April 18. 2024. 10:01

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Sweden ‘on its toes’ after Russia pledges countermeasures over NATO bid

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In today’s news from The Capitals:


Sweden is ready to respond to the threat of countermeasures announced by the Russian embassy in Stockholm following the announcement of Sweden’s imminent entry into the alliance, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said on Tuesday. Read more.



EU Commission’s rule of law reporting lacks transparency, auditors say. While EU auditors found that the European Commission´s annual rule of law reporting lacks transparency and accountability, EU lawmakers have voiced concerns about its susceptibility to political influence. Read more.



Future of far-right group in EU Parliament threatened by Franco-German rift. Rifts between the two major far-right players of the European Parliament, Germany’s AfD and Le Pen’s Rassemblement National, are deepening, threatening their European unity and the future of their common parliamentary group – the ID. Read more.



French Senate approves enshrining abortion in Constitution in historic vote. On Wednesday, French senators widely voted in favour (267 for, 50 against) of enshrining in the constitution “the guaranteed freedom” of women “to have recourse to a voluntary interruption of pregnancy”. Read more.



Thousands of Greeks paralyse Athens as rule of law takes centre stage. Hundreds of thousands of Greeks took to the streets of Athens on Wednesday as the Mediterranean country marked a year since a deadly train accident killed 57 people amid complaints that the authorities are trying to cover up those responsible. Read more.



Italy’s governing parties banking on upcoming regional election in Abruzzo. Elections in the Italian region of Abruzzo could be a turning point for Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni’s right-wing three-party coalition, as the now united left, which made gains in recent regional elections in Sardinia, looks set to pose a threat at the national level and in the upcoming EU elections. Read more.



Brussels looks into potential misuse of EU funds in Spanish Koldo corruption case. The European Commission has begun investigations into whether EU funds have been misused in Spain’s Koldo corruption scandal, involving millions of euros in commissions for the purchase of face masks during the pandemic, and has sent relevant information to the European Anti-Fraud Office (OLAF). Read more.



Poland, Ukraine negotiate temporary border closure to stabilise Polish market. The Polish government is negotiating a temporary closure of its shared border with Ukraine so that Ukrainian agri-food production does not destabilise the Polish market anymore, Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced on Wednesday. Read more.



Czech lawmakers thwart same-sex marriage law. The Chamber of Deputies refused to amend the law to allow same-sex marriage, instead approving only same-sex ‘partnerships’ with limited rights. Read more.



Zelenskyy asks Western Balkans to produce military equipment to help fight Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy asked Western Balkan countries on Wednesday (28 February) to start producing military equipment to help his country fight Russia, as the EU and US continue to grapple with providing military and financial aid. Read more.



Istanbul to be main battleground in upcoming Turkish local election. While the Turkish opposition is poised to repeat their 2019 election success in the capital Ankara in an upcoming local election, in Turkey’s largest city, Istanbul, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s AKP and the opposition CHP are running neck and neck. Read more.



Bulgaria to become main route for Russian gas imports to EU, Ukraine in 2025. With the expected end of Russian gas transit through Ukraine at the end of this year, the Balkan Stream gas pipeline through Bulgaria will become the main supply route for the EU and Ukraine, as discussed during the visit of the EU’s top energy official, Ditte Juul Jorgensen, to the dispatch centre of state-owned gas company Bulgartransgaz (BTG). Read more.



Romanian government presents aid to beekeepers, farmers struggling amid Russian aggression. Two emergency ordinances aimed at establishing state aid programs to partially compensate losses suffered by beekeepers and farmers were passed by the government on Thursday in response to the crisis triggered by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Read more.



Ruling HDZ refuses to dissolve Croatian parliament, opposition to protest in response. The ruling majority in parliament refused on Wednesday to dissolve the sabor and call elections, despite demands from the opposition, which has vowed to protest in retaliation. Read more.



International observers brand Serbian elections ‘unjust’. International observers on Wednesday (28 February) denounced “unjust” conditions that allowed Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić’s party to romp to a controversial landslide victory in December elections. Read more.


  • EU: Informal meeting of education ministers expected to focus on students’ international mobility, and more;
  • Commission Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis participates in World Trade Organisation working session on the finalisation of the Draft Abu Dhabi Ministerial Declaration, in United Arab Emirates; Participates in working session on “Work Programme On Electronic Commerce”; Meets with Minister of Industry, Trade, and Investment of Nigeria Doris N. Uzoka-Anite;
  • International Partnerships Commissioner Jutta Urpilainen chairs the EU-OCT (Overseas Countries and Territories) Forum;
  • Home Affairs Commissioner Yiva Johansson hosts EU Internet Forum;
  • Parliament’s plenary votes on European Digital Identity framework, improving the Union’s protection against market manipulation on the wholesale energy market, need for unwavering EU support for Ukraine, and more;
  • Russia: President Vladimir Putin gives annual address to the nation; Foreign Affairs Minister Sergei Lavrov attends Russia-Palestinian talks on Gaza;
  • Algeria: Gas Exporting Countries Forum (GECF) Summit;


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

Read more with Euractiv

Thousands of Greeks paralyse Athens as rule of law takes centre stage

Thousands of Greeks paralyse Athens as rule of law takes centre stage

Hundreds of thousands of Greeks took to the streets of Athens on Wednesday (28 February) as the Mediterranean country marked a year since a deadly train accident killed 57 people amid complaints that the authorities are trying to cover up those responsible.

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