German government will push for a European federation

According to the coalition agreement that was presented on Wednesday, the coalition wants to use the ongoing Conference on the Future of Europe as a starting point to reform the EU. [EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN]

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In today’s news from the Capitals:

BERLIN

The Social Democrats, Greens and the liberal FDP announced that a ‘traffic light’ coalition between the three parties would push for the development of a fully-fledged European federation. Read more.

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EU PRESIDENCY

Slovenian presidency welcomes decisions for more resilient EU. The EU ministers in charge of European affairs adopted in Brussels on Tuesday decisions on strengthening preparedness, response capacity, and resilience of the EU to future crises. As the current presiding country, Slovenia sees the decisions as a significant step in the member states re-establishing a more resilient EU. More.

PARIS

French government to take new measures to tackle fifth wave. As the number of COVID-19 infections continues to rise in France, government spokesman Gabriel Attal has announced new “guidelines” to curb the pandemic and “save the holiday season”. Read more.

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VIENNA

Massive increase in asylum seekers sparks controversy in Styria. By November, 30,000 people had applied for asylum in Austria, compared to 15,000 in 2020, forcing refugee centres in Steinhaus and Leoben to reopen. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

LONDON

Irish deal could be template for the Rock. A deal between London and Brussels on the Northern Ireland protocol could pave the way for an agreement that resolves the product shortage problem facing Gibraltar, the peninsula’s chief minister said on Wednesday. Read more.

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DUBLIN 

Hauliers protest rising fuel prices in Dublin. Traffic ground to a halt in Dublin on Wednesday as a convoy of truckers and hauliers gathered in the city to protest record increases in fuel prices this year. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

STOCKHOLM

Sweden’s first female PM resigns after hours in power. The newly elected Chair of the Social Democratic Party, Magdalena Andersson, became Sweden’s first female Prime Minister on Wednesday, only to resign just hours after she was appointed. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

LISBON

Portugal’s high vaccination rate makes Commission confident about economic recovery. The European Commission remains optimistic the Portuguese economy will recover quickly, especially as the COVID-19 vaccination rate in the country is so high. Read more. 

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ROME

Italy to impose lockdown for unvaccinated and boosters for 18-39 age group. The Italian Council of Ministers voted on Wednesday to reduce the validity of the COVID pass from 12 to nine months and only allow the vaccinated or those who have recovered from the virus to access bars, restaurants, and other leisure facilities. Read more.

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MADRID

Metalworkers clash with police in Cadiz. Spain witnessed a new wave of protests and clashes between metal workers and police forces in Cádiz, Andalusia, leaving some injured and sparking controversy over local police deployment of a light mobile tank (BMR) to contain the protesters, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported. Read more.


VISEGRAD 

BRATISLAVA

Slovak police’s advice against rape: Women should not ‘provoke’ men. Women should avoid dark places after sunset and parties with alcohol and drugs because those can “spark violent behaviour”, the Slovak police’s recommendations for preventing rape published on its official website state. Women also should not “give mixed sexual signals and provoke unnecessarily”. Read more.

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WARSAW

Half of Poles consider EU institutions ‘too weak’ over rule of law conflict. “EU institutions react too late and too weak in response to the EU law violations by governments”, according to 48% of Poles, a new poll of the Institute of Public Affairs (ISP) has found. Only 22% of those surveyed disagreed with the statement. Read more.

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BUDAPEST

Budapest-based research institute suspected of spying for China. CEE-China Institute, a research institute based in Budapest, is suspected of spying on the Central and Eastern European region. The institute acts as an independent research organisation, but is allegedly gathering information for the Chinese government. Read more.

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Hungarian prosecutor-general denies wrongdoing despite EU court ruling. Hungary’s prosecutor general has denied violating EU rules despite a European Court of Justice ruling finding his actions unlawful on Tuesday, Telex reported. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

SOFIA

Russian nuclear reactors could affect stability of future Bulgarian government. The decision to use the two already paid for and delivered Russian nuclear reactors will be a major problem for the stability of the future governing coalition in Bulgaria. The other big problem is the veto on the European integration of North Macedonia. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

Fuel worth $2 million stolen from US military base. Members of an organised criminal group allegedly stole fuel worth $2 million over four years from a US military base in southeast Romania, prosecutors have found. Read more.

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ZAGREB | VIENNA

Austrian expert commission recommends banning gathering for Ustasha at Bleiburg. A group of experts authorised by the Austrian interior ministry to evaluate the annual gathering at Bleiburg has recommended banning it. Read more.

