In search of social Europe ‘in practice’ at Porto summit

Costa said at the first social summit, the trade unions were not even at the table but at a demonstration outside. [EPA-EFE/MARIO CRUZ]

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                                                      In today’s news from the Capitals:


LISBON. Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa hopes that the Social Summit in Porto on Friday will be a milestone in the EU history with the achievement of a general agreement subscribed by European institutions and, for the first time, social partners.

“If we succeed at the Social Summit to obtain for the first time a compromise in which the Council and the Commission sign an agreement with the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), with Business Europe, which is the association of European SIBS, with the confederation of European small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), with the confederation of general services companies, then it will be the first time in the EU history that there is a general agreement bringing together all social partners and European institutions,” Costa told Lusa in an interview.

Costa said at the first social summit, the trade unions were not even at the table but at a demonstration outside. See the full story here.



EU Council chief expects an ‘important new chapter’ with India. Charles Michel, the president of the European Council, said on Wednesday he hoped that the summit between leaders of the EU and India would open an “important new chapter” between Brussels and New Delhi, despite the “dramatic scenario” of the pandemic. Read more.



German Greens leader Baerbock signals post-pacifist shift on foreign policy. The German Greens’ candidate for chancellor Annalena Baerbock on Thursday said her country must be more active on foreign policy and take more responsibility for its own security, in a sign the party is shifting from its pacifist stance towards the centre. Read the full story here.



EU Recovery Fund will create 25,000 jobs in Austria, says study. The measures that the Austrian government plans on implementing with the money from the EU recovery fund will create 25,000 additional jobs and will increase Austria’s GDP by 1.21%, the Vienna-based Institute for Advanced Studies has estimated. Read more.



Irish PM: Any move away from Stormont House Agreement a ‘breach of trust’. A unilateral move away from the Stormont House Agreement, which deals with legacy issues of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, would be a “breach of trust, Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin has said. Read more.

                                                        NORDICS AND BALTICS


Brussels official pressured Finnish parliament to accept EU stimulus package. As the Finnish parliament is set to have the required two-thirds majority to approve the EU’s stimulus package worth €750 million on Wednesday, a Brussels official has reportedly been pressuring Finland to approve the package, claiming that failure to approve the package would result in “unprecedented damage” to the country’s reputation, the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) and tabloid newspaper Iltalehti reported. Read more.



Cyprus to push for gender equality at Porto summit. Cyprus will prioritise women’s role in the post-COVID era at the EU social summit in Porto, according to a non-paper seen by EURACTIV. Read the full story.



Italian fishing boat attacked by Libyan patrol boat in international waters. An Italian fishing boat was attacked by a Libyan coast guard patrol boat from Misrata while fishing in international waters on Thursday afternoon.

The military ship was crossing in the area, 30 to 40 miles off the Libyan coast when the Libyan coast guard patrol boat began firing warning shots at them, injuring one captain in the arm and head. His injuries were treated by a doctor from an Italian navy frigate.

According to an Italian government source, the fishing boat, initially boarded by other Libyan militaries, was later released. The affair was defined as “very serious” and “inconceivable” by members of the governing parties of the right-wing Northern League and the centre-left Democratic Party. (Daniele Lettig |



Spain eyes overhaul of tax, labour market and pensions. TThe Spanish government wants to implement a series of extraordinary measures in the coming months so as to be eligible for EU funding, including changes to tax laws and reforms of the labour market and pension system. Read the full story



Poland’s disciplinary mechanism for judges violates EU law. The disciplinary system of judges recently adopted in Poland is “contrary to EU law” because it allows for disciplinary proceedings to be taken against judges based on the content of their decisions, the EU Court’s Advocate General Evgeni Tanchev said in an opinion published Thursday. Read more.



Opposition-led capital left out of revenue compensating COVID-19 funds. Budapest and all districts of the Hungarian capital were excluded from the €64 million (HUF 23 billion) in state support meant to alleviate the budgetary pressure caused by the government’s decision to support businesses struggling with the pandemic-induced economic hardships by halving the local business tax last December, which goes to local governments’ coffers. More.



