Austria opposes ‘decoupling’ Albania-North Macedonia EU path

“North Macedonia has changed its name, has implemented tremendous reforms, and I think we have to be very cautious with the signals we are sending,” the minister commented. [EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK]

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 article “US raises concerns over Europe’s planned carbon ‘border tax’“, by Kira Taylor.


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                                                      In today’s news from the Capitals:

VIENNA

EU Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi’s proposal to press ahead with accession talks with Albania but exclude North Macedonia for now has sparked criticism in Austria, with Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg calling the move “absurd.” Read more.

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EU PRESIDENCY

Portuguese PM: ’unfair’ to blame Germany for vaccine patent stance. Portugal’s prime minister has said he considered arguments that blame Germany for the EU’s scepticism over the waiving of patents on COVID-19 vaccines “unfair”, stressing that most member states follow the same line. More.

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BERLIN

German Greens: The ‘X’ factor in EU’s debate on new genomic techniques. With the Greens increasingly likely to hold sway in the future German government after the 26 September election, EURACTIV took stock of the party’s position on gene-editing, which could prove to be a turning point for Germany’s position and the ongoing debate in the EU. Read the full story.

In other news, the far-left Die Linke have nominated party chairman Janine Wissler and parliamentary group leader Dietmar Bartsch as lead candidates for the September election. The two top candidates named as their most important issues the commitment to workers in poorly paid sectors, disarmament, higher taxes and tackling old age and child poverty.

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PARIS

Macron may drop referendum on including environmental preservation in Constitution.  French President Emmanuel Macron may well have to abandon the pledge he made to the Citizen’s Climate Convention in December to organise a referendum on whether to include environmental preservation in Article 1 of the French Constitution as senators failed to agree on appropriate wording, French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche reported. Read more.

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BRUSSELS

Belgium’s Consultative Committee meets on ‘Freedom Plan’. Belgian leaders are set to meet on Tuesday to discuss a schedule for further relaxation of coronavirus restrictions over the coming months. Further relaxations in the hospitality sector, easing limits on gatherings and a rollover of measures for teleworking and summer tourism are on the agenda. (Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com) 


 UK AND IRELAND

LONDON 

Hugs back on the menu in UK. Hugging is set to return to English life next week as part of the next stage of easing coronavirus restrictions. Read more.

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DUBLIN  | BELFAST

DUP leader: Social media giants allow ‘lynch mobs’ to harass women online. Former DUP leader Arlene Foster has hit out at US giants Twitter, Facebook and Google for “washing their hands” of the “lynch mobs” harassing women in public roles online. Read more.


                                                        NORDICS AND BALTICS

TALLINN

Estonia wants to spend EU funds according to ‘own model’. Estonia should spend EU funds, particularly with regard to the digital and green transition, according to its “own Estonian model” and without being influenced by other countries, Finance Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus told the country’s parliament on Thursday. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ROME

Tensions mount as migrants arrive at Italian island Lampedusa. The arrival of some 2,148 migrants between Sunday and Monday at the Italian island of Lampedusa, as well as the interception by the Libyan coast guard of 700 migrants and the death of five due to a boat capsizing, has caused sharp controversy in Italy. Read more.

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MADRID

Spain’s car industry eyes extension of furlough schemes to save jobs. TThe Spanish car industry is mulling extending temporary lay-off schemes known as ERTEs currently due to expire at the end of the month until at least next September to mitigate the pandemic’s negative impact on the sector. Read the full story.

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ATHENS 

Greek court: State compensation in case of damage after vaccination. Citizens are entitled to receive compensation from the Greek state for any damage caused after vaccination, according to the Council of State. More


VISEGRAD

WARSAW | BUCHAREST

Eastern Europe leaders condemn Russia’s acts of sabotage on NATO territory. Leaders of the Bucharest Nine (B9) group condemned acts of sabotage committed by Russia on the NATO territory and expressed their view that the Atlantic alliance members must address the security implications of China’s global rise together. Read more.

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PRAGUE

EU won’t expel Russian diplomats despite Czechia’s solidarity call. The EU does not want to escalate tensions with Russia by expelling Russian diplomats, the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell said on Monday, after a meeting of EU foreign ministers. Read more.

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BUDAPEST

Hungarian police confirms government COVID-19 websites under cyberattack. The Hungarian police have stood by claims that the country’s COVID-19 related websites were targeted by a cyberattack, but declined to give further details to Telex. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

Slovak government again divided over ousting of justice minister. A proposal put forward by the opposition to oust Slovak Justice Minister Mária Kolíková from the coalition party Za ľudí due to conflict of interest was shot down by members of government. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

LJUBLJANA 

European police officers help patrol Slovenian border. A group of 21 police officers from Estonia, Lithuania and Poland are to join Slovenian colleagues to help patrol the border with Croatia for at least the next month in a bid to prevent migrant border crossings.  Read more.

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SOFIA

Former Bulgarian PM returns to politics in alliance with communists. Former Bulgarian Prime Minister Jan Videnov announced that he is returning to politics, founding a new Left Alternative party, adding that he plans to run in the upcoming early elections with the coalition “For a Clean and Holy Republic”, a part of which is the Union of Communists in Bulgaria. Read more.

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BELGRADE 

Borrell: Western Balkans is geopolitical problem, EU should provide engagement.  EU High Representative Josep Borrell has said that the Western Balkans is a geopolitical problem with key relevance to the European Union, so the EU should provide political engagement with the region. Read more.

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In other news, Serbian Finance Minister Siniša Mali signed two loan contracts worth a combined €234.6 million on 10 May,  a programme loan for climate change public policy and a loan for the project to modernise the rail sector in Serbia by employing a multi-phase programme approach. Read more.


Agenda:

  • Italy: The National Institute of Statistics (Istat) will release data on industrial production for March 2021, as well as its monthly note on the economy’s trends in April of this year. 
  • Spain: Complex political negotiations to form a pro-independence government in Catalonia press ahead as the deadline looms.
  • Belgium: Belgium’s Consultative Committee meets on clarifications of relaxations for the culture and event sector and a “summer plan”.
  • Poland: The second day of President Andrzej Duda’s Romania visit will start. 
  • Czech Republic: Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek will visit Budapest to meet with his Hungarian counterpart Péter Szijjártó.
  • Hungary: Justice Minister Judit Varga will meet with European justice Commissioner Didier Reynders Tuesday to discuss the Commission’s forthcoming Rule of Law report.
  • Slovakia: President Zuzana Čaputová will meet Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen as part of her Denmark visit.
  • Sofia: President Rumen Radev will dismiss parliament Tuesday and appoint a caretaker government that will be in charge until the elections set for 11 July due to the parties in parliament elected in April failing to form a government.
  • Romania: Prime Minister Florin Citu will meet European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Brussels.
  • Croatia: Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković will launch “the Conference on the Future of Europe – vision of Croatia” on Tuesday at 10 o’clock.

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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Zoran Radosavljevic, Josie Le Blond]

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