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In today’s news from the Capitals:
“The world is full of radical chic environmentalists and it is full of extremist, ideological environmentalists: they are worse than the climate catastrophe,” Italian Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani told the political training school of former Prime Minister Matteo Renzi’s party, Italia Viva, on Wednesday. Read more.
Slovenia aims to make EU-Western Balkans summit regular feature. Slovenia’s EU presidency will host an EU-Western Balkans summit in early October and its desire is to make these summits a regular annual event as a means of accelerating the EU enlargement process, Foreign Minister Anže Logar said on Wednesday at the Bled Strategic Forum.
While stressing the importance and benefits of the EU enlargement to the Western Balkans as a strategically important issue, leaders at a panel on the future of Europe and enlargement held as part of the Bled Strategic Forum agreed on Wednesday that integration of the region into the EU will be crucial. Read more.
In case the EU wishes to become a more reliable security provider and global actor, it needs to avoid past mistakes and develop credible military intervention forces that are able to project stability in our neighbourhood, Slovenia’s defence minister Matej Tonin told EURACTIV.
He spoke ahead of an informal meeting of EU defence ministers about lessons learned from Afghanistan, the EU’s ‘Strategic Compass’ and whether the EU should consider extending the benefits of the European Defence Union to the Western Balkans.
WHO inaugurates pandemic hub in Berlin. World Health Organisation (WHO) chief Tedros Ghebreyesus, German Health Minister Jens Spahn and outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel have officially opened the WHO’s new global Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin. Read more.
School return worries French parents, teachers as infection rate remains high. Concerns are mounting in France over the return on Thursday of 13 million pupils to in-person teaching as the country’s daily COVID-19 caseload hovers at around 19,000. Read more.
Study: Austrian industry saw more growth compared to eurozone countries. Austria saw its industry grow by 60% from 2000 to 2020, while the sector presented a mild 10% growth rate during the same period for euro-area countries, a report by UniCredit Bank Austria said on Wednesday. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
UK Foreign Secretary Raab suffers MPs’ wrath. UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab defended his handling of the Afghanistan crisis on Wednesday, despite the revelation that the Foreign Office’s own risk assessment had warned that the Taliban could rapidly take over the country in a paper published less than a month before it took control of the government. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Mayor: Helsinki could be an English-speaking city. Helsinki could declare itself an English-speaking city, Helsinki’s new Mayor, Juhana Vartiainen, has suggested as the country continues to debate the worsening shortage of skilled workers on the labour market which could heavily hamper the recovery from the pandemic. Read more.
Greek PM clashes again with Sassoli over Afghan refugees. Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis openly disagreed with European Parliament chief David Sassoli over the handling of the looming migration crisis from Afghanistan. Read more.
New Greek health minister forced to apologise for anti-Semitic comments. Greece’s new minister of health, Thanos Plevris, who was appointed after a government reshuffle, was forced to apologise for anti-Semitic comments he made in the past following a harsh statement by the Central Board of Jewish Communities in Greece.
The issue was even taken to the European Commission, with MEP Stelios Kouloglou asking Margaritis Schinas, Commissioner responsible for “Promoting our European Way of Life,” if Plevris represents the EU way of life. Read more.
Spain, Murcia region trade blame on pile of dead fish, lagoon disaster. A court in the Spanish region of Murcia has opened investigation procedures against the ecological transition ministry over its alleged role in the environmental disaster in the Mar Menor, a lagoon in south-eastern Spain, where tons of dead fish have washed ashore in the past week. Read the full story.
Portugal scraps quarantine for Brazil, UK travellers. Passengers arriving in Portugal from Brazil and the UK are no longer subject to quarantine as part of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the government announced on Wednesday. Read more.
Budapest gives ultimatum to government over Chinese university. The Hungarian capital does not want to host the 2023 World Athletics Championships if the land for the Student City is transferred to the Chinese Fudan University, the city council decided on Wednesday, Telex reported. Read more.
Poland records highest inflation in 20 years. The annual inflation rate in Poland hit 5.4% in August, according to the early estimates by the central statistical office (GUS), meaning 2021 has so far seen the fastest rise in consumer prices since June 2001 and August broke July’s 5% rate. Read more.
Anti-government protests take place in Slovakia’s two largest cities. Several thousands of demonstrators took to the streets of the two largest Slovak cities to protest against government and pandemic restrictions on Wednesday, the day the country celebrated Constitution Day. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgaria expects increased EU pressure on North Macedonia. EU pressure on Bulgaria about North Macedonia will be more intense in the coming months, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev predicted on Wednesday at the Bled Strategic Forum in Slovenia, which brings together Balkan and EU leaders. Read more.
Romania enters new political crisis. The dismissal of Romanian Justice Minister Stelian Ion by Prime Minister Florin Citu has provoked a major crisis in the governing coalition, as junior partners USR PLUS are asking the National Liberal Party (PNL) to name a new head of government. Read more.
Croatia needs economic patriotism, trade experts say. Economic patriotism is an extremely necessary and desirable phenomenon, but Croatia has been lacking it for three decades – that is one of the messages of a panel discussion held at the 16th convention of Croatian exporters. Read more.
Slovenia could introduce fines for indecent behaviour against public officials. Slovenia’s interior ministry has proposed fines for indecent behaviour towards public officials, raising concerns about the protection of freedom of speech in the country amidst continuing protests against the government. Read more.
Turkish consulate in Novi Pazar. Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said he was very proud his state was the first to have opened a general consulate in Novi Pazar during his visit to the south-western Sandžak (Sanjak) region of Serbia. It holds a special place in Turkish hearts, he added. Read more.
- Slovenia/EU: The Slovenian EU presidency host informal meetings of foreign and defence ministers in Kranj.
- Germany: The national train drivers’ union GDL has called on its members to strike at Deutsche Bahn / In the VW diesel scandal, the Federal Court of Justice is negotiating claims for damages on leased cars.
- France: Minister-delegate in charge of Industry, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, will visit the south-eastern region of Isère Thursday, her visit is dedicated to industrial recovery in the framework of the national recovery plan.
- Luxembourg: Several rulings from the European Court of Justice expected, amongst other on mobile phone options, a dispute over the sale of Nürburgring.
- Denmark: Trial of former immigration minister Inger Stojberg begins at Court of Impeachment
- Italy: Prime Minister Mario Draghi to meet his Lithuanian counterpart Ingrida Simonyte before he jets off to Marseille to meet French President Emmanuel Macron.
- Portugal: Connecting Europe Express, a month-long train journey across the EU, kicks off in Lisbon to promote the benefits of rail travel for passengers, freight and the environment.
- Poland: 30th anniversary of first ‘Solidarity’ congress.
- Slovakia: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visits.
- Croatia: A conference on sustainability in tourism and investments in the education of workers for the tourist sector.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Zoran Radosavljevic, Josie Le Blond]