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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Recovery, reform and resilience – A Manifesto for more inclusive and agile labour markets in the context of Covid-19
We need more than recovery from the Covid19 crisis. The European private employment services sector calls for reform and resilience measures to make labour markets more agile and inclusive. Read more in our Manifesto.
In today’s news from the Capitals:
Several EU member states have asked the Greek government for clarifications regarding the selection of the companies that will benefit from the post-pandemic recovery plan’s cheap loans, EURACTIV has learnt. Read more.
Slovenia, Bulgaria seek compromise on North Macedonia’s EU bid. Slovenia’s President Borut Pahor met his Bulgarian counterpart Rumen Radev on Thursday to discuss Bulgaria’s veto on North Macedonia’s bid to join the EU. Read more.
EU to help Western Balkans boost youth employment schemes. EU employment and social affairs ministers and their counterparts from the Western Balkans met in Slovenia for talks on measures to get young people into the labour market, with regional officials calling for the implementation of a work guarantee scheme for youth. Read more.
European Parliament urges officials to boycott Beijing Olympics. The European Parliament on Thursday (8 July) called for the EU to boycott the February 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing unless China improves the human rights situation in Hong Kong and in the Xinjian province which is home to the Uyghur Muslim minority. Read more.
Exiled Turkish journalist injured following attack in Berlin. Exiled Turkish journalist Erk Acarer, who is known for his criticism of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was attacked outside his home in the German capital on Wednesday night, suffering a head wound as a result. Read more.
Top French firms commit to climate change fight. The French Association of Private Companies (AFEP) updated on Wednesday the Ambition 4 Climate platform, which brings together the projects of 64 large companies with the aim of reaching carbon neutrality. Read the full story.
Austria plans to introduce CO2 tax by 2022. Austria’s ÖVP-Green coalition is currently “working flat out” on a new eco-tax-reform that will pave the way for taxing CO2, Finance Minister Gernot Blümel told a plenary session in parliament, announcing the government’s plan to introduce a CO2 tax that will take effect in 2022. Read more.
Belgium’s parliament recognises risk of Uygur genocide. Belgium’s parliament passed a resolution on Thursday warning of a “serious risk of genocide” against China’s Uyghur Muslim minority. The resolution was passed unanimously minus the abstention of the Marxist PTB party and aligned Belgium with similar statements by the US administration and a handful of western countries including Britain, Canada and the Netherlands.
It brought a sharp response from China, with Chinese foreign ministry official Zhao Lijian “calling on Belgium to immediately correct its error so as to avoid a deterioration in Sino-Belgian relations.” (Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)
Dutch government mulls new restrictions amid infections surge. The Netherlands is considering imposing new coronavirus restrictions on Friday, including the compulsory closure and cancelling of multi-day events, following a sharp rise in coronavirus infections reported by health authorities.
The move comes after Dutch media reported the country had seen 5,475 new coronavirus cases over previous 24-hour period.
“We are seeing a very rapid increase that does not yet translate into hospital admissions, but it is going fast,” outgoing Health Minister Hugo de Jonge has said. The Netherlands could also become a code red country, meaning Dutch travellers must meet strict entry conditions, he added. (Alexandra Brzozowski | EURACTIV.com)
EU, Switzerland to accept each other’s COVID-19 travel certificates. The EU and Switzerland have agreed to recognise each other’s COVID-19 digital certificates from Friday to allow travel for Swiss citizens within the EU, and between the EU and Switzerland, the European Commission said on Thursday. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
UK plans to overhaul NI protocol. The UK plans to publish new plans aimed at overhauling the Northern Ireland Protocol later this month, ministers said on Thursday. It is failing in its objectives to minimise impact on everyday lives in Northern Ireland and facilitate trade between Northern Ireland and Great Britain, Brexit Minister David Frost and Northern Ireland Secretary Brandon Lewis said. Read more.
UK signs trade deal with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein. Britain’s government said it signed a free trade deal with Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein on Thursday, its latest post-Brexit trade agreement. The signing of the deal followed an agreement in principle reached last month by the four countries. Read more.
Irish PM concerned about Delta spillover from UK. Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin expressed his concern at the surging Delta variant in the UK and the threat of a “spillover” in Ireland, newspaper the Irish Times reported. “I am concerned about the free-for-all that seems to be developing within the UK, and that does raise issues for us as a people and as a country, because we’re next-door neighbours and what happens in the UK can spill over fairly quickly,” Martin told reporters on Thursday.
