What's New(s)

What's New(s) - Corona outrage - 26/11/2021

 What's New(s) - Corona outrage - 26/11/2021

What´s New(s)? La revue de presse anglophone – Erik Ruiz Martín & Nadine Vermeulen

A tough week for European politicians, who seem stuck between two parallel realities: hospitals overloaded with Corona-patients, and people hitting the streets to contest the tightened Coronavirus-measures just put in place.

You'll find the script below:

What did the European press write about the series of protests happening all around Europe?

All around Europe and even in the heart of Europe. Protest against COVID-19 measures turned violent in Brussels, wrote Rym Momtaz in allusion to the demonstration which gathered 35,000 people in the EU capital. Riots against the implementation of new measures took place in numerous European cities and were followed by police intervention. In the Netherlands, the protests were stopped by the police and up to 3 protesters are being treated in hospital for gunshot wounds, reports the BBC. The French government had to send new police forces to Guadeloupe after "a protest movement against the obligation to vaccinate health personnel has degenerated into a social crisis," notes Le Monde. Banners held up by protesters were also a topic of discussion. "Control the borders, not your people," as well as references to the Great Reset, a conspiracy theory were common in protests in Austria according to POLITICO, while France 24 highlights how some protesters in Belgium were wearing Nazi-era yellow stars.

Are tougher restrictions still possible even after the violent protests throughout Europe?

If we have a look at the latest declarations of some European leaders... everything seems to show that more restrictions will come. Süddeutsche Zeitung, quoted the German health minister who predicted that this winter the Germans will be 'cured, vaccinated or dead', and did not totally close the door to making vaccines compulsory, even if he was not in favour of that measure. Newspaper El País wrote that although a reinforcement of the measures may seem premature now, it is quite likely if there is an upturn of covid and seasonal flu cases at the same time. Javier Espinoza and Valentina Pop underline in Financial Times that at least six European countries have already started to tighten their measures, including lockdowns for unvaccinated people, as in Austria and Slovakia, or the introduction of Covid Passes, which is the case of Italy and Greece.

But then moving on to other events that made the news this week, besides the extensive coverage of this continuous crisis. What about the attempt of the European Commission to start the procedure of cutting funding for Hungary and Poland?

Well, the European Commission made the first informal step implementing a mechanism to financially punish EU countries for rule-of-law concerns, holding back EU funding. It did so by writing a letter to Hungary and Poland, arguing that the problems with the independence of judiciary, ineffective prosecution of corruption, and public procurement could pose risks to the EU’s financial interests. It also raised concerns, amongst others, about a large number of irregular projects or expenditure from the Union, wrote Lili Bayer and Zosia Wanat in POLITICO. According to Financial Times, Hungary and Poland have two months to respond to these and other questions. According to EU Observer however, this move of the European Commission might be “too little, too late”; those who argued for quicker action by the bloc were irritated. The Polish government complained that it is being unfairly treated in the EU, wrote France 24.

Then lastly, what about the mysterious disappearance of the Chinese tennis player?

Indeed, the news about the disappearance and reappearance of Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai was widely shared by European media. It all started 3 weeks ago, when Peng accused the former vice-premier Zhang of #Metoo abuse and sexual assault. She posted her accusations on Weibo, a Chinese blogging site. The post was deleted and the Chinese authorities scrambled to stop the allegations from spreading, even trying to online block the word “tennis”, and hiding the tennis player’s account from searches, wrote the Guardian back then. It was the first time in China that accusations of sexual misconduct against someone in such a senior position were publicly disclosed. After the allegations, Peng disappeared from the public eye, to reappear last Sunday in a video call with the International Olympic Committee, which stated that she was “safe and well”. The Women’s Tennis Association however stated that the call didn’t address their concerns over Peng’s wellbeing and ability to communicate without censorship, wrote the BBC. The international furore that erupted over the scandal poses Olympics headache for China, argued the Financial Times, while chances are high that the world’s attention will be focused on the whereabouts of the tennis player, instead of the games themselves.

Photo: UN Women/Pathumporn Thongking