Monday, 13 September 2021: England scraps vaccine passport plan after protests, Parliamentary elections in Norway this Monday, Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo to run for French president

⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃

England scraps vaccine passport plan after protests: Plans to introduce vaccine passports for access into nightclubs and large events in England will not go ahead, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has said. Earlier this month, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said passports were necessary to keep large venues open, prompting outrage from the hospitality industry. Just a week ago, the vaccines minister had defended the scheme as the best way to keep the night industry open. There had been opposition from Tory MPs on the Covid Recovery Group as well as the Liberal Democrats, whose leader Ed Davey called vaccine passports divisive, unworkable and expensive. Government sources said dire warnings at the start of summer about Covid cases, hospitalisations and death levels as a result of the almost total lifting of restrictions had not been borne out, and that the success of the jabs rollout meant vaccine passports were not needed imminently. But No 10 stressed the plan – which had been set to be introduced at the end of this month – would be kept in reserve should it be needed over autumn or winter.
bbc.com, politico.eu, theguardian.com

Johnson to unveil winter plan to deal with COVID-19: Prime Minister Boris Johnson will this week set out the government’s plans for dealing with the challenges of Covid in the winter months and is expected to repeal specific measures contained in the powers passed by MPs. In his first coronavirus press conference since lifting the majority of legal restrictions on 19 July, the prime minister is expected to outline a blueprint for managing Covid amid fears of a further wave.
independent.co.uk

Scotland’s Sturgeon calls on UK leader to reassess Cambo oilfield: Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon called on British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday not to “simply go ahead and grant the permission” for the Cambo oilfield to start production, saying its licence needed to be reassessed. The Cambo oilfield, in the North Sea off the Scottish island of Shetland, was handed licensing approval in 2001 and must now get permission to start production. Sturgeon said that initial decision should be reassessed against the background of more ambitious climate change targets.
reuters.com

Priti Patel: Labour demands probe after home secretary meets hotel boss bbc.com
Health: Sajid Javid warns of possible bad flu season due to concerning levels of immunity news.sky.com
Tories slip in polls: Johnson aims to beat Thatcher’s record with another decade in power – reports theguardian.com
Scotland politics: Sturgeon: No indyref2 until all Covid restrictions lifted bbc.com
Miscarriage leave: All parents affected by miscarriage should be given paid leave, say campaigners, as bill introduced to parliament news.sky.com

⊂ POLITJOBS UNITED KINGDOM ⊃

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⊂ EUROPE ⊃

Belarus announces arms purchase from Russia: Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenko on Sunday said Minsk planned to buy $1 billion worth of Russian arms as he oversaw massive Moscow-led military drills that rattled some EU countries. The consignment included about ten planes, several dozen helicopters and a Tor surface-to-air missile system, Lukashenko said. He praised Russian and Belarusian troops for their readiness to jointly defend their borders and counter what he called „hybrid aggression“ from the West. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, meanwhile, appealed to Belarus to help migrants instead of trying to send them across the border into the EU, branding these attempts „hybrid attacks“. The EU suspects Lukashenko is engineering the flow of migrants across the border in retaliation against increasingly stringent EU sanctions on his regime. Lukashenko has been ostracised by the West for cracking down on opposition protests following a disputed election last year. The head of Belarus’s opposition, Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, has called for an international conference to overcome the Belarusian crisis.
france24.com, france24.com, zeit.de

Von der Leyen defends measures against Hungary and Poland: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has defended the EU’s measures against Poland and Hungary for rule of law violations in the two EU member states. She told German media that the EU must work in a legally clean manner, enforce common law, but at the same time seek dialogue. The Commission had applied to the European Court of Justice for fines against Poland, as it sees the independence of the judiciary in the country at risk. Von der Leyen stressed that her office had consistently initiated infringement proceedings in cases of violations of EU law. She added that many MEPs had been calling for sanctions for some time. According to estimates by EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders, Warsaw could have to pay a fine of up to one million euros per day. During a visit to Poland on Saturday, Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel spoke out in favour of resolving the dispute through dialogue.
sueddeutsche.de, rnd.de

EU should speed up military efforts, says Weber: The EU should accelerate efforts to build up its own military capacity and rely less on America, according to Manfred Weber, the head of the centre-right group in the EU Parliament. Although EU member countries have hundreds of thousands of troops, they were not in a position to secure Kabul airport, Weber noted. He said that closed European military cooperation would save billions of euros and make the bloc more independent. The EU has already made some strides toward a joint military approach. In 2017, it launched a pact to get EU countries working together on a range of military projects, including maritime surveillance, drone defence and military disaster relief.
politico.eu

