Category Archives: Europe

EU reacts upon Russia Constitution amendments

“Nationwide voting in the Russian Federation on constitutional amendments concluded on 1 July. Some amendments concern changes in the political system and the work of the executive, legislative and judicial branches” reads the text of the statement, attribued to the European External Action Service (EEAS)spokesperson.

“The European Union regrets that, in the run up to this vote, campaigning both for and against was not allowed, thereby denying voters access to balanced information.

“We expect all reports and allegations of irregularities, including voter coercion, multiple voting, violation of secrecy of the vote and allegations of police violence against a journalist who was present to observe, to be duly investigated.

“An addition to Article 79 of the Constitution provides for primacy of the Russian Constitution over decisions of interstate bodies based on international treaties. The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, of which Russia is a member, has considered this addition incompatible with Russia’s international obligations and recommended that this addition be removed or the wording amended. We expect Russia, regardless of any amendments to its constitution, to live up to its international obligations, including its obligation to execute European Court of Human Rights judgements”.

Ukraine National Bank independence in jeopardy

“Establishing a strong and independent National Bank has been a fundamental achievement for Ukraine, and remains crucial to the country’s future success. Over the past years, the National Bank of Ukraine has taken bold and much needed steps to ensure Ukraine’s macro-financial stability and facilitate a sustainable economic recovery. The Bank’s policies have served the Ukrainian economy and Ukrainian people well, by stabilising the national currency, reducing inflation and increasing foreign reserves, restructuring the entire banking sector and recovering assets lost in cases of bank fraud” reads the text of the statement of the European External Action Service, attributed to the spokesperson.

“The announcement of the resignation of the Governor of the National Bank of Ukraine, Yakiv Smolii, against the backdrop of alleged political pressure sends a worrying signal. The Bank must maintain its ability to fulfil its role independently. Undermining this important institution jeopardises the credibility of and support for Ukraine’s reform agenda.

“Ukraine’s path to reform is challenging, in particular in the current exceptional circumstances of the coronavirus pandemic. The European Union will continue to support Ukraine in the implementation of much needed reforms, and counts on the Ukrainian authorities to maintain their level of commitment”.

Europarl has no comment on Russian referendum

Statement by Members of the European Parliament David McAllister and Tomas Tobé on the constitutional referendum in Russia.

“A constitutional referendum took place in Russia from 25 June to 1 July.

The European Parliament has not been invited to observe this electoral process, and consequently will neither comment on the process nor on the results that will be announced afterwards. No individual Member of the European Parliament has been mandated to observe or comment on this electoral process on its behalf.

Therefore, any Member of the European Parliament who decided to observe this electoral process in the Russian Federation, or in the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula, where the European Union does not and will not recognise the holding of this consultation, has done so on her/his own initiative and should under no circumstances through any statement or action, associate her/his participation with the European Parliament.”

Mr McAllister (EPP, DE) and Mr Tobé (EPP, SE) are Co-Chairs of the European Parliament’s Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group.

Image: European Parliament building, Strasbourg

Borrell visits Cyprus

The EU top diplomat Josep Borrell paid visit to Nicosia to meet the Minister of Foreign Affairs Nikos Christodoulides as well as the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Nicos Anastasiades and the Defence Minister Savvas Angelides, “after having heard the strong message delivered by the President of the Republic [of Cyprus, Nicos] Anastasiades at the last European Council and also having heard you many times at the Foreign Affairs Council, to discuss recent events and the deteriorating situation in the Eastern Mediterranean, mainly because of exploration and drilling operations performed by Turkey in contested areas [by Turkey]. I want to come and see for myself, to listen to Cyprus’ concerns and to work on a way out of this complex situation”.

“To start, let me underline that the European Union is firmly supportive of the Republic of Cyprus and its sovereignty and sovereign rights. My message is a message of strong solidarity. Cyprus’ concerns, your concerns, are the European Union’s concerns. You have difficult relations with Turkey in general, these relations are currently facing important and difficult challenges.

