Bulgaria mulls withdrawing AstraZeneca jab

In the last 24 hours, only 154 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine have been delivered throughout the country. [Shutterstock/Girts Ragelis]

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 “French politicians turn to Twitch in hope of connecting with youth“, by EURACTIV France’s Mathieu Pollet.

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

High-level Conference Climate Science from Space: Synergies for a greener innovation economy: With the participation of the European Commissioner Mariya Gabriel and the Portuguese Minister for Science, Manuel Heitor, this conference will help building bridges to link space and climate ecosystems, by showing how space-based systems can improve daily life and contribute to the European Green Deal.

In today’s news from the Capitals:


Bulgaria may withdraw the AstraZeneca vaccine due to lack of interest. Bulgarian Health Minister Kostadin Angelov announced on Monday that the country’s roll-out of the AstraZeneca vaccine may be discontinued due to lack of interest. Read more.



Power struggle in the CDU/CSU. Germany’s ruling conservative parties disagreed publicly on Monday over who should be their candidate for chancellor in the 26 September federal election. What could follow is a power struggle for the position. Read more.



French in favour of going ahead with regional elections in June. According to figures released by the Interior Ministry on Monday, 56% of respondents to consultations with the French government are in favour of going ahead with regional elections scheduled for 13 and 20 June despite the pandemic. Forty percent of the 24,567 participants consulted since Friday were opposed to holding elections on those dates, while 4% did not respond. Both elections had already been postponed from March due to the current health crisis. (Anne Damiani | EURACTIV.fr)



Court of Appeal to rule on legality of COVID-19 measures. The Brussels Court of Appeal is due on Tuesday to begin considering the legality of Belgium’s current COVID-19 measures after a Brussels court ruled in late March that measures taken by ministerial decree were illegal. A decision is expected before 30 April.

In the first ruling, the judge gave the Belgian state 30 days to provide a sound legal basis for the pandemic restrictions, or face a penalty of €5,000 a day with a maximum limit of €200,000. (Alexandra Brzozowski | EURACTIV.com)



New report highlights PM Boris Johnson’s ‘imperious disregard’ for the rest of the UK. Brexit and Boris Johnson’s status as a prime minister “who only speaks for England” have increased the chances of the break up of the United Kingdom, according to a new report by the UK’s former top Brexit civil servant. Read more.



Ireland has been benefiting from EU-Canada trade deal, says Canadian embassy. “Certain sectors of the Irish economy have seen a significant growth in exports to Canada since 2016, including dairy, baked goods, textiles, beverages, Irish whiskey and spirits,” Suzanne Drisdelle, chargé d’affaires at the Canadian embassy, will tell the Irish parliament on Tuesday. More



Nordic airline companies go electric. Finnish national carrier Finnair and Norwegian regional airliner Widerøe have announced their intention to purchase battery-powered electric planes, giving credibility to a Nordic initiative that is attempting to drive forward the development of electric aircraft. Read more.



Gym, catering sectors protest Rome closures. About 800 people working in the gym and catering sectors, as well as people supporting neo-fascist formation Casapound, joined an unauthorised protest Monday in the centre of Rome to urge the government to allow their businesses to reopen. More



Spain to receive first batch of single-dose Janssen vaccine. The first batch of doses of the Janssen (Johnson&Johnson) single-dose COVID-19 vaccine is due to arrive in Spain within 48 hours according to the country’s health minister, Carolina Darias. Read the full story



Greece reopens high schools after offering free home-testing kits to population. Greek schools reopened on Monday after the government started the mass distribution of free home-testing kits to its citizens. Teachers and pupils must wear masks and get tested at least twice a week. Read more.



Hungary’s government-mayor row over Chinese university heats up. Budapest’s green opposition mayor Gergely Karácsony threatened on Monday to cancel the 2023 World Athletics Championships to be held in the capital if the government decides to build a Chinese university campus instead of a planned Student City project. Read more.



A little Polish economic miracle? Poland’s economy has recovered remarkably well despite being hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic and the country’s unemployment rate is currently the lowest in the EU, according to German television broadcaster ZDF. Read more.



Czech government to establish new commission to measure Green Deal impacts. Deputy Prime Minister Karel Havlíček on Monday announced the establishment of a new government commission that will be tasked with calculating the European Green Deal’s impact on the Czech Republic. Read more.



Slovak president backs scientists Russia said ‘damaged’ Sputnik V’s reputation. Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová has backed the researchers that examined doses of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine after Russia criticised them for having “damaged the reputation” of the shot with their assessment. Read more.



President Borut Pahor and PM Janez Janša for a peaceful dissolution of BiH. Slovenian Ambassador Zorica Bukinac has been summoned to the BiH foreign ministry to explain recent rumours about alleged new geostrategic plans for the Balkans, in what the Slovenian foreign ministry says is standard diplomatic practice. Read more.



Romanian hospital malfunction kills three COVID-19 patients. Malfunctioning ventilators have caused the deaths of three COVID-19 patients in an intensive care unit on the grounds of a Bucharest infectious diseases hospital. Read more.



Pensioners to receive extra payment of COVID-19 relief in coming weeks before local elections. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Monday that an agreement has been reached with pensioners’ representatives regarding COVID-19 support to be paid to approximately 850,000 seniors in late April or early May. Read more.



Islamic leader says vaccination allowed during Ramadan. The Reisu-l-Ulema of the Islamic Community of Serbia, Sead Nasufović, said on Monday that followers of Islam can receive the COVID-19 vaccine during the Ramadan fast. Read more.

In other news, the US has earmarked $22 million in aid for Serbia. Serbian Minister of European Integration Jadranka Joksimović and the acting director of the USAID Mission in Serbia, Shanley Pinchotti, signed in Belgrade on 12 April an extension of the two countries’ development partnership.

The funds have been designated for aiding the Serbian economy’s competitiveness, improving the administration’s efficiency in providing services to citizens, enhancing the media environment, helping the civil society, improving energy security, and providing support in the fight against COVID-19. The US Ambassador to Serbia, Anthony Godfrey, who attended the signing, said the partnership between the two countries was strong and that he can promise it would continue. (EURACTIV.rs | betabriefing.com)



Montenegro will propose joint construction of a highway to Serbia. European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said on Monday the EU would not help Montenegro repay a loan it had taken from a Chinese bank for the construction of a highway. Read more.


[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Zoran Radosavljevic and Josie Le Blond]

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