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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Romania’s society reeled in horror after an investigation revealed that a well-established criminal network involving state officials and private individuals ran “Nazi camps-style” care centres for disabled people who were left to starve without food or care. Read more.
EU Parliament draws up plan for countries to overcome unanimity. The EU Parliament passed a report on Tuesday giving pragmatic recommendations on how to implement the passerelle clauses, a treaty mechanism allowing the EU Council to shift from unanimity to qualified majority voting (QMV), in hopes of pushing countries to overcome unanimity in key areas – for over the 40th time. Read more.
EU must win ‘battle of narratives’ with Russia to retain African influence. The EU needs to make a strong offer to African states to win a battle of narratives with Russia and China, the bloc’s international partnerships commissioner told MEPs on Tuesday. Read more.
Experts, cities, regions worried over repurposing of cohesion funds. The European Commission’s plan to reshuffle cohesion funds to finance innovative technologies raises concerns over the repeated use of the EU’s place-based policy to address new emerging needs. Read more.
Business bankruptcies up 35% in France, 55,000 jobs on the line. The number of business failures jumped 35% in this year’s second quarter compared to the same period last year, putting 55,000 jobs at risk of disappearing, an expert consultancy report revealed on Wednesday. Read more.
Climate activist Neubauer: ‘Extremely worried’ about EU nature restoration law. The EU’s Nature Restoration Law is “obviously needed” and must not be blocked by the European Parliament, German climate activist Luisa Neubauer told EURACTIV in an interview on Tuesday ahead of a crucial vote on the law. Read more.
VIENNA | BRATISLAVA | PRAGUE
Austria, Slovakia, Czech Republic push for North Macedonia EU accession. Austria, Slovakia and the Czech Republic are pushing for North Macedonia to adopt the constitutional reform it needs to join the EU club, even though some believe the process to be on the brink of collapse. Read more.
Dutch to boost military capacities of eastern European partners. The Netherlands will foster the military capacities of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Moldova by investing an additional €8 million into a NATO fund, outgoing Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra (CDA/EPP) announced during the NATO summit in Vilnius on Tuesday. Read more.
UK & IRELAND
Irish MEPs break ranks with EPP to support nature restoration law. Irish members of the conservative European People’s Party (EPP) Seán Kelly and Diedre Clune will not support his group’s rejection of the EU’s Nature Restoration Law, the MEP announced on Tuesday, less than 24 hours before the decisive vote in the European Parliament. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Finnish FM won’t apologise for past racist comments, opposition fumes. Finance Minister Riikka Purra of the right-wing populist True Finns party’s announcement that she has not even considered distancing herself from past racist comments – which she allegedly published on a blog around 2008 – has caused an uproar in the opposition, which criticised the right-wing government for its silence. Read more.
Sweden’s NATO progress criticised by peace organisations, left-wing parties. Turkey’s decision to finally unblock Sweden’s NATO membership process was welcomed by many at the NATO summit in Vilnius, but the Swedish Peace Association and some left-wing parties remain critical of the political move. Read more.
Mitsotakis, Erdoğan meet in Vilnius amid US arms race. With low expectations but cautious optimism, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will meet on Wednesday Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on the sidelines of the NATO summit in Vilnius amid a local race to get air defence equipment from Washington. Read more.
First candidate to replace Tsipras in Greek leftist Syriza emerges. Former minister Efi Achtsioglou will announce on Wednesday her candidacy to replace Alexis Tsipras in the leadership of the main opposition leftist Syriza party, Greek media reported. Read more.
Spanish left accuses PP of lying in debate; regrets harsh tone. The leader of Partido Popular and candidate for prime minister, Alberto Núñez Feijóo, lied in Monday’s election debate, acting Prime Minister and socialist leader Pedro Sánchez and his potential future government ally, the leader of the progressive Sumar platform, Yolanda Díaz, said on Tuesday. Read more.
