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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Striking the provision of European treaties that requires the bloc to strive for “an ever closer Union” and transforming the directly elected European Parliament into a representative body of national parliamentary delegates are some of the Hungarian government’s positions in the debate during the Conference on the Future of Europe, Prime Minister Orbán Viktor said on Saturday (19 June). Read more.
Schinas: Erasmus generation has a duty to defend Europe. European Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas has said that “the time has come” for the Erasmus generation to help Europe defend itself from the enemies who would have us believe that the European Union has no future. More.
Armed Belgian anti-vaccine fugitive soldier found dead. Belgian police on Sunday (20 June) found the body of terror suspect Jürgen Conings, a fugitive soldier who went missing a month ago with a stash of weapons after threatening a famous virologist and his family. Read more.
Germany warns fans not to travel to London for EURO 2020 final. German Health Minister Jens Spahn has warned that fans choosing to travel to London for the final of the EURO 2020 tournament that they will have to quarantine for two weeks due to the increasing incidence of the more contagious COVID-19 Delta variant. Read more.
Record low voter turnout in first round of French regional polls. Just a third of eligible French voters cast their ballots in regional elections on Sunday (20 June), according to an Ipsos/Sopra Steria estimate for France Télévisions, the lowest turnout for elections in France since 1958. Read more.
Austria ends opposition to EU-Belarus sanctions. Austria has lifted its block on attempts by the EU to slap fresh sanctions on the Belarusian banking sector, apparently moving away from its previous position that sanctions would push Minsk closer to Russia. Read more.
UK AND IRELAND
Givan told he must resign as N Ireland’s first minister. Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party is set for more chaos after Paul Givan was told by party officials that he will have to resign as first minister. The move follows the resignation of Edwin Poots after just three weeks as leader of the province’s largest party. Poots, who had ousted Arlene Foster, was forced to resign after party lawmakers reacted angrily to his deal with the republican Sinn Fein and the Westminster government over nominating Givan as the new first minister.
Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, who is favourite to be the next DUP leader having been narrowly defeated by Poots, has indicated that he will seek to combine the party leadership with the first minister post leading the devolved government. (Benjamin Fox | EURACTIV.com)
NORDICS AND BALTICS
HELSINKI | TALLINN
Finnish, Estonian tax administrations start sharing data in real time. Finland and Estonia have started to share tax data online in real-time, making it the first automatic information exchange between national tax administrations, replacing the previous method of exchanging information through manually processed requests. Read more.
Italy never stopped saving refugees, says president. Italy has never stopped saving refugees in distress at sea, even during the pandemic, said Italian President Sergio Mattarella on Sunday (20 June), on the occasion of World Refugee Day. Read more.
Spain to end obligatory mask-wearing outdoors before end of June. Spain is set to lift the mandatory use of face masks in outdoor spaces in Spain on 26 June, with Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez telling an economics forum in Barcelona that his government will formalise the rule change in a cabinet meeting. Read the full story.
Warsaw pride parade returns amid backlash. The largest gay pride parade in central Europe took place on Saturday (19 June) in Warsaw for the first time in two years after a break during the pandemic and amid a backlash in Poland and Hungary against LGBT rights. Read more.
Right to use a weapon in self-defence to be enshrined in Czech constitution. Czech lawmakers approved an amendment that will enshrine the right to use a weapon in self-defence in the Czech constitution – a new right that will be included in the country’s Charter of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms. Read more.
Support for ousted former Slovak PM Robert Fico starting to grow. Three-time Slovak prime minister Robert Fico, who was forced to resign amid mass protests following the murder of journalist Ján Kuciak and his fiancée in 2018 has begun gaining once again in popularity, polls show. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Slovenian PM Jansa gets another term as party leader. Slovenian Prime Minister Janez Janša has won another term as president of the Democrats (SDS), a conservative party he has lead without interruption since 1993. Janša ran unopposed for the eighth time in a row and out of the 656 delegates, only six voted against him. Read more.
