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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Updating the COVID-19 digital certificate with a booster dose will “inevitably force” EU member states behind in vaccination rates to catch up, an EU minister told EURACTIV.com amid talks over bloc-wide mandatory vaccination. Read more.
Labour minister happy with EU deal on minimum wage. Labour Minister Janez Cigler Kralj chaired on Monday a session of the EU’s Employment and Social Policy Council on minimum wages in the EU, at which an agreement was reached on the proposed directive aimed at securing fair pay. Read more.
Greens clear last hurdle for next German government. Of the 71,150 Greens’ members that had cast a legal ballot, 86% voted to enter a “traffic light” government alongside the social democrat SPD and the business-friendly liberal FDP. The Greens had consulted their party members in an online vote on whether the party should sign up to the comprehensive coalition agreement presented on 24 November. Read more.
France opens vaccination to 360,000 at-risk children. Vaccination will open from 15 December for 360,000 children between 5-11 years old and at risk of contracting severe forms of the virus, Prime Minister announced after Monday’s health defence council. Read more.
Kurz-era comes to an end as new Austrian chancellor takes office. The inauguration of Karl Nehammer as chancellor of Austria puts an end to the Kurz-era. It marks the party’s return to the status quo that strengthens the more traditionalist wings of the conservative ÖVP. Read the full story. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Ireland to receive biggest portion of EU Brexit fund. The European Commission has approved the funding of the Brexit Adjustment Reserve, which will see €920.4 million go to Ireland to cope with the economic after-effects of the UK’s departure from the EU. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Report: European manufacturers comprised one-fifth of global arms sales in 2020. Among the world’s Top 100 selling arms companies, 26 were European and accounted for 21% of the global arms sales in 2020, according to a report published Monday by The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Read more.
Italian labour minister: EU minimum wage directive ‘a good sign for Italy’. Labour and Social Policies Minister Andrea Orlando commented positively on the approval starting negotiations of the EU’s minimum wage directive at the Council of the EU meeting on Monday. Read more.
Spanish labour reform ‘on a good track’, says minister. Reform of the labour law is “on a good track”, Social Economy Minister Yolanda Díaz stressed on Monday, adding that it can be approved before the end of the year, as agreed with the European Commission. Read more.
2022 GDP may be above government’s expectations of 5.5% – finance minister. Economic recovery in Portugal “has been so strong” that the gross domestic product (GDP) may grow in 2022 above the government’s own expectations, of 5.5%, said Finance Minister João Leão on Monday (6 December). Read more.
Orban: after Merkel, Hungary prepares for ‘battle’ with ‘eyes wide open’. The new executive in Berlin reveals a “left-wing German government’s pro-immigration, pro-gender, federalist, pro-German, Europe agenda”, writes Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. Read more.
Commission: EU budget should not fund ‘barriers’ at EU external border. The Commission stands by its position that the EU budget should not fund the construction of fences, walls and barbed wire barriers on the EU’s external borders, an EU official told a press conference on Monday, EURACTIV Poland’s media partner, Gazeta Wyborcza reported. Read more.
Czechia hopes for Novavax vaccine approval. Swift approval of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine is being eyed by Czechia, as the country hopes this will convince the unvaccinated to take the jab. Read more.
Slovakia has big unused potential in geothermal energy, experts say. Solar and geothermal energy are two kinds of renewable energy with the most potential in Slovakia, according to experts, EURACTIV Slovakia reported. They added that the government should pay attention to the local environment and tailor the development accordingly. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgarian newspaper evicted for not paying rent starts political scandal. Bulgarian media Trud will have to find new offices after the culture ministry accused them of not paying €68,000 in rent. The ministry sent police to close the office on Monday (6 December), despite editor-in-chief Petyo Blaskov calling the accusation a lie. Read more.
Future Bulgarian government says it will launch large-scale vaccination campaign. The leading party in the future Bulgarian government, “Change Continues” announced it will launch a large-scale campaign to encourage Bulgarian citizens to get COVID-19 vaccines, but voluntarily. Just 27% of Bulgarians are fully vaccinated, and 2% have boosters. About 45% of Bulgarians say they will not be vaccinated against COVID-19.
