POLITICO Brussels Playbook: Britain cut off — Light at the end of the Chunnel — What’s China’s signature worth? – POLITICO

BRITAIN CUT OFF: At least 15 international locations have introduced restrictions on vacationers from the U.Ok. over issues a couple of new, super-infectious pressure of the coronavirus that’s spreading quick in southern England. Both the Eurotunnel and Eurostar have suspended companies, whereas the Port of Dover stated it could be closed to “all accompanied traffic leaving the U.K. until further notice.” According to Bild, an EU-wide flight ban may very well be imposed till January 6. The Times declares “Europe shuts its door on on Britain,” whereas the Mirror dubs the U.Ok. the “Sick man of Europe” over “mutant virus fears.”

Chaos at the border: The journey restrictions seem to have caught the U.Ok. off guard. “Following the French Government’s announcement it will not accept any passengers arriving from the UK for the next 48hrs, we’re asking the public & particularly hauliers not to travel to Kent ports or other routes to France,” Britain’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps tweeted. “We expect significant disruption in the area,” he continued, including his division was “urgently working” to implement contingency measures to reduce disruption.

Caught in the chaos … was the Economist’s Berlin bureau chief Tom Nuttall, who managed to get the final flight out of the U.Ok. to the German capital. Check out his Twitter thread on what occurred as soon as he bought there. Here’s a style: “Held in close quarters with no possibility to social distance … OK, people starting to lose their shit now.”

Don’t hamster! Industry physique Logistics UK urged British consumers to not hoard provides and stated it was working with the authorities to keep up shares of recent produce: “Shoppers should not panic buy — retailers will be making every effort to ensure there is stock within the system, including fresh produce, and it is important that we remember that inbound traffic still has access to the U.K.”

What’s subsequent: The German presidency of the Council of the EU known as an pressing disaster response assembly right now at 11 a.m. The U.Ok. authorities may even maintain a disaster assembly right now. Get on top of things with all the particulars of this growing story right here.

Remember Brexit? All this comes lower than two weeks earlier than the Brexit transition interval is about to end — and as the U.Ok. and EU in a single day missed the European Parliament’s deadline for a commerce deal to be signed off. MEPs had demanded an settlement be prepared earlier than midnight to permit them sufficient time to scrutinize the textual content. “We have just learned that there will be no agreement today. Therefore, the European Parliament will not be in a position to grant consent to an agreement this year,” tweeted David McAllister, the chairman of the U.Ok. Coordination Group in the EP, late Sunday. He continued: “I am convening an extraordinary meeting of the European Parliament’s UK Coordination Group tomorrow morning at 9:45 to assess the situation and discuss the next steps.”

GOOD MORNING. It’s Zoya Sheftalovich with you right now, whereas Florian takes a while off. Playbook involves you this morning from Sydney, the place after weeks of zero instances of group transmission (and a few may say a very relaxed perspective to mask-wearing and social-distancing), an obvious breach in quarantine protocols has led to a cluster of instances, simply days earlier than Christmas. Here’s hoping all of us get a vial or two of the good things beneath our bushes over the holidays. Speaking of which …

**A message from Huawei: During a yr that’s been difficult for everybody, we now have managed to assist one another and stick collectively. Huawei is proud of having contributed, via applied sciences corresponding to video conferencing. We are dedicated to connecting Europe.**

LIGHT AT THE END OF THE CHUNNEL       

V-WEEK: While there’s chaos at the U.Ok. border, at least there’s some mild at the end of the Chunnel: The European Medicines Agency appears set to decide on the BioNTech-Pfizer vaccine right now, Jillian Deutsch writes in to report. If the vaccine will get the inexperienced mild, needles may very well be in arms as early as Sunday.

Why the wait? A optimistic suggestion from the EMA doesn’t imply the vaccine can instantly be administered — it nonetheless must be rubber-stamped by the European Commission, Jillian writes. That may very well be performed in about two days, and if all goes in accordance with schedule, deliveries of the vaccine may depart warehouses on December 26. Some international locations, like Denmark, stated they’ll start jabs as quickly as vaccines arrive, whereas others, like the Netherlands, may need to attend till January resulting from technical points.

How a lot will EU get? Doses will likely be divided between EU international locations based mostly on their inhabitants sizes, and in the first occasion, there aren’t more likely to be sufficient to go spherical — Estonian media studies the nation is getting simply 10,000 vaccines in the preliminary supply, 30,000 fewer than the authorities requested.

