Bulgaria against EU combustion ban, cites poverty
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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Bulgaria has joined Germany, Italy and Poland in opposing the EU proposal for a de facto ban on petrol and diesel cars from 2035, citing the country’s poor citizens as the main factor in the decision. Read more.
EU SPECIAL REPORT
French study boosts ethanol in road transport decarbonisation debate. A new French study found that hybrid vehicles running with up to 85% renewable ethanol (E85) are just as climate-friendly as electric vehicles if the “full-life-cycle” argument is taken into account. Read more.
EU member states mull future purpose of bloc’s arms fund. As the European Peace Facility is running low on money, EU leaders on Thursday discussed the next steps of the fund, but its scope and future use remain uncertain. Read more.
Germany urges EU hopeful North Macedonia to amend constitution. Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock pledged her full support to North Macedonia’s bid to join the European Union, warning, however, that parties should not let politics get in the way of amending the Constitution, which is a precondition for accession. Read more.
King Charles III’s France visit may face disruptions. The British Monarch’s planned visit to France this weekend may face disruptions, trade unionists and left-wing politicians have said, as security concerns have already led to the government reportedly considering a new location for a state dinner at the Palace of Versailles. Read more.
Eyeing chancellorship, Austrian far-right vows to kill ‘climate communism’. The leader of Austria’s far-right FPÖ, Herbert Kickl consolidated his hold on his political aims by slamming political competitors, Russia sanctions and his government’s climate protection plans at a leadership retreat in Saalbach-Hinterglemm. Read more.
Future EU defence cooperation should include NATO, says Dutch minister. Dutch Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton hailed on Thursday, their agreement declaring a flying unit of tanker and transport planes operational as a ‘perfect example of NATO-EU cooperation’ that should inspire future defence cooperation. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
UK, EU to formally adopt Windsor Framework. The UK and EU will meet on Friday to officially sign off on the Windsor Framework – an agreement to address the free movement of goods in the current Northern Ireland Protocol – at the Withdrawal Agreement Joint Committee, co-chaired by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Ukraine interested in Finland’s ageing fighters, calls for trilateral talks with US. Ukraine is proposing to hold trilateral talks with Finland, and the US about the ageing Finnish jets, which Prime Minister Sanna Marin suggested could be sent to Ukraine in talks with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv earlier this month, Finnish media reported on Thursday. Read more.
Swedish PM, opposition leader lobby for NATO application in Brussels. Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Social Democratic Leader Magdalena Andersson pushed Hungary to ratify Sweden’s NATO membership bid on the sidelines of the EU summit in Brussels Thursday. Read more.
Danish parliament votes to join European Defence Agency. A broad majority in parliament voted in favour of Denmark’s participation in the European Defence Agency (EDA) and the Permanent Structured Cooperation, PESCO, on Thursday, allowing the country to effectively take part in the EU’s Ukraine war efforts. Read more.
‘Third Pole’ vows to dominate Italy’s political centre. A new pro-Europe political party is taking form in Italy and hopes to fish votes from both left, and right ahead of the 2024 EU elections, MEP Sandro Gozi (PDE/Renew Europe) told EURACTIV Italy in an interview. Read more.
Spain wants EU-Latin America united ‘forever’. Establishing a framework for political, trade and financial relations that will leave the EU and Latin America “united forever” will be among Spain’s top priorities as it takes over the EU Council helm for the second half of 2023, Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares, told EURACTIV’s partner EFE in an exclusive interview. Read more.
‘Drums of war’ in Greek socialist party ahead of elections. An internal failure to agree on who to partner with in a potential future Greek government coalition has caused turmoil within the socialist Pasok party ahead of May’s elections. Read more.
Portugal to send €75,000 to help collect Ukraine war crimes evidence. Portugal will financially contribute to support the collection of evidence of war crimes in Ukraine and may also send experts from its main criminal investigation force, the Judicial Police (PJ), and from its National Institute of Forensic Medicine. Read more.
Finland denies having promised free abortion to Polish women. The Finnish government did not promise Polish women free abortions, denying claims Polish MEP Robert Biedroń made at the start of March. Read more.
Czech coal regions risk losing EU money. Czechia risks not being able to use about €1.7 billion from the EU’s Just Transition Fund to help its regions move away from coal and transition to a green economy on time, a recent analysis shows. Read more.
Slovaks believe Ukrainian refugees are making the country worse. Resentment towards Ukrainian refugees in Slovakia is the highest in the EU as 44% of Slovaks believe Ukrainians are making the country a worse place, the new Eurobarometer shows. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
EU slams Bosnian Serb defamation law as ‘step in wrong direction’. The EU criticised the Bosnian Serb amended criminal code introducing criminal penalties for defamation, saying it was a “step in the wrong direction” that could threaten fundamental rights and undermine the country’s EU membership hopes. Read more.
Romania’s Iohannis wants Commission to revisit EU aid for ‘abandoned farmers’. The European Commission must review the amount of aid it intends to send Romanian farmers for the ‘huge sacrifices’ they made to facilitate the export of cheap Ukrainian grain into the EU, Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said ahead of the EU summit on Thursday. Read more.
Slovenia keen to participate in ammunition production. Slovenia wants to take part in the production of ammunition for Ukraine, which should be equally divided across the EU, Prime Minister Robert Golob said before the EU summit on Thursday. Read more.
Tax authority closes stands at Belgrade car expo. The Tax Administration closed down a series of stalls that were selling luxury cars at the Car and Motorcycle Expo in Belgrade on Thursday, citing failure to disclose turnover. Read more.
Kurti: Kosovo has EU, US guarantees to implement Serbia agreement. Kosovo’s Prime Minister Albin Kurti addressed parliament on Thursday to reveal details of the EU-facilitated meeting with Serbian President Aleksander Vucic las week, stating he has received guarantees from the EU and the US on the implementation of the agreement to normalise relations. Read more.
- EU: The Euro Summit convenes for the second day to discuss economic and financial trends and policy coordination; European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen attends;
- Commission Vice President Dubravka Šuica participates in the General Assembly of the Standing Committee of European (CPME) Doctors, organized by the Croatian Medical Chamber;
- Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski meets with Polish Minister for Finance Magdalena Rzeczkowska, in Warsaw;
- Vice President Maroš Šefčovič co-chairs with UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly meetings of the EU-UK Joint Committee and the EU-UK Partnership Council; UK and EU sign Windsor Framework on post-Brexit trade in Northern Ireland;
- Germany: Interior Minister Nancy Faeser hosts meeting with EU counterparts from France, Italy, Sweden and Spain on migration;
- Belgium: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Norway’s PM Jonas Gahr Store hold press conference;
- Dominican Republic: 28th Ibero-American Summit;
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Vlad Makszimov, Daniel Eck, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson, Sofia Mandilara]