Political analyst Georgi Kiryakov told EURACTIV that compulsory vaccination would first become a political problem throughout the EU before causing political turmoil in Bulgaria. “There will be serious resistance from other EU countries. This will give a serious impetus to all extremist political movements, which will recognise the situation as a golden opportunity to grow and invent a new national cause, “said Kiryakov.
In Bulgaria, the far-right pro-Russian Vazrazhdane (Revival) party is in parliament because of its opposition to vaccination and green certificates.
(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)
Romania’s largest fertiliser producer halts production over gas prices. Azomures, Romania’s largest manufacturer of chemical fertilisers, said it would stop production due to the high natural gas prices. The agriculture minister pledged to look for solutions. Read more.
Croatia’s radical-right party starts gathering signatures for referendum against COVID passes. Most (Bridge), a party of radical right with a profound relationship with the Catholic Church, is gathering signatures at over 1,200 venues across Croatia for a referendum to regulate the work of the national COVID-19 crisis management team and abolish COVID certificates. Read more.
Milanovic: Srebrenica is genocide, but new name needed for the Holocaust. President Zoran Milanović stepped back and said genocide was committed in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina in 1995, adding it was necessary to come up with a new name for worse crimes.
“I respect others’ victims, but it’s not all the same. If everything is genocide, we must find a new name for what the Nazis did to the Jews in World War II. Not every victim is the same, that’s relativisation,” he said, adding that justice was important for the victims.
(Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
Top Slovenian court quashes ‘recovered-vaccinated rule’ for state administration. The Slovenian Constitutional Court has ruled that a government regulation imposing a recovered-vaccinated mandate on state administration employees contravened the Constitution. Read more.
Serbia launches first National Artificial Intelligence platform. The first National Artificial Intelligence platform in Serbia was launched on Monday at the State Data Centre in the town of Kragujevac. Read more.
Serb opposition says no to election boycott. Milorad Dodik, Serb member of the tripartite BiH Presidency, said it is possible that his party, SNSD, will support the biggest Croatian party, HDZ BIH, in the election boycott next year if there will be no agreement on electoral law. Read more.
US working with EU on North Macedonia’s quick EU integration. Special US Representative to the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar met with President Stevo Pendarovski, PM Zoran Zaev and other key officials. Escobar expressed strong support for quick North Macedonia EU integration and praised the partnership between our countries, the US embassy in Skopje wrote on Twitter. Read more.
Kosovo implements new COVID-19 measures from Monday. New anti-COVID measures entered into force in Kosovo on Monday in an effort to avoid the fourth wave that is currently ravaging Europe. Read more.
Albania tightens travel rules in response to Omicron spread. Albania has banned people who have travelled to South Africa, Kenya, Angola, Zambia, Botswana, and Senegal from entering the country over concerns regarding the Omicron variant. Read more.
- EU: EU-Kosovo Stabilisation and Association Council meeting / EU finance ministers meet / Executive Vice President Margrethe Vestager in Washington / European Defence Agency annual conference in Brussels featuring European Council President Charles Michel and EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell /Commissioner Dubravka Šuica speaks at the Friends of Europe EU-Western Balkans summit.
- Germany: Incoming German Chancellor Scholz, Greens’ co-leader Habeck, FDP leader Lindner give press conference after officially signing coalition agreement.
- Belgium: Protest scheduled against vaccine mandate for healthcare workers.
- Netherlands: Judges rule on appeal against rejection of case against top Israeli officials over 2014 air strike on Gaza.
- UK: Pre-departure Covid test becomes mandatory for travellers entering UK.
- Poland: Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will attend the opening ceremony of the 16th UN Digital Summit – Internet Governance Forum (IGF 2021) in Katowice.
- Czechia: Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek will attend a meeting of Foreign Ministers of Visegrad countries and Morocco in Budapest.
- Romania: Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca and energy minister Virgil Popescu attend the opening of a gas drying station that will increase extraction capacity from gas deposits.
- Croatia: Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman meets with his Montenegrin counterpart Đorđe Radulović.
- Serbia: Foreign Minister Nikola Selaković and the minister of European Integration and International Cooperation of the Bosnian entity Republika Srpska Zlatan Klokić will sign a Memorandum of Cooperation between the two governments in the field of diplomatic education.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, visits Sarajevo.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]