MAREK KUCHCIŃSKI

MEMBER OF THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF RP - DISTRICT 22

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News from Europe and the World, November 30, 2020

EU

Brussels: According to reports from Publico, Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa criticized a proposal to introduce a mechanism linking the disbursement of EU funds to respect for the so-called rule of law at a November EU Council meeting.

Western Europe

France: For the second Saturday in a row, French citizens took to the streets demanding the withdrawal of the so-called "Global Security Law," which prohibits taking pictures or recording police officers while on duty. The law was passed in first reading on Nov. 24 by the French National Assembly.

Austria: Austrian Defense Minister Klaudia Tanner (ÖVP) tested positive for coronavirus on Sunday, but has no serious symptoms and is working remotely, her spokesman said. Tanner is the second Austrian minister to test positive after non-partisan Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg tested positive in October.

Visegrad Group

Hungary: The Speaker of the Hungarian National Assembly, László Kövér, has encouraged the Head of the Bundestag, Wolfgang Schaeuble, to personally engage in actions aimed at blocking the conditionality mechanism in the EU budget for the years 2021-2027. Kövér wrote a letter to the Speaker of the German Parliament in which he explains that linking the disbursement of funds to the so-called rule of law is illegal and will enable "political blackmail" in relation to individual EU countries.

Another major news item from the Danube River concerns József Szájer, the head of the Fidesz delegation in the Hungarian parliament, who unexpectedly resigned on Sunday from his position as a member of the European Parliament, citing "the mental strain that the daily political struggle is putting on him."

Slovakia: Slovak Justice Minister Mária Kolíková (For the People) unveiled a proposal last week that outlines sweeping changes to the judicial system, such as drastically reducing the number of courts. Toco, described by some observers as "the biggest judicial reform in two decades," aims to break chains of corruption, improve the quality of judgments and speed up decision-making.

Czech Republic: Stores and restaurants will be back open with limited hours starting December 3. Curfews will also now be lifted and drinking alcohol in public places will again be permitted.

Balkans

Slovenia: Slovenian parliamentarians will hold a debate this week on Prime Minister Janez Janša's foreign policy stance, which has met with numerous reactions both at home and abroad. The Parliament will also discuss the initiative to conclude an agreement between Slovenia and Hungary on cooperation in the construction and management of the Divača-Koper (2TDK) railroad line.

Serbia/Montenegro: Montenegro and Serbia have decided to withdraw their ambassadors. The acting government declared Serbian Ambassador to Montenegro Vladimir Božović persona non grata on Friday for "interference in its internal affairs," after he described as "liberation" the 1918 National Assembly decision to unite Montenegro with Serbia and thus join the kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes.

Croatia: Prime MinisterCroatia Andrej Plenković is currently in isolation because as his wife tested positive for COVID-19. He has been working remotely since Monday.

27/11/2020

Visegrad Group

Poland/Hungary: The prime ministers of Poland and Hungary reaffirmed on Thursday, November 26, their opposition to tying EU funds to the rule of law in member states and instead presented their own proposal to resolve the impasse that is holding up the disbursement of the EU's seven-year 1.81 trillion euro budget and reconstruction fund.

Western Europe

Portugal: The European Commission asked Portuguese communications regulator Anacom (5G) in October to clarify the terms of the fifth-generation mobile spectrum auction in terms of coverage by new operators and national roaming, according to a letter from the European Union's Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology.

Austria: According to a study commissioned by Education Minister Heinz Faßmann (OVP), the number of unregistered COVID-19 cases in Austria may be twice as high as previously estimated. Of the infections registered during the survey, 55% were not registered by the authorities. Faßmann sees this as further evidence of the need for mass testing of the Austrian population in December.

Balkans

Slovenia: Defense Minister Matej Tonin was re-elected as leader of the New Slovenia Party (NSi-EPP) for another two years at the party's congress on Thursday, receiving nearly 96% delegate votes, which this time were cast by mail. The 37-year-old defense minister was the only one running for the party leadership.

Croatia: "Persecuted Christians and other people in need" will receive 1.5 million kuna (€200,000) after MPs adopted an amendment to the 2021 budget proposed by independent MP and former MEP Marijana Petir, who supports the ruling Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ, PPE) . 

Bulgaria/Northern Macedonia: "The government of North Macedonia should develop a roadmap for recognizing common history, rewriting textbooks and fighting hate speech against Bulgaria," said Prime Minister Krassimir Karakachanov (WMRO). Skopje, on the other hand, claims that the country's identity and language are not under discussion. There is an ongoing conflict between the two countries due to the lack of resolution of historical and linguistic issues. On November 17, the Bulgarian government opposed the start of EU accession negotiations with North Macedonia.

Northern Europe

Finland: Finland is the country with the greatest readiness for the ongoing energy transition, according to a joint research project led by Oxford University, Berlin's Technische Universität and Siemens Smart Infrastructure.

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