(BRUSSELS) E.C. Press Release Statement Report: The European Commission has announced a package of measures to alleviate an energy price surge that has sent bills skyrocketing across Europe #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Oct.14: The Communication includes a “toolbox” that the EU and its Member States can use to address the immediate impact of current prices increases, and further strengthen resilience against future shocks. Short-term national measures include emergency income support to households, state aid for companies, and targeted tax reductions. The Commission will also support investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency; examine possible measures on energy storage and purchasing of gas reserves; and assess the current electricity market design.

#AceDailyNews reports that the Commission adopted a Communication on Energy Prices, to tackle the exceptional rise in global energy prices, which is projected to last through the winter, and help Europe’s people and businesses….

European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson gives a press conference on the energy price crisis
European Commissioner for Energy Kadri Simson said the onus was on EU member states to take action

The European Commission has announced a package of measures to alleviate an energy price surge that has sent bills skyrocketing across Europe.

Energy prices

Presenting the toolbox, Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson said: “Rising global energy prices are a serious concern for the EU. As we emerge from the pandemic and begin our economic recovery, it is important to protect vulnerable consumers and support European companies. The Commission is helping Member States to take immediate measures to reduce the impact on households and businesses this winter. At the same time, we identify other medium-term measures to ensure that our energy system is more resilient and more flexible to withstand any future volatility throughout the transition. The current situation is exceptional, and the internal energy market has served us well for the past 20 years. But we need to be sure that it continues to do so in the future, delivering on the European Green Deal, boosting our energy independence and meeting our climate goals.

A toolbox of short- and medium-term measures

The current price spike requires a rapid and coordinated response. The existing legal framework enables the EU and its Member States to take action to address the immediate impacts on consumers and businesses.

Priority should be given to targeted measures that can rapidly mitigate the impact of price rises for vulnerable consumers and small businesses. These measures should be easily adjustable in the Spring, when the situation is expected to stabilise. Our long-term transition and investments in cleaner energy sources should not be disrupted.

Immediate measures to protect consumers and businesses:

  • Provide emergency income support for energy-poor consumers, for example through vouchers or partial bill payments, which can be supported with EU ETS revenues;
  • Authorise temporary deferrals of bill payments;
  • Put in place safeguards to avoid disconnections from the grid;
  • Provide temporary, targeted reductions in taxation rates for vulnerable households;
  • Provide aid to companies or industries, in line with EU state aid rules;
  • Enhance international energy outreach to ensure the transparency, liquidity and flexibility of international markets;
  • Investigate possible anti-competitive behaviour in the energy market and ask the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) to further enhance monitoring of developments in the carbon market;
  • Facilitate a wider access to renewable power purchase agreements and support them via flanking measures.

The clean energy transition is the best insurance against price shocks in the future, and needs to be accelerated. The EU will continue to develop an efficient energy system with high share of renewable energy. While cheaper renewables play an increasing role in supplying the electricity grid and setting the price, other energy sources, including gas, are still required in times of higher demand. Under the current market design gas still sets the overall electricity price when it is deployed as all producers receive the same price for the same product when it enters the grid – electricity. There is general consensus that the current marginal pricing model is the most efficient one, but further analysis is warranted. The crisis has also drawn attention to the importance of storage for the functioning of the EU gas market. The EU currently has storage capacity for more than 20% of its annual gas use, but not all Member States have storage facilities and their use and obligations to maintain them vary.

Medium-term measures for a decarbonised and resilient energy system:

  • Step up investments in renewables, renovations and energy efficiency and speed up renewables auctions and permitting processes;
  • Develop energy storage capacity, to support the evolving renewables share, including batteries and hydrogen;
  • Ask European energy regulators (ACER) to study the benefits and drawbacks of the existing electricity market design and propose recommendations to the Commission where relevant;
  • Consider revising the security of supply regulation to ensure a better use and functioning of gas storage in Europe;
  • Explore the potential benefits of voluntary joint procurement by Member States of gas stocks;
  • Set up new cross-border regional gas risk groups to analyse risks and advise Member States on the design of their national preventive and emergency action plans;
  • Boost the role of consumers in the energy market, by empowering them to choose and change suppliers, generate their own electricity, and join energy communities.

The measures set out in the toolbox will help to provide a timely response to the current energy price spikes, which are the consequence of an exceptional global situation. They will also contribute to an affordable, just and sustainable energy transition for Europe, and greater energy independence. Investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency will not only reduce dependence on imported fossil fuels, but also provide more affordable wholesale energy prices that are more resilient to global supply constraints. The clean energy transition is the best insurance against price shocks like this in the in the future, and needs to be accelerated, also for the sake of the climate.

Background

The EU, like many other regions in the world, is currently experiencing a sharp spike in energy prices. This is principally driven by increased global demand for energy, and in particular gas, as the economic recovery after the height of the COVID-19 pandemic gathers speed. The European carbon price has also risen sharply in 2021, but at a lesser rate than gas prices. The effect of the gas price increase on the electricity price is nine times larger than the impact of the carbon price increase.

The Commission has been consulting widely on the appropriate response to the current situation, and has participated in debates on this issue with Members of the European Parliament and Ministers in the Council of the European Union, while also reaching out to industry and to international energy suppliers. Several Member States have already announced national measures to mitigate price rises, but others are looking to the Commission for guidance on what steps they can take. Some international partners have already indicated plans to increase their energy deliveries to Europe.

The toolbox presented today allows for a coordinated response to protect those most at risk. It is carefully designed to tackle the short-term needs of bringing down energy costs for households and businesses, without harming the EU internal energy market or the green transition in the medium-term.

Next Steps

Commissioner Simson will present the Communication and toolbox to Members of the European Parliament on Thursday 14 October and to Energy Ministers on 26 October. European Leaders are then due to discuss energy prices at the upcoming European Council on 21-22 October. This Communication is the Commission’s contribution to the continued debate among EU policy makers. The Commission will continue its exchanges with national administrations, industry, consumer groups and international partners on this important topic, and stands ready to respond to any additional requests from Member States.

For More Information

Communication on Energy Prices

Questions and Answers on the Communication on Energy Prices

Factsheet on the EU Energy Market and Energy Prices

Factsheet on the toolbox

EU energy prices webpage

*: updated on 13/10 – 13.15

#AceNewsDesk report ………………Published: Oct.14: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#brussels, #electric, #energy, #gas, #pricing

(BRUSSELS/MOSCOW) E.U Policymakers and some traders blame Russia for the low volume of gas stored across the region which has sent both gas and electricity prices surging to record highs but #Gazprom says they met all commitments #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Oct.10: Some policymakers and traders have speculated additional gas has been deliberately withheld to make a diplomatic point and accelerate the approval of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline….

#AceDailyNews says according to media report Russia’s pipeline gas export monopoly #Gazprom has met commitments for long-term contracts, its clients confirm. But it has not raced to book extra pipeline capacity for spot buyers, despite European calls for more supplies now they want a license for ‘Nordstream2‘ according to RT News and will provide all the Gas needed for prices to fall …

Nord Stream

Others say Russia has withheld gas to create a shortage, drive up prices and increase export revenues, similar to the way the OPEC+ producer group raises oil prices and its revenues: The other possibility is Russia has not supplied more gas because it faces its own shortage and wants to rebuild domestic stocks after they were depleted by a cold winter in 2020/21.

Why Europe faces steep winter energy bills

LONDON, Oct 8 (Reuters) – Households across Europe face much higher winter energy bills due to a global surge in wholesale power and gas prices and consumer groups have warned the most vulnerable in the region could be hit by fuel poverty as a result.

WHY THE HIGH PRICES?

Energy companies pay a wholesale price to buy gas and electricity, which they then sell to consumers. As in any market, this can go up or down, driven by supply and demand.

Prices typically rise in response to more demand for heating and people turning lights on earlier in winter, while those in the summer period are usually lower.

But prices have sky-rocketed due to low gas storage stocks, high European Union carbon prices, low liquefied natural gas tanker deliveries due to higher demand from Asia, less gas supplies from Russia than usual, low renewable output and infrastructure outages.

Benchmark European gas prices at the Dutch TTF hub have risen by more than 400% since January, while benchmark German and French power contracts have more than doubled.