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Taliban announce gender-segregated universities: The Taliban’s education minister, Abdul Baqi Haqqani, has announced a series of new restrictions on women and girls‘ education in Afghanistan. Going forward, the Taliban will enforce gender segregation at the country’s universities based on their belief that coeducation is un-Islamic. Haqqani said if it was not possible to segregate campuses by gender, universities should establish alternate class timing or ensure that classrooms are partitioned down the middle and seating is divided based on gender. In the meantime, Afghan police at Kabul airport have returned to work manning checkpoints alongside Taliban security for the first time since the Islamists seized power, officers said Sunday.
dw.com, france24.com

Humanitarian crisis: UN donor conference for Afghanistan this Monday tagesspiegel.de
OECD boss Mathias Cormann: Efforts to price carbon should be elevated to international level politico.eu
Longer use: EU plans strict environmental rules for smartphones heise.de
Eastern Ukraine: Ukrainian soldiers killed in skirmish with rebels orf.at

⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃

Sometimes you can only prevent terrorism if you stabilise a country, if you create strong and reliable institutions there.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has defended the years-long military mission in Afghanistan.
zeit.de

⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃

Parliamentary elections in Norway this Monday: Norway goes to the polls on Monday in parliamentary elections that have put the future of the fossil fuel sector centre stage. The official election day is Monday, but voting booths were opened early in the capital Oslo and several other cities. Opinion polls show the opposition Labour party on course to replace the Conservative-led coalition of Prime Minister Erna Solberg, though the centre-left party would need support from at least two others to secure a majority. Labour leader Jonas Gahr Stoere has pledged to cut the country’s CO2 emissions in line with the 2015 Paris Agreement. But the party has rejected calls to severely curtail oil and gas drilling, a major source of wealth and jobs.
dw.com

Paris mayor Anne Hidalgo to run for French president: The mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, announced Sunday she’s running for French president. The next presidential election takes place in April and will involve two rounds of voting if no candidate wins an absolute majority in the first round. President Emmanuel Macron has not yet announced he will run for a second term but is widely expected to do so. Hidalgo enters the race as a polarising figure whose campaign to squeeze cars out of Paris and make the city greener has divided residents of the capital. She currently lies fifth place on 8%, behind Xavier Bertrand of the centre right and the far left’s Jean-Luc Mélenchon. She said one of her top priorities would be to transform France into a low-carbon economy.
politico.eu, france24.com

Spain deploys military against wildfire: People have fled their homes in six more Andalucían towns and villages as Spain sent in a military unit to help tackle wildfires raging close to a Costa del Sol resort. The blaze in Malaga province has destroyed nearly 7,000 hectares (17,300 acres) of forest. The fire had an unusual power and strength and was advancing in several directions, Alejandro Garcia, of the forest fire agency’s operational centre, told reporters. An emergency brigade travelled from the military base of Morón, in southern Spain, to join more than 300 firefighters and 41 water-dropping aircraft battling the flames. The reinforcement was welcomed. But firefighters like Rafael Fanega, who said the blaze was still “out of control,” called for more boots on the ground to battle the flames.
theguardian.com, apnews.com

Pope warns of lurking anti-Semitism on Hungary trip: During a visit to Hungary, Pope Francis warned that the threat of anti-Semitism is still lurking in Europe and elsewhere, according to the BBC. He said the best way to defuse it was to work together, positively, and to promote fraternity. He met briefly with Hungary’s populist prime minister Viktor Orbán whose hard-line policies on refugees clash with Francis‘. The pope has previously said migrants and refugees seeking better lives in Europe should be welcomed. He has also criticised what he has called „national populism“ advanced by governments like Hungary’s. Francis spent seven hours in Hungary, before travelling on to Slovakia, where he will stay for three days.
politico.eu, nbcnews.com

Catalans march for independence ahead of Madrid talks: On Saturday, more than a hundred thousand separatists marched through the streets of Barcelona to call for Catalan independence. The protests came just days before the Spanish central government was due to meet the region’s leaders in a bid to ease tensions between the two sides. The last time the topic topped Spain’s political affairs was when separatists staged an independence referendum in October 2017 — which was declared illegal. In an attempt to improve relations, Madrid recently issued an amnesty for Catalan independence leaders who were jailed after the referendum.
dw.com

Bulgaria to hold third parliamentary vote on 14 November politico.eu
Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel travels to Serbia this Monday for talks with Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic dw.com
Italy puts together billion-euro package for railways vol.at
Greece starts new school year this Monday and tightens Covid measures rnd.de
Austria: Opponents of Covid measures met again for protest in Vienna derstandard.at

⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃

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⊂ LAST BUT NOT LEAST ⊃

Wrapping of Paris’s Arc de Triomphe in fabric begins: A first giant sheet of fabric was draped down the Arc de Triomphe in Paris on Sunday as work started to wrap the monument in a tribute to late artist Christo. Over the next few days, the entire Arc will be wrapped in 25,000 square metres (270,000 square feet) of fabric – the signature of Bulgarian-born Christo, who died last year. He had dreamed of sheathing the 50-metre-high monument since renting a nearby apartment in the 1960s.
france24.com

 

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