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 Associated Trio to ramp up cooperation on Black Sea security, by Alexandra Brzozowski.
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In today’s news from the Capitals:
The National Council of Cyprus has called on Greek Cypriots to avoid appealing to a commission established by the pseudo-state occupied by Turkey in northern Cyprus in order to take back their properties, saying this would pose severe threats for national security. Read more.
EU ministers discuss preparations for COP26 conference. EU environment ministers meeting for an informal session at Brdo pri Kranju have discussed the UN climate conference COP26, to be held in Glasgow in November. Read more.
Germany buys itself free with Nord Stream 2 agreement. The conflict between Berlin and Washington over the construction of the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline bringing Russian gas to Germany has been laid to rest with a joint declaration “in support of Ukraine, European energy security, and our climate goals.” Read more.
France could soon reimpose COVID-19 restrictions as cases soar. As France experienced a new peak of COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, with 18,000 cases detected within 24 hours, Prime Minister Jean Castex has confirmed that new restrictions may be imminent. Read more.
Undocumented migrants suspend hunger strike as deadlock is broken. The undocumented workers on hunger strike in Brussels suspended their hunger strike on Wednesday after agreements were made in principle between the government and representatives of the migrants. Read more.
Commission’s rule of law report sparks controversy in Austria. After the European Commission pointed out some worrying developments in Austria in its rule of law report, several politicians and anti-corruption experts voiced their concerns over the deterioration of the country’s performance in some areas of the report. Read more.
LUXEMBOURG | EU INSTITUTIONS
EU Commission appoints new representation heads in Luxembourg. Anne Calteux will take up her duties as the Head of EU Commission’s Representation in Luxembourg under the political authority of President Ursula von der Leyen, at a date still to be decided.
Since 2016, Calteux has held a number of leading positions where she exercised a high level of responsibility and crisis management, most notably the last one as a responsibility to coordinate the COVID-19 Crisis Cell in the Grand Duchy’s health ministry. (Anne Damiani | EURACTIV.fr)
UK AND IRELAND
DUBLIN | LONDON
EU won’t renegotiate Northern Ireland Protocol. The EU will not agree to a UK demand to renegotiate the protocol on Northern Ireland, the European Commission has said after the UK demanded changes to the post-Brexit arrangements, the Irish Times reported. Read more.
Prodi was spied on by Moroccan secret services. The former Italian prime minister and former European Commission chief, Romano Prodi, was allegedly spied on by the secret services of Morocco using the Israeli Pegasus software, the Washington Post reported on Wednesday. Read more.
Spain votes to end obligatory outdoor face mask rule. Spanish parliament has approved a government decree of 26 June that ends the obligation to wear face masks outdoors when distancing is practicable. Read the full story.
Portugal aims to vaccinate 570,000 children by mid-September. Portugal aims to vaccinate 570,000 12-17-year-olds between 14 August to 19 September, Prime Minister Antonio Costa announced on Wednesday. Read more.
Poland elects new ombudsman in rule of law standoff. Marcin Wiącek, lawyer and professor at the University of Warsaw, was elected by the Polish Senate to the post of ombudsman, with 93 votes in favour, none against and five abstentions. Read more.
Orbán announces referendum on controversial LGBTQI+ law provisions. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán has said his government will call a referendum “to say no” to Brussels’ objections to controversial LGBTQI+ law provisions. Read more.
Several Slovakian border crossings blocked due to protests. Protesters attempted on Wednesday to block multiple border crossings in protest against new COVID-19 measures announced last week by the government. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Centre-right Bulgarian party supports North Macedonia EU integration. The centre-right pro-European coalition Democratic Bulgaria was the only political formation to openly support the EU integration of North Macedonia on the first day of the new Bulgarian parliament on Wednesday. Read more.
Romania sees increase in COVID-19 cases. Romania confirmed more than 100 new COVID-19 cases within a day on Wednesday for the first day in more than a month. Authorities estimate the number of COVID-19 cases will increase slowly but continue to progress as the government plans to ease current restrictions. Read more.
Croatian National Bank proposes five motifs for euro coins. The Croatian National Bank (HNB) has unveiled five new motifs for euro coins including the Croatian coat-of-arms, a geographical map of Croatia, the marten (Croatian: kuna, name of Croatian currency), the Glagolitic script (original Croatian) and Nikola Tesla. They will now be considered by the National Council for the introduction of the euro as official currency in the Republic of Croatia, and then finalised by the government.
