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 “AstraZeneca says it had positive meeting with EU over vaccine row“.
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:
Bulgarian PM reveals price of Pfizer vaccine has jumped from €12 to €19.50. The European Commission has signed contracts with Pfizer for the supply of COVID-19 vaccines in 2022 and 2023 for €19.50 per dose, Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov revealed on Sunday. Read more.
EDITOR’S TAKE: Sign EastMed pipeline deal Mr Draghi! Technocrat Italian PM Mario Draghi said what politicians could not: he called Erdogan a dictator. Strong words do not change policies, however. More
Netherlands experiments with mass events. The planned relaxation of the lockdown in the Netherlands will be postponed by one week, a spokesman for the Government Information Service told the ANP news agency. At the same time, the Netherlands is experimenting with the return of mass events. Read more.
Vaccination in France is speeding up with the opening of vaccination to the over-55s. Health Minister Olivier Véran made several announcements on Sunday in the Journal du Dimanche. In addition to opening vaccination to all people over 55, he also announced the authorisation of self-tests.
“The self-tests will quickly be made available in schools. We plan to go up to two tests per week, per pupil and per teacher”, he said as France plans to reopen its schools after the current two-week holiday. The minister also indicated that he was expecting a first delivery of the Janssen (Johnson & Johnson) vaccine of “200,000 doses”, “a week ahead of schedule”. To date, nearly 11 million French people have received at least one dose of the vaccine. (Mathieu Pollet | EURACTIV.fr)
Germany’s far-right AfD firms up election strategy with EU exit and anti-lockdown campaign. Germany’s far-right AfD party vowed to campaign for an end to COVID-19 restrictions, a tougher line on migration and an exit from the EU as it finalised its manifesto for the September elections over the weekend. Read more.
Söder and Laschet ready to run for chancellor. Both CDU party leader Armin Laschet and CSU chairman Markus Söder have declared their willingness to vie for the Union’s candidacy for German chancellor. The leaders of both the CDU and CSU will be discussing the situation in separate meetings on Monday. (Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)
Belgium’s travel ban unlikely to be extended beyond 18 April. The country’s ban on non-essential travel is unlikely to be extended when the Consultative Committee next meets on Wednesday, health minister Frank Vandenbroucke told VTM Niews. However, there will be restrictions remaining, including tighter controls on returning travellers and sanctions for anyone returning from a red zone and refusing to be tested. (Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)
Chancellor’s party loses poll supremacy. The current headlines about corruption within the ÖVP keep on damaging the party’s standing. In a recent survey, only 33% of citizens said they would vote for the conservatives headed by Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Last year around this time, the party’s approval ratings stood at 48%. Kurz himself is at his lowest approval rate during his time as chancellor: 27%.
The slump in popularity is being seen as due to recently revelations about alleged nepotism among leading ÖVP figures, including the chancellor himself, when it comes to distributing well-paid government jobs. The country’s slow vaccine roll-out could play a part. (Philipp Grüll | EURACTIV.de)
UK AND IRELAND
All shops in England re-open today. England is re-opening all shops on Monday (12 April) following close to four months of strict lockdown measures. More
Irish PM calls on EU, UK to work together over growing tension in Northern Ireland. Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin has called on the EU and the UK to work together to overcome the mounting tension over the Northern Ireland protocol that has sparked nightly rioting and some of the worst violence Northern Ireland has seen in years. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Russian-Estonian foreign ministers hold discussion for first time in five years. Estonian and Russian foreign ministers, Eva-Maria Liimets and Sergei Lavrov, held a discussion last Friday on the situation in Ukraine and the unratified border agreement between Estonia and Russia, Estonian broadcaster ERR News reported. Read more.
