Austria opposes Turkey’s bid to join EU military project

For its part, Ankara has said that if PESCO starts on the wrong footing and creates new division lines, it will be neither be successful nor contribute to the transatlantic security architecture. [Shutterstock/ Vladimir Gjorgiev]

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

In today’s news from the Capitals:


Vienna has objected to Turkey’s formal request in May to participate in one of the EU’s flagship defence and security policies, known as the Permanent Structured Cooperation Framework (PESCO), pointing to the country’s deteriorating democratic values and relations with the EU. Read more.



9 in 10 hate crimes go unreported, EU fundamental rights agency finds. As many as 9 in 10 hate crimes and attacks in the EU still go unreported because victims face difficulty reporting them, do not trust the police and believe that nothing would change if they report it, according to a new study by the EU’s Fundamental Rights Agency. More.




Media distrust, side effects fears drive Belgian vaccine hesitancy. COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy in Belgium is being fuelled by a fear of side effects and a distrust in media information, according to a new study, which found that only 33% of those unvaccinated plan to get the jab in the future. Read more.



German state reintroduces restrictions to curb COVID fourth wave. The western German state of North Rhine-Westphalia – the country’s largest, home to chancellor hopeful Armin Laschet – has decided to reintroduce curbs on gatherings in a bid to curb an uptick in COVID-19 cases. Read more.



Macron calls Israeli PM after phone targeted by Pegasus spyware. French President Emmanuel Macron called Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to express his concerns over the recent revelations that his phone was allegedly targeted by the Pegasus spyware – made and licensed by Israeli company NSO, Israeli television reported. Read more.



Irish deputy PM: Those not admitted with COVID to be excluded from data. Health experts have been told to exclude patients with COVID-19 from daily case figures if they are not admitted to hospital because of the virus, the Irish Independent has reported. Read more.



MEP: Far-right faction ‘pulls the strings’ in Greek government. Greek President Katerina Sakellaropoulou and the foreign affairs ministry are locked in a blame game over the last-minute cancellation of an award to be presented to a humanitarian worker who rescued migrants from the sea, with leftist MEP Stelios Kouloglou saying a far-right faction in government was behind the move. Read more.



Fires continue in Sardinia, destroying farms. Wild fires have been devastating the Montiferru region of central-western Sardinia for the last three days, burning 20,000 hectares of land, destroying several farms and forcing thousands of people to flee. Read more.



Fires torch thousands of hectares in Spain. Thousands of hectares of land have been destroyed due to forest fires since last Saturday in Spain, prompting a “critical situation” in Catalonia, where people have been evacuated as the blazes advance. Read more.



Madeira to keep curfew even if revoked at national level, says governor. The Portuguese island of Madeira will maintain its curfew even if the mainland government decides otherwise following its meeting of the national drug authority to discuss the epidemiological situation on Tuesday, the president of the regional government has insisted. Read more.



Polish government mulling compulsory vaccination of healthcare workers. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Monday that the government is considering obligatory COVID-19 vaccinations for healthcare workers. Read more.



Czechia wants to build a battery gigafactory. The Czech government approved on Monday a memorandum between the state and energy company ČEZ on a future gigafactory project, which would produce batteries for electric vehicles, at a €2 billion investment from the state budget. Read more.



Nine of 14 Slovak MEPs found to be anti-authoritarian ‘hawks’. Most Slovak MEPs are consistently critical of Russia and China and supportive of EU foreign and disinformation policy, a new study by the Political Capital Institute that analyses voting patterns has found. Read more.



Bulgaria: discrimination against minority in North Macedonia must end. Bulgaria is pushing for an end to “discrimination” against the Bulgarian minority in North Macedonia, with Bulgarian Rumen Radev discussing the topic with his Austrian counterpart Alexander Van der Belen on Monday in Vienna. Read more.



Romania’s budget deficit in check. Romania’s budget deficit will not go past the limit already set at the beginning of the year, Prime Minister Florin Citu said Monday.

In a Facebook post detailing the plans for a budget revision to be approved later this year, the PM reassured the deficit for 2021 will be the one included in the budget law or even lower. The cabinet is set to adopt a budget revision, but the process is to start with an analysis of the expenditure of each minister in the first 18 months, Citu added. (Bogdan Neagu |



Poll: Serbian citizens recognise EU as biggest donor. The majority of Serbian citizens are in favour of joining the EU and see it as the leading donor and trade and investment partner, an opinion poll unveiled Monday and conducted by Ninamedia for the EU Delegation in Serbia shows. Read more.



Skopje court sentences those involved in ‘April 27’ case. Parliament’s former speaker, Trajko Veljanoski, two former ministers Mile Janakieski i Spiro Ristovski and the former head of the intelligence service Vladimir Atanasovski, all from right centre opposition VMRO-DPMNE Party, were sentenced on Monday to prison terms of up to six-and-a-half years for organising an attack on parliament just over four years ago. Read more.



Nearly a third of Montenegrin citizens believe vaccines cause autism. Almost a third or 29% of Montenegrin citizens believe in the debunked conspiracy theory that vaccines cause autism and other psychological disorders, UNICEF has announced. 

This was shown by research conducted in March by the research agency Ipsos, on a nationally representative sample, with the support of the British Embassy in Podgorica and UNICEF. The UN agency said that conspiracy theories were more often believed by parents who did not trust their child’s doctor and who said that if they had a baby today, they would not want her to receive the MMR vaccine. (Željko Trkanjec |



No progress in Pristina-Belgrade negotiations without territorial corrections. Former US national security adviser under Donald Trump, John Bolton, told Kosovo online that he tried to intervene in the Pristina-Belgrade dialogue “at the suggestion of former British prime minister Tony Blair.”

“Europeans were very unhappy when they heard about my interest,” Bolton said, adding that the Washington agreement, agreed in White House in September 2020, would not progress “if Prime Minister Albin Kurti is not interested in it.”

“When I was a national security adviser I talked to President [Hashim] Thaci and President [Aleksandar ] Vučić and the possibility of a minor territorial correction was considered and discussed. The Kosovo government has every right to say that it does not want to discuss territorial correction, but I think that then practically means that there will be no progress in the negotiations,” Bolton added. (Željko Trkanjec |


  • France: President Emmanuel Macron continues his official visit to French Polynesia.
  • Greece: Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis receives Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiades. 
  • Portugal: The National Drug Authority (Infarmed) will host a meeting Tuesday of experts, who will release data on the epidemiological evolution of COVID-19 in the country.
  • Bulgaria: Negotiations to form a government in Sofia are ongoing.
  • Croatia: A delegation of the National Association of Restaurateurs (NUU) to meet with Finance Minister Zdravko Marić to propose tax reliefs and VAT reduction for preparation and serving of non-alcoholic beverages and wine and beer and discuss a temporary exemption of gross wages from the base amount when calculating VAT in order to make room to bail out their businesses and retain qualified staff in the sector. 


[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Paula Kenny, Josie LeBlond]

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