Slovak farmers concerned over lack of plan for agricultural subsidies. The largest Slovak agricultural association, the Slovak Agriculture and Food Chamber (SPKK), is has raised concerns that Agriculture Minister Ján Mičovský (Ordinary People Party – OĽaNO) may have failed to prepare a strategic plan under the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which he must submit to the European Commission by the end of the year. Read more.



Land baron tells MPs about Borissov’s fat birthdays, gold ingots. A mega-scandal erupted during a meeting of a Bulgaria’s temporary parliamentary audit committee on Wednesday (May 5th). One of the biggest land barons in Bulgaria, Svetoslav Ilchovski, made revelations about the mafia-type pressure exerted on him by people from the ruling party and the sums he had given them in order to secure his business. Read more.



Slovenia’s coal power plant may shut down earlier than expected. Slovenia aims to phase out coal by 2033 under current plans, but the country’s only remaining coal-fired power plant, in Šoštanj, may be forced by the soaring price of emission coupons to shut down even earlier. Read more.



Croatian president attacks public broadcaster HRT. Croatian President Zoran Milanović has stated that Croatia’s public broadcaster HRT “tricked” Zlata Đurđević, who is aspiring for the position of Supreme Court President, during a broadcast on Wednesday evening, by inviting an open critic of Đurđević to its show. Read more.



EU approves implementation of new methodology in pre-accession talks with Serbia, Montenegro. EU member states have approved the implementation of the new, revised methodology in the pre-accession negotiations with Serbia and Montenegro,  EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi announced on Thursday. Read more.



G7 Western Balkans statement: BiH territory will not be undermined. Following their meeting in London, the G7 leaders have issued a statement on the Western Balkans, stating that “unwarranted speculation about border changes along ethnic lines is no solution to the challenges faced by the region.” Read more.



Kosovo’ PDK party calls for dismissal of Foreign Minister Donika Gërvalla-Schwarz. Abelard Tahiri, the head of Kosovo’s PDK’s parliamentary group, has called for the dismissal of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Gërvalla-Schwarz on Thursday, following a fiery exchange in the Kosovo Assembly, according to Prishtina Insight. 



Croatia to donate 10,000 COVID-19 vaccines to Kosovo. Croatia is donating 10,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to Kosovo, Croatian Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman said in Priština on Thursday, promising that Zagreb would continue promoting the recognition of Kosovo’s independence.



TİKA provides seed support to Albanian families in need. Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TİKA) is providing aid to 50 families in need in the Albanian village of Vişne near Tirana in the form of seeds for corn, clover, beans, as well as chemical fertiliser. 

The handover ceremony was attended by TİKA’s Tirana Coordinator Emine Gizem Başkan, as well as representatives and officials from the Alternative of the Future Foundation (ALSAR), which provides aid for orphan children. Festime Şkreta, one of the village residents, told Anadolu Agency that Turkey had always supported families in need in the village. “We always request help. Turkey has always stood by us […] since the earthquake,” Şkreta said. 

Turkey is working to improve relations with Albania. The friendship has been boosted after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan helped Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama in the electoral campaign. (Željko Trkanjec |


  • France: President Emmanuel Macron will meet with the European Trade Union Confederation’s General Secretary Luca Visentini and President Laurent Berger.
  • Spain: Several regions have started vaccinating citizens under 60 with Pfizer and Moderna jabs.
  • Poland, Czechia, Hungary, Slovakia: V4 foreign ministers will gather in Warsaw Friday to meet with Japanese counterpart Toshimitsu Motegi during his two-day visit to the Polish capital. Slovak Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok will meet with Motegi bilaterally to discuss cooperation between both countries.
  • Croatia: Foreign and European Affairs Minister Gordan Grlić Radman will pay an official visit to Montenegro, while Sea, Transport and Infrastructure Minister Oleg Butković is set to present reforms and investments in the transport sector that are part of the national recovery and resilience plan.
  • Serbia:  Human and Minority Rights Minister Gordana Čomić, EU Delegation in Serbia chief Sem Fabrizi, and the chief of the Council of Europe’s office in Belgrade, Tobias Flessenkemper, will attend an online conference to mark ten years since the Council of Europe’s Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence was adopted.


[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Zoran Radosavljevic, Josie Le Blond]

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