Tag Archives: Charles Michel

Michel invites Biden to Brussels

Brussels 30.11.2020 President of the European Council Charles Michel has invited the U.S. for a Summit in persona or virtual in the first half of 2021, an EU official said, adding the representatives from the EU countries with the rank of ambassador to the European Union (Coreper) will have a discussion on Monday, November 30, to prepare the European Council on strategic debate on relations between the U.S and the EU, based on a “non-paper” sent out on Friday, which includes five building blocks.
The official also underlined that the European Council president will hold consultations as of next week with all EU leaders on the topic of the EU-U.S. relations, constructed on “building blocks”: fighting the COVID-19 pandemic; enhancing economic recovery; combating climate change;upholding multilateralism and shared values; promoting peace and security.

The official added that Charles Michel and his team are currently in close contact with NATO Secretary General NATO Jens Stoltenberg to see if they can arrange a common visit.

The President of the European Council Charles Michel spoke Monday 23 November 2020 with the US President-elect Joe Biden and congratulated him on his election as the 46th President of the United States and Kamala Harris as the future Vice-President. During the call President Michel proposed to rebuild a strong transatlantic alliance based on common interests and shared values. He welcomed the strong commitment of the President-elect Biden to America’s allies and his support for European cooperation.

President Michel has already invited the President-elect Joe Biden to a special meeting with the members of the European Council in Brussels in 2021 to discuss shared priorities.

The EU stands ready to tackle together with the US today’s pressing challenges: the COVID-19 pandemic, economic recovery, climate change, security, and multilateralism, Michel said.

“Now is the time to join forces. In a changing world, our partnership will be more important than ever to protect our citizens, relaunch our economies, stop global warming and create a safer world. The EU and the US will always have more impact when taking steps together” Charles Michel said.

President Michel also thanked the President-elect for his clear support regarding the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement the EU concluded with the UK last year. This agreement preserves peace and stability in Ireland and fully respects the Good Friday Agreement.

Armenia President visits Brussels

Brussels, 21.10.2020 NATO During two-days unexpected visit the Armenian President has met the leading EU officials, and Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg, who told Armenian President Armen Sarkissian that the allies do not take sides in the ongoing Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.

The German Press Agency (dpa) reported that Stoltenberg expressed NATO’s neutrality on the issue to Sarkissian, who visited the NATO headquarters to convince the Alliance to do “everything possible to stop the Azerbaijani and the NATO member Turkey’s military actions.”

Sarkissian visited Brussels in attempt to receive support from the Western military alliance and the European Union amid the ongoing conflict with Azerbaijan over disputed Nagorno-Karabach mountain region, recognised by the international community as an integral part of Azerbaijan.

Sarkissian has visited Brussels to meet NATO’s chief Stoltenberg, European Council President Charles Michel and the head of the EU diplomacy Josep Borrell.

Michel in his meeting with the Armenian president repeated the EU’s “deepest concern about ongoing fighting with major humanitarian costs,” according to a statement on his Twitter micro blog. The president of the EU Council called for an immediate observance of a renewed cease-fire that went into effect at the weekend.

Hundreds of victims of the conflict have been reported from each side since September 27 when it began abruptly, causing major confrontation since the times of the collapse of the USSR.

EU stands behind Barnier

Brussels 15.10.2020 “…The European Council invites the Unionʼs chief negotiator (Michel Barnier) to continue negotiations in the coming weeks, and calls on the UK to make the necessary moves to make an agreement possible” the text of European Council conclusions on EU-UK relations reads.

The EU Council president Charles Michel expressed the leaders concern by lack of progress in the EU-UK talks.

The European Council reaffirmed the Union’s determination to have “as close as possible” a partnership with the United Kingdom on the basis of the negotiating directives of 25 February 2020, while respecting the previously agreed European Council guidelines, as well as statements and declarations, notably those of 25 November 2018, in particular as regards the level playing field, governance and fisheries, according to the Council conclusions.

