France and Greece take first step towards EU force in NATO

Françoise Dumas, a French lawmaker and defence committee president at the National Assembly, told EURACTIV France that a significant step was taken toward a European NATO pillar.  [EPA-EFE/LUDOVIC MARIN]

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In today’s news from the Capitals:

PARIS | ATHENS

France and Greece have signed a landmark military agreement that provides mutual assistance in the event of one party coming under attack by a third country, even if the latter belongs to NATO. Politicians and analysts spoke to EURACTIV France and Greece, emphasising what this means for Europe’s strategic autonomy. Read more.

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EU PRESIDENCY

EU research ministers adopt resolutions on global approach to research, innovation. EU ministers responsible for research adopted on Tuesday (28 September) resolutions on a global approach to research and innovation, whose aim is to boost resilience and competitiveness of the EU, Slovenia’s minister of education, science and sports said after chairing a session of the Competitiveness Council. More.

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BERLIN

Bullmann: SPD electorate rejects coalition with conservatives. The electorate of Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD) rejects potential collaboration with Christian Democrats (CDU-CSU) and prefers a progressive government looking at the future rather than a return to the austerity-driven past, EU lawmaker and senior SPD official Udo Bullmann told EURACTIV in an interview in Berlin. More.

German conservatives anxious to project internal cohesion. The historic loss of Germany’s conservative union of CDU/CSU has put the party in second place behind Olaf Scholz’s SPD. Down 9% relative to 2017, many party members have lost their seat in the Bundestag, which in turn has the party seething internally as it must elect a leader for its parliamentary faction. Read more.

Greens’ youth opposes ‘Jamaica’ scenario. The Greens youth association said it was strongly against governing alongside the conservatives and the liberals in a “Jamaica” coalition, thus reducing the hopes the conservative union CDU/CSU had that it may continue to form a governing coalition. Read more.

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PARIS

French laboratory Sanofi stops development of its mRNA vaccine. Sanofi is dropping plans to develop its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine despite positive results in phases 1 and 2 because of Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna’s dominance in the market, the French pharma corporation announced on Tuesday. Read more.

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VIENNA

​​Austria receives first tranche from EU recovery fund. Austria on Tuesday received its first portion of EU recovery funds worth €450 million of a €3.5 billion total to finance projects aimed at industry digitalisation and climate protection. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

DUBLIN 

Irish defence minister begins review of sexual abuse allegations in army. Irish Defence Minister Simon Coveney met with former military personnel on Tuesday after a documentary that aired earlier this month detailed decades of alleged sexual harassment, assault and bullying towards female members of the Defence Forces. Read more.

 


NORDICS AND BALTICS

HELSINKI

Finnish intelligence names Russia, China as main suspects of espionage. Finland is “a continuous target of state-sponsored cyber espionage”, with China and Russia being among the main suspects, according to the National Security Overview published by the Finnish Security and Intelligence Service’s (Supo). Read more.

VILNIUS

Lithuanian social democrats take lead in polls. The centre-left Lietuvos Socialdemokratų Partija (Social Democratic Party of Lithuania, LSDP) would better their position from last year’s heavy election defeat where the party received 9.6% of the vote to almost 30% if an election were held today, according to the latest poll for Lietuvos Rytas. Read more.

Lithuania wants EU to legalise migrant pushbacks. Lithuania has proposed changing the existing EU migration rules to legalise pushbacks of irregular migrants when an extreme situation is declared in a country, the Baltic News Service reported on Tuesday.

“In such situations when there’s an extreme situation and illegal migrants are being used as an instrument to put pressure on countries, countries have the right to make such decisions [like] the ones we have made in our national law, ie to prevent illegal entrance,” Lithuanian Interior Minister Agnė Bilotaitė said.

“Yes, this measure should be legalised but, I want to stress, only under an extreme situation,” the minister added when asked whether she meant migrants pushbacks on the border. (LRT.lt/en)


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ATHENS

Greece encourages SMEs mergers in Recovery Fund implementation. The Greek government will incentivise small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are hard-hit by the pandemic to merge to ensure financing from the Recovery Fund, Greek finance minister Christos Staikouras told EURACTIV Greece in an exclusive interview.

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ROME

‘Blah, blah, blah’ – young climate activists call out governments for their climate inaction. “Build back better. Blah, blah, blah. Green economy. Blah blah blah. Net-zero by 2050. Blah, blah, blah. This is all we hear from our so-called leaders. Words that sound great but so far have not led to action. Our hopes and ambitions drown in their empty promises”, said Greta Thunberg during the opening sessions of the Youth4Climate event in Milan. The Italian government hosted the event, which welcomed 400 young climate activists ahead of the COP26 climate summit set to take place in late October in Glasgow. Read more.

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MADRID

Spanish government approves minimum wage increase. The Spanish government approved on Tuesday an increase of the minimum wage to €965 per month. This is in line with the recommendations made by the European Commission to reduce wage differences across the bloc. Read more.

