Tag Archives: EUCO

EU committed to Western Balkans

Initially foreseen to happen in the capital of Croatia, the EU-Western Balkans Zagreb Summit has taken place on 6 May 2020 via video conference due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The EU is the most important partner of the Western Balkans region and the video conference has underlined the significance of the unique EU-Western Balkans relations. The summit has provided an opportunity to highlight mutual solidarity and cooperation in these time of pandemic crisis. Partners in the region have contributed to help EU member states while the European Union has mobilised over €3.3 billion to help Western Balkans deal with the coronavirus outbreak consequences.

“We, the leaders of the European Union (EU) and its Member States, in consultation with Western Balkans leaders, and in the presence of regional and international stakeholders, today reiterate our strong solidarity with our partners in the context of the coronavirus crisis. In these unprecedented times, we have concluded the following:

“Recalling the 2000 Zagreb, the 2003 Thessaloniki and the 2018 Sofia Summits, the EU once again reaffirms its unequivocal support for the European perspective of the Western Balkans. The Western Balkans partners reiterated their commitment to the European perspective as their firm strategic choice. The credibility of this commitment depends also on clear public communication and the implementation of the necessary reforms”

“Summed up in Zagreb declaration, confirming European perspective for the Western Balkans and solidarity in the face of COVID-19 pandemic. Strong and important signal for the region. The European Commission will deliver robust economic & investment plan” the Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi said.

The Renew Europe Group in the European Parliament welcomes the Zagreb declaration agreed today during EU – Western Balkans summit by the heads of state and government from EU Member States and the leaders of the six Western Balkans partners. The summit, which was supposed to be held in Zagreb, took place by video conference shortly after the EU mobilised a financial package of over EUR 3.3 billion for the Western Balkans in order to support the region in tackling COVID-19 and sustain the post-pandemic recovery.

President of the Renew Europe Group, Dacian Cioloş (PLUS, Romania), said:

The long-awaited summit is a clear confirmation that Western Balkan countries belong to the European family and that enlargement continues to be high on European Union’s agenda.

The meeting held today reconfirms the two-way commitment of the enlargement process: on one hand, the EU’s determination to further intensify its engagement at all levels to support the region’s political, economic and social transformation and on the other hand, the pledge of the Western Balkans to uphold European values and principles and to carry out the necessary reforms. The revised accession methodology will facilitate this two-way commitment and ensure concrete benefits faster for citizens of both sides.

The COVID-19 crisis brought to the strong need for solidarity and mutual support inside the European Union and with our neighbours and partners. Since the beginning of the crisis the EU ensured significant support for the Western Balkan countries and will continue to do so, proving to be the most helpful and reliable partner of the region.”

MEP Ilhan Kyuchyuk (Movement for Rights and Freedom, Bulgaria), Renew Europe Vice-Coordinator of the Foreign Affairs Committee and EP standing rapporteur on North Macedonia, added:

“I welcome the Western Balkans summit and its conclusions. The decision to provide over €3.3 billion of EU financial support for the Western Balkan countries to fight COVID-19 is crucial and will help the region to overcome the health crisis. Despite the difficult times, Europe has once again shown that it stands shoulder-to-shoulder with its Western Balkans partners and reaffirmed its unequivocal support for the European perspective of the region. After the European Council agreed in March to open accession negotiations with North Macedonia and Albania, we have to continue backing the Western Balkans with the reforms needed on their EU path because their future lies in European Union. Our political, economic and social engagement and the expression of solidarity are a driving force of integration and demonstrate that EU enlargement can be a success story.”

Michel welcomes Joint Roadmap for Recovery

Conclusions of the President of the European Council following the video conference of the members of the European Council, 23 April 2020:

“I would first like to thank all our health workers, doctors and researchers who are working around the clock to save lives.

I would also like to offer words of support to those who are ill and are fighting the virus as we speak

This pandemic is putting our societies under serious strain. The well-being of each EU member state depends on the well-being of the whole of the EU.

We are all in this together. Fighting Corona and its consequences will take time but we have already made a lot of progress and taken bold action.

Members of the European Council today held their fourth video conference to deal with the COVID-19 and its consequences. We have expressed a strong will to move forward together

We discussed progress on the various dimensions of the European response to the pandemic and welcomed the Joint European Roadmap towards lifting of COVID-19 containment measures. We all agreed that the health and safety of our citizens comes first.

