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.
The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.
In today’s news from the Capitals:
Slovakia’s healthcare surveillance authority has begun investigating a group of high-profile doctors for spreading dangerous COVID-19 related disinformation which could lead to them losing their medical licences. Read more.
EU members agree on resilience of critical infrastructure. EU members approved a negotiating position on a draft directive on the resilience of critical entities for talks with the European Parliament on Monday. The directive aims at reducing vulnerability and increasing the resilience of critical infrastructure and systems in nine sectors, ranging from energy to health. Read more.
New German central bank chief is a sign of fiscal “continuity”. The appointment of Joachim Nagel as head of the Bundesbank, the national central bank, will ensure the “continuity” and “stability” of Germany’s fiscal policy, finance minister Christian Lindner said on Monday. Read more.
Austria extends lockdown for unvaccinated. Austrian parliament has extended lockdown for the unvaccinated by another ten days, according to the parliament press office. The measures have been effective so far, said officials. Read more.
French health authority greenlights COVID-19 vaccination for children. France’s national health authority has given the green light to extend COVID-19 vaccination to all children aged 5-11, according to its opinion published Monday. This can be done “as soon as the paediatric formulation of Pfizer’s Comirnaty® vaccine is available”, it added. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Irish bars, restaurants, cafes to close at 8pm under new restrictions. The latest round of COVID-19 restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the Omicron variant has come into effect in Ireland, with all restaurants, bars, cafes having to close at 8pm and indoor events banned after that time as of Monday. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Finnish women could soon receive tax incentives for buying electric cars. To reach carbon neutrality by all possible means, the environment ministry is currently examining whether tax incentives could encourage women to purchase electric cars. Read more.
Omicron variant worries Sweden’s government. As Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson called on Swedes to prepare for new restrictions as the situation in the country is “deteriorating”, the parliamentary Ombudsman said further restrictions would threaten the rights of the unvaccinated. Read more.
Lithuania ready to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine – minister. Lithuania is ready to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine, said Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas amid fears of Russian aggression. Read more.
Portugal fines 38 airlines for passengers lacking PCR tests. More than 1,400 passengers and 38 airlines were fined at Portuguese airports in 19 days for failing to abide by COVID-19 measures the Interior Ministry told Lusa on Monday. Read more.
ROME | BERLIN
Draghi and Scholz agree on national recovery plans, not Stability Pact reform. Prime Minister Mario Draghi and new German Chancellor Olaf Scholz welcomed the national recovery and resilience plans as an EU-coordinated strategy to save member states from the pandemic’s effects when they met in Rome as part of an official visit. However, it remains unclear whether they are on the same page with regards to fiscal rules, particularly when it comes to reforming the Stability Pact. Read more.
Spain races against clock to approve labour reform agreed with Brussels. With only two weeks to go, the Spanish government is racing to agree with the main trade unions and the largest employers’ association on the controversial labour market reform, as agreed with the European Commission, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported. Read more.
Lublin Triangle meets at its first leaders’ summit. President Andrzej Duda met with his counterparts Volodymyr Zelenskyi and Gitanas Nausėda at the first leaders’ summit of the Lublin Triangle, a new economic, cultural and political alliance between Poland, Ukraine and Lithuania, known as L3. Read more.
Green NGOs: Czech CAP strategic plan needs to be reworked. Czech green NGOs are calling on the new government to revise the draft of the national strategic plan for agriculture due to be submitted to the European Commission under the reformed Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgaria could face EU sanctions after electricity prices moratorium. The ban imposed by the Bulgarian parliament on the rise in electricity and central heating prices could lead to European sanctions on Bulgaria. Read more.
Bulgaria-Greece gas interconnector a ‘matter of months’. It is a matter of months until the gas connection between Greece and Bulgaria is completed announced the prime ministers’ of the two countries Kiril Petkov and Kyriakos Mitsotakis, who held a meeting in the Council of Ministers on Monday. More.
Protestors in Tirana protest Open Balkan initiative, burn Serbian flag. Several hundred protestors gathered on Tirana’s main boulevard on Monday evening and set fire to a Serbian flag to protest against the Open Balkan initiative on the day the three leaders involved met in Albania. Read more.
Residents protest NATO airfield to be built on their land. Residents in Morave and Kucova in Albania have been protesting against plans to expand a NATO airfield onto their land, claiming the government compensation offered is far below the market rate. Read more.
