Category Archives: EU

Socialist MEPs block Resolution on Turkey

The European Peopole’s Party (EPP) has issued a statement following the Left Groups S&D and GUE block of the Resolution from European Parliament as tensions continue to increase between the European Unions and Turkey.

On the initiative of the EPP Group, the European Parliament will debate the continued and repeated aggression of Turkey against Greece and Cyprus next week. In light of the situation, Chairman of the EPP Group, Manfred Weber MEP, called for an urgent debate with High Representative Josep Borrell.

“Turkey is unilaterally escalating conflicts with Europe and the situation is getting worse. Turkish security forces attack the Greek border on a regular basis and the drilling attempts in the waters of Cyprus are intensifying continuously. The EU cannot leave these aggressions unanswered.”

Greece has seen repeated attempts by groups of people trying to cross the border illegally, with the help of the Turkish security forces. The Head of the Greek Delegation of the EPP Group, Vangelis Meimarakis MEP, stated: “President Erdogan is provoking another refugee crisis for his own benefit on the back of desperate people. Turkey’s actions undermine the refugee agreement and are a threat to stability in Europe. The European Parliament should send a clear signal to Turkey that it has gone too far and that it must stop challenging the EU.”

Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus have also been escalating recently. “We expect the European Union to show solidarity in practice and to vigorously defend Cyprus and Greece against Turkish aggression. If the current measures do not stop Turkey’s illegal activities, it is clear we need to further increase the pressure”, said the Head of the Cypriot Delegation of the EPP Group, Lefteris Christoforou MEP.

The EPP Group called for a strong statement from the European Parliament, a debate and a Resolution, to denounce Turkey’s actions. However, during the discussions with the other political Groups, the Socialists (S&D) and the Communists (GUE) blocked a Resolution on the matter.

“In light of the facts on the ground, it is incomprehensible that the Left wing parties reject a strong and clear signal from the European Parliament”, the MEPs noted.

Image: illustration, European Parliament hearing, Brussels

Turkey neo-Sultan «Sword-law»

Costas MAVRIDES OPINION In modern neo-Ottoman Turkey, there is a hysteria for new conquests, while disrespecting of international law and fundamental ethics. On a daily basis, actions and statements of Turkish officials (from Erdogan and his ministers) are made with complete contempt for International and EU Law, while different voices are silenced or persecuted.

Such a different voice is one by Burak Bekdil, a well known journalist who was fired from Turkey’s leading newspaper after 29 years, for writing at “Gatestone” about what is taking place in Turkey! In his latest article at Gatestone (“Turkey: Erdoğan Wishes “Many More Happy Conquests”), Bekdil focused on the hypocrisy and arrogance of modern Turkey on the occasion of the celebrations of the fall of Constantinople, during which President Erdogan referred to, not only to the past conquests, but to the “many more happy conquests” in the future. The question posed by the now persecuted journalist is straight forward: What are these non-Turkish countries and territories that Erdogan expects to conquer? As the journalist stressed, the prevailing distortion and arrogance in today’s Turkish politics is based on the Ottoman “Law of the Sword”: the conqueror can rule a conquered country or territory according to his desires.

The “spirit of conquest” is dominant in the modern Turkish political scene and infects daily life within and outside of Turkey e.g. attacks and destruction of churches and cemeteries, forced disappearances, torture, murders, imprisonment, persecution. Such crimes are ‘washed away’ by the Turkish state apparatus, given that courts in Turkey are Erdogan’s tool so that such criminals are easily acquitted, and many turn into … national heroes! Under the same hypocrisy and arrogance, other ethnic groups and non-Muslims are purged, and churches turned into mosques. The depredation of property, a criminal act by all means, if committed on behalf of conquest, is hailed as a heroic achievement. In fact, in Turkish educational system, there is a special celebration for the conquests!

Conquests and arrogance are at the core of Turkey’s current ‘spread’ (e.g. sending jihadists and weapons to Libya, before the eye of the EU and NATO, despising UN Security Council arms embargo). Incidentally, it was recently announced that ethnic cleansing of Kurdish and other populations in the Turkish-occupied Afrin region of Syria, had been completed. Such crimes of conquest, ethnic cleansing and colonization continue unpunished in Cyprus, while new illegal actions are in process in the Cyprus EEZ, the Aegean, and the Eastern Mediterranean.

Before this neo-Ottoman “Law of the Sword”, the prevailing political perception in EU, is that dialogue should prevail, while the neo Sultan of Turkey is advancing. History repeats itself but very few learn from it.