Tech careers fail to attract female talent in Spain. The lack of female role models and success stories during early education undermine the prospects of young girls to engage in technology degrees, president of the Catalan Technology Society and professor of materials and expert in metallurgy at Catalonia’s Polytechnic University, Núria Salán told EURACTIV. Read more.
NATO to give more attention to southern flank, follows Portuguese proposal. NATO member states agreed to include a Portuguese-led proposal that calls for greater attention from the alliance to its southern flank, most notably Africa, as part of their summit conclusions at the summit in Lithuania, Portugal’s prime minister, António Costa, announced on Tuesday. Read more.
MEPs want OSCE mission at Polish elections amid new Russian interference bill. MEPs want an OSCE observation mission at the Polish national elections in a resolution put forward by the European People’s Party, Socialists and Democrats, Renew Europe, the Greens and the Left, which condemned Poland’s new Russian interference bill and expressed concerns over the country’s new electoral code. Read more.
Trust in EU, NATO, UN drops sharply among Czechs. A new poll shows that trust in the EU, NATO and the UN has significantly dropped among Czechs, with confidence in the EU dropping from 58% in 2022 to 46% in 2023. Read more.
High energy prices brought down fifth of Slovakia’s factory emissions. Factory emissions dropped by 20% in 2022, which can be largely attributed to high energy prices following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Denník N reported on Tuesday. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgarian newspaper found guilty of spreading Russian homophobic hate speech. An article from the Russian media Katyusha that was published in September 2019 and promoted homophobic hate speech was republished by one of Bulgaria’s newspapers, Trud (Labour), which has led to the conviction of the portal by the Supreme Court. Read more.
Romania labels intercourse with under-16s as rape, punishable by imprisonment. The age of sexual consent has been raised from 14 to 16, and those who do not abide by this law will be charged with rape and could face between 7-12 years of imprisonment, according to changes to Romanian law. Read more.
US sanctions pro-Russian head of Serbia’s state security agency. The United States on Tuesday (11 July) sanctioned Aleksandar Vulin, a pro-Russian head of the Serbian Security and Information Agency (BIA), accusing him of using his position to help Moscow with “malign” activities, and with having links to an arms dealer and a drug trafficking ring. Read more.
Slovenian government forced to withdraw significant health reform bill. Slovenia’s coalition parties have withdrawn a key health reform bill from the agenda of an upcoming parliament session following heavy criticism from the data protection commissioner and the parliament’s legal service for playing fast and loose with sensitive personal data. Read more.
EU-Kosovo strike deal on reducing police presence in north. The government of Kosovo has agreed to reduce the presence of police in the northern municipalities of the country that have been plagued by tensions with Serbs over the last months, amid a deal with the EU’s Miroslav Lajcak at a meeting in Bratislava. Read more.
Albanian former deputy MP flees Albania, hearing to lift immunity postponed. The meeting of the Council of Mandates to decide on lifting the parliamentary immunity of former deputy prime minister Arben Ahmetaj was postponed on Tuesday, and it came to light that he has left the country, likely to Canada. Read more.
- EU: Commission Vice President Dubravka Šuica meets with EESC President Oliver Ropke; Attends EESC plenary session;
- Jobs and Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit holds meetings with Palestinian Minister of Labour Nasri Abu Jaish, Israeli Minister of Labour Yoav Ben Tzur;
- European Parliament plenary session debates the need for EU action on search and rescue in the Mediterranean; Votes on Nature restoration, accession to the Schengen area, establishment of the EU Ethics Body;
- Parliament President Roberta Metsola holds press conference on Strategic lawsuits against public participation (SLAPPs);
- Belgium: Customs presents 2023 figures for cocaine seizures at Antwerp port;
- USA: ECB Chief Christine Lagarde participates in debate at the National Bureau of Economic Research;
- UN: Annual report released on global food security and nutrition;
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson, Sofia Mandilara]
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Albanian former deputy MP flees Albania, hearing to lift immunity postponed