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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Serbia will never impose sanctions against “its friend Russia,” despite the pressure that it faces, Serbian Parliament Speaker Ivica Dačić said on Thursday. Read more.
EU Parliament to decide if German far-right MEP’s immunity will be lifted. The vice-leader of the eurosceptic Identity and Democracy group in the European Parliament, Jörg Meuthen, allegedly accepted illegal donations in 2016, while he was the frontrunner for far-right party AfD in the state election. Berlin’s public prosecutor’s office has now requested the European Parliament to lift Meuthen’s immunity so he can be put on trial, a decision which will be reached in plenary in July. Read more.
Portuguese FM: EU enlargement could be ‘great achievement’ for Slovenia. Portugal’s foreign minister, Augusto Santos Silva, said on Thursday (24 June) that the launch of EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania would be “a major achievement” of Slovenia’s upcoming EU Presidency. More.
Tsikhanouskaya: Belarus unrelated to EU-Russia relations. The future of Belarus has nothing to do with the type of relations between the EU and Russia, exiled democratic opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya told EURACTIV in an interview.
VIENNA | PRAGUE | BUDAPEST
Austria unites with Hungary, Czechia on migration. At a conference of the ‘Forum Salzburg’ in Prague, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer showed unity with his Hungarian and Czech counterparts on repatriation of migrants and border control, insisting that the forum sends a clear message to the European Commission to focus on topics where consensus is reachable. Read more.
France to increase its renewable energy production to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. This month, Réseau Transport Electricité (RTE) published the study “Energy Futures 2050”, which describes six scenarios presenting different strategies if France wants to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050, with an increase in renewable energy production being a focal point of the study. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Irish Minister of Foreign Affairs feels positive after UK-Ireland meeting. Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney says he is hoping for “progress” after the meeting of the British-Irish intergovernmental conference in Dublin, as reported by the RTE. “I hope this week that we will see progress between both sides on the request from the British Government for a modest extension to the grace period for chilled meats,” he said. More
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Global survey shows Finland have highest trust in media. A new global survey by the Reuters Institute and by the University of Oxford’s research centre shows that trust in the news media in Finland is the highest in the world, with experts citing cultural traditions, the pandemic, and Finland’s high level of trust in institutions as the reasons. Read more.
Greek opposition pressures government to ratify memoranda with North Macedonia. The Main opposition leftist Syriza party has called on the Greek government to quickly adopt three memoranda signed between Greece and North Macedonia as part of the name-change deal (Prespa Agreement) following reports suggesting that Athens mulls further delaying the process. More.
Italy reinforces tracking to keep Delta variant under control. Italy will enforce stricter controls and tracking procedures on those travelling from abroad in a bid to control the COVID-19 Delta variant, as the number of daily positive cases decrease and the restrictions across the country continue to ease. Read more.
Face masks no longer mandatory in outdoor spaces in Spain from Saturday. As of Saturday, the use of face masks in outdoor spaces won’t be mandatory in Spain, provided people maintain a distance of 1.5 meters, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported.
Slovak government apologises for police raid in Roma village in 2013. The Slovak government has apologised for the 2013 police raid in Moldava nad Bodvou (Košice Region) that saw 30 Roma people injured and the victims persecuted. Read more.
Poland withdraws its troops from Afghanistan. Poland is withdrawing its military presence in Afghanistan, after 20 years in the region in the framework of the NATO “Resolute Support” mission. Read more.
Czechia hit by tornado. Several municipalities in the South Moravian region of the Czech Republic were hit by a tornado on Thursday evening which destroyed several homes and left dozens injured, according to health authorities. “All available rescue units are in action in the Hodonin region where several municipalities have been hit by a tornado,” Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said on Twitter about the disaster. He said he expected “lost lives” from the disaster. (Ondřej Plevák | EURACTIV.cz)
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Slovenia still to delegate EPPO prosecutors. European Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders has expressed concern over the fact that Slovenia still has not appointed its European delegated prosecutors, and contacted Slovenian Justice Minister Marjan Dikaučič on Thursday for an explanation. Read more.
The Borissov clientelist model exposed. A handful of companies in Bulgaria receive a huge part of the public resource distributed in Bulgaria, the caretaker minister of finance, Asen Vassilev, told the media on Thursday. More.
Romania continues to ease restrictions in July. The Romanian government announced on Thursday that as of 1 July, public and private events could receive more participants as restrictions imposed on arts, culture and music events are eased, allowing a larger audience. Also, weddings and baptism parties can be attended by more participants, as is the case for sports events, however, all attendees must be fully vaccinated.
Moreover, restaurants, cafes and hotels can operate at full capacity as of 1 July, with bars, clubs and discos allowed to operate at 70% capacity and stay open until 2 am. (Bogdan Neagu | EURACTIV.ro)
Twice as many illegal migrants along ‘Balkan route’ this year. Večernji List newspaper reported on Thursday that the number of people illegally crossing the external borders of the European Union in the first five months of this year reached 47,100, an increase of nearly 50% compared with the same period last year. Read more.
US ambassador: Disappointed EU can’t back North Macedonia negotiations. US Ambassador Kate Marie Byrnes said at the Skopje Economic Forum that “we do remain disappointed that the EU member states were unable to include approval (to start negotiations with North Macedonia) at the General Affairs meeting.” However, as she added, there is no doubt that the country has done the work necessary to launch talks. More.
France dismisses visa liberalisation for Kosovo. Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti said after his meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron at the Elysee Palace on Wednesday that France has not pledged to abolish visa requirements for Kosovo. “I am convinced that they [France] got our message, but there is no pledge of waving visas,” Kurti said. Despite the European Commission confirmation that Kosovo has met all visa liberalisation requirements, France and the Netherlands remain sceptical and are still blocking visa-free movement for Kosovo citizens in the EU Schengen area. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
- Spain: Spain’s prime minister, Pedro Sánchez, and Catalonia’s regional president, Pere Aragonès, to meet on Tuesday 29 June in Madrid, one week after pardons to jailed Catalan separatists.
- Germany: Last regular sitting of the German Bundestag before summer break
- France: President Macron receives US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken
- Slovakia: The Minister of Health Vladimír Lengvarský (OĽaNO nominee) assured the members of the parliament that COVID-19 passports will be launched on 26 June in Slovakia. At the same time, he appealed to the public not to log in to the system right after its launch, unless they really need it urgently due to travel. He explained that the system could suffer a temporary malfunction due to the large number of people who might just want to test its functionality.
- Croatia: Slovenia marks the 30th anniversary of its independence, and Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković attends the ceremony.
- Agriculture Minister Marija Vučković and associates hold the first regional workshop on the Strategic Plan for the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) 2023-2028 for representatives of local and regional government and experts.
- Slovenia: A high-level ceremony will be held in Ljubljana to mark Slovenian Statehood Day and the start of Slovenia’s EU presidency with keynote addresses by President Borut Pahor, European Council President Charles Michel and Prime Minister Janez Janša.
- Serbia: On-line forum about free access to information that is relevant to the public, titled “Information About Environment Protection – How Hard Is It To Obtain?”
- Luxembourg: Franz Fayot, Minister for Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Action, to visit Rome, the headquarters of several UN agencies.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Paula Kenny, Zoran Radosavljevic]