Slovakian Prime Minister: Environmental Fund cannot solve the problem of surge in energy prices for companies

Bratislava (TASR) – The Environmental Fund (EF) cannot solve the problem of the enormous increase in energy prices for companies, stated government chairman, Eduard Heger. This was in response to protests by workers of company Slovalco, who demonstrated in front of the Government Office of the Slovak Republic against the limitation of production due to high electricity prices on August 24. The EF is a financial program to subsidy Slovakian companies.

“Today, the government does not have enough money to compensate companies for the purchase of electricity for their production. It also does not make economic sense. Even the entire budget of the Environmental Fund would not be suffice to cover the costs that would arise. This is an unprecedented situation,” said the Prime Minister.

According to him, the EF needs to be reformed. “It should be remembered that the previous governments abused the EF to improve their budget results at the expense of the fund, which is considered one of the items of the state budget. Those items should be used purposefully and this did not happen,” Heger explained. According to him, several solutions are prepared, which are being discussed. Parliament could vote on them in the fall. (August 25)

Von der Leyen: Europe will continue to stand by Ukraine’s side in the long term

Brussels (dpa) – EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has promised Ukraine support for reconstruction on Ukraine’s Independence Day. “Together, we will rebuild the cities brick by brick and the gardens and fields seed by seed,” she said in a greeting message on August 24. Europe is on Ukraine’s side today and for the long term. Von der Leyen also pointed out that in recent months, the EU has already done a great deal for the country and its citizens under attack from Russia. “Our schools have opened their doors to more than three million Ukrainian children, so they can continue to learn and study,” she said. There is also support for soldiers on the front, state employees and civil society.

On the European Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes on August 23, Ursula von der Leyen has made serious allegations against Russian head of state Vladimir Putin. “Putin brought the horrors of war back to Europe this year and reminded us that peace cannot be taken for granted,” wrote the German politician. Russia’s war against Ukraine was illegal and unjustified, she added. State-controlled propaganda also distorted history and spread conspiracy theories. Anyone who opposed it was punished. Von der Leyen assured that the EU would not rest until Ukraine prevailed.

“Citizens of Ukraine give their lives to protect the values on which our Union is founded.”

EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen

The Europe-wide Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes has been celebrated on August 23 since 2009. This is also a reminder of the so-called Hitler-Stalin Pact. The German-Soviet non-aggression treaty signed on August 23, 1939 is considered to have paved the way for the German invasion of Poland on September 1, 1939. (August 22/24)

Kiev: Hungary and Austria only EU countries that have not supplied any weapons so far

Kiev (APA) – According to Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, Austria and Hungary are the only European countries that have not yet supplied Ukraine with weapons in the fight against the Russian attackers. According to agency Ukrinform, Kuleba said this on Ukrainian television on August 22:

“Except for Hungary and Austria, which is a neutral country, the supply of weapons to Ukraine is not taboo for any European country, although that was the case in the past.”

said Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba

Many countries that had never supplied weapons to conflict areas before had changed their minds “after the start of total aggression”. According to Kuleba, some countries had changed their laws to allow for arms supplies to Ukraine. When it comes to the supply pf weapons, there are always discussions among Ukraine’s Western partners as to which weapons should be supplied and at which time. These discussions cost Ukraine daily losses at the front, complained the Foreign Minister.

Russia launched its war of aggression on Ukraine half a year ago. Because of its neutral stance within the EU’s Ukraine policy, Austria sees itself in a “special role”, as Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer (ÖVP) has put it. He asserted at the beginning of July that Austria was “in full solidarity” with the European Union, including on security issues. During a visit to Kiev in July, Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP) personally told the Ukrainian leadership that Austria, as a neutral country, could not supply weapons to Ukraine.

Hungary, on the other hand, is a NATO member. The course of Hungary’s long-standing Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, who wants to establish an “illiberal democracy” in Hungary, has led to several EU infringement proceedings. Orbán also maintains good contacts with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Hungary already defied EU sanctions against Russia in the past. Orbán wants to stay out of the Ukraine war, and, according to him, anyone who supplies weapons already has “one foot in the war”. (August 23)

Budapest sent response regarding conditionality mechanism to the European Commission

Budapest/Brussels (ANSA) – One day before deadline expired, the Hungarian government sent a letter to the European Commission in which it proposes solutions to resolve the dispute over the rule of law under the conditionality mechanism. This is crucial for Budapest’s access to European funds. The Commission’s last letter, a month ago, argued that the previous responses, provided by the government of Prime Minister Viktor Orban, had been unsatisfactory. These had been given with regard to concerns about the public procurement system, the independence of the prosecutor’s office and judges and the fight against corruption.

“The reply was preceded by intensive consultations. The Hungarian Government has put a comprehensive package of measures on the table to address all the Commission’s concerns. The Hungarian Government remains open to a constructive dialogue with the Commission,” Hungarian Justice Minister Judit Varga wrote on Facebook. The conditionality mechanism, activated for the first time against Hungary last April, provides for the suspension of European funds allocated to a member state, when alleged breaches in the rule of law have or threaten to have an impact on the EU’s finances.

“We now have a month to analyze the document and provide a response,” said a spokesman for the European Executive, noting that it would be “premature” to make a judgment on the content of the document at the moment. “We will not hesitate to contact the Hungarian authorities if there is a need for further clarification,” the spokesman noted, adding that the conditionality mechanism was a separate matter – with different procedures – from the ongoing dialogue with Hungary for the disbursement of Recovery Plan funds. According to analysts, the Hungarian response contains only intentions and promises and few concrete measures, and the Commission will most likely start sanctions proceedings, which will have to be approved by a qualified majority of the Council. (August 23)

JRCreport: Almost half of Europe affected by drought, Slovenia among the hardest hit

Brussels (STA) – Nearly half of Europe is affected by drought, warns a report published on August 22 by the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Commission’s scientific service. Among the worst affected countries and regions where drought will significantly reduce crop yields, the report mentions Slovenia.

The countries or regions worst affected by the drought are Spain, France, central and northern Italy, central Germany, Hungary, Romania, Slovenia and Croatia. These areas have been experiencing a lack of rain for a long time. In addition, high temperatures or heat waves prevailed during the flowering and ripening of crops, resulting in a decrease in harvests. The JRC staetd that corn, soybean and sunflower harvests will be particularly affected.

The Slovenian government has already offered farmers the opportunity to claim drought damages due to force majeure if they do not meet the conditions for receiving support set out by agricultural policy measures. Assessments of damage to agricultural crops as a result of this year’s severe drought are already underway and are expected to be completed by September 30. (August 23)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Wednesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.