⊂ EUROPE ⊃
EU interior ministers discuss anti-terror measures: On Friday, the EU interior ministers met to discuss measures against terrorism following the violent attacks in France, Austria, and Germany. Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz explained that the ideology of political Islam is the origin of many acts of violence. Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel, on the other hand, outlined the line of conflict between the liberal democratic system and terrorist ideas. Minister of the Interior Horst Seehofer called for a series of measures to contain the terrorist threat. These include the search for encrypted communications in suspicious cases. He also placed great emphasis on securing the external borders and the Schengen area.
The EU Commission is considering stricter exhaust gas regulations for internal combustion engines: The end for vehicles with internal combustion engines could come closer than expected. The EU Commission has commissioned a study on exhaust emissions, from which it is deriving stricter requirements for the new Euro 7 emissions standard, which is to come into force from 2025. Starting in 2025, new cars are to emit only up to 30 milligrams of nitrogen oxide per kilometer in the first stage, and in the second stage, the value is to drop to 10 milligrams. So far, the limits for gasoline vehicles are 60 milligrams per kilometer and for diesel vehicles 80 milligrams.
Positive balance for trade agreements between the EU and Japan: An international trade agreement between the EU and Japan has been in force with the EPA since February 1, 2019. Economic experts from the Federation of German Industry, the Chamber of Foreign Trade, and the Council of European Business have so far expressed their satisfaction. The EU has demonstrated flexibility in the negotiations and this will have a positive impact on the economic balance sheet in 2019. Since then, standards and labels have been increasingly adopted. However, the benefits are not the same in all sectors. The food industry, in particular, benefits from the abolition of customs duties and harmonized standards. The automotive industry, on the other hand, is experiencing only minor differences – many customs duties were already very low before the EPA was signed.
Covid mutation in minks could impair the effectiveness of the vaccine: The European Center for Disease Prevention and Control warns of coronavirus mutations in connection with the breeding of minks. After a mutation of Covid-19 was discovered in Danish mink farms on November 5, health experts warn that the vaccine, which is currently being tested by BioNTech, could be compromised. The new version of the virus could spread rapidly among animals and spread to humans. Whether the currently promising vaccine would be effective against it is not yet clear.
SPD wants EU army: According to an SPD strategy paper, the EU should have its own army. According to the idea, this army should be directly subordinate to the EU Commission and start with 1500 soldiers and gradually grow to 8000 persons. Internationally, the EU is repeatedly confronted with demands for more military engagement. Criticism was promptly followed by CDU politician Norbert Röttgen, who dismissed the idea as a “pipe dream” and pointed out that the EU is not a state that could sovereignly dispose of its own army. The SPD’s defense policy spokesman, Fritz Felgentreu, on the other hand, declared that the aim was to improve the EU’s ability to act.
EU Education Commissioner Mariya Gabriel calls for improvements in the education system: Around 15 percent of pupils receive inadequate digital education in the EU. Around a third of German schoolchildren are unable to master even basic IT applications. In France, the rate is even higher, at 42 percent, and in Italy, two thirds of young people are unable to implement digital basics. The EU Commissioner for Education is calling on the member states to adapt their education programs and train teaching staff and to expand the digital infrastructure. However, access to digital education is stagnating in many places.
Prospects for EU reform and strategies for a new progressive agenda 2022+: Cerstin Gammelin in conversation with Wolfgang Schmidt. 2020 Progressive Governance Digital Summit with more than 2,800 fellow progressives from 70+ countries, 114 speakers, 25 partner organisations.
Human rights: European Commission presents strategy on LGBT+ rights dw.com
Belarus: EU condemns ‘outrageous’ death of Belarusian artist after police arrest euronews.com
Ireland: EU unlikely to give UK more time to adjust after Brexit transition ends, Ireland’s FM tells Euronews euronews.com
U.S. Market: EU watchdog seeks to quell worry over cross-border investment funds reuters.com
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
“For this, we need the appropriate arsenal of possible measures: Impose fines, exclude companies or parts of their services from the Single Market, insists that they split up if they want to keep access to the Single Market. Or a combination of all of these.”
EU Commissioner Thierry Breton on the relationship to big tech.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
France commemorates terror victims: Five years ago, Islamist terrorists killed 130 people in the Parisian concert hall Bataclan, cafés, and restaurants, among other places. At the weekend, French politicians and representatives of civil society commemorate the victims. French President Emmanuel Macron promises to get to the root of the problem of Islamist terror and eradicate it. However, the mood in France is tense after renewed terrorist attacks and the highest terror warning level. Among other things, the population accuses the country’s leaders of being too far removed from the population, which creates a breeding ground for terrorism.
Austria imposes a hard lockdown: Due to the increasing number of corona infections, Chancellor Sebastian Kurz imposes a hard lockdown – “Every contact is one too many”, he explained. The population should only have contact with people in their own households. Living alone should determine one contact person. Schools should switch to distance learning. All stores except those for daily needs such as supermarkets should close. Banks and pharmacies, however, will remain open. The regulation will take effect from Tuesday and will remain in effect until December 6. The “soft” lockdown has not had the desired effect in Austria. With 7000 infections daily, the country is one of the states with the highest per capita infection rate.
The Netherlands ban New Year’s Eve fireworks because of Corona: The Dutch government bans New Year’s Eve fireworks this year. The reason for this is the high burden on health personnel as a result of the Corona pandemic. In the past year alone, 1300 people were injured by fireworks in the Netherlands and had to be treated on an outpatient basis – this year the capacities for this should not be strained. The Dutch will have to celebrate the new year with sparklers – they will remain permitted.
Continuing protests in Belarus after the death of a demonstrator: In the Belarusian capital Minsk, protests against the government have gathered momentum again after the death of a 31-year-old demonstrator. The artist, Roman Bondarenko, died the day after his arrest under unknown circumstances. Critics of the government accuse the security forces of torturing and beating the young man and that he died as a result of these injuries.
Moldova: Pro-EU candidate Sandu leads Moldova presidential run-off, incumbent digs in swissinfo.ch
Hungary: Hungary’s Orban likens EU to former Soviet Union if rule of law criteria accepted reuters.com
Covid-19: Italy extends lockdowns to more regions, tightens curbs de.reuters.com
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
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⊂ AT LAST ⊃
Foreign Minister Maas causes gloating: German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas causes mockery on Twitter On the occasion of the 65th anniversary of the Bundeswehr, he posted a photo with a soldier – but he was in Belgian uniform. The faux pas was quickly noticed and the tweet was deleted. The malice remained anyway.