Vienna (APA) – According to Austrian Foreign Minister Alexander Schallenberg (ÖVP; conservative), Austria’s planned accession to the European airspace defence system Sky Shield would not constitute a breach of Austrian neutrality. Sky Shield was neither a NATO initiative nor an entry into a military alliance, but merely “the cooperation of a number of states,” the foreign minister stressed. The initiative was about “pooling and sharing.”

Schallenberg pointed out that France, an important NATO member, was not participating in the initiative. He admitted that Austria, apart from NATO aspirant Sweden, was currently the only non-NATO state that wanted to join the initiative. Austria’s neutrality would remain 100 percent guaranteed in the event of a participation in Sky Shield, he said.

In response to questions, Schallenberg emphasised the federal government’s commitment to Austria’s perpetual neutrality and denied that Sky Shield could possibly be a military alliance. Schallenberg justified this with the lack of an assistance clause: “There is no automatism. It is simply that one shares information.”

Prior to this, Herbert Kickl, leader of the FPÖ (far-right)had sharply criticised Austria’s planned entry to the European airspace defence system in a press release, claiming that this would endanger Austria’s neutrality. (2 July)

Spain opens its EU Council presidency in Kiev with strong support for Ukraine

Kiev (EFE) – Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez kicked off Spain’s EU presidency on 1 July with a symbolic visit to Kiev, announcing more armoured vehicles and additional financial aid to revive the Ukrainian economy.

His trip to Kiev on the first day of the rotating European presidency, which Spain will hold for the next six months until 31 December, “demonstrates the clear and unequivocal political commitment of the EU institutions” to Ukraine, Sánchez said after meeting with the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky. Ukraine’s president urged that the twelfth package of European sanctions against Russia should include a ban on doing business with the Russian nuclear energy company Rosatom.

“I wanted to tell you that we are with you and we will be with you for as long as it takes. I wanted to tell you that we will support Ukraine, no matter what the price may be ,” Sánchez said in a speech to Ukraine’s parliament, the Rada, before announcing a new aid package of 55 million euros for Ukraine. The Spanish president praised Ukraine’s progress in meeting the requirements for Brussels to begin negotiations for EU accession, and encouraged Ukraine to continue on the “path of reforms.” (1 July)

Rice paddies in Spain.
Transgenic rice plants from Spain, genetically altered to be resistant to attack by a rice borer (Chilo suppressalis), have been sown for the first time by the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC) and the Institute for Research and Agri-environmental Technology (IRTA) in the Ebro Delta. Photo: EFE/JAUME SELLART

The EU wants to reduce food waste from shops, restaurants and households by 30 percent

Brussels (AFP) – According to a draft law consulted by AFP on Friday, the European Commission wants to require the EU-27 to reduce food waste from shops, restaurants and households in the EU by 30 percent by 2030 compared to 2020.

This legislative proposal, which is due to be made public on Wednesday and will then be debated by the member states and MEPs, is part of the European Green Deal.

By limiting food waste, the legislation aims to reduce the unnecessary use of water, fertilisers and energy to produce, process and preserve food that ends up in the bin.

Under the proposed text, each member state would be required to reduce “the volume of food waste generated in shops, restaurants and catering services, and in households” by 30 percent compared to the volumes recorded in 2020.

These figures are calculated “per capita” to take population differences into account. (30 June)

EU summit ends without consensus on asylum policy

Brussels (dpa) – At the EU summit, the 27 member states failed to reach a consensus on European asylum policy due to a blockade by Hungary and Poland. This was confirmed by several EU diplomats to Deutsche Presse-Agentur in Brussels on Friday. No joint declaration on migration was issued, but a paper by EU Council President Charles Michel.

Poland and Hungary had blocked prepared texts on asylum policy. They rejected a compromise agreed by a majority of the EU’s interior ministers at the beginning of June without their consent. The upcoming negotiations with the European Parliament in the current legislative process can nevertheless start. Still, the blockade by the two countries is highly symbolic -– and could jeopardise other EU projects.

Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban threatened to block EU funds for the delivery of weapons and equipment to the Ukrainian armed forces. On state radio, he described the Brussels negotiations as a “migration war” in the meeting room. (30 June)

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