⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃
UK doctors call for urgent return of Covid restrictions: British medical professionals have issued an urgent plea to the British government to reimpose some Covid restrictions due to the increased level of infections and hospitalisations in the country. Politicians have a responsibility to set an example in the battle against Covid, including wearing masks in crowded spaces, Health Secretary Sajid Javid has suggested as he predicted new infections could hit a record 100,000 a day. The government announced Wednesday it has secured contracts with two pharmaceutical giants for pills to treat vulnerable people who get infected with COVID-19.
cnbc.com, theguardian.com, politico.eu
Queen Elizabeth II cancels trip on advice to rest for a few days: Queen Elizabeth II is resting at Windsor Castle after „reluctantly“ accepting medical advice to cancel a trip to Northern Ireland, planned for Wednesday and Thursday, Buckingham Palace has said. The 95-year-old monarch has been advised to rest for the „next few days,“ the palace said in a statement. A source close to the palace told CNN that it is „not Covid related.“
UK to speed up legislation to tackle harmful digital content: The UK’s Online Safety Bill will be brought before MPs before Christmas, Boris Johnson said Wednesday. The prime minister said the flagship piece of legislation, which would see social media platforms and search engines issued with large fines for not doing enough to protect users from harmful content, will have its second reading before MPs go on their Christmas break. Johnson was responding in the House of Commons chamber to a challenge to hit an end of year deadline for a second reading by Labour leader Keir Starmer, who said he wanted to use the collaborative spirit shown following the killing of Tory MP David Amess to make progress on the new law.
Terrorism: Threat level for MPs raised to ‘substantial‘ after David Amess murder, says Priti Patel independent.co.uk
New Zealand trade deal: PM hails ‚great‘ new pact – but NFU warns it offers ‚almost nothing‘ for British farmers“ news.sky.com
Net zero strategy: Tory MPs’ anger over Treasury assessment on high costs theguardian.com
Needle spiking incidents: Police asked to give urgent update on investigation into reports of women being drugged via drinks or needles theguardian.com
⊂ POLITJOBS UNITED KINGDOM ⊃
⊂ EUROPE ⊃
- EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Wednesday exhorted the bloc’s 27 member nations to wean themselves off natural gas not only to speed the transition to clean energy but also to make the bloc a more independent player in the world
- Von der Leyen: “While (Russia’s) Gazprom has honoured its long term contracts with us, it did not respond to higher demand, as it did in previous years. So Europe is today too reliant on gas.“
- „Bloomberg“ reported that Russia is signalling that it won’t go out of its way to offer European consumers extra gas to ease the current energy crisis unless it gets something in return: regulatory approval to start shipments through the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline
- Statements from Russian officials linking an increase of gas deliveries to Europe with the completion of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline are “manipulative” and aimed at cementing Gazprom’s dominant position on the EU gas market, Poland has argued in a letter to the EU Commission
- Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend COP 26 climate summit france24.com
- Putin tells workers to stay home for a week amid record Covid deaths nbcnews.com
- NATO will still seek channels with Russia despite spy dispute reuters.com
- Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was awarded the European Union’s top human rights prize Wednesday npr.org
- EU Parliament’s legal team has been told to prepare a lawsuit against the European Commission over the latter’s failure to punish countries that violate the rule of law politico.eu
- Poland threatened to stonewall talks on the EU’s climate pact unless it receives access to the bloc’s recovery package bloomberg.com
- Poland’s clash with Brussels over a court ruling that questioned the supremacy of EU law has been added to the agenda of a leaders‘ summit this Thusrday at the request of several countries that see it as a serious crisis for the EU reuters.com
Russia holds high-profile Afghanistan talks with Taliban: Russia has hosted the most high-profile international talks on Afghanistan since the Taliban took power, calling for an injection of aid to help the crippled economy but also demanding a more inclusive government. The Taliban praised suicide bombers who died during the war against the former government and its Western allies and offered their families sums of cash and promises of land, the movement’s interior ministry said in a statement.
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EU Parliament votes for Farm to Fork strategy: MEPs have thrown their support behind the EU’s plan to make food production more sustainable. In a vote held Tuesday and announced Wednesday, a majority in the European Parliament supported the Farm to Fork strategy, setting the bloc on a political trajectory toward greener farming practices and healthier diets by 2030. The report calls for Brussels to impose binding legal targets on countries to reduce the use of pesticides, fertilisers and animal antibiotics in agriculture, and demands an explicit linkage be made between the Green Deal and the bloc’s €270 billion Common Agricultural Policy.
Commission collects views on making liability rules fit for the digital age, Artificial Intelligence and circular economy: The Commission has launched a public consultation on the rules on compensation for damage caused by defective products. A specific focus will be on the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in products and services. The Commission invites interested parties to express their views on the revision of the Product Liability Directive and on whether other national liability rules still provide legal certainty and consumer protection in an age of smart and AI-based products and services.
