Tag Archives: European Commission

New Ambassadors to EU

Brussels 15.07.2022 On 14 July 2022, Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, received the credentials of the new Heads of Mission to the EU from the following countries: Vietnam, Australia, Timor-Leste, Ecuador, Djibouti, Mongolia, Cambodia, Comoros, Brunei, Arab Emirates, Pakistan, Congo (DRC), Monaco, Bahrein, Nicaragua and Samoa.

Ukraine and Moldova EU candidates

Brussels 23.06.2022 Ukraine and Moldova have both been granted the EU candidate status, President of the European Council Charles Michel has announced at the press-conference, following the Summit.
“Today marks a crucial step on your path towards the EU,” Mr Michel said, describing the European Council’s decision as a “historic moment”.

Ukraine applied on February 28, the days after the Russian invasion, and the process moved at a record speed.
Its president, Volodymyr Zelensky, hailed the EU Council decision.

“It’s a unique and historical moment in Ukraine-EU relations…” he tweeted. “Ukraine’s future is within the EU.”

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen declared that “today is a good day for Europe.”

The top EU executive added that the decision strengthens Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia, “in the face of Russian imperialism.” The leaders also officially recognized the “European perspective” of Georgia, saying it was moving toward candidate status.

Ukraine scored 32 points out of 100 possible in the Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) for 2021. Our indicator has decreased by one point, and now Ukraine ranks 122nd out of 180 countries in the CPI.

The information is available on the website of Transparency International Ukraine. The African state of Eswatini (Swaziland) is next to Ukraine. Zambia, Nepal, Egypt, the Philippines, and Algeria are one point ahead — with 33 points each.

On March 20 Ukraine’s President Zelensky announced ban on the activities of 11 political parties in the country, eliminating the entire opposition.

Michel: Invitation to EU Summit

Brussels 28.05.2022 Invitation letter by President Charles Michel to the members of the European Council ahead of their special meeting on 30 and 31 May 2022:
“We gather for a special meeting of the European Council on 30-31 May to take forward our discussions on Ukraine, energy, food security, and defence.

“Ukraine is showing incredible courage and dignity in the face of the Russian aggression and atrocities. From the very first day, we have been unwavering in our humanitarian, financial, military and political support to the Ukrainian people and their leadership. We will continue putting pressure on Russia. Our unity has always been our strongest asset. It remains our guiding principle.

“We will address the situation in Ukraine at our first working session, and President Zelenskyy will join us via video link at the beginning of this discussion. One of our most pressing concerns is assisting the Ukrainian state, along with our international partners, with its liquidity needs. We will also discuss how best to organise our support for Ukraine’s reconstruction, as a major global effort will be required to rebuild the country.

“We will come back to the issue of energy including high prices, which are hitting hard on our homes and businesses. We must accelerate our energy transition if we are to phase out our dependency on Russian fossil fuels as soon as possible. Building on our decisions taken in Versailles, we will discuss the best ways to take work forward.

“Russia’s military aggression risks having a dramatic effect on global food security. Food prices have spiked and we are facing serious risks of famine and destabilisation in many parts of the world. At our meeting, we will discuss concrete ways to help Ukraine export its agricultural produce using EU infrastructure. We will also see how to better coordinate multilateral initiatives in this regard. Given African countries’ acute vulnerability to food insecurity, African Union Chairperson Macky Sall will join us via video link to discuss the topic.

“Russia’s war against Ukraine has further bolstered our ambition for a strong, coordinated European defence. In March, we tasked the Commission, in coordination with the European Defence Agency, with putting forward an analysis of the defence investment gaps and proposing any further initiatives to strengthen the European defence industrial and technological base. Our most urgent priority is to coordinate Member States’ efforts to replenish stocks and build a European industrial base. We will discuss how to address these two issues.

“In terms of timing, our meeting will start on Monday at 4 p.m. with the traditional exchange of views with European Parliament President, Roberta Metsola.

“I look forward to seeing you in Brussels”.

Ukraine: Michel announces Solidarity Trust Fund

Brussels 21.04.2022 “…We are determined to do everything we can to support Ukraine because we want victory for Ukraine” the EU Council president Charles Michel said. “And that is why we will use all the possible tools in our hands. Of course, financial support is very important. We had the opportunity to go into more detail with the President, and that is why we decided a few weeks ago, after a phone call, to launch this trust fund in solidarity with Ukraine. In the coming days, on May 5th, will be the starting point of this trust fund, with an international donors conference. We will organise this together with Poland, with Sweden and with the support of the European Commission, all the member states, and with the support of many international actors”.

