Five quick hits: Serbia threatens to quit Euros over racist chants and England still defending even after 1-1 draw

England has tried to head off criticism after a “concerning” draw against Denmark, Serbia threatens to boycott over racist chants, and Spain advances past Italy after an own goal.

Here are five quick hits from overnight at the Euros.

1. Serbia threatens to quit Euros over racist chants

Fans at the Albania-Croatia game reportedly chanted “Kill the Serb”.(AP: Ebrahim Noroozi)

Serbian football officials have threatened to quit the European Championship after they were offended by fan chants reportedly heard during the Albania-Croatia match.

The game on Wednesday ended 2-2 in Hamburg and Serbia Football Association general secretary Jovan Šurbatović reportedly said he heard fans chanting “Kill the Serb”.

“What happened is scandalous and we will ask UEFA for sanctions, even at the cost of not continuing the competition,” Šurbatović said.

“We will request UEFA to punish the federations of both teams. We don’t want to participate in that, but if UEFA doesn’t punish them, we will think about how to proceed.”

In a separate statement on Thursday, the Serbia FA condemned the “shameful racist behaviour” of the Albanian and Croatian fans and said the match should have been suspended as soon as the chants started.

“Such insulting of a nation with cries that they should be killed has not been seen at sports events for a long time,” the statement read.

UEFA did not respond to requests for comment on the threats from Serbia.

Serbia drew 1-1 with Slovenia in its second group match against Slovenia in Munich. Its third and potentially last game is on Tuesday against Denmark.

The animosity between Croatian and Albanian fans toward the Serbs, and vice versa, dates to the 1990s wars in the Balkans.

Serbian fans are notorious for their chants against Croats and Albanians as well as racist shouts and vocal support of convicted war criminals responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands during the bloody break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

UEFA fined the Albanian and Serbian federations 10,000 euros each after their first group matches for fans displaying banners with nationalist maps.

Albania fans displayed a banner with a map of their country extending its borders into the territory of neighbouring countries and a Serbian fan banner included the territory of Kosovo, a former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008, and a slogan, “No Surrender”, in the 1-0 loss against England in Gelsenkirchen.

UEFA has also launched an investigation into claims of monkey chants aimed at England players during the clash.

2. England’s pre-emptive defence against criticism

After a slim 1-0 win over Serbia in its opener, England eked out a 1-1 draw with Denmark in Frankfurt to remain unbeaten at the tournament, but one win from two matches against teams ranked outside FIFA’s top 20 is little more than business-like for the 2021 runners-up.

After hitting the front in the 18th minute, England conceded a long-range bullet from Morten Hjulmand and struggled for the rest of the game.

Vice-captain Kyle Walker’s post-match interview seemed focused on heading off criticism from fans.

“It’s tournament football. This is a good Denmark team and we’re top of the group, so let’s try and take a positive from this game,” he said.

“We’ve not lost, we’ve conceded a great strike from outside the box. We’re top of the group, so let’s move on to the next game.”



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Frederik X proclaimed the new King of Denmark after his mother Queen Margrethe II abdicates

Denmark’s King Frederik X waves from the balcony of Christiansborg Palace in Copenhagen, Denmark, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. Queen Margrethe II has become Denmark’s first monarch to abdicate in nearly 900 years when she handed over the throne to her son, who has become King Frederik X.
| Photo Credit: AP

Denmark’s Prime Minister proclaimed Frederik X as King on Sunday after his mother Queen Margrethe II formally signed her abdication, with massive crowds turning out to rejoice in the throne passing from a beloved monarch to her popular son.

Queen Margrethe, 83, is the first Danish monarch to voluntarily relinquish the throne in nearly 900 years. Many thousands of people gathered outside the palace where the royal succession was taking place, the mood jubilant as the Nordic nation experienced its first royal succession in more than a half-century, and one not caused by the death of a monarch.

Wearing a magenta outfit, Queen Margrethe signed her abdication during a meeting with the Danish Cabinet at the Christiansborg Palace, a vast complex in Copenhagen that houses the Royal Reception Rooms and Royal Stables as well as the Danish Parliament, the prime minister’s office and the Supreme Court.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen next proclaimed Frederik King from the balcony of the palace before thousands of people — subjects of a kingdom where the trappings of royalty are mostly symbolic in today’s modern era of constitutional democracy.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen proclaims the accession of the throne from Queen Margrethe to King Frederik X from the balcony at Christiansborg Palace, in Copenhagen, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. Denmark’s prime minister proclaimed Frederik X as king after his mother Queen Margrethe II formally signed her abdication. Massive crowds turned out to rejoice in the throne passing from a beloved monarch to her popular son.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen proclaims the accession of the throne from Queen Margrethe to King Frederik X from the balcony at Christiansborg Palace, in Copenhagen, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. Denmark’s prime minister proclaimed Frederik X as king after his mother Queen Margrethe II formally signed her abdication. Massive crowds turned out to rejoice in the throne passing from a beloved monarch to her popular son.
| Photo Credit:
AP

Mr. Frederiksen read the proclamation three times, which is the tradition, as King Frederik stood beside her wearing a ceremonial military uniform adorned with medals. He was then joined on the balcony by new Queen Mary and the couple’s four children, and the crowd spontaneously sang the national anthem.

