Tag Archives: Brussels

NATO faces multifaceted threats

Brussels 14.06.2021 “…We face multifaceted threats, systemic competition from assertive and authoritarian powers, as well as growing security challenges to our countries and our citizens from all strategic directions” reads the Brussels Summit Communiqué Issued by the Heads of State and Government participating in the meeting of the North Atlantic Council in Brussels 14 June 2021.

“Russia’s aggressive actions constitute a threat to Euro-Atlantic security; terrorism in all its forms and manifestations remains a persistent threat to us all. State and non-state actors challenge the rules-based international order and seek to undermine democracy across the globe. Instability beyond our borders is also contributing to irregular migration and human trafficking. China’s growing influence and international policies can present challenges that we need to address together as an Alliance”.

“We will engage China with a view to defending the security interests of the Alliance. We are increasingly confronted by cyber, hybrid, and other asymmetric threats, including disinformation campaigns, and by the malicious use of ever-more sophisticated emerging and disruptive technologies. Rapid advances in the space domain are affecting our security”.

“The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the erosion of the arms control architecture also undermine our collective security. Climate change is a threat multiplier that impacts Alliance security. The greatest responsibility of the Alliance is to protect and defend our territories and our populations against attack, and we will address all threats and challenges which affect Euro-Atlantic security…”

NATO-Russia: dual track approach

Brussels 14.06.2021 “…Today I really look forward to welcoming all the NATO Leaders to our summit. We meet at a pivotal moment for our Alliance. And today we will open a new chapter in our transatlantic relations.
The Leaders will discuss a wide range of issues, among them Russia” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said ahead of the Summit.

“Our relationship with Russia is at its lowest point since the end of the Cold War. This is due to Russia’s aggressive actions. I am confident that the NATO Leaders will confirm our dual track approach to Russia: strong defence combined with dialogue. I’m sure that the NATO Leaders will welcome the opportunity to consult with President Biden ahead of his meeting with President Putin”.

https://twitter.com/jensstoltenberg/status/1404346633249247235?s=20 .

“We will also address China. There are of course opportunities and we need to engage with China on issues like climate change, arms control.But China’s military build-up, growing influence and coercive behaviour also poses some challenges to our security. We need to address them together as an Alliance.

“On this background, NATO Leaders will today agree an ambitious forward-looking agenda, the NATO 2030 agenda.
This is about how to reinforce our collective defence, how to strengthen our resilience, and sharpen our technological edge. And for the first time in NATO’s history, also make climate and security an important task for our Alliance. To do all of this, we need to resource our higher level of ambition.Therefore we need to invest more. I welcome that we are on a good track. We now have seven consecutive years of increased defence spending across European Allies and Canada. And these Allies have added in total 260 billion extra US dollars for defence.

“I am also confident that NATO Leaders will agree to invest more together, to meet our higher level of ambition. This is a force-multiplier and it demonstrates the unity of our Alliance.
So all together I’m absolutely certain that the decisions we will make today, they will send a strong message of unity, of resolve and that we are making NATO stronger in an age of global competition”.

EU-US Summit on 15 June

Brussels 06.06.2021 The EU and US leaders are expected to address a wide range of issues of common concern, including COVID-19, climate, trade and investment, foreign affairs, and common values. The EU will be represented by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. The US will be represented by President Joe Biden.

Representatives from Washington and Brussels met in the Belgian capital on Wednesday,June 2, to reaffirm the strength of the EU-US partnership on foreign policy and security issues.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Stefano Sannino, secretary general of the European External Action Service, met as the Biden administration seeks to reassure European allies after the transatlantic relationship took a battering under former president Donald Trump.

Sannino and Sharman called the upcoming summit “as an important step in the revitalized transatlantic partnership.”

Presidents of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and European Council Charles Michel will host US President Joe Biden in Brussels, however Biden will participate at a NATO leaders’ summit in Brussels a day earlier.

The leaders are expected to hold talks on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, trade and regulatory policies, as well as various foreign policy questions at the summit.

