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In today’s news from the capitals:
Contrary to estimates from other parts of the world that we face our last pandemic battle with Omicron, Europe is taking a more cautious approach. According to EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, who spoke to a small group of journalists in Brussels, including EURACTIV, current scientific data cannot predict whether this is the latest pandemic wave.
“We have seen many twists and turns throughout this pandemic. So, I will not make predictions on when and if it will be the last wave or not. What we do know is that vaccines haven’t failed us,” she said.
The Cypriot commissioner also said the option of a new vaccine targeting Omicron or several variants could not be ruled out and added that new therapies were emerging. Read more.
Macron’s presentation for the EU presidency turns into a settling of scores. President Emmanuel Macron presented the program for France’s EU Council presidency to highly agitated MEPs in Strasbourg on Wednesday, but it quickly turned into a clash with the French opposition. Read more.
German inflation anxiety rises in mid-29. Consumer prices rose 3.1% in 2021, according to figures from Munich’s Ifo institute, and German government bonds returned to positive yields after a buying spree fueled by inflation anxiety . Read more.
Montebourg withdraws from the French presidential elections. Former Economy Minister Arnaud Montebourg, who ran as an independent, announced on Wednesday that he would no longer take part in the French presidential elections. He confirmed that he would not support any other candidate. Read more.
Austria is pushing for more restrictive EU border protection. Austria is calling for a more rigid European border control system to reduce the number of migrants arriving in the bloc amid the ongoing migration crisis at the Belarusian border. Together with Greece, Poland and Lithuania, Austria is launching a conference on border protection in Vilnius to give more political weight to its action. Read more.
UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND
In the name of God, go… Prime Minister Boris Johnson survived further humiliation on Wednesday as one of his MPs defected to Labor citing Johnson’s ‘disgraceful conduct’ and former Brexit secretary David Davis has urged the PM to “in the name of God, go ahead” during a debate in the House of Commons. . Read more.
Frontline healthcare workers will receive a €1,000 bonus. Healthcare workers in Ireland who have worked on the front line throughout the COVID-19 pandemic will receive a tax-free bonus of €1,000, the cabinet agreed on Tuesday. Read more.
NORDIC AND BALTIC
The demilitarized Aland Islands are again at the center of the security debate. Russia’s aggressive behavior in the Baltic Sea has again sparked discussions about the strategic importance of the island of Åland. Read more.
The left bloc opposes Berlusconi’s presidential candidacy. italy The left-wing bloc has agreed to oppose Silvio Berlusconi’s presidential candidacy if the right proposes it, a source from Italy’s 5-Star Movement said on Wednesday. Read more.
A Spanish MP criticizes the government for the recently agreed labor reform. Gabriel Rufián, deputy and spokesman for the left-wing Catalan independence party (ERC), criticized the government for the labor reform agreed with unions and employers, during a press conference on Wednesday, eldiario.es reported. Read more.
Second Abramovich citizenship inquiry launched. Portuguese prosecutors have opened a formal investigation into the granting of Portuguese citizenship to Russian oligarch Roman Abramovich under the Citizenship Law for Sephardic Jews, the attorney general’s office said Wednesday. Read more.
MEPs call for large-scale election observation in Hungary. Sixty-two MEPs from different political groups sent a joint letter to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), calling for a large-scale observation mission before the Hungarian elections on April 3. Read more.
EU The Commission is taking strong action to force Poland to pay Turów’s fines. The European Commission will deduct money from Poland’s allocation in the EU budget in response to the country’s refusal to comply with the EU Court of Justice’s ruling on the Turów mine, said reported the TVN24 television channel. Read more.
Prague plans to send military equipment to Kiev. The new Czech government wants to help Ukraine in the face of the escalating situation on the borders with Russia, said Defense Minister Jana Černochová (ODS, ECR) in an interview with the daily Hospodářské noviny. Read more.
A simple defense agreement with the United States divides Slovakia. Defense Cooperation agreement between Slovakia and the United States has been in the news in Slovakia for more than a week now. If passed, the deal would grant the US military the right to use two military airports in exchange for access to funds earmarked for investments in the modernization of the Slovak armed forces. Read more.
Chinese reaction against the Slovenian plan for Taiwan. China has reacted against Slovenia’s plans to forge closer ties with Taiwan, calling “dangerous” recent statements by Prime Minister Janez Janša that Slovenia is in talks to open a representative office on the island. Read more.
The Bulgarian Prime Minister has reported a “huge success” in Skopje. Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov described his first visit to North Macedonia, which took place on January 18, as a “huge success”. Read more.
Romania drops plans to introduce COVID passes for workers. The idea of introducing a compulsory pass for workers was abandoned after many contradictory discussions within the coalition. Read more.
The Catholic Church in Croatia gets 160 million euros from the EU Solidarity Fund. The Catholic Church is the biggest winner of EU Solidarity Fund money. Out of 150 contracted projects worth 3.5 billion kuna (466 million euros) within the framework of cultural heritage protection measures, 50 projects worth up to 1.2 billion kuna (€160 million) was contracted through the Ministry of Culture, EURACTIV partner Jutarnji list reported. Read more.
Serbia does not pose a threat to anyone, the defense minister said. Serbia’s army is not a threat to anyone and is not intended for offensive use, Serbian Defense Minister Nebojša Stefanović said on Wednesday. Read more.
The EU representative calls for the October elections to be held independently of the reform. General elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina will take place in the autumn even if no agreement is reached on the modification of the electoral law, declared Johann Sattler, head of the EU delegation in Sarajevo. Read more.
The leader of the Albanian party calls for the recognition of Bulgarians in the Constitution. Ali Ahmeti, leader of the largest Albanian party DUI, called on North Macedonia to accept the demands presented by Bulgarian Prime Minister Kiril Petkov, starting by including the Bulgarian nation in the preamble of the Constitution. Ahmeti, whose power over his coalition with the SDSM continues to grow, made the statement after meeting Petkov. Read more.
The Montenegrin government could face a vote of no confidence. The civic movement URA, led by Deputy Prime Minister Dritan Abazović, sent an initiative for a vote of no confidence in the current government to the parliamentary procedure, the party said. He added that this was a test of whether the concept of a minority government, which they had previously proposed, had a majority in parliament. Read more.
Citizens clash with police over forced evictions in Tirana. Residents of the “5 Maji” neighborhood in Tirana clashed with police on Wednesday as the National Inspectorate began demolishing their homes. Read more.
- EU: Informal meeting of environment and energy ministers in Amiens / European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers a virtual speech at the World Economic Forum / European Parliament announces the result of the vote on the Environmental Protection Act digital services and votes on law to limit harmful content online / Energy Commissioner Kadri Simson meets Ukrainian Energy Minister German Galushchenko.
- Germany: US Secretary of State visits Berlin / US, Britain, France and Germany four-party talks on Ukraine crisis / German Chancellor Olaf Scholz meets Swiss President Ignazio Cassis.
- Austria: Parliament is expected to pass legislation making coronavirus vaccination compulsory.
- France: Appeal against the acquittal of Eric Zemmour, accused of denial of crimes against humanity.
- Poland: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy meets Polish President Andrzej Duda for consultations in Wisla.
- Croatia: The National Council for the Introduction of the Euro as Legal Tender in Croatia holds its 13th meeting.
- Romania: Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca organizes a meeting at the seat of government to analyze Romania’s results in the fight against human trafficking.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]