“My hope is to become a unifying king of tomorrow,” King Frederik said. “It is a task I have approached all my life.”

“I want to return the trust I meet. I need trust from my beloved wife, you and that which is greater than us,” the new King said.

King Frederik then kissed Queen Mary and another great cheer rose from the crowd.

The abdication document was earlier presented to Queen Margrethe as she sat at a massive table covered in red cloth around which royals and members of the Danish government were seated. King Frederik sat beside her.

After signing it, Queen Margrethe rose and gestured to King Frederik to take her place. “God save the King,” she said as she left the room.

The abdication leaves Denmark with two Queens: Margrethe keeps her title, while King Frederik’s Australian-born wife becomes Queen Mary. Mr. Frederik and Queen Mary’s eldest son Christian, 18, has become Crown prince and heir to the throne.

Denmark’s King Frederik X and Queen Mary, together with their children from left, Princess Josephine, Crown Prince Christian, Princess Isabella and Prince Vincent wave after the proclamation, at Christiansborg Palace, in Copenhagen, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. Denmark’s prime minister proclaimed Frederik X as king after his mother Queen Margrethe II formally signed her abdication. Massive crowds turned out to rejoice in the throne passing from a beloved monarch to her popular son.

Denmark’s King Frederik X and Queen Mary, together with their children from left, Princess Josephine, Crown Prince Christian, Princess Isabella and Prince Vincent wave after the proclamation, at Christiansborg Palace, in Copenhagen, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. Denmark’s prime minister proclaimed Frederik X as king after his mother Queen Margrethe II formally signed her abdication. Massive crowds turned out to rejoice in the throne passing from a beloved monarch to her popular son.
| Photo Credit:
AP

Crown Prince Christian handed Queen Margrethe her walking stick as she departed from her abdication ceremony.

Citing health issues, Queen Margrethe announced on New Year’s Eve that she would step down, stunning a nation that had expected her to live out her days on the throne, as is tradition in the Danish monarchy. Queen Margrethe underwent major back surgery last February and didn’t return to work until April.

Even the Prime Minister was unaware of the Queen’s intentions until right before the announcement. Queen Margrethe had informed King Frederik and his younger brother Joachim just three days earlier, the Berlingske newspaper wrote, citing the royal palace.

People from across Denmark gathered outside Parliament, with many swarming streets decorated with red-and-white Danish flags. Several shops hung photos of Queen Margrethe and King Frederik, while city buses were adorned with smaller Danish flags as is customary during royal events. Many others across the kingdom of nearly 6 million people followed a live television broadcast of the historic event.

The royal guards’ music band made their daily parade through downtown Copenhagen, but wore red jackets, instead of their usual black, to mark major events.

Copenhagen resident Rene Jensen, wearing a replica of a royal robe and a bejewelled purple crown on his head, said that he expected Frederik to be “a King for the nation, representing us everywhere.”

The last time a Danish monarch voluntarily resigned was in 1146, when King Erik III Lam stepped down to enter a monastery. Queen Margrethe abdicated on the same day of January that she ascended the throne following the death of her father, King Frederik IX, on Jan. 14, 1972.

Denmark’s monarchy traces its origins to 10th-century Viking king Gorm the Old, making it the oldest in Europe and one of the oldest in the world. Today the royal family’s duties are largely ceremonial.

Australians also turned out on the streets of Copenhagen to celebrate one of their own becoming queen.

“I think it’s good that she’s not from royalty and has a normal Australian background. We can relate more to that, because she’s from a middle-class background, and we are too,” said Judy Langtree, who made the long journey from Brisbane with her daughter to witness the royal event.

A survey — commissioned by Denmark’s public broadcaster DR — published Friday showed that 79% of the 1,037 people polled by the Epinion polling institute said that they believed King Frederik was prepared to take the reigns and 83% said they thought his wife Mary was ready to become Queen. The survey margin of error was 3 percentage points, DR said.

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Musk’s woes deepen as Tesla strike spreads across Scandinavia


Sweden v. Musk

The labour dispute between Tesla and its repair workshop mechanics that originated in Sweden on October 27 has escalated to include Denmark, Finland and Norway. As the stakes rise, Elon Musk’s electric vehicle manufacturer continues to resist signing a collective agreement with its Swedish employees.

