Category Archives: EU

Mamikins MEP challenges Latvian PM

MEP Andrejs MAMIKINS (Latvia) criticises disparities between slogans and realities of respect of human rights in Latvia, namely the situation of 12% of stateless inhabitants of the country, who are excluded from political life. There are around Soviet 200 000 inhabitants of Latvia who voted independence, but nowadays are forgotten, and they will not vote in upcoming European elections in May 2019.

Socialist MEP also raised an issue of conflict of interest of Prime minister Arturs Krisjanis KARINS, who keeps his American citizenship while chairing Latvian government. The interview was taken in Strasbourg after the debate between Latvian Prime minister and Members of European Parliament on Future of Europe. The debate has concluded the discussion between heads of states and government and MEPs on future of the EU.

Mr Kariņš was the twentieth EU head of state or government to debate the future of Europe with MEPs, the last one in this parliamentary term.

Latvian PM shares vision of Future of Europe

The EU needs to strengthen the its core principles, Latvian Prime Ministers Krišjānis Kariņš said in the debate on the Future of Europe, on April 17 at European Parliament plenary session in Strasbourg.

Kariņš suggested four main fields of EU action: completing the Single Market, controlling external borders, undertaking a smart transition towards clean energy and boosting security. “Don’t fight the populists, address the causes of people’s malcontent,Prime Minister said. With people worrying about their jobs, the EU needs to sharpen its main tool for job creation – the Single Market. Europe needs to foster “National Champions” by opening up the Single Market, not embarking on a Chinese way of protectionism. “We need to continue to tear down the barriers to the Single Market. This is what will create more jobs and more wealth in Europe,” he said, singling out digital industry and services as the two main fields of action.

To avoid re-erecting internal borders and allow for an unhindered Single Market, the EU needs to shore up its external borders, control migration and make sure people arriving in the EU accept European values. “It is extremely important to maintain our national identities. Arrivals need to adapt themselves,” Mr Kariņš said, suggesting that Frontex, the European Border and Coast Guard Agency need to be beefed up further.

“If we truly want to increase the share of renewable energy in our system, we need to open up markets and deregulate prices. Consumer choice is what can best drive energy transition,” the Latvian PM suggested. “By opening electricity markets to competition and market prices, we can greatly increase the uptake in renewable energy sources and increase energy efficiency.”

My country spends 2% of its GDP on the military. I believe we all should. But we also need to work on strengthening our information defence”, PM Kariņš said, adding that new legislation could help to hold social media platforms to account for allowing disinformation to spread .

The Prime minister had discussion with MEPs, many of whom knew him as a colleague in the European Parliament.  

However Prime minister has been also confronted with harsh criticism for disparity between his speech and realities.  Lativian MEP Andrejs MAMIKINS raised a range of problems, including double citizenship of Mr.Kariņš, who kept his American passport while being head of Latvian government. MEP Mamikins pointed to the chronic situation of conflict of interests.

Today was the prime Minister of Mr. Kariņas to participate in the ES future debate. The Prime minister spoke of the diversity in Europe and the need to fight dirty money. In return, I offer the prime_minister to look in the mirror”, MEP MAMIKINS said.

EU for aid to reconstruct Notre-Dame

The president of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani expressed his grief, and his support to France in dramatic moments of aftermath of fire, consuming greatest Paris monument.  He called Notre-Dame “first Cathedral” of his life, and added that his heart is broken. The emotional address of the president came during the morning Plenary session in the European parliament, Strasbourg.

The president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker said in his Twitter micro blog, that he had been following the development of the situation “minute by minute”, underlining that Notre-Dame belongs to humanity. He referred to the fire as “horror”, sharing feelings of French nation.

The president of the European Council Donald Tusk stepped forward with an optimistic message of possibility of reconstruction of Notre Dame. Being a citizen of Polish city of Gdansk he ensured that it is possible, illustrating his opinion with the experience of his home town, which  suffered almost total destructed and resurrected.

EU Brexit half-a-year extension

European Union leaders agreed to offer the UK six more months to leave the bloc, more than Prime Minister Theresa May said she requested. The Brussels Summit concluded in the early hours on April 11 that the second extension is granted, which signifies Britain will not exit on April 12, as the suggested the first extension, shifting the deadline to October 31.