Costas Mavrides, Member of European Parliament

Chair of the Political Committee of the Mediterranean

Image: Recep Tayyip Erdogan

MFF: Michel committed to political talks

“…I am totally committed to start immediately real negotiations with the Member States.  We intend to have a physical summit around the middle of July in Brussels.  We will have the occasion to focus on some concrete proposals. Before this summit, I will put on the table some concrete proposals in order to try to take a decision. We are aware that it is essential to take a decision as soon as possible” said Charles Michel, the president of the EU Council after the teleconference with the EU heads of states and government.

“… The main topic was the MFF (Multiannual Financial Framework) and the Recovery Fund. It was the first occasion to discuss at the level of the leaders the proposals put on the table by the Commission, the MFF and the Recovery Fund. It was the occasion to observe that on different points there is an emerging consensus, which is very positive. But at the same time, we don’t underestimate the difficulties. And on different topics we observe that it is necessary to continue to discuss” Michel continued.

The European Commission has already put forward a budget proposal for the recovery from COVID-19, and adopted its first proposal for the EU’s long-term budget, the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF) package, on 2 May 2018. To respond to the economic and social fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission proposed a revamped long-term EU budget on 27 May 2020.

The proposal includes an emergency recovery instrument, Next Generation EU, to help repair the immediate damage brought by the coronavirus pandemic and kick-start the recovery.

The Commission’s proposal is a seven-year EU budget of €1 850 billion:

a revised long-term EU budget of €1 100 billion for 2021-2027
a temporary reinforcement of €750 billion ⁠– Next Generation EU
The EU Council has been analysing and assessing the proposal. In parallel, Charles Michel, the President of the European Council has been consulting member states ahead of the video conference of EU leaders on 19 June 2020.

However the Duthc Prime Minister Mark Rutte leads a coalition of four member states that are opposed to distribute €500bn in grants to the countries most severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. His leadership has broad national support, according to Dutch media 61% of the voters did not support the EU recovery plan as proposed by the European Commission, and only 4% of Dutch voters responded positevly to the Commisison generous plan.

The “Frugal Four” at present including Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden -presented their own concept for an EU recovery fund revealed to the EU capitals on 23 May. The most important point is lending. While the Commission proposal supported by Franco-German alliance includes a mixture of grants, loans and guarantees, the “Frugal Four” oppose the idea of grants, and stand for the temporary fund that should not lead to ‘debt mutualisation’, and the recipients of loans, mainlty the countries of the southeren Europe would have to display a ‘strong commitment to reforms’.
Since the end of May Mark Rutte has been at the forefront of a campaign refusing ‘gifts’ to southern European countries, promoting proposal of a ‘modernised’
The EU budget that will guarantee countries are strenghtened through the reforms, emerging with stronger economies after the pandemic crisis.

Sassoli: «time to deliver» recovery

Parliament President David Sassoli urged EU leaders to take action on Europe’s recovery in the wake of the Covid-19 crisis.
Sassoli addressed heads of state and government at the start of a video conference of the European Council on 19 June to discuss the recovery plan and the EU’s next long-term budget.

“Time is a luxury we cannot afford,” he said. “We need to act urgently and courageously, as EU citizens, businesses and economies need an immediate response. Our citizens expect bold action. Now it is time for us to deliver.”

Sassoli called the Commission proposal “ambitious” but added: “In our view it only scratches the surface of what needs to be done.”
The President also spoke out against issuing loans as part of the recovery plans. “Parliament is keen to stress that any common debt issued must be repaid fairly, without burdening future generations,” he said.

“Let us not forget that providing support solely in the form of loans would have an asymmetric impact on the indebtedness of the individual member states and would be more costly for the Union as a whole. We have an opportunity now to refashion Europe and make it more equal, greener and more forward-looking. To this end, we should seize our chance to introduce a basket of new own resources.”
Sassoli called the introduction of new own resources for the EU “an essential prerequisite” for any overall agreement on the EU’s long-term budget.

Stressing the importance of an ambitious recovery plan and budget, he said: “Now is not thetime to water down our ambitions. We need to show our citizens the value of Europe and our ability to come up with solutions that matter in their lives.”

The President also addressed the ongoing EU-UK talks on future relations. The previous day Parliament had adopted a report setting out its views. “We will push for an ambitious, overarching and comprehensive agreement in line with the joint commitments undertaken in the political declaration. We believe that this is the best possible outcome for both sides and, despite the limited time available, with goodwill and determination, it is still possible. We have every faith in our negotiator, Michel Barnier.”

EU Crimea sanctions «tradition»

European Council today decided to renew the sanctions introduced in response to the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation until 23 June 2021.