Tesla majority-shareholder and CEO Elon Musk faces growing resistance in Scandinavia’s social democracies after refusing to sign a collective agreement determining the minimum wage of his employees.

The dispute, which initially involved only 130 mechanics at ten Tesla repair workshops across seven Swedish cities, has ballooned into an international strike movement.

“The mistake [American multinational] Tesla made was challenging the collective agreements that set sector-specific minimum wages in Sweden, a country where 70% of the population is unionised, compared with only 8% of private sector workers in France,” says Yohann Aucante, a political scientist and Scandinavia specialist at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS) in Paris.

Concerned about safeguarding collective agreements, which cover nearly 90% of all employees in Sweden, 15 Swedish unions have joined the strike at the request of the powerful IF Metall union since it kicked off on October 27.

Transporters are refusing to deliver vehicles while electricians are declining to repair charging stations. Cleaning staff have stopped cleaning showrooms, garbage is piling up outside Tesla centres as refuse collectors refuse to pick it up, and the Swedish postal service has stopped delivering license plates essential for registering new Teslas.

On the retail end of the supply chain, car dealerships have stopped offering Teslas and Stockholm taxis have suspended their Tesla purchases.

Neighbours join fight

Far from stopping in Sweden, the “sympathy strike” has spread to the country’s Nordic cousins who also see Tesla’s ambitions as threatening their labour models.

“There are also strong collective agreements and unions in Norway, especially in Denmark, where these agreements determine the majority of labour law,” says Aucante. “Therefore, Norwegians and Danes are keen on this model which gives unions some negotiating power against employers.”

After Denmark’s largest union, 3F, declared a solidarity strike with Swedish workers on December 5, Norway’s largest private sector union warned on December 6 that it would block the transit of Tesla cars to Sweden if the American automaker did not reach an agreement with its Swedish workers by December 20.

The following day, the Finnish transport workers’ union AKT offered the same pledge. “It is a crucial part of the Nordic labour market model that we have collective agreements and unions support each other,” AKT president Ismo Kokko said in a statement.

International sympathy strikes are rare, but not unprecedented says Aucante. The last major mobilisation dates back to 1995 when the American toy company Toys “R” Us tried to bypass unions and impose its own salary rules. The retailer eventually yielded after three months of strikes in Sweden and Europe. 

Musk outraged

The revolt has provoked outrage from Musk who described the industrial action as “insane” on his social network, X, on November 23.

In response, Tesla filed a request to compel the Swedish postal operator to deliver the license plates and sought compensation for a loss of over €87,000. However, its prosecution request was rejected on December 7 by a Swedish court.

The carmaker is now actively seeking a government affairs specialist in Sweden to help resolve the issue. A job listing posted recently on the Tesla careers website shows the company is looking for someone with a “proven track record of getting regulatory changes made in the Nordics”.

Nordic investors ‘deeply concerned’

Another, more serious threat to Musk is a group of powerful pension funds in the region which have begun criticising Tesla’s conduct.

A group of Nordic investors, which include Norway‘s largest pension fund KLP, Sweden’s Folksam and Denmark‘s PFA, defended the Swedish labour market model in a letter sent to Tesla on Thursday, saying they are “deeply concerned” about the situation.

“We as Nordic investors acknowledge the decade-old tradition of collective bargaining, and therefore urge Tesla to reconsider your current approach to unions,” the letter reads.

The investor letter also asks for a meeting with Tesla’s board in early 2024 to discuss the matter.

Some funds, acting individually, have gone further in their critique. Kiran Aziz, head of responsible investments at KLP, which holds around €195 million in Tesla shares, said it’s not “just about the labour model in the Nordic but about fundamental human rights”.

Read moreMacron, Musk meet in Paris to discuss future investment in France

In Denmark, the pension fund PensionDanmark has decided it’s already seen enough. It sold its 476 million Danish crowns (€64 million) in Tesla holdings on December 7.

The Norges Bank Investment Bank (NBIM), which operates the Norwegian sovereign wealth fund and is the seventh-largest Tesla shareholder with a stake of around €6.3 billion, did not sign on to the letter. However, it declared last week that it would continue to pressure the company to respect labour rights, such as collective bargaining.

A blow to branding

For Tesla, the stakes are high. “As Scandinavians are the leading consumers of Tesla in Europe, the company has no interest in prolonging a conflict that will severely damage its image,” says Aucante, who believes Tesla will have to make concessions.

“With the trend towards greening economies, it’s ‘bad form’ to produce cars in China when building an electric car aimed at reducing carbon impact,” adds Aucante. “That’s why Tesla is trying to bring back some of its production to Europe, but labour costs are not the same, and there are more regulations here.”

