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:
Discord within Germany’s traffic-light government comes after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz rebuffed the Greens on high-level issues such as relations to Russia and the EU’s green taxonomy. Read more.
French MPs receive death threats over COVID-19 restrictions. Several MPs of La République en Marche (LREM), President Emmanuel Macron’s majority party in parliament, have received death threats as French lawmakers are set to examine a draft bill that would transform the current sanitary pass to a vaccine pass this week, French news channel FranceInfo reported on Monday. Read more.
Austrian far-right leader sued over antisemitism allegations. The Austrian Jewish Student Union has sued Herbert Kickl, party leader of the far-right FPÖ, for allegedly making anti-Semitic statements during an interview with the Austrian national broadcaster ORF. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Irish universities promise to grant paid leave to domestic abuse victims. Several Irish universities have committed to introducing a paid leave policy for staff facing domestic abuse this year. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Denmark promises ‘green’ domestic flights by 2030. Domestic flights will be “completely green” by 2030, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said in her New Year’s speech, adding that flying will become more expensive in the future. Read more.
New Years’ strikes leave Finnish labour market in disarray. As strikes were held at the start of the New Year, the country with a long pedigree of collective bargaining since the Second World War appears to be going through a cultural change and experiencing growing pains. Read more.
Thousands of Sephardic Jews obtain Portuguese nationality. Tens of thousands of Portughese citizenship applications by Sephardic Jews have been processed by the Israeli Community of Porto, including that of Russian businessman Roman Abramovich, Rabbi Daniel Litvak told Lusa on Monday. Read more.
Italy to maintain in-person classes despite surge in cases among under-20’s. The government and the regions clashed over when students should return to school for in-person classes. The government push for students to return from 7-10 January while the regions call for a delay of 20-30 days. Read more.
Spain ended 2021 with record deaths in dangerous migration routes. The number of dead and missing on the sea migration routes leading to Spain via precarious boats – commonly known as “pateras” in Spanish – has doubled in 2021 to at least 4,404 people, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported. Read more.
Polish government accused of illegal purchase of Pegasus software. The government’s use of €5.4 million of court funds to buy the Israeli Pegasus software to investigate a person suspected of criminal activity was unlawful, claims leading Gazeta Wyborcza daily. Read more.
Pro-nuclear Prague concerned about nuclear going green in EU taxonomy. The European Commission’s proposal to label gas and nuclear energy as “transitional” or “green” investments was firstly welcomed by pro-nuclear Czechia. Czech stakeholders, however, have warned that the criteria set by the EU taxonomy is too strict and could even bring major complications for the Czech energy sector’s transformation. Read more.
Orban’s influencers shower cash, become largest social media spenders. Circumventing campaign ad rules, a Hungarian fund financing pro-government social media personalities created about a year ago is on track to spend more than HUF 1 billion (€2.7 million) by April’s general polls, Telex reported. Read more.
For its largest defence purchase, Slovakia to choose between 4 European options and the US. As France, a fierce common EU defence proponent takes over the EU’s Council Presidency, Bratislava looks for suitors to spend millions of euros in defence cash. Five countries have expressed an interest to offer their solutions for 8×8 Wheeled Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFVs). Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
SOFIA | TIRANA | SKOPJE
Major party leader offers Sofia to trade veto over Skopje against Schengen accession. TV showman Slavi Trifonov whose party “There is such a people” is in the quadruple ruling coalition in Bulgaria proposed a deal: Sofia to lift the veto on the start of EU negotiations for North Macedonia against the abolition of US visas for Bulgarians and Bulgaria’s accession to Schengen. Read more.
Romanian government discusses measures to prepare for fifth COVID wave. Getting free masks to students and the capacity to administer COVID-19 tests in schools are some of the measures discussed in a special meeting at the government headquarters. Read more.
Croatia’s president and PM fight over Bradley fighting vehicles. At the end of December President Zoran Milanović, who is also the military commander in chief, criticised the government and particularly Defence Minister Mario Banožić for obstructing the procurement of Bradley M2A2 ODS infantry fighting vehicles. Read more.
Serbia looks to reach transitional standards to close rule of law cluster. Serbia’s goal for 2022 is to open remaining clusters in the accession negotiations with the EU, with special emphasis on reaching transitional standards and those to close Cluster 1, referring to the basics of the rule of law, the Serbian minister in charge of the accession process, Jadranka Joksimović said on 2 January. Read more.
Dzaferovic: Orban will not save Dodik. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is trying to “save his political ally” BiH Presidency member Milorad Dodik to maintain his influence in the region, Dodik’s colleague in the tripartite BiH Presidency, Šefik Džaferović, said according to N1. Read more.
NATO’s Stoltenberg convinced Montenegro will remain loyal ally. NATO member states have much less trust in Montenegro after the change of government on 30 August 2020, said the MP Predrag Bošković from the Democratic Party of Socialists (DPS), the biggest opposition force led by President Milo Đukanović. Read more.
Kosovo steps up COVID-19 rules, only vaccinated can enter the country. From Monday, anyone wishing to enter Kosovo must provide evidence of complete vaccination comprising two COVID-19 vaccines. Read more.
Albanian government to continue concession with companies implicated in financial crime. Despite the owners of companies awarded controversial waste incinerator concessions being wanted for active corruption and money laundering, the government has confirmed it will continue paying them. Read more.
- EU: EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell kicks off visit to Ukraine.
- France: Three years after the adoption of the asylum and immigration law, French Senators will debate on the level of immigration control of the French government today.
- Austria: OPEC+ ministers meet to assess eased oil output cuts in Vienna.
- Croatia: Economy and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić and his associates present the results of a statistical survey on food waste. The new Copyright and Related Rights Act is submitted to the Constitutional Court for a constitutional review.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]