Germany declines to back France in submarine row

France’s harsh reaction is “understandable”, SPD foreign policy speaker MP Nils Schmid told EURACTIV, but stressed that “we don’t have any interest in a further escalation and want to continue the close collaboration with the USA and Australia.” [Dennis van de Water/Shutterstock]

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.

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In today’s news from the Capitals:

BERLIN | PARIS

Germany has declined to support France in its ongoing diplomatic spat with the US, UK, and Australia after the latter torpedoed a multi-billion-dollar submarine deal with France in favour of a deal with Washington and London. Germany has instead opted for a more conciliatory approach. Read more.

Read also: German Chancellor Merkel to stick around for a while after polls

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PARIS

Mask no longer to be compulsory in all French schools. Wearing a mask will no longer be compulsory in schools from 4 October in departments where the incidence rate has been below 50 per 100,000 inhabitants for the past five days, a government spokesman has announced. The same rules will apply to establishments open to the public like concert halls and nightclubs, he added. For now, this relaxation will apply to 41 of 101 departments across the country.

“We owe this good news mainly to the considerable progress in vaccination coverage: the vaccination campaign is a French success story, and at the end of last week we passed the milestone of vaccinating 50 million French people,” said spokesman Gabriel Attal. However, the health pass will be made compulsory for young people as young as 12 from 30 September, and COVID-19 tests will no longer be free from 15 October. (Clara Bauer-Babef | EURACTIV.fr)

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VIENNA

Austrian energy association: rising energy prices ‘no reason for panic’. The massive increase in energy and electricity prices is only temporary and “no reason to panic”, the Austrian Energy Association has stressed. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

LONDON 

US-UK trade deal ‘not a priority for US administration’. A US–UK trade deal appears to have been put on the back burner after US President Joe Biden played down the chances of an agreement following talks with Prime MInister Boris Johnson on Wednesday. Read more.

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DUBLIN 

Irish cyber security centre ‘under-resourced and over-tasked’. Ireland’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC)  is “under-resourced and over-tasked”  compared to its global counterparts, and lacks the “organisational design or capacity to achieve all of the objectives” of Ireland’s cybersecurity strategy, a new NCSC report has found. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

HELSINKI

US, Russia hold first post-Afghanistan talks in Helsinki. US General, Mark Milley, chair of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Russian General Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, held a six-hour-long meeting in Helsinki on Wednesday, in the first face-to-face meeting between them since 2019. Read more.

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STOCKHOLM

Swedish-Israeli relations warming up. After a seven-year hiatus, Sweden and Israel are on speaking terms again as the two countries may open a new chapter in their relations ahead of the Malmo International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Anti-Semitism. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ATHENS

Greece silent over report about 20,000 refugee children out of education. The Greek government has declined to confirm a recent report suggesting that more than 20,000 refugee children are denied the right to education despite having received relevant EU funding. For its part, the European Commission seems to ignore the exact situation on the ground. Read more.

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ROME

Italy’s far-right Lega split over mandatory health pass. A decree making it mandatory for workers in the private and public sectors to have a health pass indicating that they are vaccinated, tested negative within the past 48 hours or recovered from COVID-19 was only backed by 69 of 132 Lega MPs, although the party is part of the ruling coalition that decided in favour of mandating health passes in the first place. Read more.

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MADRID

La Palma volcano eruption could last up to November, experts warn. The area affected by the lava flow on the Spanish island of La Palma has increased by 50% since the eruption of the volcano three days ago and experts predict it will continue for another 55 days on average and could even last up to 84. Read the full story.

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LISBON

Coimbra University student science project to go into space. A science project undertaken by a group of students at Portugal’s Coimbra University is ready to go into space on the Bexus 31 balloon to be launched by the European Space Agency (ESA), the university announced on Wednesday. Read more.


VISEGRAD

PRAGUE  

Orban to endorse Babis ahead of Czech elections as EU liberals remains silent. Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán is heading to Czechia next week to endorse his Czech counterpart Andrej Babiš ahead of the Czech parliamentary elections set for 8-9 October. But leaders from Europe’s liberal Renew group to which Babiš ‘s ANO party belongs have remained silent. Read more.

