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.
Before you start reading today’s edition of the Capitals, feel free to have a look at the interview with Belarus opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya: “Repressions are escalating, EU should be ‘braver’ in its sanction policy“, by Alexandra Brzozowski.
Also read the story “Report warns EU about increased imports of palm oil in disguise“.
The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.
A message from the European Business Aviation Association: IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT FUELS. IT’S ABOUT THE FUTURE: Here is what you need to know about Business Aviation and sustainability, and why increasing the production and deployment of Sustainable Aviation Fuel (SAF) should be a priority for the EU institutions.
A possible Russian offensive against Ukraine will basically prevent Germany from maintaining its current position on Nord Stream 2, Daniel Fried, former US ambassador to Poland under Clinton, told EURACTIV Poland in an interview.
“A Russian military offensive against Ukraine would make it even more difficult for Germany to maintain its current position,” he said, adding that the best short-term solution is the suspension of work – or a moratorium – on the project by Germany and the suspension of sanctions by the US. More
Portugal to approve strategy for boosting inclusion of disabled. Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa has announced that at the end of this month the government will approve a national strategy for the inclusion of people with disabilities, which will include measures to support employment and improve accessibility. More
In today’s news from the Capitals:
BERLIN | PARIS
Germany calls for closer cooperation with France over security threats. German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has called for closer bilateral cooperation with France in light of the tense security situation in Europe marked by the Russian “threat”, the rise of China and spreading “Islamist terrorism” in the Sahel region. Read the full story.
Hospitality sector ups pressure on government over reopening. Belgium is cautiously mulling the reopening of outdoor terraces for the hospitality sector, closed since October, on 8 May. However, some operators say they no longer believe in government commitments and say they will reopen on 1 May at any cost, Le Soir reports. (Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)
UK AND IRELAND
English clubs abandon plans to be part of European Super League. All six English clubs abandoned plans to be part of a controversial European Super League on Tuesday night after a furious reaction from supporters, governing bodies and the threat of legislation from the UK government. Read more.
Sinn Fein leader writes letter to Queen after Prince Phillip’s death. Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald wrote a letter of condolence to Queen Elizabeth after the death of her husband Prince Phillip, tweeting her condolences to the queen and “those of a British identity on our island, for whom his death will be felt as a great loss.”
McDonald’s private letter to the queen has been seen as a way of building relations with the British royal family. The gesture has been compared to a move by former Sinn Fein politician and former IRA commander Martin McGuinness, who broke ground by meeting and establishing a rapport with the queen. When McGuinness passed away in 2017, the queen sent a letter of condolence to his widow.
Buckingham Palace has not commented on the letter and Sinn Fein has declined to release a copy of the letter. (Paula Kenny | EURACTIV.com)
NORDICS AND BALTICS
HELSINKI | STOCKHOLM
Closure of pulp, paper mills sends shock waves across Finland, Sweden. Finnish-Swedish forest products company Stora Enso has announced the closure this coming autumn of the Veitsiluoto mill in northern Finland and that in Kvarnsveden in central Sweden, resulting the loss of 1,100 jobs. Read more.
Decreasing debt is a priority for the country, says Italian finance minister. “We know that in the coming years EU support will be progressively reduced,” Italian Finance Minister Daniele Franco told MPs in a budget committee hearing on Tuesday, adding that after the current suspension “we will have to comply” with the European budget rules, and for this “we need a reflection on how to reduce the current situation of Italian excessive indebtedness.” Read more.
Spain makes plea for EU ‘flexibility’ for recovery plan. Spain is seeking “flexibility” from the European Commission on the sensitive topic of state aid to help companies battered by the COVID-19 pandemic before disclosing details of its recovery plan next week, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports.
Greece seeks military cooperation with NATO and Middle Eastern allies. Athens organised the “Iniochos 2021” annual multinational military exercise in Andravida base to deepen military cooperation with NATO and Middle Eastern allies. The exercise was joined by fighter jets from the US, France, Israel, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates. More.
Czech PM apologises for downplaying Russian involvement in 2014 blast. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš has apologised for suggesting Russian involvement in an ammunition deposit blast in 2014 did not amount to state terrorism but an “attack on goods being purchased by a Bulgarian arms dealer.” Read more.
Slovakia, Czechia call on Commission to postpone ‘climate taxonomy’ proposal. Slovakian Prime Minister Eduard Heger has joined the prime ministers of Czechia, Bulgaria, Romania, Poland, Malta, Greece and Cyprus in calling on the European Commission to delay its green taxonomy proposal. Read more.
Universities stage ‘infostrike’ amid fears of losing autonomy. Eight Hungarian universities will stage an “infostrike” this week to protest the government-backed transfer to a foundation management model. The insitiutions plan to hold lectures and workshops about university autonomy. Read More
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgarian arms trader admits he had ammunition in the Czech warehouse. A Bulgarian arms dealer with alleged involvement in the 2014 explosion of a Czech ammunition deposit has made contradictory statements about whether he had been keeping ammunition in the warehouse. More
Coalition leaders reach agreement to defuse the political crisis. Romania’s USR PLUS alliance is expected to nominate a new health minister on Wednesday after Prime Minister Florin Citu accepted an addition to the coalition agreement that requires him to inform the party ahead of time when planning to dismiss a minister. More.
Minority representatives to pay tribute to victims of Jasenovac. Four representatives of ethnic minorities will pay tribute to the victims of the World War II concentration camp Jasenovac on Thursday at a separate ceremony to that to be attended by state leaders. Read more.
Serbian study shows vaccinated people 60 times less likely to be hospitalised with COVID-19. A preliminary study conducted on 29,000 vaccinated and 100,000 non-vaccinated citizens in the central Serbian city of Kragujevac has shown that fully vaccinated people being hospitalised because of COVID-19 three weeks after receiving the second dose of the jab is nearly 60 times lower compared to the citizens who have not received the vaccine. Read more.
BELGRADE | SKOPJE
North Macedonia suspends road toll for Serbian citizens. Serbian citizens will be exempted from paying road tolls in North Macedonia during the summer holiday season from 15 June to 15 August as a sign of gratitude for the vaccines Serbia has procured, North Macedonian Health Minister Venko Filipče announced on Tuesday. Read more.
Effects of ‘non-paper’: Dodik wants peaceful split, Izetbegović thinks war possible. The Chairman of BiH’s Presidency and leader of the ruling party (SNSD) in the country’s Republika Srpska (RS) entity, Milorad Dodik, said the entity parliament will be forming a team that would negotiate with representatives of the country’s other semi-autonomous entity, the Bosniak-Croat Federation (FBiH), about how BiH should be structured in order to make it more functional. Read more.
Biden calls for mutual recognition between Serbia, Kosovo in letter to Osmani. “The United States will continue to support efforts to secure a lasting peace through productive dialogue between Kosovo and Serbia and ultimately a comprehensive normalisation agreement which we believe should be centred on mutual recognition,” US President Joe Biden said in a letter of congratulation to Kosovo’s new president, Vjosa Osmani. Read more.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Zoran Radosavljevic, Josie Le Blond]