Why Bulgaria and Romania failed in COVID mission

Our reporters in Sofia and Bucharest analyse the reasons behind the failure of both countries to tackle the pandemic. [Shutterstock/ joel bubble ben]

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.

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

In today’s news from the Capitals:


The two Balkan countries have the lowest vaccination rates across the bloc, and the epidemiological situation is getting out of control again. Our reporters in Sofia and Bucharest analyse the reasons behind the failure of both countries to tackle the pandemic.  Read more. 



​​Former chancellor Kurz falls from grace with electorate. A majority of the Austrian population wants former chancellor Sebastian Kurz, who resigned over corruption allegations in early October, to withdraw from politics altogether. Read more.



Bundestag holds constituting session. Germany starts its 20th legislative period as parliament holds its constitutive session following September’s elections on Tuesday (26 October). Read more.



New report examines six scenarios for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The French electricity transmission system operator (RTE) presented on Monday (25 October) six scenarios for achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. The experts also took into account the security of supply of the French electricity system. Read more.



Frost gives cool reception to EU stance on Horizon. The EU risks breaching its obligations if it continues to shut out UK organisations from the ‘Horizon Europe’ research fund, UK Brexit minister David Frost said on Monday (25 October). Read more.



Irish scientists start investigation of new ‘Delta plus’ variant. Scientists have initiated an examination of a new ‘Delta plus’ COVID-19 variant in Ireland to ascertain if the virus is more transmissible and severe than the existing Delta variant. Read more. 



Stoltenberg: China will be high on new NATO strategy. China poses challenges in and outside Europe that will be addressed in the new NATO strategy currently being negotiated, said the military alliance’s Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg, in a Helsinki press conference. Read more.



Rejection of state budget could jeopardise wage, pension rises, health service, labour law. The Secretary of State for Parliamentary Affairs warned Monday that, if the budget is rejected, a set of measures on wages, pensions, National Health Service (SNS) and labour legislation will be compromised. Read more.



Greece mourns the death of socialist leader. The leader of Greek socialist party (Pasok) Fofi Gennimata died on Monday following years of fighting cancer. All political forces praised Gennimata for her bravery and honesty. Read more.



Politicians divided over future of controversial historical bank. The Italian government’s months-long negotiations to sell state-owned bank Monte dei Paschi di Siena (MPS) to international banking group Unicredit failed, it was announced on Sunday (24 October). Read more.



Spain offers COVID-19 boosters, flu jabs to over 70s ahead of winter. Spanish health authorities rolled out the COVID-19 booster drive to the over 70s on Monday (25 October), planning to give them at the same time as influenza jabs in some regions, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported. Read more.



Polish PM says Commission risks ‘World War III’. In an interview for the Financial Times, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki accused the European Commission of holding “a gun to our head” over negotiations related to funds for Poland’s recovery programme and rule of law conditionality. Read more.



Future Czech government calls for dialogue in Turow case. Czech authorities have asked Poland to come back to the negotiating table and finally solve the Turów mine issue. “The continuation of negotiations is in the interest of all parties, particularly of the Liberec region,” Deputy Environment Minister Vladislav Smrž told EURACTIV.cz’s media partner Aktuálně.cz. Read more.



Opposition PM candidate claims ruling Fidesz compiled a dossier to discredit him. Hódmezővásárhely mayor Péter Márki-Zay who has won the united opposition’s primaries to become the six-party coalition’s candidate to challenge Viktor Orbán next year, presented an incriminating dossier on Monday that Fidesz supposedly prepared for his former opponents, who instead handed the document over to him, Telex reported. Read more.



Slovak government establishes ‘traffic light’ assessment of recovery plan reforms. The government’s new control mechanism will aim to publicly warn if one of the reforms in its national recovery plan is delayed. If one of the reforms stalls, Slovakia could lose hundreds of millions of euros from the recovery plan. Read more.



As the EU door closes, Albania focuses on controversial regional collaboration. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama has called on the EU to push Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and Montenegro to join the Open Balkan initiative while the prospect of the Western Balkans’ integration into the EU has been “perhaps […] temporarily shelved”. Read more.



Thousands of Croatian workers left labour market in past 13 years. Some 128,000 workers aged under 35 have left the Croatian labour market in the past 13 years. Now they account for only a third of the country’s workforce, the Večernji List newspaper wrote. Read more.



Serbia to participate in international nuclear accident simulation in UAE. Serbia will participate in an international exercise to test response to a severe accident simulated at the United Arab Emirates Barakah nuclear power plant from Tuesday to Wednesday, the Directorate for Radiation and Nuclear Safety reported on Monday. 

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the UAE are conducting the exercise.

Serbia will use the exercise to test for the first time a decision support system, JRodos, able to estimate the possible location of a radioactive cloud, evaluate the impact of a nuclear accident on the population and the environment, and assess the efficiency of protection measures, the Directorate said in a release.

(EURACTIV.rs | betabriefing.com)



Speaker of Serbian parliament: No borders between Republika Srpska and Serbia. Belgrade remains interested in preserving the peace and the status of Republika Srpska (RS) and ensuring compliance with the Dayton peace agreement, Ivica Dačić, speaker of the Narodna Skupština (parliament of the Republic of Serbia) has said. Read more.



Number of diesel vehicles in North Macedonia increases by 160,000 in 8 years. The number of vehicles using oil, i.e. diesel, increased to 278,096 vehicles in 2020, compared to 118,109 in 2012. This means that in just eight years, the number has risen by almost 160,000. Read more.



Albania threatens to quit boxing championship following Kosovo snub. The Albanian national boxing team has threatened to quit the 2021 World Boxing Championship in Belgrade if Serbia refuses to allow Kosovo to participate. Read more.


  • EU/Luxembourg: EU energy ministers hold emergency talks on gas price surge.
  • Germany: New lower house of parliament to hold first session 30 days after the federal September elections.
  • Denmark: Firm goes on trial accused of breaking EU embargo on Syria.
  • Norway: Barents Euro-Arctic Council meets in Tromso.
  • Poland: The new ministers of agriculture, climate and sport will be announced at 5 pm.
  • Hungary: Prime Minister Orban, French far-right presidential candidate Le Pen hold joint press conference in Budapest.
  • Slovakia: Taiwanese Foreign Minister Joseph Wu gives speech in Bratislava.
  • Spain: Future of Tourism World Summit takes place in Barcelona.
  • Croatia: The Joint Commission for the implementation and promotion of economic cooperation between the Croatian and Azerbaijani governments holds its second meeting, led by Croatian Economy  and Sustainable Development Minister Tomislav Ćorić and Azeri Culture Minister Anar Karimov.


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

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