Europe briefing: Five stories to know about today

Europe briefing: Five stories to know about today
Copyright REUTERS
By Sallyann Nicholls
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Follow our live updates on key stories across Europe and beyond.

US to slap sanctions on Russia after Salisbury attack


Washington is to impose fresh sanctions on Russia after deeming it responsible for poisoning a former Russian spy and his daughter in Salisbury, England, using a military-grade nerve agent, despite denials from Moscow.

The two rounds of sanctions would prevent the export of sensitive national security goods to Russia, and could include a downgrade in diplomatic relations, a suspension of Aeroflot’s ability to fly to the US, and a ban on nearly all exports and imports.

The UK government welcomed the move on Wednesday, saying the sanctions sent “an unequivocal message to Russia that its provocative, reckless behaviour will not go unchallenged”.

The sanctions will take effect around August 22, a US State Department spokeswoman said.

Spain accepts dozens more migrants from NGO ship

An NGO ship which rescued 87 migrants off the coast of Libya on Thursday morning is to dock in Spain.

Proactiva Open Arms said Wednesday that the migrants, most of whom are Sudanese, will disembark in the Spanish port of Algeciras, near Gibraltar, on Thursday after they were refused entry into Italy and Malta.

The migrants had spent 50 hours without drinking water on an inflatable boat at sea when they were plucked to safety.

Germany and Spain reach migrant return deal

Berlin has reached an agreement with Madrid which would allow it to return asylum seekers registered in Spain within 48 hours of their arrival at the German border.

The measure is set to come into force on Saturday.

German Interior Ministry spokeswoman Eleonore Petermann said the deal was signed on Monday, and Spain had asked for nothing in return.

German Interior Minister Horst Seehofer hopes the deal, which is the first of its kind, could be made with other European countries going forward.

Portugal wildfire to spread 'for days'

Portugal's Prime Minister has warned that a massive fire burning out of control in the Algarve tourist region will take "days" to put out.

The fire is moving south from the Monchique hills towards the Algarve coast, and has been burning since Friday despite huge government efforts to prevent a repeat of last year's deadly fires which killed 114 people.

Prime Minister Antonio Costa told reporters on Wednesday: ''The fire will not be extinguished in the next few hours. The coming hours will be especially difficult because of temperature, wind velocity and relative humidity. The firefighting windows of opportunity are limited and focused on night time and dawn."


Italy ditches mandatory vaccinations for young children

Mandatory vaccinations against measles and other infectious diseases are to be thrown out in Italy after senators voted to bin their vaccination law.

The amendment was passed by 148 votes versus 110 on Wednesday.

Under the legislation, which was installed by the previous government in March, children could not enrol in a creche or preschool unless they’d been vaccinated against 10 diseases.

Last year, Italy reported 5,000 cases of measles, up from 870 in 2016, and accounted for almost a third of all cases reported in the EU or EEA in the year to June 2018.


As it happened on Thursday, August 9

This is how we covered key developments this morning:

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