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 “Debate heats up over electronic cigarettes in Europe“, by Sarantis Michalopoulos.
Also read the story “Aviation bosses dismiss hydrogen as best path to green flying“, by Sean Goulding Carroll.
The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.
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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Vučić: New Kosovo non-paper ‘written by very clever woman’. The so-called non-paper on Kosovo, published by Pristina daily Koha Ditore, contained “many things” that the Serbs would find pleasing, but also a section on recognition of Kosovo which would “horrify the Serbs,” Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić said on Tuesday. He added that the non-paper has been created by a very clever woman he knows. Read more.
Portugal wants €750 billion EU bazooka fund available before August. The Portuguese EU Council presidency is working so that the process of releasing the €750 billion from the EU’s post-pandemic Recovery Fund can be shortened by at least one month. Read the full story.
EU Parliament to vote on vaccination certificate. EU lawmakers will present their position on the introduction of a uniform EU-wide vaccination certificate on Wednesday (from 1 pm). According to the European Commission, vaccinated people would be allowed to cross borders without quarantine and test obligations.
Some MEPs have already requested changes to the plans and voiced criticism towards vaccinations being administered without prior approval by the European Medicines Agency EMA, which according to them should not be included in the certificate. A final result of the vote is expected on Thursday morning. (EURACTIV.com)
European Commission wants to vacate half of its buildings by 2030. The EU executive wants to halve the number of buildings it manages by 2030, from 50 to 25. Mainly buildings outside the European quarter and Rogier have to be renovated, reports Bruzz.
PARIS | BERLIN
France, Germany present green recovery plans in joint conference. “We are not introducing reforms for the benefit of the European Commission. We are introducing reforms for the benefit of French citizens and the nation,” said French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire alongside his German counterpart Olaf Scholz at a joint press conference Tuesday. While both plans should heavily focus on the green transition, Scholz said Germany will also be aiming for a “major digital education initiative.” Read the full story.
Belgian state escapes penalties over pandemic rules. After two months of drafting, Belgium’s new “pandemic bill” has been approved by the Council of Ministers and is ready to be submitted to parliament. By submitting the draft, the government escapes the penalties imposed by the court of first instance as long as there is legal ground for the COVID-19 measures, Interior minister Annelies Verlinden said. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
LONDON | BRUSSELS
MEPs lament ‘lose-lose’ situation as EU Parliament votes Brexit trade pact. The bruises left by the Brexit process were evident on Tuesday even as EU lawmakers endorsed the trade deal that now governs economic relations between the UK and EU, almost five years after the UK voted to leave the bloc. Read the full story here.
DUP chief Arlene Foster dismisses claims that party leadership is under threat. Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) leader and First Minister of Northern Ireland Arlene Foster has dismissed claims that her leadership of the party is under threat after reports of internal unrest over Foster’s handling of the Brexit process. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
EU stimulus package needs two-thirds-majority approval from Finnish parliament. After much deliberation, Finland’s Constitutional Law Committee ruled on Tuesday that because of constitutional implications the EU’s €750 billion COVID-19 stimulus package requires a two-thirds majority in the Finnish parliament. Read more.
Estonian president calls for more EU solidarity with Czech Republic. Following the revelations about the 2014 explosion at the ammunition depot in the Czech Republic and the subsequent expulsion of Russian and EU diplomats, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid has called for more solidarity with the Czech Republic and for EU countries to implement tougher measures. Read more.
Portugal expects recovery plan in second half of the year. Portuguese Foreign Minister Augusto Santos Silva said on Tuesday he expected Portugal’s Recovery and Resilience Plan (PRR) to be up and running in the second half of the year. Read more.
Italian parliament approves national recovery plan. The two branches of the Italian parliament approved the resolutions of the government majority on the national recovery plan on Tuesday.
The Council of Ministers is scheduled to approve the final text this week which will be sent to Brussels. The plan is a challenge “that cannot be lost. We would be responsible for the success or loss of this bet,” Prime Minister Mario Draghi told the Senate. “A defeat would be serious for us and for the future of Europe. There would not be another occasion for a common fiscal policy, which is to our benefit, because we are one of the most fragile countries in Europe,” he added.
In other news, a motion requesting for curfew to start at midnight rather than the current 10 pm has caused a new dispute in the centre-right alliance, currently divided between the government-backing parties, Lega Nord and Forza Italia (FI), and opposition party Fratelli d’Italia (FdI). The motion, presented by FdI, was rejected by the Chamber of Deputies, but Lega and FI did not participate in the vote. (Daniele Lettig | EURACTIV.it)
Spain approves €70 billion recovery plan to help transform economy. The Spanish government has approved a €70 billion recovery plan to be funded with EU resources, which has the long-term aims of shifting the country’s economy away from over-reliance on services and boosting digitalisation. Read the full story.
Greeks aged 30-39 take AstraZeneca jab. More than 60,000 Greeks aged 30 to 39 booked an online vaccination appointment within a few hours after the booking platform became available for them. Read more.
Poland adopts historical draft law on ratification of EU’s own resources. The Council of Ministers adopted on Tuesday a draft law on the ratification of the EU’s own resources needed to mobilise the Reconstruction Fund, which Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki called a legal act of historical scale and compared it to the Marshall Plan. Read more.
