Thursday, 2 December 2021: Johnson under pressure over No 10 lockdown parties, Blinken warns Russia of consequences if it invades Ukraine, Debating mandatory vaccination


Johnson under pressure over No 10 lockdown parties: Prime Minister Boris Johnson is under pressure to explain why No 10 staff seemingly held two parties during lockdown last winter as insiders said the prime minister attended one gathering and remarked on how packed it was.

Starmer accuses government of failing to prevent ‘winter cost of living crisis’: Sir Keir Starmer has accused the government of undermining the country’s energy security by failing to secure domestic gas storage capacity, as he warned of a “winter cost of living crisis”.

Ministry of Defence aims to double women recruits in military by 2030: The number of women recruits in the Armed Forces would be doubled and the male-dominated culture tackled, under plans from the Ministry of Defence.

COVID-19: UK government secure 114 million more vaccines doses for the next two years as cases of the new Omicron variant rise
Prince Harry compares Covid vaccine inequity to HIV struggle
Home Office doubles down on migrant pushback tactics despite criticism
Brexit: EU’s Sefcovic says Britain must reciprocate now on Brexit proposals


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Blinken warns Russia of ’severe consequences‘ if it invades Ukraine: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned Russia to stand down on its efforts to destabilise Ukraine and said there would be „severe consequences“ for any Russian military action. „We’ve made it clear to the Kremlin that we will respond resolutely, including with a range of high impact economic measures that we’ve refrained from using in the past,“ he said, adding that the NATO alliance is also „prepared to impose severe costs for further Russian aggression in Ukraine.“ NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview with CNN’s Jim Sciutto that the alliance has „a wide range of options: economic sanctions, financial sanctions, political restrictions.“

  • Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov warned NATO against redeploying US atomic weapons to Eastern Europe if Germany refuses to keep hosting them
  • Russian President Vladimir Putin: „In a dialogue with the United States and its allies, we will insist on working out specific agreements that would exclude any further NATO moves eastward and the deployment of weapons systems that threaten us in close vicinity to Russian territory.“
  • Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy wants talks with Russia to end Donbass war
  • Russia launches regular winter drills in its southern military district bordering Ukraine
  • Russia expels US Embassy staff

Coup attempt in Ukraine: Ukraine’s prime minister says Russia ‘absolutely’ plotting coup attempt.

Steele dossier: Former US President Donald Trump and his allies have stepped up an effort to conflate the so-called Steele dossier with the Russia investigation. Trump and his supporters have long sought to use the flaws of the dossier to discredit the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election as a “hoax.”

EU approves fresh sanctions on Belarus: EU ambassadors have agreed on a fifth sanctions package against Belarus that will add 17 people and 11 entities in response to what the bloc considers Minsk’s orchestration of a migrant crisis on its border, diplomats said. The EU has also proposed new measures that would allow Poland and other member states bordering Belarus to suspend some protections for asylum seekers, raising concerns that they may undermine the ability of migrants to seek refuge in the bloc. The authoritarian leader of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko said Wednesday he is willing to shut off energy transit from Russia to the EU if Poland closes its border with Belarus as part of tensions with migrants trying to cross into the EU.,,

Lukashenko says annexed Crimea is legally Russian: Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko said on Tuesday that the Crimean Peninsula, annexed by Moscow from Ukraine in 2014, was legally Russian territory, RIA news agency reported, in a reversal of his public stance.

Crisis at border between Belarus and Poland: Facebook says Belarusian KGB used fake accounts to stoke border crisis.

EU countries should debate mandatory vaccination, says von der Leyen: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said Wednesday that EU nations should open a debate around making COVID-19 vaccinations mandatory because too many people still refuse to get shots voluntarily. She said it was a matter for each member state to decide, but regretted the amount of doses that are being left unused.

BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine: First deliveries of vaccines for children to start on 13 December.

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OECD warns Omicron variant could cause severe global slowdown: Western governments could be forced to bring in fresh emergency financial support for businesses and households if the Omicron coronavirus variant causes a severe global slowdown, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has warned.

