Foreign Policy – Joseph de Weck and Elettra Ardissino / The pandemic is showing what the EU is good for
- COVID-19 is testing plenty of aspects of the conventional wisdoms, including that the United States always bounces back from an economic crisis faster than old Europe. It looked this way at first, but after a moment of hesitation early in the pandemic, this time may be different.
- European countries took decisive action starting in mid-March to contain the virus and set up vast furlough schemes to preserve their economies until reopening could begin. The European Union even decided to take on nearly $890 billion in debt to assist its hardest-hit members.
- And with European consumption creeping back up, the recovery is underway. In July, EU retail trade volumes were even marginally up year-on-year. And Google data shows that visits to shops and restaurants are now close to pre-pandemic levels.
- In the United States, however, massive fiscal spending by Washington has not prevented a chaotic health response from wrecking the economy. Job losses are translating into company foreclosures. And next to income losses, the heft of the second wave of infection has pushed many Americans to keep their consumption low.
- The Economist / The contradiction at the heart of the European Commission
Bloomberg – Joe Mayes / UK government plans to break international law over Brexit
- A U.K. minister conceded Boris Johnson’s government will break international law by attempting to re-write the Brexit divorce deal the prime minister signed with the European Union only last year.
- Northern Ireland Minister Brandon Lewis told lawmakers in the House of Commons on Tuesday that planned changes to parts of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement applying to the province would “break international law, in a very specific and limited way.”
- He spoke as two of the U.K.’s most senior legal advisers quit: Jonathan Jones, the top government lawyer for the past six years, and Rowena Collins Rice, director general of the Attorney General’s office.
- Lewis’s admission, after the government had sought to play down the significance of its planned changes, sparked astonishment and anger among MPs, who warned that abandoning a legally-binding treaty will hurt future attempts to secure international agreements.
- Financial Times – George Parker, Jim Brunsden and Peter Foster / Why Boris Johnson is considering a no-deal Brexit for a bruised economy
The Guardian – Luke Harding and Shaun Walker / Belarus opposition leader ‘ripped up passport at Ukraine border’
- The Belarusian opposition figure Maria Kolesnikova ripped up her passport in order to avoid being deported from her own country, according to a Ukrainian minister and media reports.
- On Monday, masked men kidnapped Kolesnikova from the centre of Minsk and drove her away. Two of her opposition colleagues also vanished. The three activists were later driven to the Alexandrovka border with Ukraine in a car that arrived at about 4am on Tuesday.
- Kolesnikova refused to cross the border and deliberately ripped up her passport, according to local sources. “When attempting to deport her, she tore her passport and could not be allowed into the territory of Ukraine by border guards,” a source told Interfax-Ukraine agency.
- The latest repression against opposition figures in Belarus came as a group of Russian journalists, including the editor-in-chief of Russia Today, Margarita Simonyan, flew into Minsk for Lukashenko’s first interview since the election a month ago.
- Foreign Affairs – Michael Carpenter and Vlad Kobets / What Russia really has in mind for Belarus
Politico – Zachary Brennan / AstraZeneca halts Covid-19 vaccine trials to assess safety issue
- AstraZeneca has paused clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine to review safety data while it investigates a “single event” of illness among a person enrolled in one of its studies.
- “This is a routine action which has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials, while it is investigated, ensuring we maintain the integrity of the trials,” the company said in a statement Tuesday.
- “In large trials illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully. We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimise any potential impact on the trial timeline.”
- AstraZeneca did not offer any detail on the “single event,” but STAT reported Tuesday that a participant in the company’s U.K. trial developed a “suspected serious adverse reaction.”In a second statement, the company clarified that it had made the call to pause the trials while an independent committee reviewed safety data.
- Bloomberg – Michelle Fay Cortez and Riley Griffin / AstraZeneca vaccine tests face delay after patient gets ill
- Financial Times – David Sheppard, Laura Pitel and Michael Peel / What is at stake in the eastern Mediterranean crisis?