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In today’s news from the Capitals:
France allegedly negotiated with Israeli-owned NSO group to buy its Pegasus spying software, according to the MIT Technology Review. Talks reportedly broke down after revelations in July identified Emmanuel Macron as one of the software’s many targets. Contacted by EURACTIV France, the Elysée denied this information. Mathieu Pollet reports from Paris. Read more.
Macron to sign strategic partnership in Zagreb before Quirinal Treaty in Rome. French President Emmanuel Macron will travel on Wednesday to Croatia and a day later to Rome. This will allow him to “prepare the French presidency of the Council of the European Union,” which begins on 1 January for six months, the French presidency noted. Read more.
EU SPECIAL REPORT
Expert: Carbon farming ideal for boosting Poland’s yields. Carbon farming practices could help Polish farmers cope with permanent drought as they could increase the productivity of their yields, an expert has told EURACTIV Poland. Read more.
German coalition talks: coal exit pulled forward, gas boilers to be outlawed. The first-ever three-way government coalition negotiations are due to be concluded in Berlin as the Greens obtain last-minute concessions such as a sped-up coal phase-out. Read more.
Austria warns of hotchpotch in COVID-19 certificate rules across Europe. Austria has warned that the different measures taken by EU countries to tackle the pandemic could lead to fragmentation in how the COVID certificate is used. According to European Affairs Minister Karoline Edtstadler, the COVID certificate must be strengthened to ensure a harmonised approach across the EU. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Irish energy regulator announces limits on data centre usage amid supply worries. Ireland’s Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) announced on Tuesday that, while it would not issue an outright ban on data centres connecting to the country’s national grid, new measures would be put in place to curb their energy usage. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Finland to bid for OSCE chairmanship in 2025. Finland will bid for the chair of the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) in 2025, President Sauli Niinistö said on a visit to Germany. Read more.
Commission mulls EU north-south ‘firefighters exchange’ to tackle natural disasters. The European Commission is considering a pilot project under the name “prepositioning” to be implemented for the first time in Greece next summer. Forest firefighters from Europe’s north, such as Sweden, will settle in Greece and other countries facing major wildfires during the summer months. Read more.
Italians to get boosters five months after second shot. The minimum period to get a booster shot after taking two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech, Moderna or AstraZeneca vaccine, or the Johnson & Johnson single-dose, will be five months instead of six, according to a letter published Tuesday by the director-general of disease prevention at the health ministry, Giovanni Rezza. Read more.
Catalan pro-independence party ERC paves way for Spanish 2022 budget. On Tuesday, Catalan independence party, the Republican Left of Catalonia (Esquerra Republicana de Catalunya, ERC) said it will vote for the Spanish budget for 2022, paving the way for its approval before the end of the year, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported. Read more.
Costa: Portugal’s economy can converge with EU this year. Portugal’s economy could converge with the EU this year or the next, Prime Minister António Costa said on Tuesday. Read more.
Czech intelligence: activity of Iranian agents has increased in Europe. “In the last years, after a few quiet decades, we can again observe an increase in the activities of Iranian special services in Europe as well as their growing aggression mainly against opposition to the regime in exile,” the Czech Security Information Service (BIS) wrote in its annual report published on Tuesday. Read more.
Budapest skips Eastern vaccines, EU joint procurement in new jab haul. Hungary will not participate in the EU’s joint procurement scheme but will also forgo ordering Russian or Chinese vaccines in its next order. Read more.
Lockdown on the horizon for Slovakia after president’s emotional appeal. Slovak president Zuzana Čaputová urged the ruling coalition to quickly pass a measure to impose a total lockdown in an impassioned plea after visiting a COVID-19 hospital ward in Bratislava on Tuesday. Read more.
Polish economy: Euro the most expensive in 12 years. Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki tried to defend the free fall of Poland’s currency as he announced a possible intervention to stabilise the situation. The central bank’s euro exchange rate is the highest in 12 years at 4.72. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
BiH High Representative Schmidt: No Republika Srpska Army. “The Republika Srpska Army will not be formed,” High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina Christian Schmidt said in an interview with the Voice of America. Republika Srpska (RS) is Serb entity in BiH and. Read more.
Coal miners on strike, halt production in all mines. Several hundred miners gathered in front of the seat of the government of the Federation of BiH (Bosniak and Croat entity), expressing discontent over the employment conditions and warning they would not leave the site until their demands were met. The miners halted production in all seven coal mines on the day of the strike.
Their demands include setting the minimum wage at €500, bridging the years of service, and full implementation of the collective agreement.
(Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
SOFIA | SKOPJE
Sofia and Skopje show unity аfter tragic bus accident. North Macedonia and Bulgaria simultaneously declared a period of national mourning after 46 people died in a bus fire on Bulgaria’s Struma highway, about 50 kilometres south of the capital Sofia. The seven who managed to escape before the bus burned completely are in a stable condition in hospital in Sofia. Read more.
Romanian parliament to hear Ciuca’s proposed cabinet ministers. The ministers picked by Prime Minister-designate Nicolae Ciuca will be heard before parliamentary committees on Wednesday after Ciuca filed his proposed list of cabinet ministers and governing programme to parliament on Tuesday. A confidence vote for the new government is expected to take place on Thursday. Read more.
Polish PM: EU dependence on Russia will increase with Nord Stream 2. Europe’s dependence on Russian gas will increase once controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline becomes operational, Polish PM Mateusz Morawiecki said on Tuesday after a meeting with his Croatian counterpart Andrej Plenković in Zagreb. Moreover, the Polish PM hinted at a broader Russia-led plan which also involves the Balkan region. Read more.
At least two killed, 16 injured in explosion at rocket engine plant in Belgrade. An explosion at the EdePro company, which manufactures parts for rockets, shook the Belgrade suburb of Leštane at 2 pm on Tuesday, leaving at least two workers dead and 16 injured. Read more.
Democracy in Albania took massive hit in five years. Democracy in Albania has been significantly weakened over the last five years, seeing it rank poorly across several vectors according to the Global State of Democracy Index. Read more.
- EU: European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen reports on outcome of COP26 / Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya addresses European Parliament / European People’s Party nominates its candidate for European Parliament president.
- Sweden: Parliament votes whether to appoint Magdalena Andersson as prime minister.
- Croatia: French President Emmanuel Macron visits Zagreb.
- Romania: Hearings of proposed ministers in Parliament committees.
- Serbia: Conference, Open Balkans – The Road to Stabilisation, Cooperation and Regional Prosperity, to be held in parliament. Conference will be opened by Speaker Ivica Dacic and US Ambassador Anthony Godfrey.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]