EU-UK: ready for “all outcomes”

Brussels 15.10.2020 The EU leaders agreed to continue the “difficult” talks with the UK, shaping new trade agreement with the former member of the bloc, however they also have underlined that it is necessary to be ready to “all outcomes”, including no-deal scenario. Image above (archive).

“We will have the opportunity, also this afternoon, to tackle the future relationship with the UK. We want an agreement, but we also want to protect the level playing field. It’s a question of fairness, it’s a question of jobs, it’s also the question of the integrity of the single market. We are ready to continue to negotiate with the UK. This is a difficult negotiation, we all know that. And we will have the opportunity to have an exchange of views with all the European leaders” Charles Michel (pictured), the EU Council president said, while entering the meeting.

#EUCO: Mid-October Council agenda

EU leaders will meet in Brussels on 15-16 October to discuss the whole range of issues, including the epidemiological situation, relations with the United Kingdom, as well as climate change and relations with Africa, namely the post-Cotonou agreement.

COVID-19
The European Council will look at the current epidemiological situation. Leaders will also discuss overall coordination and the work on the development and distribution of a vaccine at the EU level.

EU-UK relations
The European Council will take stock of the implementation of the withdrawal agreement and review the state of the negotiations on the future EU-UK partnership. Leaders will discuss preparatory work for all scenarios after 1 January 2021. EU-UK negotiations on the future partnership.

Climate change
EU leaders will look at the progress made towards delivering the EU’s objective of climate neutrality by 2050. Following the adoption by the Commission of a 2030 Climate Target Plan, the EU leaders will hold an orientation debate on climate change-related issues.

The European Council will also discuss EU-Africa relations and may address other foreign policy issues, depending on developments, and the Cotonou agreement, which is the overarching framework for EU relations with African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. It covers the EU’s relations with 79 countries, including 48 countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

EU-Ukraine Summit condemns Russia

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, President of Ukraine, and Josep Borrell, Vice-President of the European Commission on behalf of Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, met in Brussels today for the 22nd EU-Ukraine Summit, hold a press-conference and issued a statement.

In the statement they have reiterated their condemnation of Russia’s “aggression”, and “continued to condemn” the “illegal annexation” of Crimea and Sevastopol.

“…We reiterated our strong condemnation of the clear violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity by acts of aggression by the Russian armed forces since February 2014. We continue to condemn the illegal annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol by Russia, the militarisation of the peninsula, the severe deterioration of the human rights situation there as well as restrictions of the freedom of movement for Ukrainian citizens to and from the Crimean Peninsula. We condemned the voting procedures on constitutional amendments of the Russian Federation concluded on 1 July 2020 that took place in the Crimean Peninsula, as well as the election of the so-called “governor of Sevastopol” on 13 September 2020, in violation of international law. We called on Russia to allow unhindered access of international organisations and human rights actors to the areas currently not under the control of Ukraine, including the Crimean Peninsula, and to respect international humanitarian law. We called for the immediate release of all illegally detained and imprisoned Ukrainian citizens in the Crimean Peninsula and in Russia, including Crimean Tatar activists. We continue to call on Russia to ensure unhindered and free passage to and from the Sea of Azov, in accordance with international law. We remain fully committed to implementing and keeping our respective non-recognition policies updated, including through restrictive measures and cooperation in international fora. In this context, we welcomed the diplomatic efforts aimed at restoring Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders”.

We reaffirmed our full support to the endeavours of the Normandy format, the OSCE, the Trilateral Contact Group and the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine. We welcomed the renewed engagement by the parties at the Normandy Summit in Paris last December, and stressed the importance of implementing the measures agreed on that occasion in view of the full implementation of the Minsk agreements by all sides, underlining Russia’s responsibility in this regard. We praised the constructive approach of Ukraine in the Normandy format and the Trilateral Contact Group and called on Russia to reciprocate. The comprehensive and unlimited ceasefire is an achievement that should be preserved.