Frontex: Syrian family sue EU border agency over removal from Greece theguardian.com
Syria: Twin blasts in Damascus have killed at least 14 people and wounded three others dw.com
Artists: MEPs call for minimum social standards for artists and cultural workers europarl.europa.eu
Sports: Commission’s advertisement team-up with UEFA raises hackles euractiv.com
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
„We, Europeans, have an interest in preserving the status quo in the Taiwan Strait.“
EU Commission Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager said Brussels must respond more strongly to the Chinese threat to Taiwan.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
- German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has suggested that a significant increase in support on the Polish side of the border could identify illegal crossings and arrest people smugglers
- Seehofer also said Russia is likely behind the wave of illegal immigrants from Belarus
- He added that Poland had already taken very strong initiatives to stop refugees and migrants entering the country via Belarus, which the EU accuses of instrumentalising displaced people in retaliation for sanctions imposed by the bloc
- Seehofer confirmed that German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas is “very engaged” to ensure that airlines who fly migrants to Belarus will face sanctions
- Romanian MPs on Wednesday rejected a proposal that Dacian Ciolos form a government and become the country’s next prime minister
- The largest faction — the centre-left Social Democratic Party (PSD) and USR’s former coalition partners in the centre-right National Liberal Party (PNL) — had said they wouldn’t support Cioloș as soon as he was nominated last week by President Klaus Iohannis
- If two designated prime ministers fail to form a government within sixty days, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis can dissolve parliament, which could pave the way for early elections
- The political crisis began in early September when former liberal PM Florin Cițu fired a USR justice minister for not signing off on a €10 billion infrastructure development programme
- USR, which had expressed concerns over the transparency of the funds, reacted by quitting the three-party coalition and withdrawing its support for Cițu
Covid in Europe and elsewhere
- As COVID-19 engulfs Romania, funeral homes struggle to keep up reuters.com
- Austria plans to require proof of vaccination, recovery, or a negative Covid test to enter workplaces thelocal.com
- Covid cases in the Czech Republic have surpassed the 3,000-mark for the first time since late April dw.com
- New infections in the UK could hit a record 100,000 a day theguardian.com
- Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro should be charged with crimes against humanity, Covid inquiry finds theguardian.com
German central bank chief quits years before the end of his term: The 53-year-old president of the German central bank, the Bundesbank, signed off five years ahead of the end of his term, saying in a letter to Bundesbank staff on Wednesday that „more than 10 years is a good measure of time to turn over a new leaf for the Bundesbank, but also for me personally.“ Jens Weidmann, a well known inflation hawk, became president in May 2011 after his predecessor Axel Weber resigned in protest of European Central Bank crisis measures.
Czech judiciary again wants to have Babis‘ immunity lifted: The decision on an indictment against incumbent Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis in the so-called Stork’s Nest affair has been delayed. The reason for this is that the 67-year-old’s parliamentary immunity was renewed with the parliamentary elections at the beginning of October. The public prosecutor’s office wants to apply again for the lifting of the politician’s protection from prosecution, a spokesperson announced in Prague on Wednesday.
Georgia medics recommend hospitalisation for hunger-striking Saakashvili: Georgia’s jailed ex-president and opposition leader Mikheil Saakashvili on Wednesday vowed to keep refusing food in prison after doctors recommended that he be hospitalised. Georgia’s president from 2004 to 2013, Saakashvili was arrested and imprisoned upon his return from exile in Ukraine on 1 October. The 53-year-old founder of Georgia’s main opposition force, the United National Movement, immediately went on hunger strike to protest what he calls a politically-motivated prosecution.
Aegean dispute: Turkish fighter-bombers fly over inhabited Greek islands spiegel.de
Germany: Social Democrats nominate Bärbel Bas as parliament president politico.eu
France: Former president Nicolas Sarkozy ordered to testify in former aides’ trial theguardian.com
Greece wants to pay off its debt early – but negotiations are complicated handelsblatt.com
Austria: Vienna attacker acted alone but allegedly had supporters derstandard.at
Netherlands: Scandal over care allowances has brought severe suffering to thousands of families sueddeutsche.de
Italy: Public prosecutor’s office suspends investigation against sea rescuers zeit.de
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
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⊂ LAST BUT NOT LEAST ⊃
Olympic flame received amid boycott calls: The Olympic flame arrived in Beijing from Greece on Wednesday, as calls to boycott the games over China’s human rights abuses gathered steam. Critics of China’s authoritarian government have accused the International Olympic Committee of lending legitimacy to the regime by letting it host the upcoming games as well as the 2008 Summer Olympics. There have been calls for politicians and athletes to boycott the games over the country’s system of forced labour camps for Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang, the treatment of other minorities, such as Tibetans, and the crackdown on freedoms in Hong Kong.