Bulgarian elections set to determine Western Balkan enlargement

The outcome of Bulgaria’s upcoming general elections will impact the pace of Albania and North Macedonia’s EU accession path, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said during a visit to the region. [EPA-EFE/NAKE BATEV]

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 interview Europe has to become a security provider, says EU’s Borrell, by Alexandra Brzozowski.

We’re going for net zero, but what does that really mean?
Equinor has a clear ambition going forward – taking a leading role in the energy transition and becoming a net-zero company by 2050, while helping deliver the energy the world needs. Read How >>

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

In today’s news from the Capitals:


The outcome of Bulgaria’s upcoming general elections will impact the pace of Albania and North Macedonia’s EU accession path, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said during a visit to the region. Read more.



Merkel ups pressure on Lukashenko in call with Putin. In a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin, outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel discussed the situation at the Poland-Belarus border and sought to get Putin to exert his influence on Belarus’ strongman President Alexander Lukashenko. Read more.



​​Health Minister holds emergency meeting over skyrocketing COVID-19 cases. Health Minister Wolfgang Mückstein held an emergency meeting Wednesday evening with the state governors of Upper Austria and Salzburg and recommended implementing a lockdown for the unvaccinated to prevent the number of new cases increasing. Read more.



France to tighten Covid pass checks as pandemic situation worsens. Checks of COVID-19 passes will be tightened in the coming weeks, government spokesperson Gabriel Attal told a press conference on Wednesday. Read more.



Article 16 will not lead to a better deal, Varadkar warns Johnson. Triggering Article 16 to suspend the Northern Ireland protocol will not improve the situation and will put the EU-UK free trade agreement at risk, Irish Deputy Prime Minister Leo Varadkar has warned British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Read more.



Estonia: EU, NATO facing most severe crisis in past 30 years. In reference to the migrant situation at the Belarusian-Polish border and its implications, Estonian Defence Minister Kalle Laanet said its severity is unparalleled to anything the EU and NATO have faced in the last 30 years. Read more.



Prime Minister Löfven resigns, paving way for first female PM. Outgoing Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, in office since 2014, handed his resignation letter to the speaker of parliament on Wednesday afternoon, likely opening the way for Finance Minister, Magdalena Andersson. Read more.




Italy’s 40-60-year-olds eligible for boosters from December. A third COVID-19 dose will be available for those in the 40-60 age group from 1 December, Health Minister Roberto Speranza announced on Wednesday. This means another 15 million will be eligible for boosters. Read more.



Spain unveils details of plan to use EU Next Generation funds. Spain unveiled on Wednesday (10 November) details of its “operational plan” for the implementation of projects financed under the EU funding schemes, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported. Read more.



Portugal’s health authority reports 86% of population fully vaccinated. Portugal has 86% of the population fully vaccinated against COVID-19, and 87% with at least one dose of the vaccine, the national health authority (DGS) announced Wednesday (10 November). Read more.



Cyprus seeks to suspend asylum applications. Nicosia said Wednesday it would seek to suspend asylum applications to cope with an influx of irregular migrants entering the eastern Mediterranean island that it blames on Turkey. Read more.



Czech PM Babis to be stripped of immunity for the third time. Prague prosecutor’s office asked the newly-elected Czech parliament to strip outgoing Prime Minister Andrej Babiš of parliamentary immunity. As the majority of the new parliament is now formed by opposition parties critical of Babiš, it is expected they will comply with the request without any delays. Read more.



Opposition MP: Do not let Hungary steal EU taxpayers money. Márki-Zay Péter, the independent mayor running as the joint opposition candidate against Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán in next year’s elections, has called for caution from the EU to give Hungary more money. Read more.



EU Council chief visits Warsaw. European Council President Charles Michel has arrived in Warsaw as the situation on the Belarusian-Polish border continues to escalate. “I came to Poland because I wanted to express the solidarity of the European Union towards Poland. We take this crisis seriously. In the face of such an attack, it is necessary to act firmly, with unity, and on the basis of our fundamental values,” he said. Read more.