#AceNewsDesk report ………………Published: Oct.10: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#russia, #brussels, #energy, #europe, #gas

(BRUSSELS/LONDON) ECC REPORT: Negotiations will begin with U.K on working out agreement on Gibraltar, after it was prevented from being included in the 2020 bilateral Trade & Cooperation Agreement they said on Tuesday #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Oct.05: The European Commission has today adopted a Recommendation for a Council decision authorising the opening of negotiations for an EU-UK agreement on Gibraltar. The Commission also presented its proposal for negotiating guidelines.

#AceDailyNews reports on EU-UK relations: Commission proposes draft mandate for negotiations on Gibraltar and its now for the Council to adopt this draft mandate, after which the Commission can begin formal negotiations with the United Kingdom…..

City of Gibraltar - Sputnik International, 1920, 05.10.2021
EC Commission

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, the EU’s co-chair of the Joint Committee and Partnership Council, said: “By putting forward this draft mandate, we are honouring the political commitment we made to Spain to start the negotiations of a separate agreement between the EU and the UK on Gibraltar. This is a detailed mandate, which aims to have a positive impact for those living and working on either side of the border between Spain and Gibraltar, while protecting the integrity of the Schengen Area and the Single Market.”

Gibraltar was not included in the scope of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement agreed between the EU and UK at the end of 2020. The Commission committed to begin the negotiation of a separate agreement on Gibraltar, should Spain request so. That is why the Commission is now recommending that the Council authorises the launch of specific negotiations on Gibraltar.

Draft mandate

Today’s Recommendation builds upon the political understanding reached between Spain and the UK on 31 December last year. It is without prejudice to the issues of sovereignty and jurisdiction, and focuses on cooperation in the region.

The proposed negotiating directives put forward solutions to remove physical checks and controls on persons and goods at the land border between Spain and Gibraltar, while ensuring the integrity of the Schengen area and the Single Market. The proposals include rules establishing responsibility for asylum, returns, visas, residence permits, and operational police cooperation and information exchange.

Other measures are included in different areas, such as land and air transport, the rights of cross border workers, the environment, financial support, and establishing a level playing field. It envisages a robust governance mechanism, including a review of the implementation of the agreement after four years, the possibility for both parties to terminate the agreement at any time and the possibility of unilateral suspension of the application of the agreement under certain circumstances.

Spain, as the neighbouring Schengen Member State and as the Member State to be entrusted with the application and implementation of certain provisions of the future agreement, will be particularly affected by the agreement. The Commission will therefore maintain close contacts with the Spanish authorities throughout the negotiations and afterwards, taking their views duly into account.

With regard to external border control, in circumstances requiring increased technical and operational support, any Member State, including Spain, may request Frontex assistance in implementing its obligations. The Commission acknowledges that Spain has already expressed its full intention to ask Frontex for assistance.

Background

The UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement excluded Gibraltar from its territorial scope (Article 774(3)). On 31 December 2020, the Commission received a note of the proposed framework for a UK-EU legal instrument setting out Gibraltar’s future relationship with the EU. The relevant services in the Commission have examined this in close consultation with Spain. Building upon the proposed framework and in line with Union rules and interests, the Commission has today adopted a Recommendation for a Council decision authorising the opening of negotiations for an EU-UK agreement on Gibraltar and presented its proposal for negotiating guidelines.

For more information: Recommendation for a Council decision authorising the opening of negotiations for an EU-UK agreement on Gibraltar*

*updated link 17:00 20/7/21:

#AceNewsDesk report ………….Published: Oct.05: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#brussels, #ecc, #gibraltar, #london, #spain

(WASHINGTON/BRUSSELS) Trade & Technology Council Report: US & EU Form alliance to combat rise of China in the ‘TECH’ and who will control the semi-conductors market #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Sept.30: The chip crisis turned dire when the coronavirus hit. As demand for electronics was skyrocketing in the spring of 2020, manufacturers warned they were running short of semiconductors — key components needed to make devices from smartphones to cars…..

#AceDailyNews says that with China on the rise as a ‘superpower’ the US and EU forge alliance on technology and form ‘Trade & Technology Council Alliance’

Illustration symbolizing the EU-US TTC initiative
DW REPORT:

With Beijing on the rise as a tech superpower, Brussels and Washington want to close ranks. But divisions loom over the new “Trade and Technology Council” alliance — and previous efforts have a mixed track record…….

They had good reasons: In the following months, the shortage forced factories to shut down assembly lines. Tech companies postponed product launches. Computers were delivered months too late.

Worried about the fallout, politicians from Washington D.C. to Berlin called up chip-manufacturing countries and asked them to help prioritize orders from their countries.

But there was only so much they could do: The chips, which are made by just a handful of firms, are notoriously hard to produce. And there just were not enough for everyone.

‘A US-EU partnership’

A year and a half later, the shortage persists — curtailing, for example, the production of new cars.

That is why manufacturing more chips in Europe and the US will be high up on the agenda when top US and EU officials gather on Wednesday in Pittsburgh for the first meeting of the “EU-US Trade and Technology Council” (TTC).

“We commit to building a US-EU partnership … to design and produce the most powerful and resource-efficient semiconductors,” the White House said in a statement.

Other discussions at the TTC will be about coming up with principles for artificial intelligence technology; how to boost cybersecurity in an increasingly unstable digital world; and how to push joint technology standards on the international stage.

The meeting will be co-chaired by the EU’s digital chief Commission Executive Vice-President Margrethe Vestager and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis, as well as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Trade Representative Katherine Tai.

Far from seeing eye to eye

The chip crisis was an eye-opening moment for policymakers on both sides of the Atlantic, illustrating how important access to technology has become for maintaining geopolitical dominance, according to conversations with US and EU officials involved in preparing the TTC meeting, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the talks are confidential.

But finding common ground during the two-day meeting will not be easy.

Not only was the event overshadowed by news that the US had quietly negotiated a security agreement with Australia and the UK, wrecking a multi-billion-euro French submarine deal.

The EU’s digital chief Margrethe Vestager and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis during a press conference.

The EU’s digital chief Margrethe Vestager and Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis will co-chair the TTC meeting

The US and the EU have been at loggerheads over how to regulate new technology for years.

While Brussels is pushing for tough rules, arguing they are needed to protect the fundamental rights of Europeans, Washington has mostly advocated a market-driven, hands-off approach, warning that too many rules could hamper innovation.

Finding a middle ground would help both sides, said Marietje Schaake, the policy director at Stanford University’s Cyber Policy Center.

“If the US and the EU worked together better, that would actually be a pretty strong combination — it would bring the geopolitical strength from the US to the EU, and it would bring the rights-and-freedoms strength from the EU to the US,” said Schaake, who served as a member of the European Parliament between 2009 and 2019.

“But it does require political agreement — and so far, there has not been a great meeting of the minds.”

A ‘New Cold War’?

The elephant in the negotiation room is how to deal with China.

In recent years, China’s tech companies have grown into some of the biggest in the world. This has raised concerns in the US that Beijing could soon dominate certain sensitive technologies and use that as a strategic advantage — and it has prompted some observers to speak of a “New Cold War.”

The Biden administration, encouraged by widespread support for a tough stance on Beijing back home, has painted the new TTC as a platform where the US and the EU can combine their economic and political might to counter China’s ambitions.

The US vs. China – A new Cold War?

EU officials, meanwhile, have been eager to stress that the new alliance should primarily be about working together, rather than targeting one particular country. The bloc has so far taken a less confrontational course on Beijing, not least because some of its 27 member countries have close economic ties with China and remain divided over how to deal with the country.

But Beijing’s increasingly authoritarian leadership style has officials in Washington and Brussels alarmed, said Stormy-Annika Mildner, the executive director of think tank Aspen Institute Germany.

“Both sides feel a greater threat from China, and a greater need to work together,” Mildner said, adding that this could set the TTC apart from previous trans-Atlantic efforts kicked off under George W. Bush or Barack Obama, which all started with similarly grand ambitions for trans-Atlantic cooperation — but eventually led nowhere.

“The world around us is just completely different from back then,” Mildner said, “And China is one key reason for that.”

