News from the Capitals #3

by RPP colleagues

 

Europe is a colourful continent in terms of policies and outcomes. It is essential to stay updated on how these policies may impact your work to build better regulatory frameworks, enhance your message and enhance communication with stakeholders. Here you can find a summary of the major European political updates of this week.

 

Czech Republic 

The government now opened vaccination centres in some shopping malls. You can come without registration and win an iPad or new shoes. Over 9 million citizens got at least the first dose of vaccine, almost 4 million have it completed. However, the number of cases is still rising – 16 cases per 100k persons in a week.

ANO with SPD proposed a new building law that will deprive municipalities of the authoritative power in this area and will give it to the state. The proposal has been rejected unanimously by the Senate. However, the Parliament – with the strong support from the Communist party, approved the law. It will require hundreds of new officers and cost double.
 

France

In the context of a fast delta-variant spread, Emmanuel Macron has announced tightening measures for the vaccination campaign. The sanitary certificate which is composed of the vaccination situation of a person as well as the data regarding covid contamination or test results will be compulsory from 21st of July to go to museums, cinemas, fitness centres, commercial centres, and from the beginning of August to be able to enter restaurants, bars, trains, and planes. Covid test will not be reimbursed anymore from September/October. A bill will be discussed to make vaccination compulsory for carers and health-related professionals, and the reticent ones working in public sector may risk being dismissed from their employment.

Florian Philippot has declared his candidacy for the presidential election. He is a former member of the far-right party Rassemblement National which has founded his own conservative movement “Les patriotes” in 2017.
 
The presidential elections will take place on 10 and 24 April 2022, and the legislative elections on 12 and 19 June 2022, according to the calendar presented in the Ministerial Council.
 

Germany

Against the background of rising Covid-19 numbers, there is increasing discussion about compulsory vaccination. The current focus is on teachers and educators to ensure regular attendance in kindergartens and schools after the summer holidays. So far, the government has always categorically rejected compulsory vaccination.

The Greens continue to be preoccupied with the minor scandals of recent weeks. As a consequence, rumours keep coming up that co-chair Robert Habeck could take over Annalena Baerbock's candidacy for chancellor. However, Habeck had clearly rejected this at the weekend and said that this was not a discussion in the party. In the coming weeks, however, the election campaign should focus less on Baerbock personally and more on the party as such.
 

Italy

Italy’s COVID-19 vaccination campaign passed the 59-million shots mark, which equals to 47% of the total population. The country's hopes of producing its own vaccine were given a boost on Monday when local biotech firm ReiThera said its vaccine candidate showed a strong immune response and no major side effects in intermediate Phase II clinical trials. The vaccine, called GRAd-COV2, induced an antibody response against the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein in over 93% of volunteers three weeks after the first dose, reaching 99% after the second dose.

Prime Minister Mario Draghi promised reform of Italy's overcrowded and understaffed prisons after the publication of a video showing guards beating inmates in a jail near Naples. The beatings took place more than a year ago in the prison of Santa Maria Capua Vetere, in reprisals for riots during Italy's first wave of COVID-19. Beyond the violence in Santa Maria Capua Vetere, the Italian prisons have been marked by the problem of overcrowding for years. A slight decrease (from over 60,000 to 53,000) was recorded in the transition from 2020 to 2021, but numbers remain high, making Italian prisons the most crowded in Europe.
 

Poland

Over 45% of Polish citizens have received a first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine, while 37% of the population is now fully vaccinated. A body under the Ministry of Health confirmed this week that those who received their first jab abroad can receive the second jab in Poland and be issued a vaccination certificate. However, the vaccine received outside of Poland must be approved by the European Medicines Agency.

On 14 July the European Court of Justice in its interim measures ordered the immediate suspension of the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court. The Polish Constitutional Tribunal, whose independence has been repeatedly questioned by the European Parliament and the Venice Commission, immediately challenged the authority of the ECJ, ruling that applying the Luxembourg-based court's measures would be unconstitutional. This contradictory ruling has been interpreted by some experts as a decisive step toward 'Polexit'. 
 

Portugal

Figures in Portugal are still increasing at a very high rate. In the last 14 days, 480 infections per 100K people were reported in continental Portugal. 47.42% of the Portuguese population has received the full dose of the vaccine, and 61% at least one.

The new imposition of presenting a negative Covid-19 test or a digital vaccination certificate to enter restaurants in Portugal during the weekends has caused a strong impact on hospitality establishments in its first days, decreasing significantly the number of clients. Tourism is also being greatly affected due to tourism hesitancy related to the large increase in Covid-19 cases in Portugal.
 

Spain

The increase in Covid cases in Spain has caused some autonomous communities to tighten their measures. Catalonia and Cantabria have asked the courts for endorsement to re-impose the curfew, which has already been rejected in the Canary Islands. 47 % of the population have already received the complete vaccine with both doses, while 64% have only the first. For the third week in a row, Covid-19 cases are still rising, especially among the younger population. It was reported 405 infections per 100K people in the last 14 days while one week ago it was 210. The lambda variant arrives in Spain. It was detected for the first time at the end of the year in Peru, it barely represents 1% of the cases in our country, where the delta is the dominant one.

The Constitutional Court has declared unconstitutional the article of the Government's alarm decree in 2020 that imposed home confinement on the population to combat the advance of the coronavirus. The court considers that in order to apply the confinement, a state of exception would have to be declared, which requires prior permission from Congress.
 

UK

The UK’s double vaccination campaign reached just over two thirds of the adult population this week, with 66.7% of adults now fully vaccinated. Despite this, and with all Covid-19 rules set to end on Monday in England, there is concern over the 40,000 new cases in the past 24 hours. It seems this will not deter the government from relaxing all restrictions and regulations.

Much of the week's news has been centred around the England football team after their loss in the Euros final. Some England players have been vocally critical of the Governments decisions in the build-up to the tournament to not support their anti-racism message and have laid some blame on those politicians following the racial abuse they have received online.
   
Boris Johnson this week laid out his ‘levelling up’ agenda, which is expected to improve the lives of those in the poorer areas of the country to meet the standards of those elsewhere. There is some suggestion that Johnson and the Tories are attempting to consolidate the support they gained in the 2019 election in traditionally Labour northern seats, but in doing so, may be losing the support of their traditional seats in the south.

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