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.
Before you start reading today’s edition of the Capitals, feel free to have a look at the #EUCO LIVEBLOG: Poland looms large as EU leaders discuss energy, migration.
Also, read the article EU leaders to discuss stronger response on migration against Belarus backdrop, by Alexandra Brzozowski.
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The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.
In today’s news from the Capitals:
Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš – backed by his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán – blocked the EU Council’s conclusions from Thursday until late evening. His controversial business with Agrofert could be the reason behind it, EURACTIV.cz has learnt. Read more.
EU pushes on organic ‘opportunity’ for African farmers but market access remains low. The EU’s push on organic farming could have ripple effects across Africa, but only if African farmers have equal access to the European Market and the skills and resources to capitalise on this, stakeholders have told EURACTIV. Read the full story.
French lawmakers pass bill to extend health pass until next summer. MPs in the National Assembly have adopted the so-called “health vigilance” bill, which allows the possibility of extending the health pass until 31 July 2022. French lawmakers were split over the issue, narrowly passing it by 74 votes to 73. Read more.
French government to invest €650 million in digital health. France has the potential to be a “leader in digital health”, Health Minister Olivier Véran has said, announcing an investment plan of €650 million, divided into five axes, to accelerate the national digital health strategy, as part of the Health Innovation 2030 plan. Read more.
German coalition talks begin. Nearly a month after Germany’s federal election, official coalition talks between SDP, Greens, and FDP got underway on Thursday, with the hopes of having a coalition agreement by the end of November. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Welsh farming risks being made ‘unviable’ by post-Brexit trade deals. The Welsh lamb industry could become “economically unviable” as post–Brexit trade deals liberalise farming markets and the “floodgates for imports from across the world” are opened, said the Welsh National Farmers’ Union President, John Davies, on Thursday (22 October). Read more.
Leaders observe centenary of Irish partition, Northern Ireland’s formation. Officials gathered on Thursday to mark the centenary of the 1921 partition of Ireland and the formation of Northern Ireland. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
New measures to protect the Baltic Sea. Countries around the Baltic Sea have agreed to step up measures to improve the dire state of one of the most polluted maritime areas in the world. The target set by the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) and the European Commission is to have 30% of the Baltic Sea protected by 2030. Read more.
Portugal to cap fuel prices from Friday. A law that allows the government to limit margins in the marketing of fuels, published on Thursday, will come into force on Friday (22 October). Read more.
Ex-PM Papandreou to run for leadership of Greek socialists. Greece’s former Prime Minister George Papandreou announced on Thursday that he would run for the leadership of the “Movement for Change” – the successor of the social-democratic Pasok party and a member of the Socialist and Democrat group in the European Parliament. Read more.
Italian pharmacies register record high COVID-19 test sales due to unvaccinated workers. Data shows that a record 548,000 people were tested for COVID in Italy on Tuesday, the highest number since the start of the pandemic. The spike in tests is linked to the COVID health pass being mandatory for private and public sector employees across the country since 15 October. Read more.
Evacuations as La Palma lava stream scorches coastal areas. Around 50 homes were evacuated on Thursday (21 October) as a dense river of lava approached the municipalities of Llanos de Aridane and Tazacorte on the Spanish island of La Palma, where a volcanic eruption shows no signs of abating after more than a month of activity. Read more.
EU Parliament: No EU money for Polish government. The European Parliament has adopted a tough resolution on the Polish rule of law following Poland’s PM speech in Strasbourg and amid the ongoing crisis. Read more.
Slovak government paid millions to letterbox companies as part of pandemic aid programme. According to the Investigative Institute of Ján Kuciak, the Slovak government paid out around €24 million to letterbox companies. The government meant the money to help small and medium-sized businesses during the pandemic. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgaria to compensate companies for expensive electricity. Bulgarian companies will receive compensation of €55/MWh due to the high cost of electricity from the middle of next month, the Bulgarian caretaker government has announced. The money will come from the profits of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant, which will subsidise Bulgarian business by €225 million. Read more.
Army general to form Romania’s new government. President Klaus Iohannis designated the interim defence minister Nicolae Ciuca to form the new government after Dacian Ciolos failed to get parliament’s confidence vote. Read more.
EU Delegation Head: Commission report on Serbia cautiously optimistic. The European Commission’s yearly report on Serbia’s progress in the European integration process is cautiously optimistic, the head of the EU delegation to Serbia, Emanuele Giaufret, said on Thursday. Read more.
Dodik: US Embassy working towards turning BiH into a ‘Muslim state’. The US Embassy in Sarajevo is the “epicentre of instability” in the country and is working towards turning BiH into a “Muslim state”, said Serb Presidency member Milorad Dodik. Read more.
35 Afghans from North Macedonia go to Greece. Greece has agreed to shelter a group of 35 Afghan human rights workers and their families following a short stay in neighbouring North Macedonia, AP reported. Read more.
PRISTINA | BELGRADE
Kosovo, Serbia discuss solution to license plate issue. A Kosovo-Serbia working group held its first EU facilitated meeting in Brussels on Thursday in the hopes of finding a permanent solution to the license place dispute. Read more.
Albania’s economy improves but caution is required. The Albanian economy’s recovery is faster than expected but remains fragile, according to the World Bank. Read more.
- EU: EU leaders continue with the second day of their summit with migration and digital topics / NATO defence ministers meet in Brussels.
- Germany: Fridays for Future organises climate strike in Berlin.
- Luxembourg: Poland’s Solidarnosc union protests outside EU court over order to shut Turow coal mine.
- Sweden: Climate strike takes place with participation of Greta Thunberg in Stockholm.
- UK: Green Party holds annual conference in Birmingham.
- Ireland: Most Covid-19 restrictions to be lifted.
- Portugal: The socialist delegation to the European Parliament is organising an evocative session for the former Portuguese diplomat Aristides de Sousa Mendes who saved thousands of Jews and other refugees from the Nazi regime by issuing visas that some believe saved almost 30,000 people.
- Poland: Demonstration marks first anniversary of anti-abortion ruling.
- Bulgaria: The foreign ministry will explain the organisation abroad of the Bulgarian parliamentary and presidential elections on 14 November.
- Croatia: President Zoran Milanović is on a one-day official visit to Italy at the invitation of Italian President Sergio Mattarella / European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides will meet with Croatian Health Minister Vili Beroš to discuss the implementation of Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, as well as the strengthening of the implementation of COVID-19 vaccination.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]