Category Archives: EU

EU Wider Europe platform

Brussels 24.06.2022  During the EU Summit in Brussels the leaders had a first and constructive discussion on an emerging European Political Community. According to the unnamed EU official he goal would be to foster political dialogue and cooperation between European countries, so as to strengthen security, stability and prosperity on the European continent.

The Community concerns all European countries with whom the EU has close relations, he continued. It would consist in regular meetings at leaders level, which would create space for political discussions and therefore contribute to mutual understanding and a common strategic culture.

The President of the European Council will now pursue work to move this project forward, together with the French and the Czech rotating Presidencies, the official concluded.

Proposed on 9 May in Strasbourg, Emmanuel Macron’s “European political community” is a innovative approach. Inspired by former president François Mitterrand’s initial idea of a European confederation, the French president (1981-1995) outlined a European forum that would be separate from the European Union.

The aim is to offer a platform for political coordination for European countries across the continent. It could concern all European countries with whom we have close relations.

The objective would be to foster political dialogue and cooperation to address issues of common interest so as to strengthen the security, stability and prosperity of the European continent.

Such a framework will not replace existing EU policies and instruments, notably enlargement, and will fully respect the European Union’s decision-making autonomy.

Building on this first exchange of views, the European Council will revert to the issue.

“This new European organisation would enable democratic European nations adhering to our set of values to find a new area of political cooperation, security, cooperation in energy, transport, investment, infrastructure, and the movement of people, especially our young people. Joining it would not necessarily prejudge future membership of the European Union, just as it would not be closed to those who have left the latter”  President Macron during the Conference on the Future of Europe.

Ukraine and Moldova EU candidates

Brussels 23.06.2022 Ukraine and Moldova have both been granted the EU candidate status, President of the European Council Charles Michel has announced at the press-conference, following the Summit.
“Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” Mr Michel said, describing the European Council’s decision as a “historic moment”.

Ukraine applied on February 28, the days after the Russian invasion, and the process moved at a record speed.
Its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, hailed the EU Council decision.

“It’s a unique and historical moment in Ukraine-EU relations…” he tweeted. “Ukraine’s future is within the EU.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declared that “today is a good day for Europe.”

The top EU executive added that the decision strengthens Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, “in the face of Russian imperialism.” The leaders also officially recognized the “European perspective” of Georgia, saying it was moving toward candidate status.

Ukraine scored 32 points out of 100 possible in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2021. Our indicator has decreased by one point, and now Ukraine ranks 122nd out of 180 countries in the CPI.

The information is available on the website of Transparency International Ukraine. The African state of Eswatini (Swaziland) is next to Ukraine. Zambia, Nepal, Egypt, the Philippines, and Algeria are one point ahead — with 33 points each.

On March 20 Ukraine’s President Zelensky announced ban on the activities of 11 political parties in the country, eliminating the entire opposition.

EU top diplomats convene in Luxembourg

Brussels 20.06.2022 The Foreign Affairs Council taking place in Luxembourg will be informed about current affairs and ministers will be able to exchange views on recent events and on fast-moving developments in external relations.

The Council will then discuss the latest developments in the Horn of Africa, and EU relations with Egypt.

Lastly the Council will exchange views on Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine, in the light of the special meeting of the European Council on 30-31 May 2022 and the adoption of a sixth package of economic and individual sanctions against Russia.

Over an informal lunch EU ministers will have the opportunity to hold a discussion with the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt Sameh Hassan Shoukry.

MEPs welcome Israel Immigration Minister

Brusssels 14.06.2022 Today the Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi addressed the European Parliament Conference on “Ukrainian humanitarian crisis: Current EU efforts and the Israeli experience” welcoming Israel’s Minister for Immigration and Absorption, Pnina Tamano Shata, who visited Brussels for a conference and series of meetings with the Members of the Parliament (MEPs).

“Let me start by warmly welcoming Minister Tamano-Shata to Brussels. I would also like to express my appreciation for MEPs Antonio Lopez-Isturiz and Bert-Jan Ruissen and also the President of the European Parliament, for not only hosting this event, but for your dedication to EU-Israel partnership. And many thanks also for Rabbi Margolin for not only organising this event, but for your commitment to foster and protect Jewish life in Europe and beyond” Olivér Várhelyi underlined.

