Babis blames Czech ‘mafia’ for offshore data leak

The investigation put the Czech PM under pressure for a secret offshore-based purchase of €15 million property located in southern France. [EPA-EFE/ARIS OIKONOMOU]

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In today’s news from the Capitals:


Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš was among the world leaders whose secret wealth was revealed in the Pandora Papers leak. Only five days before the Czech parliamentary elections, Babiš denied any wrongdoing and blamed the “Czech mafia” for the offshore data leak. Read more.



Conference highlights potential of ‘smart villages’. In Europe, 80% of the land is rural and only a third of EU citizens live in the countryside, which is why a long-term vision is being drawn up to use this potential, Commissioner for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica said at a conference on smart villages held as part of Slovenia’s EU presidency. Read more.



EU might consider military training mission for Ukraine. Brussels is considering a training mission for Ukrainian officers due to the “ongoing military activities” of Russia as relations between Kyiv and Moscow remain tense. Read more.



Dutch MEP Sophie In’t Veld wants to be new Renew president. Dutch EU lawmaker Sophie In’t Veld has staked her claim to become president of the centrist Renew Europe, the third-biggest political group in the European Parliament, after the current president, Romania’s Dacian Cioloş, announced plans to step down. Read the full story.



German parties celebrate national holiday with ‘speed coalition dating’. As Germans celebrated the day of national unity on Sunday, their elected parties were left to negotiate the country’s first-ever three-way coalition as a return to the Grand Coalition of Social Democrats and Conservatives seems unlikely. Read more.



French Green candidate says agricultural transition will be a priority. Yannick Jadot, who narrowly won the Green party primaries on 28 October, presented his programme ahead of the presidential elections in April 2022 in an interview with the weekly Journal du Dimanche. Read more.



Austrian government announces new eco-social tax reform. After intense negotiations during the weekend, the Green-Conservative coalition reached an agreement on Sunday of an “eco-social” reform of its tax system, consisting of massive tax cuts and a remodelling of the tax system to incentivise the Green transition. Read more.



Ireland doubts UK will follow through with NI protocol threat. Dublin is not expecting the British government to make good on the warning issued by Prime Minister Boris Johnson that the UK will “ditch” the Northern Ireland protocol if the EU does not agree to “fix” it. Read more.



UK: A “period of adjustment” to post-Brexit life. Boris Johnson has conceded that the UK is facing a “period of adjustment” to life after Brexit and COVID-19, as the fuel crisis continues and shops face the prospect of empty shelves because of a shortage of HGV lorry drivers. Read more.



Italy’s biggest cities head to polls for mayoral elections. 12 million people in Rome, Milan, Naples, Turin, Bologna, and dozens of other Italian cities are heading to the polls on 3 and 4 October to elect mayors and city councils. Read more.



Thousands gather in Barcelona for Catalan independence rally. About 3,000 people demonstrated in Barcelona on Sunday to show their support for the independence of the autonomous region of Catalonia and to remember the independence referendum of 1 October 2017. Read more.



Greece: The Neo-Nazi snake wakes up again. A group of ultra-right persons has reportedly attacked members of the Communist Youth and the Communist Party in Thessaloniki, injuring at least three people. This comes after neo-Nazi groups also allegedly carried out a series of attacks in Thessaloniki last week, targeting students at anti-fascist rallies, journalists, and even police officers. Read more.



Opposition gears up for second round of search for Orbán’s opponent. Budapest’s green mayor Gergely Karácsony and independent Hódmezővásárhely mayor Péter Márki-Zay, two of the three prime ministerial candidates to move on to the next round of opposition’s primaries, have agreed to continue competing as allies. Read more.



Parliamentary speaker codemns Brussels over legal superiority spat. Statements by EU officials that the standoff with Poland will be settled once Warsaw agrees to recognise the superiority of EU law over the Polish constitution are unacceptable, Speaker of the Sejm, Elżbieta Witek, said on Sunday. Read more.



Most Slovaks favour mandatory vaccination of medical personnel, teachers. Most Slovaks agree that medical personnel and teachers are obliged to take the COVID-19 vaccine, a new survey conducted by Focus agency shows. Read more.



Bulgarian Supreme Court chairman running for president. Supreme Court of Cassation Chairman Lozan Panov will be running for the position of president. He will be nominated as an independent candidate by an initiative committee, but the main driving force behind Panov is the civil initiative “Justice for Everyone”. Read more.

Read also: Court cases over ‘Mobility Package’ pit Bulgaria against powerful EU countries



Dacian Ciolos elected president of USR PLUS to step down as Renew Europe chair. USR PLUS members elected former Commissioner Dacian Ciolos to become the party’s president. Ciolos, who served as chair of the Renew Europe group in the European Parliament since June 2019, said he would resign to focus entirely on USR PLUS. Read more.



PM: Cap on maternity allowance to be lifted in Croatia. The government will lift the cap on maternity allowances, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has confirmed, adding that this comes as part of the government’s plan for the current term. The announcement comes after EURACTIV’s partner Jutarnji list first published a story that mothers will receive a full salary during maternity leave. Read more.



Serbia ranks very high on 2021 Global Organised Crime Index. Serbia came 33rd in the Global Organised Crime Index for 2021, putting it in second place after Russia with the highest organised crime rate. Read more.



Western Balkans call for EU help on media freedom situation in Albania. Six Western Balkan journalism associations, representing more than 8200 journalists, have written to EU Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi, the European Federation of Journalists, and the European Broadcasting Union regarding the current media freedom situation in Albania. Read more.



Protesters go against Dodik after COVID-19 patients treated with industrial oxygen. More than 3,000 people protested in Banja Luka against the authorities in Republika Srpska, the Serb entity, accusing it of corruption, crime and nepotism. The protest started after Milorad Dodik, Serb member of the BiH presidency, accused BN television of ‘treason’ following revelations that the hospital in Banja Luka had treated COVID-19 patients with industrial instead of medical oxygen. Read more.


Dodik to US envoy Escobar: F**k the sanctions! Milorad Dodik, Serb member of the BiH Presidency, has unveiled the details of meeting with US Western Balkans Envoy Gabriel Escobar he initially said was “not for the public.” According to the transcript which Dodik revealed, he told Escobar, “the new sanctions for the Balkans are not only for those who politically obstruct the progress but also for those who benefit from that.”  Read more.



North Macedonia 2021 census is over. The first headcount of citizens in North Macedonia for 20 years has now been completed and closed, with full results not expected until March 2022. Read more.



Đukanović and his son featured in Pandora Papers. One of the most significant leaks of offshore data ever, the Pandora Papers, found that Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović and his son have been funnelling money to offshore accounts. Read more.


  • EU/Slovenia: EU health ministers to meet in Kranj.
  • Germany: Synthetic kerosene plant to be unveiled, with video message from German Chancellor Merkel.
  • France: US Secretary of State Antony Blinken comes for a visit /
    European Parliament plenary session starts in Strasbourg.
  • Luxembourg: Eurozone finance ministers discuss energy price surge.
  • Netherlands: EMA set to announce COVID-19 vaccine booster decision.
  • UK: Simplified COVID-19 rules for international travellers take effect.
  • Finland: Prime Minister Sanna Marin to meet EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen in Helsinki.
  • Spain: Former Catalan regional president Carles Puigdemont to appear in court in Sardinia on Monday for an extradition hearing.
  • Croatia: The Chamber of Commerce (HGK) to pick a president for the next four years.
  • Poland: Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen will visit Auschwitz.


[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]

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