EU Reporter

Anti-coronavirus vaccines for all? The patents suspension divides European leaders
Europe

Anti-coronavirus vaccines for all? The patents suspension divides European leaders

More the hours pass, colder become Europe’s openness to Joe Biden’s proposal to suspend vaccine patents. An issue that was held last night at the dinner of EU leaders in Porto, on the side-lines of the Social Summit that closes today, lasted until late in the evening without any decisions on a common position expected.

Indeed, while leaders in the Portuguese city poured in, various positions were added to the opposed one of the Chancellor, confirming the divisions. Italy and Spain are in favor of Biden’s proposal, whose premier Pedro Sánchez yesterday evening at the dinner presented a document from his government that goes even further: “Biden’s idea is good – said Sánchez – but it is insufficient”, it will be a question of «transferring technologies to speed up the manufacturing process everywhere». Other leaders, on the other hand, let it be understood that for them the real problem is not patents but the production of vaccines and the possibility of sharing them with less developed countries. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen herself says: «We need vaccines now. The intellectual property waiver will not solve the problem. What is needed is a sharing of vaccines, the export of doses, and investments to increase production capacity.”

And she also left a jab on Biden. “So far, 200 million doses of vaccine have been exported from the EU and the same quantity has been delivered to the EU. We invite all those engaged in the debate on the patent exemption to do as we do and export an important quantity of the doses they produce,” she said. According to French President Emmanuel Macron, the problem is not the intellectual property of vaccines.

The real issue is solidarity in the distribution of doses “, and” for the vaccine to circulating, the materials and vaccines must not be blocked “, which instead” the Anglo-Saxons “do. France co-signed together with Belgium, Spain, Denmark, and Sweden a letter to Von der Leyen which does not mention patents, but affirms the need for a “European vaccine sharing mechanism” with specific commitments from each Member State, and the urgent need to relaunch production with public-private cooperation. “If the EU does not intervene – reads the text – others will fill the void and use vaccines as a geopolitical tool”. After all, “no one will be safe until we all are.

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As a senior European official point out, “no one has so far been able to give even a single example that patents hinder the production of vaccines”. The Trips agreements in the WTO framework on the intellectual property include clauses for derogations on protection, while, according to Brussels, finding an agreement within the WTO to change the existing rules would take years, too many for the current emergency. And in any case, “for the increase in production capacity – added the official – the key issues are other: for example, raw materials, 280 from 19 countries are needed for new generation vaccines, and there are too many blocks.

And then there are problems with supplies of materials such as vials or special plastic bags, insufficient specialized personnel, delays in approvals ». Moreover, the new generation vaccines are covered by about a hundred vaccines’ patents. «Even if they are all suspended and become public property – she still explains – it is useless if you do not know the methodologies to apply them, a technology transfer is needed. And this works best when it’s voluntary.

It is already happening, with agreements between Sanofi and Pfizer-BioNTech or Novartis and Johnson & Johnson for production cooperation. “On the one hand, there are the states that have joined India and South Africa in the request to remove the patents, on the other, there are the states that believe it is not a question crucial. My job is to bring them together to negotiate a text for a pragmatic solution,” said the director of the WTO, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala yesterday.

Things Calm Down On Jersey Port Waters As France Retreats
Europe

Things Calm Down On Jersey Port Waters As France Retreats

As the tension pertaining to the French ships eases off at the UK waters, the British Navy warships finally stood down from a possible attack.  As a maritime protest has died down, HMS Severn and HMS Tamar are expected to begin their voyage back to Portsmouth in the next 24hours, news reports confirm.

A fishing row had broken at the Jersey Port in UK a few weeks back, leading to major tension and blockages at the port. Additionally, France had also threatened to cut off power to the Channel Island over post-Brexit fishing conditions.

After the Brexit decision, major access to the fishing waters in the UK had been blocked to the fishing. The economy of French fishermen is majorly dependent on the yield from waters that fall under UK’s geographical area.

