Green EU funds to Czechia’s big players

According to a leaked document, a large part of that amount will go to chemical plant Lovochemie, which is owned by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš' former agrochemical holding Agrofert. [Shutterstock/Dynamoland]

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.

Before you start reading today’s edition of the Capitals, have a look at “Finance: Becoming green while in the red“, an exclusive opinion piece by Mairead McGuiness, European Commissioner for Financial Stability, Financial Services and the Capital Markets Union.


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


In today’s news from the Capitals:

PRAGUE

Large Czech energy companies to receive Just Transition Fund money. Large energy companies in the Czech Republic will receive financial aid from the new Just Transition Fund since “fundamental change in the region can only be achieved through a change of the main actors in the market,” the Czech regional development ministry told EURACTIV.cz. Read more.

Read also: Babis’ conflict of interest debacle, a never-ending story

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EU INSTITUTIONS

LEAK: EU aims for 250% growth in offshore wind by 2050. Offshore wind capacity in the EU “should be multiplied by 25 times by 2050” as the European Commission looks for all possible ways of boosting the share of renewables in energy consumption, according to a draft policy document seen by EURACTIV.

BERLIN

Bavaria, Hamburg against relaxing the lockdown. As German Chancellor Angela Merkel is set to meet with Germany’s state leaders on Monday to assess the lockdown measures, which have been in place for two weeks, Bavarian leader Markus Söder (CSU) and Hamburg’s Mayor Peter Tschentscher (SPD) have spoken against loosening the current coronavirus restrictions over the weekend. Read more

Read also: Germany’s COVID-19 monitoring app shows second wave unbroken

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PARIS

France has 300,000 homeless people. The 300,000 homeless people recorded in France – a figure that has doubled since 2012 – should be regarded as an “electroshock”, the general delegate of the Abbé Pierre Foundation, Christophe Robert, told French weekly Le Journal du Dimanche. Read more.

Read also: Homelessness cannot be just another ‘Fact of Life’ in the EU

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VIENNA

Negotiations on Viennese government finished. A coalition between the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ) and the liberal NEOS was formed on Sunday after three weeks of negotiations to govern the city of Vienna. 

Read also: Vienna’s first ‘Social-Liberal Coalition’: SPÖ begins negotiations with NEOS

It will be the first government of its kind in Vienna, which had been governed by a red-green coalition for the last ten years. The key points of the coalition agreement will be presented on Monday and in greater detail on Tuesday after the respective parties internally gave their final blessing. However, it already seems likely that the NEOS will focus on schools and universities, with their Viennese leader Christoph Wiederkehr becoming city councillor for education. (Philipp Grüll | EURACTIV.de)

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BRUSSELS

Belgium to resume testing symptom-less from 23 November. Next week, people who have no symptoms of COVID-19 will again be able to get tested if they come into contact with a person that was positive. This has not been possible in recent weeks as there were too few tests available. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

LONDON

Johnson self-isolating at the start of crunch week. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is self-isolating after meeting a Conservative lawmaker who has since tested positive for COVID-19. Read more.

Read also: Boris Johnson tests positive for COVID-19 with ‘mild symptoms’

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DUBLIN 

‘No way’ EU will back a UK trade deal under Johnson’s Internal Market Bill terms. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has suggested that the EU may not ratify any potential UK-EU trade deal, should the UK adopt its Internal Market Bill without the revisions called for by the House of Lords. Read more

Read also: UK Lords defeat controversial bill breaking EU agreement on Northern Ireland


NORDICS 

HELSINKI

Finland’s Greens soften stance on nuclear energy. The Greens are not categorically against building small nuclear reactors as a means of combatting climate change, Green Party Chair and Interior Minister Maria Ohisalo said on Saturday’s morning show broadcast by the Finnish Broadcasting Company. Read more.

Read also: Brussels ‘won’t stand in the way’ of new nuclear plants, says EU climate chief


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ROME

COVID-19 was present in Italy since the summer of 2019. COVID-19 was in Italy before the pandemic started to spread across the country in February, according to a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute of Milan. Read more.

Read also: COVID-19 was in Spain a year before breakout

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MADRID

More than half of Spaniards lose income due to pandemic, survey finds. More than 50% of Spanish citizens claim to have lost their income and purchasing power since the start of the first COVID-19 outbreak in March, according to a survey published on Sunday. Read more.

Read also: Spain reports massive losses in tourism over COVID-19

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ATHENS

Ban on public gatherings opens Pandora’s Box. A four-day ban on all outdoor gatherings of more than four persons, imposed throughout Greece by an executive decree of the Greek police chief, has created political turmoil. The measure was imposed to avoid public demonstrations in memoriam of the fight against military dictatorship in the early 70s. More.


VISEGRAD 

WARSAW

Poland’s national flag-carrier to receive ‘huge support package’, says minister. The Polish government has “prepared a huge support package, foreseeing multi-billion public aid” for Poland’s national air carrier PLL LOT, announced Deputy Prime Minister and Assets Minister Jacek Sasin.  Read more.