The restrictive measures currently in place include prohibitions targeting the imports of products originating in Crimea or Sevastopol into the EU, and infrastructural or financial investments and tourism services in Crimea or Sevastopol. Furthermore, the exports of certain goods and technologies to Crimean companies or for use in Crimea in the transport, telecommunications and energy sectors or for the prospection, exploration and production of oil, gas and mineral resources are also subject to EU restrictions.

As stated in the declaration by the High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy on behalf of the EU on 16 March 2020, the EU still does not recognise the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by the Russian Federation and continues to condemn this violation of international law.

Sanctions against Crimea, despite the diligent attempts of their authors and ideological inspirers, did not become an instrument of manipulation, did not drive us into a corner, but exactly the opposite made us strong and self-sufficient. Their next extension is only a tribute to the “tradition“, because in fact they can do nothing else. False accusations, vile incitements and reckless sanctions are the whole “arsenal” of the EU’s foreign policy instruments,” the Head of the Republic of Crimea Sergei Aksyonov wrote on his page in Russian social media.

The escalation of “anti-Russian hysteria” around the Crimean Repubic has become for the West a familiar form of hiding their own problems and a way to shift the focus of public attention from important topics, he continues. The head of the Republic emphasized that large infrastructure facilities on the peninsula were successfully implemented under the conditions of sanctions.

Of course, their absence would create more favorable conditions for Crimea for economic development, in particular, to attract investment. But this is not direct damage, but rather a lost opportunity, which we compensate for in other available ways,” he added. – “In short, my perception of Western sanctions is best demonstrated by the proverb “a dog barks, while caravan goes.”

There is a lot of work ahead! … The Russian Crimea is destined to successful development and prosperity” the Crimean leader concluded.

EEAS senior diplomatic appointments

Josep Borrell, High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the European Commission, announced today senior appointments in the European External Action Service (EEAS) in headquarters:

Joanneke BALFOORT as Director for Security and Defence Policy. She was previously Ambassador of the Netherlands to the EU Political and Security Committee.

Angelina EICHHORST as Managing Director for Europe and Central Asia. She was previously EEAS Director, Deputy Managing Director Western Europe, Western Balkans, Turkey and United Kingdom.

Carl HALLERGARD, as Director, Deputy Managing Director Middle East and North Africa. He was previously Deputy Head of Delegation to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva.

Javier NIÑO PEREZ as Director, Deputy Managing Director Americas. He was previously Head of the EEAS United States and Canada Division.

Josep Borrell also announced today senior nominations in the EEAS in EU Delegations in the world, who will be formally appointed following receipt of their respective agréments by the host country:

Andreas VON BRANDT has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Afghanistan. He is currently Deputy Director in the Cabinet of the NATO Secretary General.

Birgitte MARKUSSEN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the African Union. She is currently EEAS Director, Deputy Managing Director Africa.

Jeannette SEPPEN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Angola. She is currently Senior Civilian Representative to the EMASoH mission (European-led Maritime Awareness in the Strait of Hormuz).

Malgorzata WASILEWSKA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Barbados, the Eastern Caribbean States, the OECS and CARICOM/CARIFORUM. She is currently the Head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica.

Irchad RAZAALY has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea. He is currently Head of the EEAS West Africa Division.

León DE LA TORRE KRAIS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Chile. He is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Bolivia.

Charles-Michel GEURTS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Ecuador. He is currently Deputy Head of the EU Delegation to Indonesia.

Christian BERGER has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Egypt. He is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Turkey.

Thomas PEYKER has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Guatemala. He is currently Adviser, Senior Inspector in the EEAS Inspection Division.

Jaume SEGURA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Honduras. He is currently Political Counsellor in the Embassy of Spain in Mexico.

Thomas GNOCCHI has been nominated as Head of the EU Office to Hong Kong and Macao. He is currently Deputy Head of the EEAS Japan, Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and Pacific Division.

Lucie SAMCOVA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Iceland. She is currently Deputy Head of the EEAS Migration and Human Security Division.

Marianne VAN STEEN has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Jamaica, Belize, Turks and Caicos Islands, Bahamas and the Cayman Islands. She is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Ecuador.

Maria CASTILLO FERNANDEZ has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of Korea. She is currently Head of the EU Delegation to Malaysia.

Thomas SZUNYOG has been nominated as Head of the EU Office in Kosovo. He is currently Permanent Representative of the Czech Republic to the Political and Security Committee of the European Union.

Ina MARCIULIONYTE has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Lao People’s Democratic Republic. She is currently Ambassador of Lithuania to China, Thailand, Korea, Mongolia, Vietnam and Myanmar.

Laurent DELAHOUSSE has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Liberia. He is currently Special Envoy for Public Diplomacy in Africa, Department for Africa and the Indian Ocean, Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Paris, France.

