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 article “Czech EU presidency to prioritise fight against hybrid threats, minister says“.
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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Even if Finland possesses a sizeable military strength and reservists, less than half of the population is convinced that the country could defend itself against a large military onslaught alone, a fresh survey by the think-tank Finnish Business and Policy Forum (EVA) found. Read more.
Berlin inches closer to expropriating Gazprom assets. Following the Russian announcement of sanctions against 31 European utilities, including Gazprom Germania, the German government is inching closer to expropriati0ng the German Gazprom subsidiary and related assets. Read the full story here.
Court confirms Zemmour’s controversial remarks did not deny Holocaust. The Paris Court of Appeal on Thursday confirmed that far-right pundit Éric Zemmour did not deny the Holocaust when he said French war-time leader Philippe Pétain “saved” the Jews despite this being contradicted by well-documented historical evidence. Read more.
Austria invests €1 billion into care reforms. The Austrian government presented over 20 measures to improve working conditions for care sector professionals. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Tensions rise in Ireland over UK Protocol threat. Irish officials continue to push back against the British government over its reported intention to scrap large parts of the Northern Ireland Protocol unilaterally. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Sweden simplifies administrative procedures for Ukrainian refugees. The Swedish government wants to make it easier for refugees from Ukraine to start working in Sweden by streamlining their administrative processes, Integration and Migration Minister Anders Ygeman announced at a press conference on Thursday. Read more.
Encrypted copies of state databases stored outside Lithuania. Encrypted copies of the most important state databases are being stored not only in Lithuania but also in one of the data centres in a NATO country for the first time in history. Read more.
Metsola: Up to EU to convince states opposed to treaty change. It is up to the EU to change the minds of the 10 member states, including Malta that signed a letter opposing EU treaty change, European Parliament President Roberta Metsola told EURACTIV in an interview. Read more.
EU court condemns Italy for breaching bloc pollution rules. The Court of Justice in Luxembourg condemned Italy on Thursday for failing to comply with the EU’s air quality directive as some of its cities exceeded the allowed nitrogen dioxide levels. Read more.
Spain, Morocco agree to reopen borders with Ceuta, Melilla. The land borders between Morocco and Spain’s autonomous cities of Ceuta and Melilla are set to reopen on Tuesday, two years after closure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a diplomatic crisis, Spanish Interior Minister Fernando Grande-Marlaska confirmed Thursday. Read more.
LISBON | HELSINKI
Portuguese president says Finland sovereign in NATO decision. Finland is sovereign to decide freely on its security, and if it joins NATO, this will mark “a strengthening in European terms”, President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa said Thursday. Read more.
Poles ready for Russian shutdown of Yamal gas pipeline. The Polish government says it is ready to disconnect Poland from Russian gas, as no Russian gas has arrived since 27 April via the Yamal pipeline that runs through the country. Read more.
Czechia’s digital shortcomings could be fixed with EU recovery money. EU recovery funds may help Czechia fix its broadband connection costs and its lacking digitally qualified personnel. Read more.
BUDAPEST | PRAGUE
Czechia to offer refugees with Hungarian passports train ride to Budapest. Prague is offering refugees with Hungarian passports a free train ride to Hungary, and has asked Budapest to be quick in providing information on whether Ukrainian refugees in Czechia have dual citizenship with Hungary, the Czech News Agency reported. Read more.
Slovakia to develop geothermal energy to lower Russian energy dependency. Efforts to lower dependence on Russian energy is speeding up local geothermal projects in Slovakia that had been gaining traction before the invasion of Ukraine. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgaria launches full investigation into Turkish Stream. Bulgaria will launch a full investigation into the Turkish Stream gas pipeline project that stretches through Bulgaria as it showcases how Russia uses corruption as a foreign policy tool, announced Prime Minister Kiril Petkov on Thursday. Read more.
Croats protest after no-abortion scandal. Thousands of Croats marched in protest rallies in nine Croatian towns on Thursday, demanding “an end to the destruction of public health and the neglect of women’s health.” Read more.
Slovenia’s outgoing government signs mega defence deal. Slovenia’s outgoing centre-right government has sealed an agreement to buy 45 eight-wheeled armoured personnel carriers from the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR), a move that the new liberal government plans to challenge. Read more.
Serbian central bank still optimistic on economic growth. The Serbian central bank on Thursday raised the key interest rate by 50 bp to 2%, while the Executive Board decided to increase the deposit and lending facilities rates by 50 bp each, to 1% and 3%, respectively – showing that the central bank remains optimistic on economic growth. Read more.
Albania increases imports from Ukraine, Russia. Imports to Albania from Ukraine and Russia have soared, both in terms of value and quantity, according to data from INSTAT for March. Read more.
TIRANA | SARAJEVO | BELGRADE
Albanian parliament refuses to condemn Srebrenica Genocide. An opposition resolution condemning the Srebrenica Genocide committed by Serbian troops in 1995 was rejected by parliament on Thursday amid the ruling party’s growing friendship with Serbia. Read more.
- EU: Commissioner Didier Reynders meets with Minister of Justice in Sweden. Commissioner Hahn meets with President of Austria. Commission Vice-president Vĕra Jourová speaks at the public hearing in Latvian Parliament and meets Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia.
- Germany: Meeting of G7 agriculture ministers.
- Greece: Bahrain’s Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Alzayani visits Athens
- Slovenia: Opening session of the Slovenian Parliament after last month’s elections
- Serbia, Kosovo: Negotiations aimed at finding a permanent solution to the issue of licence plates for motor vehicles between Pristina and Belgrade entered a new round. President Aleksandar Vučić presides National Security Council session during which Kosovo’s Council of Europe membership application will be discussed.
- Jordan: King’s Abdullah II visits Washington.
- Tajikistan: Meeting of CIS countries foreign affairs ministers.
- Mauritania: UN special rapporteur on modern slavery Tomoya Obokata press conference at end of 10-day mission.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson]