Russian oligarch buys Finnish land with Cypriot ‘golden passport’

By using a Cypriot passport, a Russian tycoon with a fortune of around €1.2 billion was able to get round the authorisation procedure required for such a transaction by the Finnish defence ministry. [Shutterstock/AlexiaD]

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.


The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.

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In today’s news from the Capitals:

HELSINKI

The sale of a large island from a strategically important area in Finland to a Russian oligarch has raised concerns on so-called “golden passports”, a scheme where EU countries exchange citizenship for investment by wealthy foreign nationals. Read more.

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EU PRESIDENCY

EU ministers call for unified criteria regarding Covid pass. Slovenia’s Janez Poklukar said that the informal meeting of the EU health ministers in Brdo pri Kranju on Tuesday asked for unified criteria to implement the recovered-vaccinated-tested rule. European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides also called for coordination. Read more.

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BERLIN

Small parties to decide fate of coalition negotiations. As would-be chancellor Olaf Scholz travelled to Washington to attend the annual convention of the IMF and the World Bank in his role as acting minister of finance, his would-be coalition partners concluded exploratory talks with his party. Read more.

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PARIS

MEP Sophie In’t Veld withdraws from Renew presidency race. Dutch MEP Sophie In’t Veld has withdrawn her candidacy for leader of the Renew Europe group due to a lack of consensus around her candidacy and because she “wishes to remain in the cohesion of the group”, EURACTIV France learned on Tuesday afternoon. “I think uniting the group is the most important thing because you can win an election with a majority, but then you haven’t united the group,” she told EURACTIV last week. 

The centrist Renew group in the European Parliament appears to have already found its next president to succeed Dacian Ciolos, who has decided to return to national politics in Romania. Former member of France’s Socialist Party, Stéphane Séjourné, is the only other candidate for the post. The official election is due to take place next Tuesday in Strasbourg.  (Mathieu Pollet | EURACTIV.fr)

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Macron presents France’s 2030 objectives. The French President Emmanuel Macron presented a massive investment plan, “France 2030”, on Tuesday. Backed by €30 billion, the plan supports innovation and the transition of the industrial, agri-food and health sectors. Read the full story. 

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VIENNA

New Austrian chancellor struggles to win confidence of Greens. The first appearance of the new Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg in parliament has revealed that the relationship with his coalition partner, the Greens, is still far from optimum. At the same time, the People’s Party seems to be in disarray over the legacy of former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz. Read more.

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BERN

Swiss government rejects ‘care initiative’. Swiss minister of health Alain Berset yesterday communicated the Swiss government’s rejection of the “care initiative”, a popular initiative that aims to ease working conditions for care workers. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

LONDON

Overhaul protocol to return to normality, says Frost. UK Brexit minister David Frost warned on Tuesday that overhauling the Northern Ireland protocol was a “prerequisite” for repairing the current “fractious” relations between the UK and Brussels. Read more.

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DUBLIN 

Irish government presents 2022 budget. Ireland’s Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe presented the country’s 2022 budget, outlining the government’s spending plans for the year. 2022 will see a ”remarkable rebound” in employment in Ireland, Donohoe said, forecasting a rise beyond its pre-pandemic level. “We are recovering”, he added. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ROME

Expert: Delusional to think pandemic would sideline Italy’s far-right. Both the parliamentary and the extra-parliamentary far-right are gaining traction in the country, journalist Carlo Muzzi, author of “Eurosceptics: What movements are opposed to the European Union and what do they want” told EURACTIV in an interview. Read more.

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ATHENS

EU media watchdogs and associations urge Greece to protect press freedom. The Media Freedom Rapid Response (MFRR), a Europe-wide mechanism that tracks, monitors, and responds to violations of press and media freedom in Europe, urged the Greek government on Tuesday to withdraw proposed amendments that would introduce fines and jail sentences for journalists found guilty of publishing “false news”. Read the full story.


VISEGRAD

PRAGUE

Analyst: Babis’ defeat will weaken the link between Prague and Budapest. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš and his Hungarian counterpart Victor Orbán are harsh critics of the EU institutions. However, the defeat of Babiš in recent parliamentary elections could hurt relations between the capitals. Read more.

Czech PM Babis’ party ready to go into opposition. The ANO party (Renew) led by Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš is prepared to go into opposition after it was narrowly defeated in parliamentary elections, several senior members of the party have confirmed. Read more.

