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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Slovakia’s largest oil refiner Slovnaft will keep selling Russian oil on the domestic market even after its exemption under the EU embargo on Russian crude oil runs out at the end of 2023, the company’s CEO Marek Senkovič said. Read more.
Germany to mobilise €200bn economic ‘shield’ to field energy crisis. Berlin announced a massive government aid programme, fuelled by new debt, to get Germany through the energy crisis, resulting in broad acclaim from industry. Read more.
French protesters stage general strike, demand wage increase. Summoned by unions, French protesters staged a general strike across the country on Thursday, causing disruptions on railway lines and schools. Read more.
Austria’s upcoming election results difficult to predict. Forecasters expect difficulties in predicting the outcome of the presidential elections due to the many candidates, a high number of mail-in votes, and regional differences in voting behaviour. Read more.
Dutch gas storage above EU target, now at 90% capacity. Gas storage facilities are now 90% full in the run-up to winter, meaning they have surpassed the EU’s mandatory minimum requirement of hitting 80% before 1 November. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Irish MEPs warn about safety of undersea cables. Following the alleged sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines, causing leaks in the Baltic Sea, Irish MEPs have voiced concern about the vulnerability of the island’s communication cables. Read more.
UK’s Truss U-turns on European Political Community to attend summit. Prime Minister Liz Truss confirmed her attendance at next week’s inaugural meeting of the so-called ‘European Political Community’, three months after telling domestic lawmakers that she had no interest in the new EU-organised format. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Finland adapts Schengen regulations to stop tourism, transit. Finland decided on Thursday to restrict tourism and transit travel from Russia from Friday based on the Schengen Borders Code, citing that the country’s international relations and position would otherwise be at stake. Read more.
Most Russian speakers in Finland oppose the Russian war in Ukraine. An overwhelming two-thirds majority (64%) of Russian-speaking people in Finland said they do not approve of Russia’s military operation in Ukraine, a new survey conducted by the Cultura Foundation and published on Thursday. At the same time, 56% of those surveyed said they opposed sanctions against Russia and only 43% approved of accepting large numbers of refugees.
Currently, there are some 87,500 people residing in Finland whose mother language is Russian. The number of Ukrainian refugees is currently around 40,000. (Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)
Sweden to raise Nord Stream ‘sabotage’ at European Council. Sweden will raise the issue of possible sabotage that led to gas leaks from Nord Stream 1 and 2 in the Baltic Sea at the informal EU summit in Prague next week, the government declared on Thursday. Read more.
Spain to impose extra tax on the wealthy. Spain will implement a “solidarity tax” from 2023 on people with assets worth at least €3 million, Budget Minister María Jesús Montero announced at a press conference on Thursday. Read more.
Experts to look at solutions for new Lisbon airport. The group of experts tasked with the strategic environmental assessment for the planned new Lisbon airport will look at five possible solutions, and may propose more if it sees fit, Infrastructure and Housing Minister Pedro Nuno Santos said on Thursday. Read more.
EU Commission chief cancels dinner with Greek PM. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen cancelled her dinner set for Thursday night with Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Athens, spokesman Eric Mamer confirmed. Read more.
UN concerned by political deadlock on Cyprus problem. A mutually agreed settlement of the Cyprus problem is unlikely to be reached, Colin William Stewart, the UN Special Representative for Cyprus Colin William Stewart told a conference on Thursday in Nicosia. Read more.
Former minister’s Nord Stream sabotage tweet causes uproar in Poland. Former foreign minister and now EU lawmaker Radosław Sikorski has caused controversy after posting a tweet many perceived accused the US of sabotaging the Nord Stream pipeline. Read more.
EU Court dismisses lawsuit filed by Ex-PM Babis’ Agrofert. The EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg on Wednesday dismissed the lawsuit filed by Czech agrochemical giant Agrofert against the European Parliament. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
EU sees sharp increase in Albanian asylum requests. Between January and June 2022, 5,800 Albanians sought asylum in the European Union, double figures from 2021, while the UK, which saw some 6,000 Albanian asylum seekers this summer has been forced to u-turn on claims of fast-tracked returns. Read more.
Lukoil abused dominant position in Bulgaria, watchdog finds. Lukoil Bulgaria abused its dominant position on the wholesale fuel market by pressuring prices, the country’s competition authority, following a complaint by OMV Bulgaria and Insa Oil. Read more.
Romanian education minister resigns after another plagiarism scandal. Romania’s now-former education minister Sorin Cimpeanu resigned Thursday, a few days after he was accused of plagiarising a university course, an accusation he ridiculed in online posts. Read more.
Croatia’s sole gas storage at 90%, PM says. Croatia’s only underground gas storage at Okoli has reached 90% of storage capacity, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said after Thursday’s cabinet session. Read more.
Three-way race emerging in Slovenian presidential election. Slovenia’s presidential election is shaping up to be a three-way race after the late entry of a Socialist EU lawmaker ahead of the 23 October vote, which will feature eight candidates. Read more.
State pumps more money into Air Serbia, gains more influence. The government granted a second capital boost for national flag carrier Air Serbia, raising the state’s share in the airline to 83.58%, a statement published Thursday reads. Read more.
North Macedonia opposition blocks adoption of Open Balkan laws. The opposition has blocked the adoption of several laws in the Assembly related to the Open Balkans initiative over transparency concerns and questions about its real benefits. Read more.
- EU: Extraordinary Transport, Telecommunications, and Energy Council;
- European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen participates in the Summit of Southern European Union countries;
- European Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski in Warsaw, Poland, to participate in the General Assembly of the Polish Union of Livestock Breeders and Producers;
- Germany: Health Minister Karl Lauterbach and Rober Koch Institute President Lothar Wieler hold a press conference on COVID-19;
- Netherlands: MS Galaxy, a passenger ship to house asylum seekers, is unveiled;
- Spain: Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez meets Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob;
- Greece: Socialist party leader Nikos Androulakis submits evidence for the parliamentary enquiry on the wiretapping scandal;
- Serbia: Prime Minister Ana Brnabić to meet European Parliament rapporteur for Serbia Vladimir Bilčik and European Parliament’s Stabilisation and Association Committee member Matjaž Nemec;
- President Aleksandar Vučić to meet Manuel Sarrazin, the German government’s special envoy for the Western Balkans.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Vlad Maksimov, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson, Eleonora Vasques]