“We are also working closely with international organisations like the IMF, the World Bank and others to make sure that we can mobilise funds in support, so Ukraine can pay the social expenditures that are needed in the short term, in the mid-term, and in the long term. It is also very important to start as soon as possible the programme of rebuilding the country. I can assure you that the EU will be on your side to rebuild your country…” Michel said at the press conference following his meeting with President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv.

EU €70m fine to Poland

The European Commission has sent Poland notice to pay some 70 million euros in fines for failing to reverse an illegal disciplinary regime for judges, a spokesman said, an escalation in a row between Warsaw and the European Union.

The case is one of many disputes between the EU and Poland’s ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party, which came to power in 2015 and has since faced accusations of eroding democratic freedoms.

Last October the top EU court fined Warsaw for failing to immediately halt the work of the Polish Supreme Court’s Disciplinary Chamber pending a final verdict on the scheme.

The European Union is set to demand that Poland pay around €70 million of fines in the coming weeks for failing to scrap a contentious system for disciplining judges according to Brussels think-tank experts.

The dispute is one of many battles pitting Poland against the EU, which accuses the nationalist government in Warsaw of backsliding on democratic standards, including the independence of the judiciary. Warsaw denies the charge.

“I regret that the situation of the rule of law in Poland shows no signs of improvement and judges continue to be under pressure. We will continue to do our duty to defend the rule of law and judicial independence,” said Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Values and Transparency.

Separately, a spokesman for the Commission told reporters that the Brussels-based executive had received Poland’s latest explanation in the dispute, adding: “The EU has ways to ensure payment of fines due from Poland.”

January 11 was the deadline for Warsaw to tell the Commission when and how it would dismantle the Disciplinary Chamber of Poland’s Supreme Court, which the EU’s top EU court had ordered suspended, or pay fines worth €1 million a day.

Should Poland’s response fail to satisfy the Commission, which enforces European law, a source in the EU executive said it would send an invoice to Warsaw, with a 45-day deadline to pay.

By then, the fine would amount to some €70 million, said a second Commission source, adding that the call for payment would be sent to Warsaw “very soon”.

Asked about the case, a deputy Polish justice minister last week accused the EU of making “illegal demands” and said Warsaw would not give in to “blackmail”.

The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party introduced the new policing system for judges in 2017 amid a sweeping overhaul of the judiciary widely denounced as undermining the independence of courts and judges.

The Polish judges’ association Iustitia, which accuses PiS of degrading the courts, said the Disciplinary Chamber had suspended six judges so far for challenging government policies, and that two more were awaiting a decision.

Of the six, two have been suspended for more than one year, their cases reassigned to other judges or started from scratch, including one for the murder of a child, Iustitia said.

Iustitia said more than 1,000 judges have been nominated since PiS party changed the law to allow judges to be appointed by government officials instead by other judges to staff judicial panels.

In case Poland continues to refuse to pay for failing to obey the order of the Luxembourg-based European Court of Justice (ECJ) – the decisions of which are binding for all member states – the Commission would eventually deduct the total due from EU funds earmarked for Warsaw.

However, the timetable is unclear while the other EU countries have so far either implemented measures prescribed by the European Court of Justice or paid promptly on their own for failing to do so.

A lack of precedent or detailed EU rules allows procedural delays and political disputes over the issue, which has already harmed Poland’s reputation with the EU.

“I regret that the situation of the rule of law in Poland shows no signs of improvement and judges continue to be under pressure. We will continue to do our duty to defend the rule of law and judicial independence,” said Věra Jourová, EU Commissioner for Values and Transparency.

Schuman Declaration: Open letter

Brussels 22.12.2021 David Heilbron Price OPEN LETTER to the European Commission on the Europe’s key Democracy Treaty that Commission Secretariat-General refuses to publish.

“The Commission’s Secretariat General is refusing to follow the Commission’s instructions to publish two key legal documents on European Democracy, a treaty and the full text of the Schuman Declaration. The mealy-mouthed reply contradicts the decision of Commission Vice President Dubravka Šuica.
Who is in charge?

“On 19 April at the launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe, Vice President Šuica and representatives of the European Parliament and Council Presidency agreed to publish the key treaty on European Democracy.