How much can governments really do?

One of the areas where both sides hope to close ranks is that of producing semiconductors. Manufacturing the tiny chips is extremely complicated. It includes hundreds of steps, takes months to complete, and requires factories worth billions.

Close-up image of semiconductors

Making the tiny semiconductors is notoriously difficult

China has declared it a top national priority to soon run that entire production process on its own territory — something no country can currently do.

That is one of the reasons why US and European officials have been watching warily that Chinese-owned firms have been buying chip companies around the world.

At the TTC, officials will speak about how to deal with foreign investment in the semiconductors industry. They will also discuss how to coordinate their own plans for how the EU and the US can become less dependent on global supply chains.

And the US and EU should think about how to better collaborate in the research and development of new technology, said Jan-Peter Kleinhans, a semiconductor expert at think tank Stiftung Neue Verantwortung.

Kleinhans cautioned that when it comes to tackling the global chip crisis, there is only so much governments can do.

“Yes, public money, if spent properly, can help with building new production capacities,” he said.

But Kleinhans added that more is needed to tackle the current shortage — such as making global supply chains more transparent or giving a halt to rising raw material prices that have exacerbated the crisis.

“That’s something only companies can do,” he said. “And that’s why no one truly knows when we’ll be out of this crisis.”

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: Sept.30: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#brussels, #china, #electronics, #semiconductors, #technology, #washington

(BRUSSELS) #Coronavirus Report – Sept.04: The EU and UK-Swedish drug-maker AstraZeneca have settled a row over a shortfall in #COVID19 vaccines that affected the European rollout earlier this year #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – Sept.04: The deal puts an end to the EU’s pending action in the Belgian courts: The EU said this week that 70% of adults had been double vaccinated…….

#CoronavirusNewsDesk says that AstraZeneca has agreed to deliver 200 million doses of its vaccine, which had been promised under a contract, to the EU by the end of March 2022.

Vial labelled "AstraZeneca coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine" placed on displayed EU flag is seen in this illustration picture
BBC Health Report:

Earlier this year AstraZeneca angered European Commission officials when it said it could only deliver a fraction of the doses agreed for the first three months of 2021. 

The bitter dispute overshadowed the initial weeks of the vaccine rollout across the EU’s 27 countries. The Commission accused the company of breaking an August 2020 advanced purchase deal while AstraZeneca hit back arguing that the contract only required its “best effort” to deliver millions of vaccine doses on time.

AstraZeneca’s Covid vaccine, now known as Vaxzevria, has also been hit by age restrictions imposed by several EU countries because of very rare side effects. The EU’s medicines agency made clear that the benefits outweighed the risks for all adult groups.

The delivery row was set to reach the Brussels courts at the end of September and Rudd Dobber of AstraZeneca said he was “very pleased that we have been able to reach a common understanding” with the Commission.

EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides said there were still “significant differences in vaccination rates between our member states, and the continued availability of vaccines, including AstraZeneca’s, remains crucial”.

Under the settlement the two sides agreed that another 60 million doses would be delivered by the end of this month, a further 75 million by the end of December and a final 65 million by the end of March 2022.

#AceHealthDesk report ……Published: Sept.04: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts from Twitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/ and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#astrazeneca, #brussels, #covid19, #e-u

(BRUSSELS) #Coronavirus Report: E.U Vaccine drive increases as U.S stalls on numbers of cases getting the jab #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – July.31: The EU’s once-faltering vaccine rollout has now overtaken that of the United States, The New York Times reported on Thursday, citing figures compiled by Our World in Data.

#CoronavirusNewsDesk says ‘The European Union’ is now inoculating its population faster than the ‘United States’ , but figures suggest that both have some way to go before they hit their previously announced inoculation targets…….Our World in Data’s figures, however, show the bloc is still slightly behind the United States when it comes to the percentage of adults who have had both jabs.

A Czech doctor administers a coronavirus vaccine at a clinic in Karlovy Vary.
DW REPORT:

But figuring out who is ahead in the race to protect their citizens from COVID-19 depends largely on how one crunches the numbers.

The US newspaper pointed to data released on Thursday showing that the bloc had administered 103.32 doses per 100 people, compared to 102.67 in the United States.

It shows that the EU’s vaccination drive has certainly picked up pace after initially being hindered by supply and distribution problems.

What is the overall picture of the vaccination drive?

How effective are vaccines against variants?

US authorities have fully vaccinated 48.9% of those eligible to receive a coronavirus vaccine, while the EU has fully vaccinated 47.7%.

Furthermore, there are disparities among EU countries in terms of the pace of their rollouts, further complicating the overall picture.

Germany has fully vaccinated 50.6% of those eligible for a jab, while Bulgaria has managed just 14.6%.

Despite the apparent speeding up of the EU’s inoculation program, many countries are also worried about uptake among young people.

Several countries have introduced so-called vaccine passports that will be mandatory to enter bars, restaurants and cultural events.

What was the EU’s target?

The EU’s stated vaccination goal has changed over the past six months.

According to a statement posted on the European Commission website in January, the original plan was to ensure that “by summer 2021, member states should have vaccinated 70% of the entire adult population.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on July 10 that the EU executive had delivered enough doses to EU governments “to vaccinate fully at least 70% of EU adults still this month.”

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen speaking at a press conference in Prague in July 2021.

European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen said the EU had hit its vaccination target

On Tuesday, von der Leyen said 70% of adults across the bloc’s 27 countries had received at least one dose. But figures compiled by Our World in Data put the number at 58.3%. 

The numbers cited by von der Leyen appear to refer to the EU’s official tally.

According to the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control COVID-19 vaccine tracker, 70.4% of adults across the EU have received at least one dose.

What about the United States?

The United States failed to meet President Joe Biden’s goal to deliver at least one COVID-19 vaccine shot to 70% of adults by July 4.

Biden: ‘It’s a pandemic of the unvaccinated’

Our World in Data says 56.7% of the US population has had at least one jab; inoculations are handled at state level.

For coronavirus, the estimated threshold for herd immunity is roughly 70% “to go back to a pre-pandemic lifestyle,” a paper by Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health said in April.

“We would need at least 70% of the population to be immune [achieve herd immunity] to keep the rate of infection down,” the paper said.

Herd immunity can be achieved through vaccinations or by falling sick and building up sufficient antibodies to fight off future infections.

It means both the United States and the European Union are still short of achieving that goal. 

Late on Thursday, Biden expressed his concern about the pace of the rollout.

He called on state and local governments to provide $100 (€85) payments to incentivize Americans to receive both doses of a coronavirus vaccine. 

jf/sri (AP, Reuters)

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: July.31: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#brussels, #covid19, #e-u, #united-states

(BRUSSELS) N.I Protocol Report: The EU has paused its legal action against the UK for alleged breaches of the Northern Ireland Protocol #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.28: The legal action was started in March after the UK took unilateral action to change the implementation of the protocol: At that time the UK delayed new checks on food, parcels and pets entering Northern Ireland from Great Britain.

#AceDailyNews says ……Brexit Next: EU pauses legal action against UK over NI Protocol ‘breaches’ it said it was doing so to create the “necessary space” to consider UK proposals for reforming the deal.

By John Campbell
BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor

Lorries and shipping containers in Belfast Harbour

The Northern Ireland Protocol was agreed by the UK and EU to avoid a hard border in Ireland.

It does that by keeping Northern Ireland in the EU’s single market for goods.

That has created a new trade border in the Irish Sea, causing some difficulties in moving goods from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

Last week, the UK published proposals for the protocol, which amounted to a request for a major renegotiation.

It also asked for a standstill period, which would involve pausing the legal action and extending so-called grace periods.

The EU has already said it will not renegotiate the protocol but will “consider any proposals that respect the principles” of the deal.

However, it has not ruled out the standstill period.

A European Commission spokesperson said: “With regards to the request for a standstill, the commission will carefully assess the new proposals made by the UK, in accordance with the necessary consultation procedures, both internally and with the European Parliament.

“In order to provide the necessary space to reflect on these issues and find durable solutions to the implementation of the protocol, we have decided at this stage not to move to the next stage of the infringement procedure, started in March.”

A government spokesperson said they had received a “constructive reply from the Commission”.

