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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić hinted for the first time on Wednesday that Belgrade might change course and impose sanctions on Russia, one of the key EU demands for Serbia to progress in its EU membership talks.
In an exclusive interview with EURACTIV Serbia, Dačić, a veteran with more than 30 years in high-level politics, said Serbia, an EU candidate since 2012, was guided primarily by assessing what is in its best interests. Read more.
Source: Avramopoulos did not contact any Commission official for Panzeri’s NGO. Former EU commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos, who recently came into the spotlight as he was a member of Qatargate-related NGO Fighting Impunity, complied with the European Commission’s restrictions placed on the authorisation of his participation and did not contact any Commission officials, EURACTIV has learnt. Read more.
France does not rule out sending Leclerc tanks to Ukraine. Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne did not rule out sending its Leclerc tanks to Ukraine but did not make an official announcement to that effect in an address to Senators on Wednesday. Read more.
French unemployment levels reach 11-year low. The number of job-seekers in France dropped by 3.6% in the last quarter of 2022 to 3.05 million, the lowest figure since 2011 but the French Central Bank warned that the unemployment rate might increase again in 2023. Read more.
German government forecasts minimal growth for 2023. The German economy, which grew 1.8% in 2022, is expected to only grow 0.2%, according to a government forecast presented by Economy Minister Robert Habeck. Read more.
Austria’s larger households to benefit from electricity price cap until mid-2024. Parliament approved the government’s amendment to the electricity cap with a majority on Wednesday to include households with more than three people from 1 June to 30 June next year, despite criticism from the opposition and experts. Read more.
Belgium to send Ukraine ‘substantial aid’, not tanks. Belgium will send new “substantial aid” to Ukraine that will not include tanks as the country’s own defence stock are limited, according to a proposal Defence Minister Ludivine Dedonder said she would present to the Council of Ministers on Friday. Read more.
Dutch cabinet urged to be more transparent on climate spending. The cabinet needs to be more transparent about how billions of euros in funds greenlighted for the climate change fight will be used, the Court of Audit wrote in a letter to parliament on Wednesday. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
State of the Rock. Officials from the UK, Gibraltar and the European Commission will meet on Thursday and Friday, in the latest attempt to break the deadlock on the status of the Rock, a former naval base, at the southern tip of Spain. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Nordic, Baltics against Russia, Belarus participating in global sports. Nordic and Baltic states do not want Russian and Belarussian athletes to take part in international sports though Finland’s Olympic Committee remains doubtful that the International Olympic Committee, which has begun to look into ways for athletes from such countries to participate, will change its stance. Read more.
COPENHAGEN | STOCKHOLM
Denmark, Sweden open to sending Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Denmark and Sweden are open to sending their own Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine after German Chancellor Olaf Scholz gave his needed green light for other countries to send them too. Read more.
LISBON | LUANDA
Lavrov slams West over ‘colonialist-like pressure’ to help Ukraine. The West is using “colonialist methods” as it is exerting “unprecedented” pressure on developing countries to support Ukraine, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in Angola on Wednesday. Read more.
Spain ready to send Ukraine Leopard 2 tanks, train soldiers. Madrid is ready to send Ukraine its Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine and offer training to soldiers as part of a future operation coordinated by NATO allies, Defence Minister Margarita Robles said on Wednesday following German Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s greenlight. Read more.
Catalonia hit by cross-sector protests. Thousands of doctors, nurses, teachers and taxi drivers took to the streets of Barcelona and other major Catalan cities on Wednesday, pointing out their poor working conditions and low wages. Read more.
Czech authorities uncover illegal drug exports, warn against pharma crime. Czechia’s State Institute for Drug Control has detected illegal exports of medicines worth €2.3 million, with Deputy Health Minister Jakub Dvořáček announcing Czechia will double down on so-called “pharmacy crime”, which he said concerns the rest of Europe. Read more.
Slovakia paves way for snap elections in September. Only a two-thirds parliamentary majority remains in the way of snap elections expected to be held on 30 September after lawmakers adopted a constitutional amendment on Wednesday that most citizens oppose. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Russian oil company claims its Bulgarian plant does not supply Ukraine. Lukoil does not supply any of its fuel from Burgas, its plant in Bulgaria, to Ukraine, the company told a Russian news agency on Wednesday. Read more.
Bulgaria, North Macedonia clash over Russia ties, threats. Macedonian President Stevo Pendarovski has been accused of serving Russian interests on Wednesday by Bulgaria’s former foreign minister Ekaterina Zaharieva while a Bulgarian MEP has been condemned for perceived threats against the Macedonian head of state. Read more.
Kosovo’s independence, recognition discussed in Council of Europe plenary. Former leader of Albania’s opposition Democratic Party Lulzim Basha called on the five EU countries that do not recognise Kosovo to do so at a session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (CoE) where the UK and Ukraine also spoke in favour of Pristina’s membership and recognition. Read more.
Albania’s Vjosa takes step to become Europe’s first Wild River National Park. A team of international and Albanian experts presented their vision, roadmap and feasibility study for the creation of the Vjosa National Park to the country’s government this week, in the hopes of ensuring the protection of Europe’s last wild river. Read more.
- EU: Informal meeting of justice and home affairs ministers organised by the Swedish Presidency of the Council of the European Union; Home Affairs Commissioner Ylva Johansson participates;
- President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen delivers keynote speech at the high-level ‘Future of Europe’ business event in Brussels, Belgium;
- Vice President Dubravka Šuica in Geneva, Switzerland holds several meetings, among which with Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Nada Al-Nashif and WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus;
- Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis receives General Secretary of The European Trade Union Confederation Esther Lynch;
- Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi receives Deputy Prime Minister for European Affairs of North Macedonia Bojan Marichikj; Receives Minister of Treasury and Finance of the Republic of Türkiye Nureddin Nebati;
- Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni receives Turkish Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati;
- Vice President Dubravka Šuica in Riga; Meets with Prime Minister of Latvia Krišjānis Kariņš, Media Ombudsperson of Latvia Anda Rožukalns and representatives of Latvian media organisations;
- Commissioners Stella Kyriakides and Jutta Urpilainen on official visit in Pretoria, South Africa;
- European Parliament Plenary session Debates International Holocaust Remembrance Day; Commission President Ursula von der Leyen participates;
- Parliament President Roberta Metsola receives the President of the State of Israel Isaac Herzog, holds joint press conference in Brussels, Belgium; Holds meeting with Spanish President of the Government Pedro Sánchez in Madrid;
- President of the European Court of Human Rights Síofra O’Leary holds annual press conference on activities and statistics for 2022;
- Belgium: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg hosts Israeli President Isaac Herzog; Court rules on provisional detention of Francesco Giorgi, the partner of MEP Eva Kaili, over ‘Qatargate’ corruption case;
- France: President Emmanuel Macron meets Iraqi Prime Minister Mohammed Shia al-Sudani;
- Austria: President Alexander Van der Bellen is sworn in for second term in office;
- United States: President Joe Biden delivers remarks on US economy;
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson, Sofia Mandilara]