Lithuania wary of incident at Belarus nuclear plant

The Capitals. [EPA-EFE/Wojciech Pacewicz]

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, feel free to have a look at the leak Only zero-emission cars will win EU green investment label, written by Kira Taylor.


Council meets Parliament halfway on EU health budget. European lawmakers have agreed to reduce cuts to the proposed €9.4 billion EU4Health Programme, which will now amount to €5.1 billion in the forthcoming seven-year budget. Read more.

***A message from The Pew Charitable Trusts
Every year, $22 billion is sunk into subsidies that encourage overfishing. Right now, the WTO has an opportunity to end this harmful practice and help communities that rely on a healthy ocean. 

Read on: Why the cost of inaction is too high.

The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.

In today’s news from the Capitals:


Lithuania has asked Belarus for clarification after its new nuclear plant located some 50 kilometres from the country’s capital suffered an incident just five days after launch.

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko took part in the opening of the plant on 6 November, where he said the launch of the Astravyets NPP was as “ordinary” as building a metro. Read more.



COVID-19 figures in Germany positive but no ‘turnaround’ yet. Germany’s latest coronavirus figures are encouraging since the spread of the disease has “significantly reduced” in the past few days, Health Minister Jens Spahn said on Wednesday. However, there has not yet been a “turnaround”, he added. Read more.



Dieselgate remains controversial in France. French consumer defence association Consommation Logement Cadre de vie (CLCV) announced on Wednesday that it had launched a class action lawsuit against German car manufacturer Volkswagen. Read more.

Read also: Dieselgate, five years on: VW still stalling



Belgium ‘moving away from disaster scenario’. As the latest figures confirm a drop in COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations, Belgium is moving away from the disaster scenario where we would have broken the ceiling on the number of intensive care beds,” inter-federal COVID-19 spokesperson Yves Van Laethem.

“For the first time, we are seeing a leveling off of the numbers in intensive care. If deaths continue to increase, the pace slows down,” he said, adding that the drop in cases concerned all age categories. (Alexandra Brzozowski,



Austria’s new anti-terror laws. Austria’s government agreed on a legislative package to increase public security in response to last week’s terror attack in Vienna. Read more.



Power struggle within UK PM’s private office. A power struggle in UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s private office has cost the PM his director of communications. Read more.



Crucial Brexit talks ahead, Coveney says. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney has said that any breakthrough on the ongoing Brexit negotiations between the EU and the UK is unlikely this week, but could come next week when EU leaders hold a summit. Read more.



Nordic Council to focus on green and digital. As Finland is set to take over the Nordic Council presidency in 2021 ahead of the group’s 50th anniversary, the country will prioritise issues related to the environment and digitisation, Finnish Equality and Nordic Cooperation Minister Thomas Blomqvist (Swedish People’s Party) said. Read more.



Danish company charged with violating EU sanctions on Syria. Denmark’s financial crimes unit on Wednesday announced charges against a Danish company suspected of violating EU sanctions on Syria by delivering large quantities of fuel to Russian warplanes there. Read more.



Top executives linked to Genoa bridge collapse under house arrest. Former CEO of highway company Autostrade l’Italia, Giovanni Castellucci, was put under house arrest in connection with the investigation into the 2018 Morandi bridge collapse in Genoa, which killed 43 people. Read more.



Spain mulls fresh measures for long-term unemployed. The Spanish government is proposing to adopt fresh measures to subsidise every company, in particular SMEs, as long as they hire the long-term unemployed over the age of 45, in a hope to create new jobs after being hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more.



Recovery Fund among main goals of Portuguese EU presidency. One of the main goals of Portugal’s EU Council Presidency in the first half of 2021 will be the implementation of the EU Recovery Fund to help the bloc overcome the economic crisis caused by the pandemic.

Combined with the EU’s €1.1 trillion long-term budget for 2021-2027, the Recovery Fund, which Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa described as “a bazooka”, has yet to be formalised in a compromise expected to be reached shortly by the Council and the European Parliament. (André Campos,



US report fuels the fire in Aegean Sea. Despite growing pressure from both Washington and Brussels for a dialogue between Greece and Turkey, the situation doesn’t seem to improve. Turkey has decided to send again research vessel Oruc Reis accompanied by Turkish warships to the Eastern Mediterranean until 23 November. Read more.


