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The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.
In today’s news from the Capitals:
Slovenia and Taiwan are working on “exchanging representatives,” Prime Minister Janez Janša has announced, criticising China’s response to Taiwan’s decision to open a diplomatic representative office in Vilnius.
The comments come as the EU is still struggling to find a unified message on China’s coercive trade measures against Lithuania, which faces mounting direct and indirect pressure in terms of trade. Read more.
Germany has ‘not forgotten Russia is the aggressor’, says defence minister. Germany’s stance on the buildup of Russian troops at the Ukrainian border is clear, the country’s defence minister Christine Lambrecht said on Tuesday after meeting NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg in Berlin. Her comments came amid a series of course changes within the German government coalition. Read more.
Le Pen lays out her vision of Europe. Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right Rassemblement National party, detailed her idea for a “Europe of nations”, which she said contradicts the “worrying” project of President Emmanuel Macron. Read more.
EU Court slams Austrian naturalisation practice. The practice of turning down citizenship applications that would result in EU citizens losing bloc citizenship violates EU law, the Court of Justice of the EU has ruled. The ruling comes after the practice of Austria’s public naturalisation authorities rendered a former Estonian citizen stateless for committing minor traffic offences. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Asylum out of Africa. Ghana has publicly dismissed reports that it is talking with the UK government to agree to outsource UK asylum applications to the West African country. Read more.
Irish officials hint at COVID-19 restrictions end date. Irish officials signalled the potential end points for the COVID-19 restrictions currently in place on Tuesday, with Tánaiste Leo Varadkar voicing hope that almost all limits could be lifted by the end of March. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Danish PM says it’s time to rethink country’s COVID-19 restrictions. It is high time to review the COVID-19 restrictions, said Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen, citing the drop in the number of patients in intensive care units (ICUs). Read more.
Finland not joining diplomatic boycott of Beijing Olympics. Science and Culture Minister Antti Kurvinen will attend the Beijing Winter Olympics around the time of the closing ceremony, Kurvinen confirmed in an interview with broadcaster YLE on 17 January. Unlike a growing number of countries, Finland will therefore be sending a political representative to the Games. Read more.
Estonia aims to stabilise electricity prices. Changing the mechanism of the EU carbon market is one of several ways to stabilise electricity prices and the energy market, Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said. Read more.
Almost 2 million people in Portugal at risk of poverty in 2020 – report. The risk of poverty increased from 16.2% to 18.4% between 2019 and 2020, according to provisional data from Statistics Portugal (INE) reaching almost two million people and with increases among women, the elderly, and families. Read more.
Italy mulls transferring renewables incentives costs from bills to recovery plan. Italy wants to lower the prices of bills by transferring renewable energy incentive costs from bills to the national recovery and resilience plan, Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani said during a meeting with the Senate Committee on Industry on Tuesday. Read more.
Spanish CEOs worried about good management of EU Next Generation funds. A number of Spanish CEOs have expressed concerns over the fair and proper management of EU financial resources to help mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the country’s battered economy, Spanish media reported. Read more.
Poland will do everything to prevent Fit for 55. Warsaw wants to build ‘a coalition of countries’ within the EU that object to the Fit for 55 climate package, which the government says will severely affect less affluent EU citizens. Read more.
Former Czech PM Babis to be stripped of immunity. The Immunity Committee has recommended the Czech parliament remove the parliamentary immunity of former Prime Minister Andrej Babiš. If the parliament follows the recommendation, which is very likely, Babiš will face prosecution over alleged EU subsidy fraud. A vote on the matter could take place next week. Read more.
Slovakia agreed to cut down methane emissions without a plan. Slovakia promised to cut down its methane emissions by 30% compared to 2020 levels by 2030 at the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, but it currently has no plan on how to achieve this. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
SKOPJE | SOFIA
Bulgarian Prime Minister’s visit to Skopje friendly but inconclusive on EU issue. The first meeting between Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov and his North Macedonian counterpart Dimitar Kovacevski concluded amicably as the two leaders announced their commitment to opening a new chapter while sidestepping concrete answers to thornier questions on history and identity. Read more.
Romania again gripped by high-profile plagiarism case. Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca allegedly copied almost a third of his PhD thesis, according to an investigation published Tuesday by Press One. The prime minister denies the plagiarism accusation, saying the work was completed according to the ”legal requirement at the time”. Read more.
Doctor in Bulgaria attacked by anti-vaxxer. A doctor was attacked on 17 January in a Bulgarian village over a COVID vaccine. One of the attackers was a wouldbe politician, who had been in prison for drug trafficking and participated in the anti-vax protest in front of the parliament last week. Read more.
Croatian ministers disagree on lowering VAT on natural gas. New and higher natural gas prices for most households should enter into force after 1 April on the basis of the Croatian regulatory framework. Prices could be €500 per year more expensive. Read more.
Serbian PM: Rio Tinto project has stopped. Rio Tinto’s Jadar project, subject to nationwide protests last year, has been halted because it could not be granted an exploitation field permit, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić said on Tuesday. Read more.
Erdogan: Serbia’s support for Bosnia and Herzegovina important for peace. The support that Serbia is giving to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Bosnia and Herzegovina was essential for peace and stability in the region, Turkish President Rexhep Tayyip Erdogan has said in Ankara. Read more.
Croat parties in BiH forward proposal for election reform. Leaders of Croat political parties in BiH Bosnian submitted a proposal to the US and EU administrations on electoral reform, incorporating the relevant rulings of the European Court of Human Rights and the country’s Constitutional Court. The proposal will be also forwarded to Bosniak and Serb representatives. Read more.
PM Krivokapic calls for early elections. A day after Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazović (URA Civil Movement) announced the formation of a minority government, Prime Minister Zdravko Krivokopić flatly rejected it. Early parliamentary elections, which would be held in May, are the fairest way to resolve the political crisis in Montenegro, Krivokapić said, adding that the minority government is a fraud.
Krivokapić stated that he has already proposed a model for the reconstruction of the government and that he wants to be part of the solution, not the problem. At the same time, URA is calling Democrats to support a minority government, but has yet to reply from party President Aleksa Bečić. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
Kosovo’s electric bills could increase two-fold. Households in Kosovo could see their electricity bills double if a proposal by the Energy Regulatory Office (ERO) is approved. Read more.
Albanian President’s impeachment trial postponed over COVID. The impeachment trial of Albanian President Ilir Meta has been postponed to 1 February after the case judge at the Constitutional Court tested positive for COVID. The proceedings were originally scheduled to start on Tuesday. Read more.
- EU/France: French President Emmanuel Macron speaks on French presidency of the EU in the European Parliament in Strasbourg / Commissioner Margrethe Vestager takes part in DSA parliamentary debate.
- Germany: Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at WEF ‘Davos Agenda’ virtual sessions.
- Austria: Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg hosts Kazakh FM Mukhtar Tileuberdi.
- Greece: Delivery of France’s first Rafale fighter jets to Greece.
- Poland: Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi visits Poland, meets Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki in Warsaw.
- Bulgaria: Rumen Radev will take office for a second term as President of Bulgaria.
- Croatia: Sabor, the parliament will begin its regular spring session with the questions for the Prime Minister and discussing the PM’s report on last year’s European Council meetings.
[Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski, Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]