“It is my pleasure to address you today on this timely topic “How the EU and Israel align in their support to Ukraine. We are living in turbulent times. In addition to the socio-economic challenges of the COVID pandemic, we are now facing the consequences of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

“The war is back on our continent, with immense suffering to the Ukrainian people and massive destruction of the country. We do not yet know how this conflict will be resolved. We do not yet know what the casualties and the damage are going to be. But we do know that the human suffering it has caused is enormous…” Commissioner said.

“The State of Israel, from its very founding, has always been a nation of immigrants and refugees.the State of Israel was established as the State of the Jewish People, many of whom arrived as refugees in the last century after war world tow ,many of them survived the Holocaust. In fact, it was these immigrants and refugees who built the state” Minister Tamano-Shata said.

“Therefore, a cornerstone of every Israeli government is our duty to help immigrants and refugees who are eligible to become citizens under the Law of Return. And I am thankful that over the past months, I have been able to continue to carry out this national mission’ the Minister continued.

“In the personal level, These days, more than ever, I feel deeply that it is a great privilege to be one of the decision-makers in the government working to provide extensive humanitarian aid to Ukrainian refugees escaping the war zone”.

Meeting with Commissioner Varheyli, the European Parliament Vice-President Nicola Beer, cross-party MEPs and Ambassadors from the EU, Israel and Ukraine, the Minister underlined the role played by Israel in helping refugees from Ukraine feel at home.

The co-organiser of the event the Brussels-based European Jewish Association (EJA), representing hundreds of communities and thousands of Jews across the European continent has played a prominent role in enhancing the visit of the Israel Minister. The EJA efforts were highly appreciated by the Commissioner Olivér Várhelyi and the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

MEPs support EU Treaty modification

Strasbourg 09.06.2022 On Thursday, Parliament adopted a resolution calling on the European Council to agree to start the process to revise the EU Treaties. (Image: illustration)

In light of the array of ongoing and recent crises, MEPs used their prerogative to call for the Treaties to be changed by:

– reforming voting procedures in the Council to enhance the European Union’s capacity to act, including switching from unanimity to qualified majority voting, in areas such as sanctions, the so-called passerelle clauses, and in emergencies;

– adapting the EU’s powers, especially in the areas of health and cross-border health threats, in the completion of the energy union based on efficiency and renewables in line with international agreements on climate change, in defence, and in social and economic policies;
-ensuring that the European Pillar of Social Rights is fully implemented and incorporating social progress, linked to a Social Progress Protocol, into the Treaties;
– making the EU economy more resilient, with special attention paid to small and medium-sized enterprises and competitiveness checks, and promoting investments focused on the just, green and digital transitions;
providing Parliament with the right to initiate, amend or revoke legislation, and with full rights as a co-legislator on the EU budget; and
-strengthening the procedure to protect the EU’s founding values and clarifying the determination and consequences of breaches (7 TEU and the Charter of Fundamental Rights).

The resolution was adopted with 355 votes in favour, 154 against, and 48 abstentions, following a debate earlier on the same day.

It will be up to the 27 member states’ heads of state or government at the European Council to decide to set up a Convention, by simple majority. Many MEPs have called for this to happen at the earliest opportunity, which would be the EU summit on 23-24 June, to ensure that citizens’ expectations are met and that the outcome of the Conference on the Future of Europe is put to good use as soon as possible. The Convention should comprise MEPs, Commissioners, MPs from the member states, and EU leaders.

The Commission is expected to announce how it intends to follow up on the Conference in mid-June. Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs will continue to work on the changes that Parliament would seek to make to the Treaties, in anticipation of a Convention.

Borrell: new diplomatic appointments

Brussels 08.06.2022 Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, announced the nomination of 31 Heads of Delegations of the European Union.

They will be formally appointed following receipt of respective agréments from their host countries:

Christiane HOHMANN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Albania. She is currently Ambassador of Germany to Estonia and formerly served as German Ambassador to Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Gabriel VISENTIN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Australia. He is currently Special Envoy of the European Union for the Indo-Pacific. He served previously as Head of the EEAS Division for Parliamentary Affairs.