“On the Turkish drillings, the European Union is continuously demonstrating its unwavering support to and solidarity with Cyprus as expressed in various European Council conclusions and statements, and most recently in the Foreign Affairs Council in May and also shown in concrete measures taken.

“This being the situation, and expressing our solidarity and concerns, we need to try to do our best, and I know you are also very much interested in improving the relations with Turkey through an open dialogue, in order to try to avoid an escalation that could be very damaging for all of us.

“For that, the delimitation of exclusive economic zones and the continental shelf must be discussed in good faith, fully respecting international law and the principle of good relations between neighbours. Because at the end of the day, we should try to be good neighbours and that is why the European Union was invented, to foster good neighbours’ relations and to find solutions through dialogue and negotiations.

“In this respect, we welcome the invitation by the Government of Cyprus to Turkey to negotiate in good faith the maritime delimitation between their relevant coasts. We will also be engaging on that, because regional stability is a priority for the European Union. I hope that the next Foreign Affairs Council, with your contribution, will help to clarify the options and the way forward in order to solve these problems and improve our relations with Turkey”.

Orban: EU «salto mortale»

“…The world is changing. The changes are tectonic. The United States is no longer alone on the throne of the world, Eurasia is rebuilding with full throttle, the frames of our European Union are crackling, and now it hopes to save itself with a salto mortale. The ground is trembling under the feet of our eastern neighbour. The Balkans is also full of questions to be answered” said Prime Minister Viktor Obran, during the ceremony of unveiling of a new memorial in commemoration of the Trianon centennial.

“A new order is being born. In our world, in our lives as well, great changes are banging on our gates.”

“…The West raped the thousand-year-old borders and history of Central Europe. They forced us to live between indefensible borders, deprived us of our natural treasures, separated us from our resources, and made a death row out of our country. Central Europe was redrawn without moral concerns, just as the borders of Africa and the Middle East were redrawn. We will never forget that they did this” Orban continued.

“…We need to live with the self-confidence and attitude of a nation that knows it has given more to the world than it has received from it. Our performance entitles us to continue our history. And today we also need to know that we have had worse borders, yet we are here” the Prime Minister concluded.

Barnier laments lack of progress

EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has blamed the UK of “backtracking” on commitments on fisheries and other issues in post-Brexit trade talks towards the comprehensive agreement.
The EU civil servant regretted no “significant progress” had been made this week, and insisted the UK should “respect” rules agreed with the EU. He aslo suggested political will is needed to give a new momentum to current negociations, describled as largely in stalemate.

At present the UK and EU are are in dispute over competition rules, governance and fishing rights and police cooperation, and other issues.

“My responsibility is to speak to truth and, to tell the truth, this week there have been no significant areas of progress” Barner lamented.
“In all areas, the UK continues to backtrack under commitments undertaken in the political declaration, including on fisheries. We cannot and will not accept this backtracking on the political declaration” he added.

Barnier called for respect of the guidleins and objectives, enshrined for the political declaration, agreed by the UK and EU last year, which indicated objectives for a future relationship.

The UK sherpa David Frost said any Brexit deal would have to accomodate the UK’s well established position on a “level playing field”.

“We have just completed our fourth full negotiating round with the EU, again by video conference. It was a little shorter than usual and more restricted in scope. We continue to discuss the full range of issues, including the most difficult ones” he explained.

EU-EEA discuss Green Deal

The members of the EEA Council discussed, via video conference, the overall functioning of the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement) and the effect of COVID-19 on the internal market.

The members of the EEA Council also held an orientation debate on the European Green Deal, with the participation of Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission.

In the margins of the informal meeting of the members of the EEA Council, the ministers held an informal exchange of views on the EU-UK negotiations with Michel Barnier, Head of the Task Force for Relations with the UK. The ministers also discussed the external dimension of the COVID-19 crisis.

Lastly, the members of the EEA Council adopted a joint statement addressing the following areas:

– response to the Covid-19 pandemic
– cooperation in the EEA
– political dialogue
– withdrawal of the UK from the EU and the EEA Agreement
– development of the internal market
– incorporation of EEA-relevant EU acts
– European Green Deal
– EU programmes
– EEA and Norway Financial Mechanisms

The meeting was chaired by Gordan Grlić-Radman, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia. The EEA EFTA side was led by Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, who was accompanied by Katrin Eggenberger, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, and Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland.

