Tuesday, 12 October 2021: Russia and neighbours are source of most ransomware, says UK cyber chief, Schallenberg sworn in as Austria chancellor, France bans plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables


Russia and neighbours are source of most ransomware, says UK cyber chief: Cybercriminals from Russia and neighbouring states are behind the majority of online extortion conducted against businesses and other organisations in Britain, according to the chief of the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), Lindy Cameron. She said these types of attack posed a threat to everyone from major companies to local councils and schools.
theguardian.com, bbc.com

Gas price rises: Kwarteng asks Treasury to help firms over cost: The business secretary has asked the Treasury to support industries hit by soaring energy costs, a source has told the BBC. Kwasi Kwarteng’s formal request follows talks between ministers and industry leaders. The details have not been disclosed, but they are thought to focus on a temporary solution to high prices.

Sunak ‘planning £2bn in cuts and the UK’s highest peacetime tax rate’: Rishi Sunak is poised to usher in cuts worth £2bn for government departments tasked with meeting the Tories’ flagship “levelling up” agenda, despite planning for the biggest tax raid in a generation. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) said the chancellor was on track to lift the UK’s tax burden to the highest sustained level in peacetime with a package of manifesto-busting tax increases at this month’s budget and spending review.

Health policy: Covid response ‘one of UK’s worst ever public health failures’ theguardian.com
COVID-19: Parents of secondary school and college students urged to ensure their children test regularly and get vaccinated news.sky.com
Ex-Labour staff deny leaking anti-Semitism report bbc.com
Brexit: DUP boycott of meetings with Irish government ‘unlawful’, High Court rules independent.co.uk


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Ireland slams UK protocol demands as insatiable

  • Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has criticised the UK for not accepting reasonable compromises that make the Northern Ireland trade protocol work
  • Coveney said the EU Commission had spent many weeks crafting a package of proposals designed to address all major issues highlighted by Northern Ireland politicians and businesses
  • Yet even before those plans were to be unveiled Wednesday, Coveney said, UK Brexit Minister David Frost briefed several media outlets the UK would dismiss EU efforts as inadequate
  • Coveney: „Each time that the European Union comes forward with new ideas, new proposals to try to solve problems, they’re dismissed before they’re released. That’s happening again this week.“

EU member states to issue joint warning to UK over reduced fishing rights

  • Fourteen EU member states are preparing to issue a joint declaration accusing British government of risking “significant economic and social damage” to their fishing communities
  • The governments of UK and Jersey, a British crown dependency, have infuriated the French government in recent weeks over the reduced numbers of licences given out to small boat owners who fish in coastal waters
  • In a sign of solidarity, the EU member states will make a thinly veiled threat about the likely impact on future EU-UK fisheries negotiations if the UK does not rethink its stance

Taliban announce talks with EU representatives
france24.com, euractiv.com

  • The Taliban will hold face-to-face talks with EU officials, the Taliban’s Acting Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said on Monday
  • Muttaqi said the meeting with the EU would take place on Tuesday, days after he led the Taliban’s first in-person talks with US officials since the American pullout
  • The US said on Sunday the first face-to-face meeting between senior US and Taliban officials since the hardline group retook power in Afghanistan was „candid and professional.“

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More needs to be done against water pollution from nitrates:

  • Commission report warns that nitrates are still causing harmful pollution to water in the EU
  • Excessive fertilisation remains a problem in many parts of the EU
  • Little progress has been made over the last decade and nutrient pollution from agriculture is still a serious concern for many member states

EU sanctions eight more people over Russian actions in Crimea: The European Council has announced sanctions against eight individuals who are „responsible for enforcing Russian law“ in occupied Crimea. The Council said the individuals were being sanctioned for actively supporting actions and implementing policies that undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine.
consilium.europa.eu, rferl.org

Navalny: Jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says prison has designated him as a „terrorist.“ politico.eu

EU’s top court begins looking at Hungary and Poland dispute over rule of law mechanism
euronews.com, politico.eu

  • The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has begun its long-awaited hearings looking at the bloc’s so-called rule of law mechanism
  • Last December, all 27 member states agreed to link respect for the rule of law to the access of EU funds
  • Hungary and Poland only agreed to this if they were allowed to challenge this new system at the Luxembourg-based court
  • The rule of law mechanism is supposed to enable the suspension of EU funds for countries proven to be misusing them

