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Every Wednesday, the European Circle delivers an overview of the most important topics from the European Union and the European nations.

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Biden approves Finland and Sweden NATO membership bids, EU submits a final text at Iran nuclear talks, Greek Prime Minister fights to avoid resigning over Watergate-type scandal
European Circle in week 32, 2022
curated by Nina von Schweinitz

EUROPE

Biden approves Finland and Sweden NATO membership bids: US President Joe Biden signed ratification documents bringing Finland and Sweden one step closer to joining the NATO alliance. “Our alliance is closer than ever, it is more united than ever, and after Finland and Sweden join we will be stronger than ever,“ Biden said. In May, both nations began the formal process of applying to NATO amid the backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine. cnbc.com

Russia’s aggression against Ukraine: EU imposes restrictive measures on Viktor and Oleksandr Yanukovych. consilium.europa.eu

Estonia and Finland seek end to Russian tourist visas for Europe. dw.com

Russia halts oil flows through Ukrainian pipeline: Russian oil deliveries through the southern Druzhba pipeline servicing Hungary, Slovakia and the Czech Republic have been halted since last Thursday. Russian supplier Transneft cited a problem with EU financial sanctions, which resulted in Transneft’s regular payment for transit across Ukraine bouncing on 28 July. politico.eu

Israel launches new raid against suspected militants in the West Bank: The local head of the Palestinian militant group, the al-Aqsa Martyrs‘ Brigades, has been killed in an Israeli operation in the occupied West Bank. Ibrahim al-Nabulsi and two other people were killed during the raid on a house in the city of Nablus. At least 40 people were injured, the Palestinian Red Crescent said. bbc.com, cnn.com

  • Ceasefire begins between Israel and Palestinian militants after 3-day conflict. cbsnews.com

Pelosi defends Taiwan visit amid China tensions: „Yes, it was worth it,“ US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said in her first interview since returning from Asia last week on NBC’s „TODAY“ show. The speaker said Chinese President Xi Jinping „has his own insecurities“ and she won’t let him control the schedule of members of Congress. „He has problems with his economy. He is acting like a scared bully,“ she said, adding that Xi is focused on getting re-elected. nbcnews.com

Turkey sends new drill ship to eastern Mediterranean: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday inaugurated the country’s newest drilling ship that he said would be sent to an area northwest of Cyprus in the eastern Mediterranean. The vessel, known as the Abdulhamid Han, is Turkey’s largest undersea hydrocarbon drill ship. Greece accuses Turkey of illegally exploring for gas deposits off of Greek islands. dw.com

  • EU’s emergency gas plan comes into force. dw.com
  • Gas from Poland’s storage facilities for Germany? Warsaw is sceptical. tagesspiegel.de
  • Spanish dispute over saving gas: Dark shop windows instead of real action. rnd.de
  • Measures against electricity price increases in France: EDF demands state compensation. spiegel.de
  • Norway moves to limit power exports in blow to Europe. bloomberg.com

EU submits a final text at Iran nuclear talks: Britain, China, France, Germany, Iran and Russia, as well as the United States indirectly, resumed talks to salvage a 2015 deal aimed at reining in Iran’s nuclear ambitions Thursday in Vienna, months after they had stalled. The EU has submitted a final text, a European official said Monday. “However, behind every technical issue and every paragraph lies a political decision that needs to be taken in the capitals. If these answers are positive, then we can sign this deal.” euractiv.com

EU antitrust regulators quiz developers on Google app payments: EU antitrust regulators have asked app developers whether Alphabet unit Google’s threat to remove apps from its Play Store if they use other payment options instead of its own billing system has hurt their business, two people familiar with the matter told Reuters. euractiv.com

Monkeypox: Anger and anxiety stalk EU’s monkeypox vaccine lottery. politico.eu
Belarus: Declaration by the High Representative on behalf of the EU on the second anniversary of the fraudulent presidential elections. consilium.europa.eu

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

„If we fail to stop climate change, we will no longer have a liveable future.“

For German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, the energy transition is central to a secure, environmentally sound and economically successful future. welt.de

