Every Monday Visegrad Insight releases a weekly update on key developments in Central Europe from the point of view of democratic security. Our team monitors for important political, civil society, economy and foreign policy updates and where possible hints at risks and developing scenarios. Currently, we monitor the situation in the following 10 countries:
- Baltics: Estonia and Ukraine have agreed on a deal which will allow tax exemptions for any transnational technology projects; the first project – once implemented – will focus on increasing efficiencies at border crossings. Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda says both the EU and Poland have areas of compromise regarding the EU budget, raising hopes for the coming week that a deal may be struck.
- Belarus: Continued unrest in Minsk and around the country; the still-unfolding story of artist Roman Bondarenko’s assassination could trigger further demonstrations.
- Bulgaria: With the economic costs of COVID-19 increasing, ski resorts and spas are to remain open even though the current bookings are 40 per cent lower than the year before. It is a sharp rejection of Angela Merkel’s call to close all resorts in Europe until next year.
- Czechia: Czech’s will be able to reopen shops and restaurants on Thursday as the virus reproduction rate has decreased; very welcome news for retailers in the weeks preceding Christmas.
- Hungary: Expect transatlantic push back from the incoming administration regarding an anti-Semitic article written by a Hungarian ministerial commissioner, which compares George Soros to Adolf Hitler and “multicultural open society” to “poison gas”.
- Romania: Following last week’s criticism of the conditions in hospitals across the country, Prime Minister Ludovic Orban announces a EUR 7bn investment (scheduled for seven years) for the improvement of health infrastructure.
- Poland: A tale of two countries: many are feeling that revolutionary forces – spurred on by the restrictive abortion ruling from the constitution court – are on their side to create a more liberal society while polling from earlier in the month suggest a majority of Poles accept the restrictions in place since 1993 (66 per cent), though not the more stringent measures from the court.
- Slovakia: Everyone entering Slovakia after 7 December will require a negative COVID-19 test, exceptions only for those travelling through without stopping.
A Czech farming association has claimed that the EU’s new policies on reducing pesticides and greenhouse gas emissions could drastically hurt farmer’s income as well as make food more expensive, potentially increasing the cost by 20 per cent. Expect pushback from similar initiatives in the coming weeks.