Germany unconvinced by Russian ‘wheat for sanctions’ offer

Russia is ready to provide a humanitarian corridor for vessels carrying food to leave Ukraine in return for lifting some sanctions, Deputy Foreign Minister Andrei Rudenko was quoted as saying on Wednesday by the Russian news agency Interfax. [EURACTIV/Sarantis Michalopoulos]

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In today’s news from the Capitals:

BERLIN

Germany will not rely on Russia to keep any of the promises it makes, a government official told EURACTIV Germany after Moscow offered to allow wheat exports from Ukrainian ports in return for an easing of sanctions. Read more.

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EU INSTITUTIONS

EU ramping up efforts for strategic autonomy in raw materials. While Europe’s dependency on Russian energy makes headlines, the EU is also increasingly keen to decrease its dependency on third states – most notably China – when it comes to essential raw materials. Read more.

Commission considers easing rules on crop rotation to grow more wheat. The European Commission is open to a German proposal to delay new EU rules on crop rotation in order to increase wheat production in the light of the Ukraine war, after the idea won approval from a number of member states. Read more.

PARIS

French health authority recommends another COVID booster for most vulnerable. The French High Authority for Health (HAS) recommends a vaccination campaign be implemented in autumn to protect the most vulnerable as the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to resume. Read more.

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VIENNA

Austria’s Carinthia halts passport issuance over ransomware attack. Criminal hacker group Black Cat is demanding $5 million in Bitcoin from the Austrian state of Carinthia in exchange for decryption software and sensitive data it claims to have accessed following a hacker attack that resulted in a massive IT failure of government services on Tuesday. Read more. 

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THE HAGUE

Left-green coalition unveils its plans for Amsterdam. The PvdA party, the GroenLinks party, and the D66 party officially confirmed on Wednesday that they would join forces to lead the administration of Amsterdam and focus on equal opportunities, a sustainable future, and responsible growth, Dutch News reports. Read more. 


UK AND IRELAND

LONDON

Johnson survives ‘partygate’ again. Boris Johnson appears to have survived the final report into lockdown-breaking parties and social gatherings in his Downing Street residence at the height of the COVID pandemic on Wednesday, but the prime minister may well have suffered terminal damage to his reputation. Read more.

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DUBLIN 

Par-European rights watchdog alerted after Irish opposition leader sues broadcaster. An alert has been registered in the Council of Europe’s (CoE) press freedom platform after the head of Sinn Fein, Ireland’s largest opposition party, launched a defamation suit against broadcaster RTÉ. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

STOCKHOLM

Sweden ‘can count on the EU’, Michel says in Stockholm amid tensions with Turkey. European Council President Charles Michel visited Stockholm to meet Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson on Wednesday to discuss the NATO applications of Sweden and Finland amid tensions with Turkey, the TT press agency has reported. Read more.

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HELSINKI

Finnish growth to rebound before slowing down. The Finnish economy will continue to recover and bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic before slowing down in 2023 due to growing inflation, tighter monetary policy, and the overall uncertainty caused by the Ukraine war, the OP Financial Group predicted in its forecast published on Monday. Read more.

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VILNIUS

Lithuania to send Ukraine military equipment worth over 15 million. Lithuania’s defence ministry and armed forces are preparing 20 M113 armoured vehicles, 10 military trucks, and 10 demining SUVs to be given to Ukraine. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ATHENS

Greece sends more weapons to Ukraine, angering the opposition. US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has announced that Greece will provide Ukraine with more weapons, triggering the opposition’s reaction which said there was no prior notification from the government about such a move. Meanwhile, Moscow lashed out against Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis over his “faith” in Washington. Read more.

Greece fumes at EU Commission over silence on Turkey’s fresh escalation. Athens was surprised by the European Commission’s lukewarm initial reaction to the statement of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who said that for him, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis “no longer exists”. Read more.

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ROME

Algeria’s presidential visits Rome amid gas diversification push. Algeria’s President Abdelmadjid Tebboune, whose country is Italy’s second-biggest gas supplier, will meet Prime Minister Mario Draghi at Palazzo Chigi in Rome Thursday morning as part of a three-day visit to the capital that marks a reinforcement of relations between countries. Read more.

