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Irish Travellers report second highest levels of discrimination in Europe

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Ireland has the second highest rate of reported discrimination in Europe against the Traveller community.

The EU Agency for Fundamental Rights says 68% of Traveller men and 62% of Traveller women experience ongoing discrimination.

There is also a significant life expectancy gap of 10 years between Travellers and the general population in Ireland.

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Tim Hayes of the EU Commission office in Ireland says the rate of employment for Travellers here is the lowest of all countries surveyed at just under 20%.

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Afghanistan

EU sets out its position on Afghanistan for UN assembly in New York

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Yesterday (20 September) evening EU ministers dined together ahead of the UN General Assembly which will discuss the situation in Afghanistan, among other issues. Ahead of the meeting, Germany's foreign minister Heiko Maas called for leaders to use the 76th session of the Assembly to coordinate emergency assistance for the Afghan people and to clarify and consolidate the international stance towards "powerholders in Kabul".

In a statement the EU's underlined their commitment to peace and stability in the country and to supporting the Afghan people. The conclusions also set out the EU's line of action for the near future:

The EU recognizes that the situation in Afghanistan is a major challenge for the international community as a whole, and stresses the need for strong coordination in engaging with relevant international partners, notably the UN.

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The EU and its member states' operational engagement will be carefully calibrated to the policy and actions of the Taliban-appointed caretaker cabinet, will not bestow any legitimacy on it, and will be assessed against the five benchmarks agreed on by EU ministers of foreign affairs at their informal meeting in Slovenia on 3 September 2021. In this context, the rights of women and girls are of particular concern.

A minimal EU presence on the ground in Kabul, dependent on the security situation, would facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid and monitoring of the humanitarian situation, and could also coordinate and support the safe, secure and orderly departure of all foreign nationals, and Afghans who wish to leave the country.

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As a matter of high priority, the EU will initiate a regional political platform of cooperation with Afghan direct neighbours to help prevent the negative spill-over effects in the region, and support the economic resilience and regional economic cooperation, as well as humanitarian and protection needs.

The Council will revert to the matter at its next meeting in October.

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coronavirus

HERA: First step towards the establishment of EU FAB, a network of ever-warm production capacities

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The Commission has published the Prior Information Notice, which provides vaccine and therapeutics manufacturers with preliminary information about the EU FAB call for competition, planned for early 2022. The objective of EU FAB is to create a network of ‘ever-warm' production capacities for vaccine and medicine manufacturing that can be activated in case of future crises. EU FAB will cover multiple vaccine and therapeutic technologies. To be operational at all times, the participating production sites are expected to ensure availability of qualified staff, clear operational processes and quality controls, allowing the EU to be better prepared and respond to future health threats. EU FAB will be able to quickly and easily activate its network of manufacturing capacities to meet demand for vaccines and/or therapeutics needs, until the market has scaled up production capacities. EU FAB will form a key component of the industrial dimension of the European Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Authority (HERA), as announced in the Communication Introducing HERA, the next step towards completing the European Health Union, on 16 September. The Prior Information Notice on the EU FAB is available here.

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Climate change

Executive Vice President Timmermans holds High-Level Climate Change Dialogue with Turkey

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Executive Vice President Timmermans received Turkish Environment and Urbanisation Minister Murat Kurum in Brussels for a high-level dialogue on climate change. Both the EU and Turkey experienced extreme impacts of climate change during the summer, in the form of wildfires and floods. Turkey has also seen the largest ever outbreak of ‘sea snot' in the Marmara Sea – overgrowth of microscopic algae caused by water pollution and climate change. In the wake of these climate change-induced events, Turkey and the EU discussed areas where they could advance their climate cooperation, in the pursuit of achieving the goals of the Paris Agreement. Executive Vice-President Timmermans and Minister Kurum exchanged views on urgent actions required to close the gap between what is needed and what is being done in terms of cutting emissions down to net-zero by mid-century, and thereby keep the 1.5°C goal of the Paris Agreement within reach. They discussed carbon pricing policies as an area of common interest, considering the forthcoming establishment of an Emissions Trading System in Turkey and the revision of the EU Emissions Trading System. Adaptation to climate change also featured high on the agenda along with nature-based solutions to counter climate change and biodiversity loss. You can watch their common press remarks here. More information on the High-Level Dialogue here.

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