We also agreed to continue to follow the situation closely, in particular as we approach the holiday season, and to coordinate as much as possible to ensure a gradual and orderly lifting of restrictions.

We welcomed the Joint Roadmap for Recovery. It sets out some important principles, such as solidarity, cohesion and convergence. It further defines four key areas for action: a fully functioning Single Market, an unprecedented investment effort, acting globally, and a functioning system of governance.

It is of utmost importance to increase the strategic autonomy of the Union and produce essential goods in Europe.

Following the meeting of the Eurogroup in an inclusive format on 9 April 2020, we endorsed the agreement on three important safety nets for workers, businesses and sovereigns, amounting to a package worth 540 billion euros.

We called for the package to be operational by 1 June 2020.

We also agreed to work towards establishing a recovery fund, which is needed and urgent. This fund shall be of a sufficient magnitude, targeted towards the sectors and geographical parts of Europe most affected, and be dedicated to dealing with this unprecedented crisis.

We have therefore tasked the Commission to analyse the exact needs and to urgently come up with a proposal that is commensurate with the challenge we are facing.

The Commission proposal should clarify the link with the MFF, which in any event will need to be adjusted to deal with the current crisis and its aftermath.

The Eurogroup in an inclusive format will continue to closely monitor the economic situation and prepare the ground for a robust recovery.

We remain committed to giving the necessary impetus to work on the recovery fund as well as the MFF, so that a balanced agreement on both can be found as soon as possible. em>

The illegal drilling activities by Turkey in Cyprus’ Exclusive Economic Zone were raised by some Member States. We expressed our full solidarity with Cyprus and recalled and reaffirmed our previous conclusions on this matter.

“We decided to hold a video conference with the Western Balkans on May 6”.

Michel invites for EU Summit

President Charles Michel issued an invitation letter to the members of the European Council ahead of their video conference on 23 April 2020:

“I would like to invite you to our fourth videoconference dedicated to the fight against the coronavirus pandemic and its negative effects. We have moved quite some way over the past weeks, and I would really like to thank you all for your constructive spirit and bold actions so far. But there is still a long way to go to overcome this crisis.

The health of our citizens remains our top priority. We mourn the many lives lost and express our condolences to all the families who have lost a loved one. This pandemic touches all of us in every Member State and in every household. It knows no boundaries and calls for even more coordination and unity. It is my conviction that we must show even greater determination in overcoming our differences.

Health workers and doctors have worked relentlessly and tirelessly. We cannot show them enough gratitude. They represent the best of Europe. We commend the dedication of those who are at the forefront to combat the virus and those who are providing essential services to the population.

Restrictive measures, including limitations on some of our fundamental freedoms, continue to disrupt the daily lives of our citizens and our economies, but we will continue to do all that is necessary to combat the virus and to protect the health of our people. At the same time we have to prepare for the constraints to gradually end.

With that dual objective in mind and in line with the mandate you gave us three weeks ago, last week Ursula and I issued a Joint European Roadmap towards lifting of COVID-19 containment measures, charting the best way towards lifting the exceptional constraints without causing negative spill-over effects. The situation should be followed closely and there should be as much coordination as possible to meet the challenges ahead of us linked to the lifting of the restrictions, especially with regard to the summer season.

I now attach to this invitation a Roadmap for recovery with a strong investment component, which sets out some important principles and defines four key areas for action. I believe that these roadmaps provide a coherent and useful framework for our joint action towards overcoming the crisis and moving forward.

At our last videoconference, we also tasked the Eurogroup in an inclusive format to present proposals to tackle the socio-economic consequences of the crisis. On 9 April, the Eurogroup agreed on a package worth €540 billion, with three important safety nets for sovereigns, for private companies and for the protection of employment. We should give the go-ahead to these important initiatives and insist on them becoming available as quickly as possible. The aim should be for these three safety nets to be in place and operational by 1 June.

The comprehensive economic response to the crisis also includes a fourth element that was discussed by the Eurogroup, but not yet agreed, namely the idea of a European Recovery Fund. My suggestion is that we agree to work towards establishing such a fund as soon as possible. It should be of sufficient magnitude, targeted towards the sectors and geographical parts of Europe most affected, and be dedicated to deal with this unprecedented crisis. To this end, I propose that we task the Commission to analyse the exact needs and come up with a proposal that is commensurate with the challenge we are facing. The Commission proposal should clarify the link with the MFF, which will in any event be at the heart of the EU’s contribution to recovery and will need to be adjusted to deal with the current crisis and its aftermath.