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MADRID

Spain registers over 100,000 Ukrainians since invasion started. Over 100,000 Ukrainians fleeing Russia’s war have arrived in Spain in the last three months, government data reads. Read more.

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LISBON

Portugal in 2021 sees biggest annual increase in gang crime, rape. Gang crime, juvenile delinquency, and rape are among the crimes that increased the most in 2021 compared to 2020, the annual internal security report approved by the Supreme Council for Internal Security on Wednesday has found. Read more.

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VALETTA

Justice for slain Maltese journalist ‘excruciatingly slow’, complains MEP. The process of justice for murdered Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia has been “excruciatingly slow and half-hearted”, Sophie In’t Veld said on Wednesday following a three-day rule of law mission by a European Parliament delegation to Malta. Read more.


VISEGRAD 

BRATISLAVA

New Slovak anti-inflation package sails through parliament with far-right help. The new anti-inflation package worth €1 billion proposed by the ruling OL’aNo party was adopted by the National Council on Wednesday with the help of far-right deputies after part of the ruling coalition refused to back the bill. Read more.

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WARSAW

Polish opposition demands more power for regional governments. Four opposition parties signed a declaration on Wednesday calling for more financial muscle to be handed over to local authorities as opponents of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party eye next year’s municipal elections as a chance to take power back from right-wingers at the regional level. Read more. 

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BUDAPEST

Orban turns to windfall taxes on banks, companies to plug budget. Hungary’s government will impose windfall taxes on banks and large private companies’ “extra profits” in a bid to rein in a swelling budget deficit, turning again to a policy that has helped Viktor Orban avoid raising taxes for families. Read more. 


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

BELGRADE 

Hungary lets Serbia store gas to ensure steady winter supply. Serbia can use Hungary’s facilities to store 500 million cubic metres of gas to secure a steady supply during winter according to an agreement reached between both states in Budapest Wednesday. Read more.

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SOFIA

Bulgaria to likely allow IVF with dead spouses’ genetic material. Bulgaria will most likely allow in vitro procedures to be performed with genetic material from deceased spouses, a health ministry proposal has stated. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

Romania set to leave Russia-led investment banks. The Romanian government decided on Wednesday to announce its intention to leave the International Bank for Economic Co-operation (IBEC) and the International Investment Bank (IBB), both of which count Russia as a main shareholder. Read more.

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ZAGREB

Russia complains to Croatia over ‘hostile behaviour’. Croatia has chosen a hostile and destructive approach to its bilateral relations with Russia, which harms the interests of people in both countries, Moscow said on Wednesday, urging Zagreb to return to “constructive dialogue”. Read more.

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LJUBLJANA 

Robert Golob elected Slovenia’s environmentalist prime minister. Parliament elected Robert Golob prime minister by a 54 to 30 vote on Wednesday, just over a month after his green Freedom Movement won the general election in a landslide on a pledge to reform politics in the country. Read more.

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TIRANA

Publication of Albanian salaries annually incompatible with EU law. The Albanian government’s possible plan to publish the salary of every citizen on an annual basis could find itself up against a legal hurdle, particularly if it wants to join the EU. Read more.


Agenda

  • EU: Commissioner for Innovation, Research and Youth Mariya Gabriel delivers a speech at the ENGAGE.EU annual Spring conference.
  • Commissioner for Employment and Social Rights Nicolas Schmit participates in the “Integrating refugees into labour market” panel at the summit in Davos.
  • Germany: G7 climate, energy and environment ministers meet.
  • United Kingdom: 2022 International Booker Prize winner announcement.
  • Italy: Algerian President Abdelmadjid Tebboune to meet President Sergio Mattarella and Prime Minister Mario Draghi in Rome to discuss gas and security.
  • Spain: Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez appears Thursday before parliament to provide details about the Pegasus espionage scandal against relevant Spanish politicians, including himself.
  • Turkey: Central bank to decide on the interest rate.

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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Vlad Makszimov, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Eleonora Vasques, Sofia Stuart Leeson]

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