Category Archives: EU

Juncker urgently hospitalised

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has interrupted his summer holiday in Austria to be urgently submitted to hospital to remove his gallbladder.

According to the press-release of the European Commission services, “had to shorten his holiday in Austria for medical reasons. He was taken back to Luxembourg where he will undergo an urgent cholecystectomy [surgical removal of the gallbladder].” 

Recovery from cholecystectomy might take from two up to eight weeks, dependent on the type of surgery performed in each specific case. In case of laparoscopic surgery with minor cuts, the period will take less time, than from a conventional open surgery.

Cholecystectomy removal is a relatively common and straightforward procedure. It is possible to live an active life without a gallbladder. However the multiple complications are also possible, depending to each individual situation.

The former Luxembourg Prime Minister, whose health has been a subject of numerous speculations for years, will conclude his mandate as the head of the European Commission and pass the responsibility to the German Ursula von der Leyen on October 31.

Europol strikes traffic of minors

Europol supported a pan-European operation against trafficking of minors for sexual exploitation, forced begging and labour exploitation. The operation, led by the United Kingdom, involved law enforcement authorities from 15 EU member states, Iceland and Switzerland*Between 17 and 23 June 2019, over 127 000 individuals, 63 800 vehicles and 1 100 locations were checked. Law enforcement authorities searched private properties, commercial establishments, hotels, buses and train stations, ferry ports, airports and border crossings.

Prevention campaigns in schools to inform minors of the risks of human trafficking were also part of the operational activities. The overall results include 34 arrests for trafficking of human beings and 36 arrests for other offences such as robbery, dissemination of child sexual exploitation material and facilitation of illegal immigration. During the action days, 206 potential victims were identified, 53 of which were confirmed to be minors. These activities enabled the initiation of 31 new cases of human trafficking across the different participating countries.  

During the operation, experts in trafficking of human beings from law enforcement agencies, child protection officers, social workers, representatives of municipalities and non-governmental organisations joined efforts to identify potential victims and investigate cases of child trafficking. Europol facilitated the information exchange between the participating countries and analysed operational information against Europol’s databases to provide leads to investigators. 

 *The following countries participated to the Joint Action Days: Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Von der Leyen endorsed by MEPs as Commission president

Today MEPs voted on the candidate for the president of the European CommissionUrsula von der Leyen, put forward by the European Council.  Her candidacy was endorsed with with 383 votes in favour.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen, who was nominated for the post by the European Council, after “leading candidate” Manfred Weber was rejected by a number of member-states. The European People’s Party insisted the top job should belong to one of their political family, because they came out with the best result after the European elections in May this year.

 

In Strasboug Plenary Von der Leyen presented her programme and responded to questions of MEPs.

In order to become Commission President, von der Leyen  had to secure the support of an absolute majority of MEPs (at least 374 votes). The vote was a secret paper ballot.

 

In case she failed to win a majority, the European Council would have to put forward another candidate.

AMENDED: In her speech this morning  Ursula von der Leyen outlined her priorities as Commission President. 

Having identified the collective need for “a healthy planet as our greatest challenge and responsibility”, Ms von der Leyen proposed bolder emissions targets, with a reduction of 50% to 55% by 2030 and committed to submit a plan for a “Green Deal for Europe” and a European Climate Law within her first 100 days in office. She also announced plans for sustainable European investment (also through the partial conversion of EIB funds into a “climate bank”) to provide €1 trillion in investments within a decade.

Von der Leyen also stressed that the EU must establish an economy that serves the people. In order for this to happen however, “everyone needs to share the burden” – including those tech giants that conduct their business (and should continue to do so) in Europe, yet do not repay the people of Europe for their access to EU human and social capital.

Reiterating her commitment for a gender-balanced College of Commissioners during her term, she also highlighted that violence against women has to be tackled decisively; she would therefore seek to define violence against women as a crime in the European treaties, in parallel to completing the EU’s accession to the Istanbul Convention.

Von der Leyen declared her commitment to rule of law as a European value, announcing that she intends to establish an EU-wide monitoring mechanism in parallel to existing measures. She emphasised that these European values also include a duty to save lives at sea and should translate into a humane border policy. She stated her support for a “new pact on migration & asylum” and Dublin Regulation reform, adding that she intends to ensure that Frontex border guards number 10,000 not by 2027, but by 2024, and that all countries should shoulder their fair share of the burden based on the principle of European solidarity.

