Afghanistan turmoil causes EU new migration headaches

In an interview with EURACTIV.com, Lithuania’s foreign minister Gabrielius Landsbergis said we've seen several Afghans already crossing illegally the border with Lithuania that means that the route is already there. [Shutterstock/Amors photos]

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 interview with Slovenia’s Agriculture Minister Jože Podgoršek conducted by Natasha Foote.


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In today’s news from the Capitals:

BRUSSELS

US President Joe Biden’s decision to pull out from Afghanistan combined with the increasing advancement of Taliban insurgents has caused severe headaches in Brussels, as Europe fears a new migration wave from the east, an EU diplomat told EURACTIV.

“The post-US Afghanistan poses severe challenges with regards to migration as we expect an increasing number of people attempting to flee from Taliban”, the diplomat said. Read more.

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EU INSTITUTIONS

Recovery plans: When the game will toughen up. The recovery plans of 12 member states are expected to be adopted by EU finance ministers at a meeting on Tuesday. For now, the atmosphere is positive but things are expected to change when the first payment requests are made following the progress reports. Read more.

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PARIS

Macron considers compulsory vaccination for all. With coronavirus infection rates on the rise again across France, President Emmanuel Macron called for a “summer of mobilisation”, announcing the mandatory vaccination for healthcare workers in a televised address to the nation on Monday. Read more.

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BERLIN

Germany’s September elections could shape debate on EU budget increase. Germany’s main political parties are showing clear differences when it comes to a number of European policy issues with the upcoming election in September set to focus partially on the size of the EU budget. Read more.

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VIENNA

Austria sticks to digital tax despite US pressure. Finance Minister Gernot Blümel has ruled out the suspension of the Austrian digital tax that was introduced in 2020, while the European Commission announced on Monday that it would put the proposed digital levy on hold until a deal among G20 countries is reached. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

DUBLIN

Call for Ireland to recognise non-EMA approved jabs for expats. A renewed appeal has been made for Ireland to assist Irish citizens living abroad who want to return home but have received a vaccine not accepted by the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the Irish Times reported. Read more.


BALTICS

VILNIUS

Lithuania: Official entities participate in Belarus human trafficking. Official entities, such as airlines and tourist agencies, are involved in organised human trafficking via Belarus and should face sanctions, Lithuania’s foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, told EURACTIV in an exclusive interview. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

LISBON

Portuguese tourism expected to return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023. Tourism in Portugal should reach 2019 levels by 2023, the president of Portugal’s tourist board, Luís Araújo said at a presentation in Ponta Delgada of the “Reactivate tourism. Build the future” programme. Read more.

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ATHENS

Turkish football team denied entry to Greece after refusing tests. Greek authorities refused entry into the country to Turkish football team Galatasaray on Monday after its members refused to get a COVID-19 rapid test. More.

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ROME

Italian government mulls introduction of new COVID-19 measures. With COVID-19 cases rising again in Italy as 1,391 new cases and seven deaths were recorded on Monday and 24 million citizens remain unvaccinated, the government is mulling the introduction of new measures just five weeks after the country started lifting restrictions. Read more.


VISEGRAD

PRAGUE

Czechia to boycott UN conference against racism. Czechia will not take part in this year’s UN conference against racism taking place in September in New York. Read more.

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WARSAW

Polish Constitutional Court to rule on EU law primacy. Poland’s Constitutional Court – controlled by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party – will decide on Tuesday, on Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki’s request, whether certain provisions in the EU’s Treaties are compatible with Poland’s Constitution and whether the EU Court in Luxembourg (CJEU) can force the country to suspend part of its judicial reforms. Read more.

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BUDAPEST 

Commission extends examination of Hungarian recovery plan. The Hungarian recovery plan and the €7.2 billion in grants requested from Brussels for post-pandemic reconstruction continues to be examined by EU officials, the European Commission announced on Monday as the deadline for it to give its blessing expired. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA | BRUSSELS

Slovaks unsatisfied by Belgian investigation into police custody death. During a visit to the EU foreign affairs council in Brussels, Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok appealed for a meeting with his Belgian counterpart, Sophie Wilmès, to discuss the investigation into the death of Slovak citizen, Jan Chovanec, in Belgian police custody in February 2018. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

BELGRADE  

Serbia agrees China, UAE on Sinopharm vaccine production. On Monday, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić signed a memorandum of understanding and cooperation with partners from China and the United Arab Emirates on producing the Chinese Sinopharm COVID-19 vaccine in Serbia, and once again urged citizens to get their jabs. Read more.

In other news, vaccination in Serbia has failed, according to pulmonologist Dejan Žujovicless, who on Monday pointed to the fewer than 40% of citizens now fully vaccinated and the considerable spike in new COVID-19 cases expected in August. 

The low vaccination rate means that not counting the 700,000 who have recovered from the virus, around 50% of the population remained exposed to the COVID-19 with no protection. (EURACTIV.rs | betabriefing.com)

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SOFIA 

Election winner wants to send Bulgarian astronauts to space. The showman and leader of the anti-system party “There is such a people” Slavi Trifonov, who emerged the winner of last weekend’s elections in Bulgaria, presented his ideas for sending three astronauts into space, two from Bulgaria and one Macedonian. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

Romanian government split over judiciary investigation section. Parties that form Romania’s centre-right coalition are at odds over the proposal of abolishing the section that investigates offences within the judicial system (SIIJ). Read more.

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ZAGREB

Vaccination will not be mandatory in Croatia. Croatian parliament speaker, Gordan Jandroković, told Croatian radio on Monday that vaccination against COVID-19 would not be made mandatory. Asked about making job-retention support conditional on inoculation, Jandroković said he did not understand the logic of those who said they wouldn’t get vaccinated, but still wanted the money.

He stressed that employers could not force workers to get vaccinated and added that the state was not obliged to provide 4,000 kuna (€533) in support for job keeping in sectors affected by COVID-19 as there was a vaccine, emphasising that the pandemic had so far cost Croatia 30 billion kuna (€4 billion). 

Prime Minister Andrej Plenković had earlier struck a similar tone, saying: “There is no theoretical chance that vaccination will be mandatory.” (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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LJUBLJANA 

Uber manager nominated for digital cabinet post in Slovenia. A manager for US tech giant Uber has been nominated for a new cabinet post in Slovenia charged with overseeing the country’s digital transformation as the head of the digital transformation office, a new government department. Read more.


Agenda:

  • Germany: Foreign Minister Heiko Maas travels to the US for a UN Security Council meeting
  • France: Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire, will meet with the managing directors of the telecommunications giant Orange, Ramon Fernandez, and of the public investment bank Bpifrance, Nicolas Dufourcq / Competition regulator rules on copyright row between Google and media groups
  • Belgium: EU finance ministers approve first batch of member state recovery plans
  • Poland: Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will hold a discussion on Tuesday in Brussels with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, regarding the European Green Deal / Constitutional Court rules on validity of EU law in Poland 
  • Romania: President Klaus Iohannis launched a national debate regarding the Future of Europe, in the presence of Transport Commissioner Adina Valean.
  • Croatia: Press conference is held on the occasion of an extraordinary meeting of the National Hospitality Industry Association, partner associations and representatives of related industries due to the gravity of the situation, uncertain future and lack of long-term reforms.
  • Ukraine: European Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic visits

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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulous, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Zoran Radosavljevic, Josie Le Blond]

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