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WARSAW

Is Poland’s ruling PiS party taking two steps back? There are now many ongoing disputes between the Warsaw government of Law and Justice (PiS) and the institutions in Brussels but on Tuesday, the ruling party appears to have backpedalled on some issues. Read more.

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BUDAPEST 

Orbán: Brussels betrays Hungary and the European people.  Those leaving Afghanistan are trying to enter Hungary via the southern border, and pressure on the border will increase, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán said after visiting Hungary’s border together with his Czech counterpart Andrej  Babiš on Wednesday, Telex reported via national news agency MTI. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

Slovak university researchers delivered ‘weekly briefings’ to controversial Chinese think-tank. Several teachers and researchers from the University of Economics in Bratislava have been cooperating with the China-CEE Institute  – a Chinese think-tank working under the Chinese Academy of Social Science that experts say the Chinese government uses for its political goals. The university employers had to deliver “weekly briefings” about the situation in the country on a regular basis, Slovak media outlet SME reported.  Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

SOFIA

Skopje promises not to call Bulgarians ‘fascist occupiers’. “We will not change the history textbooks, but we will change the term ‘Bulgarian fascist occupiers’,” North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev has announced as Bulgaria continues to insist Skopje correct its history books. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

Romania braces for new restrictions. COVID-19 infections are spreading rapidly in Romania and major cities are already preparing to reinforce restrictions, including limiting attendance at events, reintroducing the nightly curfew and possibly even quarantine measures. Read more.

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LJUBLJANA 

Slovenia’s parliament votes down controversial indecent behaviour legislation. The Slovenian parliament has narrowly voted down controversial amendments that would introduce fines for indecent behaviour when detected by a police officer, with 43 votes in favour and 44 against. Read more.

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BELGRADE

EU to provide Serbia with equipment for managing pesticide residues. The European Union will provide the Directorate for National Referential Laboratories with cutting-edge analytical equipment, like the one used to manage pesticide residues, the EU Delegation chief in Serbia, Emanuele Giaufret said on Wednesday, according to Media EU Info.

“This institution is the centre of Serbia’s food safety laboratories but has also played an important role in the early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic when the majority of human samples were tested there on the equipment that was delivered earlier, as a donation of the EU,” Giaufret said during the visit to the Novi Sad Agriculture Fair.

Since 2000, the EU has donated €230 million towards agriculture and food safety in Serbia, and the main directions of aid are environment protection, human health, food safety, animal well-being and maintaining of soil quality. (EURACTIV.rs | betabriefing.com)

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SARAJEVO | ZAGREB

Croatian President says he is also president of Croats in BiH. Croatian President Zoran Milanović has caused fresh controversy as he said he was also the president of Croat citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina who have Croatian citizenship. Read more.

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PODGORICA 

Proposal to initiate procedure to dismiss President Đukanović supported. The Constitutional Committee supported the proposal to initiate a procedure to determine whether current Montenegrin President Milo Đukanović has violated the Constitution. Read more.

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PRISTINA

Russia: Ethnic cleansing continues in Kosovo. The deteriorating situation in northern parts of the “Serbian autonomous province of Kosovo” is extremely worrying, the Russian foreign ministry said in a harsh statement that also criticised the EU. Read more.


AGENDA:

  • EU: European Commission set to unveil universal phone charger proposal / Green Deal executive vice-president Frans Timmermans visits Washington, DC to discuss climate change with US lawmakers.
  • Germany: Candidates for chancellor from all parties hold final televised debate.
  • Portugal: Government to announce an easing of COVID-19 measures.
  • Hungary: Budapest Demographic Summit takes place.
  • Bulgaria: MEPs of the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee will visit Bulgaria on 23 and 24 September to assess compliance with the rule of law in the country.
  • Croatia: The Board of Directors of the European Travel Commission (ETC), which comprises 33 national European tourism organisations and associate members (agencies, other tourism service providers, carriers etc.), is to hold its 101st session. Meanwhile, the two-day Global Medical Robotics ROBOMED Summit begins, taking place both online and live at the Orthopaedic and Rehabilitation Hospital “Martin Horvat”.
  • Serbia: President Aleksandar Vučić to participate in the Fourth Demographic Summit. He will also meet with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša and Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš.

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

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