Tag Archives: European Commission

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”.

Leyen presents €750bn EU Recovery Plan

Today, the European Commission has put forward its proposal for a major recovery plan. To ensure the recovery is sustainable, even, inclusive and fair for all Member States, the European Commission is proposing to create a new recovery instrument, Next Generation EU, embedded within a powerful, modern and revamped long-term EU budget. The Commission has also unveiled its adjusted Work Programme for 2020, which will prioritise the actions needed to propel Europe’s recovery and resilience.

“…Things we take for granted are being questioned. There is the Single Market that needs to recover. There is the playing field that needs to be made even again. And there are four freedoms that need to be fully restored. The crisis has huge externalities and spillovers across countries. None of that can be fixed by any single country alone. A bankrupt company in one Member State, is a reliable supplier gone for a business in another. A struggling economy in one part of Europe, weakens a strong economy in another part” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

The coronavirus has shaken Europe and the world to its core, testing healthcare and welfare systems, our societies and economies and our way of living and working together. To protect lives and livelihoods, repair the Single Market, as well as to build a lasting and prosperous recovery, the European Commission is proposing to harness the full potential of the EU budget. Next Generation EU of €750 billion as well as targeted reinforcements to the long-term EU budget for 2021-2027 will bring the total financial firepower of the EU budget to €1.85 trillion.

The recovery plan turns the immense challenge we face into an opportunity, not only by supporting the recovery but also by investing in our future: the European Green Deal and digitalization will boost jobs and growth, the resilience of our societies and the health of our environment. This is Europe’s moment. Our willingness to act must live up to the challenges we are all facing. With Next Generation EU we are providing an ambitious answer” von der Leyen said.

Our common budget is at the heart of Europe’s recovery plan. The additional firepower of Next Generation EU and the reinforced multiannual financial framework will give us the power of solidarity to support Member States and the economy. Together, Europe will arise more competitive, resilient and sovereign” Commissioner Johannes Hahn, in charge of the EU budget said.

The recovery will need strong policy direction. The adapted Work Programme, reflecting the new reality, shows that we will focus all our actions on overcoming the crisis, jumpstarting our economy and putting the European Union firmly on a resilient, sustainable and fair recovery path. It will help us rebound stronger” vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, in charge of interinstitutional relations and foresight, said.

Complementing national efforts, the EU budget is uniquely placed to power a fair socio economic recovery, repair and revitalise the Single Market, to guarantee a level playing field, and support the urgent investments, in particular in the green and digital transitions, which hold the key to Europe’s future prosperity and resilience.

Next Generation EU will raise money by temporarily lifting the own resources ceiling to 2.00% of EU Gross National Income, allowing the Commission to use its strong credit rating to borrow €750 billion on the financial markets. This additional funding will be channelled through EU programmes and repaid over a long period of time throughout future EU budgets – not before 2028 and not after 2058. To help do this in a fair and shared way, the Commission proposes a number of new own resources. In addition, in order to make funds available as soon as possible to respond to the most pressing needs, the Commission proposes to amend the current multiannual financial framework 2014-2020 to make an additional €11.5 billion in funding available already in 2020.

Europe is in a unique position to be able to invest in a collective recovery and a common future. In our Union, people, business and economies depend and rely on each other. In our Union, cohesion, convergence and investment are good for all.
And in our Union, we know that the boldest measures truly are the safest for our future.
This is why the Commission is today proposing a new recovery instrument, called Next Generation EU – worth EUR 750 billion” von der Leyen
announced.
It will sit on top of a revamped long-term EU budget of EUR 1.1 trillion.
Next Generation EU – together with the core MFF – sums up to EUR 1.85 trillion in today’s proposals. It goes alongside the three safety nets of EUR 540 billion in loans, already agreed by Parliament and Council. In sum, this would bring our recovery effort to a total of EUR 2.4 trillion

Kyriakides Commissioner on «Farm to Fork»

“The transformation of our food production system has been at the top of our agenda since the President’s political guidelines in July” said Commissioner Stella Kyriakides at the press conference on the adoption of the Biodiversity Strategy and the Farm to Fork Strategy, which took place on May 20 in Brussels. #Farm2Fork

“But the pandemic has brought into sharper focus the importance of a resilient food system and food security, given the strong links between our health, ecosystems and supply chains.This is just the latest reminder of many: annual droughts, floods, forest fires and new pests, are alarm bells that our food system must become more sustainable and resilient.