“We look forward to engaging in talks with the EU in the weeks ahead to progress the proposals in our command paper,” they added.

“As we set out in the Command Paper last week, significant changes are needed to ensure the Protocol is sustainable for future.”

Earlier, the EU published its proposals for simplifying some aspects of the protocol, including a plan for ensuring the continued supply of medicinesfrom Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The proposals were previously announced in broad terms at the end of June, but the UK government said they do not go far enough.

#AceNewsDesk report ……Published: July.27: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#brussels, #eu, #northern-ireland, #protocol, #u-k

(BRUSSELS) EU Commission Report: The (EU) has handed down $1.3 billion in fines to four major German car manufacturers, saying they colluded to limit the development and rollout of car emission control systems #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – July.12: Daimler, BMW, VW, Audi and Porsche avoided competing on technology to restrict pollution from gasoline and diesel passenger cars, the European Commission said.

#AceDailyNews says EU fines German car makers BMW, VW, Audi and Porsche $1.3 billion over emission collusion: EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said even though the companies had the technology to cut harmful emissions beyond legal limits, they avoided competing and denied consumers the chance to buy less polluting cars.

BMW logo
Car makers BMW, VW, Audi and Porsche have all been fined. (Flickr: Stephen Fulljames)

Daimler was not fined after it revealed the cartel to the European Commission.

“Factories compete with one another also when it comes to reducing carbon emissions from the cars,” Ms Vestager said.

“Manufacturers deliberately avoided to compete on cleaning better than what was required by EU emission standards. And they did so despite the relevant technology being available.”

It made their practice illegal, Ms Vestager said.

“So today’s decision is about how legitimate technical cooperation went wrong. And we do not tolerate it when companies collude.”

Volkswagen considering legal action

A Volkswagen logo
Volkswagen said the penalty sets a questionable precedent.(Reuters: Axel Schmidt)

Volkswagen said it was considering whether to take legal action against the fine, saying the penalty over technical talks about emissions technology with other carmakers set a questionable precedent.

“The commission is entering new judicial territory, because it is treating technical cooperation for the first time as an antitrust violation,” the German carmaker said after being fined 502 million euros ($799 million).

“Furthermore, it is imposing fines, although the content of the talks was never implemented and no customers suffered any harm as a result,” Volkswagen added in a statement.

BMW agreed to the settlement proposed by the European Commission, paying a 373 million euro fine, saying it had been cleared of suspicion of using illegal “defeat devices” to cheat emissions tests.

“This underlines that there has never been any allegation of unlawful manipulation of emission control systems by the BMW Group,” the company said in a statement.

The case was not directly linked to the “dieselgate” scandal of the past decade, when Volkswagen admitted about 11 million diesel vehicles worldwide were fitted with deceptive software.

The software reduced nitrogen oxide emissions when the cars were placed on a test machine but allowed higher emissions and improved engine performance during normal driving.

The scandal cost Wolfsburg, Germany-based Volkswagen 30 billion euros ($47 billion) in fines and civil settlements and led to the recall of millions of vehicles.

It was the first time the European Commission imposed collusion fines on holding back the use of technical developments, not a more traditional practice like price fixing.

AP/Reuters

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: July.12: 2021:

Editor says …Sterling Publishing & Media Service Agency is not responsible for the content of external site or from any reports, posts or links, and can also be found here on Telegram: https://t.me/acenewsdaily all of our posts fromTwitter can be found here: https://acetwitternews.wordpress.com/ and all wordpress and live posts and links here: https://acenewsroom.wordpress.com/and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com

#brussels, #emmisions, #european-union, #german

(THE HAGUE) ICC COURT REPORT: Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo has returned home, 10 years after he was on charges of crimes against humanity #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewesReport – June.20: He was the first former head of state to go on trial at the ICC but was acquitted of all charges:

ICC Aquittal Report: Ivory Coast’s ex-President Gbagbo returns home after living in the Belgian capital Brussels since his release from detention three years ago: His successor and rival President Alassane Ouattara invited him back

Former Ivory Coast President Laurent Gbagbo
Laurent Gbagbo was the first former head of state to go on trial at the ICC

Gbagbo and Blé Goudé Case

The Blé Goudé case and Gbagbo case were joined on 11 March 2015. The trial began on 28 January 2016. On 15 January 2019, Trial Chamber I, by majority, acquitted Mr Laurent Gbagbo and Mr Charles Blé Goudé from all charges of crimes against humanity allegedly committed in Côte d’Ivoire in 2010 and 2011. On 1 February 2019, the Appeals Chamber set conditions to be imposed on Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé upon their release to a State willing to accept them on its territory and willing and able to enforce the conditions set by the Chamber. On 16 July 2019, Trial Chamber I filed the written full reasons for the acquittal of  Mr Laurent Gbagbo and Mr Charles Blé Goudé. On 16 September 2019, the Prosecutor filed a notice of appeal against this decision.

On 31 March 2021, the Appeals Chamber confirmed, by majority, the acquittal decision of 15 January 2019.

Next steps: The acquittal of Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé is now final. The Appeals Chamber revoked all conditions on the release of Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé. The Chamber directed the ICC Registrar to make arrangements for the safe transfer of Mr Gbagbo and Mr Blé Goudé to a receiving State or States.

Questions and Answers on the Appeals judgmentEnglishFrench

Question and Answers on the acquittalEnglishFrançais

Transcript of the hearing, 15 January 2019: English, Français

#AceNewsDesk report …………Published: Jun.20: 2021:

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#brussels, #icc, #ivory-coast, #the-hague

(BRUSSELS) #Belarus Sanctions Report: EU has agreedto impose fresh sanctions including moves to seal off the bloc’s airspace to Belarusian airlines, amid strong Western condemnation over the forced diversion of a commercial airliner on a flight between two EU member states to arrest an opposition journalist #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – May.29: The Ryanair flight was forced to land on May 23 in Minsk, where 26-year-old Belarusian journalist and opposition activist Raman Pratasevich and his girlfriend were detained. The EU demanded their immediate release, with some leaders calling the incident “state hijacking.”

BRUSSELS: EU Leaders Agree On Belarus Sanctions @acenewsservices After Flight Diversion, Arrest Of Journalist: Following a summit in Brussels on May 24, the bloc instructed officials to “adopt necessary measures to ban overflight of EU airspace by Belarusian airlines and prevent access to EU airports,” European Council President Charles Michel’s spokesman Barend Leyts said in a statement posted on Twitter.

The summit’s conclusions came as Pratasevich, in a video released on Belarusian state TV on May 24, said he was “confessing” to charges of being behind civil disturbances, an offense punishable by up to 15 years in prison.

“I can say that I have no health problems…. I continue cooperating with investigators and am confessing to having organized mass unrest in the city of Minsk,” he says in the video, in which he appears to have black marks on his forehead. The Belarusian opposition and Pratasevich’s allies dismissed the comments as made under duress.

Dmitry Pratasevich, the detained Belarusian journalist’s father, told RFE/RL the family was “very worried about what is happening to our son.” Pratasevich’s parents said they feared their son, who has lived in Lithuania and Poland since he fled a brutal crackdown against the opposition in Belarus, would be tortured.

Father Of Journalist Detained In 'Air Piracy' Incident Says Belarus Must Have Had Outside Help

0:00 0:03:23

In the statement adopted at the summit, the leaders said the EU “demands the immediate release” of Pratasevich and his girlfriend and called on the European Council to adopt additional sanctions on Belarusian persons and entities.

Leaders also urged the bloc’s airlines to avoid Belarus’s airspace and called on the UN’s International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) to urgently investigate the incident, which it called “unprecedented and unacceptable.” The UN agency said its 36 diplomatic representatives will meet on May 27 to discuss Belarus’s actions.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres also backed calls for an independent investigation into the plane diversion.

The EU also voiced its solidarity with member Latvia, which announced it was expelling all Belarusian diplomats, including the Belarusian ambassador, in a tit-for-tat measure.

Earlier on May 24, Belarus expelled Latvia’s ambassador to Minsk and all the embassy’s employees apart from one staff member. The Belarusian Foreign Ministry announced that move after the Latvia-based airBaltic joined other airlines that are avoiding Belarus airspace.

