ROME (AP) — The leaders of Russia and China aren’t coming. Turkey nearly set off a diplomatic incident on the eve of the meeting. And the United States, Australia and France will be at the same table for the first time since Washington pulled the rug out from under Paris’ $66 billion submarine deal Down Under.
A Group of 20 summit scheduled for this weekend in Rome – the first in-person gathering of leaders of the world’s biggest economies since the COVID-19 pandemic started – is not business as usual. That’s especially true since as soon as the event ends, a bigger United Nations’ summit devoted to climate change begins in Glasgow, Scotland.
In many ways, the two-day G-20 meeting is serving as a Roman holiday preamble to the 12-day Glasgow summit, with the climate dossier taking center stage at the new Nuvola (Cloud) convention center in the Italian capital’s Fascist-era EUR neighborhood.
Some of the participating presidents and prime ministers met at a COVID-focused Group of Seven summit in July, and some passed one another in the U.N. hallways during the General Assembly in New York last month. But this is the first time the leaders of countries that account for 75% of global trade and 60% of the world’s population will be meeting as a group after nearly two years of virus-induced lockdowns.
While economic recovery is a top agenda item, host Italy hopes the leaders will set a shared, mid-century deadline to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions and explore a commitment to reduce methane emissions as well.
The United Nations and climate activists also want the G-20 countries to fulfill their longtime pledges of providing $100 billion a year in climate aid to help poor nations cope with the impacts of global warming.
BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union raised the stakes in a standoff with Poland over judicial independence and the primacy of EU law, with the bloc’s top court fining Poland $1.2 million a day to prevent what it called “serious and irreparable harm” to the EU’s legal order and values.
The European Court of Justice imposed the penalty after a weeklong war of words in which Poland told the EU to stay out of its judicial affairs while other EU nations insisted that Warsaw could not continue to get huge EU subsidies while disregarding the bloc’s democratic principles at will.
“You cannot pocket all the money but refuse the values,” Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said, warning Poland not to treat the EU like “a cash machine.”
The Court of Justice decided to syphon off some of that money, saying the daily fine was “necessary in order to avoid serious and irreparable harm to the legal order of the European Union and to the values on which that Union is founded, in particular that of the rule of law.”
The EU’s executive commission had requested the penalty until the Polish government acts to improve the functioning of the Polish Supreme Court and suspends new laws deemed to undermine judicial independence.
Poland’s Deputy Justice Minister, Michal Wojcik, hinted that Poland may not respect the European court’s decision once again, arguing that it’s not a proper ruling and has “no legal basis” because the court allegedly acted outside its jurisdiction.
Radoslaw Fogiel, a spokesman for Poland’s nationalist ruling party, brushed the penalties off, saying Poland’s contribution into the EU coffers is much larger than that.
Overall, however, EU figures show that Poland is a net recipient of 12 billion euros ($14 billion) a year from the bloc.
The point of contention is the Disciplinary Chamber of the Supreme Court, a body that the ruling party empowered to discipline judges. Many Polish judges view the chamber as a tool to pressure judges to rule in favor of the governing authorities.
In July, the European Court of Justice ordered the suspension of the disciplinary chamber, but it is still operating.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki told the European Parliament last week that the chamber will be abolished, but he gave no precise time for when that would take place. Wojcik said the proper legislation will come in “due time.”
CAIRO (AP) — Sudanese security forces detained three prominent pro-democracy figures overnight, their relatives and other activists, as internal and international pressure mounted on the country’s military following its coup.
The arrests came as protests denouncing the takeover continued in the capital of Khartoum and elsewhere, and many businesses shut in response to calls for strikes. The coup threatens to halt Sudan’s fitful transition to democracy, which began after the 2019 ouster of long-time ruler Omar al-Bashir in a popular uprising.
Groups of protesters — in some places, dozens, in others, hundreds — set up barricades of stones on main roads throughout the day. Security forces waded in, chasing demonstrators and dismantling the barriers.
“It looks like a hit and run process, they remove, and we build,” said activist Nazim Sirag.
Activists said some protesters were shot and wounded, though they did not have exact figures. Security forces confronting protesters have killed at least six people and wounded over 140 others, many in critical condition, according to physicians with the Sudan Doctors’ Committee.
Prominent rights defender Tahani Abbas said the pro-democracy movement would continue street protests despite the crackdown.
“We are frustrated,” she said, “but we have no other option but the street.”
The coup came after weeks of mounting tensions between military and civilian leaders over the course and pace of Sudan’s moves toward democracy.
The African Union suspended Sudan — an expected move typically taken in the wake of coups. The AU Peace and Security Council said in a tweet that the suspension would remain in place “until the effective restoration of the civilian-led Transitional Authority,” as the deposed government was known.
The AU plans to send a mission to Sudan to hold talks with rival parties.