Regional News • Europe • European Union
BioNTech founders warn of Covid-19 vaccine supply issues in EU
BioNTech founders warn of Covid-19 vaccine supply issues in EU
Credit: Ashley Winkler for Pendect

BioNTech is working flat out with partner Pfizer to boost production of their Covid-19 vaccine, its founders said, warning there would be gaps in supply until other vaccines were rolled out. The German biotech start-up has led the vaccine race but its shot has been slow to arrive in the EU due to relatively slow approval from the bloc’s health regulator and the small size of the order placed by Brussels.

The delays have caused consternation in Germany, where some regions had to temporarily close vaccination centres days after the launch of an inoculation drive on December 27th.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
EU leaders agree on 55% climate target by the end of 2030
EU leaders agree on 55% climate target by the end of 2030
Credit: unsplash/Markus Spiske

European leaders agreed to increase the bloc's emission-reduction target to 55 percent by 203 following night-long discussions at their two-day summit in Brussels. The coal-reliant countries Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic are finally supporting the goal after member states agreed that the new target should be delivered collectively.

Technology • Internet & Web
Brussels accuses Amazon of violating antitrust laws by illegally using company data
Brussels accuses Amazon of violating antitrust laws by illegally using company data
Credit: Courtesy of Twitter

Commission Vice-President Margrethe Vestager announced that the Competition Department has opened a new investigation against the US company for commercial practices linked to its premium programmed which could constitute an abuse of its dominant market position. "We have come to the preliminary conclusion that Amazon has illegally abused its dominant position as a market service provider in Germany and France by using confidential data on a large scale to compete with smaller retailers."

As a service provider, the Seattle-based company has access to the private business data of its vendors, their volume of visits, sales and shipments, and even the complaints they receive from customers.

Regional News • Europe
Belgian elementary schoolteacher suspended over Prophet Muhammad cartoon.

A Brussels district has suspended an elementary school teacher who showed a caricature of the Prophet Mohammed while discussing the murder of a French teacher who had used the same image, its spokesman said Friday.

The Belgian teacher, who works in the Brussels district of Molenbeek, showed one of the cartoons previously published by French magazine Charlie Hebdo while explaining Samuel Paty’s death.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin leaves EU summit as contact tests positive
Sanna Marin
Sanna Marin Credit: FinnishGovernment (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Sanna Marin, Finland's Prime Minister, will immediately leave the EU summit in Brussels, return to Helsinki to take a Covid-19 test and self-isolate.

Marin came into contact with Tom Packalenin, who has since tested positive for Covid-19, in the Finnish parliament.

The Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven will represent Marin for the rest of the summit.

On Thursday, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen left the summit after a member of her team tested positive, entering voluntary self-isolation "as a precaution".

Regional News • Europe
Ursula von der Leyen in self-isolation after staffer tests positive for Covid-19
Ursula von der Leyen
Ursula von der Leyen Credit: Global Panorama (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, left a summit of EU leaders after an aide tested positive for Covid-19. The President is self-isolating as a precautionary measure.

In a post on Twitter, von der Leyen wrote: "I have just been informed that a member of my front office has tested positive to COVID-19 this morning. I myself have tested negative.

However as a precaution I am immediately leaving the European Council to go into self-isolation."

Delphine Boël wins a lawsuit to be recognized as the daughter of former Belgium king
Delphine Boël wins a lawsuit to be recognized as the daughter of former Belgium king
Credit: Luc Van Braekel / Wikimedia Commons (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Delphine Boël has won a seven-year legal battle to be recognized as the daughter of the former king of Belgium, Albert II. She will now be called Delphine of Saxen-Coburg-Gotha, princess of Belgium, following a ruling of the Brussels Court of Appeal.

Regional News • Europe
Cyprus withdraws veto on sanctions for Belarus

Cyprus has withdrawn its veto against the sanctions at the EU summit in Brussels in the night to Friday. According to Council leader Charles Michel, they should come into force immediately.

With the sanctions, the EU wants to put additional pressure on the leadership in Belarus and send a signal of solidarity with the people living there. In the former Soviet republic there have been protests and strikes against Lukashenko, who has been in power for 26 years, since the presidential election on August 9.

Regional News • Europe • European Union
Phil Hogan resigns as EU trade commissioner after breaching Ireland Covid guidelines
Phil Hogan
Phil Hogan Credit: European Parliament (Creative Commons Attribution 2.0)

Phil Hogan, the EU trade commissioner, resigned Wednesday after the Irish government accused him of breaching Covid-19 guidelines during a visit to the country.

On August 19, Hogan attended a golf dinner in County Galway after not complying with quarantine rules when he arrived from Brussels.

Hogan said in a statement, "It was becoming increasingly clear that the controversy concerning my recent visit to Ireland was becoming a distraction from my work as an EU Commissioner and would undermine my work in the key months ahead."

Regional News • Europe • Russia
EU calls for independent investigation in Nawalny case

In the case of the allegedly poisoned Kremlin critic Alexei Nawalny, the EU is demanding that Russia conduct an "independent and transparent investigation". The European Union strongly condemns the alleged "attack on Nawalny's life", EU Foreign Affairs Commissioner Josep Borrell declared in Brussels on Monday evening.

It is "imperative" that the Russian authorities launch an independent investigation "without delay" into the alleged attack on Nawalny's life, Borrell demanded. The Russian people and the international community wanted to know "the facts behind Mr. Nawalny's poisoning. Those responsible for the attack must be "brought to justice".

The Berlin clinic Charité, where the prominent critic is being treated by Russia's President Vladimir Putin, assumes after a thorough investigation that the 44-year-old was poisoned.

Regional News • Europe
Brussels court throws out arrest warrant for Catalan Lluis Puig
Lluis Puig
Lluis Puig Credit: Twitter Reproduction

A court in Brussels has ordered that a European arrest warrant for Lluis Puig, a former minister in the autonomous government of Catalonia, should not be carried out.

The Spanish government had issued the warrant against Puig for his part in the Catalan independence referendum of October 2017.

Puig’s lawyers had argued that only a Catalan court could try him, and not the Supreme Court, as would happen if the warrants were executed, and the Brussels' court has upheld that point of view. The prosecutor’s office is now considering whether to appeal the judgement.

Regional News • Europe
European Parliament: Politicians report theft of technical equipment
European Parliament: Politicians report theft of technical equipment
Credit: / Charles Büchler

Allegedly up to 100 offices of members of the European Parliament have been broken into during the Covid-19 lockdown. Several politicians have reported the theft of computers and valuables within the past 6 weeks. The Germany member of parliament Nico Semsrott stated that dozes and possibly 100 offices could have been broken into.

Internal investigations are currently underway and suspicions of internal perpetrators are obvious.

Thomas Waitz of the Austrian Greens party has stated that "The theft of electronic items is annoying. But the bigger problem is that neither the offices are secure and sensitive data and documents can be easily stored in the office, nor can it be guaranteed that the offices are not bugged. What is needed here is a quick solution and a new security concept from the administration".