It is critical that we discuss these issues openly among ourselves and urgently move ahead in order to make progress.

For other matters of common interest, whether international or internal to the EU, that are less directly related to this specific crisis, we continue to closely monitor the situation and will tackle them together in due course.

The videoconference will start at 15:00 on 23 April with the traditional exchange of views with the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli. We will then move to our discussion, in the presence of the President of the European Central Bank Christine Lagarde and the President of the Eurogroup Mario Centeno.

I look forward to our discussion”.

EUCO: anti-COVID19 plan

The 27 EU leaders decided to offer the eurozone finance ministers two weeks to find a common economic response to the coronavirus crisis, European diplomats said. After more than six hours of discussion by video-conference, the heads of state and government of the 27 EU countries have reached agreement on a draft joint declaration to tackle the crisis caused by the coronavirus.

“We take note of the progress made by the Eurogroup. At this stage, we invite the Eurogroup to present proposals to us within two weeks. These proposals should take into account the unprecedented nature of the COVID-19 shock affecting all our countries and our response will be stepped up, as necessary, with further action in an inclusive way, in light of developments, in order to deliver a comprehensive response” the declaration reads.

“The COVID-19 pandemic constitutes an unprecedented challenge for Europe and the whole world. It requires urgent, decisive, and comprehensive action at the EU, national, regional and local levels. We will do everything that is necessary to protect our citizens and overcome the crisis, while preserving our European values and way of life.

“We recognise the burden these measures put on all our citizens and praise their sense of responsibility. We express our deepest sympathy with the victims of the pandemic and their families. We commend the dedication and tireless efforts of the healthcare professionals at the forefront of the outbreak and the contribution of those who provide essential services to the population.

“We will cooperate with the international community and our external partners in combating the global pandemic.

“We will continue to work along the five strands defined at our videoconferences on 10 and 17 March 2020 and do what is necessary to overcome the crisis.”

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte did not accept the draft conclusion at a video conference Summit of EU27 to find a common economic response to the coronavirus pandemic, according to Italian government sources. Italy wants the European Union to acquire “innovative financial instruments that are truly adapted to war”, according to the Italian agency Agi, which quotes the entourage of the Prime Minister. In this response to the economic catastrophe that threatens the EU, the proponents of greater financial solidarity, the countries of the south, less virtuous in budgetary matters, and those of the north, confront each other.

COVID19: EU March Summit postponed

The ordinary European Council scheduled for 26-27 March has been postponed to a later date. (Image: archive)

The members of the European Council agreed this during their video conference of 17 March 2020. EU leaders also agreed to hold another video conference next week on the situation regarding the COVID-19 outbreak.

The announcement followed the postponement of the Croatia presidency meeting scheduled on April 15.

In order to limit the spread of COVID-19, the #EU2020HR has decided to postpone, until 15 April, all Croatian Presidency’s related informal meetings in Croatia, except informal Ministerial level meetings” the announcement of the Presidency reads.

Sassoli defends MEPs position on EU budget

President David Sassoli reminded EU leaders Parliament approval is needed for the EU seven years budget (MFF) and said MEPs would not accept agreement irrelevant to the European ambitions.

Sassoli was speaking at the start of an EU Council (EUCO) aimed at finding an agreement between member states on the EU’s next long-term budget. The budget for 2021-2027 will be the first since the UK left the EU.

The speaker told the heads of state and government that Parliament was prepared to reject any agreement that did not give the EU the means to address the many challenges it faces.

“We must equip the Union with all the means necessary to address the challenges that we face together,” he said. “The first and most urgent is climate change. The Green Deal offers an ambitious plan for Europe to become the first carbon-neutral continent by 2050. Achieving this will require a major financial effort.

“We need resources to boost growth and development, and to support countries, businesses, and people through this transition. We also need to invest in research to ensure Europe is at the forefront and does not need to rely on importing new technologies to whose development it has not contributed.”

He also said that “the artificial dichotomy between net contributors and beneficiaries” should be broken. “All member states, without exception, profit from the EU.”

Parliament agreed its position on the long-term budget in 2018. Any agreement can only come into effect if approved by the Parliament.

#EUCO: Charles Michel chairs EU Summit

“I look forward to welcoming you to the December European Council – my first European Council meeting as President” reads the invitation letter of the EU Council President Charles Michel.(Image above: archive).

