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 “Europe’s future is shaped by its old electorate“, by EURACTIV Greece’s Kostas Argyros.
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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Babis and Orban blacklist critical international journalists. Czech and foreign journalists who reported critically on Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán were banned from the joint press conference held by the two leaders on Wednesday in Czechia. Read more.
EU postpones trade talks with Australia amid submarine deal fallout. Australia’s Minister for Trade Dan Tehan said on Friday talks with the European Union over a trade deal have been postponed, as a row over Canberra’s decision to cancel a $40 billion deal with France escalates. More.
Austrian Communists caught in controversy over praise for Lukashenko regime. Austria’s Communist Party has found itself under considerable pressure after one of its MPs appeared on Belarussian state television praising the Lukashenko regime. The party is currently in coalition talks in Graz following a surprise victory in municipal elections. Read more.
German parties settle in for long weekend of coalition negotiations. Following the splintered party landscape after the 26 September elections, German parties have set up multiple dates over the weekend where their teams of 10 to 15 top-level politicians will hold coalition negotiations. Read more.
France to reimburse consultations with psychologists from 2022. French President Emmanuel Macron announced a series of “historic” measures at a mental health and psychiatry conference on Tuesday (28 September). They include the reimbursement of sessions with psychologists subject to medical prescription. EURACTIV France reports.
France’s Sarkozy likely to avoid jail despite new conviction. A Paris court handed former French President Nicolas Sarkozy a one-year prison sentence on Thursday (30 September) after being found guilty of illegal campaign financing over his failed 2012 re-election bid. Read more.
After ‘Mercron’: What German elections could mean for the Franco-German tandem. As the era of Angela Merkel comes to an end, both the Franco-German relationship and the role of the Merkel-Macron tandem in the EU are at a watershed. For the moment, France seems to be holding its breath. Read more.
Parliament allows disbursement of Swiss Cohesion Contribution. Both houses of parliament on Thursday approved the disbursement of the Swiss cohesion contribution to the EU worth CHF 1.3 billion. The funds will go towards supporting the development of Eastern EU member states. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Chaos in the UK: pumps dry, medicines disrupted and pig cull fears. More than two thousand British gas stations were still dry on Thursday (30 September) due a shortage of truck drivers which was starting to disrupt deliveries to pharmacies, while farmers warned a lack of butchers could lead to a massive cull of pigs. Read more.
EU COVID certificate scheme extended to Irish citizens in Northern Ireland. Irish passport holders who reside and have been vaccinated in Northern Ireland can apply for the EU’s digital COVID certificate from Thursday. This allows them to travel more freely throughout the EU. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Finland eyes possible NATO membership. Finland, a close NATO ally, will keep a close eye on the alliance’s development, bearing in mind the possibility of membership, President Sauli Niinistö told a Finnish Insitute for International Affairs seminar. He added that the country could shape the EU into becoming a more powerful global actor in terms of defence and security. Read more.
Finance Minister to succeed Lofven to become Sweden’s first-ever female PM. Finance Minister Magdalena Andersson was elected to lead the Social Democrats, succeeding outgoing Prime Minister Stefan Löfven and becoming the first female politician to run the cabinet and the country. All 26 party districts backed her bid on Wednesday (29 September).
However, life outside her rank and file might prove to be less rosy as the general elections in September of next year are likely to be too close to call, and the economist may need the backing of other parties to remain in office. (Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)
Former pro-migration Italian mayor gets harsh sentence for ‘abetting illegal migration’. Mimmo Lucano, the former mayor of the Southern Italian town of Riace, who became a symbol of multicultural integration, was sentenced to 13 years and two months in jail for “irregularities” in his management of asylum seekers and for abetting illegal immigration. The sentence was almost double the initial seven years the state prosecutors sought. Read more.
Spanish justice asks Italy to ‘immediately’ extradite Puigdemont. Pablo Llarena, the judge in charge of the “procés case” which relates to an allegedly unlawful referendum held in Catalonia in 2017- sent on Thursday a letter to the Sassari court of appeal warning the Italian judiciary that the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) against Catalonia’s former president Carles Puigdemont is still in force. Read more.