While the strike currently affects only northern European countries, there is speculation it could inspire the 11,000 employees at Tesla’s largest European operation, the Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg.

German employees secured a 4% salary increase in early November as a result of pressure from German unions – a concession which could be linked to the fear of the strike in Nordic countries migrating south, according to the Washington Post.

Across the Atlantic, Tesla workers have yet to unionise. However, after the United Auto Workers (UAW) successfully negotiated deals with Ford, General Motors and Stellantis in November, Tesla is likely worried about unions back home, too.

This article was translated from the original in French.

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Why does Denmark have one of Europe’s lowest rates of bullying?

Denmark, along with Sweden and Finland, has one of the lowest rates of bullying in Europe. We speak to teachers, pupils and parents to find out how this Scandinavian country is managing to stamp out harassment in schools.

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The Sluseholmen Skole in Copenhagen is one of many Danish schools where children are taught from an early age how to avoid bullying, which causes less damage here than elsewhere in Europe.

Meditation and cuddles are part of the morning routine for primary school pupils at Sluseholmen Skole. For teacher Maja Hindsgaul, well-being is key to learning.

“I’m the one they can talk to if something is difficult. And I’m actually talking a lot about who I am and what I like, and that it’s ok if they like to hug. I like that too,” she told Euronews.

“Of course, they have to learn to read and write and stuff like that, but they can do that if they feel safe. It’s my mission to make them feel safe so that they can develop social skills at school.”

Learning how to live with each other is part of the teaching.

“We’re always trying to get the kids to work together in different types of groups, across genders and not always with their best friends,” said teacher Louise Ibsen. “They’re also practicing social skills for how to communicate, and also how to compromise on different ideas.”

These methods are just some examples of the programmes used in many Danish schools to prevent bullying, as early as kindergarden. And the children are very receptive.

“Everybody has full respect for each other,” said pupil Polly Schlüter Bingestam. “Friends help you if you are bullied because they stop the bullies and call a teacher.”

Fatemeh Shahmarvand is a parent and part of the school board. This enables parents to take part in decisions regarding school programmes, which plays a key role in preventing bullying, says Fatemeh.

“I think the most important thing is that if you see that your children are feeling bad, you take it seriously and try to find out what could be wrong, that we parents talk to our children and find how to make them a bit more robust so that they can learn how to cope with adversity,” she told Euronews.

‘It’s harder to be a teenager:’ The impact of the internet and Covid lockdowns

Denmark, along with Sweden and Finland, has one of the lowest rates of bullying in Europe. However, a call centre, managed by Danish children’s rights NGO Børns Vilkår, has seen the number of calls related to bullying increase, as well as suicidal thoughts, in particular among young teenagers.

“We have all age groups calling about bullying, but it seems to be a particular problem for, let’s say 10 to 15-year-olds,” says Børns Vilkår’s CEO, Rasmus Kjeldahl. “And that’s where it’s extremely important for a child to belong to a group. The act of bullying is expulsion from the group.”

“The digital dimension has made it worse because the bullying doesn’t stop when you leave the school,” he added.

Helle Hansen is an education and school bullying researcher. She’s one of the experts who designed anti-bullying programmes introduced in Denmark’s schools 15 years ago.

Such programmes have been successful, but must be reinvented she says, in the light of new realities.

“It’s harder to be a teenager. We had the lockdown. We had Covid. You’re more alone. In general, well-being is challenged. Young people, or kids who are involved in bullying, they need something. They need to understand the meaning of being here and being part of it.”

“If we don’t understand them, they are meeting meaninglessness. And meaninglessness is a part of why they start bullying each other.”

The importance of communication and student-led governance

Understanding teenagers is a matter of course, for the headteacher of the Greve Gymnasium high school near Copenhagen. Like in many Danish schools, an anti-bullying charter can be found on its website.

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More than sanctions, what matters most are group dynamics and dialogue with students. They have their say in the anti-bullying strategy, as they do for all the rules governing school life.

“We try to get close to the students in many ways and to discuss the teaching, the pedagogical principles, what they do in the breaks, what they do in their spare time, and of course, how they interact on social media. We have lessons about that as well,” said Mette Trangbæk, the Headmaster of Greve Gymnasium school.

“It’s very important that we dare to go close to them and dare to facilitate their life, not only life in the classroom but also life in their spare time.We work on trust, because trust is a way to get closely related to them, but it’s also to act upon the problems.”

That was a trust we could bear witness to in one final-year maths class. A group of students chose to leave the room to talk to us about bullying, with their teacher’s blessing.

“I’m an authority in my field in math and history. But I’m not an authority on what you should do or think. That’s responsibility,” Maths and History teacher Sanne Yde Schmidt told her students.

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“I think a lot of bullying comes from hierarchies that don’t work. And then people try to take power by bullying someone else. And if you don’t need to take power because you have the power of your own life from the beginning, then that’s another situation.” she told Valerie Gauriat.

