The EU will ban its officials from taking part in most social events and non-essential gatherings at the Cop26 international climate summit because of Britain’s surge in Covid cases.
Two diplomats from the European Union who are set to attend the conference told Bloomberg that the bloc issued guidelines for socialising whilst in the UK.
Invitations are reportedly going to be analysed carefully, and the EU has also cut down the number of officials attending the conference by up to 30 per cent.
It comes as the UK is seeing an increase in new coronavirus cases, which is more than three-times the infection rate of the EU average.
Covid cases across the UK
Around one in 55 people in England are estimated to have had Covid in the week ending 16 October, according to the Office for National Statistics.
The figures show an increase on the week before, when the figure was one in 60. At the peak of the second wave in early January, around one in 50 were estimated to have coronavirus.
In Wales it is estimated one in 45 would have tested positive, while in Northern Ireland it was one in 130. Scotland saw a decrease with around one in 90 estimated to have had Covid.
European leaders cited UK’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic as a perfect example of what not to do.
UK’s environment policies threaten Britain’s credibility at Cop26
And despite international warnings that the world will face “conflict and chaos” if Cop26 climate summit fails, the Tories have voted down green amendments nationally days before the global talks are meant to start in Glasgow.
A leaked government document also revealed ministers told trade negotiators to not let environmental concerns get in the way of post-Brexit deals – and that the “economic case” is more important than whether countries mention environmental safeguards in agreements or not.
But it’s not just the external example set to other countries that will be a challenge to Alok Sharma, the UK’s Cabinet Office minister in charge of the summit.
Firms that spent millions of pounds to sponsor the Cop26 climate summit labelled the event as “mismanaged” and “very last minute”.
Firms sponsoring Glasgow summit complain about UK’s professionalism
The sponsors formally complained about UK’s “very inexperienced” civil servants for postponed decisions, bad communication and decaying relationships between the companies and the organisers.
Major sponsors include Sky, energy giants Hitachi, National Grid, Scottish Power and SSE, as well as NatWest, Reckitt, Sainsbury’s and Unilever – but the latter refused to sign a complaint letter sent by Sky on behalf of the sponsors.
The sponsors have been promised an “outstanding opportunity” and “unique benefits”, such as promoting their companies at the event and having ministers attending their events in return.
But sources told The Guardian that there has been a lack of information about how the event will run, companies discovered rivals would be attending against what they were previously told, and promises such as having ministers coming to sponsors’ events have not been kept.