German Green ‘pragmatists’ beat out the left

Should the Green membership reject the coalition deal, the parties must return to the drawing board. [EPA-EFE/CLEMENS BILAN]

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.

Editor’s take:

New pact for more spending? Some European leaders had long been preparing for the challenge of Angela Merkel’s departure. One of the outcomes is the Quirinal Treaty, the “French-Italian Enhanced Cooperation Treaty”, that French President Emmanuel Macron and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will sign on Friday. Read more. 

The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.

In today’s news from the Capitals:


Following the announcement on Wednesday that a “traffic light” government had been agreed, the social democrat SPD, the Greens and the liberal FDP must now announce a cabinet of 17 ministers split between the parties. Read more.



France says no to lockdowns, boosts vaccination campaign instead. France will not go into lockdown or under curfew and will speed up its vaccination campaign to slow the increase of COVID-19 cases amid a European fourth wave. Read the full story.



Asylum claims hit new high, but backlog lengthens. Asylum applications to the UK have reached their highest level since 2004, according to Home Office figures released on Thursday, as the UK faces up to a new migration crisis. Read more.



Dublin named runner-up in European Capital of Innovation awards. Dublin has been recognised as a runner-up in this year’s European Capital of Innovation (iCapital) awards at this week’s European Innovation Council (EIC) Summit in Brussels. Read more.



Poll: Greeks back mandatory vaccination. Most Greeks (66%) favour extending mandatory vaccination to groups of workers who come into contact with a lot of people, according to a poll for Greece’s Skai TV. However, making vaccination obligatory for the country’s police remains a challenge for the conservative government. Read more.



Italy’s femicide rates increased during pandemic. Italy’s rate of femicides has risen 8% from 106 in 2020 to 109 in 2021, even though the year is not yet over, the state police reported. Read more.



Celebrities urge Spanish men to end gender violence. Men must take responsibility to end sexist behaviour and gender violence, according to a group of celebrities, including filmmaker Pedro Almodóvar, who spoke at an event marking the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women on Thursday, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported. Read more.



Portugal adopts new restrictive measures despite high vaccination rate. New measures like making vaccinated people show a negative test to enter sports venues and cultural events are needed despite the country’s high vaccination rate, said Prime Minister António Costa. Portugal “is not as well” as I wanted, he added. Read more. Read more.


Visegrad in the spotlight as EU lawmakers call to outlaw gender-based violence. The European Parliament has called on Czechia, Slovakia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria to immediately ratify the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women. In Visegrad countries, the convention remains a tricky political issue, mainly because of disinformation campaigns against the document. Read more.



Environmental damage investigation closed, no punishment for Orban-ally. The investigation into the environmental damage caused by a billionaire close to Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will not be pursued further, prosecutor general Péter Polt’s reply to opposition MP Bernadette Szél revealed on Thursday, Telex reported. Read more.



Almost 50,000 illegal border crossings from Western Balkans in 2021. During the first months of 2021, Kosovo’s border police repatriated 1530 migrants from the Middle East and Africa back to Albania after crossing the border illegally, while thousands more have travelled and moved on to Europe undetected. Read more.



Benel nuclear plant: Bulgarian far-right leader threatens to send opponents to a labour campKostadin Kostadinov, leader of the pro-Russian far-right party ‘Vazrazhdane’ (Revival), started his first term as an MP by threatening to deport all those who oppose the Belene nuclear power plant to the town’s communist-era forced labour camp. Read more.



Romania’s new conservative-socialist government sworn in. The parliament gave its confidence vote to the new government supported by a broad coalition of the conservatives from PNL and UDMR and the socialists of PSD. The Cabinet of Nicolae Ciuca held its first meeting on Thursday evening. Read more.



Macron: Croatia is ready for Schengen. “Croatia is ready for Schengen, it has confirmed a strong organisation and the ability to protect its borders, the Union’s external borders, in relation to the fight against smuggling, and it has confirmed its ability to control its borders,” French President Emmanuel Macron said on Thursday. Read more.



Slovenian government proposes surprise changes for appointment of EPPO prosecutors. As the European Public Prosecutors’ Office appointed Slovenia’s two delegated prosecutors after months of delays, it has become clear what the Slovenian government had in mind when it said its overdue proposal for the two prosecutors was “temporary”. Read more.



Western Balkans press councils sign region’s first declaration. Western Balkan press and media councils, including Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Turkey, have signed the region’s first joint declaration on strengthening media ethics in the digital era. Read more.



Vucic after meeting Putin: Gas price for Serbia to stay the same in next six months. The price of Russian gas will remain at $270 per 1,000 cubic metres for Belgrade in the next six months, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said in Sochi on Thursday after meeting with his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin. Read more.



Dodik gives up plan to threaten BiH’s armed forces, for now. Serb leader Milorad Dodik has caved in to pressure and given up his plan to jeopardise the survival of BiH’s armed forces, BiH High Representative Christian Schmidt said. Read more.



Macron: Trying to stabilise situation with Bulgaria. “In the coming months, we will try to do more to stabilise the situation between Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia”, said French President Emmanuel Macron during his visit to Zagreb. Read more.


French company to build solar park. French renewable energy power producer and developer Akuo Energy Sas Paris plans to invest €270 million in constructing a solar park in North Macedonia with local company Ostor Solar, the government in Skopje said. 

At the session on Tuesday, the government adopted a Decision on determining the status of a strategic investment project of the “Ostro Solar” and “Akuo Energy”. The capacity would be from 350 to 400-megawatt hours.

Akuo Energy Central Europe is the partner in IEL OIE Balkan Renewable Energy’s 85 MW Bašaid wind farm project near Kikinda in Serbia. The French firm has an advanced project for the Çiçavica wind farm of 100 MW in Kosovo. Earlier this year, Akuo bought five hydropower plants in Bulgaria with a total capacity of 15.5 MW. 

(Željko Trkanjec |



Minority government in Montenegro is a high-risk move. A minority government would be a high-risk move, said Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokapić, adding that he did not know what Montenegro would look like with such a government. Read more.


  • EU/NATO: EU research and space ministers meet in Brussels / NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gives press conference before Riga ministerial / Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson speaks at the 2021 ENTSO-E Conference on net zero.
  • Belgium: Belgian government holds emergency meeting over Covid rebound.
  • Netherlands: Prime Minister Rutte holds press conference on Covid-19 measures.
  • UK: Brexit minister David Frost meets EU Commission Vice-President Maros Sefcovic on Northern Ireland.
  • Italy: French President Macron, Italian leaders, sign Franco-Italian Quirinal Treaty.
  • Poland: Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki visit to London.
  • Czech Republic: President Milos Zeman appoints centre-right leader Petr Fiala as new prime minister.
  • Bulgaria: Negotiations to form a government continue.
  • Croatia: The initiative of members of parliament and the Initiative to Reduce the Tax on Menstrual Supplies will announce at a press conference the launch of a petition to reduce the “women’s” tax in Croatia to five per cent.


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

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