Commision to probe Czechia’s distribution of EU funds, examine conflict of interest. The European Commission will check whether the conflict of interest rule has been repeatedly breached in Czechia after Commission auditors confirmed conflict of interest allegations levelled against Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babiš on Friday, daily Hospodářské noviny reported. Read more.
Brussels welcomes Slovak recovery plan, says PM. The national recovery and resilience plan has received positive feedback in Brussels, Prime Minister Eduard Heger said on Tuesday following his first in-person meeting with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel since he took office on 1 April. Read more.
Bill handing over billion in public wealth to foundations passes. Hungary’s parliament passed legislation setting up foundations to take over the running of universities and cultural institutions in a move critics say extends the ideological imprint of the ruling right-wing government. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgaria’s political parties cannot accept business donations, court rules. Political parties in Bulgaria cannot accept donations from businesses, the Constitutional Court ruled unanimously on Tuesday. Read more.
Electric vehicles made in Romania. Ford announced on Tuesday it will invest $300 million to build a new light commercial vehicle at its Romanian plant in Craiova starting in 2023, with an an all-electric model version added in the following year. This will be the first Ford all-electric volume vehicle to be built in Romania.
Moreover, Ford is the first manufacturer to announce it will build an all-electric vehicle in Romania. Since buying the Craiova facility in 2008, Ford’s overall investment in its Romanian manufacturing operations – including the just announced investment – is close to $2 billion. (Bogdan Neagu | EURACTIV.ro)
PM Plenković: Pelješac Bridge ensures integrity of Croatian territory. Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković visited the Pelješac Bridge construction site in Komarna, close to the southern Adriatic tourist hotspot Dubrovnik, on Tuesday. He noted that the bridge will be connected with span structures by October this year, ensuring the integrity of the Croatian territory, which is currently cut by a small coastal strip around the town of Neum that belongs to Bosnia-Herzegovina and requires travellers to cross borders twice when driving along the Adriatic. Read more.
Croatian-Italian projects unveiled at conference for Adriatic protection. Economic interests in the Adriatic area are closely linked to the protection of the sea and biodiversity, it was announced on Tuesday at the conference “Innovative Solutions for the Sustainability of the Adriatic Sea” in Zadar, where two new projects for the protection of the Adriatic, InnovaMare and SUSHI DROP, were presented. Read more.
Leader of HDZ BiH speaks with US State Department on electoral reforms. The Speaker of the House of Peoples of the BiH parliament and HDZ BiH leader Dragan Čović spoke with Derek Chollet, an adviser at the US State Department on electoral reforms and eliminate discrimination. After the meeting, Čović tweeted: “Very constructive phone meeting with US @derekchollet. Political agreement on electoral reforms and necessary limited changes of the BiH Constitution needed for elimination of all discrimination – HNS (Croatian National Assembly in BiH) and HDZ BiH express full support for these aims. @SecBlinken @USEmbassySJJ.”
“We have a very clear obligation to adopt amendments to the Election Law by the end of the June, according to the agreement we signed in Mostar between the two political options and five international representatives”, Čović told the BiH parliament Tuesday. Croatians in BiH want an electoral law that will prevent Bosniaks to choose their representatives like Željko Komšić, member of the BiH Presidency. Bosnia’s biggest party the Party of Democratic Action (SDA) is favouring the civil composition of BiH. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
Prime Minister Edi Rama wins third mandate in Albanian elections. Albania’s ruling Socialist Party (SP), led by Prime Minister Edi Rama, has won Sunday’s election with 48% of the vote, handing the party 74 seats in the 140-seat parliament, the same number of seats the party won in the previous election. Read more.
- Finance ministers from Germany, France, Italy and Spain make joint statement on the EU recovery fund
- Germany: Virtual German-Chinese government consultations with Chancellor Angela Merkel and China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang
- France: Industry Minister Agnès Pannier-Runacher will have a telephone conversation with Pascal Soriot, Chairman and CEO of AstraZeneca.
- Italy: The Senate will discuss the no-confidence motions against Health Minister Roberto Speranza put forward by the opposition.
- Greece: Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis will have an official meeting with President Katerina Sakellaropoulou at the presidential mansion in Athens.
- Poland: Health Minister Adam Niedzielski will hold a conference Wednesday, announcing whether health measures will be tightened or eased.
- Czech Republic: Foreign Minister Jakub Kulhánek will visit his Slovakian counterpart, Ivan Korčok, in Bratislava to discuss Russia, economic recovery and the Visegrad group.
- Bulgaria: President Rumen Radev will give the mandate to form a government on Wednesday to the There is Such a People party (ITN), the second-largest party in parliament. ITN has already announced its refusal, meaning Radev will only have one last party to give the mandate to before he’ll be forced to appoint an interim government and call a new election within two months.
- Romania: The government will discuss a draft law regarding additional protection for Romanian people who work abroad in its weekly meeting.
- Croatia: Prime Minister Andrej Plenković will put into operation the Korlat Wind Farm worth more than €66 million – the first new wind farm in Croatia that produces electricity without incentives. Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman will visit Subotica, the city in the northern part of Serbian autonomous province Vojvodina, where a large Croatian minority lives.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Zoran Radosavljevic, Josie Le Blond]