On the matter of European democracy, von der Leyen announced a two-year Conference for Europe as of 2020, in which citizens will take a leading and active role. She also emphasised the need for the Spitzenkandidaten system to be strengthened and that transnational lists should be reconsidered in future European elections. She also declared her full support for a right of initiative for the European Parliament, committing to put forward a legislative proposal in response to every resolution that is passed with a majority of Parliament’s constituent members.

JCPOA: More EU states willing to join INSTEX

We had unanimity among Member States on the need to, on the one side, make the instrument we have put in place – INSTEX (the Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges) – faster and more operational to have legitimate trade with Iran. A number of Member States have shown their willingness to become shareholders of this instrument and there is also the possibility for non-Member States to join. And on the other hand], to continue working for Iran’s return to full compliance with the nuclear deal. We will continue to work within the framework of the #JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action) on both these tracks of work” – the EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said following the Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels.

“I just came back from the region, and I have seen that everybody is very much aware of the need to have the #JCPOA fully in place and to have Iran fully compliant with its nuclear commitments, as it has been since the beginning until a few weeks ago” – she added.

The same day spokesperson of the Foreign Ministry of Iran spokesman Abbas Mousavi commented on the  EU efforts to keep the JCPOA deal alive. “Iran’s expectations of European partners in the JCPOA is the adoption of operational, effective and responsible decisions and steps,” Mousavi said July 15.

 

Von der Leyen debates with MEPs

On July 10 Ursula von der Leyen, the ultimate candidate for the European Commission presidency, had an exchange of views with MEPs in the European Parliament Brussels, a crucial test before the vote in Strasbourg Plenary next week.

To succeed Jean-Claude Juncker on November 1, this close associate of Chancellor Angela Merkel, a member of the  conservatives party CDU, must convince the MEPs she is right candidate to become Prime minister of Europe replacing her unfortunate predecessor leading candidate of European Peoples party EPP Manfred Weber.

Von der Leyen must obtain an absolute majority in Parliament, winning 374 votes (given the absence of three elected Catalan). However, outcome is uncertain as the EU leaders appointed it on 2 July at a three-day crisis European summit, a surprise candidates presented instead of politicians put forward by parties. However rejection of her candidacy will create a protracted political crisis, unlikely scenario to be chosen by MEPs as an option in a power wrestling between EU institutions.

After the hearing the candidate made a statement for press vowing to answer the citizens needs with more Europe in providing jobs, perspective, stability and security. She also promised to insure minimum salary in every member-state, support of SME in transition period for Climate Action, putting the issue on the top of her priorities. Last but not least was the international engagement of the EU across globe, which she presumed world expects from EU.

Tusk confronted with MEPs criticism

The EU Council president Donald Tusk has been confronted with a wave of MEPs criticism over top jobs nominations procedures, replacing previously agreed leading candidate logic of appointment. In Plenary debate on July 4, opening  the IX legislature exchange of views, assessing the results of the European Council crisis summit held from June 30 to July 2 in Brussels, to assign the EU leading jobs.

The leaders of majority of the political groups expressed strong criticism of the European Council’s actions and decisions over the last few days. They demonstrated  concern with rejection of the Spitzenkandidaten process and obscurity in which the heads of states and governments were deciding the candidacies of the next President of the European Commission, European Council, European Central Bank, and European External Action Service.

They also pointed at lack of representation of Eastern European countries.

Donald Tusk declined to enter the debate with MEP, and was listening to their comments.

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Brexit party MEP Ann Widdecombe (71) compared the UK’s departure from the EU to the emancipation of slaves, while taking floor as the first Brexit party Member to address in the new European parliament.

With her leader, Nigel Farage, on her right, Widdecombe said the recent negotiations among the EU’s heads of state and government kept in secrecy confirmed the need for Britain to leave.

It’s not democratic at all and that is just one of many reasons why Britain is right to be leaving this place, hopefully on Halloween,” Widdecombe concluded, addressing her fellow MEPS of the European parliament in Strasbourg. “If that’s this place’s idea of democracy that’s a serious betrayal of every country represented here.

Von der Leyen vows cooperation among EU institutions

Ursul von der Leyen, endorsed by the EU leaders for European Commission president had a meeting with the European People’s Party MEPs in camera at the European Parliament in Strasbourg on July 3. She also made a press statement, explaining that the cooperation among EU insitutuions will be her proportion in case her candidacy is approved by the Europarliament.

Von der Leyen met with the newly elected president of the European Parliament Socialist David Sassoli, however the exchanged of view has not been revealed.

 

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