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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Recent statements within the ruling Greens party suggest Finland’s NATO membership could be considered in just five years. Read more.
Frenchman Macron has announced that he will make space policy announcements in February. French President Emmanuel Macron told the newspaper on Tuesday The Parisian that he would host a summit on the European Union’s space strategy with the ministers of the bloc in February.
“I will make announcements on our strategy,” Macron said in the interview, adding that the meeting would be held in Toulouse, where the aviation, defense and space conglomerate Airbus is based. (EURACTIV.com)
The European Greens plan to sue the Commission for taxonomic rules. The European Greens are currently assessing whether they should follow the Austrian example and sue the European Commission over EU taxonomic rules that could qualify nuclear energy and gas as “green” energy sources. Read more.
The Greens are paving the way for the second term of the German president. Leading former Social Democratic (SPD) politician Frank-Walter Steinmeier is now officially nominated for a second term in Berlin’s iconic Bellevue Palace as the Greens have chosen to put their weight behind him. Read more.
COVID-19 tests cost France 1 billion euros in December alone. Significant increase in COVID-19 testing in December saw the French state bill rise to 1 billion euros, according to the newspaper The echoes. Read more.
UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND
Irish President calls on European leaders to support global immunization coverage. Irish President Michael D. Higgins has written to the other 14 members of the Arraiolos group, urging them to support the lifting of patents on the COVID-19 vaccine and the increased rollout of vaccinations around the world. Read more.
NORDIC AND BALTIC
The Danish government lobbied to boycott the Beijing Winter Olympics. Pressure for boycott Beijing Winter Olympics over China’s human rights situation threatens Social Democratic government as more parties in parliament voice concernnm Read more.
Election of struggling Italian president as COVID-19 cases rise. With the increase in COVID-19 cases across the country, the vote for the new Italian president, who is to be elected by the Chamber of Deputies and the Senate on January 24, is becoming problematic. Read more.
Spain ended 2021 with an unprecedented reduction in unemployment since 2007. Spain experienced the largest annual reduction in unemployment of over 20% in 2021 compared to 2020, the largest drop since January 2007 EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported. Read more.
Portugal to increase early mobile polling stations for upcoming elections. The government will double the number of mobile early polls in the upcoming parliamentary elections due to the increase in COVID-19 cases, the Assistant Secretary of State for Internal Administration said on Tuesday. Read more.
COVID-related deaths remain high in Greece. The death rate from COVID has remained high for months now, with Greece reporting a new record of 50,126 new cases on Tuesday. Read more.
Polish Minister of Justice calls on Warsaw to block the EU’s “insane” climate package. EU ‘Foolish Climate Policy’ Must Be Dismissed For Electricity Bills To Go Down, Poland Says The Minister of Justice and leader of Solidarna Polska, Zbigniew Ziobro, on Twitter. Read more.
Prague says V4 allies with Poland, Hungary violated rule of law. The rule of law has been violated in Hungary and Poland, said the new Czech Minister for European Affairs Mikuláš Bek (STAN, EPP) in an interview with Hospodářské noviny. Read more.
Opposition Hungarian municipalities say they are feeling the fiery revenge of the ruling party. Cities ruled by opposition mayors are showing growing budget deficits due to the double blow of ruling party decisions that rob them of income and higher costs resulting from sky-high energy prices. Read more.
Slovakia is the first country in the region to adopt a deposit system for plastic bottles. From Monday, Slovaks will be able to return plastic bottles and cans in good condition to supermarkets. Slovakia became the first Central European country and only the eighth EU country to introduce such a deposit system. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Albanian EU negotiator attacks France for membership. MMember states are not keen on joining the EU, hinting that France could be part of it, according to Albania’s chief negotiator with the European Union, Zef Mazi. Read more.
Bulgaria will not trade its veto on Skopje for American and Schengen visas. Bulgaria will not try to exchange its EU veto on North Macedonia for Schengen membership and the removal of US visas, as proposed by Slavi Trifonov, the leader of one of the four parties of the ruling coalition – “There is such a people”. Read more.
Green pass talks are at a standstill. The Romanian coalition was unable to agree on mandatory COVID passes for workers, but talks could resume next week. Read more.
Croatian exodus to Switzerland expected. SwItserland opened its labor market to Croatian workers on January 1, which will further encourage the emigration of young people from Croatia, the Večernji List newspaper published. Read more.
ZAGREB | SARAJEVO
Croatia and BiH register the first cases of “flurona”. Croatia and Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) have confirmed their first cases of ‘flurona’, a term used to describe a person infected with COVID-19 and the flu at the same time. Read more.
Higher charges exacerbate Slovenia’s electricity problems. The Slovenian Energy Agency has decided to increase grid charges which account for around a third of the electricity bill on New Year’s Eve, a move which has been heavily criticized given that the country currently has some of the prices of highest electricity wholesale in the EU. Read more.
Many Serbian towns do not have automatic air pollution monitoring systems. The rejection of excessive air pollution at all levels of the Serbian administration has further delayed the implementation of appropriate measures, while several towns in Serbia, whose residents collectively represent 19% of the total population, fail to do not have automatic air pollution monitoring systems, the National Environmental Association (NEA) said in a press release Tuesday. Read more.
Experts: Inflation is already hitting poor households in Serbia. Poor households in Serbia are already hit by an inflation rate of 10-15%, although the annual growth rate of all prices was 7.5% in November 2021, said Pavle Petrović, professor emeritus at Belgrade Faculty of Economics and Chairman of the Tax Council. Tuesday. Read more.
The government of Republika Srpska is embarking on a harmful energy project with a Chinese investor. The government of the Serbian entity of Bosnia and Herzegovina, Republika Srpska (RS), has signed a contract with a Chinese investor for the construction of another hydropower plant on the Trebišnjica river in eastern Herzegovina, although the project constitutes an ecological risk which could seriously threaten the Neretva River. Read more.
Kosovo bans crypto-mining amid energy crisis. The government of Kosovo has decided to ban cryptocurrency mining as the country faces some of the worst electricity shortages in its history this winter. Read more.
- EU: The head of European diplomacy continues his three-day visit to Ukraine, to go to the front line with his Ukrainian counterpart Dmytro Kuleba.
- Germany: Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock visits Washington DC.
- Croatia: Foreign Minister Gordan Grlić Radman will visit Sarajevo and Mostar.
- Romania: The government will discuss the progress made in achieving the objectives of the national recovery and resilience plan.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]