The European Union heads of state and government on Friday are set to discuss the bloc's social affairs strategy for the next decade at a high-level conference in Portugal. The meeting comes amid a crisis triggered by the pandemic, leaving thousands of people unemployed. The northern city of Porto will host EU chiefs and 24 of the 27 leaders, with Germany's Angela Merkel, the Netherlands' Mark Rutte and Malta's Robert Abele dialing in remotely. The conference also includes social partners and civil society. As they gather in person for the first time this year, those attending the summit must show negative COVID-19 tests, and social distancing rules remain in place. The leaders are also due to welcome Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi via video conference for an EU-India summit on Saturday. What is on the agenda? The coronavirus pandemic has pushed social issues to the top of the EU meeting agenda. Participants will discuss welfare and social protection as well as … [Read more...] about EU leaders to talk over social strategy in Porto summit
Reach for the summit
All over-40s in England are now being invited to book their first coronavirus vaccine appointment. It is the third time this week that the COVID-19 vaccine booking system has been extended, after it was offered to those over 44 on Monday and to over-42s on Tuesday . According to the NHS , almost three quarters of a million appointments were booked at the start of the week as the programme was broadened further - and now all over-40s can arrange one via the national booking website . The expansion of the vaccine programme comes as figures showed that more than 34 million people across the UK have now received one dose , and over 14 million people are now fully vaccinated. Outgoing NHS England chief executive Sir Simon Stevens , who's announced he will step down this summer, said: "With nine tenths of people aged 45 and over having been jabbed, nearly three quarters of a million new appointments were made in just two days as our booking … [Read more...] about All over-40s in England can now book COVID vaccine appointments
It was Franklin Roosevelt who first invited Americans to use "the first 100 days" as a measure of his success as president. Nearly 90 years later, Joe Biden will mark his 100th day in the White House with the country - as it is on most things these days - divided over what he has achieved as president so far. A raft of opinion polls to mark Mr Biden's first 100 days shows the president's approval rating - that measure beloved of American pollsters - ranging between 52% and 58%. It is the third-lowest approval rating of any president in his first 100 days since the Second World War. The average for the last 14 presidents is 66%. The lowest ever? Donald Trump's 42% in 2017. That Mr Trump and Mr Biden have governed in such hyper-partisan political times certainly goes some way to explaining those historically low marks. But, for the Biden administration, having the approval of a majority of Americans - however slim that majority - is a significant achievement. There … [Read more...] about Joe Biden’s first 100 days: What the president promised – and what he delivered
When Joe Biden boasted to world leaders last month that the US would halve its greenhouse emissions by 2030 from 2005 levels — urging his counterparts from countries like China and India to commit to stronger action — the US president left environmentalists unconvinced. The cuts are more ambitious than previous targets to burn less fossil fuel. But they will not stop the US from overshooting its fair share of the emissions that can be released to meet the 2015 Paris Agreement pledge to keep warming well below 2 degrees Celsius, and ideally 1.5C, according to independent research project Climate Action Tracker. This is a question of justice: The US has polluted the atmosphere more than any other economy on the planet and also has more money to deal with it. Factoring in those inequalities, Biden's pledge is "very close to or just within" the range of cuts needed to reach 2C, said Andreas Geiges, a researcher at Climate Analytics, which jointly runs the project. But it falls … [Read more...] about Climate justice: Do pledges ignore unequal emissions?
"There's nothing quite like being face-to-face, or mask-to-mask," quipped US Secretary of State Antony Blinken as a three-day meeting of foreign ministers from the world's seven largest so-called advanced economies got underway in London on Monday. Like the rest of us, G7 foreign ministers have been holding meetings online since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, with this week's talks marking the first opportunity for representatives of the group of industrialized nations to meet face-to-face in over two years. Speaking to DW, Germany's Foreign Minister Heiko Maas was slightly more scathing. "It's not nice," he said, referring to the regular COVID-19 testing, the dividing Perspex screens and the social distancing enforced by host nation Britain, "but it's better than sitting in front of a screen." Indeed, virtual diplomacy is no match for the real thing, with summits often as much about what happens informally on the sidelines as in the formal talks. In that vein, it was … [Read more...] about ‘Diplomacy is back’: G7 foreign ministers present united front despite COVID setback