Jose SABADELL has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Libya. He is currently Director of Policy Planning in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Spain.

Michalis ROKAS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Malaysia. He is currently the Head of the EEAS Support to Delegations Division.

Oana Cristina POPA has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Montenegro. She is currently the Ambassador of Romania to Serbia.

Ranieri SABATUCCI has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Myanmar. He is currently Head of the EU Delegation to the African Union.

Nona DEPREZ has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Nepal. She is currently Head of the FPI Partnership Instrument Division, European Commission.

David GEER has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Republic of North Macedonia. He is currently Head of the EEAS Sanctions Policy Division.

Alexandra VALKENBURG has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to The Holy See, Order of Malta, UN Organisations in Rome and to the Republic of San Marino. She is currently Ambassador of the Netherlands to Cuba and Jamaica.

Patrick SIMONNET has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Kingdom of Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman. He is currently Head of the EEAS Horn of Africa, East Africa Division.

Christian BADER has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to South Sudan. He is currently Ambassador, Special Adviser to the Director of the Crisis and Support Centre, French Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Petros MAVROMICHALIS has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein. He is currently Head of the EEAS Open Source Intelligence Division.

Luc VERON has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to the Philippines. He is currently Head of the EEAS Selection and Recruitment Division.

Marcus CORNARO has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Tunisia. He is currently Principal Adviser to the EEAS Secretary General.

Nikolaus MEYER-LANDRUT has been nominated as Head of the EU Delegation to Turkey. He is currently German Ambassador to France and Monaco.

Image above: Europa buildng Brussels

EU encourages lifting Schengen controls

European Commission issued a statement on travel restrictions in which it “strongly encourages the remaining member states to finalise the process of lifting the internal border controls and restrictions to free movement within the EU by 15 June 2020.”

The EU Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, insisted on the recommendation that internal borders must “reopen as soon as possible.” But she added that the main thing is for everyone to open internal borders completely before opening the EU’s external ones to third-country travelers.

While Germany, France and Belgium have said that they will lift travel restrictions on June 15, Spain is still preventing full mobility between its own regions. This situation is due to end by June 22, when the state of alarm declared to fight the Covid-19 epidemic expires.

The EU Commission said it is aware that coordination issues will not be easy. “We understand that reopening on Monday for countries that have not yet decided to do so could be complicated, and that some might take an extra week or two,” Johansson added.

EU acts against COVID-19 desinvormation

European Commission and the High Representative Josep Borrell are evaluating their measures to combat disinformation around the coronavirus pandemic and propose a way forward in a joint communication. It analyzes the immediate reaction and proposes concrete actions, the execution of which can start quickly.

“In these times of coronavirus, disinformation can kill. We have a duty to protect our citizens by raising awareness of the existence of false information and to point the finger at the actors responsible for such practices. In today’s technology-based world where warriors wield the keyboard rather than the sword and where targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns are a recognized weapon used by state and non-state actors, the Union European is increasing its activities and its capacities to fight against these practices” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said.

Vera Jourová, Vice President of Values and Transparency, said: “There have been waves of disinformation in Europe since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. They come both from the territory of the EU and from outside. To combat disinformation, we need to mobilize all relevant actors, from online platforms to public authorities, and support fact checkers and independent media. Online platforms have taken positive steps during the pandemic, but need to step up their efforts. Our actions are deeply rooted in fundamental rights, in particular freedom of expression and information. The coronavirus pandemic has been accompanied by a strong wave of false or misleading information, including attempts by foreign actors to influence citizens and debates in the EU. The crisis is testing how the EU and its democratic societies are taking up the challenge of disinformation. The following aspects are crucial for a stronger and more resilient Union: understanding the phenomenon, communicating, cooperating, ensuring transparency, guaranteeing freedom of expression and a pluralist democratic debate and empowering citizens. The actions proposed today will feed future EU work on disinformation, in particular the Action Plan for European Democracy and legislation on digital services. The press release is available here as well as a related fact sheet and the EUvsDisinfo website”.

 

EU €55M aid to Syria refugees

As part of the EU’s global response to the coronavirus outbreak, the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis has mobilised an additional €55 million for refugees from Syria and vulnerable persons in Jordan and Lebanon to fight the pandemic. It will provide critical and targeted support in key areas such as health, water, sanitation and hygiene. The newly adopted package brings the total assistance mobilised through the EU Trust Fund to over €2.2 billion since 2015, doubling the target originally set.

