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.
Besides diversification, saving energy, or pushing for renewables, some countries have opted to expand existing gas drilling sites or exploit unused reserves as the EU prepares to end its dependency on Russian gas. Read more.
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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Belgian liberals step back from colonial reparation missions. The Belgian liberal coalition party Open Vld distanced itself from a parliamentary committee’s initiative of sending a delegation to Central Africa amid ongoing talks of reparations to former colonies. Read more.
Belgian PM discusses Ukraine’s EU membership with Zelenskyy. Ukraine’s application for EU membership, which will be a central topic at Thursday’s European Council summit, has Belgium’s full support, Prime minister Alexander De Croo told Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy over the phone on Wednesday. Read more.
Germany pushes to tie enlargement to EU reform. While German Chancellor Scholz has unequivocally supported Ukraine and Moldova’s bids for EU membership and urged EU leaders to accelerate the accession process of the Western Balkans, he stressed on Wednesday that enlargement must be tied to institutional reform of the EU. Read more.
How far are you willing to go for coalition, Macron asks opposition. Opposition parties were called to clarify how far they would be willing to go to build a multi-party coalition by French President Emmanuel Macron in his address to the nation on Wednesday. Read more.
Austria to support EU candidacy for Bosnia-Herzegovina. Bosnia-Herzegovina should receive similar treatment as Ukraine and Moldova for receiving EU candidate status before prerequisites had been fulfilled, according to Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer. Read more.
UK & IRELAND
LONDON | KIGALI
Commonwealth in crisis. The threat of an institutional crisis hangs over this week’s Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali, with UK prime minister Boris Johnson leading the campaign to replace the organisation’s incumbent Secretary-General Baroness Patricia Scotland, a Labour member of the House of Lords and former UK Attorney General. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Danes over 50 to be offered COVID-19 booster shot. Over 2.5 million Danes over 50 will be offered a booster jab against COVID-19 this autumn, declared Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at a press conference on Wednesday. Read more.
Finnish economy hit by Ukraine war. Finland’s economy was booming before the Russian attack on Ukraine, but now the war is starting to take its toll as economic growth is expected to reach 1.7% this year but will slow down to 0.5% in 2023 based on a forecast published by the Bank of Finland. Read more.
Spain to reduce electricity VAT to mitigate crisis impact. A 5% VAT reduction on electricity prices, a mitigating measure included in a new anti-crisis package to be approved by the government on Saturday (25 June), was announced by Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez on Wednesday. Read more.
M5S not opting out of Draghi’s government. The 5 Star Movement will continue to support Mario Draghi’s government despite the internal split and the disagreement with the majority over arms deliveries to Ukraine, party leader Giuseppe Conte said on Wednesday. Read more.
Portuguese PM: Inconsistent decisions could trap Ukraine, cause EU to implode. Ukraine’s EU integration could cause the EU to implode rather than strengthen and could even be a trap for Ukraine if no consistent decisions are taken, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa said on Wednesday. Read more.
Czech FM: EU is losing debate on who is to blame for lack of food. African and Asian countries are facing food shortages due to the Russian blockade of the Black Sea, but often they blame the EU instead, Czech Foreign Minister Jan Lipavský warned. Read more.
Polish parliament swearing-in ceremony disrupted by opposition MP. Klaudia Jachira, who represents Poland’s largest opposition party, the liberal Civic Platform, scattered cut-up banknotes in the parliamentary hall as an act of protest against the election of Adam Glapiński, president of the National Bank of Poland (NBP), for a second term. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Petkov’s government falls from power. A no-confidence vote led to the Bulgarian parliament overthrowing the government of Kiril Petkov, which was elected only six months ago, and Bulgarians will likely vote again in general elections in the autumn, the fourth such vote in just over a year. Read more.
Germany pledges support to EU accession of Western Balkans ahead of EU summit. German chancellor Olaf Scholz fully supports the candidacy status of Ukraine and Moldova and urged other EU states that the accession of the Western Balkans is equally important. Read more.
PM hopeful Zagreb could soon get green light to join Schengen. The Council of the EU will next week send a formal proposal about Croatia’s accession to the Schengen area in 2023 to the European Parliament, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković told the EU assembly in Brussels on Wednesday, saying the decision should be endorsed because Zagreb was fully ready. Read more.
EP urged to involve Western Balkan parliamentarians. The European Movement in Serbia urged the European Parliament on 22 June to involve in its regular sessions the parliamentarians of the Western Balkan states that had applied for EU membership in its regular sessions as observers. Read more.
PRISTINA | BERLIN | SARAJEVO
Germany extends military deployment of up to 400 troops. Germany has expanded the military deployment of the NATO-led peacekeeping operation Kosovo Force (KFOR) by up to 400 soldiers, according to a resolution passed in the Bundestag on Wednesday (22 June). Read more.
- EU: European Council and EU Western Balkans leaders’ meeting. European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen participates.
- European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen, Commission Vice-President Dubravka Šuica, and European Parliament President Roberta Metsola participate in European People’s Party Summit.
- Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas and Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson attends the EU – USA Justice and Home Affairs Council.
- European Parliament plenary session.
- Switzerland: WHO emergency committee meets to assess global monkeypox outbreak.
- United Kingdom: UK national rail employees go on strike.
- Azerbaijan: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov visits.
- Turkey: Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid visits.
- Israel: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy gives a live virtual address to Hebrew University.
- China: BRICS countries virtual summit.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Vlad Makszimov, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Eleonora Vasques, Sofia Stuart Leeson]