⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃
Johnson eyes incremental wins on UK-US trade: Following a meeting with US President Joe Biden in the White House, Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested the UK will focus on smaller trade wins with the US rather than continue pushing for a full-blown deal. Johnson said Washington was not doing trade deals at the moment but the two sides could take “incremental steps” to improve the flow of goods and services between them. Focusing on individual exports like beef and lamb would have to be the immediate focus.
Lawyers accuse Priti Patel of delaying possible inquiry into Novichok poisonings: Lawyers at the inquest into the death of Dawn Sturgess in the 2018 Novichok poisonings have accused Home Secretary Priti Patel of delaying a possible public inquiry. Sturgess was not the target of the Novichok poisonings but encountered the nerve agent by accident and died after rubbing the nerve agent into her skin. Coroner Baroness Hallett believes intelligence about Russian involvement is „too sensitive“ for the inquest. She has asked the Home Secretary to give an indication she will hold an inquiry, but Patel has refused.
Labour conference: Starmer sets out what he stands for in essay: Sir Keir Starmer has published an 11,500 word essay on what he stands for and how he wants to change the UK, ahead of his party’s conference. The Labour leader says the country is at a crossroads after the pandemic and is „crying out for change“. He is due to deliver his first in-person conference speech to party members since becoming leader last year, in Brighton next week.
Brexit: US President Biden does not fully appreciate details of Northern Ireland Protocol row, Environment Secretary Eustice says news.sky.com
Territory’s post-Brexit status: UK prepares for Gibraltar no-deal in case EU talks fail politico.eu
Mask-wearing: Unions urge Westminster mask clampdown as MPs catch coronavirus politico.eu
Universal credit: Former prime minister Gordon Brown says government’s decision to cut £20 a week from universal credit is vindictive and indefensible theguardian.com
Afghanistan: UK suspends official for error revealing Afghan interpreter details reuters.com
⊂ POLITJOBS UNITED KINGDOM ⊃
⊂ EUROPE ⊃
Reconciliation phone call between Biden and Macron after submarine spat: France will send its ambassador back to Washington next week after French President Emmanuel Macron and President Joe Biden agreed in a phone call Wednesday to meet next month over a submarine spat that sent relations between the longtime allies into a tailspin. In an unprecedented move, France had recalled its ambassador after the US, Australia and Britain announced a new Indo-Pacific defence deal last week. As part of the pact, Australia will cancel a multibillion-dollar contract to buy diesel-electric French submarines and acquire US nuclear-powered vessels instead. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Wednesday urged the French to “prenez un grip about all this and donnez-moi un break”.
Germany against Taliban appearance at UN General Assembly: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas has rejected an appearance by a representative of the new Afghan Taliban government at the UN General Assembly, saying he didn’t consider showmanship at the United Nations to be helpful. The important thing now was for the Taliban to respect human rights, especially women’s rights, to clearly distinguish themselves from terrorist groups, and to form an inclusive government. These things would decide how future communication with the militant Islamist rulers would be conducted, Maas said in New York.
US says Europe energy crisis raises manipulation concerns: Surging natural gas prices in Europe have raised serious concerns about supply reliability in the region and should prompt a response by the United States, according to Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm. “We want to all have our eye on the issue of any manipulation of gas prices by hoarding or the failure to produce adequate supply,” she said in an online briefing during a visit to Warsaw. The looming energy crisis facing Europe overshadowed a meeting of EU ministers on Wednesday, with participants describing the situation as critical. The gas market chaos, which has driven prices 280% higher in Europe this year is being blamed on a range of factors from low storage levels to restrained Russian supplies.
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EU to ease insurance rules: Brussels has proposed a revision of its capital rules known as Solvency II. If the EU Commission has its way, insurance companies will have to back risky investments with more equity capital in the future. This applies especially to life insurance policies with mostly long-term guarantees. Due to the zero interest rate policies of the central banks, many life insurers have come under pressure. They’ve increasingly had to cut guaranteed interest rates for their customers. The EU Commission said since the situation on the financial markets has changed due to low interest rates, higher risks could arise for insurers. It wants to ensure that insurers can actually fulfil promises to their customers.
