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In today’s news from the capitals:
The geographical imbalance of European Commission jobs is on everyone’s radar. More EU member states are frustrated with the current situation and the EU executive’s current plans are unlikely to satisfy them, EURACTIV has learned. Read more.
BERLIN | VIENNA
Berlin, Vienna show a united front on the Western Balkans, Ukraine. JThe EU must coordinate its approach during the ongoing Ukraine crisis and offer a European perspective to the Western Balkans, said German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock and her Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg. Read more.
France lifts most COVID-19 measures. Most COVID-19 measures were lifted in mainland France from Wednesday, although some remain recommendations. The Minister of Health Olivier Véran hopes to reduce the vaccination pass currently in force by mid-March. Read more.
UNITED KINGDOM AND IRELAND
Truss sends a warmongering message to Kiev. Foreign Minister Liz Truss will visit her Ukrainian and Polish counterparts on Thursday as the UK seeks to cement its position as one of Ukraine’s most hawkish allies. Read more.
The legislator calls for a referendum to enshrine the principle of Irish neutrality. An Irish MP called on Wednesday for the country’s longstanding principle of neutrality in international affairs to be enshrined in the constitution via a public referendum. Read more.
NORDIC AND BALTIC
Lithuania offers uninterrupted visits of EU leaders to Ukraine to discourage war. A “continued physical presence” of European representatives on the ground in Ukraine over the coming days and weeks could prevent an escalation, according to a letter sent on Tuesday, seen by EURACTIV. Read more.
Most Finns want the country’s strict alcohol policy changed. 75% of Finns want wine sold in food stores – which are only allowed to sell alcoholic beverages below 5.5% proof – a survey commissioned by the Finn Grocery Trade Association shows. In Finland, beverages with a high alcohol content are sold in the country’s 370 Alko stores. Read more.
IMF welcomes labor reform in Spain and calls for greater fiscal consolidation. After the European Commission praised Employment Minister Yolanda Díaz for Spain’s labor reform, the IMF also highlighted the positive effects of the new legislation in its latest country report released on Wednesday. Read more.
The SNCF breaks the agreement with Renfe for the railway between Spain and France. SNCF and Renfe, the main rail operators in France and Spain, will no longer be partners on cross-border lines from December. Read more.
Italy is investing 30 billion euros from its recovery plan in education and research. Italy will invest more than 30 billion euros from the national recovery and resilience plan in education and research, Prime Minister Mario Draghi announced on Wednesday during a visit to the National Institute of Nuclear Physics (Infn ) of the Gran Sasso. Read more.
Russian billionaire Abramovich has not been contacted about claims for Portuguese nationality. Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich has not been contacted about ongoing investigations into his acquisition of Portuguese citizenship as a descendant of Sephardic Jews and maintains he has complied with the law, a spokesperson said on Wednesday. talk to Lisa. Read more.
Portugal could lift some restrictions, the minister said. Portugal could move forward with the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions as the country entered a new phase of the pandemic, Health Minister Marta Temido said on Wednesday. Read more.
The Polish Constitutional Court suspends its decision on the EU conditionality mechanism. The Polish Constitutional Court which was set to review the EU conditionality mechanism linking disbursements of EU funds to the rule of law decided to postpone its decision indefinitely less than an hour after the Court of EU justice rejected a legal challenge brought by Poland and Hungary. Read more.
Slovak household energy prices have stabilized until 2024. Electricity prices for Slovak families will not increase until 2024, the government and Slovenské elektrárne as, Slovakia’s largest electricity producer, have agreed. The government claims that the state will save households more than a billion euros. Read more.
Bulgaria seeking “green” and nuclear investments from the United States. The Bulgarian government has sent a high-level delegation to the United States to guarantee “green investments”, modular nuclear reactors and the import of electricity storage technologies. The delegation is led by powerful Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Asen Vassilev. Read more.
The Romanian Ministry of Energy prepares calls for energy projects. The Romanian Ministry of Energy is preparing to launch calls for green energy projects funded by the National Recovery and Resilience Plan (NRRP). Read more.
The Croatian opposition denounces the government’s measures on energy prices. The package of measures to cushion the rise in energy prices presented by the government was welcomed by the association of entrepreneurs, but attacked by the opposition. Read more.
The Slovenian left withdraws its referendum proposal on income tax changes. The left, currently in opposition, officially withdrew its motion for a preventive referendum on changes to the income tax law after government parties indicated the referendum could be held on the same day as the election general, which makes it a major issue of the campaign. . Read more.
Mitsotakis: Serbia and Greece share a common vision of the European path. Serbia and Greece share a common vision for the European future of the Western Balkans, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis said in Belgrade, stressing that Athens wants Serbia to join the EU. Read more.
BELGRADE | PARIS
Clear links between the Serbian Diaspora Office and French right-wing extremists. The Office for Cooperation with the Diaspora and the Serbs of the Region has devoted approximately €40,000 to projects by Serbian associations in France over the past three years, but the events and activities of the digital platform bear witness to the support of personalities far-right and xenophobic, the Vojvodina Investigative and Analytical Center (VOICE) reported on Wednesday. Read more.
The American envoy Escobar is once again threatening BiH with sanctions. Those who “engage in corrupt, destabilizing or anti-democratic behavior” in the Western Balkan region will suffer the “consequences”, said Gabriel Escobar, the US special envoy for the region. Meeting of the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation. Read more.
SKOPJE | ATHENS
North Macedonia reserves capacity at the LNG terminal in Alexandroupolis. The government has decided to start signing agreements for liquefied natural gas (LNG) reserve capacities at the Alexandroupolis floating LNG terminal in Greece, currently under construction. Read more.
UK Ambassador to Montenegro calls for democratic process. In Montenegro, ‘the way out of the political crisis lies in democracy’, says UK Ambassador to Montenegro Karen Maddocks, who has been outspoken since the crisis began, said in a recent interview. Read more.
PRISTINE | ATHENS
Greece will not change its position on Kosovo. Athens will not change its position on Kosovo, but because it wants to see the normalization of relations with Pristina, it supports the continuation of the Belgrade-Pristina dialogue, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis told Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić during his visit to Belgrade. Read more.
Albanian Prime Minister discusses Ukraine in New York. Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama met US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken in New York after attending a meeting of the UN Security Council of which Albania is a non-permanent member for 2022-2023. Read more.
- EU: Informal meeting of EU leaders on the Russian-Ukrainian crisis 12.30 pm + EU-African Union Leaders’ Summit / European Commission President von der Leyen receives Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.
- NATO defense ministers meet their Ukrainian and Georgian counterparts in Brussels, the head of European diplomacy Josep Borrell is taking part.
- France: President Macron holds a press conference following discussions on the Sahel with leaders in the region.
- Germany: Beginning of the trial of Russian scientist Ilnur N, accused of spying for Moscow on the Ariane space program.
- Italy: Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio in Moscow meets his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov.
- Czech Republic: Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala in Brussels meets Parliament President Roberta Metsola.
[Edited by Alexandra Brzozowski, Sarantis Michalopoulos, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]