Tag Archives: crisis

EU expects Belarus to release journalists

«Belarus: the EU expects from authorities the immediate and unconditional release of detained journalists, along with ALL peaceful protesters. Let media do their jobs without intimidation. A FreePress is crucial to the democracy demanded by the people of Belarusé» the European External Action Service spokesperson wrote on his Twitter micro blog. (Image above: social media).

Belarusian police detained at least 20 journalists planning to cover a protest in central Minsk on August 27 and confiscated their telephones and identity documents, and other filming equipment Reuters news agency reported.

The interior ministry later on the same day said the journalists had been driven to a police station for officers to check if they had valid accreditation allowing them to exercise their profession.

The authorities explained that all those with official accreditation would be released.

There were numerious reports about the detention of press by riot police, however so far the situation of jounralists remains unclear.

Beirut: Michel calls for independent enquiry

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, travelled to Beirut on 8 August 2020 to convey EU solidarity with the people in Lebanon after the devastating explosions on 4 August.

The President visited the Port of Beirut to witness the scale of the disaster. He called for an independent enquiry to shed light on the causes of this catastrophe and offered European expertise. During his visit, President Michel met with representatives of the Lebanese Red Cross and paid his respect to the rescue teams, including Europeans, working around the clock and showing tremendous courage.

«I’m touched by the bravery of the Lebanese people who have been hit by this tragedy in an already difficult context. The EU is a long-standing friend and partner. We are in full solidarity with Lebanon more than ever in these difficult times», Charles Michel said.

President Michel repeated the EU readiness to continue the provision of urgent assistance to help the people in Lebanon. The EU has already activated its emergency mechanisms.

It has mobilised EUR 33 million for emergency needs and more than 250 rescuers from European Member States are on the ground. Tons of emergency supplies have been made available and more will follow. Together with the President of the European Commission, President Michel urged all EU Member States to intensify their support to Lebanon both for the immediate needs and for the longer-term reconstruction. It is key that assistance reaches those who need it.

During his visit, the President of the European Council met with President Michel Aoun, Speaker of the Parliament Nabih Berri and President of the Council of Ministers Hassan Diab. The unity and stability of Lebanon are all the more crucial today, both internally, and also for the whole region. President Michel also underlined the importance of structural reforms in line with the government’s reform plan and Lebanon’s international commitments and as called by the Lebanese people. An agreement with the International Monetary Fund is urgently needed. He therefore called for concrete steps to reform the financial system and to adopt anti-corruption measures.

« Local political forces should seize the opportunity and unite around a national effort to respond to the immediate needs but also more long term challenges the country is facing. It’s of critical importance for Lebanon to implement the fundamental structural reforms. The Lebanese can count on the European Union in this effort – but internal unity is key » Charles Michel has underlined.

Michel solidarity visit to Beirut

EU Council President Charles Michel has announced his solidarity visit to Beirut.
«Traveling to Beirut  tomorrow to convey Europe’s solidarity with the people in Lebanon
Shocked and saddened, we stand with all those affected and will provide help » he wrote in his Twitter micro blog.
«Will meet with President Aoun, Speaker of Parliament Berri and President of Council of Ministers Diab» he added.

Following the devastating explosions in Beirut on August 4, with many victims and injured, the European Union expresses its full solidarity with and support for the families of the victims, the Lebanese people and authorities.

The EU began providing assistance and support and we stand ready to mobilise further help. As an immediate first response and upon request of the Lebanese authorities, the EU has activated all its emergency mechanisms and is working with its Member States to provide this support as rapidly as possible.

The EU Emergency Response Coordination Centre (ERCC), which coordinates EU and EU Member States’ emergency support, including civil protection, is in close contact with their counterparts in Lebanon to understand the needs on the ground and provide urgent assistance. The EU Civil Protection Mechanism is coordinating the deployment of needed equipment and over 100 firefighters, specialised in search and rescue. They will work with the Lebanese authorities to save lives on the ground and provide emergency medical support, including through the Lebanese Red Cross.

In addition, the ERCC has triggered the Copernicus Satellite Mapping service to support local authorities, for the production of satellite maps in rapid mapping mode.

In a phone call with Lebanon’s Foreign Minister Charbel Wehbe, the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell stressed the EU’s support to help Lebanon and he said: “This tragic moment for Lebanon should be the occasion to unite all political forces around a national effort to respond to the many challenges the country is facing. The European Union will remain firmly at the side of Lebanon and the Lebanese people in this effort.”

Borrell also underlined the importance that the European Union attaches to the unity and stability of Lebanon, which are all the more important today, both internally and for the region.

Gentiloni: EU faces unprecedented shock

“..Indeed, we are facing a shock without precedent since the Great Depression. Its economic and social consequences pose policy challenges unlike any we have seen in our lifetimes.
The inflation rate is further evidence of this. Data released this morning shows the inflation rate at just 0.3%. In April last year, it was 1.7%.
This is the first time that I present our country-specific recommendations, but it is in fact the tenth set of recommendations that the Commission has presented” Commissioner Paolo Gentiloni said, addressing Brussels press corps on May 20

“The first time was in 2011, when Europe was in in the depths of a very different crisis – in the aftermath of the Great Recession – to the one we face today.
And because, as they say, this time it’s different, so are the recommendations we present today. They are different. They come one week before the recovery plan and these are strictly linked steps.

