Delta variant puts EU COVID-19 certificate to the test

The emergency brake provision was the main bone of contention during the negotiations over the COVID-19 certificate. [Shutterstock/Nattakorn_Maneerat]

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.

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In today’s news from the Capitals:

BRUSSELS

Three EU Commissioners have called on member states to stick to their promise to implement without travel restrictions the new EU COVID-19 certificate due to be officially launched on 1 July. However, the new Delta variant casts doubts over the actual implementation of the scheme as new travel restrictions have already been put in place. More.

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EU PRESIDENCY

MEPs want COVID-19 restrictions standardised across Europe. European lawmakers have called on the EU to build upon the digital vaccination certificate as a major step forward in facilitating movement within the bloc during the pandemic by harmonising criteria for the imposition of coronavirus restrictions across member states. More.

BERLIN

German Greens reject plagiarism allegations. The German Green party has dismissed as “an attempt at character assassination” plagiarism allegations against co-leader and chancellor candidate Annalena Baerbock and has called in a specialist media lawyer. Read more.

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PARIS

France eyes end of restrictions as COVID-19 case numbers fall. France has lifted the last of coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday, the last of four steps in President Emmanuel Macron’s reopening agenda set in late April. Read more.

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VIENNA

Austria set to push through intelligence agency reform. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz has managed to secure the support of two of the biggest opposition parties needed to push through a controversial reform of the country’s intelligence agency. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

LONDON 

British musicians urged to lobby the EU to get visa free travel. British pop stars should lobby the EU and European governments to ease rules allowing musicians and performers to tour the bloc without needing visas, Brexit minister David Frost said on Tuesday. More.

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DUBLIN 

Ireland: UK needs to ‘show honesty’ over Brexit. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has urged the UK to “show some honesty” around what it signed up to on Brexit as he warned of rising tensions among loyalists in the north, the Irish Times reported. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

HELSINKI

Blame game over new COVID-19 outbreak intensifies in Finland. Finns have expressed outrage over the lack of testing procedures for a group of 800 Finnish football fans who travelled to St. Petersburg to watch a EURO 2020 match against Russia, where the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant is now dominant. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ROME

G20 foreign ministers sign joint declaration in Italy. The G20 foreign ministers met on Tuesday in Matera, in the south of Italy to sign a joint declaration to “reduce the gap between the North and the South of the world”, with the aim of defeating world hunger by 2030 and achieving climate neutrality by 2050. Read more.

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MADRID

Spanish government approves draft bill to allow gender self-identification. The Spanish government on Tuesday approved a legislative proposal that would grant citizens over the age of 14 the right to change their sex on the civil registry with no need for proof, witnesses, or medical certificates. Read the full story


VISEGRAD

BUDAPEST

Hungarian opposition touts pro-EU credentials. Six Hungarian opposition parties on Tuesday published a joint letter to the EU pledging to “keep Hungary in the family of European nations” and to back the winner of primaries “to restore democracy in our country.” More.

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WARSAW

Morawiecki: Poland will reform judiciary on own timescale. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has said Poland will take into account the judgements of the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in the case of two dismissed judges, but will implement the reform of the judiciary in line with its own priorities and schedule.  Read more.

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PRAGUE

PM Babis: Pandemic trend in Prague not positive. The coronavirus pandemic has not ended in Czechia and the trend in Prague is not looking positive, Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has said, adding that a special cabinet meeting to discuss the situation will be held on Thursday. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

Slovak, Hungarian leaders meet in Budapest. Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger has met with his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orbán in Budapest to discuss cooperation on economic matters and the fight against the pandemic. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

LJUBLJANA 

MEPs call for rule of law conditionality to be triggered against Slovenia. Five MEPs have urged the European Commission and the European Council to trigger the rule of law conditionality mechanism for Slovenia, just as the country is poised to take over the rotating Council presidency, citing pressure that the government is exerting on the media and judiciary. Read more.

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SOFIA | ATHENS

Investigation launched into Bulgaria-Greece gas pipeline. The State Agency for National Security (SANS) has launched an investigation into the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) after receiving a tip off from the leader of pro-Russian party ABV, Rumen Petkov about alleged irregularities. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

Romanian government survives no-confidence vote. Romania’s opposition fell short of the 234 votes it needed to oust the centre-right government in a no-confidence motion on Tuesday. Meanwhile the Constitutional Court ruled that parliament’s recent ouster of Renate Weber from the position of the Ombudsman is unconstitutional, reinstating her in the role. (Bogdan Neagu | EURACTIV.ro)

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ZAGREB

Croatia joins cyber defence network. Croatia on Tuesday became a member of the European Centre of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats (Hybrid CoE), an international organisation countering hybrid threats which admits only the EU and NATO member states. Joining Hybrid CoE “is a very important step in boosting our country’s resilience to such challenges,” said Croatian Ambassador to Finland Josip Buljević, who visited the Hybrid CoE headquarters in Helsinki. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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BELGRADE 

Serbia’s digital assets law comes into force. Serbia’s Law on Digital Assets, which aims to regulate digital assets and operations in the country, has now come into force, the government has announced, noting that this will make Serbia one of the world’s countries to have a regulatory framework on digital assets. 

The government says investors and digital assets users will benefit from a clear framework and legal certainty. The law will also improve and develop the capital market using digital technologies, while combating abuse in the field of digital assets, money laundering and financing terrorism, it added.  (EURACTIV.rs | betabriefing.com)

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BELGRADE | SKOPJE | TIRANA

Serbia, Albania, N. Macedonia call for free movement of people, goods. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and his North Macedonian counterpart, Zoran Zaev on Tuesday called for the free movement of goods, capital, services and people in the region as soon as possible. Read more.


Agenda:

  • Croatia: Visiting North Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski meets with President Zoran Milanović, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković.
  • Brussels: European Commission launches European Defence Fund
  • France: President Emmanuel Macron will participate in a meeting of the Strategic Council of Health Industries (CSIS) on Wednesday afternoon.
  • France: End of EU discussions on dock dues, a tax on imports to French overseas territories
  • Germany/US: Finance Minister Olaf Scholz travels to Washington for political talks
  • Netherlands: UN court verdict on Milosevic aides Stanisic and Simatovic
  • UK: Deadline for application to EU settlement scheme
  • Poland: Visegrad Four prime ministers meet in Katowice
  • Czech Republic and Slovakia:  Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his Slovak counterpart Eduard Heger will attend the summit of the V4 Prime Ministers in Katowice on climate policies, migration and COVID-19, at which Poland will symbolically hand over the V4 presidency to Hungary.

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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Zoran Radosavljevic, Josie Le Blond]

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