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LISBON

Portugal: Possible political crises over state budget negotiation ‘unthinkable’.  There is no political crisis scenario following a possible state budget rejection, Prime Minister António Costa told journalists Tuesday. The response came following questions on whether the current political situation could make it more difficult for political forces such as the PCP, PEV and Left Bloc to make the state budget proposal for 2022 viable. Read more.


VISEGRAD 

PRAGUE

Renew leadership turns blind eye to Babis’ behaviour. As Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš (ANO, Renew) is stepping up his anti-EU rhetoric ahead of the elections in October, the Renew Europe leadership is turning a blind eye to his behaviour. Read more.

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WARSAW

Morawiecki government considers breaking up ‘sincere cooperation’ principle. As the stalemate between the Polish government and the European Commission continues over the approval of the Polish recovery plans, there are signals from within the government of Mateusz Morawiecki that all retaliatory options against the Commission’s inaction are on the table. Read more.

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BUDAPEST 

Hungary lashes out at Ukraine over Russian gas. Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó summoned the Ukrainian ambassador in Budapest on Tuesday over Kyiv’s decision to turn to the European Commission over the Hungarian-Russian gas deal, Telex reported. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

President Caputova: Slovakia needs stability, leadership. Slovakia is a “wounded country” that is in desperate need of stability and clear leadership, said President Zuzana Čaputová in an address to the nation in her second state of the republic on Tuesday. She added that “Slovakia needs peace based on truth and justice, but also on expertise and solidarity.” Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

SOFIA

Bulgarian presidential candidate accused of Russian espionage. The “Russophiles for the Revival of the Fatherland” party have nominated party chairman Nikolay Malinov, accused of spying for Russia, as their presidential candidate. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

Prime Minister Citu’s days may be numbered. Just a few days after being elected president of the largest centre-right party in Romania, Prime Minister Florin Citu had to make a getaway from a news conference, visibly unsettled by the questions journalists asked regarding the allies of his PNL party (EPP). Read more.

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ZAGREB

US-Adriatic Charter members to improve interoperability of armed forces. “We seek to increase security in the region through close cooperation, meetings and participation in exercises. In this, we get a lot of assistance from the US European Command which, by organising exercises for the A5 members, increases interoperability, strengthens the armed forces of the member states and ultimately strengthens and stabilises the entire region,” said Chief of the General Staff of the Croatian Armed Forces, Admiral Robert Hranj. He made the statement during a conference of the chiefs of staff of the armed forces of the US-Adriatic Charter (A5) member states which was held in Podstrana. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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BELGRADE 

Serbian defence minister: Army has not trespassed anywhere it should not be. The Serbian army “has not trespassed anywhere where it should not be,” said Defense Minister Nebojsa Stefanović on Tuesday, adding that President Aleksandar Vučić has given the order to heighten the alert of the Serbian army units across the Ground Safety Zone along the border with Kosovo. Read more.

In other news, Moscow is monitoring with concern the rising tensions in Kosovo “which were provoked through the irresponsible actions of the Kosovo authorities,” Russian Foreign Minister spokeswoman Maria Zaharova has said. “Today it has become obvious that events are going from bad to worse,” Zaharova said in a written statement posted on the Russian Foreign Ministry’s website.

Zaharova said that the actions of Pristina’s strategists had not been subjected to criticism by either Brussels or Washington. “We stress yet again – the NATO forces for Kosovo and Metohija and the EU mission have the necessary mandates to prevent lawlessness and hence bear full responsibility for protecting civilians, preserving peace and security,” Zaharova said.

The Russian spokeswoman also said that it was time to apply “energetic pressure on the administration in Pristina to withdraw police forces from northern Kosovo and prevent the situation from becoming an open conflict.” (EURACTIV.rs | betabriefing.com)


AGENDA:

  • EU: European industry ministers discuss Europe’s carbon emissions targets.
  • France: EU rights court hears request to repatriate French women, children from Syrian camp.
  • Luxembourg: ECJ rules on EU-Morocco accords allowing exports from Western Sahara.
  • Sweden: Nearly all Covid-19 restrictions to be lifted.
  • Czechia: Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán visits the country to endorse his Czech counterpart Andrej Babiš ahead of the October elections.
  • Hungary: European Parliament delegation on the rule of law to carry out a fact-finding mission to Budapest from 29 September to 1 October.
  • Croatia: Defence Minister Mario Banožić and the Armed Forces Chief of Staff, Admiral Robert Hranj, are to attend the opening of the Adriatic Sea Defense & Aerospace Exhibition and Conference-ASDA 2021.
  • Kosovo: The main negotiators in the technical dialogue between Belgrade and Pristina, Petar Petković and Besnik Bislimi, are to discuss the crisis in northern Kosovo. Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Issues Gabriel Escobar will take part in the talks.
  • European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to meet with officials of Kosovo, Montenegro and Serbia as part of the Western Balkan tour. 

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

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