The EU closes its external borders for 30 days due to the coronavirus

TheEuropean Union goes one step further to stop the spread of the coronaviruson the European continent. The President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, has proposed to the 27 European governments that access to the EU countries from abroad be restricted for an initial period of one month that could be extended “if necessary”. The proposal, which has already been notified to the partners and members of the G-7 (United States, Canada, Japan and the United Kingdom) during the teleconference held this afternoon, must be approved on Tuesday by the EU leaders in the second emergency summit to be held in one week.

“We need to do more to reduce the pressure on our healthcare systems.The fewer trips, the more we can contain the virus“said the President of the European Commission, who has appeared together with the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, to account for the latest decisions. As explained by the measure, it has already been proposed to European leaders, during the various talks held in the last hours, which must now give their final approval. “We have received firm support and tomorrow (by Tuesday) we will end,” explained the German.

Exempt collectives

The European Commission plan contemplates the introduction of exemptions for certain groups that may continue to enter the EU during this period:European citizens who are in third countries and who want to return to the EU, health personnel and scientists working to find coronavirus treatments and vaccines, diplomats, their families, cross-border workers as well as long-term residents. According to von der Leyen, for these measures to be effective they will also have to be applied by countries associated with the Schengen area, such as Iceland, Norway, Switzerland and Liechstenstein, while the British, as Europeans, will be able to continue traveling to the EU.

Furthermore, and to ensure the full functioning of the internal market and the supply of goods during this period,the Brussels plan contemplates special measuresso that the supply of goods continues smoothly. To do this, they propose to governments the creation of green lanes or expressways for the transport of goods, food, medical products and emergency services. “We are totally determined to do whatever is necessary to protect citizens,” Michel summarized, admitting that this is a “serious”, “long” and “difficult” crisis for which coordination and discipline on the part of the of European citizens.

The virus, present in the 27

As a community spokesperson warned on Monday, “the virus is already present in all member states” so “closing borders is not necessarily the best way to guarantee that we can contain the outbreak in the EU.”Brussels trusts that this measure will allow the EU to protect the space of free movementof Schengen, one of the main achievements of European construction, in the face of the avalanche of unilateral decisions that European governments have begun to adopt to limit movements within this area. Until Monday, as reported by the European Commission, seven countries have officially notified the reintroduction of temporary controls – Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania and Germany – to which Switzerland joins.

The new proposal goes even further than the guidelines issued this Monday by the European Commission on border management. In them, and in relation to the situation at the external borders,the Community Executive recommends “systematic controls”-including healthcare- to all persons, European nationals or third country nationals, who want to access the Schengen area from outside the EU and support the possibility of rejecting the entry of third country nationals who “have symptoms”, “have been particularly exposed to the risk of infection “or” are considered a threat to public health. ” As an alternative measure, however, they suggest quarantine isolates.

The guidelines also support the reintroduction of “temporary border controls at internal borders“if justified for reasons of internal security or public order.” In an extremely critical situation a Member State can identify a need to reintroduce controls as a reaction to the risk of a communicable disease, “accepts the Commission, recalling that they must be proportional and non-discriminatory .


Houdini drives environmental protection

Eva Karlsson

The fashion entrepreneur travels by train from Stockholm to Munich – for the sake of the environment.

(Photo: Gabriel Liljevall / Houdini)

Munich Buying a new ski jacket for a week of winter vacation? Eva Karlsson thinks this is nonsense. The boss and partner of the Swedish outdoor label Houdini therefore offers the equipment for the slopes for rent. “We even achieve higher margins than when we sell the clothing,” explains the Swedish entrepreneur. For the 50-year-old, innovative business models are part of protecting the environment.

Ever since she took over Houdini almost two decades ago, sustainable management has been at the heart of her work. The Swede’s goal is to achieve a cycle. She strives for all-weather clothes that are made entirely from recycled materials.

In the end, however, consumers should not simply dispose of jackets and pants, hoodies and T-shirts in the used clothing container. The items of clothing should either be recyclable on an equal basis or they should crumble completely into compost.

Karlsson believes that this is on the right track, but does not consider it sufficient. Therefore, she also experiments with new services. She currently only offers clothes for rent in her own six stores, but soon the service will also be available online. This is sustainable on the one hand, but also good for your brand: “We are building a very special relationship with our customers.”

Many large labels focus on sustainability

This is not the only innovation that Karlsson is currently concerned with. She is also working on a clothing subscription. According to the plan, consumers should change their clothes at any time. This would ensure their small company that the textiles are used frequently and for a long time.

Houdini grows and thrives, assures Karlsson. The turnover of the medium-sized company from the Stockholm suburb of Nacka increases between 20 and 30 percent each year; most recently it was 20 million euros. However, Houdini is by no means the only outdoor company that has consistently committed to sustainability. Vaude from Tettnang in Swabia follows a similar path; in the USA, Patagonia is considered a green pioneer.

The major suppliers in industry, such as Jack Wolfskin, are increasingly emphasizing their efforts to protect the environment. “We were always very quiet,” emphasizes company boss Melody Harris-Jensbach. The Jack Wolfskin label has already achieved a lot. “We are now trying to communicate this positively and authentically,” said the manager.

We achieve higher margins by renting than when we sell the clothing. Eva Karlsson, CEO Houdini

That is why Houdini also has to stand out from its typical Scandinavian design. The approach is “minimalistic”, explains Karlsson. This is well received by dealers in this country. “Houdini maintains a clear, reduced style,” explains Martin Kerner, head of the Karlsruhe outdoor shop base camp. Karlsson also focused the brand very early and consistently on sustainability, that is what distinguishes it.

