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:
- An exclusive interview with Greece’s former FM Nikos Kotzias: “Without Western renewal, we’re heading for Chinese hegemony“
- An interview with French MEP Pascal Canfin who said the UK took gamble by swiftly approving COVID-19 vaccine.
- An interview with Portugal’s farm minister by Gerardo Fortuna: Portuguese presidency to handle agriculture ‘with eyes on the future’
The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.
In today’s news from the Capitals:
Heightened security at the Bundestag. Bundestag President Wolfgang Schäuble has organised an increase in security for the German parliament building according to a report in the Bild am Sonntag. Read more.
France mobilising to avoid ‘catastrophic’ situation with new COVID variant. “We are doing everything we can to prevent the spread of this variant,” Health Minister Olivier Véran told Europe 1/CNews/Les Échos on Sunday morning in reference to the new coronavirus variant that recently emerged in the UK. Read more.
Belgium asks for ‘fair share’ of vaccines. Belgium will apply for ten million additional Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccines, Health Minister Frank Vandenbroucke announced over the weekend. At the same time, there is still no official database on vaccination efforts. More.
Austrian labour minister steps down after plagiarism affair. Following accusations of plagiarism, Austrian Labour and Families Minister Christine Aschbacher (ÖVP) announced her decision to leave the government, saying “media and political companions” had judged her prematurely. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
UK government counting on COP. Business Minister Alok Sharma has left his post to focus full-time on his role as president of the UN COP26 climate conference in November, signalling the UK government’s desire to make a success of its chairmanship, following criticism that previous COP summits have underdelivered because of a lack of leadership from the hosting country. Read more.
Ireland manages to contain new COVID-19 variant. An outbreak of the recently discovered South African variant of COVID-19 has been contained after a recent scare, health officials in Ireland have said. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Nordic and European security issues left unanswered because of Brexit. The UK leaving the EU has left defence and security issues wide open, as bilateral and joint agreements with the UK may be in danger of turning into dead letters. Read more.
Swedish government given more power to manage pandemic. The Swedish parliament has approved a law giving the government the right to apply tougher measures in the fight against the current pandemic. Read more.
Italy – a government reshuffle in sight? Following former Italian Prime Minister and Italy Alive party leader Matteo Renzi’s threat to have the current ministers of his party resign from the current government, a cabinet reshuffle appears likely. Read more.
UK’s new migration policy, problematic. The UK’s more restrictive new migration policy “will be a problem”, which will have to be monitored by the Portuguese EU Council Presidency, said Portugal’s Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva on Friday. Read more.
Spain paralysed by snowstorm, sends out vaccine, food convoys. The Spanish government will send convoys carrying the COVID-19 vaccine and food supplies on Sunday (10 January) to areas cut off by Storm Filomena which brought the heaviest snowfall in decades across central Spain and killed four people. Read the full story.
Poland’s PiS proposes protestors pay fines before courts establish guilt. Protestors may first have to pay a fine before having their day in court, the ruling Law and Justice party (PiS) proposed on Friday following the mass protests related to the Women’s strike. Read more.
Babiš expects first batch of Moderna vaccines. The Czech Republic should receive the first 20,000 doses of Moderna vaccines on Monday, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš told the Czech Television without any further details. Read more.
Obama: Strongman leadership ascendant in Hungary and elsewhere. “That conflict, that battle between a more democratic inclusive vision, and one that’s top-down, dominant- subordinate, that’s a contest that’s taking place here in the United States, and around the world,” former US President Barack Obama told show host Trevor Noah in an interview, hvg.hu reported. Read more.
Suicide of former police chief rocks Slovak politics. Former police chief Milan Lučanský – who was charged with serious crimes including taking bribes in a police action called “Judas” in early December – attempted suicide while in pre-trial detention on 29 December and died in hospital one day later. But this version of events is disputed by many disinformation media and by the opposition party Smer-SD – which had nominated Lučanský to the police chief post. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgaria’s politicians got their jabs before doctors. The vaccination order in the Bulgarian town of Sandanski has undoubtedly been violated, Health Minister Kostadin Angelov announced on Sunday, after it became clear – following the audit of the town of Sandanski – that 20 people from the town council were vaccinated despite the country still being in the first vaccination phase, which only includes medics. Read more.
Twitter should not delete Trump’s account, says Croatian MP. While Croatia felt another strong earthquake on Sunday, independent MP of the parliamentary faction of the right-wing Most Party, Maria Selak Raspudić said “whatever you think about Trump’s presidency and his indirect connection with the attacks on the US Congress, […] Facebook and Twitter censorship, more precisely the permanent deletion of his profile due to recent events, is something we all need to think deeply about,” EURACTIV’s partner, Jutarnji.hr, reported. Read more.
All quiet on the Slovenian front. Slovenian news agency STA’s management and staff have described the government’s failure to transfer overdue public service payments as required by the latest economic stimulus act as a defeat of the rule of law, convinced that the decision to seek European Commission input over state aid rules is a delaying tactic meant to financially exhaust the agency. Read more.
Serbia condemns Capitol Hill riot. Serbia condemns the violence on the US Capitol in Washington, saying it favoured a peaceful transition of power to the newly-elected US President Joe Biden, Serbian speaker Ivica Dačić told Pink TV in an interview on Friday. Read more.
Hundreds of migrants still out in the cold in Bihać. BiH’s army and Red Cross personnel are trying to find accommodation for several hundreds of illegal migrants who have been freezing for days out in a snow-covered field, while 200 of those who have been waiting for over two weeks have been provided with temporary accommodation in tents outside the northwestern village of Lipa near Bihać, Western Bosnia HINA reported. Read more.
German MP congratulates illegal Republika Srpska day. Conservative German MP Stefan Kaufmann (CDU) congratulated the controversial Day of Republika Srpska (RS), which Bosnian Serbs celebrate on 9 January as the day the Bosnian Serb republic was declared in 1992, though BiH’s Constitutional Court has since declared it unconstitutional. Read more.
Snap elections in Kosovo set for 14 February. Kosovo will hold snap parliamentary elections on 14 February after the Constitutional Court ruled last month that the parliamentary confirmation of its government in June 2019 was illegal, announced acting Kosovo President Vjosa Osmani. Read more.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Zoran Radosavljevic]