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, we recommend you sign up for this hybrid event on 2 February about the EU’s Cancer Plan hosted by European Commissioner Stella Kyriakides.
Today’s edition is powered by Goldman Sachs. Download the Goldman Sachs Accelerating Transition report. The Goldman Sachs TCFD report: Accelerating Transition outlines the ongoing work with clients to help drive climate transition. It’s available to download now.
The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.
In today’s news from the Capitals:
If Ukrainians do not back down from their anti-minority policy, it will very much limit the Hungarian government’s ability to provide any kind of support, even in this conflict, Foreign Affairs Minister Péter Szijjártó said in an interview with pro-government Magyar Nemzet outlet on Wednesday (26 January), Telex reported. Read more.
German lawmakers split over mandatory vaccines. Lawmakers are divided beyond party divides following the Bundestag’s first debate about mandatory vaccines on Wednesday. Read more.
Left-wing candidate suggests creating European asylum agency. Left-wing presidential candidate Christiane Taubira said she was in favour of “the creation of a European asylum agency” as she met the volunteers at migrant shelters in Briançon, a town bordering Italy in the Alps. Read more.
Pandemic kicks Austrian tourism industry back to 1970s levels. Austria’s tourism sector, a crucial part of the country’s economy, has been hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, dropping below the levels seen in the 1970s , the Austrian statistics institute found. Read more.
Dutch government allows bars, restaurants and museums to reopen. Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte gave the green light on Tuesday for bars, restaurants, and museums to reopen on Wednesday after the country had them closed for over a month. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Ireland establishes expert group to review pandemic lessons. The Irish government has established an expert group to identify lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
PM Andersson refuses to call defence committee on Ukraine situation. Social Democrat Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has declined to convene a Defence Committee – a forum for consultation between the government and parliamentary party representatives on security and defence policy – over Ukraine despite calls from several opposition parties. She called the ongoing talks a “side issue”. Read more.
Finland predicted to see ‘strongest boom since the late 1980s’. Two financial groups are predicting the Finnish economy will enjoy strong growth this year, with one of them predicting 2022-23 will experience the strongest boom since the 1980s. Read more.
Taliban leader satisfied with meeting in Oslo. Taliban Foreign Minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said he was pleased following a three-day meeting in Norway, but will not confirm that concrete promises have been made to improve women’s rights in Afghanistan. Read more.
Spain and Finland warn of ‘serious consequences’ if Russia invades Ukraine. Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez and his Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin told a joint press conference in Madrid that Russia should expect “serious consequences” if it invaded or showed military aggression towards Ukraine. Read more.
Greek PM avoids responsibility for government’s snowstorm fiasco. After days of absence from the public, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis apologised on Wednesday (26 January) for the mismanagement of a snowstorm that paralysed the country this week and left citizens trapped in cars for more than twenty hours.
However, he blamed the company that manages the Attiki Odos highway around the Athens metropolitan area, where thousands of car passengers got stuck during a blizzard on Monday. Read more.
Disagreements persist between Italy’s parties on presidential elections. Italian lawmakers and regional delegates failed to reach a consensus on a candidate for the presidential elections on Wednesday. Read more.
Portuguese researchers: Gut bacteria genetics can be altered by low-fibre diet. Researchers at Lisbon’s Gulbenkian Science Institute (IGC) have discovered that the genetics of gut bacteria can be altered by a diet low in fibre and make the intestine more permeable to infection and inflammation, it was revealed Wednesday. Read more.
Slovak PM backs mandatory COVID-19 vaccination. Slovak Prime Minister Eduard Heger (OĽaNO) said he would support mandatory vaccination in case of a new, more dangerous variant that would fill hospitals and put pressure on healthcare systems. Read more.
Protests in Warsaw as death toll related to Polish abortion ruling rises. Hundreds of people gathered on Wednesday evening at the Constitutional Tribunal and the headquarters of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party to protest against the Tribunal’s 2020 anti-abortion ruling after another woman died due to the doctors’ refusal to perform an abortion on time. Read more.
Close to half the households of Czech seniors suffer from energy poverty. Households of Czech seniors are highly vulnerable to current electricity and heating prices spikes. Up to 60% of them are at risk, and around 40% already suffer from energy poverty. However, the current situation related to high gas prices is not the only factor contributing to this negative trend. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgaria positions itself as dove in Ukrainian crisis. While Bulgaria will not just benefit from other’s security, Sofia de facto refused an additional presence of NATO forces on the country’s territory in connection with the Ukraine crisis and committed to resolving it diplomatically. Read more.
Romania wants increased NATO and US presence on its territory. Romania will continue its actions towards increasing NATO and US troops on its territory, President Klaus Iohannis said Wednesday, adding that this will help improve national security. Read more.
Croatia to procure 89 Bradleys from the US. Croatia and the US have agreed on the procurement of Bradley fighting vehicles, for which Croatia will pay $145.3 million, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said on Wednesday. Read more.
Serbia’s main ruling coalition partners decide to run separately in elections. The two main partners of the ruling coalition in Serbia, the Serbian Progressive Party (SNS), led by President Aleksandar Vučić, and the Socialist Party of Serbia (SPS) led by parliament speaker Ivica Dačić, have decided to run separately in the parliamentary polls and Belgrade’s vote in April, Belgrade’s Nova newspaper reported on Wednesday. Read more.
Palmer, Eichhorst: Electoral reform crucial for overcoming political crisis. Electoral reform is crucial for strengthening BiH’s institutional framework, US special envoy Matthew Palmer and European External Action Service (EEAS) director Angelina Eichhorst said after meeting with members of both houses of the BiH parliament. Read more.
Albanian flag handed to 18-year-old Olympic hopeful. Deni Xhepa, Albania’s sole participant in the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, has been handed the national flag, which will be taken to the event due to start on 4 February. Read more.
- EU: Informal meeting of ministers for education and youth in Strasbourg / European Commissioner for Neighborhood and Enlargement Olivér Várhelyi visits Ukraine / Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson in San Francisco to meet with Google, Apple and Meta representatives / EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell visits Kenya
- Germany: Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets with the president of the Central Council of Jews in Germany, Josef Schuster, on the occasion of International Holocaust Remembrance Day.
- Belgium: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen meets king of Belgium.
- UK: Most Covid restrictions lifted in England.
- Sweden: Government decision on the disposal of nuclear waste.
- Poland: Schools to partly switch to remote learning to combat Covid-19.
- Slovakia: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visits Bratislava.
- Romania: French Defence Minister Florence Parly visits Romania, and will meet with Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca.
- Croatia: International Holocaust Remembrance Day is observed.
- Bulgaria: The Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and the country’s Chief Prosecutor Ivan Geshev are in Brussels to attend a European Parliament in camera meeting of the LIBE Democracy, Rule of Law and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group (DRFMG).
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]