Welcome to the first ‘The Capitals’ newsletter of 2022. As we move into a new year, we would like to thank you for joining us on EURACTIV’s daily roundup of all the top news from around Europe. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.
Before you start reading today’s edition of the Capitals, read the oped by Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki ‘The EU ETS system driven by speculators must be reformed’, written exclusively for EURACTIV.
The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.
In today’s news from the Capitals:
PRAGUE | BERLIN
The closure of three of six remaining German nuclear power plants last week is causing headaches in the Czech Republic, with Germany’s nuclear phase-out being dubbed a ‘radical step’ by Prague, particularly in the context of current energy price hikes. Read more.
European flag under the Arc de Triomphe sparks outrage. The European flag, displayed for just one day under the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to mark France taking over the six-month EU Council presidency, has provoked a very heated debate in the country – fortelling what is likely to be a highly political French EU Council presidency. Read more.
Austria threatens to sue Commission over EU taxonomy rules. Austria will take the European Commission to court if it moves ahead with its plans to include nuclear energy in the EU taxonomy rules on sustainable finance, Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler said over the weekend. Read more.
Germany considers aborting military operations in Mali. German military operations in Mali and elsewhere would have to be analysed in an “unsparing” manner, Parliamentary Commissioner for the Armed Forces, Eva Högl, said on Sunday, adding that the option to potentially cancel them should be on the table. Read more.
New year to start with two COVID crisis meetings in January. The Belgian government will convene two consultation committee meetings in January to address the surge in Omicron cases and their impact on the country’s intensive care units. Read more.
New Dutch government to have record number of women. A record number of women are due to make up the next Dutch government after the incoming coalition published its list of ministers and secretaries of state on Sunday. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Irish recognised as official EU language. The first day of 2022 was marked by the addition of Irish to the roster of the 23 official EU languages, a development described by the Minister for the Irish speaking Gaeltacht areas and sport as “a crucial step in the development and future of the language.” Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Moscow electrifies NATO debate. Pre-Christmas statements from the Kremlin have challenged the dogmas of Finland’s foreign and security policy and have electrified the debate on possible NATO membership. Read more.
Sweden’s ‘blue light sabotage’ significantly higher in 2021. The number of prosecutions for obstructing police, firefighter or ambulance vehicles’ work – known as ‘blue light sabotage’ – was considerably higher last year, compared to 2020, reports Swedish Radio Ekot. Read more.
Oil billionaire accepts verdict in Dan-Bunkering case. Dan-Bunkering and its owner Bunker Holding will not appeal a district court’s decision that found them guilty of breaching EU sanctions by supplying jet fuel used in the Syrian conflict. Read more.
Estonia plans to supply Ukraine with heavy weapons. Estonia has made a principled decision to support Ukraine in its current security situation. The plan is to donate and send missile and artillery systems designed for anti-tank defence, reports the Estonian News Agency and the Finnish media. Read more.
98 Iraqis deported from Lithuania a ‘historical event’. Lithuania’s interior minister Agnė Bilotaitė said on Sunday that almost 100 Iraqi citizens who entered Lithuania illegally were deported to their country of origin on a charter flight.
“They have agreed to do so on a voluntary basis. This is certainly a positive thing because we have managed to slow the migration crisis, and we have managed to stop it,” Bilotaitė said. More on this from our media partner LRT.lt.
Italy mulls mandatory vaccination as over a million Italians quarantine. Compulsory vaccination has to be considered as the surge in COVID-19 cases is worrying in Italy, Franco Locatelli, coordinator of the Scientific Technical Committee of the Italian government, told newspaper La Repubblica on Sunday. Read more.
New Year starts in Spain with record infections despite extra measures. 2022 began in Spain with no sign of a significant downward trend in pandemic indicators. The Omicron variant continues to drive the sixth wave to record levels, health sources said EURACTIV’s partner EFE. Read more.
Slovakia applauds EU taxonomy, expects to use gas after 2050. The Slovak government is excited about including gas and especially nuclear projects in the sustainable finance taxonomy. Read more.
MEP sued for accusing Polish border guard of torture. A group of citizens announced they would submit complaints against themselves to the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Warsaw and Wrocław for insulting public servants, a gesture of solidarity with MEP Janina Ochojska, accused by the government of the same offence. Read more.
