Category Archives: Europe

EU welcomes Serbia reforms

Brusssels 14.01.2022 “France, Germany, Italy, the United Kingdom, the United States and the European Union welcome Serbia’s January 16 national referendum on constitutional changes as a key step to strengthen the independence of the judiciary and to enhance the transparency and effectiveness of the country’s rule of law institutions. We believe that these reforms are a step forward towards Serbia’s alignment with European standards and will support Serbia’s EU accession process”, reads the Joint Statement by Embassies of France, Germany, Italy, UK, USA and the Delegation of EU on the Referendum. (Image: Belgrade,Serbia).

“We have encouraged all Serbian citizens to take part in the referendum and believe it important for eligible voters to be able to vote in elections and referenda. We note with regret that the Kosovo government has not allowed the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to collect ballots of eligible voters living in Kosovo for the upcoming referendum in accordance with past practice. We call on the Kosovo government to allow Serbs in Kosovo to exercise their right to vote in elections and electoral processes in accordance with this established practice”.

“We call upon the governments of Kosovo and Serbia to refrain from actions and rhetoric that increase tensions and to engage constructively in the EU-facilitated Dialogue. It is important that both governments achieve progress towards a comprehensive agreement that unlocks the EU perspective and increases regional stability”.

Borrell reaffirmed EU support to Ukraine

Brussels 22.12.2021 On 23 December 2021, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell held a phone call with Ukrainian Foreign Affairs Minister Dmitry Kuleba to discuss the security situation in Eastern Europe in light of Russia’s military build-up around Ukraine.

The military build-up has created new threats and fears of invasion.

High Representative reaffirmed the European Union‘s firm and continued support to Ukraine’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial integrity. He stressed that any further military aggression against Ukraine would have massive consequences and severe costs. He underlined the need for Russia to de-escalate and fully implement the Minsk agreements.

The EU is closely coordinating with transatlantic and other like-minded partners, including in relation to the two draft treaties affecting the European security architecture presented by Russia.

Any real discussion on security in Europe must build on and strengthen OSCE and UN commitments and obligations – true pillars of the European security architecture – and not lead to their erosion. The EU remains committed to the right of every country to make its sovereign choices in foreign and security policy.

High Representative Borrell and Foreign Minister Kuleba agreed to stay in close contact.

Swiss referendum on COVID19 law

Brussels 28.11.2021 Swiss vote on COVID-19 law amid steep surge in infections in Confederation. Voters casting ballots in the referendum will decide whether Switzerland should impose strict sanitary restrictions.
Swiss voters are having an opportunity to express their opinion on legislation to impose the use of a COVID-19 certificate QR-codes that allow only people who have been vaccinated, recovered, or tested negative attend public events and gatherings.

The vote on the Swiss COVID-19 law, which has unlocked billions of Swiss francs in aid for workers and businesses hit by the pandemic, comes as the Confederation amid a steep rise in coronavirus cases.

The Swiss federal government, unlike others, has not responded with new restrictions, awaiting free hand from the people to move on imposing restrictions. Analysts are united in their opinion, explaining this atypical for Europe situation by the growing opposition to its anti-COVID-19 policies before they face Sunday’s approval at the ballot box.

Polls suggest a solid majority of Swiss, who are vaccinated will approve the measure, and after the referendum with the cart blanche from the citizens of the Confederatio the government will move along the other nations in Europe, imposing QR codes and other strict measures, discriminating unvaccinated population in name of the health protection.

A group called “Friends of the Constitution” filed a referendum against the Covid-19 Act, saying the legislation gives the authorities too much political power, “deprives people of their rights”, and is “useless and dangerous”.

However, previously on June 13th, 60.2% of voters endorsed the law, which granted the federal government broad powers to manage the pandemic — including the ability to curtail public life by imposing various bans and restrictions including the Certificate with the QR-code — as well as the ensuing economic crisis, especially in regards to various forms of financial aid for businesses and individuals.

The use of the Covid-19 certificate in Switzerland is now limited to statutes related to the coronavirus vaccination, however, as the Re-Check research showed, powerful commercial and government players are eager to transform this device into a digital identity wallet (e-ID). The Re-Check survey shows that this shift is underway, and induces a profound change of paradigm which calls for an urgent social debate. Unfortunately, it is stifled by the regime established in the name of the crisis, the group underlined. Finally, an exclusive from Re-Check shows that the Swiss authorities do not quite manage the sensitive data of COVID certificates as they claim.

In the summer of 2021, many industrialised and emerging countries introduced a Covid-19 certificate system. Depending on the country, this device is also called health pass, green pass, health pass or vaccine passport. Equipped with a QR code, it is reserved for people who have received a Covid-19 vaccine, people who have recovered from a SARS-Cov-2 infection, and people who have tested negative for SARS-CoV- 2.

Re-Check then published “Democracy in pandemic mode: the strange case of the COVID certificate”. Almost six months later, they have returned to this theme with a series in three episodes. Its objective: to explore in detail the issues linked to these certificates with researchers specialising in the critical analysis of surveillance and technologies, but also to highlight the ghost-management systems that certain interest groups have developed to advance an agenda where the Covid-19 certificate plays a key role.