Jersey has been a self governing dependency of Britain. So, the British PM has the obligation to say that he is on their side and has expressed his “unwavering support for Jersey”. According to him, the blockade is “completely unjustified” and everything else can be talked about.

According to the French minister for European affairs, Clément Beaune these tactics by the British PM have also been called ‘manoeuvres’ something that doesn’t seem to ‘impress’ anyone in France.

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The escalation of tensions comes after the French government warned that it could take retaliatory measures over new conditions imposed on French fishermen regarding access to waters around the island of Jersey, which is closer to France than the UK.

As of now, the French fleet of about 50-60 fishermen have retreated and so have the British Royal navy vessels from the area of conflict. According to Boris Johnson, 10 Downing Street does not want conflict but a complete application of the agreement, something that obviously France is not in conformity with.

French Minister for the Sea, Annick Girardin, has been indicating that if fishing is not allowed in way that helps the French fishermen, such measures could involve the “submarine cable transmission of electricity” that supplies the Jersey island from France. A spokesperson for the British government said on Wednesday afternoon that the threat is “unacceptable and disproportionate” and the UK “trusts France to use the mechanisms” provided for in the post-Brexit agreement “to resolve the issues.”

The G7 Foreign Ministers in London against Beijing and Moscow, priority protect journalists under attack
Europe

The G7 Foreign Ministers in London against Beijing and Moscow, priority protect journalists under attack

Harsh attack by the G7 against Russia and China. In the final draft of the summit of foreign ministers in London, “deep concern is expressed over Moscow’s irresponsible and destabilizing behavior” on various fronts, from Ukraine to cyber-attacks, from disinformation to the violation of human rights.

Ministers also denounce “human rights violations and abuses” from China against Muslim Uyghurs and in Tibet, as well as recent acts that erode the democratic elements of the electoral system in Hong Kong and are committed to resistance, to the arbitrariness, to the Chinese political and economic practices that undermine a free and fair economic system.

The G7, speaking of the Russian action, denounces that the great accumulation of military on the borders of Ukraine and in the illegally annexed Crimea, the malicious activities aimed at undermining the democratic systems of other countries, its harmful cyber activity, and the use of disinformation. The Foreign Ministers in London note with regret the deterioration of Russia’s relations with Western countries, underlining the importance of respecting the Vienna Convention on diplomatic relations.

The G7 also cites the Navalny case and its poisoning, urging Moscow “to investigate in a credible way to explain without further delay the use of a chemical weapon on its soil”. Furthermore, “we remain concerned about the deterioration of the human rights situation in Russia, and the systematic repression of the voices of the opposition, human rights defenders, independent civil society and the media”.

Finally, the G7 reaffirmed its interest in having stable relations, while discouraging Russian behavior that threatens the rules of the international order, even in the areas of cybersecurity and disinformation. And it added that Europe will continue to engage with Russia in addressing regional and global crises and challenges of common interest.

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The G7 foreign ministers formalized in the final draft of the London meeting the commitment – announced by Dominic Raab on behalf of the current UK presidency – for the creation of the Rapid Response Mechanism coordinated between Western democracies and open societies against malicious foreign activities of disinformation and “destabilization of democratic institutions” and their electoral processes carried out online or otherwise. The document does not mention Russia or China – evoked in various verbal statements – while reference is made to specific recent cases of spreading “disinformation on vaccines”.

Ministers pledged to uphold media freedom as a vital part of defending democracy and human rights around the world. They condemned the intimidation, harassment, and violence against journalists, noting that women and those in marginalized and vulnerable situations are disproportionate targets, both online and offline. The group recognized the importance of different voices in shaping public debate, promoting transparency, and ensuring accountability.

“We welcome all efforts to defend media freedom through concerted diplomacy, advocacy, and assistance. We call on our diplomatic missions to coordinate locally, including through the Coalition, to increase support and engagement with independent journalists and media threatened “. He affirmed the final note of the summit in London, adding: “Each of us is committed to lead by example by taking internal actions, such as developing national action plans or similar measures, where appropriate, to improve the safety of journalists, access to information and media sustainability.”

