Le Pen open to help, not party deals

Marine Le Pen's Rassemblement National is still refusing to accept fellow far-right leader Éric Zemmour's call for a "union of the rights" ahead of the legislative elections in June. [EPA-EFE/IAN LANGSDON]

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.

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In today’s news from the Capitals:

PARIS

Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National is still refusing to accept fellow far-right leader Éric Zemmour’s call for a “union of the right” ahead of the legislative elections in June. The party spokesperson told EURACTIV France that Le Pen opposes party deals ahead of the critical parliamentary elections in June. Read more.

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EU SPECIAL REPORT

Mayor: Culture and technology will shape Malaga’s future post-COVID. Strengthening the cultural elements and a focus on innovation-driven projects are the driving forces for Malaga’s future after the pandemic, Mayor Francisco de la Torre told EFE in an interview.

BERLIN

Social Democrats under pressure over Schröder’s ties to Putin. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s Social Democrats are haunted by the legacy of former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, a close friend of President Vladamir Putin, while finding themselves increasingly isolated within their coalition government. Read the full story. Read more.

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VIENNA

SDP leader: Mandatory vaccination has no future in Austria. The COVID-19 vaccine will never be made mandatory in Austria, according to Social Democratic Party leader Pamela Rendi-Wagner who previously was in favour of making the vaccine mandatory. Read more.

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THE HAGUE

Dutch FM to visit India to discuss cooperation. Foreign Minister Wopke Hoekstra will be the first Dutch minister to join the annual Raisina Dialogue in Delhi on Tuesday to discuss cooperation on tackling current global challenges, the government stated. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

LONDON | DUBLIN | WASHINGTON

NI protocol the main barrier to trade deal, says US official. The impasse over the status of the Northern Ireland protocol is one of the main obstacles to a US-UK trade deal, Washington’s trade representative Katherine Tai said on Monday, 26 April. Read more.

LONDON

UK steps up military aid for Ukraine. The UK will provide military aid worth up to £500m to Ukraine, Defence Minister Ben Wallace told lawmakers on Monday. Boris Johnson’s government has so far provided equipment worth £200m to the Zelenskyy government.

The new equipment to be sent to Ukraine will include Stormer armoured vehicles and missile launchers, while British Challenger tanks will be sent to Poland in return for which Poland will send more of its arsenal of T-72s to Ukraine.

“We’re also offering a deployment of British Challenger tanks to Poland to bridge the gap between Poland donating tanks to Ukraine and their replacement arriving from a third country,” Wallace told the House of Commons. (Benjamin Fox | EURACTIV.com)


NORDICS AND BALTICS

STOCKHOLM

US, UK could promise Sweden security guarantees during NATO application process. The US and UK could promise protection for Sweden with “increased military presence” during a potential Swedish application process to NATO, according to Aftonbladet sources. Read more. 

Swedish livestock farmers to receive billions in aid. A new package for farmers worth over SEK 2 billion (€192 million) was presented by Finance Minister Mikael Damberg and the Centre Party’s economic policy spokesperson Martin Ådahl at a press conference on Monday. Read more. 

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HELSINKI

NATO membership could affect status of Aland Islands. Finland’s possible NATO membership has raised questions around the current demilitarised status of the Åland Islands. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ATHENS

Macron’s victory pleases Greek politicians. Emmanuel Macron’s victory in the French elections has pleased political parties in Athens, who said it’s both a relief for democracy and a warning. The government are happy a close ally remains in the EU council while the opposition sent a rather political message on the need for the progressives to join forces. Read more. 

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MADRID

Spanish authorities to investigate ‘Catalan Gate’ spyware allegations. Authorities said they would launch a full investigation into allegations that the phones of dozens of Catalan activists and politicians were hacked by controversial spyware for several years. Read more.

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LISBON

Portuguese President, PM agree to strengthen armed forces. President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa has called for more resources for the country’s Armed forces in a call bolstered by Prime Minister Antonio Costa’s call for budget balance. Read more.

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ROME

Italian president refers to Ukraine during Liberation day anniversary. Russia invaded Ukraine “without justification” and is now posing a serious threat to the European community, President Sergio Matarella said during his Liberation Day speech in Naples on Monday. Read more.


VISEGRAD 

PRAGUE

Czechia looks to replace Russia in UN Human Rights Council. The Czech Republic wants to take Russia’s place in the UN Human Rights Council, the foreign ministry confirmed on Twitter. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

Former PM Fico warns EU officials about end of democracy in Slovakia. Former Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico sent a letter to top EU politicians warning about the end of democracy in Slovakia and called Slovakia a “stain” on the map of Europe. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

LJUBLJANA 

Slovenia’s election winner to start broad-based coalition talks. Former energy executive Robert Golob’s Freedom Movement is expected to start coalition talks on Tuesday after winning the general election by a landslide. Read more.

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SOFIA

PM Petkov calls on Bulgarians to donate salaries to Ukraine. Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov has launched a public campaign asking Bulgarian citizens to donate a month’s salary to a fund for the Ukrainian government. Read more.

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ZAGREB

Construction of Islamic centre in Split announced. Construction plans for an Islamic centre with a mosque that will be designed to fit the skyline of the southern Croatian coastal city of Split are currently in the works, the head of Split’s Islamic community, Vahid Hadžić, has announced. Read more.

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BELGRADE 

Corruption costs 1.6% of Serbia’s economy, says Fiscal Council. Corruption is an elaborate system in Serbia, undercutting institutions and the rule of law and costing at least 1.6% of national GDP, according to the Fiscal Council, Business and finance (Biznis i finansije), reported in its 25 April issue. Read more.

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SARAJEVO 

Komsic: BiH, Ukraine must get EU candidate status at the same time. Ukraine and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) must receive EU candidate status at the same time, otherwise, it would encourage pro-Russian forces in BiH to destabilise further the country, a Croat member of the tripartite BiH presidency said. Read more.

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TIRANA

Vast majority of reported Albanian electoral crimes escape conviction. Following hundreds of reports to authorities, only one case – with two defendants – related to electoral crimes resulted in a conviction, a report from the Center for Public Information Issues in Albania has found. Read more. 


AGENDA:

  • Spain: Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez travels this week to Poland and Moldova to support their solidarity effort welcoming Ukrainian refugees.
  • Italy:  Defence Minister Lorenzo Guerini at the summit in Ramstein, Germany.
  • Serbia: US Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs, Karen Donfried, to visit Serbia as part of a regional tour and meet with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.
  • Germany: US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin hosts a Ukraine Security Consultative Group with counterparts and senior military officials plus NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.
  • Poland: Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson in Warsaw.
  • Bulgaria: EU Meets The Balkans Forum conference takes place in Sofia featuring European Parliament President Roberta Metsola and  European Commissioner Olivér Várhely.

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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson]

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