Politico – David M. Herszenhorn and Maïa de La Baume / European Parliament President David Sassoli dies aged 65
- David-Maria Sassoli, an Italian reporter and former television news anchor who parlayed his journalism career into a second act as a socialist politician and an almost-accidental term as European Parliament president, died Tuesday at a hospital in Aviano, Italy. He was 65.
- Sassoli died just days before the end of his term as president of the 705-member Parliament, which is due to elect his successor in Strasbourg next week. He had been battling serious illness, including pneumonia, since September and had been hospitalized multiple times, most recently on December 26.
- Sassoli had spent much of his two-and-a-half-year term steering the Parliament through the extraordinary difficulty of the coronavirus pandemic, which effectively shuttered its buildings in Brussels and Strasbourg for some time, and forced him and the Parliament administration to devise unprecedented remote-working methods.
- As Parliament president, Sassoli was a largely conciliatory voice, working to help advance the agenda of von der Leyen, the Commission’s first woman president, including the European Green Deal, an ambitious package of measures to combat climate change.
- The New York Times – Mike Ives / David Sassoli, President of the European Parliament, dies at 65
Financial Times – Henry Foy, Ben Hall and James Politi / US and Russia agree to extend talks over Ukraine crisis
- Russia warned that it would walk away from diplomatic efforts to end the crisis over Ukraine if the west continued to ignore demands over security guarantees, but agreed to extend talks into this week.
- There was no breakthrough in Geneva after almost eight hours of discussions between Wendy Sherman, US deputy secretary of state, and Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, in which the American side presented new ideas on arms control.
- But there was also no breakdown in talks that Russia has warned could lead to military action if its red lines were not respected. With 100,000 Russian troops massed along its border with Ukraine, fears of conflict have intensified.
- The US and Nato ruled out Moscow’s top demand for a ban on Nato enlargement. Sherman said Russia still had a choice between diplomacy and escalation, with the outcome in the balance.
- Politico – Nathalie Tocci / Europe is missing in action on Ukraine – it doesn’t have to be
- The European Commission said on Monday it has delayed to later this month the deadline for experts to give feedback on divisive plans to allow some natural gas and nuclear energy projects to be labelled as sustainable investments.
- The Commission drafted a plan late last year to add some gas and nuclear investments to the European Union’s “taxonomy,” its rule book to define which investments can be labelled as climate-friendly in the EU.
- The EU executive quietly distributed a text to member states in the final hours of 2021 after the much-delayed document had been twice promised earlier in the year, highlighting the rocky road to draft it.
- Brussels said on Monday its expert advisers will have until 21 January to provide feedback on the draft proposal, rather than until 12 January as initially planned.
- The Economist / The EU’s green-investing ‘taxonomy’ could go global
The Guardian – Tom Phillips / Venezuela opposition defeats Maduro candidate in Chavez’s home state
- Venezuela’s opposition has claimed a rare and highly symbolic victory over Nicolás Maduro’s regime after defeating the government candidate for the governorship of Hugo Chávez’s home state of Barinas.
- Maduro had hoped his former foreign minister Jorge Arreaza would win control of the region, which is considered the cradle of Chávez’s “Bolivarian revolution”, in Sunday’s election.
- The south-western state, where Venezuela’s late president was born and raised, has been governed almost exclusively by relatives of Chávez – his father and two brothers – since he was first elected in 1998.
- However, Arreaza, who is Chávez’s former son-in-law and the father of his grandson, admitted on Sunday night that his bid had failed despite the Socialist party’s “heroic militancy”.
- Council on Foreign Relations – Amelia Cheatham, Diana Roy and Rocio Cara Labrador / Venezuela: the rise and fall of a petrostate
Today’s longer reads: