Category Archives: EU

Ukraine receives €500 million EU loan

This week the European Union will release a first tranche of the EU macro financial assistance to Ukraine, European Commission Vice-President for Euro  Valdis Dombrovskis wrote in his Twitter micro blog.

Today the EU disburses EUR 500 million of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine. The EU continues its strong engagement in Ukraine, and support for its people,” he wrote in his Twitter microblog on Tuesday.

In March 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal to provide an additional EUR 1 billion of MFA to Ukraine to cover the country’s external financing needs and support accelerated reform implementation. This proposal was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on 4 July 2018.

Since the outbreak of the crisis in early 2014, the Commission has disbursed a total of EUR 2.8 billion in macro-financial assistance (MFA) through three consecutive programmes of low-interest loans.

 

#Strasbourg: France reinforces its borders

Early morning hours Minister of Interior of France Chirstophe Castaner (pictured) gave press-conference in Strasbourg, updating the information on the ongoing police operation. There are 350 policemen, and two helicopters involved in the search operation. Castaner declared plan “Vigipirate” at level of “emergency attack“.

Minister ordered to reinforce the border control.

The gunman, shot 14 people, 2 died instantly. During the conference Castaner delcared three people dead as a result of attack at Christmas Market in the historic city centre.

Strasbourg Christmas Market is a tourist attraction, known world-wide, and considered as oldest in Europe, in winter the city is often referred to as “Capital of Christmas“.

Strasbourg Marché

 

Conte confident in budget accord with Brussels

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte replied to Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici‘s call for a “credible” budget deficit cut by saying “our actions are credible”.

I am confident in a deal” with the EU Conte said “we are making steps forward in these hours”.
Conte added that the government’s aim is to pass reforms, and “numbers are the last thing“. Conte continued that a budget infringement procedure initiated Brussels was “not be wished for” since it would “create anxiety“. “An infringement procedure is not to be wished for, because it would place us in difficulty and can cause anxiety” on the markets, he explained.”We are working to redo the budget, but we believe we are in the right.
“I am absolutely confident in an accord. The atmosphere is fruitful, operative, constructive”, ANSA News Agency reports from Italy.

European army: a convenient utopia

Dr Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann OPINION The idea of ​​creating a European army is today a convenient utopia. French President Emmanuel Macron has spoken out in favor of the creation of a “European army”, on the occasion of the commemoration of 11 November 1918 in Paris, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel supported this idea. Emmanuel Macron’s statement on the “European army” should be seen as a political slogan in the run-up to the European Parliament elections of May 2019. It does not reflect nor the true French position nor the German one.

Let’s also examine this proposition from the geopolitical point of view. In reality, Germany and France have different strategic priorities because they have different perceptions of threats (see map on the perceptions of threats of Germany and France).

Although France and Germany are active in all the different ongoing initiatives to foster more cooperation on defense  in Europe, they have different priorities.

The French president is promoting joint military operations in the Mediterranean region, in the Middle East and in Africa and is looking for the support of other Europeans. For the French the threat comes mainly from the southern flank,  with Islamic terrorism. The eastern flank of Europe is for them of secondary importance

On the contrary, Germany is concerned mainly about security on the eastern flank of Europe. For Germany, which has always been part of the integrated military structure of NATO, the European army should be a pillar of the Atlantic alliance. The Germans are mainly in synergy with the geopolitical interests of the United States to contain Russia.

It is for this reason that Germany gives priority to the ongoing structured  Permanent Structure Cooperation (PESCO) between European Union member states in the field of defense and security, in order to implement joint projects in synergy with NATO’s priorities. They also focus on the concept of  framework-nation within NATO and position themselves as leaders for integration of the Central and Eastern European armies, together with the United States. Germany is wary of Emmanuel Macron’s idea of ​​a European intervention initiative (EI2) , because it is supposed to be autonomous from both the European Union and NATO. Although they provide some support, the Germans do not wish to be sucked into operations they perceive as cover for French interests in the Mediterranean region and in Africa.