EU: Belarus visa suspension

Brussels 09.11.2021 “The Council today adopted a decision partially suspending the application of the EU-Belarus visa facilitation agreement. This decision is a response to the ongoing hybrid attack launched by the Belarusian regime.

“The suspension covers the provisions that waive requirements for documentary evidence, regulate the issuing of multiple entry visas and reduce visa application fees as they apply to officials of the Belarus regime. This decision will not affect ordinary citizens of Belarus, who will continue to enjoy the same benefits under the visa facilitation agreement as they do currently.

“The decision will now be published in the Official Journal and will enter into force on the second day following publication. Under the visa facilitation agreement the decision on suspension is to be notified to the other party no later than 48 hours before its entry into force.

The EU-Belarus visa facilitation agreement entered into force on 1 July 2020, in parallel with the EU-Belarus readmission agreement. The purpose of the agreement is to facilitate the issuance of short stay visas and thereby contribute to enhancing people-to-people contacts and sharing values and democratic principles.

Following the political upheaval in Belarus and the restrictive measures adopted by the EU, in June 2021 Belarus began to organise flights and internal travel to facilitate the transit of migrants towards the EU, first to Lithuania and then to Latvia and Poland. Belarus also announced on 28 June 2021 that it would suspend the readmission agreement with the EU.

Hundreds of migrants are camped in frigid weather behind a razor-wire fence on the Poland-Belarus border. Poland has massed thousands of troops to keep them out, and prevented journalists, aid organizations and EU officials from traveling to the area.

Berlin: Russian diplomat found dead

Brussels 06.11.2021 Germany’s Foreign Ministry on Friday, November 5, confirmed the death of a diplomat outside the Russian Embassy in Berlin last month. News magazine Der Spiegel reported the 35-year-old was found early morning hours on October 19 after having fallen from an upper floor of the Embassy.

Police in Berlin declined to comment and referred questions to the public prosecutors.

The Russian Embassy had not agreed to an autopsy, according to sources in the security services cited by Der Spiegel. It was therefore unclear how the reported agent died.The man was officially serving at the Russian Embassy in the capacity of Second secretary. Der Spiegel reports the Embassy would only call it “a tragic accident” and added it would refrain from further comment “for ethical reasons.”

Bellingcat reports that the diplomat is the son of Gen. Alexey Zhalo, the Deputy director of the FSB’s Second Directorate and head of the FSB’s Directorate for Protection of Constitutional Order, which handles terrorism cases. Officers from the latter directorate shadowed Alexei Navalny prior to his poisoning.

Christo Grozev of Bellingcat told DW the diplomat’s death created “some confusion within the German security apparatus as to what this meant,” whether it was an accident or due to some internal power struggle or purge.

“It took the German authorities some time to figure out whether it was something to even talk about,” Grozev said.

Brussels: Marine Le Pen supports Morawiecki

Brussels 22.10.2020 Marine Le Pen met on Friday 22 October in Brussels the Polish head of government Mateusz Morawiecki to whom she provided “support” in the crisis between her country and the EU by denouncing “the unacceptable blackmail” of the European Commission.

“We spoke together in particular of the unacceptable blackmail exercised by the European Commission on Poland, and I wanted to give it my support,” added Marine Le Pen, who is due to hold a press conference in Brussels afterwards. midday, before going to Budapest on Monday to meet the ultraconservative Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Before the opening of a summit of the Twenty-Seven Thursday in Brussels, Mateusz Morawiecki, in conflict with Brussels on the independence of justice and the primacy of European law, said he was “ready for dialogue” while denouncing ” the pressure of blackmail ”.

European leaders played the card of appeasement during this Summit, while reserving the possibility of cracking down later. Tensions have increased since a decision on October 7 by the Polish Constitutional Court which declared certain articles of European treaties incompatible with the national constitution. A decision denounced by Brussels as an unprecedented attack on the primacy of European law and the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the EU, but also as the ultimate illustration of the lack of independence of the Polish justice with regard to the government.

EUCO: Summit addresses energy prices

Brussels 22.10.2021 The European Council addressed the recent spike in energy prices and considered the impact of the price rises on citizens and businesses, especially our vulnerable citizens and SMEs, striving to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The toolbox presented in the Commission Communication on tackling rising energy prices contains useful measures for both the short and the longer term.

The European Council invites:

– the Commission to study the functioning of the gas and electricity markets, as well as the EU ETS market, with the help of the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA). Subsequently, the Commission will assess whether certain trading behaviours require further regulatory action;
– the Member States and the Commission to urgently make the best use of the toolbox to provide short-term relief to the most vulnerable consumers and to support European companies, taking into account the diversity and specificity of situations of Member States;
– the Commission and the Council to swiftly consider medium and long-term measures that would contribute to energy at a price that is affordable for households and companies, increase the resilience of the EU’s energy system and the internal energy market, provide security of supply and support the transition to climate neutrality, taking into account the diversity and specificity of situations of Member States; and

– the European Investment Bank to look into how to speed up investment in the energy transition, within its current capital headroom, with a view to reducing future disruption risks and meeting Europe’s global connectivity ambitions.The extraordinary meeting of the TTE Council (Energy) on 26 October 2021 will take this work forward immediately. The European Council will keep the situation under review and revert to it in December.

