Politico – David M. Herszenhorn and Lili Bayer / EU in crisis over Hungary and Poland’s €1.8T hold-up
- Hungary and Poland blocked the EU’s historic €1.82 trillion budget-and-recovery package on Monday, setting off what top officials and diplomats branded an institutional crisis with no evident path out of the stalemate.
- Hungary and Poland blocked the package during a meeting of EU ambassadors on Monday, citing opposition to a new mechanism that would allow the EU to cut off funds to a country found to be violating the rule of law in certain circumstances tied to the budget.
- The two countries also signaled that they are withholding political support for the bloc’s €1.074 trillion seven-year budget, which is due to start on January 1. Officials were quick to point out that the budget-and-recovery package includes tens of billions for Hungary and Poland.
- Many diplomats and officials placed most of the blame on Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who has often railed against the EU and its institutions. “We will continue with consultations, but at a certain point in time, the Hungarians will have to show their cards on the table,” an official said. “Otherwise we are in deep shit.”
- The New York Times – Matina Stevis-Gridneff and Benjamin Novak / Hungary and Poland threaten E.U. stimulus over rule of law links
The Guardian – Ian Sample / Hopes of Covid vaccine for more than 1bn people by end of 2021
- More than 1 billion people could be immunised against coronavirus by the end of next year with shots from the first two companies to reveal positive results, after the latest vaccine was shown to be nearly 95% effective in trials.
- The inclusion of high-risk and elderly people in the Moderna trial suggested the vaccine would protect those most vulnerable to the disease, said Peter Openshaw, a professor of experimental medicine at Imperial College London, who described the results as “tremendously exciting”.
- Though it is more expensive, Moderna’s vaccine could potentially provide a major advantage over Pfizer’s, which requires ultracold freezing between -70C (-94F) and -80C from production facility to patient.
- Moderna said it had improved the shelf life and stability, meaning its vaccine can be stored for six months at -20C for shipping and long-term storage, and at standard refrigeration temperatures of 2C to 8C for 30 days.
- The Economist / The promise of the new covid-19 vaccine is immense
Financial Times – Heba Saleh / Western Saharan rebels launch attacks on Moroccan troops
- The Polisario Front, the organisation seeking independence for the disputed territory of Western Sahara, said this weekend it had launched attacks on Moroccan forces after ending a 30-year ceasefire.The announcement came shortly after Brahim Ghali, the leader of Polisario, declared that his group had ended its commitment to the ceasefire.
- He accused Morocco of breaching its terms by attacking civilians protesting peacefully in a remote buffer region near the Guerguerat border post in the far south-west of the disputed territory close to Mauritania.
- Polisario said the latest tensions were sparked off by peaceful civilian protests in the Guerguerat strip against the “illegal road” to Mauritania built by Morocco through the buffer zone. Reuters reports that Moroccan troops entered on Friday the area to open up the road after Polisario supporters backed by armed fighters had blocked it.
- A UN-organised self-determination referendum that is supposed to settle the status of Western Sahara as either part of Morocco or an independent territory has been repeatedly postponed because the two sides have failed to agree on who is eligible to vote.
- CNN – Sharif Paget and Mitchell McCluskey / Western Sahara independence leader declares the end of a 29-year-old ceasefire with Morocco
Bloomberg – Justin Bachman / SpaceX’s Dragon docks at Space Station with four astronauts
- The International Space Station welcomed four additional crew members with the arrival and docking of the SpaceX Dragon capsule after a 27-hour voyage. The spacecraft, dubbed “Resilience,” made a so-called soft capture docking at 11:01 p.m. U.S. Eastern time Monday.
- The hard capture sequence completed about 15 minutes later, setting the stage for the crew to enter the space station in a few hours to begin a six-month science mission aboard the orbiting lab.
- The mission, which followed a successful test flight by SpaceX earlier this year with two astronauts, is the first in the history of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration with a full crew ferried by a commercial transporter.
- The crew is comprised of NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Victor Glover, and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi. They will join two Russian cosmonauts, Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and Sergey Ryzhikov, and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins.
- The Atlantic – Marina Koren / SpaceX’s riskiest business
- The New Yorker – Andrew Marantz / How to stop a power grab