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WARSAW

Local governments go on a strike. Representatives of local governments from around the country have scheduled a protest in Warsaw to convey to the government: “we are on the side of the local and regional communities”. Read more.

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BUDAPEST

Hungarian FM in Moscow for new nuclear reactor talks amid delays. Hungarian Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó travelled to Moscow for a day to discuss the expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant with the head of Rosatom, a Russian state-owned nuclear energy corporation in charge of the works. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

Orban steps back from his plan to purchase Slovak land. The Hungarian government has rethought its intention to set up a fund to buy arable land in Central Europe with state money, Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok told the media on Tuesday. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

SOFIA

Bulgaria announced the sinking of the ship with toxic urea cargo. The Turkish ship Vera Su, which hit the shore near the protected area ‘Yailata’ in the northern part of the Bulgarian Black Sea coast, has sunk. It has 3,000 tons of urea on board, which could cause an ecological catastrophe in the Kaliakra Nature Reserve, home to many protected seabirds and endangered marine species. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

Romania sees increase in Euroscepticism. A recent poll revealed that more than two-thirds of Romanian citizens believe the country should defend its interests if they go against EU rules, even if that would mean leaving the Union. About a third of polled people believe an exit from the EU would not affect the national interests. Read more.

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ZAGREB

Croatian economy minister promises to act on excise or VAT on fuel prices if necessary. Fuel prices in Croatia hit the highest level in history on Monday (11 October) night as a result of the ongoing fuel and energy crisis throughout Europe. Read more.

Croatia willing to participate in building second Krsko Nuclear Power Plant block. Economy Minister Tomislav Ćorić said that next week in Slovenia, at a meeting of a Croatian and Slovenian governmental commission, he would “announce at the ministerial level Croatia’s willingness for talks on building a second block of the Krško Nuclear Power Plant.” Read more.

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LJUBLJANA 

Slovenia joins appeal to Brussels to label nuclear energy green. Slovenia has joined a group of ten countries led by France, which have asked the European Commission to recognise nuclear power as a low-carbon energy source. Read more.

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BELGRADE 

Analyst: Idea to restore Serbia’s defence industry’s position on former Yugoslav markets. Military analyst Aleksandar Radić said that the summit of the Non-Aligned Movement and the “Partner 2021” International Armament Fair in Belgrade had been held in parallel with the idea to restore Serbia’s defence industry. Read more.

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€9 billion for Western Balkans Green agenda goals. The economic and investment plan for the Western Balkans also contains financial support for achieving Green Agenda goals in the region, worth €9 billion in grants, said Serbian EU Integration Minister Jadranka Joksimović on Tuesday. Read more.

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SKOPJE

Time for an Albanian president in North Macedonia, says leader of Albanian party. Ali Ahmeti, leader of Albanian party DUI (Democratic Union for Integration), which fought the war with Macedonian forces in 2001, announced that an Albanian president should take power in North Macedonia after the departure of incumbent Stevo Pendarovski. Read more.

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TIRANA

Albania loses two European Court of Human Rights cases. The Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has ruled in favour of two people who sued the Albanian government for significantly and unreasonably delaying their court cases. Read more.


AGENDA:

  • EU: European Commission to propose short-term measures on energy crisis / proposals to fix UK trade issues related to Northern Ireland / presents EU’s Arctic Strategy update.
  • France: President Emmanuel Macron will meet for a working lunch with Tajik counterpart Emomali Rahmon.
  • Austria: Drugs trial resumes for alleged organiser of Ibizagate video.
  • Sweden: Prime Minister Löfven hosts International Forum on Holocaust Remembrance and Combating Antisemitism.
  • Switzerland: US Trade Representative Katherine Tai visits Geneva.
  • Norway: New government presents political agenda.
  • Poland: Strike of local governments in Warsaw.
  • Spain: German Chancellor Merkel visits, receives Carlos V European Award.
  • Romania: PM-designate Dacian Ciolos is expected to hold talks with former allies from PNL and UDMR to discuss the forming of a new government.
  • Croatia: Parliament to resume its session to debate President Zoran Milanović’s recommendation for the president of the Supreme Court. It is the third attempt to elect him (all candidates are male).
  • Slovenia: A delegation of the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee (LIBE) will start a multi-day visit dedicated to the rule of law and media freedom in Slovenia.

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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]

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