Polish national carrier LOT, Hungarian airline Wizzair, Scandinavian airline SAS, and Dutch airline KLM were among airliners announcing a halt to using Belarus’s airspace.

Lithuanian Transport Minister Marius Skuodis announced that all flights to and from Lithuanian airports must avoid Belarusian airspace from midnight GMT on May 25.

British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said the UK would suspend the air permit that allows flights in British airspace by the Belarus’s national airline, Belavia — a move that effectively blocks it from using Britain’s transit hub at Heathrow International Airport. Raab also said British authorities are instructing British airlines to cease all of their flights over Belarusian airspace.

Raab told Parliament that Belarus “must be held to account for such reckless and dangerous behavior.”

“The scenario as reported is a shocking assault on civil aviation and an assault on international law,” he said. “It represents a danger to civilian flights everywhere.”

The diversion of the flight and the detention of Pratasevich has also been met by criticism from the United States, which has pledged to coordinate a response with its European allies.

Suddenly, Belarus and its strongman leader, Alyaksandr Lukashenka, are top of the EU agenda again after his regime forced an EU-registered plane to land in Minsk. (file photo)

What Now For Brussels And Belarus After Forced Landing Of EU Flight?

The Ryanair flight from Athens to Lithuania’s capital, Vilnius, was diverted on the orders of Belarusian strongman leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka as it was flying through Belarusian airspace.

Belarusian authorities said the flight to Vilnius was diverted because of a bomb threat from Hamas, a claim the Palestinian militant group rejected.

Rolandas Kiskis, the Lithuanian chief of criminal police, said five of the 126 passengers who boarded the Ryanair flight in Athens did not reach Vilnius, though he would not elaborate.

But Ryanair Chief Executive Officer Michael O’Leary said the airline believes “there were some [Belarusian security agency] KGB agents offloaded at the airport as well.”

0:00 0:01:57

Although the Ryanair flight was closer to Vilnius when it was intercepted, Minsk claims the diversion and forced landing with a MiG-29 fighter jet escort was necessary because Belarusian authorities were informed there was a bomb on the plane. No explosive device was found.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel dismissed that explanation as “completely implausible.”

“We have seen a forced landing that led to the arrest,” Merkel said on May 24 ahead of the summit. “All other explanations for the landing of this Ryanair flight are completely implausible.”

“This was effectively aviation piracy, state sponsored,” Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said. Ryanair is headquartered in Dublin.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg denounced the diversion as a “serious and dangerous incident.” NATO officials say the military alliance will discuss the matter on May 25.

Many European leaders already have called for expanded sanctions against the regime of Lukashenka, who has led a sometimes violent and deadly crackdown on dissent in his country since mass protests broke over the disputed results of last August’s presidential election.

Russia accused the West of hypocrisy, reiterating accusations that in 2013 a flight from Moscow carrying then-Bolivian President Evo Morales had been diverted to Austria after reports that fugitive U.S. intelligence leaker Edward Snowden might be on board.

Speaking to reporters, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov wouldn’t say if the Belarusian authorities had contacted Russia about the incident.

Russia and Belarus have close political, economic and military ties, and Lukashenka has relied on Moscow’s support amid Western sanctions.

Raman Pratasevich stands in a bus at the airport in Minsk after his plane was diverted on May 23.

Who Is Raman Pratasevich, And Why Is Belarus Targeting Him?

The EU has already imposed three rounds of sanctions against Belarus and was preparing a fourth round before the Ryanair event, including further asset freezes and visa bans on Belarusian officials and entities amid the ongoing crackdown on the opposition and pro-democracy protesters.

Belarus has been rocked by protests since Lukashenka, in power since 1994, was declared the landslide winner of a presidential election in August 2020 that the West and opposition deem fraudulent.

Since then, more than 30,000 people have been detained, hundreds beaten or tortured, and journalists targeted in the crackdown by Lukashenka.

The opposition says Svyatlana Tsikhanouskaya, who fled to neighboring Lithuania after the election due to concerns about her safety, was the true winner of the vote.

Pratasevich was a key administrator of the Telegram channel Nexta Live, which has been covering the protests that broke out in Belarus following the disputed presidential election.

Belarusian authorities in November 2020 launched investigations into Pratasevich and a colleague, Stsyapan Putsila, on suspicion of the organization of mass disorder, disruption of social order, and inciting social hatred.

Belarusian Journalist Seized After Ryanair Jet 'Forcibly' Diverted To Minsk

0:00 0:01:48

Describing Pratasevich as a high-profile opponent of Lukashenka, Tsikhanouskaya told Sky News on May 24 that she was “really afraid not only for his freedom, but for his life.

Pratasevich spoke to Current Time from an undisclosed location in Poland on November 19, 2020, after Belarusian authorities issued a warrant for his arrest.

“It seems to me that the [state] power now considers nearly any expression of a different opinion in general to be a crime,” Pratasevich said, saying this was clear from the number of people who were being detained. Current Time is a Russian-language network run by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA.

In October 2020, a court in Minsk designated the Nexta Live channel and its logo as extremist and instructed the Information Ministry to restrict access to information resources using the name and logo of the Telegram channel, as well as their distribution in the Belarusian segment of the Internet.

Media in Belarus have been targeted by the Lukashenka government in the ongoing crackdown. The watchdog Reporters Without Borders has designated Belarus as the most dangerous spot in Europe for journalists.

With reporting by RFE/RL’s Belarus Service, Reuters, AP, and AFP

#AceNewsDesk report ………Published: May29: 2021:

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#russia, #belarus, #brussels, #sanctions

(BRUSSELS) #Coronavirus Report: France is the first EU member state in ‘Europe-Wide-Scheme’to begin testing a ‘Digital #COVID19 Certificate’ to allow people to travel more freely within the bloc this summer #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – May.03: The TousAntiCovid app, part of the country’s contact tracing programme, has been upgraded to store negative #COVID19 test results on travellers’ mobile phones and is being trialled on flights to Corsica and overseas départements from this week:

#CoronavirusNewsDesk – France Becomes First EU Country to Test Digital Coronavirus Vaccine Passport: ‘The trial will be extended from 29 April to include vaccination certificates, officials told Le Monde, and the system could eventually be adopted for public events such as concerts, festivals and trade fairs, although not for bars and restaurants’

Source

The French trial will form one part of a “reinforced, consolidated and standardised” Europe-wide system, the minister for digital transition, Cédric O, said, with talks already under way with several countries and airlines to ensure early recognition.

The European commissioner for justice, Didier Reynders, said last week he expected the EU’s “digital green certificate” to be operational by by 21 June. The certificate is an urgent priority for southern European member states whose economies have been devastated by the pandemic.

The scheme has deliberately not been called a “vaccine passport” to avoid discriminating against people not yet offered a shot. Brussels has stressed that while it should make travel easier, it must not become a pre-condition of free movement.

The certificate should mean travellers will not need to quarantine and will allow travellers to store on their phones evidence that they have been vaccinated, have recently tested negative, or have antibodies after recovering from Covid-19.

In France, people taking a coronavirus test from Tuesday will receive a text message or email giving them access to a state-certified online document that can be downloaded and either printed off or stored in the TousAntiCovid app.

The same will apply to those being vaccinated from next week, with a complete database of past tests and vaccinations open for download by everyone from mid-May. Antibody test results should be incorporated at a later stage.

The app will generate a secure QR code containing a range of information including the traveller’s name, the date and type of their test or vaccine, and details of the relevant doctor or laboratory, all of which can be checked against a national database.

#AceHealthDesk report …….Published: May.03: 2021:

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#brussels, #passport

(BRUSSELS) EU Parliament Report: Despite whistleblower leaks casting doubts on the OPCW’s findings, is determined to enforce the organization’s anti-Assad line on Syria. MEP Mick Wallace was accused of spreading “fake news” when he spoke out #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr,17: The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has taken an intense interest in Syria’s civil war, and has accused President Bashar Assad of deploying chemical weapons against his own people on several occasions. Its conclusions have twice been used to justify US military action against Syria, and a new OPCW report on Monday found “reasonable grounds” to suspect that a Syrian Army helicopter dropped chemical weapons on the town of Saraqib in 2018.