Emmanuel Macron commemorates Napoleon Bonaparte, but France does not celebrate
Europe

Emmanuel Macron commemorates Napoleon Bonaparte, but France does not celebrate

The French president Emmanuel Macron will attend today the tribute ceremony to Napoleon for the bicentenary of his death. Balanced and prudent participation due to the controversy surrounding the figure of the emperor: his predecessors have distanced themselves from the most cumbersome historical figure in the country, accused by the revisionism of the ‘cancel culture’ of being a putschist, a bloodthirsty dictator and to have restored slavery.

Macron in any case preferred not to ignore the anniversary, even if the Presidency assures that he will also address the controversial aspects. “To commemorate is not to celebrate“, stressed the Elysée to justify the president’s participation in the homage. Macron will first deliver a speech before the academics of the Institute of France and, subsequently, will lay a wreath on the tomb of the man who led France between 1799 and 1815. In this second act, he will be accompanied by Jean-Christophe Napoleon Bonaparte, an indirect descendant of the emperor.

One year after the presidential elections, Macron must carefully juggle those who exalt the figure of Napoleon and those who accuse him of crimes against humanity. His speech at the Institute of France, which brings together the various academies of the country, will be examined with a magnifying glass from both sides. The Elysée assured that in his speech, for which high school students were invited, the president will criticize Bonaparte’s “wrong” decision to restore slavery in 1802, eight years after it was abolished by the French Revolution. Jacques Chirac did not participate in the events of the bicentenary of the battle of Austerlitz, celebrated as the apotheosis of Napoleon’s military genius and Francois Hollande did not participate in those of Waterloo.

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The past, the Elysée warned, cannot be judged with the eyes of the present and Napoleon is part of the history of France, which requires knowledge and commemoration of him. He words that do not seem to have placated anti-racist associations and more radical groups, which have called demonstrations in French overseas territories. Very involved in recognizing the errors of France in Algeria or Rwanda, Macron was attacked when he considered legitimate the choice to include Marshal Philippe Petain, head of the collaborationist regime of Vichy between 1940 and 1944, among the marshals celebrated in Paris in the occasion of the centenary of the end of the Great War.

Macron pointed out that at the time of the First World War Petain “was a great soldier”, even though he later “made some mistakes in the Second”. The president will try to keep the same balance with Napoleon, whose action helped to create the modern French state, the Civil Code, or the division of the Empire into departments.

After one night in prison, France releases Italian former terrorists
Europe

After one night in prison, France releases Italian former terrorists

The detention of former Italian terrorists of the seventies arrested at dawn on Wednesday in France lasted one night. But in the Italian strategy, the decision of the French magistrates does not represent a surprise, let alone a hitch. The blitz and the arrests were necessary to interrupt the statute of limitations, thus avoiding that for six of the ten Brigadier refugees in France, in a short time, Italy could no longer even ask for redelivery.

Having accomplished this act, and considering that the times for the procedures in all their steps will be quite long -a couple of years are expected, even if the first hearing before the Chambre d’accusation was set for next Wednesday – it was foreseeable that extradited people did not stay in prison. Also, because the preventive examination carried out by the Bureau of the French Ministry of Justice concerned only the admissibility of the requests received from Rome, not the merit. Questions accepted, but no obvious answers.

Of the ten convicts that Italy claims, only out of three French justice has never been pronounced previously; we are talking about the former Brigadier Enzo Calvitti, of Narciso Manenti, who was living in prison for a crime signed by the proletarian guerrilla, and the former manager of Lotta Continua Giorgio Pietrostefani, convicted of murder. For them, it is the first time that an extradition procedure has been opened, while for the other seven it had always been blocked, for one reason or another. Just by examining Pietrostefani’s file, the representative of the Prosecutor’s Office who signed the arrest order had already anticipated that during the validation he would ask for his release, due to his precarious health conditions.