“The students have a quite big voice in the decisions that the school makes”, points out Mathias Keimling, a student representative at the school board. “If we hear that any of our co-students, have problems, we can take it right to the board, where our opinions will definitely be heard.”

Co-student Lucija Mikic feels the odds of bullying are lower in Denmark than elsewhere in Europe, because young people “learn from a young age to treat others as we would like to be treated. That’s very much built into the way we’re taught,” she says. “And it’s something you think of before you say anything to someone else.”

For her class-mate Jonathan Emil Bloch Teute, the way children and teenagers relate to  adults also plays a role: “teachers and parents are seen as confidants and guidance givers more than authorities you have to respect and answer to. If you do experience bullying in Denmark, I think everyone has someone older that they can reach out to and help fix this problem.”

At the end of our conversation, the students meet up cheerfully with their maths teacher again.

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“They missed the math class, but they learned something else that’s also important. It’s part of being grown up, to decide what is important.”, smiles Sanne Yde Schmidt. “To be a person in your own right is part of feeling well about yourself, and that prevents bullying.”

One of her students, Xenia Marie Biehl Wilkens nods approvingly. “Denmark as a country is good at giving us this feeling that we are a person, we are an individual, and we are heard and seen.”

“And important!” adds Sanne. “You’re your own person, but as a part of a community. We’re separate but together.”

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The right to breathe: how policymakers can tackle severe asthma

Asthma impacts over 330 million people worldwide. While severe asthma makes up only 5-10 percent of cases, it is accountable for over half of asthma-related costs globally.[1] It profoundly affects patients’ lives, undermining their physical, mental and economic well-being, and increasing the risk of preventable deaths. Despite its significance, severe asthma is often overshadowed by other health priorities, leading to inadequate resource allocation and substandard care, further straining already pressured health systems.

Severe asthma outcomes, like many other chronic diseases, are deeply entangled with a wide range of environmental and socio-economic factors. Therefore, addressing it is not merely about medical intervention, but about creating and implementing comprehensive, holistic strategies.

The challenges presented by severe asthma are not beyond our capabilities. Around the globe, there is a wide range of best practices, treatments, and approaches to asthma management. Yet, the path to transformation demands a unified commitment from a broad set of stakeholders, from policymakers to medical professionals, industry, patients and beyond. While the blueprint for a future unburdened by severe asthma exists, it is up to decision-makers to realize it together.

While the blueprint for a future unburdened by severe asthma exists, it is up to decision-makers to realize it together.

And the good news is that progress is already underway. Since autumn 2022, we have collaborated as an international expert group to support the development of the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies’ (CIFS) Severe Asthma Index. This tool assesses how 29 OECD countries manage severe asthma across various indicators, such as national strategies, treatment access, hospitalizations, societal costs and air quality, among others.

While the Severe Asthma Index is an important stride in tackling severe asthma, the true test lies in how its insights are applied in practice. Among the many actions needed to be taken to improve severe asthma care, the most pressing concern is policy change.

We have identified three actions, derived from the work we have conducted to date, for policymakers to kickstart strengthening health systems’ approaches to and management of severe asthma:

  1. Development and implementation of national asthma plans and strategies

The Severe Asthma Index has found that less than half of the countries analyzed have a national strategy for asthma, prevention, and management. There is, therefore, a need to formulate and actively implement dedicated national asthma programs, tailored to the unique challenges of individual health systems. These programs should not only emphasize prevention, early detection and diagnosis but also adapt best practices to specific national and local contexts.

Importantly, plans should be situated in the context of long-term strategies for improving population health outcomes.

“In England, work around respiratory illness is gaining traction,” notes Sir David Behan, chair of Health Education England, NHS, and expert group member. “Part of the initiative being developed [is] to ease pressure on the emergency care pathways and hospitals.”  

All approaches should promote awareness on respiratory diseases, support personalized care plans, empower patients and improve training and opportunities for training health care professionals working in respiratory care.

2. Coordination and harmonization of policies and care guidelines

There is a patchwork of country approaches to severe asthma, illustrated by the observation that more than two-thirds of the country guidelines assessed in the Severe Asthma Index do not fully align with the Global Initiative for Asthma’s (GINA) guide for Difficult-to-treat and Severe Asthma in Adolescence And Adult Patients. Policymakers must strive to coordinate their approaches to severe asthma by harmonizing policies and guidelines for asthma care to the greatest possible extent, with the aim of reducing outcome disparities, bolstering equity and promoting health system sustainability.

In doing so, there should be an emphasis on identifying and scaling best practices, promoting cross-border collaboration, and championing holistic solutions informed by the widely-acclaimed Health in All Policies approach.