Alexei Navalny Sakharov Prize winner

Strasbourg 20.10.2021 European Parliament MEPs have awarded Russian opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny the European Parliament’s 2021 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.

Parliament Vice-President Heidi Hautala announced the 2021 laureate in the Strasbourg plenary chamber on Wednesday afternoon, following an earlier decision by the Conference of Presidents (President and political group leaders).
Parliament President David Sassoli said: “The European Parliament has chosen Alexei Navalny as the winner of this year’s Sakharov Prize. He has campaigned consistently against the corruption of Vladimir Putin’s regime, and through his social media accounts and political campaigns, Navalny has helped expose abuses and mobilise the support of millions of people across Russia. For this, he was poisoned and thrown in jail.”

“In awarding the Sakharov Prize to Alexei Navalny, we recognise his immense personal bravery and reiterate the European Parliament’s unwavering support for his immediate release”, he added.

Vice-President Hautala said: “This year, the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought has been awarded to an advocate for change. Alexei Navalny has shown great courage in his attempts to restore the freedom of choice to the Russian people. For many years, he has fought for human rights and fundamental freedoms in his country. This has cost him his freedom and nearly his life. On behalf of the European Parliament, I call for his immediate and unconditional release.”

“Today, the Parliament also honours a group of Afghan women, who have fought fiercely for equality and human rights in their country and who were shortlisted for the Sakharov Prize. We chose to honour the bravery of these women, as they are among the first to suffer violations of their most basic rights and freedoms after the Taliban seized control of Afghanistan”, she added.

Alexei Navalny is a Russian opposition politician, anti-corruption activist and major political opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He came to international prominence for organising demonstrations against President Putin and his government, running for office and advocating for anti-corruption reforms. In August 2020, Navalny was poisoned and spent months recovering in Berlin. He was arrested on his return to Moscow in January 2021. He is currently serving a three-and-a-half-year prison sentence, with more than two years still remaining. Now incarcerated in a high-security penal colony, Navalny went on a long hunger strike in late March 2021 to protest his lack of access to medical care. In June 2021, a Russian court banned Alexei Navalny’s regional offices and his Anti-Corruption Foundation, both now classified as extremist and undesirable by the Russian authorities.

The Sakharov award ceremony will be held on 15 December in Strasbourg. Read more about the other Sakharov Prize finalists in 2021 here.

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is named in honour of Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov and the prize money is 50 000 euros.

Last year, Parliament awarded the prize to the democratic opposition of Belarus, represented by the Coordination Council, an initiative of brave women and political and civil society figures.

UK Conservative MP stabbed in church

Brussels 16.10.2021 The president of the European Parliament David Sassoli expressed his sorrow, reacting upon the news of knife stabbing of the UK MP Sr David Amess, who has died from the wounds in his constituency in Essex.
“Deeply shocked and saddened by the news that British MP Sir David Amess has been murdered while doing his job this afternoon. All our thoughts are with his family and friends” Sassoli wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

Politicians have paid tribute to Conservative MP Sir David Amess, who has died after being stabbed in his constituency in Essex.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was one of the “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics”.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the “much-loved” MP was a “bright light of Parliament”.

And Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer hailed his “profound sense of public duty”.

Sir David was stabbed whilst holding a constituency surgery, where voters can meet their local MP and discuss concerns.

Police said a 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder after the attack at a church in Leigh-on-Sea. A number of sources claim that the attacker was a Somali Islamist.

Germany: centre-left at rise

Brussels 27.09.2021 The projections suggest the centre-left parties were the biggest winners of the election. Both the SPD and the Greens are on course to gain more than 5% compared to their result in the last federal election in 2017.

The conservative bloc suffered heavy losses as the Angela Merkel era comes to an end. They were down by over 8% on the previous election and are heading towards their worst result since World War II.

It’s unclear if Die Linke will be in the next German parliament. The latest projected results have the democratic socialist political party below the 5% threshold required to join parliament, while the SPD maintain their lead over the CDU/CSU, the DW writes:

The first projected results are in for Germany’s 2021 federal election, with the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) on 25.8%, narrowly ahead of the centre-right Christian Democrats and their Bavarian sister party (CDU/CSU) on 24.1%.

Both the conservative bloc and the SPD have said they want to lead the next government, and mathematically, either party could if they secure the necessary allies.

The environmentalist Greens are on course to record their best ever result, headed for around 14% of the vote. The pro-business Free Democrats (FDP) had 11.5%, while the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) had 10.5%. The socialist Left party was hovering around the 5% mark.

« Older Entries