The precedent regarding Marina Petrella, the former brightest sentenced to life imprisonment, who in 2007 was arrested for repatriation, is still linked to health, but after a year in prison, she obtained asylum from former president Nicolas Sarkozy for reasons humanitarians. He was ill, his imprisonment had worsened the situation, and the Elysée law applied the rule that allows extradition to be denied if this puts the condemned man’s physical and mental health at risk. Now the president has changed, but is that provision still valid?

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In the petition presented by Italy, it is argued that after 13 years it would be appropriate to re-check whether the conditions of the woman, now 65, are still incompatible with the detection. But it is possible that even before addressing the validity of the deed of clemency, the French judge must re-evaluate his file from the beginning, and therefore rule again on the request for a redelivery.

Same thing for the others (Roberta Cappelli, Giovanni Alimonti, Luigi Bergamin), who had had the favourable opinion of the Chambre d’accusation, but for whom the political “green light” from the head of the government had never arrived. Sergio Tornaghi, on the other hand, former Red Brigade member of the Milanese column who should serve a life sentence for the murder of the company manager Renato Briano, has already appeared twice before the Chambre, and twice the Italian application has been rejected. Now we have to decide whether it is possible to go back to those decisions or not.

And a still different case is that of Raffaele Ventura, a former militant of the fighting Communist Formations, who in the past was served with a European arrest warrant which was then canceled because it was inapplicable for crimes committed before its establishment. Another complication is that Ventura has in the meantime obtained French citizenship. “He refuses the extradition request and wants to stay here, where he has lived for forty years,” his lawyer Jean-Pierre Mignard explained yesterday.

EP ratifies EU’s post-Brexit trade deal
Europe

EP ratifies EU’s post-Brexit trade deal

The European Parliament has ratified the European Union’s post-Brexit trade deal that took place with the United Kingdom, a move welcomed by the United Kingdom.

In the final round of voting, 660 MEPs (Members of European Parliament) stood in favour of the trade deal while five stood against it. With a total of 32 absentees, results were compiled on Wednesday.

The vote comes amid feuds over the UK’s abidance of Brexit agreements and the supply of the Covid-19 vaccine from AstraZeneca.

This ratification ends five years of a Brexit saga in which Europe and Britain sealed a divorce deal that bitterly divided the UK and put the peace on the island of Ireland into doubt.

The deal gives forth the framework for Britain’s reformed relationship with the 27-member union. This has taken place five years after the British voters voted to end its 47-year membership of the bloc.

The vote approves the bare-bones trade deal that was closed on Christmas Eve after months of bad-tempered negotiations and has been put to effect provisionally since January 1.

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The president of the assembly, David Sassoli said: “The European Parliament has voted, today, on the most wide-ranging agreement that has ever been reached with a third country by the EU”.

“This can become the foundation on which we can capitalise and form a new forward-looking EU-UK relationship,” he added. He also warned that the implementation of the deal will be monitored by the MEPs and “any sort of backsliding from the UK government would not be accepted”.

The EU’s member states are expected to adhere to the agreement following the European Parliament’s ratification.

The bloc will conclude the trade agreement by formally informing the UK.

UK’s Boris Johnson said the principal approval would provide “stability” in the EU-UK relations. His chief negotiator, David Frost, said the ratification will allow both countries to focus on the future.

Europe announces a turning point in the fight against coronavirus, discovered a super antibody that can prevent the infection
Europe

Europe announces a turning point in the fight against coronavirus, discovered a super antibody that can prevent the infection

More than a year after COVID-19 appeared, many enigmas continue about the virus: why do some people get so much sicker than others? Why does lung illness sometimes remain to worsen well after the body seems to have defeated the SARS-CoV-2 virus? And what is behind the extended, multi-organ damage that lasts for months in people with ‘long COVID’? A growing number of studies suggest that some of these questions might be solved by the immune system mistakenly turning against the body — a phenom recognized as autoimmunity. The turning point in the fight against Covid-19 could come from Europe that has published a new study, defined as sensational by experts.