“For decades the Commission has not published this Charter of the Community. Hence the ‘Democratic Deficit’, Brexit and revolt against the Brussels version of the Rule of Law.
I wrote two letters to President Ursula von der Leyen about the need for publication and public discussion.
No action.

“Despite the introduction of a Complaint to the European Ombudsman in June, the Commission continues to refuse to publish these documents for public discussion.

“I asked when the legal documents will be published. The Secretariat General replied in curious terms. The treaty called the Charter of the Community by Schuman and others was a mere ‘statement’ and for some unspecified reason should not be published regardless of what the Commission, Parliament and Council had pledged. Same for the full Schuman Declaration.
By what law are statements, declarations and treaties on Europe’s democracy not to be published?

“Who is in charge? The people or a technocracy? Don’t the people have a right to know the contents of treaties on Democracy and even statements? Why have these legal documents been buried for decades?

“Here is my analysis given to Eric Mamer, Commission Spokesman, Vice President Suica, Guy Verhofstadt MEP, and the incoming French Presidency.

Thank you, Eric [Mamer – European Commission Chief Spokesperson], for your quick reply on the question on the Future of Europe Conference and publishing the FULL text of the Schuman Declaration and the Charter of the Community in the Treaty of Paris.
I learned today that the Secretariat General had sent the copy of the letter destined for me to the European Ombudsman! I have since obtained a copy and made a written reply to it to the Ombudsman’s office.

Given the upcoming French presidency, I am surprised that the Commission does not seem willing to re-publish Europe’s founding documents:

– the full text of the Schuman Declaration and
– the Charter of the Community, (Declaration commune) a key part of the Treaty of Paris, 18 April 1951.
The official of the Secretariat General gives her opinion of the two documents, the exordium of the Schuman Declaration (l’exorde as Schuman called it) and the Charter of the Community treaty. She then implies they are not to be published on Commission website anywhere!

This is contrary to common sense and the Commission’s responsibility as Guardian of the Treaties.

“It is also contrary to good administration. For example, the Commission originally published full text of the Schuman Declaration in French on its site. Then it stopped publishing it. Then a number of people complained to the Ombudsman. After the intervention of the Ombudsman, the Commission promised to publish it in all languages. But it didn’t! Not even in French.

“It is contrary to the joint pledge of three EU institutions. The joint pledge to publish them was made by Commission vice president Suica, Guy Verhofstadt MEP and the Council Portuguese Presidency at the launch of the Conference on the Future of Europe, in the press room on 19 April 2021. This French initiative of President Macron was aimed at replying to public concerns about the Democratic Deficit, Brexit and Rule of Law issues. The joint pledge of the three EU institutions was made to inform citizens of the foundational documents of European democracy and how the public and organised civil society should work using these documents.

“The official seems also to have missed the whole point of my request to President von der Leyen. She gives no reason why the Commission should not publish the legal documents about Europe’s democratic foundation. My question was not a Why? but a When?.

“I have therefore written to the European Ombudsman pointing out that the Commission has so far refused to re-publish these foundational documents. It has failed its commitments to the citizens on the Conference on the Future of Europe. It has failed its representative obligations to democracy in general. I will also copy this letter to the Ombudsman.

“I appreciate your help in this matter, Eric [Mamer]. If you can determine when the Commission will in fact publish these documents I would be grateful to know”.

Source: https://eurdemocracy.blogspot.com/

The Schuman Declaration was presented by French foreign minister Robert Schuman on 9 May 1950. It proposed the creation of a European Coal and Steel Community, whose members would pool coal and steel production.

The ECSC (founding members: France, West Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) was the first of a series of supranational European institutions that would ultimately become today’s “European Union”.

Commissioner Schinas fight against antisemitism

Strasbourg 06.10.2021 “I am not breaking any news when I say that antisemitism and Holocaust are a stain in Europe’s history. It is the darkest chapter in our history book. Other than the historical reasons, there is an increasing and worrying tendency of anti-Semitic attacks and sentiments across the EU” said the Commissioner Margaritis Schinas, coordinating the Commission’s work on a New Pact on Migration and Asylum, while addressing press in European Parliament, Strasbourg.

“Two years ago, on 9 October 2019, a gunman tried to enter the synagogue in Halle, Germany, during the Jewish holiday of Yom Kippur – their holiest day of the year. After failing to breach the security door to the building – with 51 people inside at the time – he opened fire in the streets, fatally shooting two of our fellow citizens.

“It was not the only attack. We had previous attacks in Paris, Copenhagen, and in Brussels in the Jewish Museum.

