Polish and EU courts clash as critics warn of legal ‘Polexit’

It was the second time this week that the Polish tribunal was addressing cases that call into question the primacy of EU law. [Shutterstock/Umoko]

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In today’s news from the Capitals:

WARSAW

Interim measures imposed on the Polish judicial system by the top European court are against the Polish constitution, Poland’s Constitutional Tribunal said on Wednesday, intensifying the rule of law spat between Warsaw and Brussels.

This comes as the EU’s top court is due to issue another ruling on the disciplinary chamber on Thursday, while the Polish court of justice will deliver another postponed verdict on the compatibility of EU treaties with the Polish constitution, as requested by Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki. Read more.

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EU PRESIDENCY

Logar quizzed on Western Balkans non-paper, Iran statements. Presenting Slovenia’s EU presidency priorities in foreign affairs to the European Parliament Committee on Foreign Affairs, Foreign Minister Anže Logar faced questions by MEPs about a non-paper on redrawing Western Balkan borders, the situation of North Macedonia and Albania, and PM Janez Janša’s recent statements about Iran, and media freedom. Read more.

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PARIS

Thousands rally in France to protest stricter health pass rules. Several protests took place across France on Bastille Day (14 July), two days after President Emmanuel Macron unveiled his strict strategy to tackle rising infections, including the compulsory vaccination for healthcare workers, and a health pass needed to go to most public places. Read more.

Read also: French MP: Digital sovereignty is about being able to choose dependencies

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BERLIN

Most Syrian adult refugees in Germany depend on social welfare. Almost two-thirds (65%) of Syrian refugees in Germany of working-age were at least partially dependent on the social welfare scheme Hartz IV in March compared to 43% of Afghan refugees, according to the German labour agency’s June 2021 report. Read more.

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BRUSSELS

Virus case numbers rise 84%, hospital admissions stable. Over the past week, an average of 1,066 new COVID-19 infections has been detected per day in Belgium, an increase of 84% over the previous week. Read more.

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VIENNA

Austria welcomes Commission’s ‘Fit for 55’ climate package. A number of Austrian politicians have praised the EU climate package for its ambitious goals on emission trading, energy taxation and measures to mitigate the social effects of the green transition. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

DUBLIN

Ireland begins digital COVID certificate roll-out. More than 1.3 million emails and letters containing the EU Digital COVID-19 Certificate have so far been issued Irish residents who have been fully vaccinated, RTE has reported. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

VILNIUS

Lithuanian MPs call for tightening Europe’s ‘too liberal’ migration rules. Two Lithuanian parliamentary committees have suggested pushing for tighter EU immigration policies, calling on Lithuania’s foreign ministry to draft proposals and initiate discussions in Brussels. Read more.

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TALLINN

European Court of Justice decides on hearing loss as reason for dismissal. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg is set to decide on Thursday whether impaired hearing is valid grounds for dismissal. Specifically, it is about a prison officer Estonia, who worked in prison for 15 years and because of an impairment in one ear has lost his post. The man took his case to the Estonian State Court, which asked the ECJ to interpret non-discrimination on grounds of disability.

The ordinance, according to which prison officers need to have a certain minimum hearing ability was only enacted in Estonia in 2013 related to the fact that the employees can make phone calls and hear alarms as well as radio messages. (EURACTIV.com)

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RIGA

European Court of Justice to rule on social benefits for EU foreigners. The European Court of Justice (ECJ) is set to issue two judgments on Thursday on the conditions under which public health care for EU citizens from other countries or services that secure a livelihood may be withheld.

The background is the case of an Italian who moved to Latvia. Because he didn’t have a job at first, he declined state-funded Latvian Health Service and terminated its membership, which is only open to EU foreigners who work in Latvia. In principle, EU member states have to pay benefits to EU citizens from other countries if they have a right of residence. (EURACTIV.com)


EUROPE SOUTH

ROME

Italian PM calls for prison system to be reformed. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and Justice Minister Marta Cartabia visited the prison of Santa Maria Capua Vetere in Campania on Wednesday, which was rocked by violence in April 2020.  Read more.

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MADRID

COVID-19 infection rate soars threefold among young Spaniards. The COVID-19 infection rate in Spain has soared to 436 cases for every 100,000 residents in the past two weeks, with young people particularly affected by a threefold increase compared to the previous fortnight. Read the full story. 

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LISBON

Portuguese government wants to close gas-fired power stations before 2040. Portuguese Environment Minister João Pedro Matos Fernandes told parliament on Wednesday it was possible to bring forward the 2040 target for the closure of gas-fired power plants as was the case for coal-fired plants. Read more.

