The Capitals brings you the latest news from across Europe, through on-the-ground reporting by EURACTIV’s media network.
Loose-tongued Loiseau : Nathalie Loiseau, who had led the campaign for Emmanuel Macron’s LREM party in France, made a ‘remarkable’ entrance at the European Parliament on Wednesday (12 June). During a press point with French journalists in Brussels, the former Minister for EU affairs lashed out against almost all her allies. “A political suicide” one MEP called it, as it came at a time when Loiseau is targeting the presidency of the new liberal group. According to Loiseau, current group leader Guy Verhofstadt is full of frustrations, Sophie in’t Veld “lost all the battles she has led”. Meanwhile, Manfred Weber, Spitzenkandidat for the EPP, was compared to an “ectoplasm” who “never succeded in anything”.
Finally, Loiseau attacked Jean Arthuis, one of the more respected French members of the ALDE family, saying he was a “bitter man”. Arthuis replied ironically on Twitter. “I acknowledge Nathalie Loiseau’s political intelligence and the sincerity of her denials. Promising entry into the European Parliament”. Loiseau has already been plagued by controversy in France, and has been accused of having had connections to the far right and trivialising homophobia. (EURACTIV.fr)
Drifting apart. Population in East Germany has fallen back to the level of 1905. At the same time, there are more inhabitants living in what used to be West Germany than ever before, according to a study from the ifo Institute released on Wednesday (12 June). “The division within Germany is still completely underestimated while it requires political attention,” said Felix Rösel, the author of the study. (Claire Stam, EURACTIV.de)
Conte outspoken. In an interview with the news agency Ansa, Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said Italy wants to offer a critical contribution to the reform of EU budget rules. “We want to apply them, but time has come also to rediscuss them,” he said. Conte added that he already prepared a draft letter to the EU institutions in order to avoid the triggering of the excessive deficit procedure against Italy.
However, Lega’s leader and deputy PM Matteo Salvini insists that the outgoing Commission is “old and delegitimized by millions of votes and cannot impose sanctions.
Meanwhile, Conte sees Angela Merkel as an excellent candidate for the Commission’s presidency, “but as far as I know, she doesn’t want that commitment.” He confirmed that Italy’s government will seek an economic portfolio, but not the Commissioner for economic affairs.” (Gerardo Fortuna, EURACTIV.com)
Poland lags behind in digitalisation. Poland is ranked 25th out of 28 EU countries in the digital economy and digital society ranking prepared by the European Commission. The factors that were taken into account included digital skills of citizens, digital infrastructure, digitalization of public administration.
Duda still ahead. Incumbent President Andrzej Duda leads the latest presidential polls. If the elections were held today, he would get 46%. EU Council president Donald Tusk is second with 31% and Robert Biedron third with just over 6%. The elections are due in 2020. (EURACTIV.pl)
Elections prelude: After winning the European election as a coalition, Progressive Slovakia (ALDE) and Spolu (EPP) announced they will also be joining forces for the general elections planned for March 2020. On Monday, a new party of the outgoing president Andrej Kiska will be launched officially. It is expected to be a more conservative than PS/Spolu coalition. There are repeated attempts to integrate all of these political projects, and it may still happen before the elections. (Zuzana Gabrižová, EURACTIV.sk)
Government to face no-confidence vote: Romania’s opposition parties have called for a no-confidence vote for the PSD-ALDE government, but the chances of success are slim. In order to topple the government, they would need 234 votes but they can only count on slightly more than 200 for now. The vote is scheduled for Tuesday, 18 June.
Iohannis asks EU to solve Moldovan crisis: Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis has asked Donald Tusk and Commission chief Jean Claude Juncker to urgently identify, together with the EU member states, concrete actions needed to solve the current political and constitutional crisis in Moldova. Romania is ready to join in any efforts to support the European road-map of Moldova, Iohannis wrote in a letter to EU leaders. (EURACTIV.ro)
PM’s problems weaken Czech EU position, senators say: The Senate has voiced concerns that suspicions around Prime Minister Andrej Babis, linked to the alleged abuse of EU funds, are weakening the Czech position in the European Council negotiations, mainly those concerning the next EU budget. A 12-member commission is likely to be established and will react by the end of January 2020 to the EC reports on EU subsidies for Agrofert, formerly owned by Babis. (Ondřej Plevák, EURACTIV.cz)
Double attack: Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras has criticised Bank Of Greece Governor, Yannis Stournaras, who predicted that the country’s annual surplus target of 3.5% will not be met because of the government’s anti-austerity measures, saying “it is not the institutional role of the central banker to make predictions like grocery store’s”. He also attacked European Stability Mechanism chief Klaus Regling for his criticism in the same measure package, as well for his estimation on the cost of 2015 negotiation of Greece with its creditors. Finance Minister Euclid Tsakalotos attacked Mr. Regling a few days ago also, saying his estimation was “nonsense” and that “if he was a student of mine, I would fail him in exams”.
Demolishing the Memory Wall: A research team from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki claims to have created the fastest RAM in the world, after 10 years of work. It stores light instead of electricity, solving a long-standing computer problem – also known as the ‘Memory Wall’. The concept of the ‘Memory Wall’ is based around the idea that computer processing units (CPUs) are advancing so fast that this will leave memory (RAM) stagnant, sometime in the near future, leaving computational needs in peril. It is reported that the researchers have managed to achieve speeds double of those in the currently fastest memories manufactured by world-renowned companies such as Intel and IBM, but the solution is still a prototype in experimental phase. (Theodore Karaoulanis, EURACTIV.gr)
Fight over health and competition: The Cypriot competition authority has launched an investigation against the national Medical Association, local medical chapters and private doctors over claims that they have breached competition law. The PanCyprian Medical Association angrily replied that they are not regulated by the Commission for the Protection of Competition and that doctors should not be obliged to commit to a state organization. President Anastasiades has asked for a thorough briefing on the investigation but publicly stated that he considers the Commission’s initiative to be unfortunate and unnecessary. (Theodore Karaoulanis, EURACTIV.GR)
Trust in news: In Bulgaria, only 40% of people trust the news and 31% trust in news in social media, according to the Reuters Institute Digital news report 2019. Extreme polarisation of the media and the return of control by political parties has defined the past 12 months, the report says. ‘In the early 1990s, each political party had its own newspaper. Today they each have their own TV channel. This is partly because television remains such an important and influential source of news in Bulgaria. The links between stations and political parties range from shared business links and interests right through to direct ownership’. (Dnevnik.bg)
Frenemies: The European Court of Justice (ECJ) has scheduled for 8 July a hearing on Slovenia’s border arbitration suit against Croatia. The suit was filed last year, during Prime Minister Miro Cerar’s term. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has stated that Croatia does not recognise the jurisdiction of the ECJ in that matter. (Tea Trubić, EURACTIV.hr)
Djurić denounces Priština celebrations The director of Serbia’s Office for Kosovo and Metohija, Marko Djurić, said on Tuesday that a celebration in Priština marking the 20th anniversary of the arrival of international peacekeeping forces in Kosovo was like an ugly and cynical “vampire ball,” organised by Wesley Clark, NATO commander in Europe at the time of the intervention in Serbia, former US president Bill Clinton, and former secretary of state Madeleine Albright. (Beta / EURACTIV.rs)
(Edited by Benjamin Fox)