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.
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In today’s news from the Capitals:
In a surprising return to Polish politics, former European Council president and ex-prime minister of Poland, Donald Tusk, was elected the head of Poland’s largest opposition party Civic Platform (PO) on Saturday, following the resignation of the party’s vice-president, Borys Budka. Read more.
Slovenian interior minister asked to apologise for ‘swine’ comment. Slovenian President Borut Pahor has criticised Interior Minister Aleš Hojs for using the term “swine” in a comment interpreted as targeting a senior member of the EU Commission, urging the minister to apologise. More.
German president fears election campaign ‘mud fight’. German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier has warned parties “that they may have to sit down together again“ after votes are cast in the country’s upcoming elections. Read more.
Le Pen re-elected to lead Rassemblement National. France’s far-right party Rassemblement National has re-elected Marine Le Pen as its head for a second time at a congress in Perpignan on Sunday. Read more.
Austria’s coalition parties in political spat over migration. Austria’s governing ÖVP and Green parties are at odds over the call to tighten migration laws after a 13-year-old girl was murdered, allegedly by two Afghan asylum seekers. Read more.
Luxembourg’s prime minister hospitalised with COVID-19. Prime Minister Xavier Bettel has been hospitalised after he was diagnosed with COVID-19, the government said in a statement on Sunday.
Bettel will get “additional tests” and will stay under observation for 24 hours as a precaution, the government said. Bettel tested positive for the virus last weekend despite having received the first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine, with the government saying that he would continue to work remotely, whilst remaining in isolation for 10 days. (Anne Damiani | EURACTIV.fr)
UK AND IRELAND
Ireland: UK showing ‘no generosity at all’ in protocol row. The UK is showing “no generosity at all” to the EU in a deepening row over the Northern Ireland protocol, said Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney in response to an op-ed by Britain’s chief negotiator David Frost and London’s Northern secretary Brandon Lewis in The Irish Times. Read more.
UK announces harsher sentences for Channel migrants. Britain has announced it will seek harsher sentences for migrants caught entering the country without permission amid a record-breaking surge in arrivals over the English Channel. More.
COVID-free and ‘mixed’ bars: Greece tightens rules against unvaccinated. The Greek government has decided to impose new restrictions to the unvaccinated and ruled out any likelihood of having a new general lockdown because of the rise of COVID-19 cases. Read more.
Italy aims to vaccinate the young with aim of reopening schools in autumn. With only 16% of those aged 12-18 having at least received the first COVID-19 dose, the president of the federation of medical orders, Filippo Anelli, said that “with the Delta variant, the recommendation is to get vaccinated soon, before the start of the new school year. In fact, like all community activities, the risk that new outbreaks can be created at school is very high.” Read more.
Spanish health officials concerned by spike in COVID-19 cases. Spain has seen an increase in COVID-19 cases, with the 14-day average of infections per 100,000 residents climbing to 152.8, according to the latest data provided by Spanish health authorities. EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports.
Cyprus worst forest fire in decades kills four. Cyprus said a deadly forest fire that was the worst to hit the island in decades was close to being brought under control Sunday (4 July) after water bombing by Greek and Israeli aircraft. More.
Orban first EU leader on RSF’s ‘enemies of press freedom’ list. Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban is the first EU leader to be on Reporters Without Borders‘ (RSF) list of “enemies of press freedom”. Read more.
In other news, on Friday (2 July) the government announced that 5.5 million Hungarians have received the jab, signalling further easing of measures, the most noticeable being the abolition of the mandatory wearing of masks.
Unlike their Italian neighbours, most Hungarians have taken their masks off without delay, Telex reported. In Hungary, 56% of the population has already received at least one dose of the vaccine, making it one of the top 10 vaccinated countries in the world.
Czechs question EU support for pandemic economic fallout. STEM agency has revealed that 51% of Czechs do not think that the EU would be able to help Czechia face the economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic. More.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Former Bulgarian PM Borissov meets Turkey’s Erdogan ahead of elections. GERB party leader and former Bulgarian prime minister Boyko Borissov met with Turkish President Recep Erdogan in Istanbul on Saturday, broadcasting parts of the meeting on the Bulgarian politician’s Facebook page. Read more.