“Antisemitism continues not only to be a burden of the past, but also a present, dreadful threat in today’s Europe.

“The Commission vowed at that moment to act. And today’s strategy is the first ever of its kind to deliver a clear commitment and comprehensive response in our fight against antisemitism.

“Last year marked the 75th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, where I represented the Commission together with Vice-President Věra Jourová.

“One of the things we took away from this anniversary is that we have now: fewer and fewer survivors remaining amongst us. We cannot have the people who went through these horrors to share their first-hand accounts of the Holocaust.

“I am myself native of the city of Thessaloniki, where I grew up. It was “madre de Israel”, which was the biggest Jewish community in Europe with over 50,000 Sephardic Jews that were all murdered by Nazi troops, most of them in Auschwitz by the way.

“Preserving their legacy, ensuring that their stories remain alive and are accurately retold, finding new forms of remembrance is a responsibility that our generation now has to live up to – and a key component of this strategy.

“We also saw during the Covid-19 pandemic and successive confinements a resurgence of centuries-old conspiracy myths fuelling new forms of antisemitism online and an explosion of antisemitic online content: only in French language we have a seven-fold increase in antisemitic postings on social media accounts, and over a thirteen-fold increase in German language accounts.
“Beyond the online realities, our own research, mainly through Eurobarometer and the EU Fundamental Rights Agency, shows even more worrying trends with nine out of ten Jews considering that antisemitism has increased in their country.

“Very worryingly 38% have considered emigrating because they do not feel safe as Jews in today’s European Union. All these are factors, elements and root causes that compel us to act. What we are putting today on the table in the Strategy is not only a reactive and protective shield for our Jewish communities, but it is also very proactive approach that would allow Jewish life to thrive in our societies. So it is not a defensive approach but very proactive approach to foster Jewish life in the EU.

“This response is structured around three pillars:
– Preventing and combating
– Protecting and fostering
– Educating and researching.
Let me take you very briefly into these three families of issues. I will only focus on the new things of interest.

On preventing and combating all forms of antisemitism: We aim to establish a Europe-wide network of trusted flaggers and fact-checkers, including Jewish organisations, so that we can step up the removal of illegal online hate speech and counter these narratives with effective rebuttals.

We will also cooperate with industry and IT companies to prevent the illegal displaying and selling of Nazi-related symbols, memorabilia and literature online.

On the second leg, on protecting and fostering Jewish life: I think the first priority there is the security of the Jewish communities. I do not want to see synagogues in Europe being guarded by police. We all know that most Jewish communities and civil society organisations have had to assume disproportionately themselves the costs of their own security. We are determined to assume this as a major public service initiative. We will work with Member States to improve that and will support through increased EU funding for projects aiming to better protect public spaces and places of worship. The next call for proposals will be published next year for an amount to 24 million euros.

We also want not only to protect, but to allow Jewish life to flourish as part of an inclusive and diverse EU. Despite the long-standing presence of Jews in Europe, people have remarkable little knowledge of Jewish life, traditions and Judaism. So we want to work closely with the Jewish communities to safeguard Jewish heritage, raise awareness and increase mutual understanding around Jewish life.

Finally, on educating, researching and the holocaust remembrance, which is the third key component of the strategy, we will support the training of educational professionals and policy makers on “addressing antisemitism through education. We will work much closer together with UNESCO and the OSCE to make this possible.

“We are also setting up a new network of Young European Ambassadors to promote Holocaust remembrance.

“We will support, this is another new idea, the EU funding to create a network of places “Where the Holocaust happened” in Europe. I am not referring only to the extermination camps but also to often unknown Jewish heritage sites, hiding places, or deportation points that are all over Europe and that our societies need to know of. Our aim would be to allow school students, practitioners and the general public to trace the continuity of Jewish presence in Europe over the centuries – facilitating visits, online and interactive learning.

“We also intend to invest significantly in research to fully understand contemporary antisemitism and the impact it has on Jewish life today. We have already supported the creation of the European Holocaust Research Infrastructure with 25 million euros since 2010 but now we will propose the creation of a European research hub on contemporary antisemitism and Jewish life to strengthen multidisciplinary research across the EU.

“Finally, the EU will not be alone in this effort. We shall reaffirm our ambition to take the lead in the global fight against antisemitism, by stepping up our external action with international community, UN agencies, an partners across the world

“We will do that by supporting actions aimed at combating antisemitism worldwide and our EU external funds will not be misallocated to activities that incite hatred and violence, including against Jewish people.

