Wednesday, 1 September 2021: Raab to be grilled by Foreign Affairs Committee over handling of Afghanistan withdrawal, EU interior ministers rely on neighbouring states to deal with Afghan migrants, EU reaches Covid vaccination target


Raab to be grilled by Foreign Affairs Committee over handling of Afghanistan withdrawal: This Wednesday, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab will be grilled by the Foreign Affairs Committee over his handling of the UK’s withdrawal from Afghanistan. Civilian evacuations came to an end at the weekend and Raab has said it is difficult to ascertain how many people have been left behind, although he estimated that a few hundred British nationals still remain in the country. One of the UK’s most senior intelligence chiefs has held talks with Taliban leaders to negotiate safe passage out of Afghanistan for British nationals and Afghans who worked with UK forces, and to seek assurances that the country will not become a base for international terrorists.,

Banned BBC journalist says Russia is moving in reverse in final report: The BBC’s Moscow correspondent has used her final dispatch before her expulsion from Russia by the Kremlin to warn that the country was “moving in reverse” when it came to free speech and press freedoms. Rainsford, who first came to what was then the Soviet Union as a teenager, has reported from Russia for two decades, charting the reign of Vladimir Putin. She was stopped at the airport in Moscow after returning from Belarus, where she had angered supporters of the state’s president and Putin ally, Alexander Lukashenko, by asking him about his regime’s mass repression of peaceful protesters.,

Geronimo the alpaca killed after UK legal row: An alpaca at the centre of a legal row with the government has been killed. Geronimo twice tested positive for bovine tuberculosis, and the Department of Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) ordered him to be euthanised to stop the spread of the disease. Owner Helen Macdonald disputed the results and mounted several High Court challenges to save him. Geronimo’s fate had become a major issue in the UK. A petition to save the animal received over 140,000 signatures, with one of Geronimo’s more high-profile supporters being Stanley Johnson, father of Prime Minister Boris Johnson.,

COVID-19: Boris Johnson to press ahead with Covid vaccine passports in nightclubs despite backlash
Scotland politics: Nicola Sturgeon: SNP-Green deal ‚a leap of faith‘
Universal credit: Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey resists calls to make £20 Universal Credit uplift permanent
Labour staff warn Keir Starmer redundancies likely to lead to strike
Climate: UK government challenged in court by Greenpeace over BP North Sea oil drilling licence


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EU interior ministers rely on neighbouring states to deal with Afghan migrants: The EU has formally agreed to rely on countries neighbouring Afghanistan to manage and host a potential wave of refugees fleeing Taliban rule. Ministers from the 27 EU countries, in consultation with representatives from the European Commission, took the decision after gathering in Brussels for an in-person meeting of the EU Council. Practical and financial details for this cooperation are expected to be hashed out over the next weeks. The plan is for neighbouring and transit states to receive financial aid from Europe if they agree to take in Afghan refugees and take measures to prevent them from leaving the region. Particularly vulnerable people such as women and children could be accepted through voluntary resettlement in EU states. Austria, the Czech Republic and Denmark in particular were opposed to taking in refugees. Pakistan has already taken in between 3 and 4 million Afghan refugees and will not accept any more, according to the Pakistani ambassador to Germany. US President Joe Biden has defended his decision to end the US military involvement in Afghanistan, painting the decision to leave Afghanistan as a binary choice — either continue indefinitely the 20-year war at an additional cost of US lives and resources, or end the American involvement., (Interior ministers); (Pakistan); (Biden)

EU reaches Covid vaccination target: On Tuesday, the EU reached a crucial milestone with 70% of the adult population now fully vaccinated. In total, over 256 million adults in the EU have now received a full vaccine course. EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said this was a great achievement. The EU’s strategy of moving forward together was paying off and putting Europe at the vanguard of the global fight against COVID-19. France aims to have administered a third shot of a Covid vaccine to some 18 million people by early 2022, a health ministry official said on Tuesday. In the United States, nearly one million vaccine booster shots have already been administered. (EU), (France), (US)

Poland plans a state of emergency on border with Belarus: The Polish government aims to introduce a state of emergency on the border with Belarus to stem migrants crossing illegally, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Tuesday. The migrants, many of whom say they want to seek asylum in Poland, are part of a wider effort by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko to fly people from the Middle East and send them across borders with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland as a way of exerting pressure on the EU. If approved, Poland’s state of emergency would cover 183 towns lying within about 3 kilometres of the border and would last for 30 days. Meanwhile, Belarus‘ public prosecutor’s office requested 12 years in prison for Maria Kolesnikova, one of the main leaders of the opposition movement. She was one of three women who dared to challenge President Alexander Lukashenko in the August 2020 presidential election. (Poland), (Kolesnikova)

