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In today’s news from the Capitals:
Hungarian energy experts are unconvinced by the green and security promises of a new Brussels-backed electricity cable project with Azerbaijan. Read more.
Europe’s car industry must look to the future, not the past. Most European car makers have already declared that they will go full electric by 2035, some of them sooner. The EU’s task is to get ready for this transformation, writes Frans Timmermans.
Frans Timmermans is the European Commission’s vice-president in charge of the Green Deal. Read the op-ed.
French GPs urged not to strike over difficult Christmas. French GPs, some of whom went on strike over low consultation fees at the start of December, should not continue strikes over the holiday period – a time when viruses are flourishing – Health Minister François Braun told Journal du Dimanche on Sunday. Read more.
Austria’s Nehammer champions EU border fences. Fences are key in protecting the EU at its borders, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer said in an interview on Sunday, citing the time when the fence at the border with Turkey and Greece allowed Greek border authorities to stop irregular migrants from entering. Read more.
NGOs ask Belgium to rally against new pesticide assessments. Several NGOs are asking Belgium not to go along with the majority of member states who will likely ask the European Commission to carry out an additional impact assessment on EU pesticide reduction objectives at the Council summit on Monday. Read more.
Dutch military aid to Ukraine almost tips €1 billion. The Netherlands has now provided Ukraine with €987 million in military aid, Defense Minister Kajsa Ollongren told the Dutch parliament in a letter on Friday. Read more.
UK & IRELAND
At the Riga summit, Sunak called for increasing lethal aid to Ukraine. British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak will meet his Nordic, Baltic and Dutch counterparts at the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) summit in the Latvian capital Riga on Monday, before heading to Estonia to meet British and NATO troops, the government said. Read more.
NORDIC AND BALTIC
Hydrogen infrastructure projects launched to connect Finland and Central Europe. State-owned company and transmission system operator Gasgrid Finland signed a project agreement to develop a new piece of the regional hydrogen infrastructure network on Friday. Read more.
Moscow warns Athens about sending S-300 missile system to Ukraine. Russia’s permanent representative Crimea Georgy Muratov warned Greece not to transfer Russia-made anti-aircraft missile systems S-300 to Ukraine, saying it would be an ‘irrational display of hostility towards Russia’. Read more.
Portugal: One in seven babies born to foreign mothers in 2021. Of the almost 80,000 babies born in 2021 in Portugal, more than 10,000 or about 14%, have foreign mothers, according to a survey released on Sunday by Pordata. Read more.
Czech EU presidency to propose €188 gas price cap compromise. The Czech EU Council Presidency would like energy ministers from across the Union to agree to cap gas at €188 per megawatt-hour (MWh) in Brussels on Monday. Read more.
Polish opposition notifies prosecution of irregularities in state fuel merger. The public prosecutor’s office has been notified of the significant inaccuracies in the recent merger between the Lotos fuel company and PKN Orlen, the largest fuel company in Central and Eastern Europe that is also majority state-owned, representatives of the parliamentary opposition announced during a press conference. Read more.
Polish ruling camp says it predicted Ukraine war, accuses opposition of sabotage. The ruling PiS party claims it knew the war in Ukraine would break out, while the opposition, which appeared to have been partially “engaged” in the Kremlin’s plan, went so far as to take steps to sabotage the country’s preparations for a potential Russian attack . Read more.
EU lawmakers on Slovakia mission point to worrying LGBTQ, Roma situation. An EU Parliament Monitoring Delegation expressed concern over the equal rights situation in Slovakia regarding LGBTQI+ and Roma communities and called on the government to step up its efforts in recognizing their rights. Read more.
NEWS FROM THE BALKANS
Bulgaria launches investigation into pro-Russian paramilitaries. Sofia’s Prosecutor’s Office ordered the country’s counter-intelligence agency to start investigations into the activities of an alleged pro-Russian paramilitary organization following a tip that the organization had committed crimes against the republic. Read more.
Slovenian businesses to benefit from energy aid scheme. Businesses will be eligible for aid to combat high energy prices under a €1.2 billion plan, which while adopted by the National Assembly Friday, some view as too little too late. Read more.
Kosovo approves renewables-focused energy strategy. The government of Kosovo has approved the draft Energy Strategy 2022-2031 to enable the energy sector to serve as a tool for the country’s economic growth and increase opportunities for businesses and the employment of young people. Read more.
Albanian PM calls out criminal rhetoric used against Albanian diaspora. Prime Minister Edi Rama has spoken out about prejudice Albanians face and the stereotype that they are all criminals, following several months of negative rhetoric from the UK after numbers of those crossing the channel in boats to seek asylum surged. Read more.
- EU: Transport, Telecommunications and Energy Council in its energy composition discusses methane emissions reduction, acceleration of the renewable energy deployment and more; The Czech Presidency presents a progress report on the gas package;
- Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis participates in the 2nd Trade Committee EU-Vietnam;
- Jobs and Social Rights Commissioner Nicolas Schmit and Home Affairs and Commissioner Ylva Johansson participated in a meeting of the European Partnership for Integration with the European Social and Economic Partners, on integrating migrants and refugees into the labor market;
- Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski participates in a meeting with the chairmen of the Visegrád Group agricultural committees;
- High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell, on official visit in Jordan, participates in the Baghdad Conference and holds bilateral meetings in the margins;
- European Parliament President Roberta Metsola holds meetings with Romanian President Klaus Iohannis, Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca, President of the Romanian Senate Alina Gorghiu, and President of the Chamber of Deputies of Romania Marcel Ciolacu; Addresses a joint session of the Romanian Parliament;
[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Vlad Makszimov, Daniel Eck, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor, Sofia Stuart Leeson, Sofia Mandilara]