Violence breaks out at Zagreb Pride for first time in 10 years. Violence broke out at Zagreb’s pride parade for the first time in 10 years on Saturday, with organisers describing an “outbreak of homophobic-fascist violence” consisting of “a series of attacks, arson and insults in different parts of the city.” Read more.
Slovenian health experts were ignored in pandemic. Several prominent Slovenian public health experts have told parliament the government ignored their views during the pandemic as part of an inquiry investigating the government’s much-criticised handling of the COVID-19 crisis. Read more.
Serbia, Russia discuss regional security. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić on Friday met with the director of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, Sergey Naryshkin, to discuss regional and global security, bilateral ties, and cooperation in various areas.
The two officials underlined the importance of cooperation between the two countries in the struggle against international terrorism, the office of the president reported. The meeting was also attended by the Serbian Security and Information Agency’s chief, Bratislav Gašić.
In other news, Serbia’s free trade agreement with the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU) and its members, Russia, Kazakhstan, Belarus, Armenia and Kyrgyzstan will take effect on 10 July, Trade Minister Tatjana Matić has announced.
Meanwhile, EU Chief Diplomat Josep Borrell appointed Emanuele Giaufret as the new EU Delegation chief in Serbia, the EU External Action Service (EEAS) said on Friday. Giaufret is currently the head of the EU Delegation in Israel and before that, he served as head of the EEAS Division for Democracy and Electoral Observation. Giaufret has replaced Ambassador Sem Fabrizi who has been head of the delegation in Belgrade since July 2017.
(EURACTIV.rs | betabriefing.com)
Palmer, Eichhorst fail to convince opposition to accept HDZ BiH-SDA agreement. Senior US and EU diplomats failed on Sunday to get the consent of opposition parties in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the election law changes agreed in principle by HDZ BiH leader Dragan Čović and SDA leader Bakir Izetbegović. Read more.
Turkish-made armoured vehicle Vuran exported to Kosovo. Kosovo will be the first overseas user of the Vuran 4×4 multi-purpose armoured vehicle exported from Turkey, according to information obtained by Anadolu Agency.
At the first stage, two units of the vehicle will be produced and delivered to Kosovo. The vehicle has been in the inventory of Turkish security forces for some time and is known for its ability to operate in harsh climatic and geographical conditions. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
Albania only NATO member to participate in Turkey-led military exercise. Albania is the only NATO member participating in the Anatolian 21 military exercise hosted by Turkish Special Forces in Ankara, along with Azerbaijan, Qatar, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Turkey and Uzbekistan, Anadolu Agency reported.
Kosovo and Mongolia are currently observers in the exercise. Turkey and Albania are cooperating closely on defence matters, according to Ibrahim Kalin, spokesperson for Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan. “Albania’s peace and stability means Turkey’s peace and stability, and the Balkans’ peace and stability,” the spokesperson added. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
- Luxembourg: Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister François Bausch to meet German counterpart Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer in Berlin for a working visit.
- Germany: Berlin Process summit on Western Balkans takes place virtually
- France: European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg / President Macron holds talks with Italian counterpart Mattarella
- Lithuania: EU chief Charles Michel visits following migrant influx
- Sweden: Deadline for ex-PM Lofven to rally enough support to form a new government
- Italy: President Sergio Mattarella, arrived on Sunday in Paris for a three-day state visit to France.
- Spain: The fourth ministerial meeting of the Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament begins in Madrid on Monday with 16 participating countries.
- Poland: On Monday, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki will participate in the Berlin Process Summit via video conference format.
- Romania: President Klaus Iohannis meets coalition leaders to discuss his national education project “Educated Romania”.
- Croatia: The eighth Croatian contingent leaves for Poland as part of NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence.
- Slovenia: Prime Minister Janez Janša will present the country’s EU presidency agenda to the National Assembly.
- Leaders of six Western Balkan countries will take part in a summit of the Berlin Process, an initiative geared toward bolstering regional cooperation.
- Serbia: Hungarian parliament speaker Laszlo Kever to visit Serbia.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Zoran Radosavljevic, Josie Le Blond]