EU defuses tensions over Kosovo car number plates

Kosovo and Serbia have agreed steps to defuse a row over Serbian car number plates, which had threatened to trigger violence. EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell tweeted “We have a deal!” and said both sides would strive to normalise relations. Kosovo declared independence from Serbia in 2008. Kosovo had threatened to start fining drivers from Thursday if they continued using number plates issued by Belgrade. But Brussels talks resulted in a deal. Mr Borrell said Serbia would stop issuing licence plates with Kosovo cities’ denominations, and Kosovo would not demand that vehicles with Serbian plates be re-registered. On Monday he expressed … Continue reading EU defuses tensions over Kosovo car number plates

UK and Switzerland to collaborate on science as both countries are barred from EU scheme

The UK and Switzerland are striking a deal on science collaboration as both countries continue to be blocked from a major EU scheme. Political tensions mean the two nations have been shut out from the EU’s multi-billion pound Horizon programme. There are no fresh funds as part of the Anglo-Swiss deal. But Swiss ambassador to the UK Markus Leitner described it as a “political signal” to researchers to deepen existing ties and find new projects. The agreement will be finalised on Thursday in London. UK Science Minister George Freeman said: “Being a Science superpower means deepening our international relationships with … Continue reading UK and Switzerland to collaborate on science as both countries are barred from EU scheme

Western nations to improve pipeline security after Nord Stream leak

European countries say they will ramp up security around oil and gas installations after the suspected sabotage of two major pipelines. The EU, US and Nato have suggested damage to the pipelines between Russia and Germany was deliberate, but have not blamed Russia directly. Russia has said it was not involved, and asked if the US was instead. Russia has previously been accused of using gas supplies as a weapon against the West over its support for Ukraine. The leaks on the Nord Stream 1 and Nord Stream 2 pipelines were discovered on Monday and Tuesday. Neither pipeline was operating … Continue reading Western nations to improve pipeline security after Nord Stream leak

UK considers joining new European nations club

The UK is weighing up whether to attend a new European political “club of nations” next month. The first meeting of the “European Political Community” is due to be held in Prague in early October. Downing Street wants to see more detail on the summit before Prime Minister Liz Truss commits to attending it and no final decision has been made. The European Political Community is an idea championed by the French President Emmanuel Macron. He proposed it, in May, as a “new space” for co-operation. Mr Macron suggested the group could discuss security, energy and transport as well as … Continue reading UK considers joining new European nations club

EU leaders back immediate candidate status for Kyiv

The leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania have backed Ukraine’s bid to join the EU, saying it should be given “immediate” candidate status. “Ukraine belongs to the European family,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a joint briefing in Kyiv. But he added that Ukraine still had to meet the accession criteria in full. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the 27-member EU would stand by Ukraine until its victory against Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described Russia’s continuing aggression as a war “against the united Europe”, adding that the “most effective weapon” was unity. And he again appealed … Continue reading EU leaders back immediate candidate status for Kyiv

#Russianinvasion: European leaders risk train ride to meet Zelensky

Ukraine has praised the courage of three European leaders who made a long, hazardous journey by rail from Poland to Kyiv in a show of support as the city came under further Russian attack. The prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic met Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday evening as a curfew began in Kyiv. The trip was a Polish idea, after the EU warned of potential security risks. The Czech prime minister said Ukraine was fighting for its freedom. “We admire your brave fight,” Petr Fiala wrote in a tweet after the meeting. “We know that you’re … Continue reading #Russianinvasion: European leaders risk train ride to meet Zelensky

#Russianinvasion: EU says it will hold the Kremlin accountable for attack on Ukraine

European Commission President Von der Leyen The European Union will hold Moscow accountable for the “unjustified” attack on Ukraine, the chief of the bloc’s Executive Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Thursday. “In these dark hours, our thoughts are with Ukraine and the innocent women, men and children as they face this unprovoked attack and fear for their lives,” she said on Twitter. “We will hold the Kremlin accountable,” von der Leyen added. EU leaders are set to hold an emergency summit in Brussels later on Thursday, after a first round of EU sanctions on Russia took effect on … Continue reading #Russianinvasion: EU says it will hold the Kremlin accountable for attack on Ukraine

EU unveils €1.6 billion investment in Morocco

It is the first African scheme in the EU’s €300 billion “Global Gateway” infrastructure plan, the bloc’s response to China’s Belt and Road strategy. The European Union will invest €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion) in Morocco to produce green energy, European Commission Presiden Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday. Ursula von der Leyen Morroco is the first country to receive funding under the infrastructure program. “This is a great opportunity for the green and digital transition,” von der Leyen wrote on Twitter after meeting the Morrocan Prime Minister, Aziz Ajanuch. On Thursday, she will meet Senegalese President Macky Sall, who … Continue reading EU unveils €1.6 billion investment in Morocco

European Parliament president David Sassoli dies aged 65

European Parliament President David Sassoli has died at the age of 65, his spokesman says. The Italian former journalist and centre-left politician had been seriously ill for more than two weeks and cancelled all official activities. Mr Sassoli was admitted to hospital in Italy last month due to a serious complication with his immune system. He died in the early hours of Tuesday in a hospital in Aviano, his spokesman, Roberto Cuillo, announced on Twitter. In September, Mr Sassoli was taken to hospital in Strasbourg where he was treated for a severe case of pneumonia. He resumed his political duties … Continue reading European Parliament president David Sassoli dies aged 65

EU flag removed from Arc de Triomphe after right-wing outrage

A giant European Union flag displayed at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to mark France taking on the bloc’s presidency has been removed after it was criticized by right-wing politicians. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen said “replacing” the French flag at the monument was an attack on the country’s identity. A government minister said the move was only ever meant to be temporary. France has taken over the EU’s rotating presidency for the next six months. Ms Le Pen, who is a candidate in the presidential election in April, had vowed to file a complaint with the State Council, … Continue reading EU flag removed from Arc de Triomphe after right-wing outrage

Malta becomes first EU nation to legalize cannabis

Malta has become the first EU country to legalize the cultivation and personal use of cannabis. Adults will be allowed to carry up to seven grams of cannabis, and grow no more than four plants at home. But smoking it in public or in front of children will be illegal. Several other nations have similar plans, such as Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Countries like the Netherlands tolerate cannabis use in certain circumstances. Malta’s parliament voted in favour of the reform on Tuesday afternoon, with the bill winning 36 votes in favour and 27 against. Equality Minister, Owen Bonnici, said the … Continue reading Malta becomes first EU nation to legalize cannabis

Europe region faces 700,000 more deaths by March – WHO

A further 700,000 people could die of Covid-19 by March in Europe and parts of Asia, the World Health Organization has warned. The death toll already exceeds 1.5 million in the 53 countries of what the WHO terms as its Europe region. The WHO warned of “high or extreme stress” in intensive care units in 49 of the nations by March 2022. Europe is facing a surge in cases, prompting Austria to return to lockdown and others to consider fresh measures. A number of countries – including France, Germany and Greece – could also soon make booster jabs a requirement … Continue reading Europe region faces 700,000 more deaths by March – WHO