Wednesday, 15 September 2021 10:51

Once dominant EU centre-right now faces isolation

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 EURACTIV’s German election polling, in cooperation with Europe Elects. You can find the English and German versions here.

Also take a look at the article “European Prosecutor’s office probes suspected fraud worth €4.5 billion“.

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In today’s news from the Capitals:


The EU’s centre-right camp, a dominant force in European politics in the past 20 years, is bracing for a major hit as the elections in Germany are looming closer. Read more.



Austrian Interior Minister criticises EU over migration. At a European Police Congress on Tuesday, Interior Minister Karl Nehammer criticised the EU for its alleged hesitancy to address migration issues sufficiently and reiterated that Austria won’t admit Afghan refugees. Read more.



German extreme-right group wins legal victory ahead of elections. The German extreme right group “III. Weg” (German: The Third Way) has made waves as it placed posters that read “Hang the Greens” around election campaign posters by the Greens party. Read more.



French medical sector faced with suspensions as vaccine obligation enters into force. Starting from this Wednesday, all medical staff that have not received at least one shot of the COVID-19 vaccine are to be suspended with immediate effect. While an overwhelming majority of health professionals are by now at least partially vaccinated, the number of personnel still refusing vaccination is estimated at several hundred. (Magdalena Pistorius |

Read also: France: Mandatory vaccination for caregivers “risks destabilizing health structures”, according to nursing union



UK parliament shuts the door to Chinese ambassador. China’s ambassador to the UK, Zheng Zeguang, has been banned from entering the UK Parliament while sanctions remain in place by the Chinese government against a number of UK MPs and peers. Read more.



Ireland gets allies in fighting for use of data by law enforcement. A group of EU member states have joined Ireland at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in opposing a more restrictive interpretation of a data law integral to an Irish murder case. Read more.



Italians faced with 40% hike in electricity bills. Ecological transition Minister Roberto Cingolani warned Italians that they should brace for a 40% increase in their electricity and gas bills in the next couple of months. Speaking at a conference in Genova, Cingolani said “the government is committed to mitigating the costs of bills, to ensure that the international transition to more sustainable energies is rapid and does not penalise families”. Read more.



Portugal: More than 50% would vote for Merkel as EU president. A survey by the European Council on Foreign Relations shows that the Portuguese are among the top three European peoples who would choose outgoing German Chancellor Angela Merkel for the position of “president” of Europe. Read more.



Spanish PM rules out another Catalonia referendum. Spain’s socialist Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, and Pere Aragonès, Catalonia’s pro-independence president, will open on Wednesday afternoon in Barcelona a new era of “political dialogue” between Spain’s central government and the prosperous Spanish region. EURACTIV’s partner EFE reports.



Polls suggest the collapse of Czech social democracy. Ahead of Czech parliamentary elections due on 8-9 October 2021, Czech social democrats face hard times. Unlike their German counterparts, they are losing ground and opinion polls suggest they might not even pass the 5% threshold required to win a seat in the Czech parliament. Read more.



Crisis at Belarusian border helps ruling party regain ground. Latest polls show that the ruling party in Poland is regaining some popularity after last months’ losses at the expense of leading opposition parties. Read more.



Hungary condemns EP resolution calling for EU-wide recognition of same-sex marriage. Fidesz politicians have strongly criticised the resolution calling for cross-bloc recognition of same marriage, Telex reported. Read more.



Slovakia plans record-high defence expenditure. The Slovak defence ministry is planning the largest purchase in the country’s history. The government already approved the purchase of 152 tracked and 76 wheeled combat armoured vehicles. Estimated price tag is over €2 billion, EURACTIV Slovakia reports. Read more.



Political conflict over COVID jabs in Bulgaria takes an ugly turn. The chairman of the parliamentary group of the leading “There is such a people” (ITN) party, Toshko Yordanov, called MEP Radan Kanev (Democratic Bulgaria, EPP) “garbage”. The latter had asked for the EU’s help with efforts to increase the number of vaccinated against COVID in Bulgaria. Read more.



Merkel meets Western Balkans leaders in Tirana, highlights regional cooperation. One of the statements after the meeting between Angela Merkel and prime ministers of six Western Balkans EU hopefuls underlined the need for further work on the so-called Berlin Process as one of the most important diplomatic initiatives since 2014, attributed to Merkel and aiming at the EU enlargement. Read more.



COVID figures rise. The number of coronavirus infections rose Wednesday by the highest daily figure in more than five months, government data showed. Almost 4,000 new infections were reported and the hospitals are again getting a high number of COVID patients, including in the intensive care units. Read more.



Vučić calls on all Serbs in all Serbian countries, including Croatia, to hang a flag. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić has called on Serbs to hang out the Serbian flag on Wednesday, because that date was defined as a Day of Serbian Unity, Freedom and National Flag. The call was made primarily to Serbs in Serbia and Republika Srpska, the Serb entity in Bosnia, but Vučić also called on “Serbs from all Serbian countries”, which includes Croatia, a country that had fought a war with its Serb minority in 1991-95. Read more.



Slovenia introduces COVID pass mandate. Virtually all services establishments and workplaces in Slovenia will require a COVID pass as of Wednesday, in a sweeping tightening of restrictions designed to stem a rapidly deteriorating fourth wave of the Covid-19 pandemic in the country. Read more.


  • EU: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers her State of the Union speech in the European Parliament in Strasbourg.
  • France: Covid vaccine becomes mandatory for health workers and care home staff / European and Foreign Affairs Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian will meet with the Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya this afternoon.
  • Portugal: Prime Minister António Costa and Minister of Education Tiago Brandão Rodrigues mark the opening of the school year at a school in Lisbon.
  • Netherlands: Former Kosovo Liberation Army commander Salih Mustafa goes on trial for war crimes in The Hague.
  • Italy: Heads of state from EU’s Arraiolos Group of countries meet / Former Deputy Prime Minister of Italy and Minister of the Interior, Matteo Salvini, faces trial over Open Arms migrant case.
  • Spain: Socialist Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, and Catalonia’s pro-independence regional president, Pere Aragonès, open dialogue in a bilateral meeting in Barcelona.
  • Bulgaria: Current Bulgarian parliament is holding its last plenary sitting before being dismissed on Thursday after having failed to form a government. Bulgaria will have early parliamentary elections for the second time this year in November.
  • Belgrade: Day of Serbian Unity, Freedom and the National Flag to be marked by a display of armaments and a central event which will also be attended by Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić.