Friday, 22 October 2021: Rule-of-law row dominates EU leaders‘ summit, Oil and coal-rich countries lobbying to weaken UN climate report, Europeans and US agree on withdrawing digital taxes and retaliatory measure


Rule-of-law row with Poland dominates EU leaders‘ summit,

  • The EU summit on Thursday that was originally intended to discuss dramatically rising energy prices is being overshadowed by a feud with Poland over the rule of law
  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel appealed for compromise, saying: „The rule of law is a central pillar of the European Union.“
  • Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte took a harder stance and said EU leaders must demand Poland safeguard its judicial independence
  • Belgium’s Prime Minister Alexander De Croo echoed Rutte’s sentiments and said that EU membership meant abiding by its rules
  • Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said Poland would try and resolve the disputes and was ready for dialogue, but would not respond to blackmail
  • Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban came out in support of Poland: „There is a witch hunt going on against Poland in Europe.“
  • EU Parliament President David Sassoli: „Never before has the Union been called into question so radically.“
  • Ahead of the summit, Merkel criticised Belarus and accused authoritarian ruler Alexander Lukashenko of human trafficking
  • Polish divers on Wednesday afternoon found the dead body of a 19-year-old Syrian man in the river Bug at the Belarus border

Putin: Nord Stream 2 to start gas sales to Europe right after its approval,

  • Russia can start supplies of natural gas to Europe via the Nord Stream 2 pipeline as soon as it gets the green light from Germany, President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday
  • The pipeline, funded by Kremlin-owned energy giant Gazprom and its European partners, is expected to obtain certification from a German regulator to begin commercial sales of natural gas, though the approval process could take several months
  • Gas prices in Europe have recently risen to record highs. Critics accuse Russia of not reacting to this in order to force a faster approval of the pipeline

Oil and coal-rich countries lobbying to weaken UN climate report, leak shows: A huge leak of documents seen by BBC News shows how countries that produce coal, oil, beef and animal feed have been lobbying to water down a landmark UN climate report. Days before Cop26, the international climate change negotiations taking place in Glasgow, the leaks show fossil fuel producers including Australia, Saudi Arabia, Iran and Japan are lobbying the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to remove recommendations that the world needs to phase out fossil fuels.,

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Europeans, US agree on withdrawing digital taxes and retaliatory measure: The US has reached a deal with France, Italy, Spain, Austria and the UK on the withdrawal of their domestic digital taxes ahead of the implementation of a new global taxation mechanism. Under the so-called „Unilateral Measures Compromise“ unveiled Thursday, the US will retroactively withdraw trade sanctions that had been imposed on those European countries in retaliation for digital taxes, while the five European countries will remove those taxes only when the new global corporate taxation system agreed earlier this month enters into force.

EU budget for 2022: MEPs want focus on COVID-19 crisis recovery: MEPs want to support recovery from the pandemic, boost investments, tackle unemployment, and lay the foundations for a more resilient and sustainable Union.

EU Parliament asks for part of Frontex budget to be frozen

  • EU lawmakers agreed to close the EU Border and Coast Guard Agency’s accounts for 2019, but asked for part of next year’s budget to be frozen
  • MEPs recognised Frontex’s ongoing efforts to remedy shortcomings identified in the Parliament’s first discharge report in spring this year
  • Nonetheless, MEPs asked for part of the Frontex 2022 budget to be frozen and only made available once the agency has fulfilled a number of specific conditions
  • The Council of Europe has called on European states to stand up against pushbacks and the attempt to legalise them

Turkey’s Erdogan threatens ambassadors over calls for Osman Kavala’s release: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has slammed ten ambassadors over their call for the release of a jailed philanthropist. Ambassadors representing ten different countries were summoned to Turkey’s foreign ministry on Tuesday. They included officials from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Norway, the United States, Canada, and New Zealand.

Pandora Papers: EU lawmakers call for investigations, clampdowns and new laws
Strengthening the EU Single Market: Joint statement by industry associations from Germany, France and Poland
EU study: Deepfakes endanger democracy
Methane: EU lawmakers want binding target to bring double win for climate and health
European Central Bank pushes banks to boost their post-Brexit operations
EU-Taiwan relations: EU lawmakers push for stronger partnership


We need to distinguish significantly from the challenge we face in the fight on climate.
Before the two-day EU summit that started on Thursday in Brussels, German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned against hasty intervention to address the unprecedented energy crisis.


Germany’s would-be coalition planning to form government in December,

  • Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), Greens and Liberals (FDP) announced on Thursday that they aim to finish coalition negotiations by the end of November and for a new government to come into force on 6 December
  • The government would be helmed by Olaf Scholz, from the centre-left SPD
  • The SPD narrowly won last month’s federal parliamentary elections, beating the Conservative union of outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel
  • Merkel herself is bowing out after 16 years in power but will stay on in a caretaker capacity until the new government is in place

Romanian president proposes army general as prime minister: With Romania trapped in political deadlock, President Klaus Iohannis on Thursday asked Nicolae Ciuca, the country’s interim defence minister, to form the next government. The request marks Iohannis’ second attempt to resolve a political crisis that started last month, when the coalition collapsed. The choice of Ciuca, of the National Liberal Party (known as PNL), represents a U-turn by Iohannis. Until Wednesday evening, he had favoured Florin Cițu — the PNL leader who currently serves as interim prime minister after being dismissed through a no-confidence motion.

Berlusconi acquitted of bribing witness in underage prostitution case: Former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was acquitted on Thursday of allegedly bribing a witness in a 2013 underage prostitution case. Berlusconi was accused of paying pianist Danilo Mariani to lie in a trial where he was charged with paying for sex with 17-year-old Moroccan nightclub dancer Karima El Mahroug. Berlusconi was eventually acquitted in that case and he pleaded not guilty in the subsequent bribery trial. However Berlusconi still faces two other similar cases of alleged bribery which are being tried by courts in Rome and Milan.

France hails victory as Facebook agrees to pay newspapers for content: France has hailed a victory in its long-running quest for fairer action from tech companies after Facebook reached an agreement with a group of national and regional newspapers to pay for content shared by its users.

EU Parliament wants more transparent EU vaccine policies

  • Vaccine development, purchasing and distribution in the EU needs to become more transparent, said EU lawmakers
  • Sweden extends pause of Moderna vaccine for younger age group
  • French parliament approves extension of COVID-19 health pass measures
  • Estonia to impose stricter Covid rules limiting cafes and events to vaccinated, recovered people
  • Moscow is going back into lockdown as Covid deaths multiply in Russia

France gives workers subsidy to help pay rising fuel costs
Spain: La Palma volcano triggers further evacuations
Italy: Dozens of former Alitalia flight attendants strip off uniforms in protest
Netherlands debates nuclear energy
Spain’s High Court agrees to extradite Venezuela’s ex-spymaster to US


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Dissenting votes not even possible: Last week, the European People’s Party (EPP) reelected Manfred Weber for a third term as leader of its group in the European Parliament – with 162 votes for Weber, eleven abstentions and not a single vote against the German lawmaker. But it has now turned out that it wasn’t even possible for the 178 MEPs to vote against Weber. In the digital election that was held online, the parliamentarians could only click on „Manfred Weber“ or on „abstain“. Rejecting Weber was not an option.


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