June 16. 2021. 9:36

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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.

Before you start reading today’s edition of the Capitals, feel free to have a look at the article “Europe turns to active labour market policies to beef up job recovery“.

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In today’s news from the Capitals:


Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan received on Sunday (6 June) a delegation of the mostly Turkish-Bulgarian Movement for Rights and Freedoms (MRF). The delegation visit was led by DPS leader Mustafa Karadayi and included MEP Ilhan Kyuchuk. MRF has three MEPs, part of the European Parliament’s Renew Europe group.

Erdoğan also met with North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev and Albania’s Prime Minister Edi Rama. Read more.



Conservative win in German state election boosts Laschet’s chancellery hopes. Chancellor Angela Merkel’s conservatives won a resounding victory in a state election in Eastern Germany on Sunday (6 June), in a boost to Armin Laschet, who hopes to succeed her in September’s national election. Read more.





“The subjects on which we hope to make progress, on which we are already working with the Portuguese presidency, will be the directive under negotiation on minimum wages, equal pay for women and men or the issue of platform workers,” Beaune said. The French minister also said he wants to continue to fight fraud related to posted workers and “responsible capitalism”. (Anne Damiani | EURACTIV.fr)



Kurz attends St. Petersburg International Economic Forum. Austrian Chancellor Sebastian Kurz attended the Economic Forum in St. Petersburg as the only EU leader amid increasing tensions between Russia and the EU. Kurz defended EU sanctions against Belarus but refrained from direct criticism of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Read more.

Also read: Putin says wants to find ways with Biden to improve ties



Poots met with Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin for an hour-long discussion which Martin described as “an open exchange of views”, including on the Northern Ireland Protocol. “I believe that there are important issues that we need to discuss on the basis that there is going to be a serious attempt to deal with the Northern Ireland Protocol. I believe that we should be seeking to have normalised relationships once again,” Poots said. (Paula Kenny | EURACTIV.com)



Estonian PM meets Finland’s ambassador over travel restrictions. Continuing travel restrictions imposed by Finland are causing tensions between the neighbouring countries across the Gulf of Finland, prompting Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas to hold talks on Friday with the ambassador of Finland. Read more.



Bank of Italy governor calls for review of Stability Pact. It is necessary to review the European Union’s Stability Pact before the end of its suspension, and to find a “harmonious and long-term vision between countries”, even if it is necessary “to be very attentive to the risks of inflation”, Bank of Italy’s Governor, Ignazio Visco, said in a speech on Sunday . Read more.



Spain to also accept travellers with cheaper rapid antigen tests. Spain will allow travellers to enter the country as of Monday if they have been vaccinated against COVID-19, present a negative PCR test or show that they have taken the much cheaper rapid antigen test. Read the full story.



Poland’s Law and Justice party politician criticises Belarusian opposition leader. Polish politician Ryszard Terlecki, a prominent member of the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, has told Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya to “seek help in Moscow”. Read more.



Another Czech-Polish dispute. Czech environmental organisations are calling for an immediate halt to the construction of a lookout tower on the top of Králický Sněžník, a mountain located on the border between Czechia and Poland. They say the tower, which has been under construction since autumn 2020, breaches building permit rules and poses a threat to wildlife. Read more.



Thousands protest again Chinese university in Budapest, Beijing ‘baffled’. Thousands have protested against Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán’s Fidesz and its push for building a campus of the Chinese Fudan University in Budapest in the first large anti-government demonstration in Hungary for a long time. Read more.



Slovak officials told Nord Stream 2 will not affect gas supply through Ukraine. Board Chairman of Russia’s state-run natural gas monopoly Gazprom, Alexei Miller, confirmed that Slovakia has a stable position in Gazprom’s strategic plans in the meeting at the 24th International Economic Forum (SPIEF) with Slovak Economy Minister Richard Sulík and Foreign Minister Ivan Korčok in St. Petersburg on Friday. Read more.



Albania lifts all restrictions for foreign tourists. The Albanian government has lifted all pandemic-related restrictions for foreign tourists visiting the country, exit.al reported. Read more.



Slovenia amends penal code, redefines sexual consent. The Slovenian parliament has passed amendments to the penal code that redefine sexual consent in line with the concept “only yes means yes”, a profound change compared to the current system in which rape was only legally considered rape if it involved physical coercion or grave threats. Read more.



Croatia’s May Online Vacancy Index shows higher labour demand. Croatia’s Online Vacancy Index (OVI) for May 2021 is several times higher compared to May 2020, and comparison with May 2019 shows that labour demand was about 1% higher compared to pre-pandemic levels, the Zagreb Institute of Economics (EIZ) announced.

From the perspective of the OVI index, the labour market has been showing clear signs of recovery from the crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic for the third consecutive month, the EIZ said. The most sought-after occupations in May 2021 were salesperson, cook and waiter, with a total combined share in labour demand of about 28%. “The demand for cooks and waiters has recovered significantly, which is in part a result of relatively late preparation for the tourist season,” EIZ analysts said. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)



Serbia launches production of Russian vaccine. Belgrade’s Torlak Institute for Virology, Vaccines and Serums officially launched the production of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine late on Friday, making Serbia the first state in Europe to be producing the Russian vaccine. Read more.



Montenegro opens its borders to EU, Israeli citizens. Montenegro on Saturday opened its borders to EU and Israeli citizens, who will be able to enter the country without having to fulfil COVID-19-related requirements, the government decided at a meeting on Friday. Read more.


  • Luxembourg: Luxembourgish Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister François Bausch to speak at the launch event of the World Climate and Security Report 2021.
  • Germany: Foreign Minister Heiko Maas speaking at the opening of the Ambassadors’ Conference in Berlin
  • Czechia: Belarusian opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya will visit Czechia to meet with Prime Minister Andrej Babiš, President Miloš Zeman and other leading Czech politicians.
  • Bulgaria: The foreign ministry will give information about voting abroad in the upcoming early elections.
  • Slovenia: European Commissioner Margaritis Schinas, European Commission Vice-President for the Promotion of the European Way of Life, will pay a visit to Slovenia to meet with Prime Minister Janez Janša, Interior Minister Aleš Hojs and President Borut Pahor.
  • Serbia: A memorandum of understanding between the Chamber of Commerce and the Russian-Serbian Culture and Heritage Foundation is to be signed.


[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Paula Kenny, Josie Le Blond]