Visegrad plays hot potato with Ukrainian Roma refugees

Meanwhile, counterarguments appearing in Hungarian language media suggest that their passport country, Hungary, is expected to provide them with the same safety net as other citizens. Yet, according to RFE sources, the Hungarian government is not doing so, information also confirmed by Roma activists previously to EURACTIV. [Shutterstock/Sid0601]

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In today’s news from the Capitals:


Many Roma Ukrainian refugees with dual Hungarian citizenship have been shuttling between Visegrád capitals as governments refuse to provide these families with the same aid as other Ukrainians with a single passport. Read more.



EU Parliament joins media freedom problematic club. In a surprising move, the European Parliament deleted a post from its website and social media referring to a recent report by Reporters without Borders (RSF) indicating that Greece is the worst EU country regarding media freedom. Contacted by EURACTIV, the EU Parliament’s response was even more problematic. Read more.



Commission should block staff from taking ‘revolving door’ jobs, says EU watchdog. The European Commission should temporarily block its staff from taking private sector jobs if they pose conflict of interest risks that cannot be offset by restrictions, the European Ombudsman Emily O’Reilly recommended on Wednesday (18 May). Read the full story.

EU tables €300bn plan to ditch Russian fossil fuels, speed up green transition. The European Commission submitted on Wednesday (18 May) a €300 billion plan to eliminate Russian energy imports by 2027, although it admitted this would require short-term investments in new fossil fuel infrastructure to replace imports of Russian oil and gas. Read more.


EU Parliament demands sanctions against Schröder over Russia ties. The European Parliament is increasing its pressure on former German chancellor Gerhard Schröder, stating that he must face sanctions if he refuses to resign from his posts in Russian companies, according to a draft motion seen by EURACTIV. Read the full story here



Russia expels Italian, Spanish, French diplomats in ‘retaliation’. Russia expelled 85 embassy staff from Spain, Italy and France on Wednesday in a tit-for-tat response to the expulsion of Russian representatives over the invasion of Ukraine. Read more.



Austrian chancellor presents new government after reshuffle. Austrian chancellor Karl Nehammer presented the new cabinet members to parliament and swore in the new agriculture minister Norbert Totschnig after two ministers resigned last week. Read more.



Sinn Fein’s McDonald says ‘bad faith’ UK government boosts united Ireland case. Sinn Fein leader Mary Lou McDonald on Wednesday (18 May) said Britain’s proposals to override some post-Brexit trade rules in Northern Ireland were “astonishing” and yet another move by London that only serves to boost the Irish nationalist party’s quest for a united Ireland. Read more. 



Don’t extradite Assange, European human rights chief urges UK. European human rights experts have joined the campaign urging the UK government not to extradite controversial WikiLeaks chief Julian Assange to face trial in the United States, warning that it could have a ‘chilling effect’ on media freedom. Read more.



Russia could cut off gas to Finland this week, energy provider says. Russia could cut off gas supplies to Finland this week, Finland’s state-owned energy provider Gasum said on Wednesday (18 May), in a row over Moscow’s demand for countries to pay for gas in roubles and as Helsinki seeks NATO membership. Read more.



Finland and Sweden submit NATO applications amid strong Nordic support. The Swedish and Finnish NATO ambassadors submitted their applications to NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday as Nordic countries close ranks to ensure their safety. Read more. 



Swedish court sentences Belgian, UK nationals for breaking into military base. The Södertörn District Court sentenced a man from Belgium and the UK who broke into Muskö military base in 2018 for the unauthorised handling of classified information, broadcaster SVT reported on Wednesday. Read more.



Export of Lithuanian goods sees huge surge. The export of Lithuanian-origin goods grew by over 30% in the first quarter of 2022, totalling more than €6 billion in revenue from January to March 2022, Lithuania’s department of statistics reported. Read more.



Portugal worries surge in COVID-19 cases may affect tourism. The increase in COVID-19 cases could affect the tourism and services sector’s recovery, Economic Minister António Costa Silva said on Wednesday. Read more.


Italy backs NATO applications of Finland and Sweden. Rome favours the NATO applications of Finland and Sweden and pledged to support Finland during the transition period, said Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi after meeting his Finnish counterpart Sanna Marin at Palazzo Chigi on Wednesday. Read more.