Romania’s fast-tracked budget criticised by civil society. Romania’s government adopted its proposal for next year’s budget on Monday, and parliament plans to adopt it before the Christmas break but the rapid procedure was criticised by civil society. Read more.
Shortage of skilled labour still a problem in Croatia. Labour Minister Josip Aladrović said that the main topic discussed by the Economic and Social Council (GSV) was the labour market and the shortage of skilled labour, noting that greater shocks were expected on the demand side. Read more.
ZAGREB | LJUBLJANA
Slovenia ratifies agreement on bridge construction at border crossing. The Slovenian government has ratified an agreement with Croatia on constructing a new road bridge near the Kaštel-Dragonja border crossing point, worth €1.3 million. The agreement was signed by the Croatian Minister for the Sea, Transport and Infrastructure, Oleg Butković, and the Slovenian Minister for Infrastructure, Jernej Vrtovec, on 16 April this year.
The reconstruction of the old bridge is expected to increase the safety and flow of traffic between Croatia’s Istria County and the Slovenian Littoral. Butković said at the signing ceremony that this was a good example of how to reconstruct other river bridges along the Croatian-Slovenian border. (Sebastijan R. Maček | sta.si)
Survey: Vucic’s Progressive party to win 57% of the vote, united opposition 12%. If a national election in Serbia were held next week, the ruling Serbian Progressive Party (SNS) led by president Aleksandar Vučić would win 57% of the vote, and 12% of the electorate would support a united opposition coalition comprising the Freedom and Justice Party, the People’s Party, the Democratic Party and the Free Citizens’ Movement, a survey carried out by the Faktor Plus agency published on Monday found.
The poll showed that the progressives’ coalition partner, the Socialist Party of Serbia, a new Green alliance and the right-wing NADA (Hope) coalition would cross a 3% electoral threshold, with 9.3%, 7% and 4.3% of the vote, respectively. The ultra-nationalist Serbian Radical Party would get 1.4% of the votes.
Some 50% of the respondents would go to the polls, and 33% said they would not vote. When asked about the ongoing protests in Serbia, 46% of those surveyed described them as environmental, 32% felt they were political, and 7% believed that they were a “general popular revolt.” The survey was conducted from 10-16 December on a sample of 1,200 citizens. (EURACTIV.rs | betabriefing.com)
Average salary hits €500. The average paid net salary in Bosnia and Herzegovina in October amounted to 1,007 Bosnia-Herzegovina convertible marks, equivalent to €500 and was 2% higher than in December last year.
The average gross salary in BiH in October of 2021 amounted to 1,552 BiH marks (€776) and was higher by 1.7% compared to December last year. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
Mitsotakis in favour of starting talks with North Macedonia, Albania. Athens is in favour of formally starting talks with North Macedonia and Albania to enter the EU as soon as possible, subject to their meeting membership criteria, said Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis during his visit to Sofia, AP reports. Read more.
- EU: Romanian PM Nicolae Ciuca in Brussels, will meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, VP Frans Timmermans, Trade Commissioner Valdis Dombrovskis and NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
- Germany: Chancellor Scholz holds a press conference after talks with regional leaders on Covid-19 curbs.
- Luxembourg: ECJ judges on joined cases regarding the fight against corruption and the rule of law in Romania, on restrictive measures against Iran and protection against the effects of the extraterritorial application of legislation adopted by the US and common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of cancellations or long flight delays.
- Denmark: Parliament decides whether to expel ex-minister Inger Stojberg, following conviction.
- Spain: Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez meets with representatives of the 17 regions Wednesday to agree on new measures to contain the spread of the sixth COVID-19 wave / Senate votes the budget bill.
- Hungary: Foreign ministers of the Visegrad Four countries will attend the Visegrad + Turkey meeting in Budapest. Migration and the COVID-19 pandemic are topping the agenda.
- Romania: Prime minister Nicolae Ciuca continues his official visit to Brussels, with meetings with Commission president Ursula von der Leyen, executive vice-presidents Frans Timmermans, Margrethe Vestager, Valdis Dombrovskis and Transport commissioner Adina Valean.
- Croatia: Prime Minister Andrej Plenković chairs a meeting between cabinet ministers and representatives of the associations of county prefects, mayors and municipal heads.
- Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi delivers opening remarks in the ‘Open Balkan’ summit.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Alice Taylor, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic]