Euractiv – Alexandra Brzozowski / NATO says ‘significant differences’ remain with Russia
- There are ‘significant differences’ between Russia and NATO over Ukraine that will be difficult to bridge, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said after roughly five hours of talks on Wednesday, where Moscow repeated its demands for European security guarantees.
- “Our differences will not be easy to bridge but it is a positive sign that all NATO allies and Russia sat down around the same table and engaged on substantive topics,” Stoltenberg told reporters.
- Wednesday’s meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, chaired by Stoltenberg, included talks with the Western alliance’s 30 ambassadors and the Russian delegation, led by Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko.
- However, Stoltenberg’s remarks to the press made clear there had been no breakthrough at the talks, which came two days after Russian and US diplomats met in Geneva without any clear timeline for future engagement.
- The Economist / Russia and the West meet for a crucial week of diplomacy
Financial Times – Richard Milne / Lithuania’s foreign minister calls on EU to stand up to China
- Europe needs to stand up to China’s “illegal” pressure on Lithuania and foreign companies operating there or risk damage to the international trade system, according to the Baltic country’s foreign minister.
- Gabrielius Landsbergis told the Financial Times that China had escalated its conflict over Lithuania’s ties with Taiwan to include harassment of European companies which use Lithuanian-made components. He will tell EU foreign ministers about the harassment at a meeting on Thursday and Friday, he said.
- “Now there has to be a very clear answer from Europe. Europe has to say it’s not the way to treat the single market. It’s a test for the rules-based international trade order. Europe has to stand up,” Landsbergis added.
- Lithuania is at the centre of a geopolitical row after Vilnius allowed Taiwan to open a representative office in its own name, rather than the usual evasion of calling it after its capital city, Taipei.
- South China Morning Post – Finbarr Bermingham / Lithuanians overwhelmingly oppose Vilnius’ policy on China, poll shows
The Guardian – Heather Stewart et al. / Boris Johnson’s future on a knife edge after No 10 party apology
- Boris Johnson’s premiership was hanging in the balance as Conservative MPs began openly calling for his resignation after he admitted attending a garden party in lockdown, claiming he thought it was a “work event”.
- Johnson delivered a carefully worded apology for attending the alcohol-fuelled gathering of up to 40 officials in May 2020, which was described in an email invitation as “socially distanced drinks” to enjoy the warm weather.
- Some cabinet ministers later tweeted their qualified support for the prime minister. The culture secretary, Nadine Dorries, said Johnson had been “right to personally apologise” because people were “hurt and angry at what happened”.
- She said it was now right to await the findings of senior civil servant Sue Gray’s inquiry into Downing Street gatherings. The findings could come as soon as the end of next week but more likely the week after, a cabinet source suggested.
- Politico – Esther Webber / Is the party over for Boris Johnson?
Reuters – Giuseppe Fonte and Stephen Jewkes / Italy likely to raise taxes on energy companies benefiting from price surge
- Italy is likely to increase corporate taxes on energy companies that have benefited from surging power prices, the Italian industry minister said on Wednesday.
- Europe is facing power price spikes due in part to strong demand plus fears over gas supplies from Russia and low gas storage levels, sending consumer bills skyrocketing. Governments across Europe are looking at how to cushion the price rises to help families and industry.
- “I think the government will go in that direction,” Giancarlo Giorgetti said when asked whether Rome would raise corporate tax (IRES) on such companies as it did in 2008, when there was an oil price spike.
- “The extra profits must somehow contribute to general taxation to allow measures to be taken to help the less well-off,” Giorgetti said at a news conference called by the League party on energy prices.
- Politico – Hannah Roberts / Energy price hike prompts Italian nuclear rethink
Today’s longer reads: