Czech president clashes with future FM over Israel, China, Russia

After meeting with Zeman on Monday, Lipavský said that “there is an agreement that we will not comment on personal affairs of the future government." [EPA-EFE/MARTIN DIVISEK]

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.

A message by Goldman Sachs: Discover Carbonomics. Learn how we can achieve net-zero carbon with Carbonomics –– our research that models the net-zero cost curve across multiple industries. Click Here >>

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

In today’s news from the Capitals:


Czech president clashes with future FM over Israel, China, Russia. President Miloš Zeman, who is currently holding talks with candidates for the ministerial posts in the future Czech government, recommended that the candidate for the foreign minister post, Jan Lipavský (Pirates, Greens/EFA), withdraw, Frekvence 1, reported. Read more.



EU trio holds consultations as end of Slovenia’s stint nears. Slovenia hosted consultations between the trio of Germany, Portugal and Slovenia in light of their joint 18-month presidency of the Council of the EU, with the importance of economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic being emphasised. Read more.



Updated data brands bioethanol as ‘cost-effective’ tool to decarbonise EU transport. Following years of investments, a new report has found that crop-based bioethanol should now be considered a “cost-effective” measure to reduce road transport CO2 emissions by 2030. Read more.



Germany’s new government bets on inaugural trips to help bolster EU’s key role. Social Democrat Olaf Scholz, sworn in as Germany’s new chancellor on Wednesday, will already be embarking on a series of inaugural visits across Europe, accompanied by his foreign minister, Green co-leader Annalena Baerbock. EURACTIV Germany reports.

Germany’s new health minister, a vocal and divisive pandemic expert. Germany’s designated health minister has become (in)famous as a vocal advocate of decisive COVID-19 restrictive measures. A trained epidemiologist, Karl Lauterbach is also a long-time health politician and advocate of an equal health system. Read more.



French court sentences minister over asset declaration. On Wednesday, the Paris correctional court sentenced Alain Griset, France’s minister for small and medium-sized enterprises, after he was convicted of filing an “incomplete” or “false” asset declaration. Read more.



Plan B, no lockdown, says Johnson. COVID-19 restrictions will be reintroduced across England in the coming days as the government tries to avoid a second Christmas lockdown. Read more.



Ireland recommends vaccinations for children aged 5-11. The National Immunisation Advisory Committee (NIAC) has recommended that COVID-19 vaccinations should be offered to children aged 5-11. Read more.



Baltic States may turn eastwards for more electricity. Suffering from rapidly rising energy prices, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are discussing importing more electricity from Belarus and Russia. Read more.



Five men arrested in Finland for allegedly plotting terror attack. Five men were arrested on suspicion of preparing a terror attack on 3 December.

The group’s activities were discovered during a routine drug investigation. The men, aged between 23 to 26 from Kankaanpää in the southwest, appeared to be followers of radical far-right ideologies. Explosives and firearms were confiscated by the police. The men detained deny all charges.

During the last few years, intelligence services have been reporting the rise of far-right extremism in the country.  (Pekka Vänttinen |



Portugal plans to donate another four million COVID vaccines. Portugal plans to donate another four million COVID-19 vaccines to Portuguese-speaking countries, bringing the total to six million so far, Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said on Tuesday. Read more.


Retirement age in Portugal to increase by two years by 2050. The retirement age in Portugal is expected to increase by two years by 2050, reaching 68.4 years, predicts the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in the report ‘Pensions at a Glance 2021’ released on Wednesday. Read more.



Spain close to ‘high-level’ COVID-19 risk as almost four million remain unvaccinated. With just a few weeks to go before Christmas, Spain is close to reaching a “high level” COVID-19 risk, with 290 cases per 100,000 inhabitants reported in the last few days. Read more.



Greece decreases to 3 months recovery certificate. The Greek government has decided to decrease the validity of COVID-19 recovery certificates from six to three months, the ministry of health has announced. 

This measure is added to a series of moves to curb the Delta variant and prepare for the emerging Omicron variant.

Greek MEGA TV reported that after a lapse of three months, the patients would have one month to proceed with their coronavirus vaccination and obtain the vaccination certificate to move freely.

Otherwise, if they are not vaccinated, they will not have access to indoor places, as is the case today with the unvaccinated.

Greece has been pushing its EU partners to introduce the booster dose across the bloc. 

