Slovak secret service labels party in Renew group ‘left-wing extremists’

The party did not reach the electoral threshold during last year's national polls but is represented in the parliament by MP Tomáš Valášek, who joined Progressive Slovakia in March 2021 after he left Za ľudí. [Shutterstock/Ventura]

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


In today’s news from the Capitals:

BRATISLAVA

The liberal party and Renew Europe member Progressive Slovakia have been labelled as “left-wing extremists” in an annual report of the Slovak Intelligence Service published last week, representatives of the party claim. Read more.

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EU PRESIDENCY

EU health ministers urge fast and coordinated action to contain Omicron. EU health ministers, meeting in Brussels on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Slovenia’s Janez Poklukar, called for fast and coordinated action to tackle the surge in infections and the spread of the Omicron variant, supporting the general applicability of the EU digital COVID certificate and emphasising the importance of booster jabs. Read more.

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VIENNA

Austria’s lockdown for the vaccinated will end next week. The lockdown for vaccinated people will end next Monday. (13 December), Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer has announced, but unvaccinated people will still have to comply with lockdown measures. Read more.

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BERLIN

German parliament factions reshuffle ahead of Scholz government’s confirmation. As the German “traffic light” government is preparing to take power in Berlin, the Greens and the liberal FDP had to restructure their parliamentary leadership. The Greens’ leadership team is balanced between pragmatists and left-wingers, while the FDP promoted allies of party leader and designated finance minister Christian Lindner. Read more.

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PARIS

Suspect in Khashoggi murder arrested at Paris airport. A former member of the Royal Guard of Saudi Arabia, 33-year-old Khalid Alotaibi, was arrested Tuesday by border police as he was about to take a plane to Riyadh, radio broadcaster FranceInfo reported. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

LONDON

Steel industry faces EU carbon tax hit. The UK steel industry could be one of the big victims of the EU’s proposed carbon tax, according to a new report. Read more.

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DUBLIN 

New COVID-19 restrictions come into force in Ireland. Several new COVID-19 restrictions have come into force after being announced by Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin last week. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

HELSINKI

Finnish PM’s night out sparks media frenzy. Prime Minister Sanna Marin, who enjoyed Helsinki nightlife with friends on Saturday, received a series of text messages that instructed her to self-isolate after Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto tested positive for COVID-19. Her failure to do so has prompted an angry reaction. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ATHENS

Borrell urged to step in after US denied visa to Greek MEP. The group of the EU Left in the European has asked EU top diplomat Josep Borrell to intervene in a case of Greek MEP Stelios Kouloglou, who has been denied a visa to travel to the US. Read more.

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ROME

Egypt to free Patrick Zaki after 22 months in jail. An Egyptian court has ordered the release of Patrick Zaki, an Egyptian researcher at the University of Bologna who was arrested in February 2020 while visiting his family. Read more.

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MADRID

Spain to soon start vaccinating children aged 5-11. Spain’s Public Health Commission and health representatives of the country’s 17 regions on Tuesday approved the new anti-COVID-19 strategy, allowing for the vaccination of children aged 5 to 11, in a new campaign scheduled to start next week. Read more.

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LISBON

Portuguese finance minister: TAP restructuring plan in final stages. Discussions with the European Commission on the restructuring plan of national flag carrier TAP are in the final stages, with approval expected before Christmas, Finance Minister João Leão said on Tuesday in Brussels. Read more.


VISEGRAD 

WARSAW

Council of Europe wants answers from Poland following controversial rulingPoland should explain how, in the context of the Constitutional Court’s recent judgment, it would ensure the effective implementation of its obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights, Council of Europe Secretary General Marija Pejčinović Burić asked the Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau in a letter sent on Tuesday. Read more.