WHAT’S GERMANY’S FAVORITE HOLIDAY PASTIME? 👉👇👈☝️! After basking in accolades for a way effectively the German governments have dealt with the pandemic, November hit and an infection charges started to skyrocket. Now, Germans are participating in a finger-pointing bonanza, blaming everybody from politicians to the press. But has the nation actually failed? Matthew Karnitschnig takes a glance at the stats and reckons, not a lot. Germany has recorded fewer than one-third of the fatalities that international locations corresponding to Spain, Italy, the U.S., the U.Ok. or France have skilled. Matt’s story is right here.

So why has COVID-19 been so deadly in Italy? For each 100 Italians contaminated, greater than three individuals die — amongst the 20 most-affected international locations in the world, solely Mexico and Iran have increased fatality charges. Greta Privitera speaks to the specialists and considers the knowledge. The conclusion: It’s a mixture of the age of Italy’s inhabitants, the high quality of its well being care system, and the decisions made by politicians. Read Greta’s letter from Milan right here.

**Paris, on arrive. POLITICO is launching the Paris version of its flagship Playbook. The every day e-newsletter will publish on weekday mornings in French, lifting the curtain on the energy behind the scenes in the French capital with unique information, sharp perception and contact of humor. Sign up right here.**

SPOTLIGHT ON CHINA       

EU AND CHINA CLOSE IN ON INVESTMENT DEAL: EU commerce chief Valdis Dombrovskis will meet his Chinese counterpart Liu He right now in a bid to lastly strike an funding take care of Beijing after negotiators made a breakthrough on market entry, our commerce reporters reveal. The EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment gives safeguards to EU corporations offshoring manufacturing to China and makes it simpler for EU buyers to purchase Chinese corporations, and vice-versa.

Devil’s in the element: While which will appear promising, EU diplomats instructed our personal Jakob Hanke, Ellie Mears and David Herszenhorn that the Commission had didn’t safe binding commitments from Beijing on pressured labor. That comes at a time of important criticism (together with from the European Parliament) of China’s human rights report, amid studies of pressured labor and mass detention of Uighur Muslims in the Xinjiang area, plus Beijing’s aggressive crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong.

Parliament flexes: “The political signal is disastrous. This deal mocks the concentration camps and enslavement of a people,” French MEP Raphaël Glucksmann instructed Jakob, Ellie and David. “I will be active in organizing opposition to this deal. If [EU leaders] think that ratifying this deal will be like posting a letter, they are gravely mistaken.” Reminder: MEPs might want to vote on the settlement — and the Socialists and Democrats and Greens teams in Parliament have stated they might not ratify it with out binding labor rights commitments.

BUT LET’S ASSUME THE DEAL PASSES. Is Beijing’s signature on a commerce deal price the paper it’s written on? That’s a query Australia (which has a free-trade pact with China) finds itself asking because it’s caught on the brink of a commerce conflict that might value the nation 6 p.c of its GDP. I sat down to speak China with Michael Shoebridge, a director at the highly effective (and controversial) Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a Department of Defence-funded suppose tank.

How shortly the tide turns: The excessive level of the Australia-China relationship got here only a few years in the past in 2015, when the two signed their commerce settlement. Fast ahead 5 years, and Australia has requested the World Trade Organization to research Beijing’s punitive tariffs on its barley and isn’t ruling out in search of WTO intervention over strikes in opposition to different sectors together with wine, beef and coal. So how did the love affair bitter so shortly? “The thing that changed is security and strategic differences kept crowding into the foreground, most notably since Xi Jinping came to power, seeing in a much more assertive use of Chinese power,” Shoebridge defined.

What’s occurred: The Australian parliament and political events have been hacked on a number of events over the previous few years, with China the suspected offender, and Beijing has ramped up its navy aggression in the South China Sea and its attain into the South Pacific. Plus, there’s now a greater understanding “of the very tight relationship between Chinese companies and Chinese state, and the uniquely intrusive way the Chinese state can direct companies for its security purposes,” Shoebridge stated. “And that’s before you get to coronavirus — the most public thing internationally about the growing differences between the Australian government and the Chinese government has been about Australia calling for an independent inquiry into the beginnings of the pandemic.” (Backstory right here.)

So what’s Beijing’s signature price? Beijing’s imposition of punitive tariffs and export bans on Australia, regardless of the truth the two have a commerce pact, means nobody ought to anticipate China to behave consistent with its commitments, Shoebridge argued. “They have never met their commitments, and they don’t intend to … other countries simply can’t trust the Chinese government to live up to their commitment. That’s at the heart of the Hong Kong problem — China signed an agreement in 1984, and then they simply breached their undertaking. When you look at the breach of the South China Sea agreement, flagrant breaches of the FTA with Australia — other countries and companies must realize that the commitments China makes cannot be relied upon.”

