EU Catalan electorate organised demonstration at doorstep of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on July 2 – the first day of the sitting of a new legislature. They have been protesting against ban of three of their elected MEPs to access their offices. Oriol Junqueras, imprisoned in Spain, Charles Puigdemont and Antoni Comin, stay in exile in Belgium.
Carles Puigdemont was expected among the demonstrators but his lawyer Gonzalo Boye convinced him to avoid travelling in France, fearing his arrest.
According to local police, around 10,000 demonstrators participated. They came by bus, cars and even two chartered flights.
Spanish MEPs from parties like the Ciudadanos insist that fugitive suspects do not have the right to sit in the European Parliament, representing electorate.
On Monday, the European Court of Justice agreed with this opinion.
The European Parliament (EP) election of president is postponed due to EU leaders third day crisis Summit Brussels, which have failed to produce the list of the EU institutions top jobs nominees on Sunday (June 30).
The conference of presidents of the EP political groups agreed to extend deadline to 22H00 July 2 to nominate candidates for the speaker.
In spite of the fact that European parliament is only elected institution, and the European elections were announced as the second most numerous democratic exercise across globe, the Europarl relinquished its powers to elect President independently, and agreed to align its choice with the decision of the European Council, nominating candidates for EU top jobs, including most influential president of the European Commission, de facto Prime Minister of Europe, and guardian of the EU Treaty.
In protest Brexit Party MEPs turned their backs to former President Tajani during the European anthem chanting at the opening session of the EU Parliament today.
EU leaders suspended Sunday Summit after 20 hours marathon talks failing to produce an agreement on who should be appointed for the bloc’s top jobs, prompting criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron who said Europe’s indecisiveness was damaging its image abroad. (Image above: arrivals).
The failure to reach consensus during 20 hours long night owl negotiations reflected the fragmentation of the bloc’s politics, occurring after the European elections, leaving both center right and left substantially weaker.
President Macron, who left the Council premises shortly after the talks were suspended till Tuesday morning, labeled the breakdown a “failure” though he added an agreement could still be found.
Eastern European countries had strongly objected the candidates, proposed by Macron, and the leaders of Germany and Spain to attribute presidency of the European Commission to Dutch Socialist Fran Timmermans. His candidacy did not inspire Italian either.
The EU – via the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis – adopted a €100 million new assistance package to support the resilience of refugees, internally displaced person (IDP) host communities in Lebanon, Jordan and Iraq. This will be done through the strengthening of public service delivery systems, improved access to higher education, and improved child protection services.
With this new package €1.6 billion out of a total of €1.8 billion mobilised by the EU Trust Fund have now been turned into financing concrete actions helping refugees and host countries alike.
Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations Johannes Hahn commented: “The EU delivers on its commitments. With these additional €100 million of assistance, the EU Regional Trust Fund in response to the Syrian crisis continues to support refugees to become increasingly economically self-reliant. Through access to income generating opportunities, they are able to take their livelihoods in their own hands, provide for themselves, and preserve their dignity. At the same time we are supporting host communities and Syria’s neighbours in their effort to expand their economies while coping with challenges related to the conflict which is still ongoing”.
The newly adopted €100 million aid package consists of the following actions:
- €55 million to support the resilience of refugees, IDPs, returnees and host communities in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq;
- €28.4 million for access to higher education for refugees and vulnerable host youth in Lebanon, Jordan, and Iraq;
- €12.5 million to provide protection services to children and women victim of gender based violence in Lebanon;
- €3.6 million to continue and strengthen the Trust Fund’s horizontal monitoring and evaluation framework.
This assistance package has been adopted by the EU Trust Fund’s Operational Board, which brings together the European Commission, fifteen EU Member States, and Turkey. Observers of the Operational Board include members of the European Parliament, representatives from Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, the World Bank, and the Syria Recovery Trust Fund.
The EU Trust Fund is now in its fifth year of implementation, but the Syria crisis is far from being over. Over time, the needs have changed and the Trust Fund has evolved from providing early recovery assistance focusing on addressing basic needs of those affected by the Syria crisis to equipping refugees and local communities with tools and skills for greater self-reliance. The Trust Fund also focuses on reinforcing the national systems for public service delivery to meet refugee and local community needs in the longer term. Currently 67 projects have been contracted to implementing partners on the ground.
At the EU Summit in Brussels the leaders agreed to prolong economic sanctions against Russia until the end of January, the sanctions were imposed in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine against the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. (Image above: Crimea bridge).
“Russia sanctions unanimously extended for another six months because of a lack of Minsk Agreements implementation,” wrote in his Twitter micro blog the spokesman, Preben Aman, .
The EU leaders discussion of the attribution of bloc’s top jobs started at late dinner concluding agenda of Summit in Brussels (#EUCO). However the chances to come to an agreement remain minimal as France and Germany cast doubt on any imminent deal, also the Eastern European member-states (Vicegrad 4) vividly opposed both leading candidates from biggest European political groups the EPP and S&D for various reasons.
The 28 national leaders meet in Brussels on June 20-21 to assign the top jobs of the bloc for coming years on the entire spectrum of issues.
“In Europe, our coalition of progress must prevail. We need to find the women and men who can carry an ambitious roadmap at the heart of the European institutions. This is a key issue for the European Council meeting today“, French President Emmanuel Macron said at arrival to the European Council.
Antonio Tajani, the president of the European Parliament, was reminiscent of cardinals locked to select a Pope, hinting of disagreements among the member-states, and European political families.
However the nominations should be made before the new European parliament starts its session on July 2 in Strasbourg. By the time the European Council has to announce the major appointments, including the top job of the President of the European Commission, de facto “Prime Minister of Europe“.
The EU member-states are striving for an agreement on the European Union’s top jobs by July 2, by the day of the new European Parliament constitution – in the attempt of avoiding an institutional crisis, the European diplomats say.
The diplomats doubt if the a deal can be reached at the Summit, pointing to a disagreement between Berlin and Paris over a German candidate Manfred Weber’s bid to take over the job of the President of the Commission later this year.
The five top executive positions are to be attributed to start a new political cycle.
European Council President Donald Tusk said that he was “cautiously optimistic” that EU leaders would agree on candidates to hold the bloc’s top jobs when they meet in Brussels on June 20.
“I remain cautiously optimistic, as those I have spoken to have expressed determination to decide swiftly. I hope we can make it on Thursday” Tusk said.
The top jobs include the successors for European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, the EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini, the head of the European Central Bank (ECB) in Frankfurt Mario Draghi, and Donald Tusk, the President of the EU Council.
Following an European election end May, the new European parliament is due to gather in Strasbourg for the first time on July 2 and should then elect its new president for 2019-24.