“We called on Russia to fully assume its responsibility in this regard and to use its considerable influence over the armed formations it backs to meet the Minsk commitments in full and to ensure free and unhindered access of the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to the non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine, including the areas along the Ukrainian-Russian State border, in accordance with its mandate. We again called on Russia to immediately stop fuelling the conflict by providing financial and military support to the armed formations it backs, and we remain deeply concerned about the presence of Russian military equipment and personnel in the non-government-controlled areas of Ukraine. We reiterated our condemnation of the Russian continuing measures entitling Ukrainian citizens of the areas currently not under the control of the Government to apply for Russian citizenship in a simplified manner, in contradiction to the Minsk agreements. The EU recently renewed its economic sanctions on Russia, whose duration remains clearly linked to the full implementation of the Minsk agreements.

“We agreed to continue cooperating to address the socio-economic and humanitarian consequences of the conflict, highlighting the necessity to ensure the supply of water, electricity and gas across the contact line, to facilitate the movement of people and goods, and to ensure that the people living in areas not under Government’s control fully benefit from their rights as citizens of Ukraine, in full respect of international humanitarian law. In the circumstances of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is even more essential that humanitarian aid continues to be delivered and that the OSCE Special Monitoring Mission, UN agencies, non-governmental organisations and the International Committee of the Red Cross have unimpeded access to the non-government controlled areas. We underlined the importance of pursuing demining activities also in new areas to be agreed. We also agreed on the need for Ukraine to establish a national mine action centre in order to effectively address the contamination by mines and unexploded ordnances in the conflict affected region. The EU stands ready to further support Ukraine’s inclusive approach towards its citizens in the affected areas and to play a leading role in reconstruction efforts of the country, including in certain areas of Donetsk and Luhansk regions, once the Minsk agreements have been implemented…”

#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”.

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“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.

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“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”.

#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.

#EUCO: Michel invites to Summit

The president of the EU Council Charles Michel has issued the invitation letter to the head of states and governments ahead of their meeting on 1-2 October 2020. (Image above: archive).

“Our special meeting on Thursday and Friday will primarily focus on Europe’s place in the world and our capacity to shape our own destiny.

“Our meeting will start on Thursday at 15.00 with the traditional exchange of views with the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli. We will then use our first working session for a debate on EU-China relations, following the EU-China leaders’ meeting via video conference on 14 September. We want to work with China on tackling major global challenges such as the COVID 19 pandemic and climate change. We also want to insist on a more balanced and reciprocal economic relationship, ensuring a level playing field. And we will continue to promote our values and standards.

“At the end of the session, we will discuss current issues requiring our attention, namely the situation in Belarus, the poisoning of Alexei Navalny and the Nagorno-Karabakh escalation.

“The dinner will be entirely devoted to the situation in the Eastern Mediterranean and our relations with Turkey. Our objective is to create a space for a constructive dialogue with Turkey to achieve stability and security in the whole region, and to ensure full respect for the sovereignty and sovereign rights of all EU Member States. This will only be possible if Turkey engages constructively. All options remain on the table to defend the legitimate interests of the EU and its Member States. The EU can only be strong on the international stage if it has a resilient and innovative economic base.

COVID-19 has undoubtedly revealed some of the EU’s weaknesses. But I believe we should turn this into an opportunity, critically assessing together how to make the EU more resilient. Crucially, I would like us to discuss how we can best enhance the EU’s strategic autonomy alongside an open and competitive social market economy. Against this backdrop, we will have an in-depth discussion on Friday morning on unlocking the full potential of the Single Market, developing an ambitious industrial policy and exploiting the opportunities offered by the latest digital developments. The exceptional recovery package, adopted in July, will help transform our economies and, along with the Green and Digital transitions, will support us achieve these ambitions. At the end of the meeting, we will provide a brief update on negotiations with the United Kingdom”.

