EU assesses duration of third COVID-19 jab

The leadership of the European Commission is currently discussing with scientists how long a third dose is effective in protecting against COVID-19. [Shutterstock / Andreas Prott]

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:

ROME

The leadership of the European Commission is currently discussing with scientists how long a third dose is effective in protecting against COVID-19, EURACTIV.com has learnt. Italy mulls shortening COVID pass validity while Greece considers a similar step even without a joint EU decision.   

Meanwhile, rumours of a fourth dose are circulating if high rates of unvaccinated citizens persist. Read more.

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EUROPEAN SPECIAL REPORT

British farmers call for government support to reach ‘net-zero’ agriculture. British farmers have set an ambitious strategy to reach net-zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in agriculture by 2040. But for all farmers to contribute, the government should step in and provide the necessary means, the National Farmers’ Union of England and Wales (NFU) told EURACTIV. Read the full story.

BERLIN

Belarus crisis: foreign ministry pushes campaign against misinformation. Faced with growing amounts of misinformation to entice possible refugees towards Belarus in what leaders have coined a “hybrid attack” by the Lukashenko regime, Germany’s ministry of foreign affairs has now updated its multilingual information initiative. Read more.

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PARIS

France honours victims of 2015 terrorist attacks. Six years after the terrorist attacks in Paris that killed 130 people and injured more than 350, a day of commemoration was organised on Saturday in Paris and Saint-Denis. Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo and Prime Minister Jean Castex laid wreaths of flowers in front of Parisian cafés and paid their respects at the Stade de France and the Bataclan.

In the early afternoon, US Vice President Kamala Harris laid flowers in front of the bar Le Carillon. The trial for those accused of the 13 November 2015 attacks, the deadliest in France’s history, is underway. (Clara Bauer-Babef | EURACTIV.fr)

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VIENNA

Austria introduces lockdown for the unvaccinated. Austria’s unvaccinated people, around 25% of the population, are being placed into a fully-fledged lockdown from Monday. But according to experts, additional measures will soon be needed to combat the rise in infection rates. Read more. 


UK AND IRELAND

LONDON

Johnson defends COP26 text. Prime Minister Boris Johnson has discussed the outcome of the UK hosted COP26 climate summit in Glasgow, insisting that the final deal sounds “the death knell for coal power”. Read more.

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DUBLIN 

Ireland does not rule out restrictions as rising COVID-19 cases ‘extremely’ concerning. Further restrictions cannot be ruled out, Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin has said, noting that he is “extremely concerned” about the rise in COVID-19 cases in the country. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

TALLINN

Russia may finally ratify 2014 border agreement with Estonia. After a meeting between the Estonian and Russian foreign ministries, officials at the Estonian foreign ministry said Russia might be warming up to finally ratify the border agreement of 2014, the news agency ERR News reports. There have been no official statements from either side. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

MADRID

Catalan opposition leader visits Brussels to smooth relations. Catalan opposition leader and former health minister of Spain, Salvador Illa spent a couple of days in Brussels last week where he met with Vice President Josep Borrell and Commissioners Stella Kyriakides and Nicholas Schmit, among others. Before heading back to Barcelona he held an exclusive interview with EURACTIV. Read more.

Cuban authorities reinstate work permits for two out of five EFE journalists. Cuban authorities on Sunday reinstated the work permits of two of the five journalists with the Agencia Efe team that had had their press credentials revoked. Read more.

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ATHENS 

Press report: Greek intelligence monitors anti-vaxxers, refugee rights activists. The prime minister’s office has allegedly instructed the national intelligence service (EYP) to monitor citizens opposing anti-pandemic measures and health workers who have been suspended but are protesting, according to journal Efimerida ton Sintakton (Efsyn). EYP has also targeted people actively engaged with the refugee situation, the journal reported. Read more.

EU parliament chief demands ‘clear explanation’ from US after MEP is denied visa. European Parliament President David Sassoli has demanded a “clear explanation” from the US caretaker ambassador in Brussels for why a leftist Greek MEP has been denied a visa to travel to the US, EURACTIV has learnt. Read more.


VISEGRAD 

PRAGUE

Czechia wants to help Poland with border protection. The Civic Democrats (ODS, ECR) called on the outgoing Czech government to send police officers to Poland and help its neighbour with the current migration crisis at the Polish-Belarus borders. Read more.

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WARSAW

Poland, Lithuania and Latvia consider triggering NATO’s Article 4. Warsaw is in talks with Lithuania and Latvia on whether to ask for consultations under NATO’s Article 4 to discuss the crisis at the Polish-Belarusian border, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Sunday. Read more.

