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Good morning. A scoop to begin with: the EU is expected to continue sending development aid to Palestine, after a European Commission audit confirmed that it was not inadvertently funding terrorist groups.
Today, I reveal the demands of a large group of EU Member States to better prepare healthcare systems for the effects of climate change. And my colleagues in Italy explain why Romans are outraged by cafe tables.
EU countries are concerned about the effects climate change will have on people’s health and their healthcare systems, even as measures to combat rising temperatures face an increasing backlash.
Context: Scientists estimate that last year’s summer heat caused nearly 62,000 deaths in Europe, the world’s fastest-warming continent. Temperatures broke records again this summer. But the UN has warned that carbon emissions continue to rise and that the world is not on track to contain the rise in temperatures below 2ºC.
A group of 18 Member States is now calling on the European Commission and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control to step up measures to tackle the rise in infections and other health effects of climate change.
“Higher temperatures, changes in precipitation patterns (including floods and droughts) and extreme weather events are having and will increasingly have a negative impact on human health and potentially on the provision of health services,” states a document supported by Germany , Italy, Malta and others and seen by the FT.
The document notes that the EU has already improved its health preparedness following the Covid-19 pandemic, but more needs to be done.
One issue is that non-communicable diseases resulting from extreme weather conditions, for example heart attacks during a heatwave, are not adequately covered by current regulations. Its greater frequency and what it means for health care should be better monitored, countries say.
They also warn of the possibility of spreading infectious diseases such as Chikungunya fever or West Nile fever, which are transmitted by mosquitoes and until now were not common in Europe.
“Human and animal surveillance of infectious diseases. . . needs to be strengthened”, states the document.
EU health ministers will discuss the document at the end of the month. But although better coordination and surveillance of health threats is essential, the best solution will be to combat climate change itself.
Green policies are increasingly unpopular with parts of the population and are being reversed by governments. Perhaps it is time to remind voters – and their representatives – the cost of inaction.
Chart du jour: Difficult streets
Sweden has gone from having one of the lowest levels of fatal shootings in Europe to one of the highest in just a decade, as well-established criminal groups claim more victims. While the political right blames immigration for the issue, the left points to the erosion of the welfare state.
When you think of Rome, you inevitably imagine sunny squares full of tables and chairs where people drink coffee and snacks.
Context: During the pandemic, Italy’s rules for outdoor seating were relaxed to allow cafes, restaurants and bars to continue operating, while respecting public health recommendations on social distancing.
As a result, some streets are so congested that it is practically impossible to walk along them. City employee Monica Lucarelli told the FT that in Rome, the amount of space taken up by outdoor seating is five times greater than before the pandemic.
Italian lawmakers appear to be in no rush to reclaim streets for pedestrians. Parliament is currently in the process of extending the more flexible pandemic-era rules until the end of next year.
But many Italians are exasperated by the noise and crowds of tourists occupying their public spaces. Dozens of people gathered in the capital over the weekend to protest parliament’s decision.
“Sidewalks are for pedestrians, not tables,” read one protester’s sign.
Among the protesters was Alessandra Feraco, who lives in an upscale neighborhood close to the Vatican and called the situation “dramatic.” “The streets are invaded, it’s a siege, it’s hell. Rome has become an open-air restaurant,” she said.
“A balance needs to be struck between the alleged needs of restaurant owners and the right of residents to rest and walk on the sidewalks,” Feraco added.
The outcry is part of a growing backlash against mass tourism, which turns many of Europe’s historic city centers into an amusement park for visitors.
Maria Luisa Mirabile spent most of her life in Rome’s picturesque Monti neighborhood and has witnessed its recent transformation. “We are facing a voracious and time-focused attack,” said the 73-year-old.
What to watch today
EU foreign ministers meet online to discuss the situation in Gaza and Israel.
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and other leaders attend the G20 Africa investment conference in Berlin.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visits Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo.
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