France and Germany mull sanctions on vaccine providers as EU row over delays escalates

France and Germany threatened legal action against AstraZeneca on Sunday as they scrambled to explain their shortages in vaccine supplies and warned that any firm which favoured UK orders for the jabs would be penalised. Clement Beaune, the French Europe minister, threatened sanctions against the Anglo-Swedish firm, which produces the Oxford vaccine, if it emerged that Britain had been given priority. "If there is a problem and that other countries have been favoured - for example the UK over

Calls for 'vindictive' Ursula von der Leyen to resign over Irish border debacle

Motivated by her hatred of Brexit, Ursula von de Leyen overruled her top trade advisors with a plan for a new Irish border, The Telegraph has learnt. The European Commission president was warned she would cause uproar but pressed on regardless as part of what one of her own employees called “an increasingly vindictive” attitude towards the UK government. Furious Brussels-based diplomats were on Saturday piling pressure on the Commission chief over her disastrous handling of the affair amid sug

Germany and Russia create 'green' foundation that skirts US sanctions to finish Nord Stream pipeline

A German state has been accused of using a 'green' foundation backed with Russian money to bypass US sanctions against the completion of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline. Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, the northeasternmost state in Germany, set up the Climate and Environmental Protection MV foundation earlier this month claiming its goal was to “further environmental projects in the Baltic Sea region.” One such project, the state confirmed, would be assisting in the completion of the N

Boris Johnson first European leader to get call from President Biden

Boris Johnson told Joe Biden his arrival in the White House was a "moment of hope in a dark time" as he became the first leader outside North America to speak to the US President. The Prime Minister is believed to be the third world leader to speak to Mr Biden after his scheduled call was brought forward by two days in what will be seen as a major boost for the special relationship between the UK and US. Mr Johnson spoke to Mr Biden in a 35 minute phone call from his office at 10 Downing Stree

Germans who keep refusing to quarantine could be put in detention centres under new Covid rules

Germans who repeatedly refuse to enter quarantine after being exposed to coronavirus will be held in detention centres under new rules drawn up by regional authorities. Legal experts say the detention centres are permitted by emergency powers granted to German authorities during a pandemic. The eastern state of Saxony, where hospitals have been struggling to cope with one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks in the country, has confirmed plans to hold quarantine breakers in a fenced off section

Germany accused of breaching EU rules by purchasing supplies of vaccine unilaterally

Germany has come in for criticism over a bilateral vaccine deal with Pfizer/Biontech to secure an extra 30 million doses of its vaccine at a time when talks between Brussels and the pharma firms were still ongoing. Berlin ordered the extra doses of the vaccine back in September at a time when it was trumpeting the virtues of a common EU purchasing strategy during its role as rotating president of the European Union. German Health Minister Jens Spahn confirmed last week that he had purchased an

German equivalent of Oxford-dictionary will no longer use masculine as standard for all professions

Germany’s top dictionary publisher has provoked a storm by ending the use of masculine gender nouns to stand in for an entire profession. Duden, which has been publishing dictionaries since the 19th century, will no longer use the term Arzt to mean ‘doctor’, for example, and instead includes two entries in its online edition - one for a male doctor (der Arzt) and another for a female (die Arztin). The firm started a process of updating the definitions of around 12,000 nouns referring to people

How European media is reacting to the Brexit deal

As Britain and the European Union reached a Brexit deal on Thursday, European newspapers reacted with a mixture of relief at the avoidance of no deal and disappointment at the imminent breakup. "White smoke after months of negotiations," said Sky TG24, a leading TV network, drawing on the metaphor of the white smoke that traditionally signifies that a Vatican conclave has chosen a new pope. The "nightmare" of a no deal has been averted. Ansa, the national news agency, cites Boris Johnson's twe

Germany synagogue attacker gets life for killing two people in attempted massacre

A German court on Monday sentenced a far-right terrorist to life in prison on a double murder charge after he attempted to storm a small town synagogue in a gun rampage on Yom Kippur last year. Reading out the verdict at the Magdeburg town court on Monday, judge Ursula Mertens described the crime as “an act of cowardice.” Court reporters described how the defendant, 28-year-old Stephan Balliet remained emotionless throughout. As well as two convictions for murder, Mr Balliet was found guilty o

EU could ban UK flights over Covid strain as Britons are forced to sleep on the floor of German airports

Fears are mounting the EU could impose a blanket ban on UK flights over the holiday season as British travellers were left stranded in airports over confusion caused by a new, more infectious strain of the coronavirus. Berlin will push for a complete pause on all entry from the UK via air, sea and road terminals to European countries, according to German tabloid Bild. The country called a crisis meeting of EU members on Monday to push for a coordinated response over the new strain. A rapid st