Petra PEREYRA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Botswana and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). She is currently Head of Unit for Communication in the Directorate-General of the European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations of the European Commission. She previously served as Team leader for West Africa in the same Directorate-General.

Jorge TOLEDO ALBIÑANA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to China. He is currently Ambassador of Spain to Japan. He formerly served as Secretary of State for European Affairs in the Spanish Government.

Francesca DI MAURO has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Côte d’Ivoire. She is currently Head of Unit for Western Africa in the International Partnerships Directorate-General within the European Commission. She also served as Head of Unit for Eastern and Central Africa in the same Directorate-General.

Vesna Bastistic KOS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Council of Europe (Strasbourg). She is currently Permanent Representative of Croatia to the United Nations and other international organisations in Geneva. She previously served as Director-General for multilateral issues in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Croatia.

Sylvie TABESSE has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Djibouti and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD). She is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Haiti and also served as the Head of the EEAS Inspection Division.

Gianluca GRIPPA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Eritrea. He is currently Adviser to the EEAS Africa Managing Directorate. He also served as Head of the EU Delegation to the Dominican Republic.

Pawel HERCZYNSKI has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Georgia. He is currently EEAS Managing Director for CSDP and Crisis Response and also served as Director for Security and Defense Policy in the EEAS. Prior to that he served as Ambassador of Poland to the Political and Security Committee (PSC).

Artis BERTULIS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Guinea Bissau. He is currently Ambassador of Latvia to India and Sri Lanka, and also served as Ambassador to Italy, Albania, Malta, San Marino, and as Latvia’s Permanent Representative to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Jolita PONS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Guinea Conakry. She has served as Head of the Political section of the EU Delegation to Russia and previously as Head of the Political Affairs, Press and Information section of the EU Office to Hong Kong.

René VAN NES has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Guyana, for Suriname, and with responsibility for Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, Saba, Saint Barthélemy, Sint Eustatius and Sint Maarten. He was Head of the EEAS Division Conflict Prevention and Mediation Support, and he also served as Deputy Head of the EEAS Division Integrated Approach – Methodology and Implementation.

Stefano GATTO has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Haiti. He is currently Senior Inspector for Delegations in the EEAS Inspection Division. He also served as Head of the EU Delegation to Guatemala.

Jean-Eric PAQUET has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Japan. He is currently Director-General for Research and Innovation within the European Commission. He formerly served as Deputy Secretary-General in charge of policy coordination and better regulation within the European Commission.

Marilyn JOSEFSON has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Kyrgyz Republic. She is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Tajikistan and previously served as Head of Office of former EEAS Secretary-General Helga Maria Schmid.

Isabelle DELATTRE has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Madagascar. She is currently Head of Unit for Southern Africa, Indian Ocean in the International Partnerships Directorate-General within the European Commission. She also served as Deputy Head of the EEAS Division for Regional Affairs, ASEM and Indo-Pacific.

Antonino MAGGIORE has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Mozambique. He is currently Ambassador of Italy to Zambia, Malawi and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). He also served as Head of Division for the OSCE in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy.

Salvador PINTO DA FRANCA ROUX has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Niger. He is currently Head of the Political, Press and Information section of the EU Delegation to Mali. He also served as Deputy Head of Mission, Head of Political section at the Portuguese Embassy in Egypt.

Riina KIONKA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Pakistan. She is currently Head of the EU Delegation to South Africa. She previously served as Chief Foreign Policy Advisor to the former President of the Council of the European Union Donald Tusk.

Izabela MATUSZ has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Panama. She is currently First Counsellor in the Department of the Americas in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Poland, and has previously served in the Cabinet of the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Jacques FRADIN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Papua New Guinea. He is currently Head of the EEAS Division for Integrated Strategic Planning for CSDP and Stabilisation. Previously, he was Head of the Africa and Europe sections in the EEAS Crisis Management Planning Directorate.

Roland GALHARAGUE has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Russia. He is currently Ambassador of France to Malaysia. He also served as Director responsible for Russia, Ukraine, Caucasus and Central Asia countries in the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs of France.

Belén CALVO UYARRA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Rwanda. She is currently seconded from the EEAS to the Cabinet of the Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation and is responsible for Africa and Development Cooperation. She also served as Head of the Political, Press and Information section of the EU Delegation to South Africa.

