Austria’s neutrality in the spotlight after Sweden-Finland NATO bid

“Austria was neutral, is neutral and remains neutral,” Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said Tuesday during a visit to Czech counterpart Petr Fiala in Prague. “For Austria, this question does not arise in this way. We also have a different history than Sweden and Finland.” [Shutterstock/Bumble Dee]

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Editor’s take: A question of protocol. For those who have followed the interminable Brexit process, there was a wearisome inevitability about Foreign Secretary Liz Truss’s announcement on Tuesday that the UK government intends to table domestic law to allow to override bits of the protocol. Read more.


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Celebrating 20 years of the Food Supplements Directive

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In today’s news from the Capitals:

VIENNA 

Following Sweden and Finland’s bid to join NATO, abstaining Austria’s neutrality is once again a topic of discussion with opposition parties and experts criticising the government’s reluctance to reevaluate its position. Read more.

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PARIS

France’s new leftist alliance still undecided over NATO, EU defence. French left-wing parties still disagree on positioning themselves on NATO, despite having recently formed an alliance (NUPES) ahead of the June legislative elections. Read more.

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BERLIN

Nord Stream-funded German foundation to be dissolved. The ‘climate’ foundation, which received €20 million from Nord Stream 2 AG, and was used by the German state home to the Russian pipeline, to potentially circumvent US sanctions, is to be dismantled. Read more.

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THE HAGUE 

Dutch join the club offering military protection to Sweden and Finland. Sweden and Finland can count on military protection from the Netherlands and other European countries during their NATO application process, Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren has said,  NL Times reported. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

LONDON

EU threatens sanctions after UK proposes law to override NI protocol. UK foreign secretary Liz Truss outlined plans for a new law to override parts of the Northern Ireland protocol on Tuesday (17 May), insisting that the plans would be legal under international law. Read more.

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DUBLIN 

Irish PM urges UK not to act alone as Troubles legacy bill introduced. Irish Taoiseach Michl Martin has called on the UK government not to act unilaterally as it published a bill which would put in place a statute of limitations on certain crimes committed during the Troubles. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

VILNIUS

Lithuania approves civil resistance bill. Parliament on Tuesday approved a bill drafted by the defence ministry laying out plans to engage citizens in national security strategy. Read more.

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HELSINKI

Record number of Finns now favour nuclear to go green. A record number of Finns favour nuclear power, a fresh survey commissioned by Finnish Energy has found, citing fighting climate change as the main reason. Read more.

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STOCKHOLM

Swedish FM signs NATO application. Foreign Minister Ann Linde signed Sweden’s NATO application after her government decided to apply for membership following a parliamentary debate during which almost all parties appeared to be on board. Read more. 


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ATHENS

Greek PM warns Washington to be careful with supply of military equipment. Eyeing Turkey’s pressure on the US to unlock a deal for the delivery of F-16 jet fighters, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told the US Congress in a speech that Washington should mind the consequences of such decisions. Read more.

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ROME

Italy’s Eni starts procedures to pay for Russian gas in euros and roubles. Italian energy giant Eni has started procedures to open accounts in euros and roubles with private Russian bank Gazprombank, the company announced on Tuesday. Read more.

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MADRID

Tarajal border between Spain’s Ceuta and Morocco reopens. It has taken two years, two months and four days for the border at Tarajal – the only crossing point between the Spanish city of Ceuta in North Africa and Morocco – to officially reopen after it was closed due to the pandemic. Read more.

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LISBON

Portugal to send another 160 tonnes of military aid to Ukraine. Portugal is preparing to send another 160 tonnes of material to Ukraine, including military equipment, Defence Minister Helena Carreiras said after the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels Tuesday. Read more.


VISEGRAD 

BRATISLAVA

Slovak oil embargo exemption to benefit Hungarian MOL, not citizens. The oil embargo exemption Slovakia is asking for will not benefit citizens but the owner of the only Slovak oil refinery, Slovnaft, a subsidiary of Hungarian MOL, analysts point out. Read more.

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WARSAW

Polish opposition slam EPP chief Tusk’s joint electoral list proposal. Polish opposition parties have rejected the idea of the opposition submitting a joint electoral list for the parliamentary elections in autumn 2023, which was made by the chairman of the centrist Civic Platform and European People’s Party leader Donald Tusk. Read more.

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PRAGUE | VIENNA

Western Balkans must not be forgotten, Czech and Austrian leaders say. The integration of Western Balkan countries into the EU is in the interest of the Czech Republic and Austria, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala and his Austrian counterpart Karl Nehammer said in Prague on Tuesday. Read more.

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BUDAPEST 

Hungarian president travels to Warsaw in bid to reinforce relations. Katalin Novák, Hungary’s newly appointed president, on her first trip abroad to Poland on Tuesday, attempted to reinforce relations as the traditional alliance between Budapest and Warsaw weathers Russia-policy divisions. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

TIRANA | SOFIA

Bulgaria and Albania set ground for new gas corridor. A Memorandum of Understanding for the gasification of Albania was signed this week between three companies in the presence of Prime Minister Edi Rama and former US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, signalling the start of a new potential natural gas corridor between Albania and Bulgaria. Read more.

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SOFIA

Most Bulgarians see security only in NATO. Over half of Bulgarians believe Bulgaria cannot guarantee its national security and territorial integrity outside NATO, while one in four think it can, a national survey by the agency Market Links has found. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

Romania’s economy grows 6.5% in first quarter, but pace may not last. Romania’s economy posted a surprising 6.5% growth rate in the first quarter, but economists predict a significant slowdown for the rest of the year. Read more.

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ZAGREB

Croatia moves to boost own energy production, says minister. Croatia currently meets only 21% of its energy needs and is moving towards increasing its own production capacities, Energy Minister Davor Filipović told state broadcaster HRT on Tuesday. Read more.

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LJUBLJANA 

Slovenia unhappy about Austria extending border controls. Slovenia is dismayed over Austria’s decision to extend police control at its borders despite a recent EU Court of Justice ruling saying that Austria’s justification for introducing border controls has been unsatisfactory since 2017. Read more.

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BELGRADE | PRISTINA

Serbian parliament speaker says Kosovo joining Council of Europe is against international law. Allowing Kosovo to join the Council of Europe (CoE) is contrary to international law, the UN Security Council Resolution 1244 and human rights, Serbian National Assembly Speaker Ivica Dačić said in a discussion with Tiny Kox, president of the parliamentary assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE). Read more.


AGENDA:

  • EU: European Parliament plenary session and committee meetings
  • Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen participates in a debate with MEPs
  • EU chiefs of Defense meeting
  • EU chief diplomat Josep Borrell meets president of Moldova
  • European Commission college meeting
  • European Commission president Ursula Von der Leyen participates in leaders’ summit on offshore wind in North Sea
  • ECB president Christine Lagarde participates G7 finance ministers meeting
  • Germany: G7 development ministers meet
  • North Macedonia: Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić to meet with Macedonian counterpart Dimitar Kovačevski during a visit to North Macedonia. Brnabić and Kovačevski will participate in a prime ministers’ panel called Building a Prosperous Future: The Role of Regional Cooperation as part of the Macedonia 2025 Summit.

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

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