Conservative wing bickers in united Hungarian opposition. After public accusations and critical statements, far-right-turned conservative leader Péter Jakab and joint opposition prime ministerial candidate, independent Mayor Péter Márki-Zay met in Hódmezővásárhely, the latter’s home turf, on 30 December, but left still disagreeing on several issues, Telex reported. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
30% of murders in Albania in 2021 committed against women and girls. Albania saw a 13% increase in murders during 2021, with almost a third being women or girls being killed by their partner, ex-partner, or a family member. Read more.
Skopje believes Bulgarian veto will be lifted soon. In a few months, Bulgaria will lift its veto and North Macedonia will begin the EU membership negotiation process, said Vlado Buchkovski, the special envoy for resolving the Skopje-Sofia dispute of North Macedonia’s government. Read more.
Slovenian epidemiologists oppose mandatory COVID vaccination, for now. Slovenian epidemiologists working at the National Institute of Public Health have unanimously rejected mandatory vaccination against COVID-19, citing an absence of legal basis and concern about implementation. Read more.
EU public prosecutor’s office in Zagreb has 35 cases on its table. The European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) in Zagreb has 35 cases on its table that point to possible misappropriation of EU funds, EURACTIV’s partner Jutarnji List daily reported. Read more.
By reducing electricity prices, Federation is questioning BiH legal order. The director of the Secretariat of the Energy Community based in Vienna, Janez Kopač, told N1 that newly adopted amendments to the Law on Electricity in BiH’s Federation (Croat and Bosniak part), which limits the increase in electricity prices to a maximum of 20% are contrary to the Community’s legal order and set a precedent in one part of the country. Read more.
Sarajevo ranks sixth among world’s most polluting cities. According to Sunday morning’s measurements by IQ AirVisual, the Sarajevo Pollution Index was 173, which was rated as unhealthy air, and the city currently ranks among the six most polluted cities in the world. Delhi, Lahore, Dhaka, Wuhan, and Hangzhou are the most polluting cities in the world, closely followed by Sarajevo.
When it comes to the current assessment of air quality as unhealthy in Sarajevo, it means that the BiH capital is in the so-called red zone and that protection is recommended to avoid infection or respiratory diseases, more precisely, wearing a protective mask with filters.
(Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
Opposition VMRO-DPMNE leads opinion polls. A poll by the IPSOS agency, commissioned by VMRO-DPMNE, shows that the conservative party has extended its largest lead over SDSM in recent years of almost 9 per cent.
When asked who they would support in the next general elections in the December poll, 21% said VMRO-DPMNE and 12.5% opted for SDSM, the governing party. DUI is still the most prominent Albanian party with 7.2%, and the Levizja party – a potential VMRO-DPMNE ally, is at 4.3%. The Alliance of Albanians ranked at 3.3%, and two other Albanian parties, BESA and Alternative (which recently entered the government), combined came to one per cent.
(Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
Kosovo expels Russian diplomat, UN says no notification. Kosovo authorities have expelled a Russian diplomat from the country’s United Nations mission over national security concerns, according to Foreign Minister Donika Gervalla-Schwarz but the UN said they have not been notified. Read more.
AGENDA for January 2022:
- 1 January: France has taken over the EU Council Presidency from Slovenia
- 3 January: Iran nuclear deal talks continue in Vienna after Christmas break, the nuclear arms control agreement of 2015 has been put on hold after the US exit
- 6-7 January: College of European Commissioners visit to Paris, France
- 10 January: US-Russia European security talks in Geneva
- 12 January: NATO-Russia Council to meet on European security
- 12-14 January: Informal Foreign Affairs Council (Gymnich) in Brest, France
- 17 January: Agriculture and Fisheries Council / Eurogroup
- 18 January: Economic and Financial Affairs Council
- 17-19 January: European Parliament Plenary Session in Strasbourg, France, including European Parliament president election
- 20-22 January: Informal Meeting of Energy/Environment ministers in Amiens, France.
- 24 January: Foreign Affairs Council
- 26 January: European Commission to unveil Digital Decade principles (tbc)
[Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski, Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]