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.
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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán was absent from a discussion between EU leaders on Russia and Ukraine, preferring to meet Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro straight after his audience with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Read more.
German government, Scholz suffer drastic approval rating drop. The Ukraine crisis and the question of a vaccine mandate have taken their toll on the popularity of Germany’s political leadership, with one in three being “dissatisfied” with Chancellor Olaf Scholz, according to new polls. Read more.
Paris transport workers to stage massive strike, demand higher pay. Paris transport network workers will strike on Friday, claiming the wage increase they have been offered is not high enough. Read more.
Austrian businesses aim to up exports to Africa. Austrian businesses see significant export potential in Africa, the country’s chamber of commerce has said ahead of the EU-AU summit in Brussels between 17-18 February. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
UK scraps oligarch–friendly ‘golden visa’ scheme. The UK government has decided to axe a controversial scheme used by several thousand wealthy Russians to obtain investor visas. Read more.
Ireland moves to end mask requirements. Ireland’s National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) recommended on Thursday that current mask requirements should be removed. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
HELSINKI | BERLIN
Finland irritated over Scholz’s Ukraine-NATO comments. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s comments on Ukraine’s possible NATO membership have caused concern and ignited reactions in Finland. Read more.
Disquiet in PP over ‘friendly fire’ spying scandal. Trouble is brewing in Spain’s conservative People’s Party (PP) after two Spanish media outlets on Wednesday reported a possible case of espionage, allegedly commissioned by leaders of the centre-right party, against the brother of the regional President of Madrid, Isabel Díaz Ayuso, also a member of the PP. Read more.
Italy sees drop in COVID-19 cases. The positive rate for COVID-19 remains stable in Italy despite the sharp decline in cases for the third consecutive week, the Gimbe Foundation revealed on Thursday. Read more.
Record olive oil production in Portugal contrasts with drought-hit winter cereals. Olive oil production in Portugal is expected to reach a record level this year, with a 46% increase in volume compared to 2019 and contrasting with the “historic lows” of the output of winter cereals, which has been hit by drought, according to figures released on Thursday by the National Statistics Institute (INE). Read more.
Slovakia’s access to recovery plan money in jeopardy. Only one of four proposals comprising Slovakia’s court map reform progressed to a second reading in parliament, jeopardising access to funds from the EU’s recovery plan. Read more.
Energy policy dominates Fiala’s first Brussels visit. Energy policy was the main topic of discussion between European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala (ODS), who visited Brussels for the first time Thursday. Read more.
EU court’s conditionality ruling sparks new spat in Polish government. A new dispute has erupted between Justice Minister Zbigniew Ziobro and Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki following the EU Court of Justice’s ruling on Wednesday regarding the EU conditionality mechanism. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgaria to accept just a few hundred NATO troops. Bulgaria will only accept a few hundred NATO soldiers, the country’s defence minister Stefan Yanev confirmed after a meeting between NATO defence ministers on Thursday. Read more.
Romania administered half the COVID-19 doses it purchased. Romania only administered half of the 32.5 million COVID-19 vaccines it has received so far, Valeriu Gheorghita, the head of the vaccination campaign, has confirmed. Read more.
Croatian PM calls for earthquake reconstruction to be accelerated. Croatia will be able to use money from the European Solidarity Fund for earthquake relief for an extra year until June 2023, following a meeting between Prime Minister Andrej Plenković and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. Read more.
Slovenia’s defence spending still among lowest in NATO. Slovenia is still among the NATO countries with the lowest defence spending, ranking 25th in terms of efforts to have 2% of GDP allocated for defence and 26th when it comes to defence investments, the latest figures released by NATO show. Read more.
Eight opposition parties sign agreement for a responsible Serbia. Representatives of eight Serbian opposition parties signed an Agreement for a Responsible Serbia on Thursday, focussing on solidarity, rule of law, media freedom and the environment. Read more.
Republika Srpska to EU: Our actions comply with Dayton. Serb entity Republika Srpska (RS) has sent a letter to EU institutions trying to explain its legal motions in the National Assembly as a way of preserving the Dayton Peace Accords. Read more.
Moscow wants stronger security for embassy in Podgorica. The Russian Embassy in Podgorica sent a note to the Montenegrin foreign ministry to increase security around the embassy building in case of provocations on 19 February, the day a demonstration in support of Ukraine is planned.
The ministry confirmed the reception of the note to the RTCG Portal. The information was forwarded to the ministry of internal affairs and the police administration. The RTCG portal also found that the Russian side requested banning gatherings on 19 February. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
Europe’s youngest country celebrates 14 years of independence. Kosovo celebrated 14 years of independence on Thursday as some of its former leaders face charges of war crimes stemming from their armed struggle against the then genocidal Serbian state. Read more.
- EU: EU-Africa Summit in Brussels continues / European Commission President von der Leyen meets with Polish Prime Minister Morawiecki in Brussels / European Parliament President Metsola meets with Latvian Prime Minister Kariņš and Romanian President Iohannis.
- Germany: Munich Security Conference (MSC) starts into the weekend.
- Belgium: Covid restrictions eased, nightclubs reopen, end of compulsory homeworking.
- Athens: Journalist Costas Vaxevanis gives evidence at Supreme Court in the Novartis case.
- Malta: Hearing in the trial of ex-EU Health Commissioner John Dalli, accused of corruption.
- Poland: US Secretary of Defense visits Warsaw on Ukraine-Russia tensions.
- Croatia: Conference on local demographic and developmental measures.
- Serbia: Panel discussion within the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative, titled “Sustainability of Joint Future.” Representatives of several Chinese provinces will speak.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: The emergency session of the Croatian National Assembly to prepare reactions if there will be no electoral reform on Saturday.