Gas prices in Europe keep rising as tensions between Russia and Ukraine keep deepening, although with no escalation to conflict yet. In other news, the latest developments in the Canada protests, the stalling of negotiations regarding the nuclear deal between the US and Iran, the French withdrawal from Mali after 9 years, and much much more. Find it all on this week’s Monday Briefing, and don’t forget that Tra i Leoni is recruiting until the 25th!
Among the many difficulties that Europe has been dealing with in its attempt to promote a sustainable, equitable, and efficient post-pandemic recovery both at a national and at a European Union level, one of the biggest obstacles has been the unprecedented increase in the price of gas. This increase has not only driven inflation up to unprecedented highs consequently reducing the purchasing power of households, but it has also put European powers in a geopolitically delicate position when it comes to taking a stand in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine crisis, since, as part of NATO, Western European countries are to be on the side of the Unites States, but their economies depend too heavily on the gas they import from Russia for that not to be a factor when going about this crisis.
In 2021 gas prices across Europe increased by 600%, and there exist causes of this that are both strictly related to and independent from the pandemic. Firstly, the global demand for gas started increasing again as the economic recovery kicked in and European firms began operating again at full capacity following the restrictions that Covid-19 had forced governments to impose in earlier stages of the pandemic. It is estimated that the demand for natural gases fell by 1.9% in 2020 compared to 2019, but it rebounded to 3.6% in 2021 and, if left unchecked, is predicted to get 7% higher by 2024. However, the increase in demand was not accompanied by a timely increase in supply, especially when it comes to the gas produced in Europe. Several North Sea gas deposits are running dry, as are gas fields in the Netherlands, such as Groningen which is due to close in mid-2022. This decrease in local supply increases dependence on gas imports, which, as of today, come primarily from Russia.
Moreover, it was a particularly cold winter in Europe, meaning that people were heating their homes for longer than usual.
A further layer of complexity is added by the European Union’s intention to promote a green energy transition. Gas, in fact, burns cleaner than oil or coal, and is increasingly used as a substitute for both in the production of electricity.
Local governments are now putting together aid packages for families and firms to deal with the crisis, in order to avoid previous stimulus packages being rendered ineffective, but the level of uncertainty is very high, and what is happening between Ukraine and Russia makes the prospect of such uncertainty more dangerous and less desirable.
Around the World
Shelling in breakaway regions stokes Russia-Ukraine tensions. Joe Biden has warned that Russia is on the brink of invading Ukraine within “several days”, saying the US believes the Kremlin is engaged in “a false flag operation to have an excuse to go in.” The US president spoke as Kyiv and Moscow blamed each other for clashes in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region — incidents the west fears will be used as a pretext for a coordinated Russian military campaign.
Canada protests: Ottawa police chief resigns after Trudeau declares national emergency to end protests. The chief of police who has led the effort to end the occupation of Ottawa resigned on Tuesday, a day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau intervened amid criticism that a tepid police response has failed to end the blockade buffeting the nation’s capital and declared a national public order emergency.
Nuclear deal talks stall as Tehran urges US to accept terms. Marathon talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal have hit a new roadblock, with Iran accusing the US of refusing to make the necessary political decisions to entrench the agreement in international law or to broaden the scope of economic sanctions that would be lifted. The issue has dogged the talks in Vienna between the west, Russia, Iran and China – which have been under way since February – from the outset. There is no sign that the eighth round of negotiations, once intended to be the final round, has reached the breakthrough some had been expecting. Ali Shamkhani, the hardline secretary of Iran’s national security council, in a tweet issued in multiple languages, declared after speaking to his government’s negotiators that progress was becoming “more and more difficult.”
UK PM refuses to say if he would quit if fined for breaking Covid laws. Boris Johnson has refused to say whether he would resign if fined by the police for breaking his own government’s Covid laws at a series of alleged Downing Street parties in the scandal that is now known as Party Gate. When asked if he would quit if Scotland Yard issued him with a fixed penalty notice worth at least £100, Johnson told the BBC’s Sunday Morning programme: “I cannot comment about a process that is under way.”
Former Honduras President Detained After a U.S. Extradition Request. On Tuesday, Honduran authorities detained former Honduran President Juan Orlando Hernàndez to potentially face extradition and drug charges in the United States, capping a spectacular downfall for one of Central America’s most powerful men.
Australia detaining people for record 689 days on average, report finds. According to Human Rights Watch, Australia is holding people in immigration detention for an average of 689 days, the highest on record and more than 12 times longer than the United States. Attention was brought on Australia’s harsh immigration policies following the brief detention of tennis star Novak Djokovic, but the situation has not changed.
Macron announces military withdrawal from Mali after nine years. On Thursday, French President Emmanuel Macron confirmed that France and its European partners are to begin a military withdrawal from Mali after more than 9 years fighting a jihadist insurgency. The deployment of troops began in 2013 under Socialist President François Hollande, and it was successful to stem the insurgents’ advance, but extremists quickly regrouped. Macron, though, said that he completely rejects the idea of the withdrawal symbolizing a failure of French anti-terrorism policy in West Africa.
Indian court sentences to death 38 people over 2008 bombings. A court in India has sentenced to death a record 38 people for a deadly terror attack in the Indian city of Ahmedabad in 2008, in which up to 20 bombs were set off across the city in hospitals, shopping centers and parks, leaving 56 dead. It was the first time that so many accused have received death sentences in a single case in the country.
Northern Europe has been hit by a storm. Storm Eunice hit Northern Europe with high winds. A British weather official said the storm may be the worst in 30 years for the country. At least 16 deaths were reported in Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Ireland, and the UK. Strong winds left millions of homes and businesses without power and disrupted transport networks.