“Jordan and Lebanon are showing huge resilience and solidarity in hosting Syrian refugees. It is our duty to continue supporting them, especially in the current coronavirus pandemic situation. The EU will host the fourth Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region on 30 June in direct support of the UN efforts for a comprehensive political solution to the Syrian conflict and to mobilise necessary financial support for Syria and neighbouring countries. The Conference will also continue to provide a unique platform for dialogue with civil society organisations from the region,” High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security  Josep Borrell, said.

“Our continued commitment to support Syrian refugees and partner countries like Jordan and Lebanon hosting them remains unwavering. We are responding today to the urgent needs in fighting the COVID-19 crisis with a substantial and targeted assistance package. Despite the European Union’s continued strong solidarity with partner countries, the needs of the Syrian refugees continue to be important and cannot be neglected. In this regard, the 2020 Brussels IV Conference will provide an opportunity for the international community to mobilise the necessary financial assistance” Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement, Olivér Várhelyi, commented.

Leyen presents €750bn EU Recovery Plan

Today, the European Commission has put forward its proposal for a major recovery plan. To ensure the recovery is sustainable, even, inclusive and fair for all Member States, the European Commission is proposing to create a new recovery instrument, Next Generation EU, embedded within a powerful, modern and revamped long-term EU budget. The Commission has also unveiled its adjusted Work Programme for 2020, which will prioritise the actions needed to propel Europe’s recovery and resilience.

“…Things we take for granted are being questioned. There is the Single Market that needs to recover. There is the playing field that needs to be made even again. And there are four freedoms that need to be fully restored. The crisis has huge externalities and spillovers across countries. None of that can be fixed by any single country alone. A bankrupt company in one Member State, is a reliable supplier gone for a business in another. A struggling economy in one part of Europe, weakens a strong economy in another part” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

The coronavirus has shaken Europe and the world to its core, testing healthcare and welfare systems, our societies and economies and our way of living and working together. To protect lives and livelihoods, repair the Single Market, as well as to build a lasting and prosperous recovery, the European Commission is proposing to harness the full potential of the EU budget. Next Generation EU of €750 billion as well as targeted reinforcements to the long-term EU budget for 2021-2027 will bring the total financial firepower of the EU budget to €1.85 trillion.

The recovery plan turns the immense challenge we face into an opportunity, not only by supporting the recovery but also by investing in our future: the European Green Deal and digitalization will boost jobs and growth, the resilience of our societies and the health of our environment. This is Europe’s moment. Our willingness to act must live up to the challenges we are all facing. With Next Generation EU we are providing an ambitious answer” von der Leyen said.

Our common budget is at the heart of Europe’s recovery plan. The additional firepower of Next Generation EU and the reinforced multiannual financial framework will give us the power of solidarity to support Member States and the economy. Together, Europe will arise more competitive, resilient and sovereign” Commissioner Johannes Hahn, in charge of the EU budget said.

The recovery will need strong policy direction. The adapted Work Programme, reflecting the new reality, shows that we will focus all our actions on overcoming the crisis, jumpstarting our economy and putting the European Union firmly on a resilient, sustainable and fair recovery path. It will help us rebound stronger” vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of interinstitutional relations and foresight, said.

Complementing national efforts, the EU budget is uniquely placed to power a fair socio economic recovery, repair and revitalise the Single Market, to guarantee a level playing field, and support the urgent investments, in particular in the green and digital transitions, which hold the key to Europe’s future prosperity and resilience.

Next Generation EU will raise money by temporarily lifting the own resources ceiling to 2.00% of EU Gross National Income, allowing the Commission to use its strong credit rating to borrow €750 billion on the financial markets. This additional funding will be channelled through EU programmes and repaid over a long period of time throughout future EU budgets – not before 2028 and not after 2058. To help do this in a fair and shared way, the Commission proposes a number of new own resources. In addition, in order to make funds available as soon as possible to respond to the most pressing needs, the Commission proposes to amend the current multiannual financial framework 2014-2020 to make an additional €11.5 billion in funding available already in 2020.

Europe is in a unique position to be able to invest in a collective recovery and a common future. In our Union, people, business and economies depend and rely on each other. In our Union, cohesion, convergence and investment are good for all.
And in our Union, we know that the boldest measures truly are the safest for our future.
This is why the Commission is today proposing a new recovery instrument, called Next Generation EU – worth EUR 750 billion” von der Leyen
announced.
It will sit on top of a revamped long-term EU budget of EUR 1.1 trillion.
Next Generation EU – together with the core MFF – sums up to EUR 1.85 trillion in today’s proposals. It goes alongside the three safety nets of EUR 540 billion in loans, already agreed by Parliament and Council. In sum, this would bring our recovery effort to a total of EUR 2.4 trillion

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