The Capitals brings you the latest news from across Europe, through on-the-ground reporting by EURACTIV’s media network. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.
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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Recent statements from within the Green party, a member of the ruling coalition, suggest that Finnish NATO membership could be on the cards in as little as five years. Read more.
France’s Macron says he will make space policy announcements in February. French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday told newspaper Le Parisien that he would host a summit on the European Union’s space strategy with ministers from the bloc in February.
“I will make announcements on our strategy”, Macron said in the interview, adding that the meeting will be held in Toulouse, where aviation, defence and space conglomerate Airbus is based. (EURACTIV.com)
European Greens considering suing Commission over taxonomy rules. The European Greens are currently assessing whether to follow the Austrian example and sue the European Commission over the EU taxonomy rules that could label nuclear energy and gas as ‘green’ energy sources. Read more.
Greens pave way for German president’s second term. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, formerly a leading Social Democrat (SPD) politician, is now officially set for a second term in Berlin’s iconic Bellevue palace as the Greens have opted to put their weight behind him. Read more.
COVID-19 testing cost France €1 billion in December alone. A significant rise in COVID-19 testing in December saw the French state’s bill rise to €1 billion, according to newspaper Les Echos. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Irish president calls for EU leaders to support global vaccine coverage. Irish President Michael D. Higgins has written to the 14 other members of the Arraiolos Group, urging support for waiving COVID-19 vaccine patents and increasing the rollout of vaccinations globally. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Danish government pressured to boycott Beijing Winter Olympics. Pressure to boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing over China’s human rights situation is looming over the social democrat government as more parties in parliament are voicing their concern. Read more.
Interview: Why did so many Kurds go to Belarus? Political disillusionment, lack of economic opportunities and dreams of a better life are reasons why many asylum seekers that enter Lithuania from Belarus originate from Iraqi Kurdistan, a region considered one of the wealthiest and most stable in the region. Read more.
Election of Italy’s president in trouble as COVID-19 cases surge. With COVID-19 cases increasing across the country, the vote for Italy’s new president, who is to be elected by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate on 24 January, is becoming problematic. Read more.
Spain ended 2021 with record unemployment reduction not seen since 2007. Spain saw the largest annual unemployment reduction of over 20% in 2021 compared to 2020, the most significant drop since January 2007 EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported. Read more.
Portugal to increase early mobile voting stations for next elections. The government will double the number of mobile early voting stations in the next legislative elections due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, the assistant secretary of state and internal administration announced on Tuesday. Read more.
COVID-related deaths remain high in Greece. The rate of deaths due to COVID have remained high for months now, as Greece reported on Tuesday a new record of 50,126 new cases. Read more.
Polish justice minister calls on Warsaw to block EU’s ‘insane’ climate package. The EU’s “insane climate policy” must be rejected for electricity bills to fall, said Poland’s Justice Minister and leader of Solidarna Polska, Zbigniew Ziobro, on Twitter. Read more.
Prague says V4 allies Poland, Hungary breached rule of law. The rule of law was violated in Hungary and Poland, Czechia’s new EU Affairs Minister Mikuláš Bek (STAN, EPP) said in an interview for Hospodářské noviny. Read more.
Hungary’s opposition municipalities say they feel the heat of ruling party revenge. Cities run by opposition mayors are running ever-increasing budget deficits due to the double hit of governing party decisions stripping them of revenue and higher costs resulting from sky-high energy prices. Read more.
Slovakia first country in region to adopt deposit scheme for plastic bottles. From Monday, Slovaks can return undamaged plastic bottles and cans to supermarkets. Slovakia has become the first country in Central Europe and only the eighth country in the EU to introduce a deposit system of this kind. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Albanian EU negotiator takes aim at France over accession. Member states are not enthusiastic about EU integration, hinting that France could be among them, according to Albania’s chief negotiator with the European Union, Zef Mazi. Read more.
Bulgaria will not trade veto over Skopje for US visas and Schengen. Bulgaria will not try to trade its EU veto on North Macedonia against Schengen accession and the abolition of US visas, as proposed by Slavi Trifonov, the leader of one of the four parties in the ruling coalition – “There is such a people”. Read more.
Green pass talks blocked. The Romanian coalition could not agree on mandatory COVID passes for workers, but talks could restart next week. Read more.
Croatian exodus to Switzerland expected. Switzerland opened its labour market to Croatian workers on 1 January, which will further encourage the emigration of young people from Croatia, Večernji List newspaper published. Read more.
ZAGREB | SARAJEVO
Croatia and BiH record first cases of ‘flurona’. Both Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) have confirmed their first cases of ‘flurona’, a term used to describe someone infected with COVID-19 and flu at the same time. Read more.
Higher fees exacerbate Slovenian power woes. The Slovenian Energy Agency has decided to raise network charges that account for about a third of the power bill as of New Year’s, a move that has been heavily criticised given that the country currently has some of the highest wholesale electricity prices in the EU. Read more.
Many Serbian cities do not have automatic air pollution monitoring systems. Denial of excessive air pollution at all levels of the Serbian administration has further delayed the implementation of appropriate measures, while several cities in Serbia whose residents collectively account for 19% of the total population have no automatic air pollution monitoring systems, the National Environmental Association (NEA) said in a press release on Tuesday. Read more.
Experts: Inflation already affecting poor households in Serbia. Poor households in Serbia are already affected by a 10-15% inflation rate, although the annual growth rate of all prices was 7.5% in November 2021, Pavle Petrović, professor emeritus at the Belgrade Faculty of Economics and president of the Fiscal Council, said on Tuesday. Read more.
Republika Srpska government embarks on harmful energy project with Chinese investor. The government of the Serb entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska (RS), has signed a contract with a Chinese investor to construct another hydroelectricity plant on the Trebišnjica River in eastern Herzegovina, although the project is an ecological hazard that could seriously threaten the Neretva River. Read more.
Kosovo bans crypto-mining amid energy crisis. The government of Kosovo has decided to ban cryptocurrency mining as the country faces some of the worst power shortages in its history this winter. Read more.
- EU: EU’s chief diplomat continues three-day visit to Ukraine, to visit the frontline with Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.
- Germany: Foreign minister Annalena Baerbock travels to Washington DC.
- Croatia: Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman to visit Sarajevo and Mostar.
- Romania: Government will discuss progress in reaching targets of the national recovery and resilience plan.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]