While the coronavirus variant from India scares member States, the European Commission – the funding body of the research project – relaunches the news on the new monoclonal antibody capable of protecting even from Covid-19 variants. Researchers have discovered a super antibody capable of preventing the virus and its variants. “This discovery – highlighted Mariya Gabriel, Commissioner for Education, Youth, Sport, and Culture – thanks to the work of EU-funded researchers, could prevent and treat Covid-19 cases, ultimately saving lives”.

The bispecific super antibody is capable of simultaneously detecting two different virus antigens. The researchers merged two natural antibodies into a single man-made molecule and preclinical tests showed that it protects against variants of the coronavirus, including the English one. Unlike antibodies that recognize a single antigen, the double bond of bispecific antibodies significantly reduces the selection of resistant variants. The bispecific antibody CoV-X2 recognizes two virus antigens at the same time and would be more effective than other monoclonal antibodies. The study was published in Nature.

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A super monoclonal antibody known as CoV-X2 was developed by an international team funded by the European Union and would also be able to prevent coronavirus infection. The bispecific antibody CoV-X2, that is, which simultaneously recognizes two antigens of the virus, would be more effective than other monoclonal antibodies in inhibiting the binding with ACE2.The latter is the receptor used by Covid-19 to attack cells and replicate. The antibody is therefore born from the union in the laboratory of two natural antibodies and precisely this double bond would allow fighting the variants more effectively. The study was published in Nature.

The bispecific antibody has high efficacy and characteristics that make it an excellent candidate for clinical trials, with good potential for use both in the prevention of the disease and in the treatment of patients. Will it be enough to protect us from the virus? Perhaps, in the meantime, states continue to impose new restrictions amid protests, fear and an economic crisis that exacerbates the already difficult conditions.

Why EU Bloc Is Upset With Astra Zeneca?
Europe

Why EU Bloc Is Upset With Astra Zeneca?

The European Union is now taking legal action against Astra Zeneca. Earlier in the beginning of the year, the EU had entered into a binding contract that asked the British-Swedish company to have held back its exports, before the European bloc could facilitate its own.

But somehow, it has come to a situation where the company is now being sued by the European Union for breach of the same contract. The EU bloc is also cross over mismanagement in supply of vaccines by the company also.

AstraZeneca had committed to supplying 180 million doses to the EU in the second quarter of this year but has faced multiple delays to shipments. According to the EU bloc, there is breach in the advanced purchase agreement.

The vaccine was a key part of the bloc’s vaccination plan. It is cheaper and easier to use than rival shots from Pfizer and Moderna and has been endorsed for use in over 50 countries.

Last month, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen flatly said in a public statement that AstraZeneca had ‘under-produced and under-delivered’ itself, putting the bloc’s promise into jeopardy.

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Further, making an official statement, European Commission spokesman Stefan De Keersmaecker also said that, “The company has not been in the position to come up with a reliable strategy to ensure the timely delivery of doses. What matters to us, in this case, is that we want to make sure that there’s a speedy delivery of a sufficient number of doses that European citizens are entitled to and which have been promised on the basis of the contract.”

This is the reason that the commission has indeed started legal action on its own behalf and on behalf of the 27 member states that are fully aligned in their support for this procedure.

Things have been growing sour between the company and EU since the company seemed to be showing more interest in delivering to the UK on priority. The disgruntle is so much that it had lead to the EU threatening to block vaccine exports from the bloc to certain countries, as its vaccination programme fell behind other countries such as the UK and US.