“Today we are presenting our vision to transform the way we produce, distribute and consume our food, and to improve our health and our environment.At a time of deep societal and economic crisis, Farm to Fork and Biodiversity are the strongest sign of commitment from us to the Green Deal and sustainability agenda.

“Why is this Strategy so special? First, because it is the first time in the history of EU food policy that we propose a comprehensive agenda for all stages of food production – but looking particularly from the point of view of the consumer and the producer, and putting them at the centre of our focus.

For this reason – second – sustainability becomes a growth strategy: this is what our citizens increasingly demand – nutritious food which is healthy and is produced in a way which is respectful towards our planet. That is why this is also a recovery strategy both for the short and the long term.

Third, it is a health and prevention strategy against further crises. Reversing the rise in obesity rates and change of consumption patterns across the EU is critical – for the health of our citizens and continent but also for our resilience to pandemics.

Food systems are key drivers of climate change and environmental degradation. In the EU, agriculture is responsible for 10.3% of the greenhouse gas emissions. “The Farm to Fork Strategy is thus crucial for delivering the European Green Deal. That is why sustainability is a growth strategy.

“It is also an opportunity for Europe’s farmers, fishermen and women and food producers to become global leaders in sustainability and guarantee the future of the EU food chain.First movers will have the competitive advantage, globally.

“Today we present no less than 27 concrete actions to transform our food system. We will take action to protect our environment by curbing the use and risk of pesticides in agriculture by 50%, and also reduce the use of fertilisers by at least 20%. We will revise EU legislation on the sustainable use of pesticides and promote alternative ways of protecting harvests from pests and diseases.

“We will also take action to increase the size of EU’s agricultural land dedicated to organic farming to at least 25%.We will also reduce the use of antibiotics in farming and aquaculture by 50%. These ambitious targets need to be reached by 2030. We will also act to reduce food loss and waste, step up our fight against food fraud, and strengthen animal welfare rules.

“For our citizens, it is about making the healthy and sustainable choice the obvious choice. In Europe today, more than half of the population is overweight or obese.To provide clear information and empower consumers to make healthy, sustainable choices, we will propose harmonised mandatory front-of-pack nutrition labelling within 2 years. This vision is not only European – it is global. Through Farm to Fork, we embark on promoting a global transition to sustainable food systems through partnerships and “green alliances”.

“All transitions have a cost – but the cost of inaction would be even greater for all of us. The Common Agricultural Policy and Common Fisheries Policy will support our primary producers through new streams of funding and eco-schemes to implement sustainable practices.Because without prospering farmers, we will not ensure food security. Without a healthy planet, farmers will have nowhere to farm.

“I have always said that this is not the Commission’s Plan, this is Europe’s Plan.The Farm to Fork Strategy will ensure that, together, we will emerge with a more robust, secure, and sustainable food system. And more importantly, healthier citizens on a greener, more sustainable planet”.

Europe Day virtual celebrations

Europe Day is held every 9 May to mark the anniversary of the speech by French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman that led to the foundation of the European Union.

As we mark Europe Day, we remember how Europeans made history in 1950 and pay tribute to those who are making history today. In the context of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, 9 May 2020 represents an important opportunity to celebrate unity and solidarity in Europe.

In accordance with the tradiation the European Parliament organises events for visitors at its premises. As this is not possible due to the pandemic this year, Parliament and the other institutions have created a digital open day, bringing people together in this time of crisis by highlighting the sense of solidarity and emphasising what the EU is doing to help.

Among the highlights, Parliament President David Sassoli is scheduled to take part in a live debate on Saturday morning, with interpretation into various languages.

Other events include a Facebook live with Parliament Vice-Presidents Othmar Karas and Katarina Barley, video messages from the leaders of the political groups, a virtual visit to the plenary chamber in Brussels and a panel discussion on Schuman and his vision for Europe. The virtual visitor can also enjoy an online exhibition, featuring items from the Parliament’s archives.

Seventy years after the Schuman declaration, Europe is facing a crisis that makes EU solidarity more important than ever.