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BUDAPEST

Fidesz MP resigns from state secretary post after allegations of graft. Following bribery allegations, Pál Völner has resigned as justice state secretary despite proclaiming innocence, Telex reported. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

ZAGREB

Croatia records first vaccination-related death. With more than 2.2 million Croatians having so far received the COVID-19 vaccine, the country registered its first vaccine-related death, the country’s agency for medicinal products and medical devices (HALMED) confirmed Tuesday. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

Romania to ease restrictions ahead of winter holidays. New Year and Christmas parties could be allowed in Romania, as the Bucharest government is discussing a relaxation of the restrictions introduced when the pandemic’s fourth wave hit the country hard. But the authorities are also planning on tightening entry rules in the wake of the Omicron variant. Read more.

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SOFIA

Bulgarian football referee arrested over highway project. Football referee and former tax official Borislav Kolev has been arrested on suspicion of laundering €26.5 million granted by the state for constructing the country’s longest highway, Hemus. Read more.

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BELGRADE 

NATO official: Serbia is a valued and longstanding partner. Serbia is a valued and longstanding partner of the Alliance, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs and Security Policy, Javier Colomina Piriz told the BETA news agency in an interview, adding that “NATO fully respects Serbia’s declared policy of military neutrality.” Read more.

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BELGRADE |  SARAJEVO 

Serbian president Vucic is offering to help remove BiH Serb member Dodik.  Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić offered, through the American lobbyist and former ambassador to Germany Richard Grenell, to help remove the Serb member of the Bosnia and Herzegovina Presidency Milorad Dodik, the daily Vijesti reported on Tuesday. Read more.

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SARAJEVO 

Republika Srpska Assembly to discuss return of state competencies. The National Assembly of the Serb entity, Republika Srpska (NSRS), will discuss the return of entity competencies transferred to the state level on Friday at noon, the Assembly has announced. Read more.

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TIRANA

COVID testing falls to 13 month low in Albania. The number of COVID-19 PCR tests carried out in Albania has fallen to a 13-month low, with just 13,781 tests carried out over the last seven days. This is an average of just 1968 tests a day, as reported by Exit.al, EURACTIV’s partner. Read more.

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Special US Envoy Gabriel Escobar to focus on corruption during Albanian visit. Special US Envoy for the Western Balkans Gabriel Escobar will discuss the “US determination to fight corruption, impunity, and efforts to undermine democracy in the Western Balkans” in meetings with Albanian leaders on 9 December. The US embassy in Tirana announced Escobar’s first visit to Albania on social media. He is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Edi Rama, Foreign Minister Olta Xhacka, and Democratic Party leader Lulzim Basha.

Escobar will “reaffirm the United States’ unwavering support for Albania’s democracy, EU integration, stronger defence cooperation, and opportunities for trade and investment. As outlined in President Biden’s Executive Orders, Escobar will also discuss US determination to fight corruption, impunity, and efforts to undermine democracy in the Western Balkans,” the embassy announced.

(Alice Taylor | Exit.al)


AGENDA:

  • EU: European Commission presents new EU trade tools, police cooperation package / European Council President Charles Michel gives address to annual EU Ambassadors’ conference / Executive Commission Vice President Margrethe Vestager in Washington, meets with U.S. Treasury’s Yellen and Trade Representative Tai. 
  • Germany: Chancellor in-waiting Olaf Scholz is to be elected in the German Bundestag, to hold first cabinet meting.
  • France: Hearing at the National Assembly of Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission, to present the “Fit for 55” package to the Committee on Sustainable Development and Regional Planning and the Committee on European Affairs.
  • Belgium: Court rules whether Deliveroo riders are employees or independent contractors.
  • Finland: Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson visits Helsinki.
  • Greece/Russia: President Vladimir Putin hosts Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis in Sochi.
  • Poland: Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau and Latvian counterpart Edgars Rinkevics give press conference.
  • Croatia: Prime Minister Andrej Plenković officially visits Ukraine, meets with the president, the prime minister and the parliament speaker, and attends the Ukraine-Croatia economic forum.
  • Serbia: Regional conference, Under Pressure, on media freedoms, pressure and attacks on journalists and media outlets to be held in Journalists’ Association of Serbia’s press center. Representatives of journalistic societies in Serbia, Bosnia, North Macedonia, Slovenia, Croatia and Montenegro will speak.

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

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