 

Michel regrets EU consensus method

In his speech “European strategic autonomy is the goal of our generation” at the Bruegel think tank president of the European Council Charles Michel addressed problems of global instability, and pointed at the need to establish the EU autonomy. He also has drawn attention to a number of problems in the EU foreign policy, namely the challenges imposed by China and Russia, “unpredictability” of Mediterranean neighbourhood, and post-Brexit trade negotiations. The president also regretted the method of unanimity in the EU foreign policy decision-making process, which slows it down, and “even some times prevents the decisions”.
Michel has underlined the the EU defence should develop in strong partnership with NATO, and “deployed within” North Atlantic Alliance.

“…Because the globalised world has changed a lot since the end of the Cold War. And because an arc of instability has developed around us.

“In the East, the natural and harmless extension of the European democratic space was brutally stopped by Russia in Ukraine. Russia saw a major geopolitical danger there. This cost Ukraine part of its territory, and a war in the East which permanently destabilises the country. Although the context is different, the events in Belarus once again highlight the challenge at Europe’s eastern borders.

“In the Eastern Mediterranean, we face tensions and unpredictability. Libya and Syria are hotbeds of insecurity and instability. There is pressure on the sovereignty of Greece and Cyprus. Our relationship with Turkey is under strain. This is why the next European summit will be devoted to the adoption of a European strategic position in connection with this region. I proposed the organisation of a multilateral conference on the Eastern Mediterranean, where maritime de-limitations, energy, security, migration, etc. would be discussed.

“In the South: Africa. And I feel, at the level of Europe and its leaders, how much the outlook on Africa is changing. Its energy, its vitality, open the way to an unprecedented alliance. It only depends on us, African and European leaders.

“In the West, Brexit. In the aftermath of the referendum, the result shook up the European Union. This choice of national sovereignty was felt as a failure of European construction.

“Today what is it? It is the United Kingdom that faces our quiet strength. The truth is, the British face a dilemma. What model of society do they want? Do they prefer to maintain high quality standards (health, food, environmental, etc.)? Or, on the contrary, do they want lower standards, subject their breeders and their businesses to unfair and unjust competition from other regions of the world? It is the answer to this question that will determine the level of access to our internal market”

President Michel has also regarded the principle of unanimity in the EU foreign policy, “regularly debated”:

“…Unanimity is required in matters of foreign policy. This question of unanimity is, as we know, regularly debated. And I have a qualified opinion in this regard. Of course, the unanimity requirement slows down and sometimes even prevents the decision. But this requirement leads to constant efforts to weld the Member States together. And this European unity is also our strength. Unanimity promotes the lasting adhesion of the 27 countries to the strategy deliberated together. So I ask myself: isn’t renouncing unanimity a false good idea? Are there not other more relevant reforms to act more quickly at the international level, without losing the added value of our unanimity?

“My modest experience is as follows. Very often, in recent months, I have observed that apparently important differences between the Member States were quickly blurred thanks to the substantive debate. So it was with China. The political preparations allowed us in a few months to define a common position which is now shared by all. The same will be true for the eastern Mediterranean and even Belarus. I am optimistic that there too we will express common positions which will draw their strength from our unity. The major decisions on the budget and the stimulus fund further illustrate this certainty: political confrontation, the exchange of arguments on the merits, are an essential step in the process of democratic deliberation. And they found the legitimacy of the decision.

“…Defense is not a European competence like any other. And I know the different national sensibilities. In my eyes, deepening the common defence is a necessity and is more common sense than an ideological obsession. This project must be deployed within NATO. This is the meaning of the strategic partnership between the EU and NATO. The permanent structured cooperation and the European Defense Fund, which we have just endowed with 7 billion euro, are fully in line with this ambition. And I greet Jean-Claude Juncker and Federica Mogherini, whose strategic impetus in this area has not yet been fully appreciated”.

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