Saturday, June 25, 2022

EU leaders meeting in Brussels to chalk out strategy against Omicron

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The leaders of EU member states are meeting in Brussels on Thursday to demand a unified approach to the new Omicron coronavirus variant to avoid widespread lockdowns and closed borders.

Ahead of the summit, the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said on Wednesday that the new, highly permeable Omicron is likely to become the dominant variant in the region early next month.

Amid the festive holiday season, many leaders of nations that rely heavily on tourism expressed reluctance to close borders or add additional travel restrictions such as mandatory testing.

But many countries have already done so before the summit, with Italy implementing mandatory testing even for vaccinated travelers, at least during the holidays.

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At Thursday’s meeting, there was a consensus that vaccination and booster programs needed to be accelerated.

Other emerging issues for EU leaders are ongoing tensions with Russia, which has gathered troops along the border with Ukraine, leading many in the international community to believe an invasion may be imminent. .

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised on Wednesday that Russia should take “unprecedented measures” to escalate the situation. EU nations in the east are divided between those who think sanctions should be implemented immediately, and others such as France and Germany who fear it could spark an invasion.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, speaking by video phone with European leaders and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson this week, said he was seeking talks to guarantee the NATO alliance would not expand further east into Europe. I

Some of the information for this report was provided by The Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse.

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