EU provides €3bn assistance to partners

The Council today adopted a decision to provide up to 3 billion euros of macro-financial assistance to ten enlargement and neighbourhood partners to help them cope with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Financial assistance will be provided in the form of loans on highly favourable terms and allocated as follows:

Albania: €180 million
Bosnia-Herzegovina: €250 million
Georgia: €150 million
Jordan: €200 million
Kosovo*: €100 million
Moldova: €100 million
Montenegro: €60 million
Republic of North Macedonia: €160 million
Tunisia: €600 million
Ukraine: €1200 million.

EU assistance will help these jurisdictions cover their immediate financing needs which have increased as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak. Together with the support from the International Monetary Fund, the funds will help enhance macroeconomic stability and create space to allow resources to be allocated towards protecting citizens and to mitigating the negative socio-economic consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.

Malta ambassador resigns after verbal assault

Malta’s Ambassador to Finland has resigned after comparing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Adolf Hitler in a public message in the context of Europe remembering the end of World War II.

Malta government ensured that the official apology will be send to Berlin.
The Maltese high diplomat to Finland resigned after comparing German Chancellor Angela Merkel to Adolf Hitler.

Michael Zammit Tabona’s anti-Merkel Facebook entry, posted on May 8, which was removed later.

The Foreign affairs minister Evarist Bartolo informed he had accepted the resignation of the Maltese businessman appointed as Malta’s ambassador to Helsinki in 2014.

In his message on Friday, the 75th anniversary of the end of World War Two in Europe, Zammit Tabona had posted: “75 years ago we stopped Hitler. Who will stop Angela Merkel? She has fulfilled Hitler’s dream! To control Europe.”
Maltese media reported May 10 that the offending post had since been deleted, and that Zammit Tabona could not be contacted for comment.

The Times of Malta newspaper said Zammit Tabona’s posting had been as non-residential and quoted Bartolo as saying he had instructed the ambassador to remove the comment “as soon as I was alerted to it.
The newspaper also quoted Maltese opposition leader Adrian Delia as saying that Zammit Tabona’s Facebook post was “unbecoming of an ambassador.”

Delia told the newspaper Angela Merkel had consistently backed Malta on various issues, describing her as a source of stability in Europe — seven decades after the defeat of Nazi Germany.

Malta’s Chamber of Commerce, in a statement also carried by the newspaper, said Zammit Tabona’s remark had harmed the country’s reputation. It welcomed his resignation.
All persons holding public office and diplomats no less, should take extra care when expressing themselves, as the country’s reputation is no one’s to put in compromising situations,” the chamber reportedly said.

Relations between the two EU nations, Malta and Germany, are becoming increasingly complex over Mediterranean migrant flows and Eurozone debt.

Europe Day virtual celebrations

Europe Day is held every 9 May to mark the anniversary of the speech by French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman that led to the foundation of the European Union.

As we mark Europe Day, we remember how Europeans made history in 1950 and pay tribute to those who are making history today. In the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, 9 May 2020 represents an important opportunity to celebrate unity and solidarity in Europe.

In accordance with the tradiation the European Parliament organises events for visitors at its premises. As this is not possible due to the pandemic this year, Parliament and the other institutions have created a digital open day, bringing people together in this time of crisis by highlighting the sense of solidarity and emphasising what the EU is doing to help.

Among the highlights, Parliament President David Sassoli is scheduled to take part in a live debate on Saturday morning, with interpretation into various languages.

Other events include a Facebook live with Parliament Vice-Presidents Othmar Karas and Katarina Barley, video messages from the leaders of the political groups, a virtual visit to the plenary chamber in Brussels and a panel discussion on Schuman and his vision for Europe. The virtual visitor can also enjoy an online exhibition, featuring items from the Parliament’s archives.

Seventy years after the Schuman declaration, Europe is facing a crisis that makes EU solidarity more important than ever.

« Older Entries