NATION

Greek Prime Minister fights to avoid resigning over Watergate-type scandal: Trying to avoid resignation, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis insisted on Monday that he was unaware that Socialist Party (PASOK) leader Nikos Androulakis’ phone had been tapped, seeking to distance himself from a growing eavesdropping scandal. euractiv.com

Poland vows fiery response over blocked EU funds: An EU Commission spokesperson said that Poland has not done enough to break a long-running standoff over Warsaw’s controversial judicial reform. Poland’s ruling, right-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party has threatened to hit back at the EU as the Commission put on hold over €35 billion of COVID-19 recovery grants and loans due to the dispute. dw.com

Polish Holocaust survivor and novelist Zofia Posmysz dies at 98: Zofia Posmysz, a Polish World War II-era resistance fighter who survived the Auschwitz and Ravensbrück concentration camps and later became a journalist and novelist, has died at 98. timesofisrael.com

UK government submits case against Scottish referendum plans: The British government has submitted its full written case to the Supreme Court arguing that Holyrood cannot stage a second independence referendum under its existing powers. Nicola Sturgeon has said that if the justices rule Holyrood cannot hold Indyref2 under its existing powers, she will fight the next general election as a „de factor referendum“ on the „single question“ of independence. heraldscotland.com

Boris Johnson will not intervene in cost of living crisis: Downing Street is facing criticism after it rejected calls from former Labour prime minister Gordon Brown to summon an emergency COBRA meeting to deal with spiralling energy bills. The prime minister’s spokesman said that although the government recognises the challenges facing struggling households, „by convention it is not for this prime minister to make major fiscal interventions during this period. It will be for a future prime minister“. news.sky.com

Kosovo blames illegal Serbian groups for attack at northern border: Kosovo police patrolling the Serbian border came under fire at the weekend, in an area of the country marred by ethnic disputes and smuggling activities. Tensions between Kosovo and Serbia have flared recently and came to a head last week after Kosovo said it would oblige cars with Serbian license plates to replace them with temporary Kosovo plates when entering the country. Serbia reacted strongly, and due to EU and US intervention, the decision was postponed until 1 September amid ongoing dialogue. euractiv.com

France tweaks rules to keep nuclear plants running during heatwave: France’s nuclear power regulator has extended temporary waivers allowing five power stations to continue discharging hot water into rivers as the country contends with a fourth heatwave of the summer and an energy crisis. High river temperatures have in recent weeks threatened to reduce France’s already low nuclear output at a time when nearly half its reactors are offline because of corrosion problems and maintenance. reuters.com

France in midst of 4th heat wave amid historic drought: France was in the midst of its fourth heat wave of the year Monday as the country faces what the government warned is its worst drought on record. Last month was the driest July since measurements began in 1959. Some French farmers have started to see a drops in production especially in soy, sunflower and corn yields. abcnews.go.com

Italy: Right-wing coalition gains ground after centre-left spat. bloomberg.com
Finland reports cyber attack: Parliament website unavailable. rnd.de
Germany: Former Chancellor Merkel’s spokesman begins work as ambassador to Israel. dw.com
Switzerland: Melting glaciers reveal human remains and plane wreckage. theguardian.com
Spain and Portugal: July was hottest month since records began. deutschlandfunk.de
Hungary: Croatian journalist saved Prime Minister Orbán on the Adriatic Sea dailynewshungary.com
Denmark: 7-Eleven closes stores after latest cyberattack on retail point-of-sale systems. dailynewshungary.com

NUMERS

Wildfires raging through Europe this summer have burned the second-largest area on record. Wildfires have burned 600,731 hectares in EU countries this year so far, the data showed. euractiv.com

AT LEAST

Albania’s Interior Ministry pelted with red paint: Protestors in Tirana threw red paint on the Ministry of the Interior building on the night of Monday to demand justice and resignations over the death of a seven-year-old girl who was killed by an off-duty police officer driving a boat at high speeds. euractiv.com