Tag Archives: Brussels

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.

COVID19: President Michel self-isolates

Brussels 22.09.2020 The president of the European Council Charles Michel has been informed today that one of security officers, with whom he had “close” contact early last week, tested positive for COVID-19. Respecting Belgian sanitary rules, he has to respect quarantine for two weeks from today onward, although the president has been passing tests regularity, and was tested negative yesterday, his spokesperson said.

The Belgium National Security Council is set to meet on September 23 to discuss the COVID-19 measures in the face of fast-rising infection rates. Infections are particularly noticeable in younger age groups than was registered in the spring. Last week an average 45 people a day were hospitalised due to complications from the virus. In the seven day period previous to that, the figure was 30 patients per day. It has been more than a month since the last Security Council meeting, which, according to Geert Meyfroidt, a professor in intensive care at KU Leuven, is too long. “You cannot go a month without meeting and taking decisions,” he told Radio 1. “The timing of measures is as crucial as the measures themselves.”

President Michel has decided to postpone the special European Council meeting that was scheduled for 24 and 25 September to 1 and 2 October #EUCO.

Borrell meets Svetlana Tikhanovskaya

Brussels, 21.09.2020 Ahead of the Foreign ministers Council the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell met with Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the Belarus opposition politician in exile: “We met with Sviatlana #Tsikhanouskaya ahead of #FAC. The EU has no hidden agenda. Belarusian people should be able to freely choose their president, without persecution and repression. Only an inclusive national dialogue can lead to a peaceful and sustainable solution #Belarus” the head of the EU diplomacy wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

The situation in Belrus after the sham elections is one of three major issues for discussion with EU Foreign Ministers. The other key topics for the EU diplomacy are “positive momentum” in Libya and relations with the African Union.

EU calls extraordinary Summit on Belarus crisis

The president of the European Union Council Charles Michel invites the heads of states and governments of the EU member-states to an extraordinary meeting on August 19 to discuss the recent political developments in the Republic of Belarus.

«The people of Belarus have the right to decide on their future and freely elect their leader» Michel wrote on his official Twitter micro blog. «Violence against protesters is unacceptable and cannot be allowed» he added.

According to the European diplomats, president Michel and the Council have been following events closely, and they were in permanent contact with the diplomatic missions in Minsk.

The situation there is evolving rapidly, and the negative developments caused attention and concerns of the EU leaders.

The EU is willing to send a message of solidarity and support to Belrrus people, claiming their Consitutuional and fundamental political rights.

The EU stands by the people of Belarus, insitsing that they are in their right to choose their leaderhip in free and fair elections, and decide upon their future.

On video below the workers chant «Leave-leave-leave!» to inumbent President of Belarus Lukashenko, who has claimed eleciton victory with 80% ballots, the result assessed by the EU as «falsified».

XV EU-India Summit

“…Our meeting clearly shows the importance that both the EU and India attach to our relationship. As the world’s two largest democracies, we share common values – freedom, rule of law, and respect for human rights. We have converging interests” said in his concluding remarks by President Charles Michel after the EU-India summit via video conference.

Today we focused on 3 important topics: Covid-19 and rebuilding our economic prosperity, our EU-India bilateral relationship and regional and security issues”  Michel continued.

“As power dynamics shift across the globe, the EU wants to play a stronger role in the region, and as a global actor. Today’s substantive dialogue with India will reinforce these strategic goals.

The EU and India are banding together to fight COVID-19 and I welcome India’s role in tackling the virus, both at the regional and global level. And their contribution to the research and manufacturing of a vaccine, which should be available to all. We will cooperate to strengthen our health systems and ensure the WHO is effective.

We agree that the economic and social recovery must be more sustainable, more resilient and leave nobody behind. Keeping the global trading system open will play an important role. Efforts in the G20 and UN will also be vital. We welcome India’s support for debt relief as well”.

Today’s meeting marked the 15th Summit between India and the European Union.

“The EU is India’s largest trade and investment partner. But India represents only about 2% of EU external trade. This is clearly an area that offers impressive potential for significant future growth. We agreed to enhance conditions for traders and investors.

We called for ambitious climate and environmental action. The EU is a partner of India’s sustainable modernisation, including through investments by the European Investment Bank, over 4 billion euros. We will also work together to deploy digital technologies based on our shared values and global standards.

