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WHAT’S NEW(S) – 25/06/2021

Écrit par sur 25 juin 2021

The AstraZeneca row and rainbow disputes

“A Belgian court has pulled off what no one thought was possible” wrote Jillian Deutsch in Politico, when the Belgian judge made both the European Commission and AstraZeneca happy with his ruling in the case, a political battle that has been dragging on for months. How did European newspapers report on the judge’s decision?

In this week’s What’s New(s), also a focus on Spain, where newspapers predict a new “political era” with the pardoning of the Catalan nationalists; and on Munich, which became the theatre for a political fight over LGBTQ+ rights.

You’ll find the script below :

One by one, European countries are getting back to what is called ´the new normal´; the still ongoing AstraZeneca-row and an increase in the number of cases in the UK is however showing that the crisis is not over yet.

Starting with a long-lasting dispute over AstraZeneca, how did European newspapers report on the verdict of the Belgian judge?

“A Belgian court has pulled off what no one thought was possible” wrote Jillian Deutsch in Politico, when the judge decided to vindicate both sides. At a first glance, it looked like the European Commission had won – AstraZeneca was ordered to deliver 80.2 million vaccine doses by September, or pay a 10 euros fine per dose – in reality, this was a far cry from what the EU wanted, Deutsch argued. Since the company already delivered a large share of the doses, it will not struggle to meet the judge’s demands. The 80 million doses are not even close to the 300 million doses the EU had asked for. The Commission can however still be satisfied, states newspaper NRC, since the judge followed its reasoning that AstraZeneca was wrong, and ordered the company to deliver the vaccines from Britain to meet the EU’s needs. With this new ruling; the vaccine battle is not over yet. A new hearing is set for September, when compliance with the contract will be assessed again, wrote Reuters.

And how are European leaders reacting to the situation in the UK, where Delta is causing a new outbreak? 

A third wave of COVID is “definitely under way in the UK”, headlined the Guardian just a few days ago, when there was a sudden increase in the number of cases with the new Delta variant, first identified in India. Public Health England reported a 79% increase in the number of cases, and European leaders keep a concerned eye on the developments across the channel. Now that the Union’s members finally seemed to get back to the new ‘normal’, and had to some extent agreed on consistent travel rules, the new outbreak in the UK is triggering new political rows. Last Tuesday, Angela Merkel criticised Portugal for letting in British tourists, contrary to other EU countries. According to Portuguese newspaper Publico the Delta variant is already dominating in Lisbon and the Tagus Valley. It also quoted politician Rui Rio, who accused the government of unnecessarily embarrassing the country.  

But then having a look at other topics that dominated the headlines in Europe this week, starting with Spain, where a new era might be about to start with the pardon of Catalan nationalists?

Spain achieved on Wednesday a key milestone in the solving of the Catalan issue with the pardon of the imprisoned Catalan leaders. According to Neus Tomás in El Diario, these pardons, welcomed by the Catalan nationalist parties, mark the beginning of a new phase of de-escalation. Pedro Sánchez, quoted by La Vanguardia, called on the parties in the Spanish parliament to “reconcile” and said that “both Catalonia and Spain deserve a new era”. The situation caused unforeseen damage, such as the historic split between Pablo Casado, president of the PP, and Spanish Business Association, that decided to back the government’s stance in favour of reconciliation and normalisation, writes Paloma Esteban in El Confidencial. The government rejected the general amnesty requested by the president of the Generalitat but announced new changes to the penal code, according to information published in ABC.

And then ending with Munich, which suddenly became the theatre for a political fight over… rainbows?

Huge polemic around rainbows and pride indeed. According to AP, the UEFA (YUEIFA) decided to decline the request of the mayor of Munich to colour the stadium in the rainbow colours for the visit of the Hungarian national team to Germany. “A shameful decision” writes Keith Cornolly, Berlin Correspondent of the Guardian, who highlights the arguments that the UEFA used to avoid lighting up the stadium: “would contravene its rules about political and religious neutrality”. Heiko Maas, German foreign affairs minister, announced via twitter that football is all about people, tolerance and equality. And by behaving like this the UEFA is sending the wrong message. The city of Munich is now concerned, according to Deutsche Welle, over the expected arrival of thousands of Hungarian hooligans in the city. Other German cities have shown their solidarity, according to Euronews, by lightening up their stadiums in the pride colours.  According to Hungarian newspaper Borsonline, the party director of Fidesz launched a counter-initiative, colouring the stadiums in Budapest with the colours of the Hungarian flag. 

Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

Image par Paul McManus de Pixabay

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