France, Germany use investments to pressure Serbia’s EU path – EURACTIV.com
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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Serbian President Aleksander Vucic said during a speech on Monday evening that there is no progress for Serbia on its EU path if it does not consider what he called a “Franco-German” plan for relations with Kosovo and that compromise may be the only option or EU investments in the country will cease.
However, his comments hold little weight as public opinion of bloc membership remains at an all-time low, with the majority of Serbs preferring to remain outside of the bloc. Read more.
Qatargate: Lawyer alleges Panzeri will name MEPs from Germany, France. Pier Antonio Panzeri, the alleged mastermind of the Qatargate scandal, is expected to give the Belgian justice new names of EU lawmakers from Germany, France and Italy, the lawyer of jailed Greek MEP Eva Kaili said on Monday. Read more.
Le Pen opposes sending heavy weapons to Ukraine to avoid escalation. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen says she opposes sending heavy tanks to Ukraine, fearing it could escalate the ongoing conflict with Russia. Read more.
Scholz still silent on modern tank delivery to Ukraine amid mounting pressure. Chancellor Olaf Scholz has declined to comment on the delivery of German-made Leopard 2 tanks for which his country needs to give the green light, despite mounting pressure from within his own governing coalition as well as from international partners. Read more.
VIENNA | SOFIA
Austria to forge alliance to help Bulgaria protect its border. Chancellor Karl Nehammer called on the European Commission to assist Bulgarian border protection with €2 billion and is working on building an alliance within the EU to push the Commission into a stricter line on border protection. Read more.
Belgium’s budget deficit now highest in Eurozone. Belgium registered a budget deficit that amounted to 5.1% of its GDP in the third quarter of 2022, the largest in the Eurozone countries in that period, Eurostat data from Monday reads. Read more.
Dutch to send eight F-35s to Poland. Eight F-35s from the Royal Netherlands Air Force will leave for Poland at the end of January to defend NATO’s Eastern flank. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Northern Ireland Protocol ‘isn’t rocket science’, says former Irish PM. Finding a compromise to end the long-running impasse over the Northern Ireland Protocol “isn’t rocket science,” Bertie Ahern, the former Irish Taoiseach told UK lawmakers on Monday, adding that it was “beyond comprehension” it could not be resolved. Read more.
NORDICS AND BALTICS
Finland on its way to dismantling state monopoly on gambling. The Finnish state is on its way to ditching its 80-year monopoly over gambling as the country’s three biggest parties have decided to make a last effort before elections in April to reform a sector that faces increasing challenges from foreign, unregulated, and digitally savvy competition. Read more.
Swedish PM warns of ‘domestic terrorists’ as violent crime rises. Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson likened those responsible for the recent rise in violent gang-related crime in Stockholm to “domestic terrorists” on Monday as Sweden has been struck by a wave of serious violent crimes since the start of the year. Read more.
TALLINN | RIGA
NATO’s Baltic States, Russia remove ambassadors as diplomatic relations downgraded. NATO and EU members Estonia and Latvia told their Russian ambassadors to leave after Moscow said it was downgrading diplomatic relations with Estonia, accusing it of “total Russophobia.” Read more.
Spain urges NATO partners to avoid conflict over Leopard 2 tanks. NATO allies should remain united and avoid confrontation and division, Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles said Monday in reference to the recent spat between Poland and Germany over the sending of modern German-made Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine. Read more.
Italy boosts key energy ties with Algeria. Italy’s two-day state visit to Algiers resulted in energy giants Eni and Sonatrach signing two agreements Monday that aim to reduce emissions and improve the energy interconnection network linking the two countries. Read more.
Protect independence of privacy watchdog, EU Parliament to tell Greece. The European Parliament’s PEGA committee is expected to call on the Greek government to protect the independence of the authority responsible for privacy issues (ADAE) and shed light on the so-called “Greek Watergate”, a wiretapping scandal which has shaken domestic politics for months. Read more.
TAP cabin crew calls off strike after reaching deal. The cabin crew of Portuguese flag carrier TAP accepted a proposal put forward by its employer and will thus call off the strike they had planned for 25 to 31 January, an official from the National Civil Aviation Flight Staff Union SNPVAC which called for industrial action to be held, told Lusa. Read more.
WARSAW | PRAGUE
Baltic states, Poland fume at Babis’ ‘anti-NATO’ comments. Presidential candidate Andrej Babiš questioning his country’s commitment to helping neighbouring NATO allies in a TV debate on Sunday has been criticised by the foreign ministers of neighbouring Baltic states and neighbouring Poland. Read more.
Slovak parties want to consolidate constitution to avoid going down Hungary’s path. The idea of a constitutional block on electoral reform is gaining ground among parties, including the strongest OĽaNO party, who fear the next coalition may copy Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and reform the electoral system for longtime rule. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Slovenia registers sharp rise in irregular migrations. Slovenian police caught 32,042 migrants who irregularly crossed the border last year, a 214% increase compared to the previous year that is largely due to a huge influx of persons from Afghanistan, Burundi, India, Pakistan and Russia, the latest statistics show. Read more.
Albanian businesses miss skilled workers in burgeoning tourism sector. As Albania continues trying to put itself on the map as a tourist destination, businesses are hindered by a lack of workforce, with over half saying that is their main issue, according to a recent survey published by the UNDP. Read more.
- EU: Commission President Ursula von der Leyen meets with Prime Minister of the Netherlands Mark Rutte; Receives former Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte;
- Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis, Economy Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni participate in the high-level conference titled “Croatia, the 20th Member of the Euro Area” in Zagreb, Croatia;
- Vice President Margrethe Vestager meets with President of the European Investment Bank Werner Hoyer;
- Vice President Vĕra Jourová receives Minister of Justice of Hungary Judit Varga;
- Financial services, financial stability and Capital Markets Union Commissioner Mairead McGuinness holds meetings with President of the European Court of Auditors Tony Murphy, European Data Protection Supervisor Wojciech Wiewiórowski;
- Neighbourhood and Enlargement Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi participates in the Western Balkans Conference, in Trieste, Italy;
- European Parliament President Roberta Metsola meets with the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN and Chair of the UN Sustainable Development Group Amina J. Mohammed;
- MEPs hold press conference regarding the vote on rules on transparency and targeting of political advertising in the Committee on Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO);
- Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) votes on adequate minimum income ensuring active inclusion;
- The 15th European Space Conference on “Securing the Future of Europe in Space” takes place in Brussels, Belgium;
- Germany: Defence Minister Boris Pistorius meets with NATO Chief Jens Stoltenberg; Holds joint press conference;
- France: German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock delivers speech to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg;
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Vlad Makszimov, Daniel Eck, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson, Sofia Mandilara]