Category Archives: Politics

Tajani bans Catalan event in Europarliament

The European Parliament President Antonio Tajani has canceled a conference (18.02.2019) with participation of the Catalan president, Quim Torra, and his predecessor Carles Puigdemont, citing “security threats.”

The conference was due to take place in in Brussels on February 18, but the parliament decided to cancel it saying there was a “high risk” that the event “could pose a threat to the maintenance of public order on the parliament’s premises.

The chamber detailed its decision in a press release: “The assessment takes into account several elements, including the recent occupation by the protesters of the European Parliament and Commission buildings in Barcelona, the tensions linked to the trial against Catalan pro-independence leaders that started on February 12, the lack of information on the participants at the event and, especially, the possibility of incidents within or around the Parliament premises.

Apparently the ban came as a result of relentless efforts of Spain‘s three largest parties opposing Catalan independence to bloc the debate. They had sent a letter to the Speaker Antonio Tajani, urging him to prohibit the event on the grounds that Puigdemont planned to “overthrow Spain’s constitutional order.

Allowing Puigdemont’s presence is not compatible with the noble role of the European Parliament as an example of democracy and rule of law in force in the EU,” said MEPs from the Socialist, People’s, and Ciutadans parties.

However the ban to host a conference in the European Parliament premises is not conducive to the resolution of the Catalan issue, seen by many Catalans as an act of an ultimate betrayal of their fundamental freedoms by the EU.

EPP Weber aims for EU agenda of change

Manfred Weber (Germany, EPP) backed by 79% of his party members, launches his campaign across the continent for a position of the president of the European Commission, the powerful executive branch of the European Union, the guardian of the treaties, also possessing powers to  propose laws and policies on its own initiative. Although there is no election for this particular position, but an appointment behind the closed doors of the Council, there is an obvious need to introduce Brussels politician to the broader European audiences.

Starting his European tour in Cyprus, the stronghold of the European People‘s party, Weber (46) promises to re-connect the European project with the citizens through attentive listening to them, and crystallizing broader frame programme for the five-year period mandate ahead of his appointment.

Representing young generation of the European politicians, Weber claims that the EU project’s success depends on clarity of the messages, which should replace the general slogans, filling them with the “concrete substance”, including taking a definite stand on existential for the EU27 issues as Turkey‘s accession. He also wishes similar clearly-shaped approach to the trade agreements: CETA, EU-Japan, and the others, which were in the lime-light of an intense public debate.

However it is the “democratisation” of Europe that is at heart of the project, Weber claims, eager to make key promises to Europeans while assuming the job, a gesture needed to restore the link between the citizens and the institutions. One of the mistakes of the past, Weber presumes, was insufficient investment in European youth, the deficiency he would address.

Although Weber underlined that he only started his campaign, he reiterated his loyalty to basic EPP framework, believing in Trans-Atlantic relations as one of the core policy for the EU security, especially now, when “it became cold outside Europe“. Nevertheless he criticized the European foreign policy lacking of ambition, letting the the others like US, Russia, or Turkey to take lead. “There should be more Europe in external affairs and defence, and the intentions should be lined with concrete initiatives, which are lacking nowadays”, – he said referring to the declarations of Macron-Merkel to organise the EU army, complementing NATO. Some of the projects could be delivered without delay, Weber assumes, pointing at cyber-defence, and drone brigade, – both costly high-tech projects, difficult to implement for small EU member-states. However he had no immediate answer to the decision-making mechanism in such a unit, suggesting it can be resolved in due time. The other matter to be reformed is unanimity in decision-making process in foreign policy and defence, shifting to qualified majority voting.

Weber underlined his sees his major political partners in Socialists, and Liberals, brushing off the perspective of co-operation with the European far-right: “I don’t want to listen Le Pen“, he said frankly. He also has cast doubt in success of new Liberal Macron-Rutte alliance, who have not so many issues in common.

However, as a contemporary politician Weber believes the technocratic position only is not good enough for the leader of the European Commission, offering an emotional pledge to defeat cancer. There should be a sufficient European funding to find a remedy, Weber believes, referring to his personal experience of losing his brother to cancer.

The initiative to launch a campaign across Europe for the position of the president of the European Commission is certainly innovative, however it might be also related to low profile of Manfred Weber, known as a leader of the EPP group in the European Parliament, who has punched above his weight being a Bavarian politician, without any relevant national or international experience.

The incumbent President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker is the longest-serving head of any national government in the EU, he led Luxembourg as Prime minister (1995-2013), and chaired Eurogroup for eight years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kadyrov doesn’t seek reelection

The leader of Chechen Republic (Russia) Ramzan Kadyrov is willing  to end his term as the governor without renewal, he said on the Moscow 24 TV channel.