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ATHENS

Greece withdraws pension bill after fiscal impact warning. The Greek government has decided to postpone a draft pension bill after the European Commission warned about its impact on the country’s public debt, EURACTIV has learned. Read more.


VISEGRAD

BUDAPEST 

EU Commission shoots back at Orbán’s LGBTQI+ comments. The European Commission has issued a press release denying having said it wants to place LGBTQI+ activists in Hungarian schools following comments by Prime Minister Viktor Orbán to that effect. Read more.

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PRAGUE

Czech government adopts controversial building law amendment. Czechia’s lower house of parliament, the chamber of deputies, this week overturned the senate’s veto of an amendment to a building law drafted by Regional Development Minister Klára Dostálová. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

Slovak Constitutional Court suspends new border rules. Slovakia’s Constitutional Court will decide whether rules for crossing the borders issued by the Public Health Authority are in compliance with the constitution. The rules have until then been suspended.  Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

SKOPJE 

Turkey asks North Macedonia to hand over 86 Gülen supporters. Turkish ambassador to North Macedonia Hasan Sekizkök has said Turkey expects North Macedonia to hand over 86 people it says are supporters of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan critic Fethullah Gülen, republika.mk reported. Read more.

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SOFIA | BUCHAREST

Bulgaria, Romania to donate nearly expired vaccines. Bulgaria will donate 172,500 doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Bhutan, with all delivery costs to be borne by the recipient. Earlier this month, both said they wanted to begin donating vaccines in order to avoid the destruction of expired quantities. Read more.

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ZAGREB

Croatia mulls ‘smart ways’ to achieve herd immunity. Croatia’s government is calling on employees in the health, social care and education sectors to get vaccinated, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković announced in a speech broadcast by HRT. Read more.

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LJUBLJANA 

Slovenia tightens pandemic-era entry requirements. Significantly tighter rules for entering Slovenia took effect on Thursday, as the colour-coded list of countries was replaced with the requirement that passengers who wish to enter the country need to have a COVID-19 certificate regardless of where they come from. Read more.

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BELGRADE 

NGOs file charges against Rio Tinto subsidiary in Serbia. Two NGOs have filed criminal charges against Rio Tinto’s subsidiary in Serbia and their subcontractors, alleging that they polluted the environment. Read more.

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SARAJEVO 

BiH’s secret service head detained. Police in Sarajevo on Wednesday detained the director of BiH’s Intelligence-Security Agency (OSA), Osman Mehmedagić, whom prosecutors suspect of abuse of office, document fraud and money laundering. Read more.

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TIRANA

Albanian PM: Turkey will join the EU when Albania has the presidency. Prime Minister Edi Rama said on Wednesday that the Balkans Schengen initiative is not the new Yugoslavia as some claim while declaring that Albania will be the last to leave the European Union. 

At the “Symi Symposium” in Athens, organised and led by former Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou, Rama said that while euro optimists say that “Turkey will join the EU when Albania has the presidency”, euro pessimists believe “Albania will join the EU when Turkey has the presidency.” (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)


Agenda:

  • Germany: Biden hosts Germany’s Merkel at the White House.
  • France: Prime Minister Jean Castex to chair the first inter-ministerial committee on secularism.
  • Belgium: Parliament votes on motion condemning IS group ‘genocide’ of Yazidis.
  • Luxembourg: EU court advocate general gives opinion on key part of EU digital copyright directive.
  • Portugal: Protest called by a dozen police unions and associations to “raise public awareness for the non-attribution of the risk supplement to police officers”.
  • Poland: Constitutional Court rules on validity of EU law in Poland / mandate of Polish Ombudsman Adam Bodnar is set to end the same day, with no successor in sight.
  • Greece: Covid vaccine required for entry to indoor public venues.
  • Spain: State ceremony in memory of Covid-19 victims.
  • Bulgaria: Former PM Boyko Borissov has been summoned for questioning by police.
  • Slovenia: EU interior ministers meet on migration policy reform in Brdo pri Kranju / Ljubljana will host a trilateral meeting with heads of state from Croatia and Austria.
  • Serbia: Conference about the results and possibilities of pre-accession IPA funds in Serbia will feature the opening addresses by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, European Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi, EU Delegation chief in Serbia, Sem Fabrizi, and from Serbia’s European Integration Minister Jadranka Joksimović. 

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[Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski, Sarantis Michalopoulous, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Zoran Radosavljevic, Josie LeBlond]

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