According to ECDC, 62.3% of the total population has been fully vaccinated, while 15.9% have already received the booster.




British soldiers begin operations to support Poland at Belarus border. The first British soldiers have begun operations supporting the Polish military on the border with Belarus, Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said on Wednesday. Read more.



Hungarian youth feel poorest and fear ethnic minorities. Half of Hungary’s young people cannot afford a television set, a recent study shows. The same study also showed they fear minorities such as Roma, Muslims, members of the LGBTIQ community, and Jewish people, Telex reported via Read more.



Slovakia’s new COVID-19 restrictions favour shops over schools. All high schools and upper classes of primary schools will close on Monday, while most shops, ski resorts and hairdressers will remain open for the vaccinated over the Christmas period. Read more.



EU to soon open cluster 4 in negotiations with Serbia. Cluster 4 in Serbia’s EU accession negotiations will be opened on 14 December, the Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) confirmed at its regular meeting on Wednesday. The decision takes place amid the backdrop of nationwide environmental protests that have seen tens of thousands take to the street in protest. Read more.



Bulgaria carries out unprecedented audit of economic growth. The Bulgarian National Statistical Institute (NSI) has made a major revision of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) data since 1995, the national bank (BNB) announced on Thursday. Read more.



Romania relaxes restrictions, worries about next pandemic wave. The government has extended the ongoing state of alert by a month but relaxed restrictions despite concerns over a forthcoming fifth wave. Read more.



Plenkovic and Zelensky: Putin and Biden talks are a positive step. During Prime Minister Andrej Plenković’s visit to Kyiv, Croatia became the sixth country to sign the Declaration on the European Perspective of Ukraine.  Read more.



Russian Embassy: Close OHR as soon as possible. The Russian Embassy did not take part in a two-day session of Bosnia-Herzegovina’s Peace Implementation Council Steering Board (PIC SB) because it does not recognise German diplomat Christian Schmidt as the international High Representative in BiH, given that his appointment was not confirmed by the UN Security Council, the Embassy announced. Read more.



Montenegrin parliament to discuss no-confidence in government. At the national assembly session that starts on Monday (13 December), deputies will first consider the opposition’s initiative of no confidence in the government, the Collegium of the President of Skupština (Assembly) decided. Read more.



EU top diplomat pressures Kosovo over Serbia. Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, has pressured Kosovo to establish a Serb-only association of municipalities as was formerly agreed between Kosovo and Serbia in 2013. Read more.



Albanian prime minister wins award for sheltering Afghans. Former US presidential candidate Hilary Clinton has awarded Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama with a “Global Innovator” award for his decision to accept Afghan refugees. Read more.


  • EU: European Commission President Von der Leyen and other EU leaders participate in Biden’s virtual Summit for Democracy / EU proposes new rules to improve conditions for app-based workers / EU justice and home affairs ministers meet / EU Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis meets virtually with Chinese ambassador to the EU
  • Germany: New German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock in Brussels, holds joint press conference with EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell, meets NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg
  • France: President Macron will meet for lunch with the European Council President Charles Michel before presenting France’s priorities for when it takes over the EU Council presidency for six months in January.
  • Austria: New joint commission to restart Iran nuclear talks in Vienna.
  • Norway: Tighter anti-Covid health measures come into force.
  • Portugal: Prime Minister António Costa, participates in the ceremony of Depositing the Instrument of Ratification of the Agreement on Mobility between Member States of the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Countries.
  • Poland: President Andrzej Duda will meet Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya / NGO press conference on aid to migrants on the border with Belarus.
  • Bulgaria: Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev will open the conference “Judicial Reform. Specialised Justice”, organised by the Prosecutor’s Office. This comes amid claims by the four parties currently negotiating a coalition government that specialised justice should be dismissed because it is inefficient and carries out political orders.
  • Romania: Natalia Gavrilita, the Prime Minister of Moldova, visits Romania and will have meetings with President Klaus Iohannis and Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca.
  • Croatia: Prime Minister Andrej Plenković ends his visit to Ukraine in Lviv.
  • Serbia: Signing of the agreement on the EU’s additional EUR10 million support for economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. The agreement is to be signed by the minister for European integration, Jadranka Joksimović, and the chief of the EU Delegation in Serbia, Emanuele Giaufret.
  • Albania: US Special Envoy to the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar to meet with prime minister and senior government members.


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

Subscribe to our newsletters