Our recommendations present, first and foremost, the immediate challenges we are confronted with as a direct result of the pandemic: strengthening our healthcare systems; supporting our workers; and saving our companies.

At the same time, the sustainability and competitiveness challenges we faced before the crisis have not gone away.
Our climate is still suffering, our environment is still hurting. People in cities around the world have experienced clear skies and clean air, in many cases for the first time in their lives – but we know that this is just a pleasant side-effect of a dreadful, yet temporary situation.
If millions of people have been able to carry on working while locked down, including the staff of the Commission, it is a reminder of the huge task Europe faces to be competitive in the digital age.

So as we look to the future, our investment and reform objectives must remain focused on making a success of the green and digital transitions, as well as on social sustainability. I think it is very important that we are speaking today after having adopted the SURE instrument. The Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations are and must remain our compass.

Let me now make four specific points.
First, in terms of fiscal policy, our message is crystal clear: there needs to be a supportive fiscal stance in all Member States and we recommend that all Member States “take all necessary measures to effectively address the pandemic, sustain the economy and support the ensuing recovery”.
When it comes to the question of excessive deficit procedures, our conclusion – which is that “at this juncture a decision on whether to place Member States under EDP should not be taken” – is fully coherent with the decision taken two months ago to activate the general escape clause.

Finally, we underline that public expenditure and investment are important to support the green and digital transition. Once fiscal policy normalises, it will be vital to avoid making the mistakes of the past: in the fiscal consolidation of ten years ago, investment was the first victim. To repeat this approach would be to sacrifice our long-term priorities.

Second, the fight against Aggressive Tax Planning again features in our recommendations and I must say this is an even clearer priority this in the past. All Member States, especially in the recovery situation, must be able to rely on their fair share of tax revenues to implement the fiscal support needed to get through this crisis.

Third, our European Union is also a Union in which the rule of law is of paramount importance. Also on economic grounds. When the rule of law is questioned, it impacts on the business environment and investment climate. Our recommendations this year also clearly highlight this issue.

We have also adopted today the latest enhanced surveillance report for Greece.

The report concludes that, considering the extraordinary circumstances posed by the coronavirus pandemic, the country has taken the necessary actions to deliver on its specific reform commitments.
I expect this report to pave the way for a positive decision by the Eurogroup on the next tranche of debt relief measures worth €748 million.

We also adopted streamlined post-programme reports for Spain and Cyprus.
In conclusion, before passing the floor to Nicolas. I have mentioned the Great Depression and the Great Recession. We must ensure that this crisis will not be remembered as the Great Fragmentation, in which a symmetric shock leads to asymmetric outcomes for countries, sectors, regions, individuals and generations.
This is why we need to help individuals and companies absorb the shock. We need to repair the shortfall in investment and equity. And we need to transform our economies, with a new growth model embracing the green and digital transition.

In a nutshell, we need a well-funded recovery plan. We will present it next week”.

Eurparl vice-president considers extension of Brexit talks

Vice-president of the European Parliament Fabio Castaldo (Italy, 5SM) reminded that ‘no-dealBrexit will affect the UK more than the EU, although the bloc is preparing itself for this scenario as well.

Castaldo warned that ‘no-deal’ will lead to uncertainty and even “chaos” for trade and political relationship on both sides of the Channel.

I still hope that there will be prolongation of the negotiations, which is foreseen in the Article 50,  and I hope ‘no’ vote in the UK Parliament will not be used by any member-state to punish the UK” – vice-president continued. “In our interest is to find a deal that would fit both the EU and the UK citizens“.

However Castaldo also pointed at a possibility of a “few month prolongation” of negotiations in case of the governmental crisis in the UK,  offering time for a “new” government to approach the issue in a “proper way“.

Italy: Mattarella risks impeachment

League leader Matteo Salvini said that Italy will have to have a new general election after premier designate Giuseppe Conte handed back a mandate to form a government. “The Italians come first, their right to work, to security and happiness,” Salvini quoted by ANSA news agency.

“We worked day and night for weeks to form a government that defends the interest of the Italian citizens. But someone (under whose pressure?) said No. Never again slaves, Italy is not a colony. At this point, with the honesty, coherence and the courage of always, the words must go back to you” – Salvini concluded.

After rejection of the candidacy of the economy minister, causing the failure to form a government,  Five Star Movement (5SM) considers launching President Sergio Mattarella impeachment procedure.

 

Italy: Conte gave up efforts to form government

Italy’s Prime minister-designate Giuseppe Conte said he’s given up on attempts to form a government after President Sergio Mattarella rejected his candidacy of an anti-euro economy minister. The country may now face a new election by the end of 2018.

“President has received Prof. Giuseppe Conte …. who returned the mandate given to him on May 23 to form the government. The president has thanked him for his effort in fulfilling this task,” Ugo Zampetti, an official within the presidential administration, told RAI.

After the talk, Mattarella said that he was going to make a decision on the new parliamentary vote in the country in the coming hours.