Vienna (BTA) – If Bulgaria and Romania were in the Schengen area, they would be much more effective in supporting the processes to curb migrant pressure in Europe, Bulgarian Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov argued during a working visit to Vienna. Denkov met with Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer, parliamentarians and the Union of Austrian Industrialists.

“If the borders between Bulgaria and Greece, and Bulgaria and Romania, are abolished, Bulgaria will be able to free up human and material resources to better protect the EU’s external borders – especially between Bulgaria and Turkey and between Bulgaria and Serbia. Freight will not wait for days at the EU’s internal borders, which will reduce the cost of transporting goods from Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania to Central, Eastern and Western Europe. This means lower food prices and lower inflation. It means better political stability in all the countries of Eastern and Central Europe. We will only benefit from this. Whereas if we stay outside Schengen, we all lose,” said the Bulgarian prime minister.

He believes that in December, at the regular European Council meeting, everyone will be prepared “to take the decisions that are most beneficial for the people of Austria, for the people of Bulgaria and for the European Union, because this is our common goal.”

“For us it is unthinkable at the moment to extend Schengen, but this has nothing to do with Bulgaria and Romania, it is a security issue,” Nehammer said at a press conference after his meeting with the Bulgarian prime minister. “Schengen must be fixed. Until it is fixed, we cannot expand this area,” Nehamer added. He noted that 11 EU countries have introduced checks at internal borders.

The EU foreign ministers themselves were saying that the Schengen system was not working. More and more countries were now introducing border controls, which meant that the Schengen system was not living up to its true meaning. The EU knew very well that Bulgaria and Romania were contributing to Schengen and that is why it should support them financially, the Austrian chancellor stressed. (October 24)

Tusk promises to restore Poland’s position in EU

Brussels (Belga) – On Wednesday during a first visit to Brussels since his country’s parliamentary elections, Polish opposition leader Donald Tusk assured that he wanted to “restore Poland’s position” in Europe.

“My objective today is to restore my country’s position in Europe and make the European Union as a whole stronger,” Tusk told at a press briefing with European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

In Poland’s elections on 15 October, the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party again received the most votes, but there is little chance that it can stay in power. Tusk and his liberal-conservative Civic Coalition (KO) gained a majority together with the left-wing alliance Lewica and the Christian-conservative Third Way.

President Andrzej Duda has not yet appointed anyone to form a government. But it is widely assumed that Tusk will lead a coalition that will put the Eurosceptic policy to an end – which Poland has pursued since PiS took office in 2015 – and return the country to a more constructive role in the EU.

Tusk said the election results and high voter turnout showed to the whole of Europe “that democracy, rule of law, freedom of speech and European unity are still important for our citizens”, adding that “I am proud of my compatriots. They have proved that the anti-democratic and anti-European mood does not have to be a trend.”

During the campaign, Tusk had promised to work towards the release of 35 billion euros from the European recovery fund. That money had been blocked amid the ongoing dispute between the EU and Poland over judicial reforms that undermine the independence of Polish judges. (October 25)

A view of the world's largest floating offshore wind farm on the Gullfaks C oil rig in the North Sea.
A view of the world’s largest floating offshore wind farm on the Gullfaks C oil rig in the North Sea. Photo: Ole Berg-Rusten/NTB/dpa

Brussels doubles funding for wind energy to 1.4 billion euros

Brussels (Europapress) – The European Commission will double the budget of the Innovation Fund to finance clean technology manufacturing projects, including projects to manufacture wind turbines and their components, to 1.4 billion euros.

With the Wind Power Action Plan presented on Tuesday, Brussels aims to step up efforts to accelerate the deployment of wind energy, especially through greater predictability and faster permitting.

The plan’s goal is to meet the EU’s recently agreed target of at least 42.5 percent renewables by 2030, with an ambition to reach 45 percent. This will require a massive increase in installed wind capacity, with an expected growth from 204 gigawatts (GW) in 2022 to more than 500 GW in 2030.

“We want the wind energy sector to remain a historic success story in the EU,” stressed Vice-President for the European Green Pact Maros Sefcovic at a press conference, where he admitted that the sector’s future growth was facing a number of “unique” challenges. (October 24)