Tag Archives: European Union

Covid Cases Jump Again Due To Late Vaccines Launch | Instant News

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Italy’s Covid-19 cases hit their highest level in months this week as manufacturing problems caused the vaccine to reach Italy at a slower-than-expected pace, forcing several regions to return to lockdown to prevent another spike in one of the world’s hardest-hit countries. .

Key facts

Italy reported more than 24,000 new coronavirus infections on Friday, the biggest one-day increase in three months and nearly double the country’s daily infection rate for early February, according to government figures.

Italian officials have blame this last wave on the more contagious variant of the coronavirus first discovered in Britain, which has swept Italian schools and became a country dominant strain last month.

The country is still far below its peak last fall: In November and early December, Italy reported more than 40,000 cases and 800 deaths over several days.


About 5.2 million coronavirus vaccines have been given in Italy so far, or 8.7 doses per 100 people, roughly in line to the EU average but less than half the US vaccination rate. Italy views vaccines as a way to get out of its latest spike, but the EU-wide vaccination effort – which negotiates a vaccine deal for all member states as a bloc – has been mired in unexpected production delays. Italian Government block AstraZeneca of a dose sent to Australia this week, and Lombardy officials have pleaded with the government to send extra dose to the region.

Big Numbers

99,578. That’s the total number of coronavirus deaths that Italy has reported since the start of the pandemic. The Italian plague is second deadliest in Europe in terms of total mortality, after Great Britain, and the sixth deadliest in the world.

Key Background

Last spring, Italy was a country the first country outside of China to grapple with a major coronavirus outbreak. The country quickly imposed strict lockdowns and travel restrictions, causing cases to subside over the summer, but months after officials lifted the lockdown, hospitals filled and death jumped again in the fall. The country has abandoned some of its travel and social distancing restrictions in the place since last fall’s peak, but the emergence of a new variant has public health experts worried about the third wave of infections and deaths.

Shocking Facts

Coronavirus infections increased across Europe last week, including in Poland and Czech Republic, a trend World Health Organization blamed on new variants and an increasing tendency to relax the habit of keeping your distance.

Further reading

Europe reeling as infectious variants of the virus soar (Associated Press)

EU vaccine rollout returns to the spotlight after Italy blocks shipments to Australia (CNBC)


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Has Italy’s right wing really changed its tone? | Instant News

Italian politician Matteo Salvini has long been one of Italy’s loudest critics of the EU – just a year ago he called Unity “nest of snakes and wolves. “But the man who spoke candidly suddenly changed his tone in recent weeks, joining the national unity government led by Prime Minister Mario Draghi. As far as European politicians go, Draghi, the former head of the European Central Bank, is almost as pro-EU as you can get. So, what might be pushing Salvini’s startling face? And what does this mean for the future of right-wing populism in the EU’s third-largest country?

On a basic level, an opportunity to have a say in how Italy spends € 209 billion in EU grants and low-interest loans that Italy will receive from EU coronavirus recovery the venture may be too tempting to pass up. By joining the government, Salvini Lega’s side have secured two cabinet portfolios – tourism and economic development – that will play a key role in supporting the recovery.

However, strategic considerations might also influence that decision. The coronavirus pandemic has dampened Italians’ appetite for the kind of nationalist and anti-establishment rhetoric that has helped make Lega the country’s most popular party. When the health crisis takes center stage, the public is instead looking to predictable and established leadership for certainty. Perceptions of science and expert opinion are increasing.

As a result, joining the national unity government would further the goal of the moderate Lega faction of building a reputation as a responsible stakeholder in the eyes of the business community and foreign partners. With former center-right Forza Italia expected to fall apart when 85-year-old party boss Silvio Berlusconi retires from active politics, Lega could be in a position to take part with a bit more center-half.

Nonetheless, shifts like Relief are almost uncommon Italian Politics. In fact, the other two major parties have made similar flip-flops of their own: the center-left Democrats have vowed never to participate in government with Lega, and left-wing Five Star populists have traditionally opposed governments led by such technocrats. as Draghi. Now, both of them are in government again.

In this context, Relief could reverse direction again if the political winds change direction, as is likely to happen. If the European debt crisis of the early 2010s is any indication, the political backlash comes during a long and grueling recovery process. Although the EU’s decision to loosen tight fiscal rules and embrace aggressive stimulus spending has helped soften the blow and possibly allow for a faster recovery this time around, the economic woes are still likely to be intense and long-lasting, creating the conditions for a revival of relief. more open-ended nationalist, anti-immigrant rhetoric.

In addition, the small print of the EU coronavirus recovery fund said they were conditioned on a series of Italian sclerotic economic reforms. Any premonition that these funds, which the public hoped for, could be postponed or withdrawn due to non-compliance would spark a political backlash that Lega is sure to exploit. And furthermore, the EU’s stringent debt and deficit rules – Salvini’s favorite target – will eventually come back into effect to some extent, perhaps with the 2023 budget.

These dynamics will continue to be scrutinized in the months to come, especially in light of the question of how long this bizarre national unity government will last. New elections should be held in 2023 but could come sooner, for example, if rumors prove true that Draghi will move to the presidency himself when President Sergio Matarella’s term ends in February 2022. Current polls show that Lega is well placed to win the next election.

If those elections do take place, the EU could soon face up to Italy’s bold Lega-led government. If that happens, will Salvini’s group change the line again?


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US, EU agree on a four month pause on rates: Bloomberg | Instant News

FILE PHOTOS: Golf – 2012 Ryder Cup – Medinah Country Club, Medina, Illinois, United States – 27/9/12 An overview of the flags of the United States and Europe during the opening ceremony. Mandatory Credit: Action Images / Paul Childs

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States and the European Union have agreed a four-month pause on tariffs, Bloomberg News reported Friday, one day after Washington and Britain also announced a fourth month period to negotiate a trade settlement.