The Australian National Asthma Council’s Australian Asthma Handbook is a strong example of a best practice in this area that policymakers could draw inspiration from in acting on this point.

3. Supporting improved data collection and the development of a more robust evidence base for severe asthma

Policymakers should incentivize and ultimately mandate improved production, recording and utilization of asthma- and severe asthma-specific data, as well as identifier data such as prescription data, adherence to treatment regimes, lung function analysis and demographic and socioeconomic indicators, following a set of common standards.

Currently, despite the existence of clinical codes for severe asthma, the condition remains significantly underreported in clinical settings due in large part to inconsistent coding practices, leading to an increased probability of patients receiving inadequate care and suboptimal allocation of health system resources. The dearth of severe asthma data and barriers to accessing the few datasets that do exist render it difficult to develop a comprehensive and consistent understanding of the full impact of severe asthma.

National policymakers need to prioritize financial and logistical support for country-level asthma research. Research activities should aim to produce a solid evidence base that will offer a nuanced understanding of each country’s needs, challenges and opportunities regarding asthma care. Support for research activities granted over the long term will enable longitudinal studies so that national trends and progress can be accurately tracked.

Only 3 percent of the European Union’s budget for health [is] spent on lung health, although 13 percent of Europeans have lung disease.

“Only 3 percent of the European Union’s budget for health [is] spent on lung health, although 13 percent of Europeans have lung disease,” says Susanna Palkonen, director of the European Federation of Allergy & Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA) and expert group member.

The International Severe Asthma Registry (ISAR) initiative provides a strong basis for continued work in this area.

The path ahead requires that these actions evolve in tandem with the latest advancements in respiratory care and approaches to the management and prevention of noncommunicable diseases. This is not simply about updating and developing new policies — it’s about crafting robust and well-rounded solutions that proactively address a health challenge that is both global and local and supporting a much-needed vision for improved respiratory health outcomes.

As we look forward, we cannot just treat asthma. We must transform our approach to ensure that every patient’s right to breathe becomes a global reality.


Author(s):
Patrick Henry Gallen, senior advisor and futurist at Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies

Bogi Eliasen, director of health at Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies

Professor Dr. Vibeke Backer, MD, DMSci, chief respiratory physician at Department of ENT and Centre for Physical Activity Research (CFAS), Rigshospitalet, Copenhagen, Denmark

Sir David Behan, chair Health Education England, National Health System (NHS), U.K.​

Dr. Mark Levy, board member, Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA), U.K.​

Mikaela Odemyr, chair European Lung Foundation (ELF) Patient Advisory Committee; chair Swedish Asthma and Allergy Association, Sweden

Susanna Palkonen, director, European Federation of Allergy and Airways Diseases Patients’ Associations (EFA)  

Professor Dr. Arzu Yorgancıoğlu, chair European Respiratory Society (ERS) Advocacy Council; member of Global Initiative on Asthma (GINA) Board; chair of GINA Dissemination and Implementation Committee; chair of the WHO GARD Executive Committee Turkey 


References:
[1] Al Efraij K, FitzGerald JM. Current and emerging treatments for severe asthma. J Thorac Dis 2015;7(11):E522-E525



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You’re up, Joe: Europe awaits Biden’s nod on next NATO chief

Europe is waiting for white smoke from Washington. 

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg will visit the White House on Tuesday, part of a trip that could determine whether he stays on at the helm of the Western military alliance or if the U.S. will back a new candidate. 

For months now, Europe has been locked in an endless parlor game over who might replace Stoltenberg, who is slated to leave his already-extended term in September after nearly 10 years at the helm.

Candidates have risen, fallen and risen again, while some desired successors have repeatedly proclaimed themselves not interested. Diplomats at NATO headquarters in Brussels will put forth one theory, only to offer a different one in the next sentence.

Throughout it all, the U.S. has stayed noticeably mum on the subject, merely indicating President Joe Biden hasn’t settled on a candidate and effusively praising Stoltenberg’s work. Yet Biden can’t sit on the fence forever. While the NATO chief is technically chosen by consensus, the White House’s endorsement carries heavy weight.

The foot-dragging has left NATO in limbo: while some members say it’s high time for a fresh face, the NATO job — traditionally reserved for a European — has become highly sensitive. There are few senior European leaders who are both available and can win the backing of all 31 alliance members for the high-profile post. 

The result is that all eyes have turned to Washington as the clock ticks down to NATO’s annual summit in July — a sort of deadline for the alliance to make a decision on its next (or extended) leader. 

“I would not be 100 percent sure that the list is closed,” said one senior diplomat from Central Europe, who like others was granted anonymity to discuss alliance dynamics. “There might be,” the diplomat added, “a last-minute extension initiative.”  

