The New York Times – Jonathan Kandell / Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, 94, is dead; struggled to transform France
- Valéry Giscard d’Estaing died on Wednesday at his family home in the Loir-et-Cher area of central France. He was 94. His foundation said the cause was complications of Covid-19.
- The scion of families that traced their lineage to French nobility and a polished product of France’s best schools, Mr. Giscard d’Estaing had been encouraged to believe that it was his destiny to rise to the pinnacle of government. And he did, swiftly.
- But by the time he was ousted from the presidential palace in 1981, roundly defeated in his re-election bid by the socialist François Mitterrand, few French were ascribing greatness to him.
- Mr. Giscard d’Estaing pushed for the establishment of the European Council, where heads of government met regularly. And the Franco-German alliance, a cornerstone of Western European unity after World War II, was at its strongest under him.
- Politico – Jules Darmanin / Former French President Valéry Giscard d’Estaing dead at 94
The Economist / Poland and Hungary enjoy a physics lesson courtesy of the EU
- Hungary and Poland are learning the hard way about introductory physics: once things get going, they are hard to stop. The two countries have belatedly teamed up to try and scupper the scheme, arguing that the rule-of-law mechanism goes too far.
- They have reason to fear a crackdown. Both governments have trampled on democratic norms in recent years, nobbling judges, thwarting journalists and using the state to hobble rivals. There is little Hungary and Poland can do to stop the new rules coming in, since they can be approved by a qualified majority.
- At first glance, holding €1.8trn of funding hostage seems a strong lever to pull. Economies in southern Europe are gasping for the cash. But it is a kamikaze attack. EU funds to Hungary and Poland were worth 4.5% and 3% of those countries’ GDP respectively in 2019.
- Other countries have vetoes over the budget process. A nuclear option being discussed in a stage whisper by diplomats (and bellowed by MEPs) would involve other countries simply bypassing the two countries and issuing the debt without them.
- The Guardian – Daniel Boffey / Von der Leyen: Hungary and Poland should take EU budget row to court
The Washington Post – Steve Hendrix and Shira Rubin / Israeli parliament moves to dissolve government, triggering possible new elections
- Israel faced the prospect of political chaos once again Wednesday when lawmakers approved a preliminary measure that would dissolve the turbulent coalition government, putting the country on a path to its fourth election in two years.
- The vote of 61 to 54 to advance the proposal marked another escalation of a political crisis that has left the country with only a caretaker government for more than a year and a largely dysfunctional unity coalition during the mounting coronavirus pandemic and accompanying economic collapse.
- Wednesday’s bill does not take immediate effect. Negotiations among the feuding factions could still head off final action on the proposal as it moves to a parliamentary committee before coming back for three more votes by the full Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
- Opponents have howled that Netanyahu is committing gross neglect by denying agencies a budget as they fight the medical and economic crises, but he has not been swayed. If no budget is passed by Dec. 23, the Knesset would automatically be dissolved anyway, with elections to follow in March.
- Haaretz – Anshel Pfeffer / Netanyahu lost the vote to end his government, but scored a major victory
Euractiv – Kira Taylor / Fossil fuel production needs to fall 6% per year to avoid catastrophic warming: report
- Global fossil fuel production is projected to be over 120% more than what is required for alignment with the 1.5°C warming target of the Paris Agreement, according to a major report published today (2 December) by the UN Environment Programme and other major research groups.
- To be aligned with the Paris objectives, production of coal, oil and gas would need to decrease by 11%, 4% and 3% respectively, but the report estimates production for each of these will grow by 2% instead until 2030.
- COVID-19 is expected to reduce fossil fuel production by up to 7%. Even though the slowdown is expected to be temporary, it could also mark a potential turning point in fossil fuel production, UNEP hopes.
- The report outlines six areas of action for governments to wind down fossil fuels in recovery plans, including reducing government support for fossil fuels, increasing support for just transitions, improved transparency and global cooperation.
- Financial Times – Roula Khalaf / Ursula von der Leyen on European recovery, climate change and life after Brexit
Today’s eye opener:
- The Atlantic – Alan Taylor / Photos: the reality of the current coronavirus surge