EU allocates €3.3bn to Western Balkans

Ahead of the 6 May meeting between the EU and the region, the European Union reinforces its support to the Western Balkans to address the coronavirus crisis.

As announced on April 29, the European Commission and the European Investment Bank will mobilise over €3.3 billion to benefit the citizens of the Western Balkans. This support will continue addressing the immediate health and resulting humanitarian needs of the COVID-19 pandemic and will help with the social and economic recovery of the region.

The EU and the Western Balkans are facing this crisis together. Given their European perspective, the EU has included the Western Balkans in several initiatives and instruments reserved for EU Member States. These include the joint procurement of medical equipment, exempting the region from the EU’s export authorisation scheme for personal protective equipment and the supply by the EU of testing material. The EU has also ensured the fast flow of essential goods across land borders through “green lanes”. The region is also associated to the work of relevant EU health bodies as well as to the research and innovation effort.

With today’s package, the EU sent another strong and clear signal that it will continue to support the Western Balkans partners.

This support also extends to the reforms needed to advance on the EU path, considering that the post-COVID-19 recovery will only work effectively if the countries keep delivering on their commitments related to the EU accession. In this context, Western Balkans partners are encouraged to strongly focus on the reforms related to rule of law, the functioning of democratic institutions and public administration.

Once the immediate COVID-19 crisis is over, an Economic and Investment Plan for the region will be put forward later this year to support long-term recovery, economic growth and reforms required to move forward on the EU path. (Image North Macedonia, archive)

Von der Leyen Commission start

“Starting today, we are the guardians of the Treaties, the custodians of the Lisbon spirit. I feel this responsibility. It is a responsibility towards our predecessors, our founding fathers and mothers, and all that they have achieved” said new president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen at inauguration event in Museum of European History Brussels on December 1.

“But it is also a responsibility towards our children. The responsibility to leave them a Union that is stronger than the one we have inherited.

https://twitter.com/vonderleyen/status/1201158580361203713?s=21

“This place (the House of European history) shows the road that has led us here. It shows the treasure that we have inherited. A continent in peace. The liberation from tyranny. A single market with unprecedented economic opportunities. Greater rights and liberties than in any other place in the world.

“It is our duty to preserve this treasure. For me, this is almost personal. You know that my father was there at the very beginning of this European adventure – I might even be in some of the pictures that we see here today. The history of the European project for me is also family history.

“But Europe is not just a treasure we inherit. Europe is a promise. Europe is future. Europe is something that we all have to build – brick by brick, day by day.

“Ten years ago, our predecessors were still discussing whether Europe should have a flag or an anthem. But in these ten years, millions of people have taken to the streets waving the European flag, our flag. And millions have been inspired and moved by the Ode to Joy, our European anthem.

“Europe is changing fast. Our responsibility is to accompany such change. To leave no one behind. To be a champion for our fellow Europeans – with their dreams and aspirations.

The people of Europe have the strength to look towards the future with confidence.

https://twitter.com/vonderleyen/status/1201159832105111552?s=21

New Commissioners-designate awaiting hearing

Commissioners-designate Olivér Várhelyi (Hungary), Adina-Ioana Vălean (Romania) and Thierry Breton (France) will receive the audition in Parliament on November 14 in Brussels. (Image above: illustration).

Each candidate commissioner is invited to a live-streamed, three-hour hearing in front of the committee or committees responsible for their proposed portfolio.

The procedure will take place before the European Parliament votes the new European Commission headed by Ursula von der Leyen into office, parliamentary committees assess the suitability of all commissioners-designate.

Parliament’s legal affairs committee identified conflicts of interests with two earlier candidates – László Trócsányi (Hungary) and Rovana Plumb (Romania) – while Sylvie Goulard (France) did not receive the support of the internal market and industry committees for the post of internal market commissioner. As a result, the three candidates had to be withdrawn and new candidates were proposed.

UK obligation to assign EU Commissioner

According to existing. EU Treaties the UK has an obligation to assign a candidate for a Commissioner to join European Commission next mandate team. In case Britons are still members of the European Union after October 31, they have to align with their legal obligations, and join the team.