Shadow contest

Diplomats are divided on what will happen in the NATO leadership sweepstakes. 

While many candidates still insist they are not in the running — and Stoltenberg has repeatedly said he plans to go home to Norway, where he was prime minister — all options appear to remain on the table.  

In recent days, the two possible contenders mentioned most often in diplomatic circles are Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace.

Frederiksen met with Biden at the White House last week, turbocharging speculation about her future. As a female leader from a European Union country that is a strong Ukraine supporter but not a full-on hawk, the Danish leader checks off many boxes for some of the alliance’s most influential members. 

Yet speaking to reporters in Washington, she insisted, “I am not a candidate for any other job than the one I have now, and this has not changed after my meeting with the U.S. president.” 

In NATO circles, however, the narrative is different. Four European diplomats said Frederiksen’s name is still circulating as a serious contender for the post. 

Still, Frederiksen faces challenges: Denmark already had the top NATO job less than a decade ago. And not everyone is totally enthusiastic. 

“The Turks might want to block the Danish candidate,” said the senior Central European diplomat. “There is some distance to this idea (not to Frederiksen personally) also elsewhere in the east and in the south, and some of those countries might even join a potential blockade.”

Turkey summoned the Danish envoy in Ankara earlier this year after a far-right group burned a Quran and Turkish flag in Copenhagen. More broadly, the Turkish government has taken issue with a number of northern European countries and is still blocking Sweden’s NATO accession bid.

Asked about possible opposition to the Danish leader from Ankara, however, a Turkish official said: “It is gossip, period. We have never been asked about her candidacy!”

Britain’s Wallace, on the other hand, has openly expressed interest in the NATO job. 

But he faces an uphill battle. Many allies would prefer to see a former head of government in the role. And some EU capitals have signaled they would oppose a non-EU candidate. 

Asked last week if it’s time for a British secretary-general, Biden was lukewarm. 

“Maybe. That remains to be seen,” the president said. “We’re going to have to get a consensus within NATO to see that happen. They have a candidate who’s a very qualified individual. But we’re going to have — we have a lot of discussion, not between us, but in NATO, to determine what the outcome of that will be.” 

A number of other names — including Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and Spanish leader Pedro Sánchez — are still occasionally mentioned, although less frequently. Sánchez, for his part, could soon be in the market for a new job as he faces a tough election in July. 

Some diplomats simply aren’t crazy about any of the leading options.

“I don’t feel it,” said a senior NATO diplomat, also speaking anonymously to discuss internal deliberations. The diplomat argued the “most likely” scenario is yet another short extension for Stoltenberg and a need to then “refresh” the list of candidates. 

The senior diplomat from Central Europe argued that “the EU core” — some of the bloc’s most influential capitals — might be in favor of an extension that would sync up the NATO chief talks with the EU’s upcoming leadership reshuffle after the EU’s June 2024 elections. Combining the two could open the door to more political horse trading. 

But asked last month about his future, Stoltenberg said: “I have made it clear that I have no other plans than to leave this fall. I will already have been almost twice as long as originally planned.”

Others insisted they remained upbeat about the names on the table. 

Both Frederiksen and Wallace, said one senior northern European diplomat, “seem well qualified.” 

A senior diplomat from Eastern Europe bet on a new NATO chief soon. 

“I think,” the diplomat said, “we are moving closer to the replacement than extension.”

Eli Stokols contributed reporting.



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India, Denmark have strong, historic silver traditions: Danish Crown Prince

India and Denmark have “strong and historic silver traditions”, Danish Crown Prince Frederik André Henrik Christian said on Monday and expressed hope that both nations will serve as a true example of artistic cultural exchange to the rest of the world.

Denmark’s Crown Prince and Crown Princess Mary Elizabeth, who are currently touring India, inaugurated an exhibition — “Silver Treasure from India and Denmark” — showcasing more than 250 pieces of prized silverware from both countries, during their visit to the National Museum in Delhi.

As part of the exhibition, around 150 objects, including one from the Mohenjo-daro era, have been sourced from the National Museum’s reserved collection. The exhibition included a range of rare silverware, some of them more than 300 years old, from Museum Kolding in Denmark, officials said.

‘Silver treasures from India and Denmark’ Exhibition, in New Delhi.
| Photo Credit:
PTI

After a ceremonial event held at the National Museum, Denmark’s Crown Prince and Crown Princess later opened the exhibition and were given a tour of the exhibits.

Union Minister of State for External Affairs and Culture Meenakashi Lekhi and Danish Foreign Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen were present on the occasion.

Denmark’s Crown Prince later wrote a message in the visitor’s book and also signed it.

In his message, he thanked Ms. Lekhi for hosting the royal couple at the National Museum and termed the display an “extraordinary exhibition on silver”.