The White House and the offices of the United States Trade Representative did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the report.

Reporting by Trevor Hnnicutt, written by Susan Heavey


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Australia asked the EU to review AstraZeneca vaccine blockages | Instant News

CANBERRA / TOKYO / BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Australia has asked the European Commission to review its decision to block shipments of the COVID-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca, as countries importing EU-made gunfire are concerned about the potential impact on supplies.

EU executives supported Italy’s decision to block the delivery of 250,000 doses of AstraZeneca vaccine to Australia, European officials said, in the first refusal of an export request since a mechanism to monitor vaccine flows was established in late January.

The move is a reaction to AstraZeneca’s delay in sending vaccines to the EU. The company said it could only supply about 40 million doses by the end of this month compared to the 90 million estimated in its contract.

An official said the Anglo-Swedish company initially asked Rome to deliver more doses to Australia, but then cut its demand to 250,000 following Italy’s first refusal, in which some of AstraZeneca’s COVID-19 vaccines were bottled.

“Australia has raised this issue with the European Commission through various channels, and in particular we have asked the European Commission to review this decision,” Australian Health Minister Greg Hunt told reporters in Melbourne.

A European Commission spokesman said on Friday that EU executives had not received a specific request from the Australian health minister about the vaccine block.

Hunt said Australia, which started the inoculation program two weeks ago, has received 300,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, which will last until local vaccine production increases. He added that the missing dose would not affect the rollout of Australia’s inoculation program.

When asked about the EU export ban, Japanese vaccine minister Taro Kono said: “We ask the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to thoroughly investigate. We want to work with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to secure a vaccine for Japan. “

AstraZeneca did not reply to a request for comment.

FILE PHOTO: A test tube labeled “vaccine” in front of the AstraZeneca logo in this illustration taken, 9 September 2020. REUTERS / Dado Ruvic / Illustration


Despite the decision to block shipments to Australia, the EU has authorized all export requests from the debut scheme January 30 to March 1, totaling 174 requests for millions of shots to 29 countries, including Australia, Japan, Britain, the United Arab Emirates and Canada, the spokesperson said. talk to the European Union Commission.

Nearly all vaccines exported from the EU since late January have been manufactured by Pfizer and BioNTech, European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen said last week, with much smaller quantities exported by Moderna and AstraZeneca.

The EU set up a mechanism to monitor vaccine exports after drug makers announced a suspension of their supply to the 27-nation block. It now plans to extend the scheme to the end of June after it ends on March 31, EU officials told Reuters.

When asked about Italy’s move, French Health Minister Olivier Veran said Paris could do the same, even though it is not currently producing a vaccine for COVID-19.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn said drug manufacturers must honor contracts for vaccine supply to Europe, but said Germany had no reason to stop sending domestically produced injections to other countries.

In seeking European Commission intervention, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he could understand the reasons for Italy’s objections.

“In Italy people are dying at a rate of 300 per day. So I can definitely understand the high level of anxiety that will be in Italy and in many countries across Europe, “Morrison told reporters in Sydney.

The Italian move comes just days after Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who took office last month, told fellow EU leaders the bloc needs to speed up vaccinations and crack down on pharmaceutical companies that fail to meet promised supplies.

EU countries started injections in late December, but moving at a much slower pace than other wealthy nations, including former members of the UK and the United States. Officials blamed the slow progress partly on supply problems with producers.

Reporting by Colin Packham in Canberra, Rocky Swift and Kiyoshi Takenaka in Tokyo, Sabine Siebold in Brussels; written by Colin Packham and Francesco Guarascio; Edited by Jane Wardell, Kenneth Maxwell and Nick Macfie


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Ireland says Britain doesn’t behave like a ‘respectable country’ | Instant News

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Britain’s decision to make unilateral changes to Northern Ireland’s Brexit arrangement is “not the proper behavior of a respectable country” and will erode confidence with the European Union, the senior Irish minister said on Thursday.

FILE PHOTO: Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney at a press conference in Berlin, Germany, 11 December 2020. REUTERS / Fabrizio Bensch / Pool / File Photo

The European Union pledged legal action on Wednesday after the British government unilaterally extended a grace period for inspecting food imports to Northern Ireland, a move Brussels said violated the terms of the UK divorce deal.

“For the second time in months, the British government is threatening to violate international law,” Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar told Virgin Media television, referring to a similar one-sided move last year that London ultimately canceled.

To be honest, this was not the proper behavior of a respectable country.

The fate of Northern Ireland was the most hotly contested issue during Britain’s Brexit negotiations, with London ultimately agreeing to leave UK-ruled territory aligned with the EU’s single market for goods, requiring checks on some of the goods arriving there from elsewhere in Great Britain.

That has created difficulties for businesses that say they are having trouble bringing in supplies, and more checks will be put in place when the grace period ends on March 31. Many business groups welcomed the move on Wednesday.

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warned that it was not the first time that the EU had seen Britain as an “untrustworthy” negotiating partner.

He said it also undermined Ireland’s efforts to convince Brussels of the need to make some changes to Northern Ireland protocol and targeted the new British minister overseeing EU relations, David Frost.

“Before Lord Frost spoke in detail with (EU Commission Vice President) Maros Sefcovic in his new role, this was announced. To say it is rude, would be an understatement, “Coveney told national broadcaster RTE.

“Vice President Sefcovic has shown a real willingness to try to resolve the issue of protocol and to make cases in the European Commission, Parliament and Council of Europe and make progress on that. To him being tampered with in this way by the British government was very unhelpful. “

Reporting by Padraic Halpin; Edited by Alex Richardson and Giles Elgood


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