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ZAGREB | FRANCE

PM Plenkovic expects France’s support for Schengen entry. President Emmanuel Macron came to Zagreb on Wednesday evening and had dinner with Prime Minister Andrej Plenković where the topic of the Schengen Area was discussed. Read more.

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LJUBLJANA 

Slovenia backs Poland’s on border protection. Slovenia expressed support for Poland’s stance on border protection as Prime Minister Janez Janša hosted his Polish counterpart Mateusz Morawiecki on Wednesday. Read more.

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Illegal migration to Slovenia down almost 40% year-on-year. In the first nine months of this year, Slovenia registered 8,144 illegal entries, 39% less than in the same period of 2020, Slovenia’s interior ministry reported on Wednesday. Read more.

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BELGRADE 

Serbia to seek cheap gas price from Russia. The presidents of Russia and Serbia, Vladimir Putin and Aleksandar Vučić, will meet in Sochi on Thursday to discuss a solution to the Kosovo crisis, Russian News Agency TASS has reported, citing a release from the Kremlin. For its part, Belgrade aims to achieve lower gas prices. Read more.

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Escobar: Open Balkans initiative cannot succeed without all Western Balkans countries. US special envoy for the Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, stated on Wednesday that the Open Balkans initiative could not succeed if it did not include “all six countries” of the Western Balkans. Read more.

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SARAJEVO 

German coalition agreement includes reference to Western Balkans. Germany’s Social Democrats (SPD), the Greens and the business-friendly liberal FDP have finalised their coalition agreement for a new government, including a short note about the Western Balkans. Read more.

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No place for BiH at Biden’s Summit for Democracy. The State Department published the final participant list on Tuesday, which includes all countries of the Western Balkans – including Serbia, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Kosovo and Albania, except Bosnia and Herzegovina. This puts Bosnia in the company of China and Russia, who were also not included in the list, N1 reported.

Media reported earlier this month that representatives of 100 countries, which then included just Albania, Montenegro and North Macedonia, received the invitation letter. The final list also includes Serbia and Kosovo, likely due to uproar and controversy sparked by their exclusion.

(Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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SKOPJE

Beginning of EU negotiations is in geostrategic interest of US.  Prime Minister Zoran Zaev had a telephone conversation with US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Karen Donfried. The two agreed that the opening of negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania is in the US’ foreign policy and geostrategic interest. Read more.

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PRISTINA

Kosovo cuts free power to Serb majority municipalities. Kosovo’s energy network operator KOSSTT announced it would no longer supply consumers in four Serb-majority municipalities with free electricity in the north of the country. Read more.

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TIRANA

Albanian COVID-19 vaccine rates continue to lag. Albania is one of the countries with the lowest vaccination rates in Europe, with just 33% of the population fully vaccinated and 37% with one dose, according to Our World in Data and reported by Exit.al. Read more.


AGENDA:

  • EU: EU competition ministers set to take a position on landmark tech rules / Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) takes place / EU unveils reforms to boost cross-border finance and investment.
  • Germany | Poland: Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visits Berlin / Future German coalition to officially announce minister picks (tbc).
  • France: The ECHR rules on claims by former Guantanamo prisoners that France used confessions obtained under torture.
  • Portugal: Prime Minister Costa comments on COVID-19 ahead of possible new curbs. The Council of Ministers meets to decide on the measures to be adopted to cope with the growing number of COVID-19 cases in Portugal.
  • Croatia | Italy: French President Macron visits Croatia, continues with his trip to Rome to sign a new treaty with Italy, cementing ties between two founding EU members.
  • Czechia: President Miloš Zeman will be released from hospital after almost two months of hospitalisation.
  • Bulgaria: The four parties negotiating a coalition agreement will hold consultations on “Internal Security”, “Ecology”, “Regional Development” and “Culture”. Negotiations began on Wednesday, divided into 16 panels – 4 days of 4.
  • Romania: Parliament holds a confidence vote for the new government
  • Croatia: The Women’s Network of Croatia organises a press conference outside parliament to demand the adoption of the main strategic document on the protection of women’s rights – a national policy for gender equality.
  • Serbia: National Council for coordinating cooperation with Russia and China – The president of the Council, former Serbian president Tomislav Nikolić, to meet with the Russian ambassador to Serbia, Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko.

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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Alice Taylor]

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