Spain latest to ban British travellers as EU remains divided on response to new strain

Spain became the latest country to cut travel links to Britain on Monday over a new, rapidly spreading strain of the coronavirus as the EU failed to agree on a joint travel ban. The country announced it will be banning travellers from the UK from Tuesday in coordination with neighbouring Portugal after crisis talks in Brussels on Monday produced no coordinated plan to avoid the chaos and confusion seen at airports and on land borders. Spanish citizens and residents will be allowed to enter the

Europe shutting its borders to UK travellers to protect against Covid mutation

Several European countries have restricted travel from the UK in a bid to ensure that a new, more infectious strain of coronavirus found in England does not spread across the continent. The Netherlands, Belgium, Austria, Germany and Italy have all moved swiftly to ban flights from the UK, while other countries including Germany and France are considering similar measures. Britain on Saturday night alerted the World Health Organisation (WHO) about a new variant of the coronavirus that the Prime

Germany repatriates three female IS members from Syria for first time in secret operation

Germany on Sunday repatriated three women and twelve children who were being held in internment camps for members of the IS terror organisation in northern Syria. The specially chartered plane landed at Frankfurt Airport early on Sunday morning after making an emergency landing in Vienna due to one of the children suffering from severe cramps during the flight. It then flew onto Helsinki where eight Finnish nationals arrived home. It was the first time that Germany had been so active in organi

Germany's Bavaria will impose tougher lockdown from Wednesday with people told to stay at home

The south German state of Bavaria yesterday (SUN) announced that it will introduce tougher pandemic restrictions than the rest of the country for the next four weeks. For the second time this year, state premier Markus Söder announced a "disaster situation", something that allows increased restrictions on personal freedoms and permits police to restrict movement in the state. At a press conference in Munich, he announced that, starting on Wednesday, Bavarians would only be permitted to leave t

Germany agrees on law for mandatory female quotas in the boardroom

The German government has agreed on mandatory female quotas on the boards of leading businesses, a move that Berlin says was necessary as companies were failing to take voluntary steps towards gender equality. A bill agreed between Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union [CDU] and her junior coalition partner, the Social Democrats, will enforce a rule of at least one female board member on companies listed on the stock exchange. Meanwhile, businesses that the German state has a majority sha

Techno counts as music, German court rules, as it approves tax breaks for concerts

Germany’s highest financial court has ruled that people go to Berlin’s techno clubs primarily to appreciate the music and not to enjoy the clubs’ notorious cocktail of alcohol, dancing and anonymous sex. The judges at the federal court were convinced that techno and house nights are concerts rather than parties, meaning clubs such as the world-famous Berghain will qualify for special tax breaks such as those enjoyed by the Berlin Philharmonic. In its ruling, the court noted that a techno night

Germany calls on its young to be the Covid heroes of 2020 - by staying on their sofa

The German government has deployed a tongue-in-cheek advertising campaign, calling on young people to “be heroes” during the pandemic - by vegetating on their sofas. In one of the videos, an elderly man looks back on the year 2020, when, as a 22-year-old student, he was called into action in the city of Chemnitz. “At that age you want to go out partying, study or get to know new people,” he says, accompanied by dramatic background music. “But fate had other plans. An invisible danger threatene

Merkel suggests people self-isolate before seeing elderly relatives for 'Christmas under corona'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has suggested that people should self-isolate for a few days before meeting elderly relatives to have "Christmas under corona conditions". On the first day of Germany’s month-long partial lockdown, Ms Merkel said that a “bearable” Christmas would be possible if everyone pulled together. "It will be a Christmas under corona conditions but it should not be a lonely Christmas," Ms Merkel said, adding that by going into "pre-quarantine for a few days" younger people

Vienna 'terror' attack: Manhunt underway for at least one gunman

Two further victims of Monday's attacks in Vienna have died, news agency APA said on Tuesday, bringing the death toll to five civilians and one attacker. Vienna was on lockdown as Austrian police and military attempted to secure the city against a terror attack which started at 8pm in front of the city’s main synagogue and was perpetrated by several attackers. Interior Minister Karl Nehammer said the attack was carried out by at least one "Islamist terrorist". "This is a radicalised person wh

Why Europe's efforts to stop a second wave of Covid were doomed to fail

The sun was shining, the drinks were flowing, and there was even music in the air. It was July 1 this year, and while the pandemic continued to rage in other parts of the world, the Czech Republic was hosting a 'farewell party' for Covid-19, held on Prague's iconic Charles Bridge. “This is a celebration to show people that we are not afraid and we do not have to remain locked in our rooms,” the organiser, Ondrej Kozba, boasted, as the country emerged from a strict, quickly enforced lockdown, r
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