Turkey suspends Italian contracts in wake of Draghi’s Erdogan comments. The Turkish government has suspended contracts from Italian companies based in Turkey in response to the comments made by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi at a press conference Friday regarding the so-called ‘sofa-gate’ affair, calling Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan “a dictator”. More
Spanish PM under pressure to lay out next steps in tackling pandemic. COVID-19 pandemic amid fierce criticism from the conservative opposition about the slow vaccination roll-out and controversy surrounding the AstraZeneca vaccine, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports. Read the full story.
Former Portuguese PM stands trial for money laundering, document falsification. Former Portuguese prime minister and leader of the Socialist Party, José Sócrates, will stand trial in the Operation Marquês case for money laundering and falsifying documents. Read more.
OLAF chief: 1.1 billion fake doses currently in the market. Fake offers of 1.1 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines from supposed intermediaries to EU governments are currently in the market, said Ville Itälä, Director General of the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). In an interview with Greek journal Ta Nea, Itälä said the value of these fake offers stands at €15 billion. More.
Czech foreign ministry bans Orbán-critical directors’ message. Czech directors Ondřej Provazník and Martin Dušek filmed a short video message to be shown before the screening of their movie Old-Timers on Thursday (April 15) at the Czech Film Carnival in Budapest, writes Parameter.sk via Respekt.cz. One of the directors wrote “Ban Orbán” on a board while the other said “our political representatives also need to be aware that maybe someone will come at the end of their lives to hold them accountable for their actions”. More
Poland among China’s main EU investment sites. Poland was among the leading EU destinations for Chinese investment in 2020, the Polish Economic Institute (PIE) announced on Thursday. Read more.
Czech foreign minister to be fired from the government. Deputy prime minister and freshly re-elected leader of the Czech Social Democrats, Jan Hamáček is expected to propose the removal of Czech Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček (S&D) from the government. The change in the ruling cabinet is expected to happen Monday. Hamáček’s decision comes one day after he was re-elected party leader after running against Petříček at a party congress that took place on Friday and Saturday.
The former health minister, Jan Blatný, was replaced on Wednesday by Petr Arenberger. Both Petříček and Blatný were criticised by Czech President Miloš Zeman for their negative approach to the Russian Sputnik V vaccine.
European Broadcasting Union (EBU) on Friday warned of increasing political pressure on the public broadcaster Czech Television. As EURACTIV.cz reported, changes in the broadcaster’s supervisory commission have already caught the attention of Czech European Commissioner for transparency and values, Věra Jourová, who admitted being “worried about the Czech Television.” The International Press Institute has also expressed serious concerns regarding the broadcaster’s future. Read more.
Matovic´s trip to Hungary pragmatic but inadequate, says Slovak PM Heger. Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger has slammed as “inadequate” a trip by Finance Minister Igor Matovič’s to Hungary to discuss the Sputnik V vaccines Slovakia purchased in March since no Slovak diplomat attended the talks in Budapest. Read more.
Romanian government sets new COVID-19 vaccination target. The Romanian government brought forward its vaccination target by almost two months, with Prime Minister Florin Cîțu promising that many restrictions could be lifted if 10 million people get their jabs by 1 August. Read more.
Attacked Afghan migrants placed in centre for asylum seekers in Zagreb. Four members of a group of Afghan migrants discovered by the Croatian border police in the Glina area have been found to be victims of aggravated robbery and have all been placed in the Reception Centre for Asylum Seekers in Zagreb, the Sisak-Moslavina County Police said on Sunday. Read more.
Local Slovenian politician’s house attacked with petrol bomb. A fire broke out on Friday evening in the house of Vesna Fabjan, a local councillor for the opposition party Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), in Črnomelj, after an unknown perpetrator threw a petrol bomb through the window. No one was hurt and family members managed to put out the fire. Read more.
Eco rally takes place in Belgrade. Several thousand citizens took part in a rally on Saturday in the Serbian capital dubbed The Eco Uprising, organised by Defend the Rivers of Stara (Old) Planina group, named after the Balkan Mountain that runs partly through south-east Serbia. Read more.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Zoran Radosavljevic and Josie Le Blond]