Tuesday, 13 April 2021: EU sanctions Iran officials over protest crackdown, Danes vaccinate 100,000 people in a day to test system, France moves to ban short-haul domestic flights


EU sanctions Iran officials over protest crackdown: The EU has imposed sanctions on eight Iranian security officials for their role in the violent response to widespread protests in 2019 over economic conditions in the country. The head of Iran’s powerful security force, the Revolutionary Guards, was added to the EU sanctions list along with militia commanders and police chiefs. Iran’s foreign ministry spokesperson Saeed Khatibzadeh said Tehran strongly condemned the sanctions and that the country was suspending all human rights talks and cooperation resulting from these talks with the EU, especially in the fields of terrorism, drugs and refugees. The move comes as members of the EU have been trying to reanimate the faltered Iran nuclear deal. United States and Iranian officials appear determined to resume nuclear talks this week in Vienna, despite an alleged weekend attack on an Iranian atomic facility that Tehran blamed on Israel.
politico.eu, dw.com, politico.com

Von der Leyen and Michel hold peace talks following Sofagate: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel tried Monday to move beyond the seating scandal that overshadowed their visit to Ankara last week. The two met in Brussels on Monday for their first tête-à-tête since last Tuesday’s incident, in which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Michel sat in stately chairs while von der Leyen, the first female president of the Commission, had to settle for a seat on a nearby sofa. Following the meeting, a Commission official said bluntly that “the president made clear that she will never allow such a situation to arise again.”

Europe has reached a breaking point over organised crime, says Europol: The threat posed by organised crime in Europe has never been higher, according to the EU’s law enforcement agency. A new report published Monday by Europol says the pandemic is likely to fuel gang activity on the continent for years to come. Gangs have capitalised on the pandemic, offering fake coronavirus vaccines, as well as false self-testing kits. Europol also warns European citizens against online and offline frauds as well as property crimes, with an estimated one million home burglaries on the continent every year.

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J&J begins vaccine supplies to EU: Johnson & Johnson on Monday began delivering its Covid-19 single-dose vaccine to EU countries, EU officials and the company said. The US company had initially planned to start its deliveries at the beginning of April, but delayed the rollout due to production issues. The company has committed to delivering 55 million doses to the EU by the end of June and another 120 million in the third quarter, EU industry commissioner Thierry Breton said this month. A spokeswoman for Johnson & Johnson confirmed that it began deliveries on Monday to EU countries, Norway and Iceland, but declined to comment on supplies for April and the second quarter. It said it aimed to deliver 200 million doses in 2021 to the EU, Norway and Iceland.

Veteran ruler Deby poised for sixth term in Chad: Vote counting has started in Chad after a tense presidential election on Sunday that is likely to see President Idriss Deby extend his three-decade rule, despite signs of growing discontent over his handling of the nation’s oil wealth. A key ally in the West’s anti-jihadist campaign in the Sahel, Deby is the frontrunner in a six-candidate race without major rivals after a campaign in which demonstrations were banned or dispersed. A former rebel and career soldier who seized power in a coup in 1990, Deby has twice, with French help, thwarted attempts to oust him. Chad has struggled with poverty and instability since gaining independence from France in 1960.

Uncertain Brexit deal could see UK bound by EU subsidies rules, lawmakers warn: The uncertain legal status of the Northern Ireland Protocol could lead to major confusion and the UK becoming de facto bound by EU subsidy rules, according to a report by UK lawmakers published on Friday.