The rating is given by citizens via an online survey at euro.hr, in which nearly 50,000 citizens took part, and a structured national survey on a sample of 1,000 citizens also influenced the committee’s final decision. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
After resignation, aide issues scathing critique of Slovenia’s justice ministry. Author and professor Anže Erbežnik has voiced harsh criticism of the justice ministry and of his former boss in a letter released after he resigned as a state secretary, saying it had been impossible to work in a way that respected EU law, the rule of law and human rights. Read more.
Vucic: Serbia will protect interests if Kosovo campaigns for independence. Serbia would do everything to protect its interests if Kosovo violates the Washington Agreement signed in 2020, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Wednesday, pointing to Belgrade and Pristina being both obliged to refrain from campaigning for withdrawals like lobbying for the global recognition of Kosovo’s independence. Read more.
Russian embassy confirms proposal to end post of BiH’s High Representative. Russia’s Embassy in BiH has confirmed the existence of a draft UN Security Council resolution backed by Russia and China calling for the abolishment of the Office of the High Representative (OHR) in BiH by the end of July 2022. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
SKOPJE | SOFIA
North Macedonia’s PM: We will look for alternatives to EU blockade. There is great disappointment and trauma among the citizens after the blockade of Macedonia’s European path, but the country will not look for alternatives, Prime Minister Zoran Zaev told DW’s Conflict Zone in an interview. Read more.
PRISTINA | ATHENS
Kosovo PM: Greece would show Balkan leadership if recognised Kosovo. Greece’s recognition of Kosovo’s independence would be proof that Athens is ready to play a leading regional role in the Balkans, Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti said in an exclusive interview with Το Βήμα.
Kurti also stressed that the status of Kosovo has been permanently settled and the dialogue with Belgrade concerns only the future relationship between the two countries. “The independence of Kosovo is 13 years old. Since the decision of the International Court of Justice in 2010, which validated the fact that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not violate international law, the debate on states has been closed,” he said.
“I will not discuss the status of Kosovo, nor our territorial integrity. It is a settled matter. We cannot permit the revival of failed projects for territorial exchange nor those for the Bosnianisation of Kosovo,” said Kurti. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
High Court suspends construction of two hydropower plants in Albania. Albania’s High Court has suspended the construction of two hydropower plants until a court rules on the lawsuits filed by residents against their construction, exit.al reported.The High Court accepted the request made by residents of the Valbona valley that the Gener 2 and Dragobia Energy companies suspend construction of their two HPPs in one of the most popular tourist attractions in Albania.
The residents of 27 villages in Tropoja, alongside the TOKA association andthe Association for the Preservation and Protection of the Albanian Alps initially filed the request with the Administrative Court but it was refused in March. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
- Germany: German Chancellor Angela Merkel holds the traditional summer press conference, the last of her 16 years in power.
- France: Secretary of State for EU affairs, Clément Beaune, will meet his Croatian counterpart Andreja Metelko Zgombic and Foreign Minister Gordan Crlic Radman in Zagreb.
- Italy: G20 environment, climate and energy ministers meet in Naples / Chamber of Deputies president Roberto Fico to meet the president of Serbia’s National Assembly, Ivica Dacic.
- Poland: Senate to consider a motion of the Sejm on the election of the President of the Institute of National Remembrance.
- Bulgaria: The Supreme Judicial Council will discuss the caretaker Justice Minister Yanaki Stoilov’s proposal for the chief prosecutor Ivan Geshev to be dismissed for breaching his duties and damaging the prestige of the judiciary.
- Croatia: Government members to receive latest COVID-19 information and earthquake, session’s agenda also includes the decision on blocking road communications and roads on the state border with Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republic of Serbia.
- Slovenia: Informal meeting of EU internal market and industry ministers at Brdo pri Kranju green construction, circular economy and creative industries.
- Serbia: The human rights and social dialogue ministry and the German Association for International Cooperation (GIZ) to hold a news conference on the vaccination campaign in minority languages.
[Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski, Sarantis Michalopoulous, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Zoran Radosavljevic, Josie Le Blond]