Think twice: Shoebridge reckons Australia’s allies ought to take notice of Beijing’s aggressive stance towards Canberra. “Having countries speak up for Australia is good, but having countries reflect on our experience and talk about the challenge they have with China and the way that’s highlighted by the challenges faced by Australia is better,” he stated.

POWER OFF. The commerce retaliation is having an influence in China too, the FT studies, with a ban on Australian coal worsening an influence scarcity that’s “hitting everything from street lights to lifts.”

IN OTHER NEWS       

MANIPULATION UPDATE: It’s nonetheless low-cost and simple to intervene with voters’ decisions and run manipulative social media campaigns, in accordance with a brand new examine by the NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence. In an experiment, U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (Republican) and Chris Murphy (Democrat) agreed to permit researchers to check whether or not their verified social media accounts had been protected in opposition to manipulation at the peak of the U.S. election marketing campaign. According to the findings, “of the 337,768 fake engagements purchased, more than 98 percent remained online and active after four weeks, and even discounting fake views, more than 80 percent of the 14,566 other fake engagements delivered remained active after a month.” Read the full examine right here.

AND ON THAT NOTE: Germany ought to cease worrying about boosting its navy spending and deal with turning into a champion of fashionable protection in opposition to new threats as an alternative, argues Elisabeth Braw, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute in an op-ed for POLITICO. “If Russia stages another massive cyberattack, if China imposes crippling sanctions on more Western industries or punishes them simply for originating from a country with which Beijing is unhappy, the West — with Germany as the quarterback — would thus be better able to retaliate,” she writes.

ORBAN NEWS: Liberal Florin Cîțu has been put ahead as Romania’s subsequent prime minister. The pro-EU finance minister is carefully allied with outgoing PM Ludovic Orban. More from Matei Rosca.

ORBÁN NEWS: Six opposition events introduced Sunday they’ll run collectively in Hungary’s 2022 parliamentary election in an effort to unseat Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s ruling Fidesz. The opposition events, together with the left-leaning Democratic Coalition, right-wing Jobbik and liberal Momentum, will unite behind one candidate for the submit of prime minister, Lili Bayer studies — and it would simply work.

MEET THE YOUNG FOOTBALLER HOLDING BORIS JOHNSON’S FEET TO THE FIRE: In 2020, 23-year-old Manchester United footballer Marcus Rashford has proven an uncanny knack for taking over the U.Ok. authorities and forcing it to U-turn — and there’s little question in Downing Street that they’ll’t afford to disregard him once more. Charlie Cooper has this must-read profile. (Rashford was a winner at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year occasion final night time too.)

OVER AND OUT       

TIT FOR TAT: Anthony Gardner, the former U.S. ambassador to the EU, urged President-elect Joe Biden and his transition workforce to problem an order ousting President Donald Trump’s ambassadors on January 20 — simply as Trump on his personal Inauguration Day dismissed all of Barack Obama’s diplomats. David Herszenhorn has extra.

BIRTHDAYS: European Council President Charles Michel turns 45; French President Emmanuel Macron turns 43; MEPs Susana Solís Pérez, Nicolas Bay and Alice Kuhnke; Former MEP Julie Girling; Bart De Wever, the chief of Belgium’s Flemish-nationalist N-VA celebration; U.S. Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin; Former Chinese President Hu Jintao.

Celebrated Sunday: Schleswig-Holstein Minister and former MEP Jan Philipp Albrecht; MEPs Morten Løkkegaard and Claudiu Manda; Former MEP Knut Fleckenstein; President of the Court of Justice of the EU Koen Lenaerts; SMEUnited’s Veronique Willems; Postdoctoral analysis affiliate at Oxford University Eva van der Marel; European Commission’s Irene Cafagna; Bundestag member and former European Parliament President Martin Schulz; EDS’ Chairman Carlo Angrisano; Virgilio Falco from Enel Public Affairs; William Benedict; Corriere della Sera’s Marilisa Palumbo; Former Turkish PM Binali Yıldırım.

Celebrated Saturday: ePURE’s Communications Director and POLITICO alum Craig Winneker; ECPA’s Hannah Phillips.

MANY THANKS: My editor James Randerson and producer Miriam Webber.

**A message from Huawei: During a yr that’s been difficult for everybody, we now have managed to remain collectively. Huawei is proud of having contributed via applied sciences corresponding to video conferencing. We are dedicated to connecting Europe. Huawei believes will probably be expertise that supercharges the restoration, and drives inexperienced insurance policies on an area, regional and international stage. These ambitions may even immediately influence transport, vitality and commerce. In Shenzhen, dwelling to Huawei’s international headquarters, electrical taxis are already half of the every day life. Shenzhen is already turning into the first real good metropolis.**

based mostly on web site supplies www.politico.eu

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