“We want to reach out to all citizens. Antisemitism is not a problem of the Jews, but of the problem of the antisemites.

Fighting it is a responsibility for all of us.

“I want to be very clear, antisemitism is incompatible with everything that the European Union stands for. It is incompatible with human rights, with our values and with our way of life. In this strategy today, we push for a commitment to combat it in all its forms and to ensure a future for Jewish life in Europe.

“We owe it to those who perished in the Holocaust, we owe it to the survivors and we owe it also to the future generations.

“For Jewish citizens, Europe was a place their parents and grandparents had to flee. It is our duty to ensure that for their children and grandchildren it is a place where they are proud to belong”.

“I congratulate the European Union for presenting the comprehensive strategy for combating anti-Semitism and strengthening Jewish life in Europe.
This decision reflects a commitment not only to tackling the phenomenon of ugly anti-Semitism, but also to the safety of Jewish communities” wrote Minister of Foreign Affairs of Israel Jair Lapid on his Twitter micro blog, reacting upon the announcement of the European Commission.

EIB: €10bn AI investment gap

Brussels 01.05.2021 New EIB report: €10 billion investment gap in artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies is holding back the European Union.
Annual shortfall of up to €10 billion in investments to keep the European Union in the global artificial intelligence and blockchain. The European Union only accounts for 7% of annual equity investments in both technologies, while the United States and China together account for 80%. However, the European Union excels in research related to both technologies and has a large pool of digital talent to build on.

Today, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Commission published a new study on the state of play in artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies in the European Union: “Artificial intelligence, blockchain and the future of Europe: How disruptive technologies create opportunities for a green and digital economy.” The study was produced by the EIB’s Innovation Finance Advisory team in close collaboration with DG CONNECT under the InnovFin programme – a joint EIB and European Commission initiative to support Europe’s innovators.
Artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies have the potential to revolutionise the way we work, travel, relax, and organise our societies and day-to-day lives. Already today, they are improving our world: artificial intelligence was crucial in speeding up the development and production of COVID-19 vaccines, while blockchain has the potential to not only disrupt the financial system, but also help us track and report greenhouse gas emissions better, optimise commercial transport and create genuine data privacy protection. The further development of both technologies – guided by ethical and sustainability principles – has the potential to create new pathways for our growth, driving technological solutions to make our societies truly digital and greener, and ultimately keep the planet habitable.

The report launched today shows that in comparison to major global competitors, the European Union is falling behind in developing and deploying artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies. To catch up, however, the European Union can build on its leading role in high-quality research and its vast pool of digital talent.

“The real added-value of artificial intelligence and blockchain still lies ahead of us – in industrial, business and public applications. This is where Europe can catch up and even take the lead,” said EIB Vice-President Teresa Czerwińska, who is responsible for the EIB’s innovation investments. ”At the same time, we need to make sure that the development of these technologies is focused and respects our European values. We need to increase our joint efforts. To make this happen, our study shows that amongst other things, we need to invest more and faster, especially in later-stage startups. With the EIB Group, EU countries have the ideal instrument at hand to boost and scale up the development of data-driven solutions, bring excellence in research to the market and help build a greener, smarter society and thus a stronger Europe.

“AI and blockchain technologies are critical for fostering innovations, competitiveness, and sustainable economic growth. They offer unprecedented opportunities as key enablers of the digital and green transformation. It is thus essential to boost investments in both the development and adoption of these breakthrough technologies in Europe,” said Roberto Viola, Director General of DG CONNECT ,Directorate General of Communication, Networks, Content and Technology, at the European Commission.

Is the European Union keeping up in the global artificial intelligence and blockchain race?

The study shows that the highest number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in artificial intelligence and blockchain can be found in the United States (2 995), followed by China (1 418) and the EU27 (1 232). The United Kingdom is another notable player (495). Within the EU27, the highest number of companies is located in Germany and Austria, followed by southern Europe, France and central, eastern and south-eastern Europe (EU13).
For available financing, it already seems to be a two-horse race between the United States and China: together they account for over 80% of the €25 billion in annual equity invested in artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies, while the EU27 only accounts for 7% of this total, investing around €1.75 billion per year. Overall, according to the study, the estimated investment gap in artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies in Europe could be as much as €10 billion annually.