Russia: Prison guards threaten to force-feed imprisoned opposition politician Alexei Navalny dw.com
Covid-19: Faster authorisation for vaccines adapted to variants europarl.europa.eu


Man shot dead outside Paris hospital in apparent targeted killing: Police in Paris are searching for a gunman involved in a shooting outside a Paris hospital on Monday. A man in his 30s was killed and a female security guard injured at the Henry Dunant private hospital owned by the French Red Cross in the upmarket 16th district of the capital, which is also a Covid vaccination centre. Officials ruled out a terrorist attack, with witness statements appearing to point to a targeted killing. Authorities had at first suspected a possible terrorist attack. The district mayor, Francis Szpiner, later said it was not terrorist-related, but looked instead like a gang shooting, Reuters reported. The two casualties were taken into the hospital after the early afternoon shooting. The man died from his wounds.
dw.com, france24.com, bbc.com

Czech foreign minister dismissed by president: Czech Foreign Minister Tomas Petricek has been dismissed, the office of President Milos Zeman announced on Twitter, making him the second minister in a week to be fired in part because of opposition to using the Russian-made Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine. The pro-Kremlin Zeman has vigorously lobbied for both Sputnik V and Rosatom. Petricek had also clashed with his rival, Interior Minister Jan Hamacek, over control of the Czech Social Democratic Party. The former minister had suggested breaking ties with the populist liberal ANO party, led by Prime Minister Andrej Babis. Petricek has been a vocal critic of his Social Democratic party’s participation in the coalition with Babis’s ANO movement. Petricek told journalists in Prague that his dismissal was also linked to his opposition to Russian company Rosatom’s involvement in a lucrative bid to complete the Dukovany nuclear power plant.
euronews.com, politico.eu

G7 ministers condemn Russian troop movements on border with Ukraine: The G7 foreign ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America and the High Representative of the European Union have issued a statement saying they are deeply concerned by the large ongoing build-up of Russian military forces on Ukraine’s borders and in illegally-annexed Crimea.

German conservatives at odds over who should succeed Merkel: Germany’s ruling conservative parties disagreed publicly on Monday over who should be their candidate for chancellor in the 26 September federal election. Bavaria’s premier Markus Söder, the preferred candidate among German voters, won the unanimous backing of his Christian Social Union (CSU) on Monday. But the executive committee and federal board of the Christian Democrats (CDU) earlier backed party chairman Armin Laschet for chancellor candidate. The CDU/CSU alliance wants to resolve the question after months of shadow-boxing between Laschet and Söder. Laschet said there needed to be a decision on who should succeed Chancellor Angela Merkel very soon. But Söder responded by calling for a few days of reflection and consultation before a decision is taken later this week.
reuters.com, apnews.com

Danes vaccinate 100,000 people in a day to test system: Denmark’s Health Minister declared Monday “the big vaccine day,” with 100,000 people to be vaccinated in one day as officials test the system ahead of a June rollout where four times as many people as that will be vaccinated each day. The shots will be given in 68 inoculation centres across the country of nearly 6 million. French nationals and residents 55 and above will have access to the AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccines starting Monday, French Health Minister Olivier Véran said over the weekend. France is also prolonging the period between the first and second shots of the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines. The strict lockdown in the Austrian capital of Vienna will be extended until at least 2 May.
apnews.com (Denmark), france24.com (France), thelocal.at (Vienna)

Journalist murdered in Greece: Police suspect contract killing: A veteran Greek crime reporter was gunned down Friday near his home in southern Athens, police said. Giorgos Karaivaz was found dead early in the afternoon with several gunshot wounds beside his car in the Alimos suburb. A police spokesman confirmed that Greek security authorities believe it was a contract killing carried out by professional killers. They are investigating in all directions in search of the perpetrators and those responsible. The Greek government, opposition parties and the country’s main journalists’ union strongly condemned the attack.
dw.com, apnews.com

Greece confirms tourists allowed in from 14 May independent.co.uk
Germany and US are set to revive security cooperation dw.com
Spain: At least four migrants found dead on boat off Canary Islands reuters.com
Belarus takes Euronews off the air rferl.org


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France moves to ban short-haul domestic flights: French lawmakers have moved to ban short-haul internal flights where train alternatives exist, in a bid to reduce carbon emissions. The planned measures will face a further vote in the Senate before becoming law. A number of European countries have sought to promote train travel as an alternative to domestic flights, even as the Covid-19 pandemic has put the airline industry under strain.
bbc.com, cnn.com


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