Jean-Marc PISANI has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Senegal. He is currently Head of Division for Horn of Africa, East Africa at the EEAS, and also served as Head of the EEAS Division for Conduct of Operations.

Sandra KRAMER has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to South Africa. She is currently Director for Africa in the Directorate-General International Partnerships within the European Commission. She also served as Director for Coordination and Administration in the Cabinet of the former President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.

Timo OLKKONEN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to South Sudan. He is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe. He also served as Ambassador of Finland to Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi and COMESA.

Aidan O’HARA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Sudan. He is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Djibouti. He also served as Director of the European Union Division in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Ireland.

Raimundas KAROBLIS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Tajikistan. He is currently Vice minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania. He also served as Minister of Defence of Lithuania.

Marc FIEDRICH has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Timor-Leste. He is currently Acting Director of the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments within the European Commission. Earlier in his career, he was also posted in the EU Delegation to Venezuela.

Jan SADEK has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Uganda. He is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Botswana. He also served as Ambassador of Sweden to Ethiopia and Djibouti, and Special Representative to the African Union and IGAD.

Jobst VON KIRCHMANN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Zimbabwe. He is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Ivory Coast, and also served as Head of Unit of Southern Africa, Indian Ocean in the International Partnerships Directorate-General within the European Commission.

The EEAS has also nominated 4 new Deputy Heads of Delegation of the European Union:

Raffaella IODICE has been nominated as Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Afghanistan. She is currently Head of Unit for Asia, Latin America, Caribbean and Pacific in the International Partnerships Directorate-General within the European Commission. She also served as Head of Unit for Middle East and Gulf, Central Asia, South Asia in the same Directorate-General.

Florence LIOU has been nominated as Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Morocco. She is currently Deputy Head of the EEAS Division for Rights, Obligations and Medical Cell. She also served as Deputy Head of the EEAS Division for Maghreb.

Plamena HALACHEVA has been nominated as Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Serbia. She is currently Policy coordinator in the Citizens, Equality, Democracy and Rule of Law Unit of the Secretariat-General within the European Commission. She also served as Policy and Political Desk for Kosovo in the Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations Directorate-General within the European Commission.

Sara REZOAGLI has been nominated as Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Thailand. She is currently First Counsellor, Head of Political Section of the Embassy of Italy in China. She also served as Head of Southeast Asia and Ocean Unit in the Directorate-General for Global Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Italy.

EP: Ukraine Rada speaker visit

Strasbourg 08.06.2022 Welcoming Mr Stefanchuk to the hemicycle in Strasbourg, Parliament’s President Roberta Metsola underscored Ukraine’s “fight for freedom, for democracy, for the values that bind us as Europeans, is our fight. What Ukraine has had to endure was unthinkable a few months ago, but your people have inspired the world.”

President Metsola added that the European Parliament will continue to actively support Ukraine’s efforts to be granted EU candidate status. “We know how important it is to send a clear signal that Ukraine’s place is within our European family. To tell everyone that Ukraine is Europe,” she said.

Mr Stefanchuk outlined how the initial Russian assault on Ukraine had shocked his country and the entire world, but that Ukrainians had quickly realised what they needed to do: unite against the aggressor.

Praising President Metsola for being one of the first European leaders to visit Ukraine following the outbreak of the war, he also thanked European countries for their response to the Russian aggression, for welcoming Ukrainian refugees, and for standing with the people of Ukraine in these dark times. At the same time, he raised the prospect of more action in the event of the war continuing, including further EU sanctions, even as they start to negatively impact European economies. “Because the price for defeat will be way bigger,” he said.

In addition, Mr Stefanchuk also expressed his deep wish for the European Union to strongly support his country’s desire to be granted EU candidate status. Ukraine and its people need this powerful message from Europe, he underlined, while pointing out that any other political signal would only benefit Russian President Vladimir Putin and his regime. He also thanked the European Parliament for its strong support for his country.

EU-Russia: more individual sanctions

Brussels 03.06.2021 Russia’s aggression against Ukraine: the EU targets additional 65 individuals and 18 entities (Image: illustration)
The Council decided today to impose restrictive measures on an additional 65 individuals and 18 entities in response to Russia’s ongoing unjustified and unprovoked military aggression against Ukraine and other actions undermining or threatening the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine. This decision is an integral element of the comprehensive sixth package of sanctions adopted by the Council earlier today.

