⊂ EUROPE ⊃
G20 leaders pledge fair global distribution of coronavirus vaccine: Leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies vowed on Sunday to spare no effort to supply Covid-19 drugs, tests and vaccines affordably and fairly to all people. The pandemic and prospects of an uneven and uncertain economic recovery were at the centre of a two-day summit under the chairmanship of Saudi Arabia, which will hand the G20 presidency to Italy next month. G20 nations will work to protect lives, provide support with a special focus on the most vulnerable, and put economies back on a path to restoring growth, and protecting and creating jobs for all, the final communique said. It also stressed the importance of multilateral institutions and called on the International Monetary Fund to continue exploring additional tools that could help its members’ needs as the crisis evolves. On climate change, EU leaders urged all G20 members to work towards the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement. US President Donald Trump addressed G20 leaders briefly before going golfing.
france24.com, consilium.europa.eu, cnbc.com
US formally withdraws from Open Skies Treaty: The United States on Sunday formally exited the decades-old Open Skies Treaty, some six months after President Donald Trump first announced the decision. The treaty provides for inspection flights over member countries‘ territories to monitor military activities. The Trump administration claims that Russia violated the Open Skies treaty by blocking surveillance flights around certain areas, including the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and the border with Georgia. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said Germany regrets the US decision and that Berlin still regarded the agreement as an important part of the arms control architecture that contributes to mutual trust and thus security in the northern hemisphere. Meanwhile, a federal judge has dismissed the Trump campaign’s effort to block the certification of votes in Pennsylvania. In Michigan, Republican officials wrote to the state’s electoral board to request a two-week delay in certifying the results, but the Michigan Department of State said delays and audits were not permitted by law. Georgia’s nearly 5 million votes in the presidential race will be counted for a third time, as Trump’s campaign has formally asked for a recount.
cnn.com, dw.com (Open Skies); apnews, bcc.com, npr.org (Trump)
Ethiopian prime minister gives Tigray forces 72 hours to surrender: Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed gave Tigrayan regional forces 72 hours to surrender before the military begins an offensive on the regional capital of Mekelle. A military spokesman said earlier that advancing Ethiopian troops plan to surround Mekelle with tanks and may shell the city to force surrender. The Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF), which is refusing to surrender its rule of the northern region, said its forces were digging trenches and standing firm.
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.
⊂ QUOTE OF THE DAY ⊃
„[Governments] missed building up the necessary infrastructure during the summer months, after they brought the first wave under the control. Now we have the second wave. If they don’t build the necessary infrastructure, we’ll have a third wave early next year.“
Europe could face a third wave of the coronavirus pandemic in early 2021 if governments repeat the mistakes that led to a second wave this year, David Nabarro of the World Health Organisation (WHO) said Sunday.
⊂ COUNTRIES ⊃
Merkel marks 15 years in power: Angela Merkel has been German Chancellor since 2005. A trained quantum chemist raised behind the Iron Curtain, Merkel has long been in sync with her change-averse electorate as a guarantor of stability and prosperity. Her major policy shifts have reflected the wishes of a changing society – among them phasing out nuclear power after the 2011 Fukushima disaster – and shifted her Christian Democratic Union (CDU) firmly to the political centre. French newspaper Le Parisien took Merkel’s 15th anniversary in charge as German chancellor as an opportunity to interview politicians with whom Merkel has held consultations and negotiations throughout her career. „She is by far the greatest political personality in Europe,“ the newspaper quoted former French foreign minister Bernard Kouchner as saying. Merkel is „a woman who knows how to be strong, but never hard.“ Merkel is very matter-of-fact, an example of German quality, recalled former French prime minister Jean-Marc Ayrault. „She can also be annoying, because she is sometimes very slow, not super funky,“ he added. Other French politicians also described the German chancellor as someone who takes time for important decisions. The president of the European Central Bank, Christine Lagarde, congratulated her via Twitter and wrote: „Chancellor Merkel took decisive steps to make Europe stronger in challenging times and is today one of the most respected leaders in the world.“
france24.com, au.news.yahoo.com, leparisien.fr
German anti-lockdown protester compares herself to resistance fighter: A young woman speaking on stage at a protest against coronavirus restrictions in Germany compared herself to famous Nazi resistance fighter Sophie Scholl. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas sharply criticised the woman’s statements and said people who compared themselves to Sophie Scholl in modern Germany mocked the courage that it took to show resistance to the Nazis. „That trivialises the Holocaust and shows an unacceptable historical ignorance. Nothing connects the coronavirus-protests with resistance fighters. Nothing!“ he wrote on Twitter. Sophie Scholl and her brother Hans, with whom she founded the White Rose movement in 1942, is considered one of the most prominent resistance fighters in Nazi Germany. She wrote and printed anti-Nazi flyers and distributed them in several major cities in Germany and Austria. She was eventually tracked down and captured by the Gestapo before being executed by guillotine in 1943.
France culls 1,000 mink after discovering mutated coronavirus: France has ordered the culling of one thousand minks after lab analyses detected a mutated version of the coronavirus in one farm. French authorities have been testing four mink farms since mid-November after a mutated coronavirus strain that threatened to make future vaccines less effective was found in mink farms in Denmark. French President Emmanuel Macron will on Tuesday address the country and is expected to announce a three-stage pathway out of a stringent lockdown that has been in place since 30 October. Spain will begin a comprehensive coronavirus vaccination programme in January and expects to have covered a substantial part of the population within six months, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said on Sunday.
independent.co.uk (Mink), theguardian.com (Macron), uk.reuters.com (Sanchez)
Thousands pay homage as Serbia’s Patriarch is laid to rest: Thousands of mourners paid homage on Sunday to the leader of Serbia’s Orthodox Christian Church who died of Covid-19 last week. Ninety-year-old Patriarch Irinej tested positive for the virus soon after presiding over the funeral of his number two, who also fell victim to coronavirus, at a ceremony in which basic safety measures were neglected. This time, the church stuck to strict sanitary precautions.
Dozens arrested as thousands of demonstrators join Belarus protests: Belarus police detained dozens of people in Minsk on Sunday during the latest in months of anti-government protests since a disputed presidential election in August, human rights activists reported. Opponents have staged regular protests since August, accusing President Alexander Lukashenko of rigging the election to extend his 26-year grip on power. Opposition politician Svetlana Tichanowskaja, who lives in exile in Lithuania, wants Belarus police units to be designated as international terrorist organisations.
Spain: As coronavirus spreads, refugees stuck on Canaries dw.com
Italy: Children take lessons outside school in protest at Covid closures theguardian.com
Germany: Thailand’s king can be expelled if he rules from Germany dw.com
France: Former President Sarkozy due in court on corruption charges euronews.com
Switzerland: Ski resorts buck Alpine lockdowns reuters.com
⊂ POLITJOBS ⊃
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⊂ AT LAST ⊃
EU Commission criticised for strict home office rules: Despite the Covid pandemic, employees of the EU Commission are only allowed to work from home at their place of employment. According to research by German newspaper “Welt am Sonntag”, this means that many international employees commute back and forth between Brussels and their family’s place of residence abroad, regardless of travel warnings. The Commission confirmed this information but added that exceptions were possible in certain cases.