However the extension  does not define if it must end with the UK exit, or it can be followed by the other extension in case the deal is not endorsed by the Westminster by that moment. It certainly offers more time to Prime minister to convince the Members of Parliament to support her Article 50 Agreement with the EU. The deal rejected three times in the House of Commons is not to be re-opened or re-negotiated the EU underlines, claiming it is the best possible agreement, and there will be not other.

The shifting of  the Brexit deadline has an impact on the European Parliament, meaning the UK has an obligation to organise the European elections,  being the EU member-state. Any further shifting the deadline beyond end October would mean the UK would participate in appointment of the European Commissioners, the development seen as irrelevant to the UK decision to leave the EU.

 

Pirates call to reject EU copyright rules

MEPs adopted the directive for copyright rules on internet in European Parliament Plenary in Strasbourg by 348 votes in favour, 274 against and 36 abstentions. The vote concludes the  legislative process for the European Parliament, lasting since 2016, and now member states have to approve MEPs decisions. In case the EU member states accept the text adopted by the European Parliament, it will take effect after publication in the official journal and then member states will have two years to implement it.

The authors and supporters of the directive claim it aims to ensure that the longstanding rights and obligations of copyright law are also applicable online. YouTube, Facebook and Google News are some of the internet popular names that will be most directly affected by this legislation.

The directive also strives to ensure that the internet remains a space for freedom of expression, the defenders of the rules underline, the MEP-rapporteur  Axel VOSS (EPP, Germany) said. MEP admitted that adopted by European Parliament directive, proposed by European Commission needs further improvement, however he considers it to be a huge step in right direction, protecting authors rights online and regulating internet universe.

 

The vote is appreciated by the European Commission, striving to regulate internet, and welcoming MEPs decision, the EU executives wrote: “This Directive protects creativity in the digital age and ensures that the EU citizens benefit from wider access to content and new guarantees to fully protect their freedom of expression online. The new rules will strengthen our creative industries, which represent 11.65 million jobs, 6.8% of GDP and are worth €915,000 million per year” in an issue for occasion press-release.

Internet can’t be unregulated space, please don’t look at the directive as a sort of attack on you”, said Sajjad KARIM MEP (ECR, UK), insisting as a professional lawyer that the regulation is in interest of the European citizens.

A call to avoid confusion of rules with ‘censorship‘ launched Helga TRUPEL MEP (Greens, Germany), underlining that the major point of the internet reform of  rules is to have “appropriate licensing, it is not about ‘censorshipTRUPEL said. “We have different understanding of freedom with @Pirates party, it is about FREE and FAIR internet, MEP Trupel said, explaining the essence of the approved directive.

However the representatives of the Pirate Party call the governments to refuse the directive in its current form, claiming it will damage the freedom of circulation of information, delegating the task to artificial intelligence, developed by internet big players. The meaningful decisions concerning content should be judged in courts, but not by algorithms.

MEP Julia REDA  (Pirate party, Germany) expressed concerns that such a milestone legislation can become a chip bargain between German chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron, exchanging endorsement of directive for agreement to construct North Stream 2. She called European citizens n individual member-state to continue resistance to EU directive, proposed by the European Commission.

The European Pirate party warns that the directive in its current form will damage the freedom of expression, and intrude into privacy of European citizens.

The only way to even try to limit file sharing, is to introduce complete surveillance of everybody’s private communication. There is no way to separate private messages from copyrighted material without opening the message and checking the contents. Out goes the postal secret, the right to communicate in private with your lawyer or your web-cam flirt, or your whistle-blower protection if you want to give a sensitive story to a journalist“, Christian Engström from Sweden Pirate party warns.

The supporters of the directive claim that the positive change can be expressed in the following fields:

  • Internet platforms are liable for content that users upload
  • Some uploaded material, such as memes or GIFs, now specifically excluded from directive
  • Hyperlinks to news articles, accompanied by “individual words or very short extracts”, can be shared freely
  • Journalists must get a share of any copyright-related revenue obtained by their news publisher
  • Start-up platforms subject to lighter obligations

Orban Fidesz party suspended from EPP

The center-right European People’s Party (EPP) has voted to suspend Hungary leading conservative party Fidesz, Joseph Daul (pictured)  group’s president announced.

The largest political “family” in the European Parliament, gathered in Brussels for an Assembly to decide upon the future relations with  Fidesz led by Hungary Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The negative decision did not come as a surprise after a protracted period of arguments between Orbán and the leading EPP figures, clashing over the EU migration policy, and border controls. The EPP opponents continuously blamed Orban  for obstruction the EU migration and asylum policy, but also the issues of the judiciary and media independence. At September Plenary (2018) European Parliament adopted the so-called Sargentini Report, condemning the anti-democratic stance of Hungary’s leadership and initiating the procedure related to Article  7 (1) of the Treaty on the European Union.  