Nevertheless, it is more of a hobby to offer the label in his shop in the city center of the Baden city. Because, like many other smaller providers, it is not really perceived by consumers. The staff in the shop had to explain a lot, especially since the models were comparatively expensive.

However, this is hardly possible, especially on days with strong sales. Houdini is on the shelves of specialists like base camp. But chains like Globetrotter also carry the label in Germany.

The rather unusual name for a Swedish outdoor brand goes back to company founder Lotta Giornofelice. According to legend, she was on a mountain tour in a hopeless situation in 1993, when she remembered the strong nerves and the skill of the great escape and magician Harry Houdini. She survived the adventure and from then on Houdini became a household name for the alpinist.

Giornofelice, however, had no interest in making the brand big and handed it over to her friend Karlsson at the beginning of the millennium. You now own the company together with some investors and numerous of the 50 employees.

For the energetic woman, sustainability is more than just a marketing mesh: at the end of January, she traveled to Stockholm from the world’s largest sports fair, the Stockholm-Munich train.

More: Jack Wolfskin wants to go back on the shelves as a green brand


China Remains Tough Against Taiwan After President Tsai’s Re-Election | International

“After his electoral victory, Tsai Ing-wen will have to make several trips of thanks. The first to Zhongnanhai (the residence of Chinese government leaders), then to the office of Carrie Lam, the head of the Hong Kong Self-Government, and then to the Hong Kong Police. ” The joke circulating on Taiwanese social networks since this weekend makes clear to what extent the Hong Kong protests and the rejection of Beijing have played a key role in the re-election of the Chinese skeptic Taiwanese President with a record number of votes in favor. A result that has been a real slap in the face for China.

That slap has hurt, a lot. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi, former head of the Taiwanese Affairs Office in his Government, has insisted from Zimbabwe, on a tour of Africa, that despite the electoral results, China will not change its attitude towards the island, that it considers an inalienable part of its territory and that it does not renounce to annex by force. “This consensus will not change one iota for local elections in Taiwan, and will not be altered by the wrong words and acts of certain Western politicians,” he stressed, in an apparent allusion to the US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, that over the weekend he congratulated Tsai and criticized Beijing’s “tireless pressure”.

Beijing does not hide its animosity towards Tsai, commonly described in the Chinese media as a supporter of Taiwan independence. Although many in her party, the Progressive Democrat, do sympathize with that idea, the president has maintained a calculated ambiguity and supports maintaining the current situation, an independence de facto without formally declaring it to avoid a backlash from China.

Tsai raised the elections during his campaign as a kind of referendum on the need to maintain democratic values ​​on the island against an authoritarian China. Throughout 2019, and after Chinese President Xi Jinping reiterated in his New Year speech the threat of the use of force to achieve unification, his government had increased pressure. It had wrested diplomatic allies from Taiwan – it only has 15 left – had limited tourism to the island, and had sent warships for military maneuvers in the strait that separates them. The Taiwanese government had also blamed China for an intense disinformation campaign and false news.

Tsai’s message spread, especially among young people, who have followed the protests in Hong Kong with great interest. The Taiwanese president obtained 8.1 million votes, 57.1%, in an election in which participation shot up to 75.2%, the highest percentage since 2008, in clear support for her proposals regarding the conciliation with China advocated by his rival, Han Kuo-yu, of the conservative Kuomintang. The Progressive Democratic Party also renewed its comfortable absolute majority in the unicameral Legislative.

Despite these results, Beijing insists that it will not change its position. “The reunification of both sides of the Taiwan Strait is a historical inevitability,” said Wang, who in a harsh statement has assured that “those who try to split the country will be condemned to reek for eternity,” an expression that in Mandarin is equivalent to ensure that the subject will go down in history as an example of bad reputation.

The minister’s reaction adds to the criticism of this weekend in the Chinese official media. The Xinhua News Agency believed that the victory had been made possible by the president’s “dirty tricks” and by maneuvers by “dark foreign forces.”

According to analyst Jude Blanchette of the Center for International Strategic Studies (CSIS) in Washington, after Tsai’s re-election, one can only expect “an increase in pressure from China.” “The Communist Party does not accept well the need for compromises or anything that indicates weakness, so there will be no accommodations” or changes towards a more flexible position, he believes.

“Although the party is capable of tactical change, it will not rethink its attitudes on matters it considers vital, such as Taiwan or Hong Kong. We already saw this after the November legislative elections in Hong Kong. After the victory of the Democratic opposition, Beijing did not recalibrate its position to incorporate more flexible officials or with a broader vision, “recalls the expert. Instead, Xi has appointed Luo Huining, former governor of Qinghai Province, a man accustomed to a heavy hand to enforce Beijing’s orders, as head of the central government representation in Hong Kong.

Lai I-chung, from the Taiwanese Prospect Foundation, agrees with the American specialist. “Changing his policy would mean admitting that Xi was wrong. And as we know, in China Xi Jinping is never wrong, ”he ironic.

The Taiwanese leader spent her first words of victory on Saturday urging China to understand that democratic Taiwan, and its elected democratic government, “will not yield to threats or intimidation,” and that the only ones who can decide the island’s future are its 23 million inhabitants, not the Government in Beijing.

Since his victory, Tsai has also released several messages of support for Hong Kong protesters from his social media accounts. “Before the elections, I said that Taiwan would unite to defend our freedom and our democracy. Over the past six months, Hong Kong has shown us how important that commitment is. I hope that the people of Hong Kong find hope in the message that our elections have sent to the world, ”he wrote on Twitter on Monday.