KING Senior British MPs Saturday swore an oath of allegiance to King Charles III, officially proclaimed king by the Accession Council,a body convened to confirm the new British monarchs throughout history. Both chambers of the British Parliament held special sessions, so that lawmakers may honour the Queen. Thousands have gathered in front of Buckingham Palace, the main residence of British monarchs in London, to pay tribute to Queen Elizabeth II, who passed away on Thursday, aged 96, at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. King Charles III confirmed that the day of the Queen's funeral will be a banking holiday in the United Kingdom. The funeral will take place at Westminster Abbey in London, on Monday, 19 September. The Queen's coffin will be brought to Edinburgh on Sunday and later on to London, where the Queen will lie in state at Westminster Hall. After the service, which will be attended by heads of state and government from around the world, the Queen's coffin will be taken to Saint George's Chapel at Windsor Castle, where the Queen is to be buried.
ENERGY EU energy ministers voiced support for emergency measures in response to the energy crisis, and even mentioned price capping for natural gas imports. At Friday's extraordinary meeting in Brussels, officials for the 27 Member States agreed that a "unified approach" was needed to address the rise in energy prices caused by Russia's invasion in Ukraine. They gave the European Commission several days to come up with a solid and concrete plan, said the Czech industry minister Jozef Sikela, whose country holds the rotating presidency of the Union. Romania, which was represented by the energy minister, Virgil Popescu, pleaded for measures such as a price cap on Russian gas imports or an EU-wide platform for the joint procurement of natural gas. As for cutting down consumption, Bucharest said this should be voluntary, depending on national capacities and market developments.
FLIGHTS The national airline TAROM Saturday scheduled 2 additional flights to Greece to repatriate the Romanian passengers abandoned by the low-cost operator Blue Air, which announced it lacked funding even for fuel. TAROM has so far organised 4 other special flights, to Israel, Greece, Cyprus and Spain. Several thousand Romanians have been stranded in international airports since Tuesday night, when Blue Air announced it was suspending flights. Although the authorities have unfrozen the accounts of the airline, which had excessive debts to the Romanian state, Blue Air said it would only resume flights on 10 October. The transport minister Sorin Grindeanu urged Blue Air customers to try to find other options to return, and pointed out TAROM could not replace all the flights that had been cancelled. In 2020, during the COVID pandemic, Blue Air took out a state-guaranteed loan of over EUR 60 mln. This summer, it was fined EUR 2 mln by the Consumer Protection Authority, for cancelling over 11,000 flights in 2021 and 2022. Blue Air's current estimated debts amount to EUR 230 mln.
UKRAINE Romania and 3 other EU member states (Greece, Poland and Lithuania) call on the European Commission to grant them exemptions from the budget deficit rules, with respect to military expenditure, in order to be able to make the investments required after the Russian invasion in Ukraine. They want this expenditure excluded from the deficit calculation, so that the 3% of GDP ceiling required by the EU may be observed. The 4 countries argue that this would help them mitigate the risks facing the Union. Meanwhile, a report made public by the World Bank, the Ukrainian government and the European Commission indicates that Ukraine's reconstruction after the Russian invasion may cost around USD 350 bln, with figures set to increase in the coming months, as the war continues. According to the report, reconstruction and revamping needs in the social, industrial and infrastructure fields are 1.5 times higher than Ukraine's GDP in 2021. Russia's aggression had caused direct damages of over USD 97 bln by 1 June, with the most affected areas including housing (40% of the total damages), transports (31%), trade and industry (10%). The regions of Donetsk, Luhansk and Kharkiv are the most heavily hit, followed by Kyiv, Chernihiv and Zaporizhzhia.
RUSSIA A number of Russian Deputies from the Sankt-Petersburg area were summoned to the police after requesting the impeachment of president Vladimir Putin for high treason, in relation to the Russian aggression in Ukraine. In a rare show of dissent, they called on Russia's parliament to impeach the president for the death of Russian youth sent to war, for Russia's economic downturn and brain drain, and for NATO's eastward expansion. Not least, they argued, the invasion of Ukraine had the opposite effects to those expected by Moscow. (AMP)