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In today’s news from the Capitals:
BRATISLAVA | BUDAPEST
One in five French public hospital beds unavailable due to labour shortage crisis. One hospital bed in five is currently unavailable in French public hospitals, newspaper Libération revealed on Wednesday, referring to an inquiry earlier this month by the president of the scientific council, Jean-François Delfraissy. The government had previously promised to take action to tackle this labour shortage crisis. Read more.
Germany’s ‘traffic coalition’ already working. Even though German parties are in the midst of negotiating the “traffic light” coalition consisting of the social democrat SPD, the Greens and the business-friendly liberals FDP, they have already begun working together in the Bundestag. Read more.
Austria supports EU bid to bring chip production back to Europe. Austria supports the planned EU chips act that aims to bring semiconductor production back to Europe, Digital and Economic Affairs Minister Margarete Schramböck, who also outlined her vision of what the new strategy should look like, has announced. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Brexit will mean bigger economic hit than Covid. Brexit will hit the UK economy harder than the coronavirus pandemic in the long run, the chairman of the Office for Budget Responsibility said on Wednesday.
Speaking after Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveiled the government’s budget for 2022, OBR chair Richard Hughes said that leaving the EU will reduce the UK’s potential GDP by about 4% in the long term. In contrast, the pandemic would reduce GDP “by a further 2%”, he said.
New estimates suggest that the UK economy will return to its pre-pandemic level by the end of this year, faster than previously expected. (Benjamin Fox | EURACTIV.com)
Irish government denies restrictions will return despite concern over rising infections. Pandemic restrictions are unlikely to be reintroduced despite growing concerns over infection rates in Ireland, government ministers have indicated. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
STOCKHOLM | HELSINKI
Sweden and Finland join forces to enhance industrial exports. Assisted by the trade and industry ministries, Finnish and Swedish companies embark on an ambitious joint mission to conquer global markets. Behind the new strategy revealed in Stockholm on Tuesday is the realisation that Nordic companies are often too small to succeed independently. Read more.
Italian Senate torpedoes anti-discrimination bill. After months of debates, compromises and disinformation, a centre-right majority in the Italian Senate voted to block the parliamentary process on the so-called “Ddl Zan”, a bill that would expand current anti-discrimination laws to protect women, disabled people and members of the LGBTQ+ community. Read more.
Second state of alarm also unconstitutional, says Spain’s highest court. Spain’s Constitutional Court declared on Wednesday (27 October) that the second state of alarm decreed by the Spanish government to combat the COVID-19 pandemic is unconstitutional. Four of the court’s ten judges opposed the decision. Read more.
Portuguese PM ready for all scenarios after parliament rejects 2022 state budget. The government has a “clear conscience” after the Budget vote and is ready to continue governing or go to elections, depending on the president of the Republic’s decision, Prime Minister António Costa said on Wednesday evening. Read more.
COVID-19: Half Greece in the red. On Wednesday (27 October), Greek health officials reported 3,651 new coronavirus cases, a reduction from 4,165 the day before, and 63 deaths, a recent high. Half of the country is now at the “red” epidemiological level while vaccinations remain stagnant at 59%. Read more.
EU Court fines Poland €1 million per day over non-compliance. As Poland’s row over judicial independence continues to escalate, the EU’s highest court has imposed a €1 million daily fine on Warsaw for not implementing its summer orders.
On 14 July, the European Court of Justice (CJEU) ordered Poland to suspend certain powers of the country’s disciplinary chamber for judges. These powers included the ability to go after judges who apply EU law on judicial independence, its power to lift judicial immunity and to retroactively suspend all decisions already taken. Read More.
Czechia refuses ‘Italian way’, says no to obligatory COVID pass for workers. Representatives of the Czech government, employers, and trade unions have refused to impose any restrictions on unvaccinated workers, agreeing on Wednesday that it is impossible to effectively enforce such a measure. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Slovenian PM Jansa ordered to pay damages over ‘stolen Jewish villa’ claim. A court in Velenje has ordered Prime Minister Janez Janša to pay €10,000 in damages and apologise to the opposition Social Democrats (SD) for claiming the party operated from a “stolen Jewish villa”. Read more.
Bulgaria throws its last reserves in fight against COVID-19. The health ministry is suspending the planned admission of patients to hospitals, to open additional beds to treat patients with COVID-19. Intensive care units, in which over 600 patients are currently being treated, will increase their capacity to 750. Read more.
Romania’s vaccination campaign picks up steam. Interest in vaccination against COVID-19 has increased significantly over the past week, amid discussions about making green passes mandatory for some activities, and overfilled hospitals. Read more.
Croatian president changes tune about euro. Croatia would have more benefits than disadvantages from euro adoption, President Zoran Milanović was quoted as saying after he met with his Maltese counterpart, George Vella. Read more.
24/7 COVID passes: Serbian virologist in favour, PM says no. Serbian virologist Dr. Milanko Šekler said on Wednesday (27 October) that only an around-the-clock use of the COVID-19 pass would “make sense”. But Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić stated that such passes would not be needed for the time being. Read more.
CoE: North Macedonia showing commitment, insufficient clarity on decentralisation. Political commitment to decentralisation is observed in North Macedonia, but more clarity in law and practice is needed to further improve the decentralisation reform in the country, according to a recommendation adopted by the Council of Europe’s Congress of Local and Regional Authorities. Read more.
PRISTINA | BELGRADE
EU calls for resolution of Kosovo-Serbia boxing spat. The European Commission has called for the depoliticisation of sport after Serbia prevented Kosovo’s team from participating in the 2021 World Boxing Championship being held in Belgrade. Read more.
Albanian ruling party refuses to participate in inquiry into alleged electoral issues. The ruling Socialist Party boycotted, for the third time, on Wednesday (27 October), a meeting with a committee set up to investigate possible abuse of central and local public administration in the run-up to the April general elections. Read more.
- EU: EU-Moldova Association Council meets in Brussels / NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg meets Montenegro’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Đorđe Radulović at NATO headquarters.
- France: Prime Minister Jean Castex will participate in an inter-ministerial session on research, culture and education in Europe and meet with the European commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton.
- Austria: Integration minister hosts governmental forum on preventing extremism.
- Belgium: Court hears demand for Deliveroo riders to be recognised as staff .
- Spain: Minister of Ecological Transition, Teresa Ribera, travels to Algeria to secure the delivery of gas for the country in winter.
- Greece: German Chancellor Angela Merkel pays a visit to Greece, where she will meet Greek PM Kyriakos Mitsotakis.
- Croatia: The government is expected to consider a draft revision of the 2021 budget and a draft budget for 2022.
- Serbia: The 13th session of the Serbia-EU Parliamentary Committee for Stabilisation and Association, to discuss the current status of the accession negotiations and relations between the EU and Serbia. Meanwhile, the Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi continuing his visit to Serbia.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]