“My intention is to build on the impressive work of my two predecessors and create a strong relationship with you, based on trust, confidence and transparency.

Together, we will provide the strategic guidance that Europe needs to tackle the many challenges identified in the Strategic Agenda adopted in June 2019.

Concerning this week’s European Council, the meeting will start at 15:00 on 12 December with an exchange of views with the President of the European Parliament David Sassoli. This will be followed by our first working session, in which we will begin by adopting our conclusions on the Conference on the Future of Europe.

We will then move to the vital challenge of Climate Change. I want us to agree on the commitment for the EU to become climate-neutral by 2050. This would be a major signal from the European Council that the EU will take a global leadership role on this crucial issue. It is my conviction that the transition to climate neutrality will create new opportunities for economic growth and development.

However, we must also recognise that it will require efforts from all Member States. We will put in place a framework and the necessary resources to chart a fair and balanced path towards our objective. This means taking into account the different national realities and starting points.

Over dinner, we will discuss the Multiannual Financial Framework. This is another key area for the future of our Union. We must enter into a new stage of our work and engage seriously. There is no point repeating known positions and maximalist requests; concessions will be needed from all sides. We will work to identify the key elements of a final agreement.

The first day will conclude with a debrief on the implementation of the Minsk Agreement along with short conclusions on WTO, Africa and Turkey.

On Friday, our meeting will begin at 10:00 in the presence of European Central Bank President Christine Lagarde and Eurogroup President Mario Centeno. After an exchange of views on the economic situation, we will take stock of the progress made by the Eurogroup on strengthening the Economic and Monetary Union and give some indications on future work. A statement will be adopted to that end.

The proceedings will conclude in the Article 50 configuration.  We are ready for the next steps and reaffirm our desire for as close a relationship as possible with the United Kingdom. We will adopt short conclusions on Brexit.

I look forward to working closely with all of you on these issues, and many others, to make Europe bolder, more prosperous, and more self-confident.”

EU marathon talks to continue for third day

EU leaders suspended Sunday Summit after 20 hours marathon talks failing to produce an agreement on who should be appointed for the bloc’s top jobs, prompting criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron who said Europe’s indecisiveness was damaging its image abroad. (Image above: arrivals).

The failure to reach consensus during 20 hours long night owl negotiations reflected the fragmentation of the bloc’s politics, occurring after the European elections, leaving both center right and left substantially weaker.

President Macron, who left the Council premises shortly after the talks were suspended till Tuesday morning, labeled the breakdown a “failure” though he added an agreement could still be found.

Eastern European countries had strongly objected the candidates, proposed by Macron, and the leaders of Germany and Spain to  attribute presidency of the European Commission to Dutch Socialist Fran Timmermans. His candidacy did not inspire Italian either.

 

EU prolongs sanctions against Russia

At the EU Summit in Brussels the leaders agreed to prolong  economic sanctions against Russia until the end of January, the sanctions were imposed in support of the territorial integrity of Ukraine against the annexation of Crimea and Sevastopol. (Image above: Crimea bridge).

Russia sanctions unanimously extended for another six months because of a lack of Minsk Agreements implementation,” wrote in his Twitter micro blog the spokesman, Preben Aman, .

Crimean bridge night

EU top jobs apple of discord

The EU leaders discussion of the attribution of  bloc’s top jobs  started at late dinner concluding agenda of Summit in Brussels (#EUCO). However the chances to come to an agreement remain minimal as France and Germany cast doubt on any imminent deal, also the Eastern European member-states (Vicegrad 4) vividly opposed both leading candidates from biggest European political groups the EPP and S&D for various reasons.

The 28 national leaders meet in Brussels on June 20-21 to assign the top jobs of the bloc for coming years on the entire spectrum of issues.

“In Europe, our coalition of progress must prevail. We need to find the women and men who can carry an ambitious roadmap at the heart of the European institutions. This is a key issue for the European Council meeting today“, French President Emmanuel Macron said at arrival to the European Council.

Antonio Tajani,  the president of the European Parliament, was  reminiscent of cardinals locked to select a Pope, hinting of disagreements among the member-states, and European political families.

However the nominations should be made before the new European parliament starts its session on July 2 in Strasbourg. By the time the European Council has to announce the major appointments, including the top job of the President of the European Commission, de facto “Prime Minister of Europe“.

 

 

 

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