A hostile parliament to Macron could paralyse French, EU foreign policy

An example from France’s recent history was the unsustainable cohabitation between conservative President Jacques Chirac and socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin. [EPA/IAN LANGSDON]

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Before you start reading today’s edition of the Capitals, feel free to have a look at the article “Russia cuts gas to Poland, threatens disconnecting Bulgaria“, by Georgi Gotev.


The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.


In today’s news from the Capitals:

PARIS

If a majority hostile to president Emmanuel Macron is formed in the June parliamentary elections, France’s foreign policy risks losing credibility, weakening the country’s and Europe’s influence on the international stage, analysts have warned.

Looking back at history’s complex cohabitation between Jacques Chirac and Lionel Jospin, the analysts cited the ongoing war in Ukraine and the stance toward Moscow as an example of what could be at stake. EURACTIV France’s Davide Basso has more.

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EU INSTITUTIONS

ECB board member slams crypto finance as dangerous ‘house of cards’. In a speech in New York, a member of the European Central Bank’s executive board, Fabio Panetta, criticised crypto finance for its lack of transparency and the risks it poses to financial stability, describing crypto-assets as “speculative assets that can cause major damage to society” and calling for a faster and more stringent regulation. Read more.

EU inches forward on Russian oil ban as Germany, Hungary soften opposition. The two main opponents to a ban on Russian oil imports, Germany and Hungary, have softened their opposition to the move. EURACTIV looks at the options on the table and the state of play. Read more.

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BERLIN

Germany to allow shipment of heavy weaponry to Ukraine. The German ‘traffic light’ coalition will intensify its efforts to support Ukraine with weapons and is green-lighting the delivery of heavy weaponry by industry, marking a distinct change in approach. Read the full story here. Read more.

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PARIS

Macron on the lookout for France’s first ‘climate’ prime minister. Re-elected President Emmanuel Macron will, as promised, soon name his new Prime Minister in charge of “ecological planning”, though with the legislative election just around the corner, the cards could soon be reshuffled. Read more.

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THE HAGUE

Gentiloni discusses EU economy and sanctions with Dutch PM. EU Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni discussed the economic impact of the invasion of Ukraine, EU sanctions, and modernising the EU’s fiscal rules with  Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and paid a visit to the port of Rotterdam on Tuesday. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

LONDON

Brexit prompts 25% drop in UK imports from EU, says LSE research. UK imports from the EU fell by 25% compared to those from elsewhere in 2021, according to new research from the LSE Centre for Economic Performance published on Tuesday. Read more.

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DUBLIN 

Subcommittee established to oversee refugee response in Ireland. Dublin will establish a new subcommittee to oversee the government’s response to the war in Ukraine, modelled on the body launched to manage the COVID-19 crisis. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

HELSINKI

Finland should do more to tackle antisemitism. Finland should do more to tackle the hate speech the small Jewish community faces in the country, the European Commission and its antisemitism watchdog have said. Read more.

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STOCKHOLM

Far-right politician wants to hold election rallies in Uppsala, Stockholm. Danish-Swedish far-right politician Rasmus Paludan wants to hold election rallies in Uppsala and Stockholm on 1 May despite the violence his rallies caused over the Easter weekend, press agency TT has reported. Read more. 


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ROME

Five Star Movement opposes arms delivery to Ukraine. Coalition partner, the Five Star Movement (5SM), is against Italy sending new military equipment to Ukraine as recently announced by Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini, claiming the government should first report its move to parliament. Read more.

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MADRID

Spain, Portugal agree with EU Commission to limit gas price. Wholesale electricity market gas prices will go from €90 to around €50 in May to benefit Iberian customers, according to a “political agreement” with the European Commission, Spain and Portugal announced on Tuesday. Read more.

Andalusia to hold early elections with far-right VOX as possible PP partner. Andalusia will hold early elections on 19 June, the President of the region, Juanma Moreno, of the centre-right PP, has announced, paving the way for a possible coalition government with the far-right if his party does not obtain a majority. Read more.

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LISBON

Portuguese defence minister says country ‘will keep helping Ukraine’. The defence ministry is “willing to continue supporting” Ukraine, Defence Minister Helena Carreiras said on Tuesday, adding that “Portugal continues to analyse” Ukraine’s equipment needs. Read more.


VISEGRAD 

WARSAW

Ryanair accuses Poland of favouring domestic airlines, takes case to Brussels. Irish airline Ryanair has filed a complaint before the European Commission, accusing the Polish government of unfairly favouring Polish airline LOT by prioritising it in operating connections to alleviate the effects of a temporary crisis in Polish aviation. Read more.