IATA urges Greece to proceed with independent aviation regulator plans. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) called on Greek ministers and air carriers to help support efforts for a common travel protocol and an enhanced pre-flight COVID-19 testing program, at an online conference held on Wednesday. Read more.



Riots during Independence March in Warsaw. The right-wing and nationalist Independence March, which authorities had banned due to the coronavirus pandemic, ended up in participants clashing with police in several areas across the capital, wounding several police officers and one press photographer. Read more.



China attempted to defame Czech Senate speaker. A Swiss organisation linked to the Chinese government has been trying to discredit Czech Senate speaker Miloš Vystrčil, Aktuálně.cz reports.

The politician angered Beijing by visiting Taiwan in September, despite China’s warnings not to do so. A disinformation network has been spreading the lie that he was promised $4 million from the Taiwanese cabinet for the visit. (Ondřej Plevák |



Fidesz’s new electoral bill toughens rules for opposition. The ruling Fidesz party submitted a legislative proposal on Tuesday at 11:59 pm as the country headed into a new partial lockdown on Wednesday that critics say would significantly worsen the chances of the opposition parties during the 2022 parliamentary elections. Read more.



State of emergency to stay in Slovakia. The Slovak government has prolonged the state of emergency for another 45 days, but will not stop people from leaving their homes at night. Slovakia’s COVID-19 measures are a source of mounting tension in the governing coalition. (Zuzana Gabrižová |



Bulgarian government fears lockdown could lead to more protests. Bulgarian authorities will not impose a lockdown like some other EU member states because they are afraid of people’s reactions. Read more.



Croatian parliament’s media committee calls for adoption of hate speech codes. The Croatian parliament’s committee on Information, Computerisation and Media called on providers of media services and electronic publications to adopt their hate speech codes. Only the radical right Homeland Movement opposed the proposition. Read more.



Opposition in Slovenia proposes new electoral law. Opposition MPs Alenka Bratušek Party (SAB), Marjan Šarec List (LMŠ), and the Left and Social Democrats (SD) have filed parliamentary procedure changes to the general election act that would abolish electoral districts and introduce a preference vote after the current system was declared unconstitutional in 2018.

They have 37 votes, need 60, but hope that they could achieve a majority: NSi and SMC, members of the governing coalition as well as SNS were supportive in ushering preference vote. They overtake the government coalition that was also planning to submit a very similar proposal. (Željko Trkanjec |



Serbian embassy in Montenegro has decided to postpone a wreath-laying ceremony at the memorial plaque erected in honour of the “Serbian liberators of Budva” in WW1, because Montenegro’s foreign ministry had failed to issue an approval. Read more.



Bosnia has ‘formidable weaponry’. The leader of the Democratic Action Party, Bakir Izetbegović, told reporters he was impressed with what he saw after he was given a demonstration of some of the manufactured products.

Izetbegović added that any progress made by the military industry in the country is a “step towards fortifying peace.” “This is a message of discouragement to anyone who may have any bad intentions towards BiH”. he added., concluding there was “formidable weaponry in the hands of BiH”. (Željko Trkanjec |



Vote to set up new government delayed.  Parliament Speaker Aleksa Bečić decided to delay the session during which the new government will be voted. The vote will take place on 2 December, rather than 23 November. One of the reasons is that Nikola Terzić, a candidate for the interior minister position, decided not to accept the nomination. (Željko Trkanjec |



Rama plants trees for Erdogan  Prime Minister Edi Rama planted some trees in Farka Lake as part of Turkey’s initiative to plant 1,000 trees.

Rama publicly thanked Turkish President Erdogan for the initiative, in what is another sign of strengthening relations between Rama and Erdogan. On Turkey’s national day, the Turkish Flag was projected on the front of the Tirana University building. (Željko Trkanjec |


[Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Sam Morgan]

Subscribe to our newsletters