UK, Her Majesty’s 007s land on social media
Europe

UK, Her Majesty’s 007s land on social media

That of secret services was once such a secret world that the address of its headquarters was not even known and its officials were mentioned in the newspapers only by a capital initial. But times change and with them also the 007, so the Mi5 has decided to land on Instagram. “What we do must remain top secret”, says its director Ken McCallum, “but we want to make people known better and social media can help us in this task”. Mi5 chooses direct communication on social network platforms to dispel stereotypes about all Martini and luxury cars agents. 007 license to post photos on Instagram

 The British security service MI5 goes social in an attempt to increase its transparency and get rid of the “stereotypes on the consumption of Martini”. The account to be signed is @mi5official and will host photos with questions and answers proposed by intelligence officers on duty and will promote career opportunities. The first photo has been online for a few hours and seems to come from a capsule of the spaceship of 2001 A Space Odyssey. “Success for a good spy? Consider observing something in every corner”, they playfully write from MI5.

It was the current head of MI5, Ken McCallum, who explained the reasons for this pop choice to the Telegraph: “We must overcome the stereotypes about martini consumption that can persist by transmitting a little more than what MI5 is today so that people don’t feel excluded based on perceived socio-economic barriers,” McCallum said. Unlike MI6 (Secret intelligence), MI5 (Security service) reports directly to the Prime Minister and the Minister of the Interior and not to the Foreign Minister like MI6. In ‘The Mole,’ by John Le Carrè you can understand more information about it, especially the fights and internal envy between the two bodies.

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However, Military Intelligence, Section 5, is the UK’s security and counterintelligence agency dealing with the country’s internal security, while Section 6 is the United Kingdom’s overseas spy agency. And still, rest assured. MI5 is carrying out an aesthetic and communicative make-up operation without exaggerating. It will reveal unedited material from its 112-year-old archives, show what it’s like to be a runner agent or a surveillance officer, but it won’t be about making Instagram, as McCallum explained, “an open book.” MI5 is relatively late compared to the presence on social media, for example of the CIA which sails on 3.5 million followers. While MI6 chief Richard Moore has his own active and following Twitter profile, McCallum who became MI5 chief since October 2020 comments: “If I want one thing to characterize my assignment, it’s for MI5 to open up and reach new waysto communicate. Much of what we do must remain invisible, but what we are must not be. Opennessis the key to our future success”.

Restructure Rumour For Western Balkans Receives Silent Response From EU Council
Europe

Restructure Rumour For Western Balkans Receives Silent Response From EU Council

There are rumours about a possible memo leaked that is talking about redrawing the boundaries for countries that were formed after the breakup of Yugoslavia between June 1991 and April 1992. The memo has not been discussed by the European Council since it was received two weeks ago, but apparently, got into the hands of media and is now being widely investigated.  

It is to be noted that the document remains unsigned and reached the EU’s highest circles, including President of the European Council Charles Michel. According to the memo, it is proposed that Serbia, Croatia, and Albania should be expanded. This will inevitably lead to the swallow-up of parts of neighbouring Bosnia, North Macedonia and Kosovo.

The so called ‘non-paper’ or an unofficially unsigned document seemed to have originated from the office of Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša who did not deny or approve of the authenticity of the document.

This region is still recovering from trauma of war. On top of that, this kind of reshuffling and redefinition is like the last nail in a grave where nations are already reeling under pressure of being vaccinated and fighting the ongoing war with the Coronavirus pandemic as well.

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Political analysts believe that this redefinition is totally on the lines of ethnicity. This isn’t the time to fight over this anyway, is a general consensus of various MEPs and individual nations too. Strangely, EU institutions are keeping quiet about the whole thing as of now.

This thought and possible action in document is anyway, in direct contradiction with EU and international efforts to foster multinational states in the Western Balkans. The controversy is well timed- comes as Slovenia is due to hold the EU’s rotating presidency in the second half of 2021. Speaking on the occurrence of the memo in media, Peter Stano, lead spokesperson for foreign affairs and security policy at the European External Action Service has said, that they don’t intent to comment on the occurrence of any such document at all. Additionally, he has said that, “Only the EU delegation and EU-led peacekeeping force EUFOR in Bosnia issued a statement on April 15 asserting the bloc was “unequivocally committed to the sovereignty, unity and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

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