The new head of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen named her 27-strong team on September 10, attributing to Margrethe Vestager (Denmark) the EU Competition Commissioner portfolio, and appointing an Irishman in charge of settling future trade relations with the UK.
The team of Ursula von der Leyen will take office on November 1, assuming they receive the approval from the European Parliament.
Von der Leyen team is closer to gender balance with 13 women and 14 men, which is an improvement vis-à-vis dominated by men Juncker‘s Commission.
Italian Interior Minister Matteo Salvini has agreed to let ashore 27 migrants from Mediterranean NGO rescue ship Open Arms, all of them claim that they are “unaccompanied teenagers”.
Those who claim they are minors were allowed to disembark on the Italian island of Lampedusa after more than sixteen days at sea, and considerable international pressure, however so far only six EU state expressed readiness to welcome some of the passengers on the vessel navigating under Spanish flag.
At present there are more than 500 million Africans without birth certificate or/and passport, according to the World Bank, subsequently their age can be estimated only approximately through medical tests in cases it is requested by prosecution. Among those without birth certificate 494 million are in sub-Saharan Africa.
Reportedly more than 100 migrants remain on board the Spanish rescue ship Open Arms, and the NGO insists on Lampedusa (Italy) landing.
The European Commission is willing to discuss Brexit with the UK over the coming weeks, a spokeswoman said on August 6. However the decision of keeping intact the negotiated with Theresa May government deal remains unchanged. The Commission expressed readiness to add “words” to it in forms of declarations.
The EU executives have been hoping to avoid a “no-deal” scenario, the bloc is prepared for such an outcome as well.
“The Commission does remain available over the coming weeks should the United Kingdom wish to hold talks and clarify its position in more detail, whether by phone or in person,” the spokeswoman said during regular Midday briefing.
Italy Interior Minister Matteo Salvini would soon be giving the go-ahead to disembarking over 100 rescued migrants still on board the Gregoretti coast guard vessel, according to his Facebook page announcement.
The boat has been in the Augusta port since July 27.
Salvini made it clear that he would not let them disembark until an agreement for their distribution would be reached among the EU member-states.
“In the coming hours I will authorise the disembarking because we are sure that the migrants will not be a burden on Italian citizens,” he said, explaining that “the problem has been resolved”.
“Germany, France, Ireland, Luxembourg, and Portugal will take them in, alongside several Italian facilities” run by the Catholic church.
The Siracusa prosecutor’s office opened an investigation into the case of the ship and the captain was reportedly questioned.
“Italy cannot bear the arrival of more migrants. We have done our part and those migrants must go to Europe. However, our soldiers on that ship should not be treated like pirates,” Labor and Industry Minister and 5-Star Movement (M5S) leader Luigi Di Maio said. “Full respect” should be shown, insisted, “for the forces of order, full respect for the police and full respect for our soldiers.”
The European Commission performed a mediator role, collecting information from member-states willing to accept the migrants. After the agreement has been reached 115 adults and 16 unaccompanied minors were allowed to disembark.
On July 10 Ursula von der Leyen, the ultimate candidate for the European Commission presidency, had an exchange of views with MEPs in the European Parliament Brussels, a crucial test before the vote in Strasbourg Plenary next week.
To succeed Jean-Claude Juncker on November 1, this close associate of Chancellor Angela Merkel, a member of the conservatives party CDU, must convince the MEPs she is right candidate to become Prime minister of Europe replacing her unfortunate predecessor leading candidate of European Peoples party EPP Manfred Weber.
Von der Leyen must obtain an absolute majority in Parliament, winning 374 votes (given the absence of three elected Catalan). However, outcome is uncertain as the EU leaders appointed it on 2 July at a three-day crisis European summit, a surprise candidates presented instead of politicians put forward by parties. However rejection of her candidacy will create a protracted political crisis, unlikely scenario to be chosen by MEPs as an option in a power wrestling between EU institutions.
After the hearing the candidate made a statement for press vowing to answer the citizens needs with more Europe in providing jobs, perspective, stability and security. She also promised to insure minimum salary in every member-state, support of SME in transition period for Climate Action, putting the issue on the top of her priorities. Last but not least was the international engagement of the EU across globe, which she presumed world expects from EU.
“Delighted to welcome von der Leyen with open arms to the European Commission today. A true European, we are on the same page when it comes to speaking up for interests” wrote incumbent president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker in his Twitter micro blog.
Von der Leyen appeared as a “surprise” candidate, after leading candidate Manfred Weber was rejected by the Eastern European member-states. Her candidacy for the Commission president was endorsed by all EU leaders apart from German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who abstained because her domestic coalition partners, the Social Democrats (SPD), refused to support her candidacy.
If endorsed by the European Parliament, von der Leyen would become the first woman to ascend the European Union’s top post.
There was a word that Juncker was not impressed by choice of Martin Weber for top job, however he never opposed him publicly.
The UK complained about the European Union (EU) calling Gibraltar a “colony” in a piece of draft legislation, highlighting how Brussels institutions bend to Madrid in its centuries-long claim of the Rock.
According to the diplomatic sources Britain’s ambassador to the EU had objected to the wording of the text, defining the 33,000 inhabitants of Gibraltar in a different category from UK and it also spelled out Spain’s claim to sovereignty over The Rock at the United Nations.
“Gibraltar is a colony of the British Crown. There is a controversy between Spain and the United Kingdom concerning the sovereignty over Gibraltar“, the EU text reads.
Downing street 10 spokesman insisted Gibraltar was not a “colony”. The port was ceded to Britain by Spain in 1713 as a part of “Utrecht Treaty”, was a “crown colony” when Britain joined the European bloc in 1973 but London assessed it as a “British overseas territory” in 2002.
“Gibraltar is not a colony and it is completely inappropriate to describe in this way,” a British spokesperson said. “Gibraltar is a full part of the UK family.”
There were two referendums in Gibraltar, both of them strongly indicated that the inhabitant of The Rock don’t agree to any changes, and are interested to preserve the status quo.