We have just signed the Euratom-India Agreement that boosts cooperation on research and development for peaceful nuclear energy. We welcome India’s proposal to build a connectivity partnership that is open, sustainable and rules-based.

The EU and India will further develop security and defence consultations and military contact. We will step up our cooperation to fight terrorism and cyber threats. Europol and its Indian counterpart will join forces to tackle organised crime. We will also work to reinforce maritime security, especially in the Indian Ocean, where 40% of our trade passes. And we will continue our dialogue on human rights.

India will serve on the UN Security Council in 2021-2022 and assume the Presidency of the G20 in 2022. The EU looks forward to working with India in these organisations, and others, to strengthen multilateralism and the rules-based international order. The EU and India are more than economic partners – we are political partners, committed to the peaceful resolution of conflicts, security and rule of law.

Today’s meeting clearly showed that both the EU and India want a stronger strategic relationship for the future. The concrete commitments we made today reflect this strong and clear ambition. India can count on the European Union. And we count on India to be a key partner”.

 

Merkel sets German Presidency priorities

MEPs discussed with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen the strategy and goals of the German Presidency in the coming six months.
Under the motto “Together for Europe’s recovery”, the German presidency is determined to tackle the huge challenge posed by the pandemic, Mrs Merkel said. She highlighted five areas that Europe needs to work on if it wants to emerge unified and strong from the current crisis: fundamental rights, solidarity and cohesion, climate change, digitisation and Europe’s role in the world. “Germany is prepared to show extraordinary solidarity”, she underlined, to build a Europe that is green, innovative, sustainable, more digital and competitive. “Europe is capable of achieving great things if we work together and stand together in solidarity”, she concluded.

“The challenge ahead for all of us could not be more extraordinary”, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “But we can emerge stronger thanks to Next Generation EU. Germany chose the word: together. That is the engine of our union”. She underlined that Europe needed both, a new EU long-term budget (MFF) and Next Generation EU. The Commission will do its utmost to make sure we will reach agreement, she said.

Manfred Weber (EPP, DE) said that the EU stumbles from crisis to crisis because of fear. “Fear is the enemy of solidarity, future and freedom”. There are high expectations for the German Presidency, he continued. “The EU needs now courage to show solidarity: We need a solution this month for the Recovery Fund”, Weber insisted. “No community can survive without community spirit. For us, this is simply the European Way of Life.”

Iratxe García Perez (S&D, ES) offered to work “side by side” with the German Presidency to overcome North-South and East-West differences and divisions in Europe, for the benefit of citizens.

“We have to prove that it is possible to create a fairer and more sustainable society, which thinks about the environment and future generations (…), protects workers, values diversity and manages migration flows with solidarity”, she added.

“The priority right now must be the adoption of the recovery plan and the new multiannual financial framework”, said Dacian Ciolos (Renew Europe, RO). “We build Europe around a project, a vision and strong values”, he added. “It is high time we make the respect of the rule of law a condition for accessing EU funds. The political opportunity is here. Use this unprecedented package as leverage”.

Jörg Meuthen (ID, DE) criticised the chancellor for being ignorant and ideological. “You are betraying the European idea and endangering the future of coming generations”, he said, pointing to the European Green Deal and the recovery fund. “Your understanding of solidarity is absurd”, he concluded.

Ska Keller (Greens/EFA, DE) said the same decisiveness that the EU shows against COVID-19 should apply to the climate crisis. “We need to overcome the Coronavirus crisis and to avoid the climate crisis”. The German presidency can make an important contribution here, she said, such as an ambitious climate law, calling for 65 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Rafaele Fitto (ECR, IT) said that up to now the EU’s response to the pandemic was “slow, not very efficient and lacking in true solidarity”. Germany should put aside selfishness and recover the original spirit of the EU by avoiding the mistakes of the past. “We need to revitalise the economy, implement favourable trade policies and relaunch the single market.”

Martin Schirdewan (GUE/NGL, DE) recalled the harmful austerity policies implemented during the financial crisis and appealed to Mrs Merkel not to make the mistake twice. He also called on Germany to make Council protocols public and transparent and to no longer block a proposal on digital tax on big companies.

« Older Entries