The French President is also influenced by Euro-Atlanticist priorities, and this is why he believes that European cooperation in the field of defense must be compatible with NATO, but with a greater degree of autonomy than Germany. According to the vision of “Europe Puissance” (Europe as a global and military power), France is promoting cooperation in the military field between sovereign member states, in order to reach European leadership.  

In the current geopolitical context, the idea of ​​a European army could not work because Europeans would find it very difficult to agree on a integrated military command. In particular because France is a nuclear power, but not Germany. France, unlike Germany, is also a permanent member of the United Nations Security Council. Moreover, the decision to send soldiers who risk their lives is only possible within the framework of a national decision, since there is no “European nation”.

The future lies more in rather fluid and variable alliances and Coalitions of the Willing according to different strategic objectives and geographical theaters.

Cooperation between member states of the European Union on defense issues is already difficult enough. It is not necessary to add  utopian objectives. Speaking of a “European army” is a convenient utopia, and useful to hide the absence of real debates on the divergent geopolitical visions between Europeans, and particularly between Germany and France.

In order to progress on the path of closer cooperation in the military field, parallel work is needed to bring together divergent views on geopolitical diagnosis, perceptions of security and identification of common interests.

This would finally open the way towards a deeper dialogue on European’ aims.

Image below: map, author Dr.Thomann

EU Army map

 

 

Italy budget tussle goes on

European Commission vice president for the euro Valdis Dombrovskis said the EC wants to see a “considerable, and not marginal” correction in Italy‘s budget adjustment from the initial package that was rejected.
Dombrovskis said the direction of the budget was currently “counter-productive“.
It must be revised,” he added.
The government has been sending mixed signals on whether it will cut a planned budget deficit from 2.4% to give some ground to the EC in the budget tussle.

At present Italy is intensely exploring  for ways to contain public spending while supporting flagging economic growth in a bid to head off disciplinary action by the European Commission, Economy Minister Giovanni Tria said. The intention to postpone the reprimands is  becoming an increasingly difficult  exercise ahead of the looming European elections.

Tria told the Senate the government was looking for “financial space to improve the balance between the need to support growth and the need to solidify the sustainability of the public accounts”.

Yemen in focus of EU diplomacy

Today with the Foreign Ministers we will discuss first and foremost the situation in Yemen. I discussed yesterday on the phone with the Special Envoy of the United Nations for Yemen [Martin] Griffiths on how the European Union and the Member States can best support his work in this crucial moment that could be or become an opening for an end to the war in Yemen, one of the most devastating humanitarian catastrophes of our times” said EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini upon her arrival to the EU Foreign ministers meeting.

The EU ministers will continue to work to strengthen European defence.

“In particular today I expect Ministers to see how our Permanent Structure Cooperation is advancing, with 17 new projects to be adopted. And tomorrow, we will have [with us] Jens Stoltenberg, the Secretary-General of NATO, to continue our work to strengthen EU-NATO cooperation that is going extremely wellMogherini added.

Ministers will also discuss the situation in Ukraine.

On Monday 19 November, defence ministers have a joined discussion with foreign ministers on EU cooperation in security and defence.

They are reviewing the initiatives part of the implementation of the EU Global Strategy in this area, including the permanent structured cooperation (PESCO), the coordinated annual review on defence (CARD), the European defence fund, military mobility, the military planning and conduct capability (MPCC), the civilian CSDP compact and the proposal for a European Peace Facility.

The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on security and defence.

 

 

 

Merkel to debate Future of Europe with MEPs in Strasbourg

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will debate the future of Europe with MEPs and EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker on Tuesday from 15.00 to 17.30 in the Strasbourg Chamber, France.

 

This will be the twelfth in a series of future of Europe debates between EU heads of state or governments and MEPs.

 

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