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The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.
In today’s news from the Capitals:
Governments and health agencies across Europe are questioning whether it is necessary for citizens to take a fourth dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. However, some countries like France, Germany, Greece, Spain, Poland, and Hungary, recommended it for certain at-risk categories. Read more.
German businesses slam sanction plans as trade with Russia booms. After Germany’s trade volume with Russia rose by more than a third in 2021, businesses have called on the government to maintain good economic relations with President Vladimir Putin. Read more.
France to build up to 14 new nuclear reactors by 2050. French President Emmanuel Macron expressed his desire to develop nuclear energy and renewable energies to produce “more decarbonised electricity” and announced the construction of six new nuclear reactors. Read more.
Vienna bans Canada-style ‘freedom convoy’. Vienna police have banned a motorcade protesting mandatory vaccines planned for Friday in the city amid fears that participants would cascade out and block traffic. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Ireland moves closer to having lawmakers vote remotely. Lawmakers could soon start voting remotely in a select number of situations, including potential future pandemics, according to a proposed bill debated on Thursday that would amend the Irish constitution. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Finland’s pick for new foreign committee chair stirs controversey. Jussi Halla-aho has been appointed as the new Chair of the parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, but concerns over controversial and politically incorrect comments have drawn concerns. Read more.
Spain among highest on EU’s 2022 growth list at 5.6%. Spain’s growth is expected to be one of the highest in the EU in 2022 at 5.6%, according to a recent forecast by the European Commission, eldiario.es reported. The forecast remains lower than that of the government, which predicted a 7% growth but more optimistic than the Comission’s previous report. Read more.
Spanish opposition party claims of recovery fund misuse fall short in Brussels. The main opposition party in Spain has accused the government of Pedro Sánchez of misusing the EU recovery fund and have taken their claims to Brussels. Read more.
Portugal records over 3 million COVID-19 cases since pandemic start. Portugal has surpassed the three million recorded COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic. Among the cases recorded, more than 2.2 million were reported in the north, Lisbon and Tagus Valley. Read more.
Portuguese police prevent possible terrorist attack at university. Portuguese authorities announced the prevention of a possible terrorist attack at Lisbon University. The attack was allegedly to be carried out by an 18-year-old student who was arrested in Olivais, Lisbon. The attack was scheduled for Friday and it is reported that the student was intending to kill as many colleagues as possible.
The information that led to the arrest was transmitted from the FBI to the judiciary police in Portugal. It is reported that the young student had been monitored for a while and had been struggling with unspecified mental disorders. However, the ideological motivation behind his plan is not yet known. (Pol Afonso Fortuny, EURACTIV.com)
Czech government under fire for pandemic law. The government – which has eased COVISD-19 restrictions to the minimum – has come under fire for its proposed amendment to the Pandemic Law. Read more.
WARSAW | LONDON
Poland receives first batch of UK marines amid Ukraine-Russia tensions. The first of 350 British marines have flown to Poland to bolster NATO’s eastern flank amid tensions over a Russian military build-up around Ukraine. The same day, Prime Minister Boris Johnson visited Poland to discuss the situation in Ukraine and the region with his Polish counterpart, Mateusz Morawiecki. Read more.
Hungarian joke party changes election tack. Despite earlier promises to not threaten an opposition victory by running in electoral districts where the race is expected to be tight, the Hungarian Two-tailed Dog Party (MKKP) put forward a candidate in such a constituency, EURACTIV’s partner Telex reported. Read more.
Slovak government plans to tax nuclear power plants, owners threaten bankruptcy. The “excessive profits” of nuclear power plants should be taxed as this would open up millions to compensate for the soaring energy prices, the economy ministry has said. But Slovenské elektrárne a.s, the owner of both Slovak nuclear power plants, claims the bill would lead to the private company filing for bankruptcy. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
MEPs: Serbia’s green party does not embody EU values. EU lawmakers have accused the Serbian version of the Alliance 90/The Greens party – titled Savez 90/Zeleni Srbije – of misappropriating the German green party’s name, ideas, and visual identity with a similar name: Bündnis 90/ Die Grünen. Read more.
Bulgaria to launch public recovery plan debate. Bulgaria will start a series of public hearings on the recovery plan on Friday. Healthcare, transport and energy will be the first topics up for discussion, while Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Asen Vassilev will organise the event. Read more.
Croatia sets up strategic interest commission for Croats abroad. The Croatian government decided to establish a commission to assess and define project proposals of strategic interest for Croats abroad. Read more.
Romania discusses the easing of restrictions. Romania could soon forgo green passes and the mandatory masks if the COVID infection rate drops quickly, the health minister said. Read more.
Peace Council: RS decisions violate constitution and legal order of BiH. Recent moves by the Republika Srpska (RS, Serb entity) authorities to introduce a Law creating a parallel High Judicial and Prosecutorial Council (HJPC) are a clear attempt by the entity to unilaterally assume the constitutional responsibilities of the State, which would represent a violation of the constitution and legal order of BiH, Peace Implementation Council (PIC) announced. Read more.
Montenegrin government’s citizenship criteria decision to be annulled. The government’s decision on changes to the decision on the criteria for acquiring Montenegrin citizenship will be annulled. It did not receive the consent of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, said Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazović.
From the beginning, it was a controversial idea put forward by the pro-Serbian parties to give double citizenship for the so-called “diaspora” while trying to enlarge the electoral body. Most of the interested were supposed to be voters of pro-Serbian parties, which would, apparently, gain enough votes to win in the elections. Abazović called on the technical government not to make “harmful and irritating” decisions.
(Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
Kosovo implements sanctions against Belarusian companies and individuals. The government of Kosovo has decided to implement sanctions against 183 individuals and 26 entities that have ties with Belarus and its president, Alexander Lukashenko. Read more.
Albanian parliament votes to extend judicial reform. Following almost an entire day of debate, Albanian lawmakers have voted to extend the EU-backed judicial reform that includes the vetting of prosecutors and judges. Read more.
- EU: Several European Commissioners on visit to Senegal expected to give press conference / Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders in Strasbourg for informal ministerial meeting on consumer protection / European Parliament President Roberta Metsola holds working lunch with Coreper II ambassadors and meets US Ambassador to EU, Mark Gitenstein.
- France: French President Macron, Commission President von der Leyen and Council President Michel in Brest, France to attend One Ocean Summit.
- Germany: Chancellor Olaf Scholz addresses the upper house of parliament.
- Belgium: Prime Minister Alexander De Croo meets with advisors to discuss easing Covid restrictions.
- UK: Foreign Minister Liz Truss meets EU Commission VP Maros Sefcovic for talks on Northern Ireland Protocol / Covid tests for vaccinated and quarantine for unvaccinated travellers scrapped in England and Scotland.
- Italy: Italy lifts mandatory outdoor anti-Covid face masks.
- Greece: Trial starts of Dimitris Lignadis, former artistic director of the National Theatre, accused of raping minors.
- Romania: President Klaus Iohannis and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg visit a military base in Romania where US troops and NATO aircraft are stationed.
- Moldova: Governments of Moldova and Romania will hold a joint meeting.
- Serbia: Prime Minister Ana Brnabić is visiting France, where she will meet with Prime Minister Jean Castex, and talk to representatives of French companies.
- North Macedonia: The first direct passenger flight from Sofia is expected to land at the Skopje airport.
[Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski, Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]