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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In today’s news from the Capitals:
On Thursday (15 July), German Chancellor Angela Merkel will visit US President Joe Biden in the White House in what will be her last trip to Washington after nearly 16 years in power. The general objective is to reset transatlantic ties. But the details over the West’s strategy toward China and the future of Nord Stream 2 pipeline will determine the sustainability of the touted fresh start.
EURACTIV Germany contacted politicians and analysts who highlighted their expectations from this visit. Read more.
Slovenia to prioritise e-mobility, alternative fuels in transport talks. The main transport priorities of Slovenia’s EU presidency are e-mobility and alternative fuels, Infrastructure Minister Jernej Vrtovec said as he presented the presidency agenda to the European Parliament’s Transport Committee on Tuesday. This will also be the main topic of an informal transport ministerial scheduled for September. More.
Macron’s vaccine strategy causes strong reactions in France. President Emmanuel Macron’s announcement of stricter rules for unvaccinated people has boosted the number of new vaccination candidates but also aroused strong criticism, with critics hailing the arrival of “vaccination apartheid.” Read more.
German military launches space command centre. Germany’s first space command centre with defence operations including military reconnaissance, the overseeing of satellites and tracking of dangerous space junk was officially inaugurated by Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer at the site for the Centre for Air Operations in Uedem near the Dutch border. Read more.
Austria dissatisfied with road charging directive. The European Parliament’s Committee on Transport has green-lighted revised rules on road charging – the so-called Eurovignette – on Tuesday, much to the dissatisfaction of Austria. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Britain’s MI5 spy chief says: Beware of Russian, Chinese agents. Britain’s top domestic spymaster cautioned the population on Wednesday to treat the threat of spying from Russia and China as vigilantly as terrorism, warning that foreign spies were seeking to pilfer technology, sow discord and attack infrastructure. Read more.
Ireland to soon reopen indoor hospitality. The Irish parliament committee on health has voted to waive pre-legislative scrutiny of a new bill to permit indoor hospitality, which will speed up its passage through parliament, news RTE News has reported. Read more.
Lithuanian parliament votes to allow mass detention of asylum seekers. Lithuania’s parliament on Tuesday approved the mass detention of migrants and curbed their right of appeal, a move meant to deter high numbers crossing the border with Belarus but which stirred an outcry among humanitarian groups. Read more.
However, NGOs say the amendments will in legalise human rights violations and put vulnerable people in danger. Lawyers also say the amendments might run counter to the constitution. A total of 1,716 migrants have been detained at Lithuania’s border with Belarus this year so far, an increase from 81 people detained in the whole year of 2020, 46 in 2019, and 104 in 2018.
EU court rejects request to annul appointment of Portuguese European prosecutor. The EU’s General Court in Luxembourg has rejected the request submitted by attorney Ana Carla Almeida to annul the appointment of José Guerra as Portugal’s pick for the delegated prosecutor position at the new European Public Prosecutor Office (EPPO), but the magistrate announced on Tuesday that she would appeal the decision to a higher instance. Read more.
Greece toughens stance on unvaccinated. The Greek government has decided to toughen up its stance against unvaccinated citizens, introducing compulsory vaccination in nursing homes and health facilities as well as allowing only vaccinated people indoors when it comes to bars and restaurants. In case of non-compliance with the new measures, heavy fines will be imposed. Read more.
Spain’s new ‘feminist’ cabinet starts work on recovery. Spain’s new “feminist” cabinet has officially begun work following a reshuffle by Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez, with the economic recovery topping the agenda, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported. Read the full story.
Tests show lack of antibodies for those vaccinated with China’s jab. A test of a sample of 60-year-olds vaccinated with the Chinese Sinopharm vaccine showed a quarter had no antibodies against the coronavirus, according to results from the municipality of Budapest released on Tuesday. Read more.
Slovenia says EU should accept the whole Western Balkans. Slovenian President Borut Pahor has said the EU is not complete without enlargement to include the whole of the Western Balkans and it should speed up the accession process. Read more.
Polish court delays ruling in landmark EU row case. Poland’s top court on Tuesday delayed issuing a ruling in a landmark case on whether the Polish constitution or EU law have primacy in the member state, amid a bitter row with Brussels. Read more.
Ousted Slovak PM visits EU Commission representation. Former Slovak prime minister, Robert Fico, who was ousted from the office after the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak in 2018, has paid a visit to the European Commission representation in Bratislava. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Former Bulgarian PM summoned for questioning by police. Former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov announced that he had been summoned for questioning by caretaker Interior Minister Boyko Rashkov over alleged threats made to a Bulgarian businessman. Read more.
Romania has work to do before drawing cohesion funds. Romania, one of the main beneficiaries of the EU’s cohesion policy, still has a lot of work to do on its operational programmes before it is able to draw any funds from the 2021-2027 period. Read more.
Croatian finance ministry willing to talk with hospitality sector. Cafe and restaurant owners on Tuesday called on the government to reduce VAT on beverages to 13% or to treat labour costs as a tax deduction, which would help the hospitality sector to recover, develop and increase wages. Read more.
Serbian president and Kosovo’s PM to meet in Brussels. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić and Kosovo Premier Albin Kurti will meet in Brussels on 19 July in a new round of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, with the participation of EU High Representative Josep Borrell and supported by the EU Special Representative for the Dialogue, Miroslav Lajčak.
EU: Progress in BiH’s reforms is limited. Following the fourth Stabilisation and Association Council with Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell said that there has been some momentum and steps taken since last year. Read more.
- Belgium: EU Commission unveils proposals to govern transition to low carbon economy, dubbed “Fit for 55”
- Germany: ECB board discusses launch of digital euro currency
- France: Bastille Day, President Emmanuel Macron will attend the traditional military parade on the Champs-Elysées.
- Italy: Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Justice Minister Marta Cartabia will visit the prison of Santa Maria Capua Vetere, where in April 2020 there were serious cases of violence by the prison police against prisoners, recently denounced by the Italian press.
- Poland: The first drawing for prizes in the national immunisation programme lottery will take place Wednesday. Five prizes of 50,000 PLN and 60 electric scooters will be awarded.
- Malta: Valetta to close borders to unvaccinated travellers
- Romania: President Klaus Iohannis attends the weekly meeting of the government, which will adopt his national project Educated Romania.
- Croatia: A conference on the role of women in creating Europe’s future is held as part of the Conference on the Future of Europe. Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and ministers Nikolina Brnjac, Nina Obuljen Koržinek, Nataša Tramišak and Marija Vučković are expected to attend the event.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulous, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Zoran Radosavljevic, Josie Le Blond]