Monday, 22 February 2021: EU invests in international vaccination campaign, EU to continue data exchange with the UK, EU wants eco-label for aviation industry


EU invests in international vaccination campaign: At the video conference of the G7 countries, the economically strongest countries agreed on greater investment in the fight against the Corona virus. The USA is contributing a total of four billion dollars to the international vaccination campaign, while Germany has pledged 1.5 billion euros. The European Union is contributing 500 million euros. Germany’s development minister criticized that the efforts were not enough. He said the pandemic could only be defeated internationally. So far, however, only 0.5 percent of vaccine doses would be used in the world’s poorest countries. French President Emmanuel Macron additionally urged vaccine donations of 13 million doses into play. He stated, „If we announce billions today to deliver doses in six months, in eight months, in a year, our African friends (…) will buy doses from the Chinese, from the Russians or directly from other laboratories.“,

EU to continue data exchange with the UK: Despite Brexit, the EU wants to continue exchanging data with the UK. In the case of police or financial data, it is important to maintain the exchange. In the long term, this will facilitate the business activities of internationally operating companies. EU Commission Vice President Vera Jourová said British data protection laws are in line with European ones: „The UK has left the EU, but not the European data protection family.“ The British government welcomed the decision. On the part of the business community, the decision also caused confidence. Industry associations such as the BDI and Bitkom praised the continuation of data exchange. However, the EU member states must now approve the decision.,

Biontech defends itself against accusations about vaccine price: Last week, Süddeutsche Zeitung, WDR and NDR reported about a first price offer that Pfizer had submitted on behalf of the cooperation with Biontech in the amount of 54 euros per dose. This is said to have been the reason for delays in the vaccination campaign. Biontech founder Ugur Sahin is now defending himself against the allegations. „It was early, mid-June and it was our first price calculation with a big set of unknowns,“ Sahin told Bild. The scaling, production costs and framework had not been clarified at that point during the initial bid, he said. However, Biontech and Pfizer offered the vaccine to industrialized nations in the summer at prices ranging from 15 to 30 euros. By July, negotiations were said to have been completed with the EU – a price of 15.50 euros was agreed. In the same period, the USA was awarded the contract for 16 euros. Sahin sees the accusation that price negotiations were responsible for delays in the vaccination campaign as invalidated.,,

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EU wants eco-label for aviation industry: In order to achieve the climate targets by 2050, the EU wants to issue an eco-certificate for aircraft. Similar to televisions or refrigerators, this would show the environmental performance of flights, airlines and aircraft models. This should prevent airlines and manufacturers from advertising with exaggerated environmental promises. However, the process is dragging on. Technical details for the assessment benchmarks are not expected to be finalized until the end of 2022. These are to cover not only CO2 emissions, but also service life, noise and nitrogen balance. It is unclear when an eco-certificate for the aviation industry will be made available to consumers.

EU foreign ministers discuss riots in Myanmar: After two protesters were killed in Myanmar, EU foreign ministers plan to discuss military violence in the country on Monday. EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell sharply criticized the military’s handling of the protesters: „I call on the military and all security forces in Myanmar to immediately stop violence against civilians,“ the politician said. Myanmar citizens have been taking their discontent to the streets since the military coup on Feb. 1. UN Secretary-General António Guterres also called on the military to end the violence.

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European students‘ interest in the UK declines: In the wake of Brexit, British universities are experiencing a slump in applications from the EU. These have fallen by 40 percent. England, Wales and Scotland have been affected by this trend to the same extent, but demand has increased in Northern Ireland. However, the proportion of applications from China and India increased by 21 and 25 percent, respectively. The representation of British universities is concerned: „The British government and universities must make it clear how important European students are to them. They need to highlight the quality of British universities and create new support services for students,“ it said in a statement.

Denmark closes several border crossings with Germany: On Saturday night, 13 border crossings between Germany and Denmark were closed by the government in Copenhagen. The reason for this is the high seven-day incidence in the town of Flensburg in Schleswig-Holstein. It has risen to 177. Half of the cases were said to be due to the British coronavirus mutation B 1.1.7. The virus variant would spread at a rapid pace. Although travelers can cross the border, the Danish Ministry of Justice announced tougher controls. Flensburg tightened lockdown rules: Private meetings in the city are prohibited and a curfew between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m. has been imposed. Doctor’s appointments and commuting to work remain permitted.,

Austria is confident of its testing strategy: In Austria, barely two weeks after the lockdown relaxations, the seven-day incidence has risen from 100 to 115. However, the government believes it is on the right track as it rolls out a massive testing strategy. Three million antigen and PCR tests are to be performed weekly. Thus, arithmetically, every third Austrian would be tested per week. The aim is to identify and track chains of infection. Despite the rising incidence, the pressure on clinics has not increased so far. Tests for home use are also to be made available in pharmacies from March 1. Experts expect it to become clear in ten days whether the testing strategy is working – from that point on, the incidence should level off and start to decline. Austria’s Chancellor Sebastian Kurz praises the approach, in which mass tests are also carried out at schools. In addition, 1,000 companies with 500,000 employees are participating in the country’s free vaccination program.,

Protests in Spain continue: For several days, thousands of Spaniards have been protesting over the sentencing of rapper Pablo Hasél to nine months in prison. The musician had criticized King Juan Carlos for crooked dealings. A court saw in the statements of a „denigration of the crown“ as well as „glorification of terrorism“. In 64 tweets, Hasél had called the former king a „mafioso“ and „criminal,“ and he assessed the monarchy as „medieval.“ Protesters see the verdict as an attack on freedom of expression. The NGO Amnesty International also condemned the verdict. On Sunday night, the largest demonstrations to date took place. In Barcelona alone, 6,000 people are said to have taken to the streets.,

Poles rush to Zakopane ski resort: A week ago, the Polish government reopened ski resorts for a test period of two weeks. Thousands traveled to the popular ski resort of Zakopane. Party excesses were said to have occurred. The crowds did not stop last week either. A police spokesman said that staff was increased because Corona measures were not respected and there would be mass parties.,

Poland considering COVID-19 restrictions at Czech, Slovak borders:
New COVID-19 mutation in Finland may escape PCR tests
France: Sudanese migrant kills immigration official after rejected asylum request
Italy: Can Mario Draghi Turn Italy Around?


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Scots take down British flag: The Scottish government is hanging the British flag from all government buildings – and letting the EU flag continue to fly. Brexit meets with widespread opposition in Scotland and fuels debates about independence from Britain. „The EU flag is flying to reflect the overwhelming vote of the Scottish people to remain in Europe and as a sign of solidarity with the hundreds of thousands of EU citizens who continue to call Scotland home despite Brexit,“ the Scottish government said.,


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