Spain wants EU to manage COVID as ‘common flu’

Speaking to EURACTIV.com on condition of anonymity, an EU diplomat said it seems that a jab specifically for Omicron will not be needed. [Shutterstock/Mongkolchon Akesin]

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 US, Russia make no breakthrough or concessions in security talks, commit to keep talking


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


In today’s news from the Capitals:

MADRID

The Spanish government has worked for several weeks on a plan to approach the COVID-19 disease as if it was the common flu, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported, quoting El País. Read more.

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EU INSTITUTIONS

European Parliament President David Sassoli dies. The president of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, died in the early hours of Tuesday in hospital in Italy, his spokesperson announced on Twitter. Read more.

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BERLIN

Mega cruise shipbuilder with facilities in Germany files for bankruptcy. MV Werften, a massive shipbuilding company with facilities in the German state of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern employing around 1,900 workers, filed for bankruptcy on Monday. Read more.

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PARIS

Taubira to run for French presidential elections if she wins citizen-led primary. Former MEP and Justice Minister Christiane Taubira announced she would only run in the French presidential elections if she were nominated by the Popular Primary, a citizens’ initiative. According to her, she represents “the last chance for a possible union of the left”. Read more.

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VIENNA

Austria intensifies controls of adherence to COVID rules. Starting from Tuesday, store and restaurant owners will be subject to intense police controls on whether they check the COVID certificate of their customers. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

LONDON

UK banned Huawei because US told us to, former minister. The UK government’s decision to ban Huawei 5G equipment and services “had nothing to do with national security,” and was because of American pressure, a former business and industry minister has said. Read more.

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DUBLIN 

Ireland mulls mandatory vaccinations. Ireland’s National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) will consider introducing a vaccine mandate following the release of an upcoming paper by the Department of Health on the issue’s complexities. Read more.

 


NORDICS AND BALTICS

STOCKHOLM

Swedish defence minister: Russia threatens European security order. Russia’s actions threaten the entire European security order, Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said in a keynote speech at the Folk och Försvar, an annual meeting of Sweden’s security and defence policy community. The minister also discussed Russia’s demands on NATO and the current situation at the Ukrainian border. Read more.

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TALLINN | RIGA | VILNIUS

Baltic states top eurozone’s monthly inflation table. Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania currently have the highest monthly inflation rates in the euro area, latest Eurostat estimates show. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

LISBON

Cyberattacks on Portuguese organisations rose 81% in 2021. The average weekly number of cyberattacks on Portuguese organisations increased by 81% year-on-year in 2021, with one organisation being attacked 881 times a week according to data from Check Point Research. Read more.

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ATHENS

Greece silently admits the death of East Med project. The market and not governments decide the economic viability of energy projects, the Greek government now says a day after a US State Department statement suggested that Washington has lost its interest in the EastMed gas pipeline project. Read more.

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ROME

Surgeries in Italy drop 50-80% as ICUs filled with COVID-19 patients. The lack of space in intensive care units (ICUs) caused by the amount of COVID-19 patients is causing a deep crisis for surgical activities in hospitals, which have dropped between 50-80% as a result. Read more.


VISEGRAD 

BUDAPEST

Hungarian minister certain about fourth vaccine. Minister of Human Resources responsible for healthcare Miklós Kásler said he is absolutely certain that the need for a fourth vaccination must be taken into account in an interview with InfoRádió on Monday, Telex reported. Read more.

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WARSAW

Government critic acquitted of insulting Polish president. The regional court in Warsaw decided to discontinue the trial against writer Jakub Żulczyk who called President Andrzej Duda “a moron.” The decision was not welcomed by the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, of which Duda was a part until 2015. Read more.

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PRAGUE

Czech farmers fight over CAP Strategic plan. Small farmers are up in arms over the national strategic plan to implement the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) in Czechia, calling for more sustainable agricultural funding while larger farmers oppose last-minute changes. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

Slovaks lose thousands in pensions savings per year. Pension savings worth hundreds of millions or more than a billion euros in total are being lost every year by Slovaks putting their money into the pension system’s second pillar. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

TIRANA

EU Commission chooses not to comment on Tirana protests. The European Commission has chosen to not comment on the demonstrations that rocked Tirana over the weekend as tensions between two factions of the Democratic Party came to a head. Read more.

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SOFIA

Bulgaria to focus efforts on the rights of Macedonian Bulgarians. Bulgaria will focus its efforts on protecting the rights of Macedonian Bulgarians in talks with North Macedonia, while Skopje will seek to negotiate for the swift lifting of Bulgaria’s EU accession veto against it. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

Romania has sold or donated almost 6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines. Romania has received more than 28.6 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines since the end of 2020, but less than 60% were used for its own people. Some 3.5 million doses were sold to other countries, 2.2 million were donated, and almost one million of what is left, has expired. Read more.

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ZAGREB

Electricity and gas prices to increase in Croatia. The government and all its ministries are working on preventing a major blow to living standards due to higher energy prices, Prime Minister Andrej Plenković has said. Read more.

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Unemployment in Croatia drops for ninth consecutive month. At the end of December, 125,715 people were registered with the Croatian Employment Service (HZZ), which is 34,130 or 21.4% fewer job seekers than in December 2020, the HZZ reported. Read more.

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BELGRADE 

Serbian speaker: Harmonisation with EU laws should cause no fears. Serbia “can’t possibly be harmed” by harmonising its laws with the European Union’s, parliament speaker Ivica Dačić said on Monday, adding that the alignment should cause no fears. Read more.

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Serbian health expert: COVID passes should be required around the clock. Only a massive vaccination rollout and COVID passes required 24 hours a day could curb and alleviate the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, Colonel Ivo Udovičić, head of the Karaburma military hospital in Belgrade, said on Monday. Read more.

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SARAJEVO 

BiH citizens across Europe protest crisis in country. Bosnian and Herzegovinians in the UK, Italy, Sweden, Belgium and 14 other countries organised protests in favour of preserving peace and stability in BiH, urging the EU to react against those questioning the country’s survival, N1 reported. Read more.

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PODGORICA 

Bread prices in Montenegro up 30%. Basic bread types in Montenegro will cost 65 euro cents – 30% more than the previous 50 cents, a group of bakery companies at the Montenegro Chamber of Commerce has decided.

This comes after the economic development ministry announced at the end of December it was proposing the free formation of white bread prices from 1 January 20002.

(Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)


AGENDA:

  • EU/ France: President Emmanuel Macron hosts European Council President Charles Michel in Paris.
  • Germany: ECB President Christine Lagarde, German Finance Minister Lindner speak at handover ceremony for new Bundesbank President Nagel / Press conference of climate protection and economy minister Robert Habeck.
  • Austria: FFP2 masks becomes mandatory outdoor in fight against Covid-19.
  • Switzerland: World Economic Forum releases annual global risk report.
  • Lithuania: Economy ministers from Lithuania and Taiwan hold a joint online news conference.
  • Czechia/Slovakia: Prime Minister Petr Fiala is visiting Bratislava to meet with his Slovak counterpart Eduard Heger and Slovak President Zuzana Čaputová. EU affairs such as the Eastern EU borders and the Green Deal are on the agenda.
  • Croatia: Negotiating committees of the government and representatives of trade unions hold a meeting on a general collective agreement for public sector employees.

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

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