Pressure grows to unveil list of corrupt magistrates, politicians. Bulgarian caretaker interior minister Boyko Rashkov accused on Sunday the prosecution of keeping secret a list of 38 magistrates and politicians who own undeclared property abroad. The list was made back in 2019 when the Bulgarian authorities asked foreign countries to inform them of the property owned by Bulgarian nationals. Ever since, the prosecution has kept the list secret and has not initiated checks on any of the magistrates and politicians concerned. More.
Romanian parliament could hold special session for justice law changes. Parliament could hold a special summer session to abolish a section to investigate offences within the judicial system (SIIJ), Justice Minister Stelian Ion said on Sunday, adding that Romania is only waiting for an opinion from the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission. Read more.
Croatia welcomes first wave of tourists. A much-anticipated wave of some 290,000 tourists arrived in Croatia over the weekend, among whom 250,000 were foreigners, Croatian public television has reported. Read more.
Serbian PM: Western Balkans frustrated with EU. The entire region of the Western Balkans is frustrated with the EU because some member states oppose enlargement despite supporting it verbally, Serbian Prime Minister Ana Brnabić said after the Western Balkans Summit in Vienna on Friday. Read more.
Dodik reiterates BiH won’t join NATO. BiH’s Presidency Chairman Milorad Dodik again dismissed on Sunday the possibility of Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) joining NATO, reacting after Defence Minister Sifet Podžić said the country was in the Membership Action Plan (MAP), “the last programme NATO has before full membership.”
“Republika Srpska (RS) remains committed to military neutrality and what the (Serb) entity’s Assembly adopted,” Dodik said, noting that the RS would not support Bosnia’s accession. Serbs in BiH, like Serbia, are strongly opposed to BiH joining NATO, while Croats and Bosniaks in the country strongly support accession. BiH’s membership prospect was confirmed at a recent NATO summit. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
SARAJEVO | ZAGREB
Croatian president calls for unity on status of Croats in BiH. Croatian President Zoran Milanović has called for unity on the status of Croats in BiH, saying his country will “honour in good faith” the international agreement signed 26 years ago which designated BiH as their homeland.
Dragan Čović, the leader of the HDZ BiH party and deputy speaker of BiH parliament’s House of Peoples, thanked Milanović for “speaking very loudly these days about the role of the Croat people in BiH.” “We are proud to have Croatia as our homeland, but we won’t renounce BiH as our homeland either. There’s 15% of us in BiH, but as the least numerous, we are the most industrious. We are the leaders of all positive integration processes in BiH,” Čović added. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
Montenegrin minister who denied Srebrenica genocide dismissed. Montenegro’s justice minister, Vladimir Leposavić, has been dismissed by parliament after publicly denying the Srebrenica genocide. Read more.
300 kg of cocaine seized at Durrës harbour. Approximately 300 kilogrammes of cocaine were seized inside a truck coming from North Macedonia following a joint operation between the border police of Durrës harbour and criminal police.
The 40-year old driver from North Macedonia has said was not aware of the narcotics that were in the truck. The truck came from Belgium and entered North Macedonia via Serbia, after which it travelled from North Macedonia to Albania through the border crossing point of Qafë Thanë and headed to the Port of Durrës, with Naples, Italy as its final destination, according to Report TV. (Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)
- France: President Macron to visit Le Touquet for the regional and departmental elections while the National Assembly is set to re-examine the bill to enshrine the climate in the Constitution. Meanwhile, the annual meeting of the Antarctic Treaty and its 54 signatory states will take place online until Friday in Paris.
- Germany: Chancellor Angela Merkel receives Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi in Berlin
- Luxembourg: EU foreign ministers meet on Belarus sanctions, Russia
- Sweden: Swedish Prime Minister Löfven has to face a vote of no confidence
- Luxembourg: Foreign and European Affairs Minister Jean Asselborn, will participate in a discussion on the future of Europe and in the award of the Adenauer-de Gaulle Prize.
- Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi will meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.
- Poland: President Andrzej Duda to meet Moldovan counterpart, Maia Sanu in Warsaw.
- Czech government to discuss EU minimum wage framework.
- Slovakia: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen will visit Slovakia Monday and meet President Zuzana Čaputová and Prime Minister Eduard Heger, to whom she will present an evaluation of the Slovak Recovery and Resilience Plan.
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Josie Le Blond]