Facebook: MEPs to invite whistleblower Frances Haugen to a hearing europarl.europa.eu
Border security: Britain has promised France early disbursement of nearly 63 million euros to improve border security de.euronews.com
UN Biodiversity Conference: Conference in China struggles to protect biodiversity tagesspiegel.de
Energy: France, Czech Republic and others push for nuclear in EU’s green investment rules reuters.com
Climate pact on methane advances as 24 nations join US, EU bloomberg.com
China: European Council President Charles Michel to speak about human rights and trade issues with China’s Xi Jinping on Friday politico.eu


This is a major victory for effective and balanced multilateralism.
OECD Secretary General Mathias Cormann is pleased that more than 100 countries agreed a reform of the international tax regime on Friday.


Schallenberg sworn in as Austria chancellor
cnn.com, reuters.com, dw.com

  • Former foreign minister Alexander Schallenberg was named Austria’s new chancellor on Monday after his predecessor, Sebastian Kurz, resigned abruptly amid a corruption scandal
  • Austria’s ambassador to France, Michael Linhart, will succeed Schallenberg as foreign minister
  • Kurz will continue to lead the centre-right Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) and will remain a member of parliament
  • His office has been raided by Austrian prosecutors investigating him and members of his team on suspicion of bribery and breach of trust
  • The opposition believe Schallenberg will continue to do bidding for Kurz, who will remain politically active and who is expected to be somewhat of a „shadow chancellor.“
  • But Kurz himself addressed the rumours in a statement Monday on Facebook, saying that he was „not a shadow chancellor.“

France bans plastic packaging for fruit and vegetables: France will ban plastic packaging for nearly all fruit and vegetables from January 2022 in a bid to reduce plastic waste, the environment ministry said on Monday. Cut fruits and a limited number of delicate fruits and vegetables can still be sold with plastic packaging for now but that will be phased out by end June 2026.

Romanian president proposes Dacian Ciolos as prime minister
reuters.com, politico.eu

  • Romanian President Klaus Iohannis has proposed Dacian Ciolos, leader of the Union to Save Romania (USR) party, as prime minister, a week after the fall of the previous government
  • The nine-month-old liberal-led coalition cabinet of Florin Citu was toppled in a vote of no confidence last week
  • To get the job, Ciolos must win the backing of parliament within 10 days, which appears to be a long shot
  • Cioloș lacks a majority in the legislature, with the leaders of the two largest groups — the National Liberal Party (PNL) and Social Democratic Party (PSD) — both saying they would not support a USR-led government

Record number of people attempt to cross border between Poland and Belarus: A record number of people attempted to cross the border between Poland and Belarus Saturday, amid accusations that Belarus is facilitating migration to the European Union’s eastern border. cnn.com

Calls to ban neofascist groups after violence at Rome Covid pass protests

  • Calls are growing in Italy to abolish neofascist movements after violent protests against COVID-19 vaccine passes in Rome, during which demonstrators tried to force their way into the official residence of the Italian prime minister
  • Twelve people, including Roberto Fiore, the founder of the far-right Forza Nuova party, were arrested in connection to Saturday’s unrest
  • Latvia declared a three-month state of emergency starting from Monday following a surge in Covid infections to record levels medicalxpress.com
  • Switzerland ends free Covid testing thelocal.ch
  • European Medicines Agency (EMA) is evaluating an application for marketing authorisation for monoclonal antibody combination Ronapreve submitted by Swiss pharma giant Roche ema.europa.eu

Czech President Milos Zeman in stable condition: President Milos Zeman is in stable condition after being admitted to intensive care on Sunday, a hospital spokeswoman told Czech state news agency CTK. The president was taken to hospital Sunday due to complications with an undisclosed chronic illness, just one day after the Czech parliamentary elections.

France raises growth forecast to 6.25% en.news.yahoo.com
Moldova requests EU help after Gazprom reduces gas flows ft.com
Germany: Moderate face of AfD steps down as party shifts further right ft.com
Spain: La Palma on alert after volcanic cone partially collapses english.elpais.com
Greece: Government to use tax rebates to encourage small and medium-sized companies to cooperate and merge handelsblatt.com


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Norwegian wind farms violate rights of Sámi reindeer herders, says court: Norway’s top court has ruled that two wind farms in the country’s west have violated the rights of Sámi reindeer herders. Wind turbines on Norway’s Fosen peninsula have illegally encroached on the herders grazing land, the court ruled.


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