May 18. 2024. 3:20

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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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In today’s news from the Capitals:

LUXEMBOURG

Luxembourg’s economy and foreign ministries are suing Spacety Luxembourg SA for its alleged ties with Moscow that were brought to light after the US sanctioned the group for allegedly providing satellite images to Russia’s mercenary Wagner group in January. Read more.

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EU INSTITUTIONS

EPP chief causes uproar after questioning Spain’s EU Presidency. The centre-right European People’s Party leader Manfred Weber triggered strong reactions in Madrid and Brussels after he questioned the upcoming Spanish EU Presidency over internal disagreements in the left-wing coalition government on the war in Ukraine. His statement is a sign of “weakness”, the EU socialists responded. Read more.

CAP funding still vulnerable to conflicts of interest, say auditors. The EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) still remains vulnerable to conflicts of interest thanks to transparency loopholes and a lack of measures to detect situations at risk and protect whistleblowers, according to a new watchdog report. Read more.

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BERLIN

Germany launches €49 public transport ticket with different regional rules. A monthly subscription ticket at the price of €49 per month for all regional public transport, including local buses, trams, and trains, will be introduced in May, with regions being left to handle rebates for students or the unemployed. Read more.

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PARIS

France wants to catch up on wastewater reuse. The French government will review the rules allowing wastewater reuse, as France is “very late” in this field, Ecological Transition Minister Christophe Béchu announced on Tuesday. Read more.

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VIENNA

Electricity market reform falls short, says Austrian climate minister. The electricity market reform proposed by the European Commission on Tuesday contains small steps in the right direction but is not enough to spread the benefits of renewables to consumers, according to Austrian Climate Minister Leonore Gewessler. Read more.

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BRUSSELS

Court rejects Tarabella’s request to dismiss investigative judge. The Brussels Court of Appeal on Tuesday rejected Belgian MEP Marc Tarabella’s request to dismiss the investigating judge in the ‘Qatargate affair’ for which the lawmaker has been charged with corruption and money laundering. Read more.

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THE HAGUE

Dutch to send minehunters, drone detection systems to Ukraine. The Netherlands will provide the Ukrainian army with two mine hunters for use in the Black and Azov Seas, drone detection radar systems and M3 Amphibious Rig bridging vehicles, Defence Minister Kajsa Ollongren announced during a visit to Ukraine on Tuesday. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

HELSINKI

Finland mulls introducing a health tax. Six out of nine political parties want to introduce a health tax to tackle the issue of obesity in Finland during the next parliamentary term, a new survey found. Read more.

Another term for Finland’s Sanna Marin? The fate of Finland’s current Prime Minister, Sanna, will be decided in April’s parliamentary elections for which the latest polls put her current five-party coalition in poll position according to the latest figures. Read more.

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STOCKHOLM

Finland likely to join NATO before Sweden, says Swedish PM. With NATO negotiations between Sweden, Finland and Turkey having resumed, it seems increasingly likely that Helsinki will join NATO before Stockholm, Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson told a press conference on Tuesday, shooting down hopes for a joint bid with Finland and disappointing Swedish politicians. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ATHENS

Greek polls: Mitsotakis, Tsipras in neck-and-neck race before elections. The recent train tragedy, which cost the lives of 57 people, has had several political repercussions for the ruling conservative New Democracy party (EPP), as new polls suggest that it is now in a neck-and-neck race with leftist Syriza party ahead of the upcoming national elections. Read more.

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MADRID

Spain’s core inflation hits new record despite government measures. Core inflation hit a new record despite efforts put in place by the government to contain the country’s CPI index, the state-owned National Statistics Institute (INE) reported on Tuesday. Read more.

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ROME

Italian government tells Milan to stop registering same-sex couples’ children. Italy’s right-wing government has told Milan’s city council to stop registering same-sex parents’ children, re-igniting a debate around Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s conservative agenda. Read more.

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LISBON

Portugal’s renewables, air quality better than OECD average: report. Portugal performs well in areas such as renewable energy, greenhouse gas emissions and air quality but needs to improve in waste recovery and the circular economy, according to a report released on Tuesday. Read more.


VISEGRAD

WARSAW

Polish president signs wind turbine law in bid to unlock EU funds. President Andrzej Duda has signed an amended wind turbine law which could help Poland access currently frozen EU recovery funds despite the industry and environmental NGOs viewing it as insufficient. Read more.

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PRAGUE

Czech anti-EU party loses support, polls show. The populist Freedom and Direct Democracy party (ID-affiliated), which has strong anti-EU rhetoric, is losing its voters, fresh opinion polls show. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

Slovak Interior Ministry recommends employees delete TikTok. Interior Ministry employees should consider deleting the Chinese social media app from their phones as it is considered a security threat, the ministry wrote in a statement on Tuesday. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

ANKARA

Turkey’s Kılıçdaroğlu ahead of Erdogan two months before elections. Incumbent President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is trailing behind his primary opponent, Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, who leads the centre-left CHP party and the centrist multiparty Millet İttifakı electoral alliance, polls published two months ahead of the 14 May presidential elections show. Read more.

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SOFIA

Cigarette smuggling levels in Bulgaria reach record low. A record low of 1.5% of all cigarettes distributed in Bulgaria were illegal in the last quarter of 2022, according to data published Tuesday by the Initiative against Illegal Trade, which comprises major distributors of tobacco products in the country. Read more.

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LJUBLJANA

MOL to sell assets to get clearance for Slovenia takeover. Hungarian oil company MOL plans to sell 39 service stations in Slovenia to Shell to receive EU Commission clearance for the takeover of the Slovenian branch of Austrian oil company OMV, the country’s second-largest chain of service stations. Read more.

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BELGRADE

Lajcak: We are looking for a win-win situation for Belgrade, Pristina. The high-level meeting in Ohrid between Belgrade and Pristina aims to find a “win-win situation and open the European door”, the EU’s Represenative for the Belgrade-Pristina Dialogue Miroslav Lajčak during his visit to Belgrade. Read more.

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TIRANA

Russian detained in Albania on espionage charges seeks political asylum. Russian citizen Svetlana Timofeeva, arrested in Albania on espionage charges and set to be extradited to Russia, has applied for political asylum under claims Moscow will persecute her for her views on the war in Ukraine. Read more.


AGENDA

  • EU: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen participates in the European Parliament’s plenary debate in preparation for the European Council meeting of 23-24 March 2023;
  • Commissioner Mariya Gabriel delivers the closing speech at the EPP meeting with national parliaments in Strasbourg;
  • Conclusions of the Special European Council meeting of 9 February and preparation of the European Council meeting of 23-24 March 2023;
  • Germany: Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson hold a press conference after talks;
  • France: Nationwide strikes and protests over pension reform;
  • The Netherlands: Dutch provincial elections;
  • Estonia: German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier visits;
  • US: UN Security Council meeting on Yemen;

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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson, Sofia Mandilara]