Commissioner Johansson failed to convince Poland on pushbacks. European Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson met with Interior Minister Mariusz Kamiński in Warsaw to discuss the situation on the Eastern border of Poland and the EU with Belarus. Read more.
Slovak government approves hospital reform funded by recovery plan. The hospital reform, which aims to ensure greater expertise and specialisation of hospitals by redefining the roles and status of hospitals according to the care they provide to patients, was approved by the government. It is a “key reform, and it is great that we can support it with a billion euro from the recovery plan,” said Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OĽaNO), adding that the resources would be used to build new hospitals and renovate existing ones. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Ex-PM Borissov’s party nominates Sofia University rector for president. The Rector of Sofia University, Prof. Anastas Gerdjikov, has been nominated as a presidential candidate for the independent Initiative Committee. The party of ex-PM Boyko Borissov, GERB, will support him. Read more.
Romania records high number of COVID-19 cases. Romania’s health authorities reported more than 12,000 new COVID-19 infections on Thursday, the highest number of cases reported in a day since the debut of the pandemic. Meanwhile, the government will discuss easing some restrictions for the vaccinated to access restaurants, gyms or theatres even if the incidence rate increases. (Bogdan Neagu | EURACTIV.ro)
Chinese company requests additional costs for Peljesac bridge. Six months before work on the Pelješac bridge and access roads was completed, contractors have requested more funds from investor Hrvatske Ceste (Croatian roads), EURACTIV’s partner Jutarnji list reported. Read more.
Slovenian Constitutional Court thwarts tightening of COVID pass conditions. The Constitutional Court has stayed a government decree under which public administration employees would have to either be vaccinated or have recovered from the virus to come to work from 1 October. Senior government officials have already accused judges of being complicit in future COVID-19-related deaths. Read more.
Kosovo and Serbia diffuse tensions through EU brokered deal. After ten days of tensions between Kosovo and Serbia that prompted concerns of a renewed conflict in the region, a temporary agreement has been brokered to de-escalate the situation, Miroslav Lajčák, EU Special Representative for Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, announced on Thursday. Read the full story.
Von der Leyen: Serbia has a better future in EU, but still a lot of work to do. Serbia has a better future in the European Union, but much still needs to be done on the country’s European road, EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said in Donje Međurovo on Thursday.
“Serbia has a better future in the EU. A lot of work lies ahead of us, we must overcome the pandemic and we must foster economic recovery,” she said, adding that strategic investment was necessary to secure sustainable recovery. (EURACTIV.rs | betabriefing.com)
Albania hosts first maritime conference amid billions of EU investment. Albania’s very first maritime conference kicked off in Tirana on Thursday (29 September), coinciding with World Maritime Day. The event was attended by various government and industry stakeholders and the ambassador of the European Union to Albania, Luigi Soreca. Read more.
Von der Leyen opens new bridge in Svilaj between Croatia and BiH. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and BiH Prime Minister Zoran Tegeltija cut the ribbon officially marking the Svilaj bridge open to traffic. Read more.
SKOPJE | ATHENS
Greek PM disagrees with Bulgarian veto. Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told a press conference on Thursday that he disagrees with the Bulgarian veto of North Macedonia’s EU accession and that admitting the Balkans to the EU should be sped up. Read more.
- Germany: Celebration of former Bavarian minister-president Edmund Stoiber’s birthday in Munich. CSU chief Markus Söder and failed CDU chancellor hopeful Armin Laschet are expected to attend.
- Germany: First coalition talks to be held over the weekend.
- Germany: German Chancellor Merkel, Libyan leader Mohamed al-Menfi to give press statement.
- France: Prime Minister Jean Castex to host an interministerial committee on Europe, this afternoon at the Hôtel de Matignon.
- Spain: 4th anniversary of Catalonia’s”illegal” independence referendum.
- Croatia: The parliamentary Committee on Gender Equality meets to discuss the topic “Is there sex-based discrimination when deciding on parental custody?”
- Greece: Greek FM Nikos Dendias will meet his Hungarian counterpart Péter Szijjártó to sign a Memorandum of Cooperation between the two countries’ Diplomatic Academies.
- Hungary: MEPs visits to discuss the rule of law and hold press conference.
- Slovenia: Covid jab becomes mandatory for civil servants.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Alice Taylor]