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will travel to the United Kingdom and Belgium in June 2021. This will be the first overseas travel by President Biden. This trip will highlight his commitment to restoring our alliances, revitalizing the Transatlantic relationship, and working in close cooperation with our allies and multilateral partners to address global challenges and better secure America’s interests.

President Biden will attend the G7 Summit in Cornwall, U.K., which is happening from June 11-13, where he will reinforce our commitment to multilateralism, work to advance key U.S. policy priorities on public health, economic recovery, and climate change, and demonstrate solidarity and shared values among major democracies. He will also hold bilateral meetings with fellow G7 leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

From the United Kingdom the President will travel to Brussels, Belgium, where he will participate in the NATO Summit on June 14. President Biden will affirm the United States’ commitment to NATO, Transatlantic security, and collective defense. NATO leaders will discuss how to orient the Alliance to future threats and ensure effective burden sharing. The President will also hold bilateral meetings with fellow NATO leaders.

While in Brussels President Biden will participate in a U.S.–EU Summit, which will underscore our commitment to a strong Transatlantic partnership based on shared interests and values. The leaders will discuss a common agenda to ensure global health security, stimulate global economic recovery, tackle climate change, enhance digital and trade cooperation, strengthen democracy, and address mutual foreign policy concerns.

We look forward to having further details to share about this trip soon, including potential additional elements.

EU-Switzerland breakaway

Brussels 26.05.2021 Switzerland cancels ratification of framework agreement with EU. “Based on the results of negotiations in recent months, the Federal Council has determined that the talks with the EU … “haven’t led to the necessary solutions,” said Swiss President Guy Parmelin. (Image above: Geneva, Switzerland).

After months and months of uncertainty, the Federal Council has decided to pull the plug. “Substantial differences” remain between Switzerland and the EU “concerning central areas of the agreement,” said the Swiss government. The conditions necessary for the conclusion of the agreement are therefore not met: end of negotiations. The Federal Council, however, asked the Federal Department of Justice and Police to assess how bilateral relations could be stabilised by means of “autonomous adaptations” of Swiss law. Discussions with Brussels are not about to end.

“Discussions with the EU have not resulted in the solutions Switzerland needs with regard to the directive on the rights of citizens of the Union, wage protection and state aid. Substantial differences remain, above all as regards the protection of wages and the directive on the rights of citizens of the Union “. It is therefore over for the institutional agreement.

MEPs May plenary agenda

Brussels 13.05.2021 MEPs are set to approve the new Erasmus+ programme, funding for the transition to a green economy and support for the cultural sector during the 17-20 May plenary.
Outside plenary, negotiators from the Parliament, Council and Commission will meet to thrash out a deal on a Covid-19 certificate to make it easier for people to travel in the EU this summer. The EU certificate would show that someone had been vaccinated, recovered from or had a negative Covid test.

Parliament will consider a proposal to waive intellectual property rights for Covid-19 vaccines.

Parliament will vote on the new €26 billion Erasmus+ programme for 2021-2027, allowing significantly more people to benefit from learning and mobility, including people living with a disability, those living in poverty or in a remote location and migrants.

MEPs are also expected to approve the Just Transition Fund, a €17.5 billion package to help European regions move to a green economy. It can help finance a range of support for micro-enterprises and research institutions to job-seeking assistance and reskilling.

The cultural sector has been hit had by the Covid-19 pandemic. The Creative Europe programme will bring €2.2 billion in investment to the cultural and creative sector, including support for the live music sector..
Members are set to adopt the European Solidarity Corps programme for 2021-2027, supporting volunteering activities for young people in the EU and beyond.

MEPs will discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after some of the worst clashes in years took place in recent days.
Parliament’s proposals for decarbonising Europe’s energy system, industry and transport sector will be presented during the May plenary. MEPs say hydrogen produced from renewable sources is key to achieving climate neutrality.
MEPs will be calling for new legal options for people outside the EU to work here to fill shortfalls in the EU job market, in order to help reduce irregular migration. In addition, they will vote on a report criticising the EU and some EU countries for overusing informal agreements on the return and readmission of irregular migrants.