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Euro zone inflation hits 10-year high: The annual inflation rate in the 19 countries that use the euro currency jumped to a 10-year high of 3%, according to an estimate from the EU’s statistics office Eurostat. This comes after Germany reported on Monday its highest consumer prices since 2008, with a headline inflation rate of 3.4% in August. France also reported its highest inflation rate in nearly three years on Tuesday. The 3% rate, the highest in the eurozone since the end of 2011, exceeded the European Central Bank’s (ECB) goal of 2% although the bank considers the inflation to be temporary. The ECB is due to meet on 9 September to discuss the future of its asset purchase programme.,

Biodiversity PreCOP 2021 calls for action on land restoration: An integrated approach and bold measures must be taken to reverse nature’s losses in the next decade, said Iván Duque Márquez, President of Colombia, during the high-level event at the hybrid Biodiversity PreCOP, on Monday. Running from the 23 August to 3 September, the event aims to discuss priorities and expectations for an ambitious and effective post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework.

Afghanistan: As US troops leave, a far greater humanitarian crisis is just starting, UN warns
EU defence ministers: Informal meeting this Wednesday
European Central Bank: Austria’s central bank chief calls for debate on ECB securities purchases
Survey shows how much Covid divides Europe
Anti-semitism: EU Commission wants to refocus fight against anti-Semitism


I think that awareness is now growing from week to week that we would be well advised to adopt a common asylum policy in Europe.
According to German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer, the potential impact of developments in Afghanistan on refugee numbers increases the chances of reforms to the EU‘s asylum policy.


Estonia elects museum boss as new president: Estonia’s parliament has elected Alar Karis as the country’s new President after a second round of voting. The Estonian National Museum director secured the votes of 72 members of the 101-seat Riigikogu on Tuesday. Eight lawmakers voted blank and the rest abstained or were absent. Karis was the only candidate in both rounds and will succeed Kersti Kaljulaid, Estonia’s first female president. He ran as an independent candidate with the support of the two governing parties: the Estonian Reform Party and the Estonian Centre Party.,

Greece struggles to shake up safety agency after huge fires: Greece’s centre-right government replaced top public security officials following the country’s multiple devastating wildfires this month, but it also suffered an embarrassing political setback Tuesday when the retired admiral appointed to oversee firefighting withdrew hours before he was due to be sworn in. The government had named Evangelos Apostolakis, a former chief of the Greek armed forces and the defence minister under a previous government, as the head of a newly created Civil Protection Ministry. Apostolakis pulled out after the political opposition accused him of being disloyal.

Poland’s top court postpones decision on constitutionality of EU law: Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal on Tuesday postponed issuing a ruling on whether EU law has precedence over the Polish constitution. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki filed the case in March, setting off a conflict with the European Commission which insists on the supremacy of EU law over national constitutions. But the right-wing government in Warsaw says it needs a final confirmation from the tribunal to establish if the EU’s courts have the right to dictate, for example, how national judges are appointed.

Google invests 1 billion euros in German datacentres: Online search giant Google said on Tuesday it would invest 1 billion euros in Germany through 2030 to expand its datacentre operations and secure renewable power supplies to run them. The Alphabet unit will spend the money to expand its datacentre in Frankfurt and set up a new regional cloud computing operation centred on the capital Berlin, as well as source power from wind and solar operator Engie.

End of ‘whatever it takes’ for the French economy: France will abolish support measures for businesses on 30 September and introduce a new compensation scheme from October for the sectors still affected by the health restrictions, covering 70-90% of the fixed costs not covered by revenue, Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire announced on Monday. Support will be maintained for the overseas departments and territories, due to the health situation which still requires very strict restrictions and which prevents the economy from really taking off again.

Germany: Chancellor Merkel and Austria’s Chancellor Kurz talk Afghanistan in Berlin
Croatia: Police accused of pushing Afghan refugees back to Bosnia
First trial after Ischgl outbreak: Widow demands 100,000 euros after her husband’s death
Ukraine: President Zelensky arrives in Washington to meet Blinken, Granholm, Biden
Netherlands: New transport minister


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Merkel enters campaign fray to hit out at SPD’s Scholz: German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Tuesday dismissed Social Democrat Olaf Scholz’s attempts to portray himself as her natural successor in Germany’s general election campaign. Merkel said there was a “huge difference for the future of Germany” between Scholz and herself. “With me as chancellor, there would never be a coalition in which the Left party is involved. And it is not clear whether this is the case with Olaf Scholz or not,” she said at a joint press conference with Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz in Berlin. Merkel has generally tried to stay out of the election campaign. Her intervention on Tuesday appeared to reflect the depth of anxiety felt by conservative leaders about the state of the election race.


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