“There can be no impunity for war crimes. We are adding today to our sanctions lists those who are responsible for enabling this unjustified war and the war crimes committed in Bucha and Mariupol, adding more people from the military and economic elites and those with close ties with President Putin supporting his illegitimate aggression against the Ukrainian people” Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy said.

“The 65 listed individuals include the military staff that led the actions of those units of the Russian army that killed, raped, and tortured civilians in Ukraine in Bucha, including Colonel Azatbek Omurbekov, who was nicknamed the ’Butcher of Bucha’.. The list also includes those responsible for the inhuman siege of the city of Mariupol, including Colonel-General Mikhail Mizintsev, nicknamed the ‘Butcher of Mariupol’, and those who participated in the creation of the so-called Committee of Salvation for Peace and Order in March 2022 – an organ for collaboration with the Russian occupation in Kherson Oblast. Lastly, the EU is imposing sanctions on politicians, propagandists, leading businesspersons and family members of already sanctioned individuals. The former gymnast and State Duma member Alina Kabaeva is also included in the list as a close associate of President Vladimir Putin” the EU top diplomat added.

The 18 sanctioned entities include a variety of companies supporting, directly or indirectly, the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and the Government of the Russian Federation, including Russia’s largest securities depository, the National Settlement Depository.

Altogether, EU restrictive measures now apply to a total of 1,158 individuals and 98 entities. Those designated are subject to an asset freeze, and EU citizens and companies are forbidden from making funds available to them. Natural persons are additionally subject to a travel ban, which prevents them from entering or transiting through EU territories.

The EU resolutely condemns Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine. It urges Russia to immediately stop its indiscriminate attacks against civilians and civilian infrastructure, and to immediately and unconditionally withdraw all its troops and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognised borders. The atrocities being committed by Russian forces and the suffering and destruction being inflicted are unspeakable. The EU calls on Russia to allow immediate humanitarian access and the safe passage of all civilians concerned. It also calls on Russia to immediately allow the safe return of Ukrainian individuals forcibly removed to Russia.

The European Union is unwavering in its commitment to help Ukraine exercise its inherent right of self-defence against the Russian aggression and build a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future.

The relevant legal acts, including the names of the listed individuals and entities, have been published in the Official Journal of the EU.

Borrell welcomes Denmark EU defence prospect

Brussels 01.06.2022 “I welcome the outcome of the referendum held in Denmark yesterday. The Danish people have spoken. They have decided to abolish the 30-year-old opt-out clause related to EU defence. This is a historic decision that will allow Denmark to participate fully in the EU’s Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP)” reads the Statement by the EU High Representative Josep Borrell on the outcome of the referendum on the opt-out in defence matters in Denmark. (Image: illustration)

“At a time when it is more imperative than ever for the EU and its Member States to reinforce their defence capabilities and capacity to act, this decision will bring additional strength and unity to our CSDP and defence initiatives.

“As soon as the Danish government will have formally informed the other EU Member States of its decision, in line with its constitutional provisions, we stand ready to swiftly take all the necessary steps to ensure that Denmark can fully participate in all aspects of CSDP”.

EU-Russia: six package of sanctions

Brussels 31.05.2021 “The European Council is committed to intensify pressure on Russia and Belarus to thwart Russia’s war against Ukraine. The European Council calls on all countries to align with EU sanctions. Any attempts to circumvent sanctions or to aid Russia by other means must be stopped.

“The European Council agrees that the sixth package of sanctions against Russia will cover crude oil, as well as petroleum products, delivered from Russia into Member States, with a temporary exception for crude oil delivered by pipeline.

“The European Council therefore urges the Council to finalise and adopt it without delay, ensuring a well-functioning EU Single Market, fair competition, solidarity among Member States and a level playing field also with regard to the phasing out of our dependency on Russian fossil fuels. In case of sudden interruptions of supply, emergency measures will be introduced to ensure security of supply. In this respect, the Commission will monitor and report regularly to the Council on the implementation of these measures to ensure a level playing field in the EU Single Market and security of supply.

“The European Council will revert to the issue of the temporary exception for crude oil delivered by pipeline as soon as possible.

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