EU Parliament session gets chaotic as MEP accused of ‘fake news’ for daring to question OPCW on whistleblower scandal (VIDEO) Russia slams ‘disgraceful’ ban on founding OPCW chief speaking at UN Security Council on Syria, PUBLISHES his speech unilateraly

15 Apr, 2021 18:54 

EU Parliament session gets chaotic as MEP accused of 'fake news' for daring to question OPCW on whistleblower scandal (VIDEO)

The OPCW’s reports are good news for Western interventionists, but the organization is not without its critics and the chief must ‘find the courage to address’ Douma coverup allegations, says group including 5 senior ex-officials of watchdog

Mick Wallace, an Irish MEP, is among them. When OPCW Director-General Fernando Arias addressed the European Parliament Subcommittee of Security and Defence on Thursday, Wallace accused the OPCW of squashing evidence that Assad may not have been behind one particularly heinous 2018 attack in Douma, near Damascus.

“Why will you not heed calls from renowned international figures…to meet with all the investigators?” Wallace asked Arias. “This problem is not going away. Are you going to investigate all aspects in a transparent manner?”

He is far from a lone crank. Whistleblower testimony and internal documents suggest that the OPCW suppressed “key information about chemical analyses, toxicology consultations, ballistics studies, and witness testimonies” relating to the Douma attack, in order to “favor a preordained conclusion,” in the words of one panel of skeptics. A scientific paper challenging the OPCW’s conclusion was shelvedfollowing an outcry from Bellingcat, and one director within the OPCW worried that were the truth to get out, it could aid Russia, an ally of Assad. Furthermore, while multiple whistleblowers have come forward to dispute the OPCW’s findings, more have been “frightened into silence,” one claimed last year.

Wallace also accused Arias of ignoring a false leak,” made to the BBC and the NATO-affiliated Bellingcat, which he claimed was used to discredit former OPCW Director-General José Bustani, who disagrees with Arias’ blaming of Assad for the Douma attack.

Yet before Arias could respond, subcommittee chairwoman Nathalie Loiseau stepped in to do his job for him. Loiseau apologized to Arias for Wallace’s tough questioning, and accused the Ireland South MEP of peddling “fake news.” 

“I cannot accept that you can call into question the work of an international organization, and that you would call into question the word of the victims in the way you have just done,” she scolded Wallace.

“Is there no freedom of speech being allowed in the European Parliament any more,” Wallace shot back, “today you’re denying me my opinion!”

Wallace’s microphone was then cut, and Arias allowed to speak. However, the OPCW chief did not directly address his questions. Instead he thanked the other MEPs present for their “words of support,” and reiterated his claims that Assad’s government is responsible for “a humanitarian catastrophe of massive proportions.”

Though Loiseau apparently wanted to shield Arias from Wallace’s uncomfortable questions, skepticism within the OPCW goes all the way to the top. Former Director-General Bustani has accused the organization of “potentially fraudulent conduct in the investigative process,” a position that saw him banned from addressing the UN Security Council on the issue last year.

The whistleblower scandal has been mostly ignored by the mainstream media, with only a handful of alternative outlets picking up the story.

From Loiseau’s position though, dissent within the parliament is undesirable ahead of the OPCW’s ‘Conference of the States Parties’ in The Hague next week. Ahead of Wallace’s questioning, Loiseau reminded MEPs that a vote will likely be taken at the conference to suspend Syria’s voting rights within the organization, likely accompanied by other “punitive measures.”

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Apr.17: 2021:

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#assad, #brussels, #eu, #opcw, #syria

(BRUSSELS) China Free Speech Report: The EU has accused China of harassing foreign correspondents after the BBC’s Beijing correspondent John Sudworth was forced to move to Taiwan #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Apr.03: Foreign correspondents were “being driven out of China as a result of continuous harassment and obstruction to their work”, it said:

China ‘driving out journalists’, EU says after BBC’s Sudworth leaves after he says he faced “intensifying attempts to obstruct and harass us wherever we film” EU urged China to abide by its international legal obligations to ensure freedom of speech and press.

9 minutes ago:

Sudworth left following pressure and threats from the Chinese authorities.

The BBC’s China correspondent, who won awards for his reporting on the treatment of the Uyghur people in the Xinjiang region, left the Chinese capital together with his family, including his wife, RTÉ reporter Yvonne Murray.

China, which has denounced the BBC’s coverage of Xinjiang, said it was unaware of any threat to Sudworth other than possible legal action to challenge his reporting on the region.

But he and his family were followed by plainclothes police to the airport and tailed through check-in.

The BBC says it is proud of his reporting and Sudworth, who was based in the country for nine years, remains its China correspondent.

The irony is, of course, that at the same time that the space for foreign journalism is shrinking in China, the Communist Party has been investing heavily in its media strategy overseas, taking full advantage of the easy access to a free and open media.

Its “wolf-warrior” diplomats unleash furious tweet-storms, lambasting foreign reporting – while denying their own citizens access to those very same foreign platforms – in an intensive, co-ordinated strategy across multiple platforms, as documented by this report by researchers from the International Cyber Policy Centre at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

State-media propagandists publish and post their content overseas without restriction, while at home, China ruthlessly shuts down independent reporting, censors foreign broadcasts and websites, and blocks foreign journalists from its own social media networks.

In this context, my departure can be seen as one small part of an emerging and highly asymmetric battle for the control of ideas. It is not a happy prospect for the free flow of good, accurate information.

John Sudworth: ‘The grim reality of reporting in China that pushed me out’

What did the EU say exactly?

A spokesperson for EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said at least 18 correspondents had been expelled from China last year.

“The EU has repeatedly expressed its concerns to the Chinese authorities at the undue working restrictions imposed on foreign journalists and reported related harassment,” the spokesperson added.John Sudworth (above) and his team were followed and had their footage deleted on a trip to Xinjiang in late 2020

“Professionalism and objectivity of foreign correspondents is increasingly put into question.”

They said the EU stood up “for the role of independent and reliable media all around the world” and called upon China to “abide by its obligations under national and international law and ensure the freedom of speech and press”.

The number of international media organisations reporting from China is shrinking. Last year China expelled correspondents for the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal, among others. 

And in September 2020, the last two reporters working in China for Australian media flew home after a five-day diplomatic standoff.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson said the authorities had not been given prior notice of Sudworth’s departure. 

“Only in recent days when we were faced with the task of renewing Sudworth’s press card did we learn that Sudworth left without saying goodbye,” Hua Chunying told a news conference in Beijing. “After he left the country, he didn’t by any means inform the relevant departments nor provide any reason why.”

In its statement, the BBC said: “John’s reporting has exposed truths the Chinese authorities did not want the world to know.”

Sudworth’s reporting colleagues are still in Beijing, and he says he intends to continue his reporting from Taiwan.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Apr.03: 2021:

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#bbc, #brussels, #china, #eu, #press-freedom-journalists

(BRUSSELS) #Coronavirus Report: EU Lawmakers pushing to waive intellectual property rights for #COVID19 to increase ‘Global Vaccine Access’ for their members #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – Mar.25: Pressure is growing on the European Commission and EU member states to reconsider their staunch opposition to measures that could open the possibility of a massive increase in #Covid19 vaccine production worldwide.

#CoronavirusNewsDesk – The EU Should Stop Blocking Efforts to Increase Global Vaccine Access: European Lawmakers Join Push for Waiving Intellectual Property Rules for #Covid19 Response: https://t.me/reuters_news_agency/69546
Reuters Wire News, [Mar 24, 2021 at 6:18 PM] UK and EU say looking to create ‘win-win’ situation on COVID-19 vaccines

LONDON (Reuters) – Britain and the European Commission said they are discussing how they can work together to create a “win-win” situation on COVID-19 vaccines after the bloc threatened to take tougher measures to curb the export of deliveries of shots: The European Commission has threatened to ban exports to countries like Britain that have higher vaccination rates but do not export shots to the EU. The aim is to safeguard supplies for the bloc’s own citizens as they face a third wave of the pandemic.: Given our interdependencies, we are working on specific steps we can take – in the short-, medium- and long term – to create a win-win situation and expand vaccine supply for all our citizens,” they said in a joint statement: In the end, openness and global cooperation of all countries will be key to finally overcome this pandemic and ensure better preparation for meeting future challenges. We will continue our discussions.”