Covid: EU and US announce partnership on global vaccine distribution effort politico.eu
Air pollution: World Health Organisation (WHO) slashes guideline limits on air pollution from fossil fuels theguardian.com
World Climate Conference: Boris Johnson to call for coal phase-out by 2030 derstandard.at
Euro zone consumer confidence better than expected in September finance.yahoo.com
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
„That is why we should clearly and firmly say no to any form of pandemic extremism.“
German Health Minister Jens Spahn has called on people to intervene against hatred and hate-based ideologies after the fatal shooting of a petrol station employee following a dispute over mask wearing in Idar-Oberstein.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Aide to Ukraine’s president survives apparent assassination attempt: A top adviser to President Volodymyr Zelensky of Ukraine was shot at on Wednesday while being driven in his car outside Kyiv, in what the authorities said was an assassination attempt. Serhiy Shefir was travelling through the village of Lisnyky at about 10 a.m. when is car came under fire, with more than ten bullets hitting the vehicle. Shefir was not injured in the attack, but the driver of the car was wounded and hospitalised. A special police operation is underway to search for the perpetrators and police are appealing for information about the circumstances of the assassination attempt on the lives of two Ukrainian citizens.
Poland’s top court adjourns case on whether EU law has primacy: Poland’s top court announced another recess on Wednesday in a key case over whether Polish or Europan Union law has primacy as part of a long-standing dispute between Brussels and Warsaw over EU values. The court said it would not rule on the case until 30 September to gain time to prepare detailed questions for the two sides. The ruling is seen as critical to the country’s future relationship with the rest of the EU.
Lithuanian government urges people to throw away Chinese phones: Consumers should throw away their Chinese phones and avoid buying new ones, Lithuania’s Defence Ministry has warned. A report by its National Cyber Security Centre claimed that one Xiaomi phone had built-in censorship tools while another Huawei model had security flaws. The centre said the Mi 10T 5G phone made by Chinese manufacturer Xiaomi was able to detect and censor phrases such as „Free Tibet,“ „Long live Taiwan independence“ and „democracy movement“.
Citizens‘ railway in France to go online: A citizens‘ railway organised as a cooperative is about to start in France, aiming to connect regions neglected by France’s national rail operator SNCF. On Wednesday, the Ministry of the Environment in Paris granted the railway company Railcoop its operating licence. Meanwhile, France continues to have big plans for the TGV high-speed train even after its anniversary. At the 40th anniversary celebration at the Gare de Lyon train station in Paris, President Emmanuel Macron presented the future TGV M. It will be in service from 2023, will be more accessible and digitally connected, and will also be more ecological, said Macron. SNCF has scrapped plans for a controversial renovation of Europe’s busiest train station, Paris Gare du Nord.
handelsblatt.com, n-tv.de, france24.com
Poland recommends Covid booster shot for people over 50: Even after mid-November, the French government wants to be able to mandate a Covid pass that shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative COVID-19 test, or proof of recovering from a recent infection. The current regulation is limited in time. Poland will recommend a booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine for people over 50 as well as healthcare workers, a deputy health minister said on Tuesday.
Austria: Judge had already questioned Chancellor Kurz in early September for alleged false testimony handelsblatt.com
Germany: Defence ministry investigating employee over suspected far-right links reuters.com
German-Polish border: Increasing number of illegal immigrants zeit.de
Poland feels the impact of EU climate targets tagesspiegel.de
Volcanic eruption: Despite diversion efforts, wall of lava reaches more homes in La Palma english.elpais.com
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
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⊂ LAST BUT NOT LEAST ⊃
Greek government to protect teachers from anti-vaxxers and Covid deniers: Greece’s Citizen Protection Ministry, which is in charge of the police, announced on Wednesday that teachers will no longer be taken into police custody when they are sued by the parents of students who oppose the measures imposed to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in schools. The move follows a barrage of arrests and lawsuits against educators by parents who refuse to vaccinate their children or even wear face masks.