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EU sets Poland on pariah track

The EU executive  Commissioner and First vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans  launched an unprecedented process, triggering Article 7 of Lisbon Treaty to suspend Poland’s voting rights in the European Union after two years of dispute over judicial reforms that Brussels claims undermine Polish judiciary independence.

Polish government has three month ahead of them to abolish the judiciary reforms to avoid the so called “nuclear” opinion to lose voting rights within the EU. The visit of the incumbent Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki to Brussels is forseen in January, however so far Polish government refused to bend to EU demands, insisting on their sovereign right to carve laws.  The move of the executive is largely interpreted as ‘anti-Polish’, and there are fears it will only deepen the growing gap between Brussels and Warsaw.

Many experts interpret the Commission’s selective application of Lisbon Treaty articles to fact of the growing longng of Poland for sovreignty, led by nationalist government of ight-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party.

Taoiseach “surprised and disappointed”

The leader of Republic of Ireland is “surprised and disappointed” that the British government was unable to conclude a deal Dublin believed had been agreed on the future of the Northern Ireland border after Brexit, Prime Minister Leo Varadkar said on Monday.

“We had an agreement this morning. We’re disappointed and surprised to hear that agreement cannot be concluded today but we’re happy to give the UK government more time, if it needs it, so we can conclude it in the coming days,” Varadkar told a news briefing in Dublin, commenting of events taking place in Brussels, where Prime minister Theresa May had an exchange of views with the head of European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker.

Varadkar confirmed his position was unequivocal and Dublin would accept changes to the agreed text only if the essence remained.

Puigdemont: “Democracy in danger in EU”

The congregation of 200 Catalan Mayors at prestigious BOZAR concert hall in Brussels, gave unanimous support to the only ‘legitimate’ President Carles Puigdemont, and his government, partially in exile in Belgium, and partially in prison in Spain. Mayors demanded immediate liberation of the 10 political prisoners, and EU mediation in negotiations with Spain over independence settlement.

Among the speakers Mayors of small villages and cities were expressing concern about the silence of the EU, and incapacity to defend their fundamental rights. Also the atmosphere of fear, caused by Madrid’s offensive over what Mayors called was the fulfillment of the election promise to the electorate to organise referendum on independence.

Each Mayor made an accent on the democratic process of Catalan independence movement, insisting it is a mature decision of people, a result of a long history, culture, achievements, and needs for public life, society organization based on Catalan unique identity. He also insisted there should be an agreement before the upcoming snap election to respect its outcome.

Concluding the event the President of self-proclaimed Catalan Republic Carles Puigdemont gave a programme speech, analysing the situation, and calling the EU leaders to listen to the will of people, protecting fundamental rights of the Catalan people.

Puigdemont called for immediate liberation of all political prisoners in Spain, pointing that the precedent of jailing politicians over fulfilment of the election programme they were voted for brings the democracy in danger not only in Catalonia, but in entire EU. He pointed that it is “anomaly” in Europe to have a territory with suppressed democratic institutions.

From congregation Puigdemont addressed president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker, demanding to defend the fundamental rights of Catalans, reminding him that they are also European citizens.

Madrid predicts ‘misery’ for Catalonia outside Spain

In case of declaration of independence of Catalonia Madrid will order an exodus of all enterprises to doom the rebellious region to misery. The war of words between Madrid and Barcelona intensified as a deadline of activation of Article 155, taking Catalonia under direct control of Madrid, looms. The Sénate has to vote of the proposal of Mariano Rajoy government on Friday 27, ending almost a month of stand off between central government and freedom aspiring region.

What Madrid realises, but does not articulate, is that Catalonia break away causes loss of the richest region of Spain with 266 billion euros of economic output, and subsequently 20%  countries of GDP. The threat of re-localisation of enterprises and replacement of specialists can not be done overnight, so far only head offices were moved under pressure of Madrid, but production at enterprises continued uninterrupted. Spain will definitely suffer from any drastic moves in economy as much as the region it is vowing to punish, stripping from freedoms, and taking under direct control.

In case of Catalonia decides to pursue the independent future, the role of third countries as lenders outside the EU will become crucial, especially EFTA members, who might find in Catalans dynamic and inspiring partners. The loud declarations of the EU institution in Brussels warning that no country in Europe will recognise Catalonia, were premature. None of European parliaments could react upon the issue as long as the suspension of Catalan independence lasts.

EU building up a new defence structure

At the EU Summit the EU27 leaders reiterated their commitment to launch a new EU defence co-operation structure – Permanent structured co-operation (PESCO) – early next year. It will assemble member-state resources to conduct specific operations and provide funding for joint research and procurement.

The initiative is a joint German-French project, although the two differ over how easy the new structure can be to join. The French prefer a tighter group with more specific financial obligations, the Germans propose to make it flexible and open to a maximum number of members to join.

 

Tusk soliciting €100 million for Africa

At the EU Summit #EUCO president Donald Tusk confirmed that the bloc is ready to offer assistance to Italy in resolving the Mediterranean migrant crisis.

“We have spoken about how to help Italy manage the central Mediterranean route,” Tusk said. “The leaders agreed to offer Premier Gentiloni stronger support for the Italian work with the Libyan authorities. We have a real opportunity to close the route”.

There are controversial reports on migrant arrivals to Italy in recent months, while the EU sources claim the numbers have fallen sharply since Italy struck a deal with Libyan coast guard, a number of independent sources indicate opposite, lamenting sharp rise of arrivals to Italy in October.

Tusk called the member states to donate a total of 100 million euros for the European Fund for Africa, in particular Libya, by the end of the year.

Juncker-May dinner with “autopsy” in view

The following joint statement was issued by President Jean-Claude Juncker and Prime Minister Theresa May following their working dinner in Brussels on 16 October 2017:

“The Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission had a broad, constructive exchange on current European and global challenges.

They discussed their common interest in preserving the Iran nuclear deal and their work on strengthening the security of citizens in Europe, notably on the fight against terrorism. They also prepared for the European Council that will take place later this week.

As regards the Article 50 negotiations, both sides agreed that these issues are being discussed in the framework agreed between the EU27 and the United Kingdom, as set out in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. The Prime Minister and the President of the European Commission reviewed the progress made in the Article 50 negotiations so far and agreed that these efforts should accelerate over the months to come. The working dinner took place in a constructive and friendly atmosphere.”

A few hours earlier Juncker was criticised for his black humor, anticipating dinner with Prime Minister  Theresa May.

Asked about the meeting, Mr Juncker said: “I never understood why journalists even the most eminent journalists ask for an outcome of a meeting before the meeting takes place. I will see Mrs May this evening, we will talk and you will have the autopsy report afterwards. ”

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