in a chatroom called “Sterling Lads.” In some cases, they even coordinated trading strategies.
Migration policy: France rejects idea of joint patrols with UK forces on Calais coast theguardian.com
Data retention: Several EU states push for new EU-wide data retention heise.de
Data protection rules: EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova warns privacy rules may need to change politico.eu
Facebook could be sued by consumer groups, EU court adviser says reuters.com
Electric chargers: MEPs push for broader scope on common charger proposal euractiv.com
Nuclear deal: Iran submits draft proposals on sanction removal to nuclear talks france24.com
Peng Shuai case: International Olympic Committee says it held a second call with Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai. politico.eu
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
„The terms of the conversation around nuclear energy in Europe are changing.“
The EU’s energy commissioner, Kadri Simson, called for a “gearshift on investments” in nuclear power in order to extend the lifetime of existing power plants and maintain current production levels until 2050.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Former Austrian Chancellor Kurz says he’s leaving politics: Former Austrian leader Sebastian Kurz said Thursday his political career was over, weeks after his office was raided by prosecutors investigating him and close team members on suspicion of bribery and breach of trust. Kurz had stepped down as chancellor in October, and was replaced by Alexander Schallenberg, who also announced Thursday he would step down as leader of the government. Arguably Kurz‘ closest political ally, Finance Minister Gernot Bluemel, later said on Facebook that he, too, was quitting politics, making a large Cabinet reshuffle more likely.
Pope to help 50 migrants in Cyprus relocate to Italy: Pope Francis has arranged to have 50 migrants from Cyprus be relocated to Italy to mark his trip to the Mediterranean island next week, a Vatican source said on Friday. „This is a tangible expression of solidarity by the Head of the Roman Catholic Church to people in need, affirming that the Vatican recognises the problem that the Republic of Cyprus faces today because of the increased migratory flows and the need for a fair distribution among EU member states,“ Cyprus government spokesman Marios Pelekanos said.
French conservatives pick finalists for presidency: France’s conservative party on Thursday chose its finalists for the nomination to challenge Emmanuel Macron in the 2022 presidential election, narrowing down contenders to a hard-right MP and the Paris region chief but excluding ex-Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier. Valerie Pecresse, a moderate who heads the greater Paris region, and Eric Ciotti from the southern city of Nice, won the first round of the Republicans primary and will now face off in a second vote whose results will be announced Saturday.
Top court reviews case in neo-Nazi murder spree: Germany’s Federal Court of Justice began on Thursday to hear the case of a man who aided a neo-Nazi terrorist group, the NSU, who killed ten people over seven years. A Munich court in 2018 gave the defendant Andre E. a relatively light sentence of 2.5 years in prison for supporting a terrorist organization but acquitted him on the charge of aiding in attempted murder. Germany’s top court will now review the case at the request of the state prosecutor who had sought a sentence of 12 years
Germany: Outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel receives farewell military honours at ‚Grand Tattoo‘ dw.com
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
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⊂ LAST BUT NOT LEAST ⊃
Fossil remains of herd of 11 dinosaurs discovered in Italy: A treasure trove of fossils of a herd of 11 dinosaurs has been identified for the first time in Italy, including the biggest and most complete dinosaur skeleton ever found in the country. The fossilised remains belong to the species Tethyshadros insularis, which lived 80 million years ago and reached up to five metres in length.