⊂ UNITED KINGDOM ⊃
Patel meets French minister over migrant crossings: Home Secretary Priti Patel has met with the French interior minister, Gérald Darmanin, after a tense exchange between the two countries over the number of migrants crossing the Channel to the UK. The talks broke up on Wednesday afternoon and followed an influx of small boats during warm weather this week, increasing pressure on the home secretary from Downing Street and other members of her party. Patel has warned that Britain could withhold £54.2m it had promised to pay France to help deal with the problem, unless more boats are intercepted.
UK parliament backs Johnson’s tax hike plan: Lawmakers backed Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s plan to raise taxes in a parliamentary vote on Wednesday, clearing the way to direct more funds into the country’s creaking health and social care system. Johnson had angered some members of his governing party by breaking election promises not to increase taxes, and only set out the full plan on Tuesday. Despite the backlash his party, with a working majority of 83, won the vote 319 to 248. The prime minister said his plan would deal with „catastrophic costs“ faced by those who need care. But Labour raised concerns that people could still have to sell their home in order to pay for the help they need.
Victims of police malpractice call for Met chief to be replaced: Victims of police incompetence and malpractice, including Doreen Lawrence and the brother of murdered private eye Daniel Morgan, have called for the replacement of the Metropolitan police commissioner, Cressida Dick. In a scathing open letter to Boris Johnson, first reported in the Daily Mail, the panel of influential individuals said that after “decades of equivocation and inertia”, the Met must be held accountable for its failings and Dick should not be handed the two-year extension to her term in office, which she was offered on Wednesday.
Climate: Government accused of reneging on key climate promises after dropping commitments for UK-Australia trade deal news.sky.com
Bigotry: ‘Utter neglect’: Government fails to create Islamophobia definition two years after pledge independent.co.uk
Coronavirus: UK decision on vaccine boosters expected on Thursday theguardian.com
Internet: UK calls on G7 countries, tech firms to step up child safety measures online euractiv.com
⊂ POLITJOBS UNITED KINGDOM ⊃
⊂ EUROPE ⊃
US and Germany against early recognition of Taliban government: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Wednesday said a provisional Afghan cabinet was not the inclusive government the Taliban had promised and that the Islamist group needs to earn the international legitimacy and support it seeks. Blinken, who made his remarks alongside the German foreign minister, Heiko Maas, while visiting a US airbase in Germany that has been a transit point for evacuees from Afghanistan, also called on the Taliban to allow charter flights carrying Americans and at-risk Afghans to depart from the country. Maas and Blinken had chaired a virtual meeting with as many as 20 nations supportive of the US efforts to put pressure on Taliban to cooperate on the free passage of those foreign nationals and Afghans who want to leave. Maas, in his turn, said the non-inclusive interim government announced by the Taliban was not the signal for more international cooperation and stability in the country. The EU also voiced disapproval of the Taliban’s provisional government, saying they had not kept a promise to include women and other religious groups. Afghan women took to the streets of Kabul to protest for a second consecutive day. The Taliban has announced that Afghan women will be banned from playing sport.
reuters.com, theguardian.com, dw.com, reuters.com, wsj.com, theguardian.com
Former Afghan president Ghani apologises for leaving the country: Former Afghan President Ashraf Ghani issued a statement Wednesday apologising to Afghans for fleeing Kabul on the day the Taliban entered the capital city, calling it „the most difficult decision“ of his life. Ghani’s decision to flee Kabul and seek asylum in the United Arab Emirates on 15 August precipitated the collapse of the Afghan government. Ghani was also accused of stealing millions of dollars worth of public money as he fled Kabul, allegations he has vigorously denied. He said Wednesday that he and his top aides would submit to an independent investigation or audit to prove his innocence. Meanwhile, 31 Afghan women have written to Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel to ask for help. As unmarried single women, they cannot have family members fly out to Germany with them – even though they worked for the German Corporation for International Cooperation GmbH.
EU rejects UK demand to renegotiate N.Ireland protocol: The European Union and Britain must resolve problems over Northern Ireland trading using the protocol agreed between them, the EU’s Brexit coordinator said on Wednesday, rejecting a British demand to renegotiate it. London and Brussels have been at loggerheads over the Northern Ireland Protocol since the UK’s divorce from the bloc came into force on 1 January 2021. The British province remains within the EU’s customs unions, meaning that checks must be carried out on certain goods travelling between Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
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Weber seeks to lead EPP in new dual role: German politician Manfred Weber announced Wednesday he wants to concentrate leadership of the European Parliament’s biggest group, the European People’s Party, under himself. The German MEP told party colleagues in a closed-door meeting he will run this October for another term as EPP group leader, while at the same time announcing his bid to become president of the centre-right EPP next April, when the term of current EPP President Donald Tusk ends. Weber’s announcement means he’s backtracking from an initial plan to run as European Parliament president in January, when current Parliament President David Sassoli might need to step down under a deal political groups negotiated two years ago.