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BUDAPEST 

Hungarian billionaire slams government’s utility prices policy. The government should not pursue one of its flagship policies of cutting utility prices, said Sándor Csányi, CEO of Hungary’s largest lender OTP Bank, adding that he expected high energy prices to persist. Read more.

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PRAGUE | BRATISLAVA 

Slovakia, Czechia to stop subsidising natural gas for heating. Reducing dependence on Russian natural gas requires halting subsidies on natural gas in central heating, said the State Secretary of Slovakia’s economy ministry, Karol Galek, as Czechia does the same. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

ZAGREB | STOCKHOLM | HELSINKI

Croatian president says Finland, Sweden cannot join NATO before election law change in BiH. Finland and Sweden cannot join the NATO alliance as long as Bosnia and Herzegovina does not change its electoral law, President Zoran Milanović said on Tuesday. The statement triggered strong reactions from Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, while the foreign ministry in Zagreb confirmed its support for Finland’s NATO aspirations. Read more.

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SOFIA | SKOPJE

EU Enlargement Commissioner urges Bulgaria to lift Skopje veto. Bulgaria needs to lift its veto on North Macedonia’s EU integration by June, said EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi, although signs from Sofia show this is unlikely to happen. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

Romania wants to be region’s main stability and security hub. Romania aims to become the main hub of stability and security in the region as it wants to become heavily involved in Ukraine’s post-war reconstruction, parliament Speaker Marcel Ciolacu said after a visit to Kyiv. Read more.

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LJUBLJANA 

Janša calls election winner Golob pro-Russian. Robert Golob, who defeated Prime Minister Janez Janša in the general election on Sunday, is “pro-Russian”, according to Janša, who tweeted following foreign media reports about the election. Read more.

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BELGRADE 

US in diplomatic offensive to win over Serbia. Serbia’s attitude towards the Ukraine war, the Belgrade-Priština dialogue, EU integration and bilateral relations were discussed at the meeting between Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried in Belgrade, Vučić’s office said in a release. Read more.

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SARAJEVO 

US embassy condemns three main BiH national parties. The US Embassy has condemned the actions of three political parties in the House of Peoples of the BiH parliament on Tuesday, calling them a “collective failure” in fulfilling “their constitutional responsibilities”. Read more.

Neutrality not an option for BiH after Russia’s Ukraine aggression. Countries like Bosnia and Herzegovina must step up their NATO membership journey as it is the only way to guarantee security, Lieutenant General Senad Mašović, the chairman of the BiH Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the Nezavisne Novine daily in an interview on Tuesday (26 April), adding that military neutrality has become untenable since Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. 

However, the Serb part of the country strongly opposes NATO membership for BiH.

(Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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SKOPJE

North Macedonia to host Open Balkans summit. The next Open Balkans Summit will be held in the first half of June in Ohrid, said North Macedonia Prime Minister Dimitar Kovačevski following his online meeting with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama on Tuesday. Read more.

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PRISTINA | BELGRADE

Kosovo police attacked near Serbian border, again. A Kosovo border police car was ambushed with firearms on Tuesday morning near Zubin Potok, close to the border with Serbia, the latest in a string of attacks in the last 10 days. Read more.

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TIRANA

Albania headed for labour market crisis due to youth emigration. High emigration from Albania is creating a concerning situation in terms of the local labour market with shortages in key sectors to be apparent by 2030, according to a new report. Read more.


AGENDA:

  • EU: European Commission presents proposals to adapt to “next phases” of COVID-19 pandemic, a proposal to fight the gagging of journalists and whistleblowers and on legal migration and digitalisation of visa procedures.
  • Italy: President Sergio Mattarella to address the Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg.
  • Spain: General Assembly of the World Tourism Organisation (UNWTO) to decide on the suspension of Russia.
  • Czech Republic: Polish President Andrzej Duda visits Prague to meet with his Czech counterpart Miloš Zeman and Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala.
  • Bulgaria: Prime Minister Kiril Petkov is expected to lead a Bulgarian delegation to Kyiv before the ruling coalition decides on military help for Ukraine. The socialist party, one of the four parties in the coalition, strongly opposes it and even decided not to join the delegation.
  • Croatia: Human Rights House Zagreb publishes the annual report “Human Rights in Croatia: Overview of 2021”.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Croat member of the tripartite presidency Dragan Čović has scheduled a new emergency session of the House of Peoples of the BiH parliament for Wednesday to amend the election law after today’s session was cancelled due to lack of quorum.
  • UN Security Council holds informal meeting over alleged crimes in Ukraine

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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson]

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