“India and Denmark have strong and historic silver traditions. I sincerely hope that both nations get inspired, learn from each other’s silver traditions, and serve as a true example of artistic cultural exchange to the rest of the world. With these important cultural exchanges, we build a strong foundation of our future cultural cooperation,” he wrote.

Denmark’s Crown Prince and Crown Princess arrived in India on Sunday on a four-day visit. It is the first visit to India from the Danish Royal family in two decades.

The two are visiting India at the invitation of Vice President Jagdeep Dhankhar, according to the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).

Later in the day, the Ministry of Culture in a statement said, the National Museum, New Delhi, has opened “an international exhibition showcasing history and splendour of Indian and Danish silver together, for the first time in India”.

“The exhibition is a melting pot for a diverse variety of silver artworks from the two distinctive countries. It showcases more than 250 extraordinary silver objects segregated into five different themes that explore the craftsmanship and silversmith techniques of two countries from various aspects,” it said.

Earlier, during the ceremonial event, Danish Foreign Minister Rasmussen, in his address to a gathering, said, the exhibition was “another step” in the ongoing relationship between India and Denmark that goes back more than 400 years.

“And, it is only right to celebrate our strong friendship with a silver exhibition,” he said, adding that these silver objects are a living thing like “our friendship is a living thing”.

He also recalled his visit to India in 2019 as then prime minister of Denmark.

“Since my last trip, I am very happy to see the progress in our partnership and the progress in India, which is quite amazing,” Mr. Rasmussen said.

He said the partnership between the two countries is “developing”, and taking “another important step” with this exciting India-Denmark cultural exchange programme.

The Danish foreign minister said the two countries have cooperation in multiple areas that bind them, but cultural cooperation adds something more to the bilateral ties. India and Denmark, both have a rich legacy of history and craftsmanship, Mr. Rasmussen said.

“I am sure this is just a beginning of a strong, sustainable and long-lasting cooperation which will further deepen our bilateral ties,” he said.

A Memorandum of Understanding for the exhibition was signed and exchanged between the National Museum, New Delhi, and the Museum Kolding in Kolding, Denmark on November 17 last year.

“When we look at Denmark, we look as a friend, and I am sure, Denmark looks at India as a friend too,” Ms. Lekhi said in his address, adding there are values that bind the two countries, but “culture connects” in a different way.

She also recalled the exhibition “Tradition is Contemporary- Danish Textile Craft in Art and Design” which was inaugurated last November at the National Crafts Museum and Hastkala Academy here in the presence of Freddy Svane, Danish Ambassador to India.

On the exhibition that opened on Monday, Ms. Lekhi said, these silver pieces represent the “beauty of the two cultures”.

“Delighted to witness an impressive collection of ‘Silver Treasures From India and Denmark’, a collaboration between the National Museum and Kolding Museum. The exhibition was inaugurated by their Royal Highness Crown Prince Frederik and Crown Princess Mary Elizabeth of Denmark,” Ms. Lekhi later tweeted and shared a few pictures.

Lily Pandeya, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Culture, and Director General of the National Museum, said this exhibition will be remembered as the “silver knot” that binds the two countries and inspire more cultural dialogues between India and the rest of the world.

Some of the rare silver pieces on display include a matchbox and a glass, both dating to the 19th century period, from Madras (now Chennai), an 18th-century perfume container from Lucknow, a 17th-century spouted ewer from Kashmir among the Indian objects.

From Denmark, rare pieces from the 17th century, 18th century and 19th century and 20th century, including vintage tea sets, tableware, cutlery have been put on display in the exhibition that will end on April 30.

A ‘Giraffe vase’ from Copenhagen, with its design inspired by the animal’s anatomy, has also been put on display.

Danish Ambassador to India Freddy Svane and India’s Ambassador in Denmark Pooja Kapur, and Director of Museum Kolding, Rune Ottogreen Lundberg were also present on the occasion.

“The exhibition marks a cultural milestone in the cooperation between India and Denmark. Culture creates a bridge where we can learn a lot from each other and gain insight into each other’s worlds, differences and similarities.

“The exhibition is part of a cultural exchange programme, which continues until 2026, so there is much to look forward to with exchanges in culture, crafts, music and literature,” Mr. Lundberg said and described the exhibits as an “outstanding collection”.

Silver objects dating back to the Indus Valley Civilisation include rare silver beads, coins dating back to ancient and medieval India, miniature idols, jewellery, smoking pipes, exclusively carved and enamelled ‘ itardaan‘ (perfume bottle) and other decorative items from the collection of the National Museum are part of the exhibition, the statement said.

The eclectic Danish collection of Museum Kolding on display, include a Bible cover in silver, a spinning kettle, tankard depicting biblical stories, along with other exquisite pieces like perfume boxes, jewellery and cutlery, it said.



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