“Our public health advice would be that that’s not the way to go. Britain is obviously a sovereign nation and is entitled to make its decisions. Obviously, they do impact us as well so I think people need to be cautious and careful,” he added. (Paula Kenny | EURACTIV.com)
Minister: Lithuania to build barrier on border with Belarus. Lithuania’s government is due to start building barbed wire fencing along its border with Belarus, Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas confirmed on Thursday, following a spike in migrant arrivals fleeing the country’s repressive regime.
Belarus decided to allow migrants to cross into EU member state Lithuania in response to sanctions imposed by the bloc after Minsk forced a Ryanair flight to land on its soil and arrested a dissident blogger who was on board. Read more.
Digital certificates, negative test needed for Portugal’s hotels, short-term rentals. Access to tourist establishments and short-term rents throughout mainland Portugal will require customers to present a digital vaccination certificate or negative test. Read more.
Italy, EU’s least-efficient judicial system. Italy is the worst country in the EU in terms of efficiency of justice, according to the EU justice scoreboard published by the European Commission on Thursday, which provides comparative data on efficiency, quality and independence of the judicial systems of all member states. Read more.
Spanish PM’s visit to Lithuanian NATO base interrupted by jet scramble. A press conference involving the prime minister of Spain at a Lithuanian NATO base was suddenly plunged into disarray on Thursday when pilots scrambled two fighter jets to respond to an alert that an unidentified aircraft had carried out an incursion over Baltic skies, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports.
Orban: EU Commission, Parliament want LGBTQ activists in schools. Hungarian PM Viktor Orbán has said that EU institutions are planning to send LGBTQ activists into the country’s schools, Telex reported. Read more.
Polish PM ‘disappointed’ by Turów negotiations with Czechia. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki sent a letter to his Czech counterpart Andrej Babiš, accusing Czech negotiators of unwillingness to reach consensus on the lignite mine in Turów, located a few kilometres from the countries’ shared border. Read more.
Half of young, educated Slovaks look to escape country. Close to half of Slovakia’s young and educated are considering leaving Slovakia, according to a survey carried out by Focus agency on behalf of the Institute for Public Affairs (IVO) among people aged 18-29. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
SOFIA | BERLIN
Germany wants EU to take the leadership of Three Seas Initiative. Germany wants the US-fostered Three Seas Initiative (3SI) to become part of European policies and investment instruments, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier said on Thursday during a summit in the Bulgarian capital. Read more.
Romania’s finance minister dismissed over reform delays. Romanian Prime Minister Florin Citu has dismissed his finance minister, Alexandru Nazare, pointing to the huge delays the finance ministry has accumulated on reform. Read more.
Robotaxis could start driving in Zagreb by 2024. Rimac Automobili is developing a project for autonomous vehicles, robotaxis, and that if successful, could be tested in Zagreb in 2024, owner Mate Rimac told a meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Read more.
Slovenia to donate quarter-million AstraZeneca doses to Egypt. Slovenia will donate 250,000 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Egypt, along with €500,000 to the global COVAX initiative aimed at giving equitable access to COVID-vaccines. Read more.
Orban: Serbia key to stability in Western Balkans. Serbia is the key to stability in the Western Balkans, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said in Belgrade on Thursday. Read more.
Bank of Albania signs agreement with ECB to prevent counterfeit banknotes. The Bank of Albania and the European Central Bank (ECB) signed a cooperation agreement for the exchange of information in the field of protection of the euro banknote from counterfeiting.
The agreement aims to regulate and facilitate the procedures of cooperation between the two central authorities in the field of protection against counterfeiting of euro banknotes in the territory of Albania.
Meanwhile, the European Central Bank will provide information with specifications and data obtained from the technical analysis of counterfeit euro banknotes, discovered in Europe and beyond. According to Bank of Albania Governor Gent Sejko, cooperation is very important for the intensification of the exchange of information, opinions and expertise in the field of euro counterfeiting. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
- France: Video summit with leaders of G5 Sahel countries / French FM Le Drian visits Spain
- Italy: G20 finance ministers and central bankers meet.
- Spain: European Health Commissioner Stella Kyariakides visits
- Bulgaria: The Three Seas Initiative summit continues in Bulgaria.
- Slovenia: Prime Minister Janez Janša to host the Višegrad Group leaders – Czechia’s Andrej Babiš, Hungary’s Viktor Orban, Poland’s Mateusz Morawiecki and Slovakia’s Eduard Heger – for talks on the priorities of Slovenia’s EU presidency, as well as the epidemiological situation.
- Serbia: Start of the two-day visit of the European Parliament’s mediators, Vladimir Bilčik and Tanja Fajon, within the inter-party dialogue about the improvement of election conditions in Serbia.
- North Macedonia and Greece to sign an agreement on the natural gas connection.
[Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski, Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Zoran Radosavljevic, Josie LeBlond]