EU-Switzerland talks in stalemate

Brussels 25.04.2021 Talks on future ties between Switzerland and the European Union have once again hit a dead end in April, with Swiss President Guy Parmelin saying that “substantial differences” remain between the two parties, after talks with the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. (Image above: Bern, Switzerland).

Parmelin and von der Leyen held much-anticipated discussions in Brussels on Friday, April 23, in the hope of breaking a negotiating stalemate over an overarching framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU.

Switzerland has demanded that state aid, labour rules and citizens’ rights are removed from a draft agreement that was sketched in 2018, however the EU has refused.

Speaking at a press conference after the meeting Parmelin said that Switzerland could not sign the deal as it is but added that the two sides would remain in contact.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU, operating within a set of bilateral agreements. Currently both sides are trying to finalise an institutional “framework agreement” aimed at simplifying future ties between the two parties.

During his meeting with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the Confederation, Guy Parmelin have opted for a diplomatic approach: “We have made progress on certain points. Even though our positions remain at times very distant from those of the EU, we have decided to stay in touch. ”

While commenting on the issue the spokesperson of the Commission Eric Mamer, said that “the text of 2018 is the right one and the one we need”, clearly indicating that it could not be changed further, but the “door to the EU will always remain open” for Switzerland.

Trade Commissioner Hogan resigns

“This evening I have tendered my resignation as EU Trade Commissioner to the President of the EU Commission, Dr Ursula von der Leyen”, reads the letter of resignation of Phil Hogan, the Irish politician, serving as the EU Trade Commissioner. The decision came amid controversy over breakig the strick sanitary rules during his visit to Ireland. He has been criticised for participating in a gala dinner, without considering the COVID-19 sanitariy measures, attending an event organised for 82 people celebrating golf club anniversary, which caused indignation of his compatriots.

“It was becoming increasingly clear that the controversy concerning my recent visit to Ireland was becoming a distraction from my work as an EU Commissioner and would undermine my work in the key months ahead.

“I deeply regret that my trip to Ireland – the country that I have been so proud to represent as a public servant for most of my adult life – caused such concern, unease and upset. I have always tried to comply with all relevant COVID-19 Regulations in Ireland and had understood that I had met with all relevant public health Guidelines, particularly following confirmation of a negative COVID-19 test. I reiterate my heartfelt apology to the Irish people for the mistakes I made during my visit. The Irish people have made incredible efforts to contain the coronavirus, and the European Commission will continue to support you, and all EU Member States, in defeating this terrible pandemic.

“Let me say from the heart that I fully appreciate and recognise the challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic to our society and the global economy. As European Trade Commissioner, I have been at the frontline of the European Union’s response to the crisis.

“I recognise and appreciate the devastating impact of Covid-19 on individuals and families, and I fully understand their sense of hurt and anger when they feel that those in public service do not meet the standards expected of them. It is important to state that I did not break any law. As a public representative I should have been more rigorous in my adherence to the Covid regulations.

“It has been the honour of my life to serve as European Commissioner, first in Agriculture and Rural Development and then in Trade. I believe the project of European Union is our shared continent’s crowning achievement: a force for peace and prosperity the likes of which the world has never seen. I also believe that Ireland’s destiny is deeply European, and that our small, proud, open nation will continue to play an inspiring and proactive role at the heart of the EU.

“I made a lifelong commitment to public service, throughout the course of my almost 40-year political career, as a member of the Local Authority, Oireachtas, Minister and two terms as European Commissioner .I am proud of my record and achievements as European Commissioner and I hope history will judge them favourably, when the final assessment is made.

“I remain convinced that at a time when the global economy faces significant challenges and turbulences, the importance of the EU as a global leader remains paramount. It has been my priority as EU Trade Commissioner to strengthen this global leadership role in trade, and to boost Europe’s capacity to protect itself from unfair trading practices. The EU must remain at the heart of the multilateral system of open, fair and rules-based trade, and continue pursuing a positive reform agenda.

“Brexit also represents a significant challenge for the EU and for Ireland in particular for which I have been centrally involved from the outset. I hope that the EU Member States, with Ireland at their vanguard, and the UK, can overcome their differences and work together to reach a fair, mutually beneficial and sustainable trade deal. EU and UK citizens and businesses deserve nothing less.

“I would like to thank President von der Leyen, my fellow Commissioners, Council members and MEPs for their support and encouragement since my appointment as EU Trade Commissioner. I would also like to thank my Cabinet, team and family for their support”.

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