Read also: Lufthansa board baulkts at EU bailout terms

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BUDAPEST

Hungary to receive 10 doses of the Russian vaccine this week. “Because it is about people’s lives, it is forbidden to politicise the vaccine issue,” 444.hu quoted Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó as saying in a Facebook video published on Friday. Szijjártó said that “it is our job and duty to get as many vaccines as possible from as many sources as possible,” adding that 10 sample doses of the Russian vaccine will arrive from Moscow this week. (Vlagyiszlav Makszimov | EURACTIV.com) – Read also: Russian vaccine to arrive in Hungary

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BRATISLAVA

Slovakia to help Austria as COVID-19 cases grow. Slovakia will send health personnel and provide the know-how to help Austria deal with the increasing number of COVID-19 cases, Prime Minister Igor Matovič announced on Facebook on Sunday, in response to Austria’s plans to test its population for COVID-19 the “Slovak way”, i.e. on a mass scale. (Zuzana Gabrižová |EURACTIV.sk)

 


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

SOFIA

If we close our eyes to North Macedonia, we are serving Moscow, says Bulgarian foreign minister. If we continue to close our eyes to the fact that the ideology of Skopje continues to be founded and developed in the way it was conceived by Tito and Stalin, we are doing the work of Moscow, said Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva on Sunday in response to critics saying Bulgaria blocking North Macedonia’s EU membership negotiations would be serving the interests of Russia and China. Read more.

Read also: Bulgaria to block EU negotiations with Skopje

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BUCHAREST

Hospital fire shocks Romania. A fire killed 10 people on Saturday evening at a hospital treating COVID-19 patients in Piatra Neamt, northeastern Romania. Read more.

Read more: Romania calls for mutual recognition of COVID-19 tests.

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ZAGREB

Moody’s rating agency recognises Croatian policy, says PM. Moody’s credit agency – which upgraded Croatia’s credit rating from Ba2 to Ba1, just a notch below full credit rating, and changed its outlook to stable from positive – has clearly recognised the good policy being pursued by the Croatian government and its response to the COVID-19 crisis, said Prime Minister Andrej Plenković, adding that the agency also appreciated Croatia’s entry into the ERM II, the ‘waiting room’ for joining the single currency. Read more.

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LJUBLJANA 

Croatian border is a ‘grey zone’, says Slovenian minister. Slovenia’s border with Croatia is a “very, very problematic grey zone,” Slovenian Interior Minister Aleš Hojs said on the sidelines of an EU ministerial on the proposed migration pact on Friday. Whether Slovenia will be able to return migrants to Croatia remains unclear, he added. 

In other news, Hojs also confirmed that during the lockdown, no wedding ceremonies will be allowed to take place, unless in “urgent and necessary” cases, citing the bride’s pregnancy as a justifiable reason. However, in Slovenia, almost half the children born within a year are out of wedlock, according to data from the State Statistical Office. Only France has a bigger percentage – 60%.  (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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BELGRADE 

Serbia announces new nationwide restrictions. Shops, restaurants, night clubs and cafes in Serbia will have to close at 9pm as of Tuesday, while only pharmacies, gas stations, food delivery services and night shift employees will be allowed to work between 9pm and 5am, the government decided on Sunday in a bid to curb the spread of COVID-19. Read more.

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SARAJEVO 

SDA loses Sarajevo, Dodik Banja Luka. The biggest Bosniak party SDA lost the capital Sarajevo, according to the first results of the local elections as reported by local media, klix.ba and avaz.ba. Meanwhile, the SNSD, the party of the Serb member of Presidency, Milorad Dodik, has lost Banja Luka, capital of Republika Srpska, one of the country’s two entities.

It is a huge strike to both SDA leader Bakir Izetbegović and Dodik. However, one should not expect too much because it is mainly a competition inside each of the three constitutional nations, as there is still no trans-national political power. Croats are waiting for the Mostar elections set for 20 December, in which it is expected that HDZ BiH or its so-called “competitor”, HDZ BiH 1990, will retain power in majority Croat municipalities.  (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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PODGORICA 

Central Bank: No cash outflow  Between the start of September and 11 November, there were no transactions that would affect the reduction of liquid assets and the outflow of deposits to the extent that would jeopardize adequacy of the liquid position of any bank, the Central Bank of Montenegro told Pobjeda daily.

The Central Bank’s comments came in response to the statement of Prime Minister-designate Zdravko Krivokapić, saying that a bank in Montenegro is transferring massive amounts of cash to its Serbian subsidiary, thus buying real estate in Serbia. Krivokapić has said that the money is not being transferred via the Central Bank, but rather directly. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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TIRANA

Governance in Albania deteriorates during pandemic. Albania saw its good governance indicators deteriorate during the pandemic, according to the EBRD’s transition report for 2020-2021 entitled “The state strikes back”. Read more.

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PRISTINA

Together against Serbia.  Former Kosovo Prime Minister and leader of the largest opposition party Vetëvendosje (Self-Determination), Albin Kurti, has called again on Albania and Kosovo to go together against Serbia.

The former prime minister criticised Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, saying he does not dare tell the truth about Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić. “We will not be able to unite as a nation, we will not be able to cooperate as states if we have different stances toward Serbia which is against us”, said Kurti. During his time as prime minister, Kurti had an Albanian flag in his office. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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

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