Russia’s sixth sanction package opens EU’s Pandora’s Box

Under the Commission’s proposal that would see a “complete ban on all Russian oil” and refined petroleum products within the next six months, Hungary and Slovakia would be allowed to continue buying from Moscow until the end of 2023 under existing contracts. [Shutterstock/PX Media]

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.

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In today’s news from the Capitals:


Budapest and Bratislava are unhappy with the European Commission’s proposal to ban Russian black gold despite being given extra time to phase it out, while Sofia and Prague have jumped on the bandwagon and are now asking for special treatment. 

Moreover, sources said Greece and Cyprus raised objections to another proposal to ban all shipping companies that are EU-owned or have European interests from transferring Russian oil into Europe or elsewhere in the world. Read more.



EU plan to curb foreign state-backed buyers picks up pace. EU countries and lawmakers will on Thursday (5 May) kick off discussions on a European Commission plan targeting foreign state-backed buyers of European companies amid fears of a Chinese buying spree. Read more.



German industry backs oil embargo plans. Germany’s main industry associations have voiced clear support for the EU’s plans to impose a gradual Russian oil embargo, even though they said it would be a challenge. Read more.



French Insoumise agreement with Socialists endorses ‘disobeying’ EU rules. Some EU rules could be ‘disobeyed’, according to the electoral agreement between the French Socialist Party and Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s radical left party due to be ratified by the Socialist Party’s National Council Thursday evening. Read more.



Austria more than doubles financial support for Ukraine with citizen donations. The Austrian government collected €42 million in donations from citizens, more than doubling its financial support for Ukraine. Read more.



Dutch face food shortage amid spring drought. The farmers association, ZLTO, fear that the lack of rain this spring could lead to crop failure and a food shortage, broadcaster NOS reports. Read more.



Backlash in Dublin after Russian TV simulates nuclear attack on Ireland, UK. Political leaders in Dublin have expressed outrage after simulations of nuclear attacks on Ireland and the UK were shown on Russian TV over the weekend. Read more.



Danish broadcaster publishes bilingual warnings for Ukrainian refugees. Danish broadcaster TV2 published a bilingual title to reassure the 25,000 Ukrainian refugees about the annual siren tests in Denmark. Read more. 



Nordic countries want fast ratification of Swedish, Finnish NATO membership. The five Nordic prime ministers gathered in Copenhagen for the India-Nordic summit, where green energy, Russia and a possible fast NATO ratification period for Sweden and Finland were on the agenda on Wednesday. Read more.



Finland plans to strengthen its Eastern border. The 1,300-kilometre border separating Finland and Russia is getting a makeover as the government wants new fences on some parts of the Eastern border and to replace two Dornier 228 surveillance aircraft with new multirole planes. Read more.

UK would always come to help Finland and Sweden. The UK would always come to the help of Finland and Sweden even if they are not NATO members, UK Defence Minister Ben Wallace told a press conference in Finland on Wednesday afternoon. Read more.



Sweden ramps up efforts to protect Gotland island. The government and Swedish Armed Forces ramped up their efforts to protect Gotland island in Southern Sweden following Russia’s repeated threats and the general security situation in Europe since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Read more. 

NATO application: great uncertainty among Social Democrats. There is great uncertainty within the ruling Social Democrats’ parliamentary group regarding the question of potential Swedish membership in NATO, according to a poll conducted by the daily Aftonbladet on Wednesday. Read more. 



Italy eyes Japan for further renewable energy cooperation. Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi recalled the importance of boosting the industrial partnership between Italy and Japan, particularly in the renewable energies sector, at a press conference at Palazzo Chigi after a bilateral meeting with the Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida. Read more.



Spanish Social Security breaks record with 20 million contributors. The Spanish Social Security scheme (Seguridad Social) added 184,577 more contributors in April and broke, for the first time, the threshold of 20 million people at work, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported, quoting official sources. Read more.



Renew Europe welcomes first Greek MEP who left EPP. Giorgos Kyrtsos, an EU lawmaker of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), decided on Wednesday to leave the party and join the centrist Renew Europe group in the European Parliament. The move comes as a result of an ongoing row between the MEP and his national New Democracy party, which belongs to the EPP. Read more.



Poland wants to become CEE’s main oil supplier, replace Russia. Poland’s largest majority-state-owned oil company PKN Orlen says it can replace Russia as the main oil supplier for Central and Eastern Europe (CEE) as it has the infrastructure, the right suppliers, and enough fuel to ensure a continuous supply of oil to the region. Read more.



War crimes among priorities of Czech EU presidency. The investigation and prosecution of war crimes will be among the topics of the Czech EU Council presidency in the second half of 2022, Justice Minister Pavel Blazek (ODS, ECR) has said. Read more.



Romania ready to give up Russian oil. Romania supports the European Commission’s decision to phase out oil and petroleum products imports from Russia, Energy Minister Virgil Popescu has said. Read more.



Hospitals in Zagreb ignore law, refuse medically justified abortion. Hospitals in Zagreb have refused to perform an abortion on a pregnant woman whose 24-week-old foetus was diagnosed with a malignant and deadly brain tumour, reviving the abortion debate in the staunchly Roman Catholic country. Read more.



Slovenian central bank intervenes in housing market. Slovenia’s central bank has announced an adjustment of mortgage lending standards in a move that could spur demand for loans, even as it acknowledged that the housing market is already overheated. Read more.



Scholz wants all Western Balkan states in EU, urges Serbia to reform. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz on Wednesday said he wants all Western Balkans countries to join the EU but that Serbia must press ahead with reforms, including on media freedom, before it can join. Read more.



Bosnian Croat leader: Holding elections in October is threat to peace. Dragan Čović, leader of the biggest Bosnian Croat party, the HDZ, criticised the decision of the national electoral commission to call countrywide elections for 2 October without implementing any changes to the electoral law sought by Croats. Read more.



Germany supports Kosovo’s Council of Europe membership bid. The German government is ready to support Kosovo’s membership bid in the Council of Europe, Bundestag MP Knut Abraham has confirmed. Read more.



Albanian healthcare workers flee en masse, government unfazed. A recent report has detailed how thousands of health workers fled to Germany in 2020, while Prime Minister Edi Rama has dismissed concerns about the loss of skilled workers in key sectors. Read more.


  • Germany: Chancellor Olaf Scholz to speak at the summit of the G7 engagement group “C7”. He will also host Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala in Berlin.
  • Italy: European Parliament President Roberta Metsola to meet Italian President Sergio Mattarella, Senate President Elisabetta Casellati and Chamber President Roberto Fico.
  • Spain: ​​ EU Equality Commissioner Helena Dalli visits Madrid.
  • Serbia: German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht to visit Serbia as part of a tour of the Western Balkans.


[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson]

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