Global Review – 17th July

Wildfires spread across southwest Europe

Southwest Europe endured a sixth day of a summer heatwave on Saturday that has triggered devastating forest fires as parts of the continent braced for new temperature records early next week. Firefighters in  France, Portugal, Spain and Greece battled forest blazes that have ravaged thousands of hectares of land and killed several personnel since the start of the week. It is the second heatwave engulfing parts of southwest Europe in weeks as scientists blame climate change and predict more frequent and intense episodes of extreme weather. Firefighters in the coastal town of Arcachon in France’s southwestern Gironde region were fighting to control two forest blazes that have devoured more than 24,700 acres since Tuesday. The rescue service has 1,200 firefighters and five planes in action. Further evacuation orders were given on Saturday for a few hundred residents. Since Tuesday, more than 14,000 people, residents and tourists, have been forced to decamp with seven emergency shelters set up in order to receive evacuees. Meteo France forecast temperatures of up to 41 degrees Celsius in parts of southern France on Sunday, as well as up to 35 in the northwest, with new heat records expected on Monday. France late on Saturday placed 22 more departments, mainly down its Atlantic seaboard, on high orange alert, taking the current total to 38.

Climate change chief threatens to quit

British national newspapers give prominence to the extreme temperatures Britain faces this week. “As Europe burns, climate chief Alok Sharma warns: “I may quite if new (British) Prime Minister dumps net zero plan”, the Observer’s headline reads. Sharma, president for United Nations climate change summit COP26, told the paper he could resign if the new prime minister ditches the plans to cut climate-damaging carbon emissions. In a more optimistic take on  adline “Summer lovin'”. The paper says the heat wave will lead to a baby boom in nine months time, as experts claim couples have more sex in the heat. On the latest in the race for premiership, The Sunday Telegraph leads on a story about Rishi Sunak’s pledge to get rid of EU laws. The paper also features an interview with one of his rivals, Liz Truss. Similarly, the Sunday Express sports the headline “Rishi: I’ll scrap EU red tape in first 100 days”. The Sunday Times’s lead focuses on Tory leadership candidate Penny Mordaunt and her views on gender self-identification. The Mail on Sunday also leads on Penny Mordaunt, with the headline: “Does leak show Penny did back gender self-ID?”

The Sunday Mirror combines politics and weather with its headline “Boris’ heat rave”. The paper reports that the PM is hosting a farewell party at Chequers tomorrow, and missed an emergency meeting about the hot weather.

North Macedonia deal with Bulgaria to clear way for EU talks

Lawmakers in North Macedonia on Saturday passed a French-brokered deal aimed at settling a dispute with Bulgaria and clearing the way to long-due European Union membership talks. With 68 votes, the 120-seat parliament voted in favour of the agreement. Opposition lawmakers did not participate in the vote and left the chamber. “Today we are opening a new perspective for our country…from today we are moving with accelerated steps to join the EU family,” Prime Minister Dimitar Kovacevski said in a media conference after his cabinet approved parliament’s conclusions. Kovacevski said the first meeting between his government and the EU would be held on Tuesday. The deal proposes that North Macedonia’s constitution be amended to recognise a Bulgarian minority. The proposal does not require Bulgaria to recognise the Macedonian language. In exchange, Bulgaria will allow its West Balkan neighbour to start membership talks with the EU. After the agreement was adopted, governing party deputies rolled out EU and North Macedonian flags. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, who travelled to Skopje and urged lawmakers on Thursday to vote the deal, said the vote “paves the way for opening the accession negotiations rapidly.” Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama, whose country has been held back because the EU has linked its progress to that of North Macedonia, said an Albanian delegation would travel to Brussels on Monday to start membership talks.

G20 chair says ‘many’ nations condemned Russia at talks

Many nations in the Group of 20 major economies condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and called for it to end the war during ministerial talks in Indonesia, the host said in its closing statement early Sunday. A two-day gathering of finance ministers and central bank governors on the resort island of Bali ended without a joint communique because of disagreements with Russia about the war. But Western nations pressed Russia over the military assault, accusing Moscow of sending a shockwave through the global economy and its technocrats of complicity in alleged war crimes committed during the invasion.

“Many members agreed that the recovery of the global economy has slowed and is facing a major setback as a result of Russia’s war against Ukraine, which was strongly condemned, and called for an end to the war,” Indonesia said in the declaration. Jakarta, which has been balancing its neutral foreign policy stance with hosting the G20 summit in November, replaced a joint communique with a 14-paragraph chair’s statement that did not fall under the forum’s banner and included two sections on members’ differences.

New price increase throttle Italian consumers

A new wave of price increases has hit Italian consumers in the last month, with prices and tariffs that in some cases registering three-digit increases. This was reported by Codacons, which analysed Istat inflation data, highlighting the sectors and items that recorded the most substantial increases compared to last year. The record of price increases is undoubtedly up to air tickets, with European flight fares today 139% higher than in 2021. International flights cost 124.1% more, intercontinental ones 70.7% more. Food shopping is also very expensive: continuing a consolidated trend: seed oil is the product that registers the highest prices in this sector (+ 68.7% on 2021), followed by butter (+ 28.1%), pasta ( + 22.6%), flour (+ 22.6%), tomatoes (+ 19.4%), peaches (+ 18.4%) and pears (+ 17.2%). Another sore point is the “home” item: in June electricity tariffs increased on an annual basis by 87.5% for the free market, and by 67.6% for the protected one. Car rental costs are 35.5% more than last year, ferries increased by 18.7%, and hotel and motel rates are 22.8% more expensive. Holiday packages international sales rose by 6.2%.

UEFA Womens’ Euro 2022: Spain face England in quarter-finals

Spain boss Jorge Vilda believes facing England on Wednesday will be “the toughest game in the Euros” after their late 0-1 victory over Denmark set up a quarter-final against the Lionesses. Cardona headed in the 90th-minute winner to confirm Spain’s last-eight spot even if they only needed a draw.Meanwhile, Germany ended their Euro 2022 Group B campaign in style with a 3-0 win over Finland. Today’s matches: Switzerland v Netherlands and Sweden  Portugal – both starting at 9 pm. 

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