Petrol tourism flourishes in central Europe

Gas and diesel in Poland are approximately 25 to 35 eurocents per litre cheaper as Warsaw decided to lower VAT for these energy commodities in response to rising inflation. [Shutterstock /]

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In today’s news from the Capitals:


After earlier trips to Hungary, Slovaks have been heading to Polish gas stations since February, refuelling several hundred thousand litres of fuel in canisters because of cheaper gas. In response, Poland decided to set up controls on borders. Read more.



‘Weimar Triangle’ could recalibrate Western Russia stance. While Germany and France have so far opted for a more diplomatic approach towards Russia and continuously emphasised the need to resume dialogue with Moscow, Poland has taken a tougher stance. Experts hope the trilateral format could recalibrate Europe’s approach to the Kremlin. Read more.



In search of Ukraine de-escalation, Macron and Putin focus on Minsk agreements. More than five hours of talks between French President Emmanuel Macron and Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on Monday (8 February) failed to produce a breakthrough on the Ukraine crisis, but both leaders appeared to see potential in an agreement brokered in 2014-15. Read more.



Austria in Ukraine: emphasis on dialogue. “I continue to believe that the end of diplomatic dialogue has not been reached,” said Austria’s Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg in Ukraine. Austria is most dependent on Russian gas in the EU. Read more.



Poots doubles down on border check decision. Northern Ireland’s agriculture minister Edwin Poots on Monday defended his order to stop Irish Sea border checks, insisting that it was based on “sound legal advice”, which he said would now “be tested” in court. Read more.



Irish government grant scheme to boost energy efficiency in homes. Ireland’s Environment Minister Eamon Ryan will on Tuesday launch a programme to deliver grants of over €25,000 to households to assist them in installing better insulation. Read more.



Islamist threat campaign against Sweden on social media. An extensive campaign against Sweden is currently underway on social media, P4 Örebro and TT reported. Accounts linked to Islamists are posting false claims that Swedish authorities have kidnapped children. Read more.



Nearly half of Finns would back NATO membership bid if leaders led the way. Almost half of the Finnish people would be ready to support NATO membership if politicians lead the membership campaign, a new survey commissioned by the newspaper Maaseudun Tulevaisuus shows. Read more.



Italy, Spain to soon lift outdoor facemask rule. Facemasks will no longer be mandatory outdoors in Spain and Italy, the two government have confirmed joining the club of EU nations relaxing COVID-related restrictions. Read more.



Greek PM sacks agriculture minister but issues persists. Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis sacked agriculture minister Spilios Livanos after a video published on social media saw him “laughing” over comments about the 2007 wildfires, which killed 84 people. Read more.



Portugal’s KEME Energy to invest €5.2m in green hydrogen production in Sines. KEME Energy, a Portuguese company that implements renewable energy self-consumption projects, will invest €5.2 million in installing a green hydrogen production plant in Sines (Setúbal), it was reported on Monday. Read more.



Biggest chunk of EU’s aid for Hungarian tourism spent on an online portal. Almost a third of about €4.8 million of EU support last year meant for Hungary’s battered tourism sector was spent on an online tourist portal. Read more.



Experts call on Czech government to fight disinformation. Czech experts are calling on the government to take concrete measures to limit disinformation’s negative impact on Czech society. Read more.



‘Bulgargaz’ under investigation for market manipulation. The Bulgarian energy regulator has launched an investigation into deals of the state gas supplier ‘Bulgargaz’ on the local energy stock exchange, which were carried out last week. The investigation seeks to establish whether there were violations of the ban on using inside information, the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission announced on Monday. Read more.



Dacian Ciolos resigns as USR president. Dacian Ciolos has resigned as president of USR, the main opposition party, just four months after he was elected. Read more. 



Croatian government caps fuel prices again. The Croatian government passed a decree setting the highest prices for petroleum products for a litre of Eurosuper95 at 11.37 kuna (€1.516), Eurodiesel for 11.29 kuna (€1.505) and Eurodiesel BS blue for 6.5 kuna (€0.86) per litre, including VAT. Read more.



Slovenia records 15% excess mortality rate in 2021. Slovenia recorded an excess mortality rate of 15% last year, when the COVID-19 pandemic was in full swing. November was the worst month, with 49% more people dying on average than in the same period from 2015 to 2019. Read more.



Serbian opposition accuses Vučić of ‘importing’ voters from Republika Srpska. The Serbian opposition Freedom and Justice Party leader Dragan Đilas has unveiled a video that, according to him, reveals the scheme of how Serbs from the Bosnian entity Republika Srpska are registered as new “inhabitants” of Belgrade, so they can vote for the ruling party of President Aleksandar Vučić in the April elections. Read more. 



EIB Group invests €853 million in Western Balkans in 2021. The European Investment Bank Group invested €853 million in the Western Balkans in 2021, supporting sustainable development, green transition, digitisation and small and medium enterprises, it was announced on Monday. Read more. 



HDZ Croatia: Give talks with Bosniaks a chance. Andrej Plenković, HDZ President and Croatian prime ministe, said after the joint sessions of the presidencies of HDZ and HDZ BiH, said there was still a chance to talk to Bosniak parties about changing the election law and that there was still time to reach an agreement. Read more.



Protests if Speaker Becic ousted. The Democrats party called for protests on Wednesday near the Church of Christ’s Resurrection if the Assembly Speaker, Aleksa Bečić, is ousted. The discussion was going on in the Assembly on Monday evening. Read more.



Albania highest in region for COVID-19 cases. Albania ranked first in the region and fifth in Eastern Europe and Central Asia for the number of COVID infections between January 2020 and September 2021, according to a study published by The Lancet, a peer-reviewed medical journal. Read more.


  • EU: European Commission to unveil the EU Chips Act / Informal meeting of agriculture ministers in Strasbourg, France / European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen visits Morocco / EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell delivers speech at Jean Monnet Conversations series in Washington /  Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness speaks to European Parliament committee.
  • Germany: German Chancellor Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron and Poland’s Andrzej Duda brief the press before talks on Ukraine in Berlin.
  • France: French President Emmanuel Macron in Kyiv and due to meet Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskiy / European Commission VP Maroš Šefčovič participates in a hearing of the French senate’s European and Foreign Affairs Committee.
  • Belgium: Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo to meet with European Parliament President Roberta Metsola.
  • Austria: Iran nuclear deal talks resume in Vienna.
  • Lithuania: NATO Deputy Secretary-General Mircea Geoană to visit Vilnius and meet with President Gitanas Nausėda and Prime Minister Ingrida Šimonytė.
  • Spain: Government to approve the end of use of mandatory face masks outdoors.
  • Greece: Montenegro President Milo Djukanovic visits Athens.
  • Bulgaria: PM Kiril Petkov will pay an official visit to Serbia.
  • Romania: Prime minister Nicolae Ciuca attends the CEO forum organised by AmCham Romania.
  • CroatiaThe DeShame study, the first systematic international study of risky behaviour of secondary school students and exposure to harmful content and sexual harassment in the online environment, is presented. Croatia is the fourth country, after Denmark, Hungary and the United Kingdom, in which the study was carried out, and it was conducted by the Safer Internet Centre and the Faculty of Law in Zagreb in cooperation with secondary schools from the entire country.
  • Serbia: British special envoy to Western Balkans Stuart Peach to visit Belgrade. Bulgarian PM Kiril Petkov to visit Serbia, where he is slated to meet with Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Prime Minister Ana Brnabić and Speaker Ivica Dačić.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]

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