Queen Elizabeth tested positive to Covid-19. Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom tested positive to Covid-19. She is experiencing “mild cold-like symptoms,” the royal family said, and will be carrying out “light duties” while being monitored by doctors.
Afghans are angered by Biden’s decision on frozen funds. Many Afghans are reportedly angered at the decision by the Biden administration to use billions in frozen assets from the Afghan central bank to compensate American families of 9/11 victims. The move, announced by the Biden administration, comes as Taliban-occupied Afghanistan is on the brink of an economic collapse.
La Corte Costituzionale ha respinto il referendum sull’eutanasia. La Corte Costituzionale ha giudicato inammissibile il referendum sull’eutanasia attiva, chiesto con una raccolta firme organizzata nei mesi scorsi dall’Associazione Luca Coscioni. In tutto erano state raccolte 1,2 milioni di firme. Secondo una nota dell’ufficio stampa della Corte, il referendum è stato respinto perché in caso di legalizzazione dell’eutanasia «non sarebbe stata preservata la tutela minima costituzionalmente necessaria della vita umana, in generale, e con particolare riferimento alle persone deboli e vulnerabili».
La Corte Costituzionale ha respinto il referendum sulla cannabis. La Corte Costituzionale ha ritenuto inammissibile il referendum cosiddetto sulla cannabis legale, che proponeva di depenalizzare la coltivazione e di eliminare il carcere per qualsiasi condotta illecita relativa alla cannabis, con eccezione dell’associazione finalizzata al traffico illecito. Lo ha detto il presidente della Corte Giuliano Amato mercoledì sera, in una conferenza in cui ha anche annunciato che uno dei due referendum sulla giustizia sui quali ancora si attendeva il parere della Corte Costituzionale è stato approvato (quello sulla valutazione dei magistrati) e l’altro no (quello sulla responsabilità civile dei magistrati).
Bonus psicologo, Speranza: “Sarà nel Milleproroghe;” pronti 20 milioni da stanziare. Speranza ha annunciato che il bonus per l’assistenza psicologica sarà inserito nel Milleproroghe. I dettagli sul funzionamento di tale incentivo non sono ancora noti, ma si dice che siano stati stanziati circa 20 milioni di euro, 10 destinati alle Asl per rafforzare la rete territoriale dei consultori e 10 come voucher. Vi è anche l’ipotesi di un assegno unico fino a 500 euro, assegnato in base all’Isee.
Draghi: 30 miliardi per l’istruzione e la ricerca, che deve essere al centro della crescita. “Lo scienziato è colui che fa la differenza tra la vita e la morte, tra la disperazione e la speranza. Che si tratti di medicina o di cambiamento climatico deve essere valorizzato come non è stato fatto negli ultimi anni nel nostro Paese”. Questo è stato l’intervento di Draghi all’Istituto Nazionale di Fisica del Gran Sasso. Così dicendo, ha inoltre confermato l’investimento di 30 miliardi in istruzione e ricerca.
Milleproroghe: caos in commissione, il governo va sotto 4 volte. La maggioranza che sostiene il governo si è spaccata durante l’esame degli emendamenti al decreto-legge Milleproroghe in commissione alla Camera. Lega e Forza Italia votando con FdI a favore della proroga della riduzione del tetto del contante da 2000 a 1000 euro al 1° gennaio 2023. Il governo nella notte sarebbe andato sotto 4 volte, non solo sul tetto del contante, ma anche su altrettanto importanti questioni come l’emendamento che prevede il dietrofront sull’Ilva e l’approvazione delle norme sulle graduatorie della scuola e i test sugli animali.
- From 14 to 18th February, the online edition of Associations on Display has featured the presentation of the 100+ Bocconi student associations. For many of them, applications are still open!
- The incoming week of the 21st of February is going to feature the publication of Exchange destinations for next year: good luck to all the students!
- Starting from February 12th, the Sportrick widget will allow to sign up for the Open Gym initiative: for free and without a medical certificate, it will be possible to play courts in the Sports Center, from midday to 3 pm for three weekdays. The only requirement is to have a subscription to the Bocconi Sport Card
- Il 23 febbraio la Bocconi tornerà ad essere il set di un evento della Milano Fashion Week: a sfilare per I corridoi di via Roentgen saranno le modelle di Del Core, fashion house meneghina.
When we think about the threats to the European Union’s democratic dimension, the two primary examples are Hungary and Poland, the first due to its increasingly authoritarian leader Viktor Orbàn, the second due to its repeated undermining of the principle of supremacy of European Law over national law. Given the current global situation, it should be in the interest of both the Polish government and of the European Commission for there not to be tension, but is the prospect of appeasement possible. The question that the long read we suggest to you this week poses is exactly that: can the EU and Poland step back from the brink. The piece was put together by Sam Fleming and James Shotter and you can find it here.
In Case You Missed It
L’associazione studentesca bocconiana Keiron ha pubblicato un articolo sulle responsabilità penali di una persona che decide di avere rapporti sessuali non protetti pur conoscendo la sua propria sieropositività, e un altro sul mandato di arresto europeo, uno strumento che garantisce agli stati membri dell’Unione Europea una rapida ed agevole procedura di consegna dei ricercati.
François Praum wrote about the event Paolo Gentiloni meets Bocconi Students – An EU Economic Policy for the Next Generation, which took place on February 8, 2022 at Bocconi. The guest speaker Paolo Gentiloni served as prime minister of Italy from 2016 to 2018 and is currently the European Commissioner for Economy under President von der Leyen.
L’associazione studentesca Bocconi Students against Organized Crime ha pubblicato un articolo su come la mafia utilizza la religione per più di sostegno popolare e sulla posizione della Chiesa cattolica contro le mafie.