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The Capitals brings you the latest news from across Europe, through on-the-ground reporting by EURACTIV’s media network. You can subscribe to the newsletter here.


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The European news you deserve to read. Welcome to The Capitals by EURACTIV.


In today’s news from the Capitals:

VIENNA

The city of Vienna will restrict access to cultural events and hairdressers, bars, and clubs to people who are either vaccinated or have recovered from COVID-19 by the end of the week – effectively banning unvaccinated from participating in Vienna’s social and cultural life. Moreover, testing requirement even for vaccinated people is also on the table. Read more.

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EU PRESIDENCY

EU Presidency reaffirms commitment to positive outcome at COP26. Representatives of the EU’s climate negotiating team at COP26, including EU presidency holder Slovenia and its chief negotiator Tina Kobilšek, reaffirmed their commitment to a successful outcome at the UN climate talks during a press conference in Glasgow on Thursday. Read more.

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BERLIN

Greens put the brakes on coalition talks. Negotiations between the social democrat SPD, the Greens and the business-friendly liberal FDP to form a so-called “traffic light” coalition are currently at the working group stage but may now be delayed. Read more.

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PARIS

Fishing talks between London and Paris to resume next week. Discussions will resume “early next week”, a British government spokesperson said after UK Brexit Minister David Frost and French Secretary of State for European Affairs, Clément Beaune met Thursday in Paris in an attempt to ease tensions over the post-Brexit fisheries agreements. Read more.

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BRUSSELS

Belgian COVID-19 hospitalisations rise back to pre-lockdown level. Belgium on Thursday reported a jump in COVID-19 infections and hospitalisations rose back to levels that had forced a lockdown in October 2020, as the United States advised against travelling to the host of EU and NATO headquarters. Read more.


UK AND IRELAND

DUBLIN 

Irish PM warns UK against invoking Article 16. “It would be irresponsible, it would be unwise, and it would be reckless to invoke Article 16 as a response to the proposals from the European Commission, Taoiseach Michaél Martin warned the UK on Thursday. Read more.


NORDICS AND BALTICS

HELSINKI

Finland could extend military call-ups to women. A parliamentary committee including all parties proposes that military call-ups be extended to women who would face sanctions for not showing up. Conscription would remain mandatory only for men, however. Read more.

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Russia arrested thirteen foreign nationals near Finnish border. The Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation (FSB) arrested thirteen foreign nationals last week in the Vyborg area not far from the Finnish border, news agency Interfax reported. People from the former Soviet republics, Latin America and North Africa were heading towards Finland in search of “better living conditions”.

According to FSB, around St. Petersburg in October more than 600 people were arrested for border law infringements. The numbers may indicate a growing refugee problem on the Finnish-Russian border. (Pekka Vänttinen | EURACTIV.com)

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RIGA

Latvia allows businesses to fire the unvaccinated. The Latvian parliament on Thursday allowed businesses to fire workers who refuse to either get a COVID-19 vaccine or transfer to remote work, as the country battles one of the worst COVID-19 waves in EU. Read more.


EUROPE’S SOUTH

ROME

New competition bill does not solve historic Italy-EU dispute over beach operators. The new competition bill which Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government presented on Thursday contains the promise of mapping the current state of beach ownerships. This falls short of liberalising the beachside service provider market, an objective set in the Bolkestein Directive, which has been the cause of tension between Italy and the European institutions since 2008.  Read more.

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MADRID

Spanish health minister: COVID-19 pandemic ‘stable’. The COVID-19 pandemic is “stable” in Spain, health minister, Carolina Darias told a press conference in Madrid on Thursday, noting that the situation in the rest of the EU is substantially worse than in Spain, EURACTIV’s partner EFE reported. Read more.

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ATHENS 

NGO: Another migrant dies at Greek-Turkish border. Greek cooperative daily Efimerida Syntakton (EfSyn) published another story of a migrant who died while crossing the Greek-Turkish borders. An NGO believes this is due to pushback tactics operated by the Greek police and border guards. Read more.


VISEGRAD 

WARSAW

US Congress hearing fuels questions about Poland’s EU future. Opposition politicians in Poland have been prompted to seriously question their government’s declaration on wanting the country to remain in the EU and Washington’s intention to further support Poland in NATO. This came following a discussion with the US Congress’ Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe on the state of the judiciary and fundamental rights in Poland and Hungary. Read more.