HRW Report: In October 2020: In an unprecedented joint appeal, hundreds of lawmakers across Europe have joined the Director-General of the World Health Organization, over 100 national governments, trade unions, and hundreds of civil society organizations, including Human Rights Watch, in urging the EU and its member states to support a proposal by India and South Africa to temporarily suspend certain intellectual property rules until widespread vaccination is in place globally.

A person in Soweto, South Africa receives an injection as they participate in a clinical trial for a Covid-19 vaccine in June 2020. 
A person in Soweto, South Africa receives an injection as they participate in a clinical trial for a Covid-19 vaccine in June 2020.  © 2020 Siphiwe Sibeko/AFP via Getty Images

The proposal would facilitate technology transfers so that Covid-19 medical products, including vaccines, could be produced quickly and affordably by manufacturers around the world, in line with a rights-based approach to the pandemic and growing calls for a “peoples’ vaccine” freely available to all.

In the absence of such open sharing of know-how, the vast majority of vaccines currently available are going to some of the world’s richest countries, exacerbating global inequalities and leaving many low- and middle-income countries at the bottom of the waiting list. Human Rights Watch and many others have been warning against this situation for months.

As EU heads of state prepare to discuss the bloc’s response to the pandemic later this week, they should heed the calls coming from elected representatives and citizens and reconsider their opposition to the intellectual property waiver. As European lawmakers put it, “we will not defeat the virus until we defeat it everywhere.” And with new strains emerging all the time, we will hardly defeat it anywhere without a mass global vaccine rollout. The pandemic has already had an enormous human and economic cost. European leaders should stop standing in the way of a measure that could accelerate and increase global vaccine production and availability and bring us closer to ending the pandemic.

#AceHealthDesk report ……..Published: Mar.25: 2021:

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#brussels, #coronavirus, #vaccine

(BRUSSELS) EU Commission Report: Ursula Von der Leyden said today Sunday that the bloc cannot donate vaccines to developing countries amid supply complications #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – Mar.21: There is quite a bit of pressure on member states to obtain the vaccine for themselves,” she told Germany’s Funke Media Group over the weekend:

Coronavirus: EU ‘not ready’ to share COVID vaccines with poorer countries: Despite earlier promises, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced on Sunday that the bloc will not share coronavirus vaccines with other countriesuntil it has “a better production situation in the EU.”

 Ursula von der Leyen

The announcement, which comes as the EU is facing a third coronavirus wave and renewed restrictions on public life, signalled an apparent reversal of the bloc’s earlier promises.

Von der Leyen had strongly campaigned for providing vaccines to people worldwide back in spring 2020. But most COVID vaccine doses continue to be administered in wealthy nations.

Von der Leyen, however, stressed that the EU would thrust its support behind the World Health Organization’s COVAX initiative, an effort to give developing countries access to vaccines.

“The EU has invested €2.2 billion ($2.6 billion) in this initiative. COVAX has already delivered 30 million doses of vaccine to 52 countries,” she said.

EU slams AstraZeneca

EU-based manufacturers have shipped 41 million vaccine doses to 33 countries since early February, von der Leyen said on Saturday, making the bloc one of the world’s largest export regions for coronavirus vaccines.

“I can’t explain to European citizens why we are exporting millions of vaccine doses to countries that are producing vaccines themselves and aren’t sending us anything back,” she said.

Several European countries suspend AstraZeneca vaccine

The EU has set up special mechanisms to limit vaccine exports. Manufacturers contracted to supply member states must declare if they intend to export doses outside the bloc.

Most of the EU’s concerns, however, are focused on the UK, where the vaccination campaign has progressed at a much more rapid pace.

The EU chief threatened to suspend exports of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines if the bloc did not receive its promised deliveries first.

“We have the option of banning a planned export. That’s the message to AstraZeneca: you fulfil your contract with Europe first before you start delivering to other countries,” von der Leyen said, adding that the Anglo-Swedish pharma company had delivered only 30% of the 90 million vaccine doses it had promised for the first quarter of the year.

UK warns against EU vaccine export ban

In response to the threats, UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace said on Sunday that “the world is watching” how the EU responds to AstraZeneca’s shortfall in deliveries. 

“It is counterproductive (to halt exports of vaccines) because the one thing we know about vaccine production and manufacture is that it is collaborative,” he said. 

“They (the EU) would undermine not only their own citizens’ chances of having a proper vaccine programme, but also many other countries around the world with the reputational damage for the EU which they would find very hard to change over the short-term,” he added.

The EU has accused the UK of imposing its own de facto export ban. The claim was vigorously denied by the UK, however, there is no evidence to suggest that the UK has exported any COVID vaccines at all, as it relies on complex legal arrangements with manufacturers.

Meanwhile, the EU has exported at least 8 million doses to the UK.

EU plans vaccine passport, vaccinations still slow

mvb/aw (dpa, AFP)

#AceHealthDesk report ………Published: Mar.21: 2021:

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(BRUSSELS) Astra Zeneca Report: EU Commission Head Ursula Von Der Leyden says until the pharmacy company meets it supply obligations to Europe she threatens to forbid exports #AceHealthDesk report

#AceHealthReport – Mar.21: The European Union could stop AstraZeneca from exporting its COVID-19 vaccine from the bloc if the British-Swedish pharma company does not meet its supply obligations, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in comments published on Saturday.

‘EU warns AstraZeneca of export ban if bloc not supplied first: European Commission head Ursula von der Leyen has upped the pressure on pharma company AstraZeneca, threatening to forbid planned exports until the firm fulfils its obligations to Europe in comments on Saturday’

Vial of AstraZeneca vaccoine with a syringe needle before it

“We have the possibility to forbid planned exports. That is the message to AstraZeneca: You fulfill your contract with Europe before you start delivering to other countries,” von der Leyen told newspapers from the Funke Media Group.

She said the company had delivered only 30% of the doses promised in the first quarter of 2021. She also pointed out that although the contract with AstraZeneca had stipulated that the EU would receive vaccines from factories in the EU and Britain, “we have received nothing from the Britons, while we deliver vaccines to them.”

Ursula von der Leyen giving the thumbs-up sign

Despite the confidence exuded by von der Leyen here, the EU is having grave problems with its vaccination drive.

Von der Leyen referred to statistics showing that at least 41 million doses of coronavirus vaccine had been exported from the EU to 33 countries, despite a shortfall in vaccine supplies in the bloc itself. According to the commission, 9 million doses have gone from the EU to the UK and a million to the US. 

“I cannot justify to European citizens why we export millions of vaccine doses to countries that produce vaccines themselves — and from whom nothing comes back,” von der Leyen said. “And I can barely justify exports to countries that have a much higher vaccination rate and far fewer infections than the EU.”

She called on other countries to reciprocate the EU’s openness and said the bloc was inviting national leaders for discussion.

Vaccination programs in the EU, including Germany, have been comparatively slow  in getting underway, partly because of a lack of doses.

tj/aw (dpa, AFP)

#AceHealthDesk report ………..Published: Mar.21: 2021:

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(BRUSSELS) EU Say they will begin legal action against U.K. over ‘Northern Ireland Protocol’ according to a statement by EU Commission Vice President saying that they allegedly breached it #AceNewsDesk report

#AceNewsReport – Mar.16: The protocol is the part of the Brexit deal relating to Northern Ireland and has led to the creation of a new trade border between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Brexit: EU to begin legal action over alleged NI Protocol breach: ‘The European Commission’s vice president said he hopes the issue can be resolved without further legal action’ as the EU has begun legal action against the UK over its alleged breach of the NI Protocol as the EU says UK grace period extension breaches law

1 hour ago

By John Campbell
BBC News NI Economics & Business Editor 

Lorries at a customs checkpoint at Belfast Port
Getting goods across the Irish Sea border involves a range of new processes, checks and documentation

It could lead to the UK having to defend its actions at the European Court of Justice.

Maroš Šefčovič said the EU’s preference is for “collaborative, pragmatic and constructive” political discussions.