Slovak minister Sulik: I don’t want Hungary to own shares in an important state company. After Slovakia’s economy ministry stopped the sale of minority shares of Stredoslovenská energetika a.s. (SSE) to Hungarian state energy giant MVM, minister Richard Sulík (SaS/ECR) said he does not like the idea of Hungary making significant financial investments in Slovakia. Read more.



Bulgaria asks other EU countries for ventilators and ICU beds. Bulgaria has activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism because of the problematic COVID-19 situation in the country. A Commission spokesperson said that authorities had requested a range of medical items via the mechanism, including a significant amount of ventilators, patient monitors, ICU beds, and oxygen masks. Read more.



Romania’s socialists call for national recovery plan to be renegotiated with EU. Romania’s caretaker government adopted the first documents needed to implement the recovery and resilience plan. Still, socialists, who could enter the government as soon as next week, want the plan to be renegotiated with the EU. Read more.



Croatia’s former EU funds minister arrested. The arrest of a member of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ-EPP) Presidency and former EU Funds Minister Gabrijela Žalac led to a barrage of criticism from the Opposition against the judiciary, and its insistence that “there is no difference between Sanader’s and Plenković’s HDZ.” Read more.



Climate Action Network awards Fossil of the Day Award to US, Australia and Serbia. The Climate Action Network (CAN) ranked Serbia third in its Fossil of the Day Award because of its big polluters. Read more.



Tanjug journalist reported for denying Srebrenica genocide. A criminal complaint has been filed against Marko Ivas, a journalist with the Serbian news agency Tanjug, denying genocide was committed in Srebrenica during an interview with BiH tripartite Presidency chairman Željko Komšić. Read more.



North Macedonia’s Central Bank leaves lowest rates in history unchanged. The National Bank decided to leave its policy rate unchanged at the historically lowest level of 1.25%. As a result, monetary policy remained relaxed, contributing towards support to the credit flows in the economy. It was reassessed that having no demand pressures, the moderate upward inflation trends are temporary.

According to the latest available macroeconomic indicators, in the first half of the year GDP grew by 5.2%. The economic recovery is set to continue with growth rates of 3.9% for this and next year. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)



US worried about entrenched corruption in Montenegro. US Deputy Assistant Secretary Gabriel Escobar “highlighted US concern over entrenched corruption in the country and encouraged Montenegro to continue to play a constructive role in addressing regional challenges,” the US Embassy wrote on Twitter after Escobar met with Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović.

Đukanović thanked Escobar for his commitment to Montenegro and the region following the meeting. At the same time, Escobar said that the purpose of his visit was to further deepen the partnership and alliance between the US and Montenegro. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)


  • EU: EU trade ministers meet to discuss EU-US trade, with US Trade Representative Catherine Tai, and set state of play of EU trade agreements / European Commission releases latest economic forecasts.
  • Germany: Finance Minister Olaf Scholz holds press conference on tax revenue forecasts.
  • France: President Macron will participate in the official ceremony to celebrate the 103rd anniversary of the 1918 armistice / Paris Peace Forum 2021 takes place in Paris, featuring European Council President Charles Michel and EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell.
  • Poland: Country celebrates 103rd anniversary of regaining independence, far-right marches planned.
  • Hungary: Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders is in Budapest to meet with Justice Minister Judit Varga / Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban visits Ankara, meets with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
  • Greece: Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius visits Athens where he will meet Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and ministers.
  • Bulgaria: The foreign ministry will give information on the organisation of elections abroad. On 14 November, Bulgarians will vote in 2-in-1 elections for president and parliament.
  • Slovenia: EU conference on prevention of child sexual abuse in Brdo.
  • Croatia: Prime Minister Andrej Plenković receives Sheikh Abdullatif bin Abdulaziz bin Abdulrahman Al-Sheikh, Saudi Minister of Islamic Affairs, Da’wah and Guidance. The Saudi official is also to meet with Croatian Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković.
  • North Macedonia: Lawmakers votes on a motion of no confidence in the left-wing government.


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

Subscribe to our newsletters