Slovak ministers disagree on Russian oil tax effect on prices. Finance Minister Igor Matovič (OĽaNO) and Economy Minister Richard Sulík disagree on whether the new temporary tax on Russian oil approved by parliament on Wednesday will affect gas prices. Read more.



Poles begin universal basic income experiment. The Association of Warmia and Mazury Borderland Communities will distribute a monthly 1,300 PLN (€280) to thousands of Poles to measure how a universal basic income impacts their lives. Read more.



Orbán’s new ministers chart EU policy focused on funds. The new ministers assuming office in the reelected Hungarian prime minister’s cabinet are set to focus on EU funds in their relationship with Brussels while attempting to course-correct the bloc’s values. Read more.

Hungarian Constitutional Court quashes opposition referendum. Despite previous greenlights from parliament and the Supreme Court (Kúria), Hungary’s Constitutional Court blocked referenda on controversial Chinese university investment and unemployment benefits. Read more.



Unexpected obstacle blocks formation of Slovenia’s new government. The party of Slovenia’s outgoing Prime Minister Janez Janša has thrown sand in the works of the emerging left-liberal government by initiating a referendum that will postpone a wholesale reform of cabinet departments sought by Robert Golob, the presumptive new prime minister. Read more.



Montenegro supports Kosovo joining Council of Europe. Montenegrin President Milo Djukanovic said on 18 May that relations with Pristina were excellent and that Montenegro supported Kosovo’s decision to apply for a seat in the Council of Europe. Read more.



Bulgaria adopts large-scale measures to tackle record inflation. Increasing pensions by nearly 20%, significantly upping tax rebates for families with children and implementing huge fuel rebates affecting the purchase of petrol and diesel are all part of the measures the Bulgarian government announced Wednesday to weather record inflation rates due to the war in Ukraine. Read more.



Romanian parliament adopts new offshore law. The Romanian parliament approved a new law on deep oil and gas operations, which is expected to unblock gas projects in the Black Sea, with 249 MPs in favour and 34 against. Read more.



Serbia to aid companies doing business with Ukraine, Russia, Belarus. The Serbian government will pass an ordinance on Thursday to assist 1,400 companies whose operations involved doing business with Ukraine, Russia and Belarus, Finance Minister Sinisa Mali has said. Read more.



Bosnian entity to approve subsidies for electric, hybrid cars. The government of one of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s (BiH) two autonomous entities is expected to approve on Thursday a plan of subsidies for citizens who want to buy electric or hybrid cars, the news website reported on Wednesday. Read more.



Kosovo army veterans sentenced for disclosing classified information. Two former Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) veterans were each sentenced to four and a half years in prison for disclosing classified court information, the Kosovo Specialist Chambers found in its first verdict since it was established in 2016. Read more.



EU to fund Albanian agriculture, organic farming, rural development. The EU is set to plough some €112 million into Albanian agricultural and rural development, including sustainability, agritourism, and organic farming, as a part of the IPARD III programme announced on Wednesday. Read more.


  • EU: Commission Vice-President Vĕra Jourová receives Nick Clegg, president of global affairs at Facebook-parent Meta
  • Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson addresses the International Migration Review Forum in New York
  • G7 development, finance and health ministers’ meetings take place in Berlin and Bonn
  • Commission Vice-President Frans Timmermans meets Estonian President Alar Karis
  • Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton receives Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister and Deputy Digital Transformation Minister Mykhailo Fedorov
  • The European Parliament will hold a plenary session while the Parliament’s committee on employment and social affairs (EMP) will hold its own meeting
  • Germany: Chancellor Olaf Scholz gives a speech in parliament ahead of next EU summit and meets Prime Minister Mark Rutte in The Netherlands
  • France: International climate conference “ChangeNOW” in Paris
  • Hungary: The US Conservative political action conference (CPAC)  will be held in Budapest
  • Serbia: European Council President Charles Michel visits Serbia as part of a three-day tour of the Western Balkans, during which he will visit Albania and Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Romania: ​​Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa visits Romania


[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson]

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