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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Estonia is having second thoughts about the pro-nuclear statement made by nine EU countries backing France. Initially considering the joint statement as “premature”, Estonia now says it is not ruling out the use of more nuclear power in its energy mix. Read more.
Germany locked in fierce debate over legalisation of cannabis. As the Social Democrats, business-friendly liberal FDP and the Greens are due to enter complex coalition negotiations, their youth wings may have one thing in common: a desire to legalise marijuana. Read more.
French billionaire Bolloré poses ‘real danger’ to press freedom. The practices of businessman Vincent Bolloré represents “a real danger for press freedom, but also for democracy,” according to a documentary called “System B” released Thursday by NGO Reporters Without Borders and shared on social media. Read more.
Austria’s new Chancellor visits Brussels to prioritise Western Balkan enlargement. In his maiden foreign visit, newly inaugurated Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg travelled to Brussels to meet with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Council President Charles Michel, outlining the main priorities of his administration. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Ministers u-turn on butchers following staff shortages. The UK government has announced plans to allow foreign butchers to enter the UK on six-month temporary visas in its latest attempt to address supply shortages. Read more.
Ireland welcomes EU proposals on NI protocol. The Irish government has voiced its support for the EU’s Northern Ireland protocol proposals, published this week. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Envoys meeting over Belarus migration unexpectedly postponed. The EU’s executive summoned envoys from Poland, Lithuania and Latvia on Thursday to discuss the fate of migrants stranded on their border with Belarus. But the meeting did not take place. Read more.
Norway’s new government unimpressed with EU’s Arctic drilling pledge. The country’s incoming centre-left government has said it will seek to grow its lucrative oil and gas industry while striving to cut carbon emissions. The comments came only a day after the EU pledged to pursue a ban on exploiting new fossil fuel deposits in a new regional strategy. Read more.
Trieste port workers announce total block of operations. Port workers in Trieste – the seventh-largest port in Europe for handling goods and the leading oil terminal in the Mediterranean – have announced a total block of operations starting Friday in protest against the national health pass mandate for all workers. Read more.
Experts: No end in sight for rumbling La Palma volcano. A spike in seismic activity was recorded on Thursday on the Spanish island of La Palma where the Cumbre Vieja volcano continues to rumble 26 days after it first started erupting. Read more.
Spanish Socialists celebrate their 40th Federal Congress. Amid a social democrat renaissance all over Europe, the PSOE is celebrating the congress that will determine its political lines for the next four years.
The framework programme, launched at the congress in Valencia this week, starts by asking if neoliberalism is at its end while presenting a proposal to renew Europe’s political economy. Other key topics include energy transition and LGTBI rights.
After a difficult 39th congress in which a short margin elected Pedro Sánchez for the first time, he now has been unanimously appointed to SG again. The current Spanish president has slowly united the party around his figure after the major division his election prompted six years ago. He now enjoys an internal position of power that none of his predecessors had. (Pol Afonso, EURACTIV.com)
Costa warns of need to watch budget balance while fostering recovery. The state budget is always a coin with two sides, one of which balances revenue and expenditure. It is vital to safeguard the international credibility of the country’s economy, Prime Minister António Costa said on Thursday. Read more.
New storm paralyses Greece. Greece is bracing for the second day of heavy rain and floods as the stormy weather front dubbed ‘Ballos’, which has been pounding the country since the early hours of Thursday, is expected to worsen. All schools in the Attica region and other parts of Greece will also be closed on Friday. Read more.
New wall on the Polish-Belarussian border, new dead body found. On Thursday, the Polish parliament adopted a law on constructing a permanent fence to prevent the influx of migrants sent by the regime of Alexander Lukashenko. Meanwhile, the body of a 24-year-old immigrant was recovered near the border. Read more.
Bratislava can’t count on EU money. Support for the Bratislava region must be compatible with its capacity to solve its problems, Commissioner for Cohesion and Reform Elisa Ferreira has said. Because of its high GDP per capita, Bratislava has long-term trouble with access to European structural and investment funds. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgaria risks running out of gas. The Bulgarian state gas company Bulgargaz risks running out of money to pay for supplies from Russia and Azerbaijan after 25 October. The crisis is due to reported debt owed by the company that manages the central heating system in the capital – Toplofikacia-Sofia. Read more.
Romanian energy watchdog fines suppliers. Romania’s energy watchdog ANRE fined several natural gas suppliers for increasing the price of gas delivered under fixed-rate contracts. Read more.
Croatian government caps retail price of petrol and diesel. The government passed a decree capping the retail price of petrol to 11.10 kuna (€1.48) per litre and the price of diesel to 11.00 kuna (€1.46) per litre for the next 30 days. Read more.
Jansa under fire over ‘Soros puppets’ tweet. Prime Minister Janez Janša has faced heavy criticism after publishing a tweet implying that many MEPs are “Soros puppets”, including Sophie in ‘t Veld, the chair of a fact-finding mission currently examining Slovenia’s compliance with the rule of law and media freedom covenants. Read more.
Serbia and Russia discuss long-term gas supply. Mining and Energy Minister Zorana Mihajlovic and Russian Deputy Prime Minister Alexander Novak held talks in Moscow on Thursday (14 October) about the process of concluding a new long-term agreement to supply Serbia with gas. Read more.
Dodik: EU Commission will not sanction Republika Srpska. There will not be a new war in BiH but in case of sanctions, the Serb-dominated Republika Srpska (RS) entity will declare its independence, said Milorad Dodik, the Serb member of the country’s tripartite Presidency. Read more.
British Embassy voices support for Kosovo over Mitrovica incident. The British Embassy in Pristina has supported the Kosovo government’s action to tackle organised crime which resulted in an attack on police and journalists by Kosovo Serbs on Wednesday. Read more.
Venice Commission leaves Albanian local elections in limbo. The Venice Commission has opined that the Albanian Constitutional Court does not have the power to decide whether the 2019 local elections were constitutional or not. Read more.
- EU: EU, UK envoys hold first talks since Brussels’ concessions in N. Ireland trade row.
- Germany: Liberals and Greens are set to decide whether to enter coalition negotiations with the Social Democrats / German Chancellor Merkel visits Brussels.
- France: Prime Minister Castex holds virtual meeting with Moroccan counterpart Akhannouch.
- Belgium: Covid health pass becomes mandatory inside cafes, restaurants in the Brussels region.
- Italy: Covid ‘green pass’ extended to workplaces.
- Spain: Socialist Party holds congress in Valencia.
- Latvia: Riga security conference take place.
- Slovenia: MEPs hold press conference after fact-finding mission on rule-of-law issues.
- Bulgaria: Caretaker Prime Minister Stefan Yanev will take part in the conference “Green Transition – Solutions and Challenges for Bulgaria”, which will take place on Friday in Sofia. During the event, Yanev will meet with European Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans.
- Croatia: The parliament should vote on the election of Judge Radovan Dobronić as President of the Supreme Court
[Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski, Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]