Britain will have to propose a candidate for a commissioner in the next European Commission if it still is a member of the European Union after October 31 next head of the institution Ursula von der Leyen said.

The outgoing EU executive of Jean-Claude Juncker is supposed to conclude the five-year term on October 31, although a delay is imminent because the new Commission is still missing commissioners from France, Hungary and Romania. 

Under the EU Treaty each of the 28 member-states has to delegate one commissioner. 

Ursula von der Leyen reminded the UK about the obligations the EU membership imposes on the UK government.

Westminster aims at one year Brexit delay

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson refused to negotiate further extension of Brexit deadline with the European Union, after he failed to win the support of Westminster for his Article 50 Agreement with the bloc, facing another delay caused by MP Oliver Letwin amendment. The MPs passed an amendment tabled by a cross-party group, led by Mr. Letwin by 322 votes to 306 – a majority of 16. The amendment says Parliament will withhold approval of the Prime minister’s deal until the withdrawal bill implementing Article 50 Agreement has been passed. In essence the #Letwin manoeuvre means winning time, shifting away the vote for endorsed in Brussels this week Brexit deal.

Voting down Prime Minister’s deal implies the request of a further postponement of abandoning the EU, the step Boris Johnson categorically denies, also pointing at the EU fatigue from the protracted debate on conditions of the departure.

MPs voted 322 to 306 in favour of a 26-word Letwin amendment that imposed an obligation on Prime Minister to ask the EU for a delay until the end of January 2020.

https://twitter.com/bbcpolitics/status/1185554708380839937?s=21

“And of course, the truth of it is this is all about getting a second referendum. That is what the Remainer forces in Parliament want. And the more time they buy, the more chance they’ve got of getting something like that passed. 

“So you know, we’ve got this odd situation that goes on and on and on. A Remain Parliament and a Leave country and it’s just the most awful situation.

“I feel in the absence of a general election, nothing is going to improve” said Member of the European Parliament, and the leader of Brexit party Nigel Farage in his comment to LBC TV after the vote.

The representative of the European Parliament at Brexit talks. Guy Verhofstadt wrote: “The @Europarl_EN’s Brexit Steering Group will consider the outcome of today’s vote for the Letwin amendment on Monday. Whatever happens next, the marches outside the Parliament show just how important a close EU – UK future relationship is”.

The EU spokesperson said the European Commission took a note of the vote supporting Letwin amendment. “It will be for the UK government to inform us about the next steps as soon as possible” she added.

https://twitter.com/eucopresident/status/1185628435554734080?s=21


The president of the European Council had a telephone
conversation with Prime Minister Johnson, and is awaiting an official letter, informing the EU about the situation in the Westminster.

Josep Borrell faces MEPs scrutiny

Anna van Densky from Brussels The MEPS of Foreign Affairs Committee questioned Josep Borrell, Spanish candidate for High Representative/Vice-President for foreign affairs and security policy.

Political groups’ coordinators from the committee will meet within 24 hours to assess the performance of Josep Borrell, candidate EU top diplomat job.

During his introductory speech  Borrell stressed his intention to engage in reforms in the Western Balkans, support democracy and the integrity of Ukraine, address the challenges in the southern neighbourhood, develop a new strategy towards Africa, work on political relations with Asia, step up cooperation with Latin America and reinstate transatlantic relations (US-EU). “The world has changed for the worse…There are few agreements, more vetoes”, he said.

MEPs enquired how he intends to reach consensus among member states on decisions regarding e.g. Russia or generally related to security and defence. “We need shared strategic culture and empathy to understand the different points of view”, he replied. MEPs also asked about the role the EU could play in creating global security, when non-proliferation agreements are being breached. They also raised the issue of protecting EU maritime interests worldwide.

Asked about Kosovo-Serbia negotiations, Borrell replied that negotiations have lasted too long and Europe has to engage in helping Kosovo and Serbia out of the deadlock. His first visit as High Representative/Vice-President would be to Pristina, Commissioner-designate announced.

MEPs also asked how he intends to achieve a more strategic and coherent union, as announced in the Mission letter of the Commission President Borrell said that the EU has tools for foreign policy, such as a powerful common trade policy or diplomatic power. “The EU has to learn to use the language of power”, he stressed.

« Older Entries