Earlier this month the UK government changed how the protocol is being implemented without EU agreement.

It delayed the introduction of new sea border checks on food, parcels and pets.

It also moved unilaterally to ease the trade in horticultural products across from Great Britain to Northern Ireland.

The European Commission has sent a letter of formal notice to the UK saying these actions breach the substantive provisions of the protocol as well as the good faith obligation under the Withdrawal Agreement.

It has asked the UK to respond within a month before it decides on further legal steps.

Separate letter

Mr Šefčovič has separately sent a “political letter” to David Frost, the UK minister in charge of Brexit.

It calls for the UK to enter into good faith consultations in the Joint Committee, the body which oversees the protocol, with the aim of reaching a mutually agreed solution by the end of this month.

Mr Šefčovič said: “The EU and the UK agreed the protocol together. We are also bound to implement it together.

“Unilateral decisions and international law violations by the UK defeat its very purpose and undermine trust between us. The UK must properly implement it if we are to achieve our objectives.”

Speaking earlier the prime minister said he actions taken by the UK were “temporary and technical measures that we think are very sensible”.

Asked about it on a visit to Coventry today the prime minister said: “What I would say to our friends in Brussels is the protocol is there to uphold and guarantee, to buttress the Good Friday Agreement and the peace process.”

He said it has always been “very important the wishes and consent of both communities in Northern Ireland are properly reflected in in the outcome and that it should guarantee of trade and movement not just north/south but east/west as well”. 

He added that the UK looked “forward to our discusses with our EU friends and see where we get to”.

What is the Northern Ireland Protocol?

The Northern Ireland Protocol is part of the Brexit deal which prevents a hardening of the land border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. 

It does that by keeping Northern Ireland in the EU single market for goods.

That has created a new trade border with Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

Unionists oppose the protocol, arguing that it has damaged internal trade from GB to NI and poses a risk to the future of the UK union.

But anti-Brexit parties in NI say that it must be implemented in full, and that issues should be worked out through joint UK-EU processes.

#AceNewsDesk report ………..Published: Mar.16: 2021:

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(BRUSSELS) JUST IN: Major armed police operation underway as officers ‘block gunmen in building as helicopters are circling overhead according to local media one man is believed to be inside but this is prese ntly unconfirmed #AceNewsDesk reports

#AceNewsReport – Feb.22: This is an updated report from our breaking news earlier and this is what we know so far: Armed police and a helicopter have been deployed to a house in Brussels. At least one armed man is believed to be inside, according to local media: The incident is taking place near a primary school in the municipality of Forest, on Rue Jean-Baptiste Vanpe. The school is attended by approximately 350 pupils, and the children have been taken inside as a safety precaution. The mayor of Forest, Marc-Jean Ghyssels, has also confirmed the police operation, citing “suspicion of the presence of armed men,” RTBF reported #AceNewsDesk reports

5a8ec222fc7e93c52f8b4567.png

Published time: 22 Feb, 2018 12:49 Edited time: 22 Feb, 2018 14:09: A security perimeter has been established, with a witness telling RTL Info that police have ordered residents of the neighborhood to stay inside their homes. Armed police and snipers have been deployed to the scene. Police helicopters are also flying above the area:

Last month, Prime Minister Charles Michel announced that Belgium’s terrorism threat level had been reduced from three to two, stating that there was “little likelihood” of an attack:The country’s terrorism threat level had hovered at three or higher on the four-point scale since January 2015, when a terrorist cell planning an attack on police was foiled in the town of Verviers. In March 2016, the level was raised to four after 32 people were killed in Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) suicide bomb attacks that targeted Brussels Airport and a metro station.

The Belgian capital has been the scene of multiple attacks and attempted attacks, with a knife-wielding man terrifying train passengers in October while reportedly screaming that he wanted to “finish the work started by the Nazis.” In August, a separate knife-wielding man was shot dead in the center of Brussels after attacking a group of soldiers.

Local media reported in August that Belgian prosecutors had opened an average of more than 20 probes per month against people suspected of terrorism-related offenses since the start of 2017, many of whom were thought to be “homegrown” extremists: https://acebreakingnews.wordpress.com/2018/02/22/breaking144-live-belgian-police-seal-off-part-of-brussels-amid-reports-of-gunman-at-large-acebreakingnews/ A special operation is being carried out: there may be one or more armed people in the house – officials https://t.co/cTUNbAmRqG #Brussels pic.twitter.com/FVMTYqksWs— Sputnik Major armed police operation in Brussels as officers ‘block gunmen in building’ https://t.co/zGkBxbXSpQpic.twitter.com/5O9sGgSdSt RT NEWS February 22, 2018: Editor says ongoing situation ….

Editor says #AceNewsDesk reports & #Brittius says are provided by Sterling Publishing & Media News and all our posts, links can be found at here https://t.me/acenewsdaily and thanks for following as always appreciate every like, reblog or retweet and free help and guidance tips on your PC software or need help & guidance from our experts AcePCHelp.WordPress.Com or you can follow our breaking news posts on AceBreakingNews.WordPress.Com or become a member on Telegram https://t.me/acebreakingnews

Featured: Video #CROATIA: #Update ‘ Closes seven of its eight border crossings to #Serbia as huge surge of #refugees turned away from #Hungary ‘

#AceNewsReport – Sept.18: Croatia has closed seven of its eight border crossings with Serbia overwhelmed by a huge surge of refugees turned away by Hungary. PM said Croatia will not accept or accommodate asylum seekers any longer.

Some of the refugees appear to be stuck on the border between Croatia and Hungary. Reuters reported on Thursday that a convoy of more than 10 buses which was heading towards the Croatian city of Osijek was turned towards the Hungarian border. Refugees were offloaded at the Croatian border village Beremend, according to a Reuters reporter at the scene. Hundreds of migrants were also witnessed on Friday at a petrol station by a road in the Croatian border town of Beli Manastir.

Scuffles between refugees erupted on Friday at the Croatian Beli Monastir train station as the people were boarding the trains bound for Zagreb. Some were injured and received first aid.

Some were injured and received first aid.

Dozens of refugees staged a silent sit-in protest at the Serbian-Hungarian border near the town of Horgos on Friday. They held placards which read: “We don’t have houses anymore. We will live here,” and “This is shame for Europe.”

LISTEN MORE:

The site was a scene of violence on Tuesday, when police used water cannon and teargas to push back refugees attempting to enter Hungary.

 

Milanovic said on Friday he has called a session of Croatia’s National Security Council. Interior Minister Ranko Ostojic told N1 Television that “it’s a matter of time” before Croatia closes all borders.

Columns of asylum seekers were expected to turn to Slovenia, however the Interior Ministry said on Friday that Slovenia does not intend to open a corridor for the refugees heading to Western Europe to pass through.

“At the moment we have no basis on which we could form a corridor,” Interior Ministry state secretary Bostjan Sefic told reporters.

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MACEDONIA: ‘ Political Crisis continues as EU calls for Regime Change ‘

#AceNewsReport – MACEDONIA:June.14: Macedonia continues to go through a political crisis, after Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn and the leaders of the four main political parties in Macedonia failed to reach an agreement on settling the crisis earlier this week.

' EU Calls for Regime Change in Macedonia '
‘ EU Calls for Regime Change in Macedonia ‘

Western media claims that Nikola Gruevski, the current Prime Minister of Macedonia, created the crisis that puts his government at risk, EUobserver reported.

Recently, Gruevski was accused of mass illegal surveillance, election fraud, as well as abuse of the country’s justice system and media.

Now the European Commission wants to send the government in Skopje a list of tough rule-of-law reforms. If Gruevski doesn’t react and there is no action taken by his government, the Commission will stop backing Macedonia’s EU entry talks, EUobserver said.

Macedonia has been a candidate country for EU accession since 2005. However, negotiations haven’t made any significant progress and there are many obstacles that stand in the way.

Gruevski and Zoran Zaev, the Macedonian opposition leader, agreed to hold early parliamentary elections in April 2016. However, the two politicians can’t agree when Gruevski must step down.

Zaev wants Gruevski to step down in October so that a technocratic government can prepare fair elections. According to Zaev, if Gruevski doesn’t step down, he will rig the new elections in 2016, EUobserver said.

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