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In today’s news from the Capitals:
In the aftermath of the meeting between US President Joe Biden and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Green MEPs and political parties from countries around the Baltic Sea expressed their “firm disapproval” of and “opposition” to the Nord Stream 2 project. Read more.
Creative Europe programme to provide €2.5bn funding for culture sector. European Commissioner for Innovation and Research, Mariya Gabriel, has said that the Creative Europe 2021-2027 programme will focus on the “economic sustainability” and the “digital inclusion” of the cultural and creative sectors by funding projects for specific challenges. Read more.
German defence minister praises Turkey’s role in Afghanistan. German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer has praised Turkey for wanting to take more responsibility in the NATO deployment in Afghanistan during a trip to Ankara. Read more.
France fails to adopt clear position on future gas funding. As France is yet to adopt a clear position on an agreement by EU energy ministers last week to phase out gas-hydrogen blending projects. Read the story here.
Belgium’s Consultative Committee to discuss further relaxations. Belgium’s Consultation Committee is to meet on Friday (18 June) to discuss further relaxation of pandemic-era restrictions for the catering industry and limits on social gatherings. Read more.
Kurz to welcome Western Balkan leaders in Vienna. Chancellor Sebastian Kurz will welcome the Balkan heads of state of Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina and North Macedonia as well as the EU Special representative for the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue at a summit in Vienna on Friday (18 June) to discuss the repatriation of illegal migrants and the prospect of EU accession. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
EU to look at UK call to extend ‘sausage war’ deadline. The European Commission said Thursday (18 June) it would examine Britain’s request to extend a grace period for post-Brexit rules on chilled meat imports for Northern Ireland – part of the so-called sausage war between London and Brussels. Read more.
Leader of Northern Ireland’s DUP Poots to step down. The leader of Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party Edwin Poots is to step down just three weeks after taking power, he said in a statement. Read more.
Ireland gives green light to medical cannabis prescriptions in ‘milestone’ move. Patients in Ireland will now for the first time be able to get medical cannabis via prescription, in what has been described as a “milestone” move expected to bring hope to many families, although barriers to access medical cannabis still remain. Read the story here.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Lithuania records rapid rise in irregular migration. The number of undocumented migrants detained in Lithuania after crossing from Belarus has increased to 397, including six Iraqi nationals stopped on Thursday (17 June). Read more.
Italian government strengthens cybersecurity measures. The Italian government has decided to expand the actors included in the national cybersecurity perimeter to include public and private companies will have the obligation to promptly report attacks or incidents detected, as well as to adapt the protection measures of their networks to defined standards if they want to continue operating. Read more.
COVID-19 triggers ‘demographic tragedy’ in Spain. The COVID-19 pandemic saw Spain’s mortality rate rise by 17% in 2020, with 492,930 new deaths directly or partially related to the pandemic, the highest death rate in the country since 1941. Read the full story.
Portugal sees biggest daily jump in virus cases since late February. Coronavirus cases in Portugal jumped by 1,350 in the past 24 hours, the biggest increase since late February, data from the national health authority DGS showed this week. Read more.
Turkey wants EU, US out of talks with Greece. Ankara and Athens have interpreted differently the outcome of the recent meeting on the sidelines of a NATO summit between Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan regarding the role of the EU and the US in the Greek-Turkish row. Read more.
WARSAW | BERLIN
Polish, German presidents laud mutual ties despite differences. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visited Warsaw on Thursday (17 June) to meet with his Polish counterpart Andrzej Duda and mark a 1991 cooperation treaty. Read more.
PRAGUE | WARSAW
Turów negotiations take place between Czechia and Poland. The Czech Republic and Polish governments started negotiations on Thursday (17 June) to try to resolve a dispute over the controversial Polish lignite mine Turów situated near the Czech borders, which according to the Czech Republic has become an environmental issue for the country. Read more.
Hungarian PM: LGBTQ law ‘liberal steamrollers’ work’. The new Hungarian law that bans the “portrayal and promotion” of homosexuality and trans identity in schools, media content and adverts aimed at under-18s does not violate “any lofty ideals or European law”, Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orbán said on Thursday (17 June), adding that “the liberal steamrollers are once again at work against Hungary.” Read more.
Slovak parliament rejects EU Parliament’s sexual health report. The Slovak parliament passed a resolution on Thursday (17 June) that slams a European Parliament report on sexual and reproductive health and rights in the EU, put forward by Croatian MEP Predrag Matic, insisting that sexual and reproductive health should be a matter for member states to deal with as they see fit. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Sofia-Skopje talks resume with concrete proposals on the table. North Macedonia Prime Minister Zoran Zaev is visiting Sofia with specific proposals for ending the deadlock over his country’s EU integration process, which his Bulgarian counterpart Stefan Yanev announced would be discussed intensively in the coming days. Read more.
Staff changes at Romanian broadcaster ruled unconstitutional. Romania’s Constitutional Court ruled that the change of managers at the country’s state broadcaster “did not comply with the Constitution”. The ruling comes as a real blow to the governing coalition parties that long negotiated the changes before deciding to take the decision to parliament. Read more.
Concern after Green MEPs conduct mission to Slovenia. Two members of the European Parliament from the Greens-European Free Alliance have expressed concern after conducting a three-day mission to Slovenia. They described the situation in the country as “very complex”. Read more.
Croatian PM requests Turkish support for BiH electoral reform. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković met with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on Thursday (17 June), requesting Turkey’s support for efforts to ensure respect for the equality of all three constituent peoples in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) and for reform of the country’s electoral law. Read more.
Vučić: Serbia stopped 38,000 irregular border crossings in 2020. Serbia prevented more than 38,000 attempts by migrants to cross the Serbian border in 2020, President Aleksandar Vučić said on Thursday, adding that 3,977 migrants are currently staying in reception and asylum centres. Read more.
DiCaprio urges BiH to stop building mini-hydroelectric plants. Hollywood film star Leonardo DiCaprio sent a letter to Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Federation (Bosniak and Croat entity) authorities, calling on them to adopt the legislation banning the construction of many small hydroelectric power plants – demands he already made last autumn. Read more.
67% of Montenegrins back NATO membership. A total of 67% of Montenegrin citizens would vote for Montenegro remaining a NATO member, while 33% are in favour of the country leaving the alliance, according to the latest NATO report, daily Pobjeda reported.
The figures, resulting from a survey conducted in April and May ahead of this week’s NATO summit, suggest that support for the alliance is growing in Montenegro. Just 50% of citizens voted in favour of remaining part of the alliance in 2020. Despite growing support, the country still has one of the lowest scores among allies, ranking just above Slovakia with 61% of its citizens backing NATO membership. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
PM Kurti to US ambassador: No association based on ethnicity in Kosovo. Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti has said he does not back an association based on ethnicity in the country, saying “there can be an association of municipalities on a development basis, but not on a geographic basis.” Read more.
- Germany/France: Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron in Berlin.
- Austria: Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to host the Western Balkan summit in Vienna.
- Slovakia: Finance Minister and former PM Igor Matovič will chair the European Investment Bank’s Board of Governors on Friday in Luxemburg, which will review the bank’s activities, financing operations and challenges over the past period.
- Croatia: Parliament is expected to adopt a revision of the state budget.
- Serbia: Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko is visiting Serbia.
[Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Josie Le Blond]