Post-Brexit fishing: Guernsey grants over 40 licences for French boats: The French government has welcomed a move by Guernsey to grant 43 fishing licences to French boats, giving them the right to continue operating off the Channel island. It comes amid an ongoing diplomatic tussle between Paris and London over the allocation of post-Brexit permits under the EU-UK trade deal.

New EU law for data-sharing adopted: EU co-legislators found a middle ground on the Data Governance Act (DGA) by adopting new rules for data sharing, marking the first step of the European data strategy. The EU Parliament and Council reached an agreement on Tuesday on the new data law to provide a framework for sharing industrial data across the bloc.

EU Council presidency pitches significant changes to AI Act proposal: The Slovenian Presidency circulated a compromise text on the EU’s draft AI Act, including major changes in the areas of social scoring, biometric recognition systems, and high-risk applications, while also identifying future points for discussion.

Global Gateway: Up to €300 billion for the EU’s strategy to boost sustainable links around the world
High energy prices: Nine EU states oppose energy market overhaul
Climate: EU will not strengthen climate action plan in 2022
Brexit: French President Macron urges UK to work with the EU to resolve post-Brexit issues
Expenses affair: Parliament examines EU Court of Auditors in detail
Anti-money laundering: Council agrees its negotiating mandate on transparency of crypto-asset transfers
Iran nuclear deal: Iran preparing to enrich uranium, nuclear deal talks in Vienna told


The people of Africa cannot be blamed for the immorally low level of vaccinations available to them.
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said on Wednesday that travel restrictions imposed over COVID-19 that isolate any one country or region as „not only deeply unfair and punitive – they are ineffective.“


COVID-19 in Europe:

  • Around 60 people infected with Omicron in EU so far
  • France to demand negative Covid test result from non-EU visitors
  • Austria’s hospitals are already overcrowded – triage necessary
  • Italy approves Covid vaccination for 5-11 year olds
  • Italian military to help with tests in schools

French conservative presidential voting kicks off with no clear favourite: Members of the conservative Les Républicains (LR) are voting this week to pick their candidate for the French presidential election in April in a race that even party experts can’t predict. Close to 140,000 people are tasked with choosing the conservative champion through an electronic vote in a closed primary — reserved for Les Républicains members only — between 1 and 4 December.

Italy in talks with EU to delay MPS privatisation beyond 2023, sources say: The Italian Treasury is discussing with EU authorities the possibility of extending by more than two years a 2021 deadline to cut Rome’s 64% stake in ailing bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS), two sources told Reuters.

Lithium from German geothermal plants could supply a million electric vehicles a year from 2025: Batteries made with zero-emission lithium from geothermal plants in Germany could power one million vehicles per year by the mid-2020s, according to Vulcan Energy, a company setting out to produce climate neutral lithium in Europe.

Poland: Parliament debates abortion ban bill
Romania: Government of adversaries launches
France debates merger that would lead to media colossus
Renewable energies: RWE tests floating wind turbine off coast of Norway
Abrupt end to volcano dormancy: 371 earthquakes on La Palma


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Merkel’s surprising choice of farewell music: Angela Merkel is finally bidding farewell to the office of German chancellor after 16 years in the top job. Thursday evening will see her attend a military tattoo in her honour. Like her predecessors, Merkel has been allowed to request three songs for the military marching band to play. Two are unlikely to raise eyebrows: The 18th-century Christian hymn „Großer Gott, wir loben dich“ („Holy God, We Praise Thy Name“). The other is the popular song by German singer Hildegard Knef „Für mich, soll’s rote Rosen regnen“ („It should rain red roses for me“). Yet one song chosen by the chancellor may come as a surprise to many — the 1974 East German hit sung by punk rocker Nina Hagen, „Du hast den Farbfilm vergessen“ („You forgot the color film“). An iconoclastic pop star back in the German Democratic Republic, Nina Hagen became the punk icon of West Germany after the fall of the Berlin Wall.


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