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.
The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.
In today’s news from the Capitals:
Far-right Éric Zemmour overtakes Marine Le Pen in poll. A new poll released on Wednesday has sent shock waves across the country. French far-right essayist Éric Zemmour has polled at 17% for the upcoming presidential elections, placing him second in the run for the Elysée and ahead of right-wing leader Marine Le Pen. Read more.
French to take helm of EU Parliament’s Renew group. Stéphane Séjourné, head of the French delegation of centrist Renew Europe group of the European Parliament, has announced his candidacy for the presidency of the party following Dacian Cioloş departure. A vote is expected on 19 October, EURACTIV has learnt. Read more.
EU leaders offer words, funds to disillusioned Western Balkans. EU leaders failed to make any further tangible commitment to enlargement on Wednesday, and instead promised once again “the European perspective” and broader economic support to the increasingly disillusioned Western Balkans, in the hope of keeping the region on its European path.
EURACTIV has learnt that the Czech Republic is keen to host the next EU-Western Balkans summit during their six-month turn at the helm of the EU Council, after France. Read more.
EU political groups meet on margins of Western Balkans summit. Talks on the future of Western Balkan countries in the EU took place between leaders and politicians from different political groups on the sidelines of this weeks EU-Western Balkans summit. Read more.
MEP: Afghan crisis has “serious implications“ for the EU. A high-level resettlement forum on Afghanistan is taking place as Lithuania and Poland trying to legalise push–backs, while the EU is falling short in reversing those practices which are a breach of EU law. Read more.
Small parties pick Social Democrats over conservatives for coalition talks. After the inconclusive federal election, the Greens and the liberal FDP, two potential kingmakers, said they want to launch discussions about a potential coalition with the Social Democrat SPD rather than with outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel’s CDU/CSU. The first discussions are planned for Thursday. Read the full story.
Money laundering: 1,400 officers raid 81 buildings in Western Germany. Police searched 81 locations in more than 20 cities across Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) and Bremen in a massive operation targeting money laundering and organised crime that included special forces, state security and tax investigators. Read more.
Chancellor Kurz under investigation over bribery. The Prosecutor’s Office for Economic Affairs and Corruption (WKStA) started investigations against Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz and nine other people who belong to his inner circle over bribery allegations, breach of trust, and corruption. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Johnson’s optimism ‘vacuous and economically illiterate’. Boris Johnson’s speech at the Conservative Party conference on Wednesday (6 October) has been dubbed “economically illiterate”. Light on policy and heavy on jokes, Johnson likely banked on his post-Brexit optimism being shared by voters. Read more.
Key barrier to Ireland joining OECD tax deal falls. An updated draft of the OECD’s global corporate tax agreement is missing a phrase that has proved a key sticking point for Ireland when signing up to the deal. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Migrants starving in Belarus next to Lithuanian border, NGO says. A group of starving and freezing migrants are stranded in Belarus, some 50 metres from the Lithuanian border, according to information the Human Rights Monitoring Institute (HRMI) received on Wednesday. Read more.
Italy’s ruling coalition divided over tax reform bill. Government ministers from Matteo Salvini’s far-right League party, which suffered defeats in last weekend’s local elections, refused to participate in the Council of Ministers meeting set up to approve the new tax reform bill. League’s decision indicates a widening rift in Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government, which Salvini supports. Read more.
Six million Spaniards now live in extreme poverty. The economic and social side effects of the COVID-19 crisis have been devastating for Spain, with six million citizens living in severe poverty and 11 million at risk of social exclusion, according to data from a report released on Wednesday by the Catholic NGO Caritas. Read more.
Portugal expected to return to pre-pandemic wealth levels in 2022. Portugal is expected to return to pre-pandemic levels of wealth next year, the government said on Wednesday, adding that it is making an upward revision of growth estimates until 2022. Read more.
PM Costa: EU ‘must put house in order’ before opening doors to new members. “The European Union must finish putting its house in order” before opening its doors to new member states, to prevent mistakes like the last major wave of enlargement, Prime Minister António Costa told journalists at the end of the EU-Western Balkan summit in Brdo pri Kranju, near Ljubljana on Wednesday. Read more.
Greece’s low teleworking figures may be higher than reported. According to numbers registered in the Greek National System, only 5% of people in Greece are employed on a “home office” status (ERGANI). But companies in Greece are known to be underreporting the hours actually teleworked. Read more.