Parliament will call for more support for digital innovation and the use of artificial intelligence in a resolution on Europe’s digital future.

Strasbourg #EPlenary to be held remotely

Brussels 15.10.2020 “I regret to announce that next week’s plenary will not take place in Strasbourg, but will be held remotely” David Sassoli announced on his Twitter micro blog.

“The situation in France and Belgium is very serious and travelling is not advised” he added.
However “Strasbourg remains the home of the European Parliament, and we will do everything we can to return”.

President Macron will impose a 9pm-6am curfew for Paris and eight other big French cities from Saturday, October 17, in an attempt to contain a “second wave” coronavirus outbreak that has spread across Europe.

During the announcement on October 14 President Macron ensured his compatriots, that the exceptional measure will last four weeks, with a possibility of prolongation until December 1. There are fines of 135 euro and 1500 euro foreseen for “non-respect” of the curfew. The popularity of President Macron has dropped almost 40% after the announcement, because the effectiveness of this extreme restrictive measure is not understood.

On contrary, to European continental restrictive and punitive measures, in countries like Sweden, where the accent was made on a dialog with the citizens, and educational strategy, the COVID-19 is largely in the past.

#EUCO: EU reiterates call for digalogue with Turkey

Brussels 2.10.2020 “…The EU has a strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey. Pursuing dialogue in good faith and abstaining from unilateral actions which run counter to the EU interests and violate international law and the sovereign rights of EU Member States is an absolute requirement in this regard”, the conclusion of the European Council All differences must be resolved through peaceful dialogue and in accordance with international law. In this context, the European Council reiterates its full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus, whose sovereignty and sovereign rights must be respected”.

https://twitter.com/josepborrellf/status/1311924104669298690?s=21

“The EU welcomes the recent confidence building steps by Greece and Turkey, as well as the announcement that they will resume their direct exploratory talks aiming at the delimitation of the Continental Shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone of the two countries. These efforts need to be sustained and broadened.

“At the same time, the European Council strongly condemns violations of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus which must stop. The European Council calls on Turkey to abstain from similar actions in the future, in breach of international law. The European Council underlines that delimitation of the Continental Shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone should be addressed through dialogue and negotiation in good faith, in full respect of international law, and calls on Turkey to accept the invitation by Cyprus to engage in dialogue with the objective of settling all maritime-related disputes between Turkey and Cyprus.

https://twitter.com/vonderleyen/status/1311810897170620418?s=21

“The European Council supports the speedy resumption of negotiations, under the auspices of the UN, and remains fully committed to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem within the UN framework and in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions, including UNSC resolutions 550 and 789, and in line with the principles on which the EU is founded. It expects the same of Turkey. The EU stands ready to play an active role in supporting the negotiations, including by appointing, upon resumption, a representative to the UN Good Offices Mission.

“Provided constructive efforts to stop illegal activities vis-à-vis Greece and Cyprus are sustained, the European Council has agreed to launch a positive political EU-Turkey agenda with a specific emphasis on the modernisation of the Customs Union and trade facilitation, people to people contacts, High level dialogues, continued cooperation on migration issues, in line with the 2016 EU-Turkey Statement. The European Council invites its President, in cooperation with the President of the Commission and with the support of the High Representative, to develop a proposal for re-energising the EU-Turkey agenda to this effect.

“Recalling and reaffirming i.a. its previous conclusions on Turkey of October 2019, in case of renewed unilateral actions or provocations in breach of international law, the EU will use all the instruments and the options at its disposal, including in accordance with Article 29 TEU and Article 215 TFEU, in order to defend its interests and those of its Member States.
The European Council will continue to closely monitor developments and will revert accordingly and take decisions as appropriate at the latest at its December meeting.

“Finally, the European Council calls for a Multilateral Conference on the Eastern Mediterranean and invites the High Representative to engage in talks about its organisation. Modalities such as participation, scope and timeline will need to be agreed with all involved parties. The Conference could address issues on which multilateral solutions are needed, including maritime delimitation, security, energy, migration and economic cooperation”.

