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.
Before you start reading today’s edition of the Capitals, feel free to have a look at the article “Germany defies WHO’s call against Remdesivir as COVID therapy“, by EURACTIV.de’s Lukas Scheid.
The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.
In today’s news from the Capitals:
Slovenia’s government communication office (UKOM) has informed the conservative-led government that it is not able to implement the contract with the Slovenian Press Agency (STA) for 2020 nor to conclude a contract for 2021. Read more.
Five dead after car drives into pedestrian street in Trier. In the western city of Trier, five people have died and 14 have been injured after an SUV drove into a pedestrian area at high speed on Tuesday afternoon. Read more.
PARIS | LONDON
France to only accept EU-UK agreement if its interests are respected. France will only accept a deal with the UK if its interests, particularly in the area of fisheries, are guaranteed, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday. Read more.
No easing of lockdown before the New Year. Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said on Tuesday that Belgians should not expect any further relaxation of COVID measures before the end of the year. “We took a decision on Friday. We also agreed on the threshold we must go below before we can implement easing,” De Croo said after several other politicians claimed there is a possibility for relaxation.
The three criteria include that the daily number of infections must be below 800 per day for 14 days, and it must remain so for three weeks afterwards, the number of hospital admissions per day must be below 75 and both indicators must show a decreasing trend. “All models show that we will reach that threshold at the beginning of January. If we stick to the current measures, we can then look at easing,” De Croo said. (Alexandra Brzozowski, EURACTIV.com)
No skiing holiday for Austrians this year. Austria’s slopes will likely remain empty during the usually very lucrative Christmas holiday season as hotels will have to remain closed until at least mid-January, the government decided on Tuesday. Ski lifts, however, will remain open, which some observers believe could lead to people hosting tourists illegally. (Philipp Grüll | EURACTIV.de)
Pfizer/BioNTech Covid vaccine wins licence for use in the UK. The UK has become the first western country to license a vaccine against Covid, opening the way for mass immunisation with the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine to begin in those most at risk, The Guardian reported.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
HELSINKI | TALLINN
Estonian ambassador calls for greater Baltic-Nordic cooperation. Baltic and Nordic countries should deepen and strengthen the area’s economic and defensive cooperation, as well as their clout, the newly appointed Estonian Ambassador to Finland Sven Sakkov told Finnish web magazine Verkkouutiset in an interview on Sunday. Read more.
Italian opposition forces still against ESM reform. The opposition forces in Italy continue to oppose reform of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM), which was put on the back burner before the pandemic due to Italy’s objections. Read more.
Spanish GDP won’t return to pre-pandemic levels until 2023, OECD predicts. Spain will need to wait at least until 2023 to see a tangible and sound economic recovery and return to pre-pandemic levels, according to a latest forecast published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Tuesday. Read more.
EU summit: Turkey ‘déjà vu’. Just like at the previous EU summit, Turkey de-escalates tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean by returning research vessel Oruç Reis back to its territory a few days before a crucial meeting, which could decide the future of EU-Turkey relations.
Earlier this week, EU spokesperson Peter Stano said EU leaders will discuss whether Ankara has delivered on EU leaders’ expectations, meaning de-escalation and engagement on a constructive dialogue. More.
WARSAW | THE HAGUE
Dutch government urged to sue Poland in top EU court over rule of law debacle. The lower house of the Dutch parliament adopted a resolution on Tuesday obliging the government to file a claim against Poland at the European Court of Justice, for disrespecting the rule of law. Poland, together with Hungary, vetoed the EU budget and recovery programme due to the rule of law mechanism attached to the EU funds. Read more.
Czech testing coordinator for COVID-19 resigns. Marián Hajdúch, the Czech Republic’s national coordinator for COVID-19 testing, has announced his resignation, saying he does “not want to cover up political decisions” he disagrees with, Deník N reported on Tuesday. Hajdúch admitted to having learned about government measures through the media on several occasions, though he believes the government is basing its decisions on expert recommendations. While the number of new COVID-19 cases in the Czech Republic has dropped in the past few days, so has the number of people tested. (Aneta Zachová | EURACTIV.cz)
Caught in ‘sex party’ in Brussels, Fidesz MEP resigns. Orbán Viktor’s Fidesz party MEP admitted his presence at an illegal lockdown party on Friday following Belgian media reports of a ‘sex party’ on Friday attended mostly by men and shut down by Brussels police where allegedly diplomats and a European lawmaker were present. Read more.
Slovak police arrest oligarch. Heavily armed police raided the offices of one of Slovakia’s biggest financial groups – Penta – and took one of the partners, Jaroslav Haščák, into custody, charged with corruption and money laundering. The Penta group controls, among other things, a substantial part of Slovakia’s healthcare system and found itself in the middle of various major corruption scandals. Haščák’s arrest is likely connected to police operations “Purgatory” and “Mills of God” that led to the apprehension of the country’s former special prosecutor and former police chief, Dennik N reports. (Zuzana Gabrižová | EURACTIV.sk)
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgarian businesses dissatisfied with government. The majority of Bulgarian businesses do not approve of the government’s anti-crisis measures and very few entrepreneurs have used them, according to a survey published by the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce (BIA), the country’s largest business organisation. Read more.
LNG Croatia vessel arrives in Omišalj, terminal trial run to start. The “LNG Croatia” vessel sailed into Omišalj on the island of Krk, bringing the first shipments of liquefied natural gas for the trial operation of the floating terminal. Read more.
In other news, Slovenian Foreign Minister Anže Logar will discuss Italy’s plans for an exclusive economic zone in the Adriatic Sea during his visit to the Italian capital set for 10 December, the foreign ministry told the STA. Slovenia shares the concerns of all other Adriatic countries after Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio called on Croatia to follow Italy’s plans for the Adriatic Sea during his Zagreb visit on Monday, the ministry added. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
Palestine slams Serbia for opening Chamber of Commerce office in Jerusalem. Serbia’s Chamber of Commerce opening an office in Jerusalem is “impermissible and unacceptable,” Palestine’s Ambassador to Serbia, Mohammed Nabhan, said on Monday. Read more.
Social Democrats dissolve Srebrenica branch over election fraud allegations. The leadership of BiH’s Social Democratic Party (SDP) decided to dissolve the party’s municipal organisation in the east Bosnian town of Srebrenica and expel the head of the local organisation, Bego Bektic, from the party over election fraud allegations. The party urged the Central Election Commission to annul and re-call the elections for the mayor of Srebrenica if Mladen Grujičić turns out to be elected through election fraud. BiH’s Special police searched several facilities in Srebrenica and Tuzla and apprehended three individuals. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
China donates over €7million to rebuild Montenegrin bridge. The Đurđevića Tara bridge – one of Montenegro’s main tourist and architectural attractions – will be reconstructed thanks to a €7.1 million donation from the agency for international economic cooperation within the Chinese commerce ministry, Montenegro’s transport and maritime affairs ministry has stated. China’s involvement in building the Montenegrin highway Bar-Boljare – which will stretch from the Adriatic coast to the Serbian border – has been criticised for leading Podgorica into a debt trap as the cost for building the highway is expected to cost as much as €1.3 billion, far surpassing its initial cost of €800 million. Moreover, unofficial sources suggest China also holds 25% of Montenegrin public debt. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Sam Morgan]