Kadyrov told that he does not see himself in another high-ranking federal position “I am not a man of this level,” he added.

Kadyrov, 42, has ruled the Russian North Caucasus Republic of Chechnya since 2007, taking over the lead after his father Akhmad brutal assassination (2004) in a terrorist act. He was re-elected by the Chechen parliament in 2011 and won the position of a head of the Republic in election in 2016 with 97.5% of the vote.

EU sanction policy against Russia continues

At European Union Summit in Brussels the leaders unanimously endorsed the prolongation of the economic sanctions against Russia for its actions against Ukraine for another six months with the official rollover expected next week.

The sanctions, mainly targeting the Russian banking and energy sectors, were first imposed in the summer of 2014 in aftermath of  Maidan revolution in Ukraine  and have been extended every six months since then.

EU unanimously prolongs economic sanctions against Russia given zero progress in implementation of Minsk agreements,” European Council President Donald Tusk wrote in his Twitter micro blog referring to peace accords brokered by Germany and France in the Minsk, Belarus capital, aiming to end ongoing armed conflict in eastern Ukraine.

‘In a short term, the impact of oil prices is much more important for Russia than any sanctions,” said Sergey Khestanov (Сергей Хестанов), a professor at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) . Oil income makes up 40%  of federal budget revenues and is trading at its highest level in more than four years.

Salvini assesses EU too weak to attack Italy over budget

The European Union  has too many problems to sanction Italy for its 2019 budget, Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini said.
I don’t think the EU is enjoying a state of health such as to allow it to question and sanction Europe’s second industrial power,” he said.
Salvini added he was confident that a budget deal would be found, “we are working with alacrity on it”.
   

Italy accused the EU of “economic terrorism,” as its row with economic leaders in the bloc deepened when the EU finance ministers warned Italy that it must abide by EU rules on public spending.

The war of words between Rome and Brussels is focused on Italy’s new budget proposal, which seeks to increase spending and cut taxes, but would raise Italy’s debt and breach EU budget rules.

There are European institutions playing at bringing terrorism to the financial markets,” said Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio who heads the Five Star Movement (M5S).

EU-Swiss relations vector unchanged

The European Commission favorably received the results of the Swiss referendum on auto determination, the spokesperson said. He underlined that the vote brought clarity and indicated that Swiss will remain “reliable partner” in international relations, and those with the EU. (Image: climbing in Swiss Alps).

Swiss voters have rejected an initiative to give national laws precedence over international laws and treaties, according to results coming in from the plebiscite.

Data based on partial results indicated  two thirds of voters rejected the proposal  – 67% against and 33% in favour, national broadcaster SRF reported.

Critics of the imitative said the proposal would have damaged the country’s global standing, and status of an international player.
When it comes to our favorite themes, self-determination, sovereignty, immigration, we are alone against all. In this context, this defeat is not a failure,” explains the father of the initiative on self-determination, the lawyer and Zurich national councilor Hans-Ueli Vogt.

Contrary to the demographic pressure caused by immigration, which everyone feels every day on the train or in traffic jams on the highway, the safeguard of democracy is too abstract” – adds the president of the Swiss People’s Party (UDC), the Bernese Albert Rösti, lamenting the loss.

In 2014, the EU and Switzerland started negotiations on a common institutional framework. Such overarching “house rules” are necessary to ensure a “homogenous application of internal market law in both the EU and Switzerland” according to the European Commission. An institutional agreement would enable Switzerland to strengthen the partnership with the EU and deepen it further.

However,  in spite of the vote, favorable for the relations with the EU, there are just a few Swiss enthusiasts to engage with the bloc. Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, in charge of the framework deal negotiations with the EU, will meet trade union and business leaders this week in a highly  likely to be an unsuccessful bid to convince them to support the Swiss-EU deal, newspaper Sonntags Zeitung reported on the weekend.

EP president Tajani seeks to renew mandate

Incumbent president of the European Parliament  Antonio Tajani (Forza Italia)  expressed his readiness to seek for the second mandate.
“I think the EU institutions need an Italian at their head,” he told reporters during his attendance at European People’s party Helsinki congress.
“I’m ready to stand again, if there are the conditions, obviously inside the parliament, and if there is a good electoral result for the European People’s Party to lead the EP for the next two and a half years”.

Previously the position of the speaker of the European parliament was a subject for rotation each two and a half years between two major political groups. The tradition was ended by Socialists & Democrats, who promoted their leader Martin Schulz (Germany) for two successive terms.

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