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BUDAPEST

Unchallenged Orbán to stay at Fidesz steering wheel. At the 29th Fidesz Congress on Sunday, PM Viktor Orbán was confirmed as leader of the governing party for another two years, Telex reported, promising that the last three decades were just a “warm-up”. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

Slovakia embarks on Brussels-mandated tax reform. Finance Minister Igor Matovič presented the first part of the tax-levy reform focused on families on Sunday. The major reform is part of Bratislava’s EU-financed recovery plan, based on the government’s programme statement. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

SOFIA

‘Change continues’ is the surprise winner of Bulgarian elections. ‘Change continues’, a new anti-graft political force in Bulgaria, is the surprise leader following the parliamentary and presidential elections in Bulgaria on Sunday, while the country’s President Rumen Radev is well-placed for reelection, having won 48.5% in the first round. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

Romanian gas imports up 60%. Romania imported more than 2.06 million tons of the oil equivalent of natural gas, in the first nine months of the year., up 59.3% against the same period of 2020. Local production was 5.4 million tons in the analysed period, a 1.2% increase compared with the first nine months of last year, data from the statistics institute showed.

Romania is one of the main producers of gas in the EU, but it still needs imports of Russian gas to cover its consumption, especially in the cold season. (Bogdan Neagu | EURACTIV.ro)

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ZAGREB

Fitch assigns Croatia highest credit rating in history. The Fitch Ratings agency has upgraded Croatia’s credit rating by one notch, from ‘BBB-‘ to ‘BBB’, citing a positive outlook. This is the best rating in Croatia’s history. Read more.

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LJUBLJANA 

Slovenian ICU wards overflowing as cases continue to surge. Intensive care units in Slovenian hospitals are overflowing with COVID-19 patients as the country grapples with the worst wave of the pandemic so far. Read more.

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WESTERN BALKANS

EU ministers meet to discuss how to improve cooperation in  Western Balkans. EU foreign ministers will meet in Brussels on Monday to discuss “suggestions as to how the Union should engage in activities with the Western Balkans,” a senior EU official told journalists in Brussels. Read more.

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EU priorities in Western Balkans fully reflected in Commission report. “EU priorities in the Western Balkans are fully reflected in the reports which are designed to encourage the region to implement different reform processes,” European Commission spokesperson Ana Pisonero told EURACTIV Serbia and BETA when asked to comment on remarks that this year’s reports on candidate countries had been toned down in the context of the rule of law. Read more.

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SARAJEVO 

US diplomat: Brčko’s status and independence must be respected. BiH’s two entities and all government structures must respect Brčko’s status and autonomy, US diplomat Clint Williamson, head of an International Arbitral Tribunal for the status of Brčko District, has said, adding that the threats of war must stop. Read more.

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SKOPJE

VMRO-DPMNE is pro-European, says party leader. There is no dilemma about the country’s strategic priorities: economic consolidation, EU membership and regional integration, Hristijan Mickoski, leader of VMRO-DPMNE, the biggest opposition party, told Croatian daily Večernji list in an interview. Read more.

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PODGORICA 

Montenegro bans New Year’s Eve concerts and celebrations. Montenegro will ban concerts and celebrations for New Year’s Eve as part of new COVID measures that will come into force Monday, which will also ban wedding parties and force nightclubs to shut down. Restaurants and bars, however, will be allowed to stay open until midnight. Read more.

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Montenegrin finance minister: state does not need additional borrowing. Milojko Spajić, Minister of Finance and Social Welfare reiterated that the state does not need additional borrowing. “We mentioned the option to leave within the budget law to borrow up to €500 million, but we have no need to borrow for next year,” said Spajic. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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PRISTINA 

Preliminary results show defeat for ruling party in local elections. Preliminary results from the second round of mayoral elections in Kosovo show a defeat for Vetevendosje, the ruling party, especially in key areas like Prishtina. Read more.

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TIRANA

European Commission: Albania’s economy recovering faster than expected. Albania’s economy could grow by 6.9% by the end of the year, 2.9% more than expected, according to the European Commission on Thursday (11 November)Read more.


AGENDA:

  • EU: EU foreign minister meet to discuss Belarus sanctions, Strategic Compass, EU neighbourhood / NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg hosts Ukrainian FM Dmytro Kuleba / EU agriculture ministers meet / ECB chief Christine Lagarde appears before European Parliament.
  • Germany: Covid jab becomes obligatory to enter bars, cinemas, hairdressers.
  • Austria: Austria begins lockdowns for unvaccinated.
  • Belgium: College of Europe hosts conference on the Future of Europe with a ministers’ panel from six Western Balkan countries.
  • Luxembourg: Commissioner Didier Reynders discusses rule of law with Luxembourg’s parliament.
  • Croatia: President Zoran Milanović meets with Pope Francis, while Parliament Speaker Gordan Jandroković meets with his Slovakian counterpart Boris Kollar.
  • Serbia: Foreign Minister Nikola Selakovic to visit Belgium, where he will meet with European Union officials and take part in the ministerial meeting of the South East European Cooperation Process.
  • Kosovo: Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković Kosovo.

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

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