2021 Strategic Foresight Report: The EU Commission has adopted its second annual Strategic Foresight Report – “The EU’s capacity and freedom to act”. This Communication presents a forward-looking and multidisciplinary perspective on the EU’s open strategic autonomy in an increasingly multipolar and contested global order. The Commission has identified four main global trends, affecting the EU’s capacity and freedom to act: climate change and other environmental challenges; digital hyperconnectivity and technological transformation; pressure on democracy and values; and shifts in the global order and demography. It has also set out ten key areas of action where the EU can seize opportunities for its global leadership and open strategic autonomy.
Fine over controversial judicial reform? Poland reacts defiantly to EU threat tagesspiegel.de
ECB to kick off its tapering debate as inflation surges to a 10-year high cnbc.com
NGOs accuse EU of seeking to turn migrant database into mass surveillance tool theguardian.com
Conference on the Future of Europe: European Citizens’ Panels set to start europarl.europa.eu
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
„More European strategic autonomy is not only good for Europe but also for the rest of the world, because the values we uphold are the universal values of dignity and human rights.“
The chaotic evacuation effort in Afghanistan has stressed the urgency for European strategic autonomy, European Council President Charles Michel said on Wednesday.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
German conservative chancellor candidate calls for European FBI: Armin Laschet, the conservative candidate to succeed Angela Merkel as the next German chancellor, has called for Europol to be scaled up into a „European FBI“ to tackle cybercrime. „A well-defended state must also be able to defend itself in the digital world,“ Laschet, the chancellor candidate of Merkel’s own Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its sister party the CSU, wrote in an opinion article published Wednesday in Handelsblatt. „We must create European opportunities for cyber self-defence and develop Europol in the cyber sector into a European FBI,“ Laschet said. This would allow Europe to react to digital threats, which are „often harbingers of analog crimes,“ he argued.
Historic Bataclan terror attack trial begins in Paris: Almost six years after the deadliest attack on French soil since World War II killed 130 people and injured 416 others, the largest criminal trial in the nation’s history opened Wednesday, with more than 2,000 lawyers, witnesses and survivors of the terror spree. Police believe that French national Salah Abdeslam was the only attacker to survive 13 November 2015, when nine gunmen and suicide bombers struck bars and restaurants, the Bataclan concert hall and the Stade de France sports stadium. French police say a suicide belt belonging to him was found unexploded after the attacks. The other suspects are accused of helping to provide guns and cars or organise the attacks, which also injured hundreds and scarred the nation’s psyche. Abdeslam described himself as „an Islamic State soldier“ on Wednesday.
Paris mayor to announce presidential run Sunday: Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo will announce a bid to become France’s first woman president on Sunday, joining a growing list of challengers to incumbent Emmanuel Macron, several MPs from her Socialist party told AFP. Hidalgo’s intention to seek France’s highest office has been an open secret for months. She said Tuesday that the environment would be her top priority but that the transition to greener living should not be carried out „to the detriment of the middle and working classes“. Hidalgo, who won a second term as mayor last year, has been vilified and praised in equal measure for battling to take cars off the streets of Paris and give over more space to cyclists.
Slovakia government apologises for WWII anti-Jew laws: Slovakia’s government apologised on Wednesday for World War II legislation that stripped the country’s Jews of their human and civil rights. Marking the 80th anniversary of the “Jewish Code” adopted on 9 September 1941, the government said in a statement that it “feels a moral obligation today to publicly express sorrow over the crimes committed by the past regime.” The code also prevented access of the Jews to education and authorised the transfer of their property to non-Jewish owners. The government said the anniversary is an opportunity to remember the crimes against Slovak Jews.
Germany’s sovereign cloud is coming — and it’s provided by Google: Germany has, along with France, been a driving force behind Europe’s quest for cloud “sovereignty.” When the countries announced plans for a European cloud network called Gaia-X a couple of years back, the idea was for European enterprises not to have to rely on foreign providers for the foundations of their online services and internal data-wrangling. Now Germany is getting a “sovereign cloud” that will target sectors such as automotive and health care, along with the public sector, when it launches next year. It will be run by T-Systems, the Deutsche Telekom–owned systems integrator that is one of Gaia-X’s founding members, in partnership with the distinctly non-European cloud giant that is Google.
Bulgarian restaurant, club workers protest at Covid restrictions: About 2,000 Bulgarian restaurant and club owners, waiters, bartenders and gym instructors protested in the centre of the capital Sofia on Wednesday against newly imposed COVID-19 restrictions. Restaurants and bars in Brussels are bracing to become the next in Europe to be required to enforce Covid passes for their customers.
Switzerland debates triage of unvaccinated tagesspiegel.de
Austria: Government presents Covid measures for autumn orf.at
Norway: Covid numbers remain high finanzen.at
Czech Republic: Head of government on the upswing before the election derstandard.at
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
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⊂ LAST BUT NOT LEAST ⊃
Portugal: War over lithium behind the mountains: The northern Portuguese province of Tras-os-Montes is planning to extract lithium in an open-cast mine. But the locals in this sparsely populated and economically deprived region are putting up a fight. Portugal’s government has decided to turn the country into a big player regarding lithium mining. The nation sits on an estimated 10% of overall lithium deposits in Europe. But unfortunately, most of the metal is located in beautiful places such as Covas do Barroso, which makes it a breeding ground for conflict.