Ahead of defence opt-out referendum, Denmark opposes EU Treaty change

The Danish refusal to change the EU treaties comes a few weeks before a referendum planned on 1 June to see if the Danish people want to abolish its opt-out from EU defence policy. [Shutterstock/Bumble Dee]

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.


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On Monday the Conference on the Future of Europe came to an end. Over five months citizens have been contributing with their ideas to shape Europe. Check out our coverage in the Future EU section.


In today’s news from the Capitals:

COPENHAGEN

Denmark has voiced its opposition to changing EU Treaties, just weeks ahead of a crucial referendum on its defence opt-out after Brussels hinted it could change treaties so unanimity on issues like common defence policy is no longer needed. Read more. 

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EU INSTITUTIONS

Ukraine riding high in Eurovision song contest. The Ukrainian ‘Kalush Orchestra’ was voted through on Tuesday (10 May) to the grand final of the Eurovision Song Contest in Italy, confirming that they occupy the pole position in Sunday’s final. Read more.

LEAK: EU Commission considering higher renewable energy target for 2030. The European Commission is looking to increase the EU’s renewable energy target for 2030 as part of plans due next week, which also include faster permitting rules for new projects and a solar strategy that could make rooftop solar mandatory for all new buildings, according to leaked proposals seen by EURACTIV. Read more.

BERLIN

NRW regional election: Germany ahead of its ‘small federal election’. North Rhine-Westphalia – or NRW, as many of its 18 million inhabitants call it – is Germany’s most populated region, and it will elect a new regional parliament this Sunday (15 May 2022). Due to its size, the results come as a significant electoral test for the new national government under Olaf Scholz (SPD, S&D) and are dubbed a “small federal election.” Read more.

Germany embraces Macron’s ‘European Political Community’ proposal. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said on Tuesday that she supports EU reform to allow Ukraine and other countries to integrate more deeply with the bloc, despite Germany not supporting fast-track accession for Ukraine. Read the full story here. 

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PARIS

EU states agreeing on Russian oil embargo ‘a matter of days’, says French minister. Member states could agree on a Russian oil embargo this week, European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune told news channel LCI on Tuesday. Read more.

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VIENNA

Austrian chancellor reveals new cabinet. Chancellor Karl Nehammer on Tuesday revealed the restructuring of his cabinet, including new additions, after two ministers resigned on Monday. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

LONDON

Freedom to repeal. A new Brexit Freedoms Bill should end the supremacy of European law by ensuring EU law can be changed quickly, the government announced on Tuesday as it unveiled the new laws it plans to take through parliament in the coming months. Read more.

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DUBLIN | LONDON

Irish PM urges Johnson to keep Northern Ireland Protocol. Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin has urged UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson not to abandon the Northern Ireland Protocol amid reports that London could be preparing to take unilateral action. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

HELSINKI

EU commissioner says Russia-friendly countries should not be punished. Countries siding with Russia or abstaining from voting against the country in the UN should not be “punished”, European Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen told a Europe Day seminar in Helsinki on Monday. Read more.

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STOCKHOLM

Swedish defence minister says NATO membership would strengthen Nordic defence. The defence capability of the Nordic countries would be strengthened if Sweden and Finland chose to join NATO and if both countries had common defence planning within the NATO framework, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist told Radio Ekot Tuesday. Read more.

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VILNIUS

Lithuanian schools to teach public spirit, defence skills. Schools will teach national security skills and public spirit, Lithuania’s education and defence ministries have announced. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ROME

Peace a priority, Draghi tells Biden. The priority of Italy and Europe is to put an end to the massacres and achieve peace in Ukraine, Prime Minister Mario Draghi told President Joe Biden at the White House on Tuesday as part of his three-day trip, the first since the start of his mandate. Read more.

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MADRID

Spanish intelligence chief fired over spyware scandal. The head of Spain’s national intelligence centre (CNI) Paz Esteban was fired on Tuesday after acknowledging the agency had spied on the regional leader of Catalonia and over a dozen other separatist activists and politicians by hacking their cell phones. Read more. 

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LISBON

Portuguese police search town hall over Ukrainian refugee controversy. Portugal’s judiciary police on Tuesday confirmed it searched Setúbal town hall, the Municipal Line of Support for Refugees and the Association of Eastern Emigrants (Edinstvo) as part of an investigation into improper access of personal data involving two Russian citizens. Read more.


VISEGRAD 

BRATISLAVA

Zelenskyy understands Slovakia unable to cut Russian oil and gas supplies. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said he understands that Slovakia cannot afford to immediately cut its Russian oil and gas supplies but warned of the country’s dependence in a speech before the Slovak National Council on Tuesday. Read more.

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WARSAW | LONDON

UK pledges to support Poland if it sends Ukraine fighter jets. Defence Minister Ben Wallace has promised that the UK will help Poland if it decides to deliver Soviet fighter jets to Ukraine, The Guardian reports. Read more.

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PRAGUE

Czechia to tighten refugee rules due to Roma influxThe Czech Republic will tighten passport checks on refugees and only grant aid to those fleeing war that have crossed the Ukraine border, the interior ministry announced following an influx of Roma people with dual Hungarian-Ukrainian citizenship. Read more.

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BUDAPEST 

Hungary runs out of capacity, no new solar power plants. Hungary has run out of available grid connection capacity to connect weather-dependent power plants, disappointing Hungarian solar power developers and investors. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

SOFIA

Bulgarians fear Russia could attack their country. Two in three Bulgarians fear Russia will use missile and bomb strikes on sites in Bulgaria, while more than half fear Russia could occupy it, a nationally representative sociological survey by the ESTAT agency on behalf of the Workshop for Civic Initiatives Foundation reads. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

Romania’s central bank raises interest rates as inflation hits 14-year high. The central bank of Romania has increased its key interest rate to 3.75% from 3% to contain inflation. Read more.

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ZAGREB | BUDAPEST

Croatia summons Hungarian ambassador over Orban’s comments. Croatia asked the Hungarian ambassador in Zagreb to explain recent statements by Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, which the Croatian foreign ministry said “unnecessarily disrupt our good neighbourly relations” on Tuesday. Read more.

EU Commission positively assesses Croatian €700 million disbursement request. The European Commission endorsed a positive preliminary assessment of Croatia’s request for the payment of €700 million in grants from the Recovery and Resilience Facility. Read more.

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LJUBLJANA 

Slovenia reintroduces fuel price caps. The Slovenian government has reintroduced the price regulation of motor fuels, a move that comes less than two weeks after previous price caps were lifted with the argument that the market had stabilised. Read more.

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BELGRADE 

Energy stability in Serbia must be defended, says minister. Serbia must defend its energy stability even if this would require a change in the ownership structure of the biggest oil company Naftna industrija Srbije (NIS), Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlović has said. Read more.

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PRISTINA | PARIS

Kosovo NGOs ask Macron for visa liberalisation. Major NGOs in Kosovo have addressed a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron asking that the EU lift the visa regime for Kosovo citizens who remain Europe’s only people who cannot travel freely despite having met all visa liberalisation requirements. Read more.

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TIRANA

Tirana’s property prices continue to soar, pricing out locals. The price of real estate in the Albanian capital of Tirana continued to rise during the first quarter of 2022, with the average price reaching €1,143 per square metre.  Read more.


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

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