EU

Belarus threatens to cut off gas to EU in border row

Thousands of people are at the border with Poland, enduring freezing conditions in the hope of crossing into the European Union.

EU officials have accused Belarus of provoking the crisis to undermine its security, an allegation it denies.

In retaliation, the EU is reportedly planning a fresh package of sanctions.

But on Thursday the country's long-time authoritarian leader Alexander Lukashenko warned: "If they impose additional sanctions on us... we must respond."

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Facebook to hire 10,000 in EU to work on metaverse

A metaverse is an online world where people can game, work and communicate in a virtual environment, often using VR headsets.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been a leading voice on the concept.

The announcement comes as Facebook deals with the fallout of a damaging scandal and faces increased calls for regulation to curb its influence.

"The metaverse has the potential to help unlock access to new creative, social, and economic opportunities. And Europeans will be shaping it right from the start," Facebook said in a blog post.

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EU rules to force USB-C chargers for all phones

The aim is to reduce waste by encouraging consumers to re-use existing chargers when buying a new device.

All smartphones sold in the EU must have USB-C chargers, the proposal said.

Apple has warned such a move would harm innovation.

The tech giant is the main manufacturer of smartphones using a custom charging port, as its iPhone series uses an Apple-made "Lightning" connector.

EU recommends new travel restrictions for US as cases rise

The daily average for hospital admissions has risen past 100,000 for the first time since last winter.

The recent wave, driven by the Delta variant, is most severe in the US South but cases are rising nationwide.

Monday's guidance from the 27-nation bloc reverses advice from June that lifted restrictions on American travellers ahead of tourism season.

The recommendation is nonbinding, meaning individual countries will be allowed to decide if they still wish to allow US visitors with proof of vaccination, negative tests, or quarantine.

Partnerships strengthened to support Pacific health sector responses to COVID-19

This follows the new Financing Agreement the EU and the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) signed, to repurpose funding to support the Pacific’s response to COVID-19.

Flights shut down as EU discusses UK virus threat

Canada and India joined European states in blocking flights from the UK while Europe-bound train services via the Channel Tunnel have been halted.

The new variant is said to be up to 70% more transmissible, but there is no evidence that it is more deadly.

There is also no proof to suggest that it reacts differently to vaccines.

Two meetings are taking place in Brussels on Monday - one involving health ministers and another with the EU's crisis response team. But no decision is expected until Tuesday, when EU ambassadors meet.

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Spotlight Initiative launches in Vanuatu

The Initiative is a multi-year partnership focused on strengthening efforts to end violence against women and girls and by symbolically shining a spotlight on barriers that hinder women and girls from development.

Working in partnership with key institutions and diverse partners, the Spotlight Initiative in Vanuatu will focus its work on Domestic Violence and Intimate Partner Violence through all six key pillars (i) laws and policies (ii) institutions iii) prevention iv) services v) data and vi) civil society/women’s organisations.

COVID-19 response: Over K93m for ACP countries

A further €30 million (K112 million) has also been allocated from the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations budget reserves.

“These funds for the WHO will contribute to global preparedness, prevention and containment of the virus and support the countries with the weakest health systems,” said the EU.

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High Level Dialogue between Pacific ACP States and the European Union

The High-Level Dialogue between Pacific States of the African, Caribbean, Pacific (ACP) Group and the EU Commissioner for International Development and Cooperation, Neven Mimica, was held in Apia, Samoa, on 26 February 2019. The Dialogue was the first EU high-level engagement with the ACP regions since the launch of the post-Cotonou negotiations in September 2018.

Cooks gets sanitation aid from EU

The financing agreement was formalised during the Oceans Conference in Malta this week.

Under the agreement, which is financed through the 11th European Development Fund, the EU will provide $US1.65 million dollars to the Cook Islands' budget to help with the implementation of the National Sustainable Development Plan and the Sanitation Policy over the next four years.

 

Photo: RNZ/Daniela Maoate-Cox The Cook Islands Prime Minister Henry Puna