BRAFA Art Fair postponed to 2022

On 1 October 2020, the members of the not-for-profit organisation the Foire des Antiquaires de Belgique (organiser of the BRAFA Art Fair) held an Extraordinary General Meeting during which they decided to postpone the 66th edition of BRAFA to January 2022.

The uncertainty created by the coronavirus pandemic in Europe is the main reason for the postponement.

BRAFA, which is traditionally the first top international fine art fair of the year, showcases 130 exhibitors on average, of which two thirds come from abroad. Last year, the fair welcomed a record number of 68,000 visitors, collectors and professionals, including a significant number from neighbouring countries. The current health situation and its potential evolution this autumn and winter have caused serious concerns. New restrictions on intra-European travel and the safety measures imposed by the authorities have only added to our fears.

‘This was obviously a tremendously difficult decision. Our priority was to avoid any unnecessary risks for our visitors and exhibitors. We therefore took the time to consult representatives of local authorities, scientists, organisers of other major public events and, last but not least, our exhibitors and partners. While there was plenty of enthusiasm for the event – almost all exhibitors had confirmed their attendance – the risk of a forced cancellation just a few weeks prior to the opening was equally real.

Organising an event like BRAFA takes several months of preparation. It also means working with many different stakeholders. Making this decision now seemed the most reasonable path open to us. I would like to thank all our exhibitors, our partners and in particular our main sponsor Delen Private Bank for their understanding and support’, said Harold t’Kint de Roodenbeke, the President of BRAFA.

Everyone is now focusing on BRAFA 2022, which will take place from 23 – 30 January 2022.

#EUCO Leaders Summit in Brussels

Brussels 1.10.2020 The Special European Council (#EUCO) takes place in an effort to continue a strategic discussion on Turkey. During the EU leaders’ video conference of 19 August 2020, the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and relations with Turkey were raised by some member states. The leaders expressed their concern about the growing tensions and stressed the urgent need to de-escalate. The members of the European Council expressed their full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus and recalled and reaffirmed previous conclusions on the illegal drilling activities.

“We agreed to come back to these issues during our meeting in September. All options will be on the table” Charles Michel, the president of the EU Council said.

On 15 and 16 September president Michel travelled to Greece, Cyprus and Malta as part of the preparations for the summit discussions. He also had several phone calls with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

The EU leaders meet in Brussels to discuss foreign affairs, mainly the relations with Turkey, which a candidate country, and the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean. The leaders are also expected to address relations with China, the situation in Belarus and the poisoning of Alexei Navalny. The single market, industrial policy and digital transformation are also on the agenda.

Brussels hosts Europarl October plenary

The president of the European Parliament David Sassoli issued a communication to attention of the Members of the European, informing them about next Plenary taking place in Brussels instead of Strasbourg as a result of the sanitary situation in Grand Est region of France. (Image above: European Parliament, Strasbourg)
Unfortunately, the health situation prevents us from going to Strasbourg for the first plenary session in October. We hope that everything will change soon and that we can return to our city
The novel coronavirus COVID-19 continues to spread in Europe and across the world”  Sassoli wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

On September 10, 2020, the Conference of Presidents debated the consequences of the pandemic and came to the conclusion that Parliament will again hold its sessions in Strasbourg as soon as conditions allow. In close collaboration with the French authorities, we continue to closely monitor the evolution of COVID-19″ the text of the communication reads.

“Unfortunately, given the recent increase in the rate of transmission of the virus in France, including in the Bas-Rhin department, and for the sake of public health, we must reconsider the displacement of Members and employees in the European Parliament, a few days of the first parliamentary session in October.

“Strasbourg, seat of the European Parliament, is very close to our hearts. Beyond the legal obligation to hold the sessions there, it is our most sincere wish to find this city which embodies the reconciliation of European countries better than any other.

“I would like to thank the French authorities and the City of Strasbourg for their support and the close collaboration implemented since the start of the pandemic and I sincerely hope that we will be able to go there again soon”.

“The session of the European Parliament from 5 to 8 October will be held in Brussels”.
Image below: European Parliament, Brussels.

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