Pro-Russian disinformation centres target Czech Pirates ahead of elections. Eight months ago, opinion polls suggested that the Czech Pirate Party (Greens/EFA) and coalition partner Mayors and Independents (EPP) could get more than 25% of the votes. But on the eve of the Czech parliamentary elections, they are struggling to hit 20%. Read more.
Court of Justice slams Polish judiciary reform, again. The European Court of Justice delivered a preliminary ruling on Wednesday (6 October), stating that a Polish judge was wrongly moved between courts without due consideration or consultation. Read more.
Hungarian FM appears to budge on global minimum tax in talks with Blinken. Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Péter Szijjártó met his US counterpart Antony Blinken in Paris over a single issue, the global minimum corporate tax, Telex reported via Hungarian national news agency MTI on Wednesday. Read more.
Slovakia concerned about Orban’s plan to buy out Slovak arable land. Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok, who met with his Hungarian counterpart Péter Szijjártó on Tuesday, has criticised the Hungarian government’s resolution that creates a private capital fund for arable land and thus lays the foundations for the “international expansion of domestic agricultural holdings”.
“We have asked Hungary to construct its government programmes extending to Slovakia or implemented on our territory only after mutual agreement,” Korčok added. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Vucic: Serbia wants to survive, wants relations with all EU, Russia and China. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić stated in Brdo on 6 October that, on its European path, Serbia still had to care about itself and its relations with Russia and China, and that nobody should object to “Serbia wanting to survive.” Read more.
Bulgarian mogul and mother named in the Pandora Papers. The Bulgarian tycoon Delyan Peevski and his mother Irena Krasteva have been named in the Pandora Papers, bird.bg, the Bulgarian partner of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) revealed. Read more.
Romania’s COVID-19 death toll hits new record. The fourth pandemic wave is hitting Romania hard, with the highest death toll registered on Wednesday with 331 COVID-19 casualties. Read more.
ZAGREB | BELGRADE
Vucic: I will see what to do with the definition of Croatian language. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić complained to Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković “about the brutal campaign that is being conducted in Croatia against Serbia”. The two met at the Western Balkans Summit. Read more.
Candidate for ambassador: Corruption in BiH damages US national security. A US candidate for the position of ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina, Michael Murphy, has called for reform of rule of law and anti-corruption activities in the country as they damage US national security. Read more.
Kosovo asks for visa liberalisation prior to EU-Western Balkan summit. Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti asked for the EU to liberalise visas for its citizens ahead of the EU-Western Balkan Summit. Read more.
PM Rama expects little from EU-Western Balkan Summit. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has said he expects very little from the EU-Western Balkan Summit taking place in Slovenia this week. Giving comment to Spanish daily El Pais, Rama said that the EU has many internal problems which result in a lack of enlargement progress for Albania and other hopefuls. Read more.
- EU/NATO: EU holds forum on Afghan refugees, with UNHCR, US, UK, Canada / EU justice ministers meet in Luxembourg / NATO national security advisors meet / US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan visits Brussels.
- Germany: Chancellor Merkel farewell visit to Rome, meets Pope Francis, Prime Minister Draghi.
- France: President Emmanuel Macron is to meet with Nigerian ex-president Olusegun Obasanjo while Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will have a meeting with ambassadors posted in Africa.
- Netherlands: Climate activists protest against fossil fuel-powered shipping at Ikea’s global headquarters.
- Ireland: European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic gives speech via video link on implementation of Northern Ireland protocol / Irish cabinet meets to decide whether to join OECD global tax reform plan.
- Sweden: Nobel Literature Prize to be announced.
- Italy: Foreign Minister Luigi di Maio will speak at the B20 International Business Summit closing event in Rome.
- Greece: Parliament set to vote to ratify defence deal with France / European Commissioner Margaritis Schinas visits Athens.
- Poland: Senate debates bill seen as restricting asylum applications.
- Romania: President Klaus Iohannis visits the nuclear power plant in Cernavoda, which celebrates 25 years since the opening of its first reactor.
- Croatia: Parliament continues its session by debating a report of the Croatian National Bank on the financial situation, price stability and implementation of the monetary policy in the second half of 2020.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Benjamin Fox, Daniel Eck, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]