Author Archives: Europe correspondent

EU measures against Turkey drilling

This week the European Council adopted a framework for restrictive measures in response to Turkey‘s unauthorised drilling activities in the Eastern Mediterranean. The framework will make it possible to sanction individuals or entities responsible for or involved in unauthorised drilling activities of hydrocarbons in the Eastern Mediterranean.

The sanctions will consist of a travel ban to the EU and an asset freeze for persons, and an asset freeze for entities. In addition, EU persons and entities will be forbidden from making funds available to those listed.

New Commissioners-designate awaiting hearing

Commissioners-designate Olivér Várhelyi (Hungary), Adina-Ioana Vălean (Romania) and Thierry Breton (France) will receive the audition in Parliament on November 14 in Brussels. (Image above: illustration).

Each candidate commissioner is invited to a live-streamed, three-hour hearing in front of the committee or committees responsible for their proposed portfolio.

The procedure will take place before the European Parliament votes the new European Commission headed by Ursula von der Leyen into office, parliamentary committees assess the suitability of all commissioners-designate.

Parliament’s legal affairs committee identified conflicts of interests with two earlier candidates – László Trócsányi (Hungary) and Rovana Plumb (Romania) – while Sylvie Goulard (France) did not receive the support of the internal market and industry committees for the post of internal market commissioner. As a result, the three candidates had to be withdrawn and new candidates were proposed.

PESCO: new 13 projcts in view

The Council adopted an updated list of 13 projects to be undertaken under PESCO. Today’s decision brings to 47 the number of projects that are currently in place.

Five of the new projects focus on training, covering areas such as cyber, diving, tactical, medical as well as chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defence (CBRND) training. Other projects focus on enhancing EU collaborative actions as well as on capability development on sea, air and space.

The Council formally adopted the first set of 17 projects on 6 March 2018 and the second set of 17 projects on 20 November 2018.

On 11 December 2017, the Council adopted a decision establishing Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). PESCO enables EU member states to work more closely together in the area of security and defence. This permanent framework for defence cooperation allows willing and able member states to develop jointly defence capabilities, invest in shared projects, and enhance the operational readiness and contribution of their armed forces.

The 25 member states participating in PESCO are: Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Croatia, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Spain and Sweden.

Merkel expects Brexit deal approval

German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on November 12 that she expected Westminster to approve British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Article 50 deal with the European Union.

 

The United Kingdom voted by 52%-48% in 2016 to leave the EU, albeit without deciding how it would be done with or without a deal.

 

Venice suffers acqua alta

The gust of wind with  bad weather that has hit much of Italy saw acqua alta reach 1.27 metres in Venice on November 12, with much of the city swamped and the narthex of St Mark’s Basilica flooded.

Levels of 100-120 cm above sea level are fairly common in the lagoon city and Venice is well-equipped to cope with its rafts of pontoon walkways, ANSA writes.
But anything much above 120 cm risks swamping much of the city. In southern Italy, meanwhile, schools were closed in Matera and the nearby town of Metaponto was hit by a tornado.
Gale-force winds and torrential rain is also a big problem in Calabria, where the gusts reached 113 kmph and Puglia.

EU calls actors in S.Ossetia and Georgia to restrian

“Rising tensions along the Administrative Boundary Line (ABL) of break-away South Ossetia in Georgia are completely unacceptable. So are factually incorrect statements from within South Ossetia concerning security actions and developments on the ground, which only fuel further tensions” says the statement of the European Action Service spokesperson.

 “The European Union calls on all relevant actors to show maximum restraint and refrain from any steps or statements that could escalate the situation. Instead, mechanisms put in place to prevent incidents and find solutions – such as the Hotline, the Incident Prevention and Response Mechanism in Ergneti (IPRM) and Geneva International Discussions – must be consistently used. In addition, crossing points closed since early September should be reopened without delay. All these represent the best way for finding solutions to current security, humanitarian and other problems caused by the situation along the ABL.

“The EU Monitoring Mission as the only international presence on the ground plays a key role in the ongoing work to stabilise the situation. The attempts from within South Ossetia, both in action and through statements, to prevent the Mission’s work and restrict its mandate are deplorable and must stop.

“The European Union remains fully committed to peaceful conflict resolution in Georgia and reiterates its firm support to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia within its internationally recognised borders.”

Iraq: EU Foreign Ministers express concern

“We will have two days of Council,today with the Foreign Ministers,tomorrow with the Defence Ministers, with a full agenda as usual”, said the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini upon her arrivals to the Foreign Affairs Council.

“But let me start with two issues that are not on today’s or tomorrow’s agenda. First, we followed yesterday with great concern and we are feeling very close to the Italian authorities and military over the attack in Iraq. We are following developments very closely there.

 

“And secondly, we are following the events in Bolivia. I would like to express clearly our wish that all parties in the country exercise restraint and responsibility and lead the country peacefully and quietly to new, credible elections that let the people of Bolivia express their democratic will.

“Today, with the Foreign Ministers we will address first and foremost the situation in Afghanistan after the elections and discuss how we can contribute to peace, reconciliation, but also development in the country.

“We will also have a discussion with the Ministers on the security situation in the Gulf, looking in particular at the European Union contribution to de-escalate tensions.

“And we will host the Prime Minister of Sudan [Abdalla Hamdok], for a discussion with him on how the European Union can best accompany the peace process and the recovery of the country.”

(The Defence Ministers Council takes place tomorrow on November !2, 2019).

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