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Every Wednesday, the European Circle delivers an overview of the most important topics from the European Union and the European nations.

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Newsletter

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World one step from nuclear annihilation, UN chief says, EU to mediate between Serbia and Kosovo, Austria mourns suicide of doctor targeted by anti-vaccine campaigners
European Circle in week 31, 2022
curated by Nina von Schweinitz

EUROPE

World one step from nuclear annihilation, UN chief says: United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres sounded the alarm over the war in Ukraine, nuclear threats in Asia and the Middle East, and other tensions, warning that humanity is just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation away from nuclear annihilation. The warning came Monday as a pandemic-delayed conference opened to review the 50-year-old Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, which is aimed at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons and eventually achieving a nuclear-free world. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken accused Moscow of “reckless, dangerous nuclear saber rattling” as part of its war in Ukraine. German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said, in attacking a country that gave up nuclear weapons, Russia was brutally violating the assurances it gave in the Budapest Memorandum. time.com, cnn.com, auswaertiges-amt.de

Nancy Pelosi visits Taiwan, defying China’s warnings: US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi arrived in Taiwan for a high-profile visit on Tuesday, marking a significant show of support for Taiwan despite China’s threats of retaliation over the visit. White House officials warned that China is preparing itself for possible aggressive actions in response to Pelosi’s visit beyond this week, and they reiterated forcefully that the Chinese Communist Party should not use the visit as a pretext to increase military activity in and around the Taiwan Strait. washingtonpost.com, edition.cnn.com

Al-Qaeda leader killed in US drone strike: US President Joe Biden confirmed that Ayman al-Zawahiri was killed in a US drone strike in Afghanistan. Al-Zawahiri and Osama Bin Laden plotted the 9/11 attacks together, and he was one of America’s most wanted terrorists. Officials said Zawahiri was on the balcony of a safe house when the drone fired two missiles at him. Other family members were present, but they were unharmed and only Zawahiri was killed in the attack. bbc.com

EU to mediate between Serbia and Kosovo: Kosovo has put off new border rules with Serbia following another flare-up in ethnic violence. The rules would have required Serbs living in northern Kosovo to apply for local license plates, replacing their Serbian ones. But ahead of its implementation, protests and gunfire broke out. The flare-up has since quieted, with NATO-led peacekeepers removing roadblocks set up by Serbian protesters. But it’s a reminder of longstanding tensions between the two countries. EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell urged Kosovo and Serbia to resolve the matter in ongoing EU-mediated talks. euobserver.com, time.com

EU court gives mixed guidance on migrant rescue boat case: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) said that officials can detain migrant rescue ships, but only if they can prove there is a real risk to health, safety or the environment. German campaign group Sea Watch had launched a legal challenge after Sicilian port authorities detained two of its vessels that had rescued migrants in the Mediterranean and taken them to Sicily in 2020. reuters.com

EU found evidence employee phones compromised with spyware. reuters.com
European Roma Holocaust Memorial Day: Statement by EU Commission President von der Leyen, Vice-President Jourová and Commissioner Dalli. ec.europa.eu
Iran optimistic after EU proposal for nuclear deal. euractiv.com
Unemployment rate in the euro zone at record low. faz.net
EU Commission agrees to extend sale deadline for Monte dei Paschi. reuters.com

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

„You are welcome back in the EU at any time.“

EU Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson has promised refugees from Ukraine who are willing to return that they will be able to come back to the EU at any time during the Russian war against their home country. rnd.de

NATION

Austria mourns suicide of doctor targeted by anti-vaccine campaigners: Austrian leaders appealed for national unity after a doctor who faced death threats from anti-vaccination activists and coronavirus pandemic conspiracy theorists took her own life. At the end of June, Dr Lisa-Maria Kellermayr announced on social media and on her website that she was closing her practice, citing security concerns after seven months of threats. She said she had already spent more than €100,000 on security costs, which she noted exceed the profit of a family doctor’s practice many times over. cnn.com, euronews.com

Spain adopts energy-saving measures: The Spanish government ordered all businesses to limit their temperatures and told shops to turn their lights off at night to save energy ahead of winter. Air conditioning cannot be lowered below 27 degrees in summer and heating cannot exceed 19C this winter, while shop fronts must go dark by 10 p.m., according to the decree passed Monday. Similar measures have already been put in place for public administration buildings, while they remain voluntary for households for now. politico.eu

Italy’s centre-left join forces against right-wing landslide: Italy’s left-wing Democratic Party and centrist parties +Europe and Azione have formed an alliance ahead of general elections next month to try to counter a possible right-wing landslide victory. Among other things they agreed not to name divisive candidates that could disperse votes favouring the right and to pursue the current government’s reform agenda. bloomberg.com

Brutal killing of street vendor shocks Italy: A judge in Italy on Monday ordered an Italian man to remain in jail as an investigation continues into the death of a Nigerian street vendor whose brutal beating at the hands of the suspect shocked many in Italy and prompted strong condemnation from the Nigerian government. nbcnews.com

UK leadership favourite Truss stumbles over plan to slash pay: Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, front-runner in the race to succeed Prime Minister Boris Johnson, was forced into a policy U-turn Tuesday, dropping a proposal to cut some public sector salaries after the idea drew scorn from fellow Conservatives. Truss has also angered Scottish nationalists by saying she would refuse to allow a new referendum on Scottish independence. That’s in line with the current government’s policy, but Truss went further by calling pro-independence Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon “an attention-seeker” who should be ignored. washingtonpost.com

Rotterdam won’t dismantle bridge for Jeff Bezos‘ superyacht: Back in February, Rotterdam city officials announced, but then seemed to reverse, plans to temporarily dismantle part of the historic Koningshaven Bridge so Amazon founder Jeff Bezos can sail his new superyacht through its waters. The idea of the historic bridge giving way to a billionaire’s superyacht didn’t sit well with many people when news of the possibility first broke. Thousands of folks signed up to throw rotten eggs at Bezos‘ craft if it did sail past an adjusted bridge. cnet.com

Austria drops Covid quarantine requirement, France lifts entry restrictions for travellers: As the quarantine requirement for positive Covid-19 cases in Austria is removed, people with the virus will now be able to obtain a sick note from a doctor by telephone again if they cannot work due to symptoms. In France, the state of emergency, as well as the measures imposed to stop the coronavirus spread, ended on 1 August. thelocal.at, schengenvisainfo.com

French Senate agrees Emmanuel Macron’s plan to scrap TV licence fee: France is to scrap its television licence fee after the Senate approved Emmanuel Macron’s election promise to cut the public broadcasting tax in order to boost households’ spending power. theguardian.com

German foreign minister Baerbock’s Aegean islands remarks in Greece anger Turkey. dw.com
Bulgaria: Snap election on 2 October. euractiv.com
France: President Macron hosted Saudi crown prince. reuters.com
Nearly 700 migrants cross English Channel – highest number on single day this year. news.sky.com
Spain-based easyJet pilots to strike for nine days in August. reuters.com

NUMERS

Inflation in the eurozone is continuing to soar to record highs, hitting 8.9% in July. euronews.com

AT LEAST

UK model’s prosthetic leg edited out of Spain ‘beach bodies’ ad: A British model has been left “literally shaking” with anger after Spain’s summer campaign encouraging women of all shapes and sizes to hit the beach used her image without permission and edited out her prosthetic leg. theguardian.com