However Prime Minister Orban has not been receptive to criticism, on contrary he flaunted his alliances with Italy Matteo Salvini Lega party, and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, resisting the EU migration concept.

In spite of a huge deal of criticism many of the EPP  party members  continued to demonstrate tolerance towards Orbán’s government, until the last straw dropped in the form of a poster campaign, accusing European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker of promoting migration policies compromising Hungary’s security.

Fidesz party  made clear that  it would immediately abandon the EPP in case of suspension, Orban’s chief of staff said to the Hungarian media.

The posters ruining the relations between Orban and EPP depicted the President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker as a puppet of the American billionaire – globalist George Soros, sponsoring uncontrolled immigration via his Open Society Foundation. There has also been consternation at the plight of the Soros-founded Central European University, which claimed it was being forced out of Budapest because of the Orbán government’s hostile stance.

“You have the right to know what Brussels is about to do!” 

“You have the right to know what Brussels is about to do!”

Thirteen constituting EPP parties called for a vote on Fidesz’s continuing membership, in the wake of the Juncker-Soros poster campaign.

Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Liberals in the European Parliament was unsatisfied with the EPP measures to discipline Fidesz: “EPP have lost the moral authority to lead Europe“, he wrote in his Twitter micro blog.

MEPs against Russia ‘strategic partner’ status

At Strasbourg Plenary (13.03.2019) Members of the European Parliament agreed that the EU should remain open to imposing further sanctions if Russia continues to violate international law.

Parliament adopted a resolution by 402 votes to 163, with 89 abstentions, assessing the current state of EU-Russia political relations.

The time for nice and diplomatic language is over. There is very little room for any cooperation as long as Russia continues to occupy parts of Ukraine and attacks other European countries“, said rapporteur Sandra Kalniete (EPP, Latvia).

Sanctions must be prolonged MEPs also draw attention to new areas of tension between the EU and Russia which have occurred since 2015, including Russia’s intervention in Syria, interference in countries such as Libya and the Central African Republic, and continuous aggressive action in Ukraine. They also highlight Russia’s support for eurosceptic parties and far-right movements, and accused Russians in meddling in elections and systematically violating human rights.

MEPs underlined that the EU should consider adoption of further sanctions against Russia, especially those targeting individuals. Sanctions should be proportionate to the threats posed by Russia, they add. In December last year, the Council prolonged economic sanctions until 31 July 2019.

The Europarliament resolution underlines that the EU should review its current Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) with Russia and limit cooperation to areas of common interest. Global challenges, such as climate change, energy security, cyber, artificial intelligence and counter terrorism, calling for selective engagement.

Closer relations will only be possible MEPs suggest on condition of Russia full implementation of the Minsk agreements to end the conflict in eastern Ukraine and respect to international law, says the text.

MEPs condemn Russia‘s disinformation campaigns and cyber attacks, aimed at increasing tensions within the EU and its member states. They are deeply concerned that the EU‘s response to propaganda and disinformation is insufficient and should be further strengthened, in particular before the upcoming European elections in May 2019. In this regard, the funding and human resources for the EU‘s East Stratcom Task Force must be substantially increased, they stress.

In resolution MEPs strongly denounce Russia‘s violation of the airspace of EU states, especially in the Baltic Sea region, where territorial waters and the airspace have been repeatedly breached. This disregard for international rules poses a threat to Russia‘s neighbours in the Black Sea, Baltic Sea and Medditeranean regions.

MEPs also reiterate their concerns that the Nord Stream-2 project could reinforce the EU‘s dependence on Russian gas supplies and threaten the EU internal market.

In the resolution the concern is expressed about Russia‘s continuous support for authoritarian regimes and countries such as North Korea, Iran, Venezuela and Syria. They also regret that in order to destabilise EU candidate countries, Russia gives its support to organisations and political forces like those opposing the Prespa Agreement that has resolved the long-standing dispute on the name between the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Greece.

MEPs condemn illegal financial activities and money laundering by Russia, potentially amounting to hundreds of billions of euros being laundered through the EU every year, which poses a threat to European security and stability. Sandra Kalniete’s report underlines that EU countries concerned must end all ‘golden visa/passport‘ programmes, which benefit Russian oligarchs.

 

 

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