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PRAGUE

Beer gets Czechs to vaccination centres. People have been more willing to get the COVID vaccine after it was announced on 20 October that pubs and restaurants would start checking COVID-19 certificates from 1 November, Czech health authorities have said. The willingness of the people to get the vaccine was visible outside vaccination centres, where people queued for hours to get the jab. Read more.

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BUDAPEST

Fidesz MP admits government bought spyware used to hack journalists. Fidesz MP Lajos Kósa, the chairman of the Hungarian parliament’s defence and law enforcement committee, admitted on Thursday (4 November) that the interior ministry had bought the Israeli Pegasus spy software, which press investigations revealed last summer was used to spy on journalists, businessmen, and local politicians. Read more.

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BRATISLAVA

Slovakia sees rapid surge in real estate prices. Every Slovak region is seeing a rapid increase in real estate prices, mainly because of the low-interest rates on mortgages, the pandemic and inflation. Read more.


NEWS FROM THE BALKANS

BELGRADE | TIRANA | SKOPJE

Vucic, Rama and Dimitrov agree on implementation mechanism for Open Balkans initiative. Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić, Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama and North Macedonia’s Deputy PM Nikola Dmitrov decided on Thursday (4 November) in Belgrade to create a council that would coordinate the implementation of the Open Balkans initiative. Read more.

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SOFIA

Council of Europe criticises Bulgaria for its treatment of vulnerable people. The Council of Europe’s Committee for the Prevention of Torture said in a report that it “strongly criticises” the “persistent failure” of the Bulgarian authorities to address grave problems in social care institutions and psychiatric hospitals. It urges Bulgaria to improve the situation quickly and radically change the approach to providing mental health care and institutional social care. Read more.

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BUCHAREST

No quick resolution to Romania’s political crisis. As the negotiations between parties continue in Bucharest, the president does not plan to act as a mediator – a role conferred by the Constitution. Read more.

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ZAGREB

Serbian ‘sugar king’ buys Croatia’s Sberbank. Sberbank Europe announced the selling of its subsidiaries in Croatia, BiH, Hungary, Serbia and Slovenia to the Belgrade-based AIK Bank, Slovenia’s Gorenjska Banka and Agri Europe Cyprus Limited. Those three entities are owned by Serbian entrepreneur Miodrag Kostić, known in the region as the “sugar king”. Read more.

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SARAJEVO 

Covic: Dodik far from being sole source of problems in BiH. BiH Presidency Serb member Milorad Dodik is far from being the only source of problems in the country, the head of the House of Peoples of the BiH Parliament and leader of the most prominent Croatian party in BiH, HDZ BiH, Dragan Čović, has said. Read more.

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Mladic mural in Belgrade street to be taken down. A mural of convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic in Aleksa Nenadović Street in Belgrade will be removed on 9 November, the founder of the Center for Humanitarian Law, Nataša Kandić, announced on her Twitter account. The mural has been on the building since the summer, she said, adding that the tenants of the building complained and asked for its removal, but that the authorities did not react.

The mural appeared in July, and then someone added red paint to his saluting hand, suggesting that Mladic’s hand was bloody. The red paint was then removed, and next to the mural, it was written: “General, we thank your mother for having you.” 

(Željko Trkanjec | EURACTIV.hr)

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AGENDA:

  • EU: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Commission VP Frans Timmermans receive US Congress delegation / European Commission VP Maros Sefcovic meets with UK Brexit minister David Frost to discuss the Northern Ireland Protocol.
  • Netherlands: Supreme Court rules on $50 billion case against Russia by ex-Yukos shareholders.
  • UK: Climate activists protest outside the venue of COP26.
  • Poland/Czechia: New Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskwa visits Prague today in a last attempt to solve the conflict over the Turów lignite mine before the issue is officially brought before the EU’s top court.
  • Croatia: Placing the first block in memory of the Roma members killed in the Independent State of Croatia during the Holocaust on the square from where 69 Roma from six Roma families were taken to camps.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina: Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán will visit Banja Luka on Saturday, with the Foreign Minister Péter Szijjártó. No information about coming to Sarajevo / US Special Envoy for the Western Balkans, Gabriel Escobar, arrives on Sunday and will meet Bakir Izetbegović and Dragan Čović, not Milorad Dodik.

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[Edited by Sarantis Michalopoulos, Alexandra Brzozowski, Daniel Eck, Benjamin Fox, Zoran Radosavljevic, Alice Taylor]

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