Non NATO-member Sweden rejects EU rapid reaction force

The statement is in line with the views of the Baltic States and Poland. Neighbouring Finland has been a stronger advocate for a European rapid reaction force. [Shutterstock/wideshuts]

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In today’s news from the Capitals:


The proposal made by EU defence ministers of a European rapid reaction force to respond quickly to crises in the wake of the Afghanistan crisis has not been welcomed by everyone, including Swedish Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist. Read more.



Commission insists EU COVID certificates ‘entirely secure’ after reports of French fakes. The EU COVID certificate is “entirely secure”, the European Commission has stressed after reports of false health passes in France being used to circumvent the country’s COVID measures. Read the full story.



German defence minister lashes out at Scholz over drones debate. German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer (CDU) over the weekend publicly attacked SPD chancellor candidate Olaf Scholz (SPD), saying he should not “cheat and deceive” when it comes to the current domestic discussion over armed drones. Read more.



French Green candidates show few differences ahead of party primaries. French Green candidates Delphine Batho, Jean-Marc Governatori, Yannick Jadot, Eric Piolle and Sandrine Rousseau went head-to-head in a televised debate on Sunday – less than two weeks ahead of a primary election meant to appoint the official green candidate for next year’s presidential election. Read more.



Austria backs Serbia’s EU accession, praises cooperation on migration. During a state visit to Serbia on Saturday, Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz said he would continue to support Serbia’s EU accession path, emphasising the good cooperation between the two countries in the fight against illegal migration. Read more.



Greece to appoint Cypriot former EU Commissioner as minister. The Greek government is expected to appoint on Monday former European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides as minister of the newly established civil protection ministry. Read more.



Italian health minister says mandatory vaccination is on the table. In the coming weeks, the Italian government will look into the possibility of making vaccination obligatory across the country, Italian Health Minister Roberto Speranza told Corriere Della Sera in an interview on Sunday. Read more.



Spain aims to quickly fully vaccinate 90% of population. Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez has set the new goal of having 90% of the population fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as soon as possible, but has not set a deadline for when the target should be met. Read the full story. 



Polish vaccination rate now below EU average. Poland, which had one of the highest vaccination rates in the EU just two months ago, is now failing to meet the current EU average of 77% as only about 60% of Poles are vaccinated with at least one dose, figures from the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) show. Read more.



Czechia to lift mask order once 75% population vaccinated. The mandatory mask order could be lifted in Czechia after 75% of the adult population is vaccinated, Czech Health Minister Adam Vojtěch told Czech Television on Sunday, adding that such a rate could be reached by the end of autumn. Read more.



Hungary extends migration emergency for fifth year. Hungary’s government is once again extending the so-called mass immigration state of emergency, Telex reported via state news agency MTI. The special legal order was first declared by the government in March 2016, and since then it has been extended every six months.

The latest announcement said the emergency will be extended by six months because of growing migratory pressure at the border and events in Afghanistan, accompanied by fears that Islamic extremists may attempt to enter Europe. (Vlagyiszlav Makszimov | with Telex).



Unvaccinated can attend Pope’s visit to Slovakia with negative test. The unvaccinated who have been tested negative or have recovered from the virus in the past half-year will also have the opportunity to attend the visit of Pope Francis in Slovakia from 12-15 September, the Conference of Slovak Bishops announced during the weekend after bishops and especially Christian politicians called for the easing of the rules announced in July according to which only vaccinated people could attend. Read more.



Vaccination failure may lead to new lockdown in Bulgaria. The increased mortality from COVID-19 may result in a new strict lockdown in Bulgaria, caretaker Health Minister Stoycho Katsarov has admitted. Read more.



Romanian coalition collapses. USR PLUS has filed a censure motion against the government it is still part of as its ministers are set to resign Monday. Read more.



Russian ambassador says NATO is obstacle in cooperation. The North Atlantic Treaty Alliance (NATO) has destroyed all forms of cooperation with Russia, Russian ambassador told Croatia’s Andrey Nesterenko in an interview for Slobodna Dalmacija, a part of EURACTIV’s partner Hanza Media. Read more.


Anti-vaccine protesters storm public broadcaster. A group of coronavirus deniers and anti-vaccination protesters stormed the headquarters of the Slovenian public broadcaster last Friday, managing to get into the newsroom studio before the police intervened. Read more.



Serbia to begin producing Chinese vaccines from October. Serbia will start the production of China’s COVID-19 vaccine in October, Health Minister Zlatibor Lončar said on Saturday, adding that Serbia’s Hemofarm was expected to make some 6 million doses by the end of the year. Lončar welcomed the first contingent of vaccine ingredients at the Nikola Tesla airport in Belgrade, saying that a ceremony for the start of construction of the factory that would produce the vaccine would be held on 9 September.

“The construction of the factory is expected to be completed by the first quarter of 2022, and its output is estimated at some three million doses a month,” the health minister said, adding that “the trial period will end in October, after which regular production will start.” Chinese ambassador Chen Bo recalled that Serbia was the first country in Europe to have used the Chinese vaccine, adding that Serbia would be the first state in Europe to produce it as well. “It’s the latest success of our cooperation in fighting the pandemic,” the Chinese ambassador said. ( |



Former ISIS recruiter released from prison. Former ISIS recruiter, Bilal Bosnić, was released from prison on Friday morning after serving a seven-year sentence for public incitement to terrorist activities, recruitment of terrorists and organisation of a terrorist group, N1 reported. Read more.



First Afghan refugee baby born in Macedonia named Islam. The first baby born to a family from the group of 149 Afghan refugees that were sent to Macedonia was discharged from hospital and is with the family. The baby boy, weighing 3.2 kg, was named Islam. The Red Cross organised a celebration in honour of the baby, including mekici – the fried dough that is traditionally served on these occasions in Macedonia.  (Željko Trkanjec |



Dozens injured in anti-Serbian protests in Montenegro. Montenegro police used teargas against rock-throwing protesters during Sunday’s enthronement of a Serbian Orthodox Church cleric as the nation’s religious leader, with dozens reported injured. Read more.


  • France: President Emmanuel Macron to have a chat with German Vice-Chancellor and Finance Minister  Olaf Scholz, who will be the Social Democrat pick in the upcoming general elections.
  • Slovenia/EU: EU finance ministers meet
  • Germany: Economy Minister Peter Altmaier at launch of planned North Sea launch platform for mini-rockets
  • Belgium: Remarks by the NATO Secretary General at the opening of the conference on Arms Control, Disarmament and WMD Non-Proliferation
  • Cyprus: Suspect goes on trial over Cyprus’s deadliest forest fire
  • Italy: The G20 Health Ministers Meeting to start its second day in Rome.
  • Greece: FM Nikos Dendias will meet his Libyan counterpart Najla Mohammed El Mangoush in Athens.
  • Spain: King Felipe VI of Spain opens the new “judicial year” in Madrid.
  • Czech Republic: EU Finance Ministers will discuss the Czech national recovery plan.


[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Zoran Radosavljevic, Josie Le Blond]

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