Tag Archives: European Commission

EPP Weber aims for EU agenda of change

Manfred Weber (Germany, EPP) backed by 79% of his party members, launches his campaign across the continent for a position of the president of the European Commission, the powerful executive branch of the European Union, the guardian of the treaties, also possessing powers to  propose laws and policies on its own initiative. Although there is no election for this particular position, but an appointment behind the closed doors of the Council, there is an obvious need to introduce Brussels politician to the broader European audiences.

Starting his European tour in Cyprus, the stronghold of the European People‘s party, Weber (46) promises to re-connect the European project with the citizens through attentive listening to them, and crystallizing broader frame programme for the five-year period mandate ahead of his appointment.

Representing young generation of the European politicians, Weber claims that the EU project’s success depends on clarity of the messages, which should replace the general slogans, filling them with the “concrete substance”, including taking a definite stand on existential for the EU27 issues as Turkey‘s accession. He also wishes similar clearly-shaped approach to the trade agreements: CETA, EU-Japan, and the others, which were in the lime-light of an intense public debate.

However it is the “democratisation” of Europe that is at heart of the project, Weber claims, eager to make key promises to Europeans while assuming the job, a gesture needed to restore the link between the citizens and the institutions. One of the mistakes of the past, Weber presumes, was insufficient investment in European youth, the deficiency he would address.

Although Weber underlined that he only started his campaign, he reiterated his loyalty to basic EPP framework, believing in Trans-Atlantic relations as one of the core policy for the EU security, especially now, when “it became cold outside Europe“. Nevertheless he criticized the European foreign policy lacking of ambition, letting the the others like US, Russia, or Turkey to take lead. “There should be more Europe in external affairs and defence, and the intentions should be lined with concrete initiatives, which are lacking nowadays”, – he said referring to the declarations of Macron-Merkel to organise the EU army, complementing NATO. Some of the projects could be delivered without delay, Weber assumes, pointing at cyber-defence, and drone brigade, – both costly high-tech projects, difficult to implement for small EU member-states. However he had no immediate answer to the decision-making mechanism in such a unit, suggesting it can be resolved in due time. The other matter to be reformed is unanimity in decision-making process in foreign policy and defence, shifting to qualified majority voting.

Weber underlined his sees his major political partners in Socialists, and Liberals, brushing off the perspective of co-operation with the European far-right: “I don’t want to listen Le Pen“, he said frankly. He also has cast doubt in success of new Liberal Macron-Rutte alliance, who have not so many issues in common.

However, as a contemporary politician Weber believes the technocratic position only is not good enough for the leader of the European Commission, offering an emotional pledge to defeat cancer. There should be a sufficient European funding to find a remedy, Weber believes, referring to his personal experience of losing his brother to cancer.

The initiative to launch a campaign across Europe for the position of the president of the European Commission is certainly innovative, however it might be also related to low profile of Manfred Weber, known as a leader of the EPP group in the European Parliament, who has punched above his weight being a Bavarian politician, without any relevant national or international experience.

The incumbent President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker is the longest-serving head of any national government in the EU, he led Luxembourg as Prime minister (1995-2013), and chaired Eurogroup for eight years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

EU celebrates Migrants Day

On the occasion of International Migrants Day on 18 December, the European Commission and the High Representative made the following statement:

“The history of humankind is a history of migration. For thousands of years people have migrated from one place to another, for a variety of reasons, and continue to do so: Today, there are 258 million international migrants worldwide.

“On International Migrants Day, the European Union reaffirms its enduring commitment to protect migrants’ human rights, to prevent perilous irregular journeys and ensure opportunities for legal and safe pathways instead.

“In order to do this, we are working with all our partners around the world – countries of origin, transit and destination and international organisations. Migration requires global, cooperative alliances: No country can address migration on its own – neither in Europe nor elsewhere in the world.

“This is the core message of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which will provide the global framework for improving migration management. It is by working together, in the spirit of shared responsibility, that we can jointly turn migration from a common challenge into a shared opportunity.

“The European Union’s comprehensive approach on migration is built in the same vein: seeking to address the drivers of irregular migration; fighting against smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings; ensure adequate protection for those in need, better manage Europe’s external borders, while enabling legal migration channels. For the benefit of all of us.”

At eve of the EU institutions celebration more than five thousand people came to the European Headquarters in Brussels  to protest against Global Compact for Migration, and imposition of migrants on local communities by the EU open-door policies.

 

Ukraine receives €500 million EU loan

This week the European Union will release a first tranche of the EU macro financial assistance to Ukraine, European Commission Vice-President for Euro  Valdis Dombrovskis wrote in his Twitter micro blog.

Today the EU disburses EUR 500 million of macro-financial assistance to Ukraine. The EU continues its strong engagement in Ukraine, and support for its people,” he wrote in his Twitter microblog on Tuesday.

In March 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal to provide an additional EUR 1 billion of MFA to Ukraine to cover the country’s external financing needs and support accelerated reform implementation. This proposal was adopted by the European Parliament and the Council on 4 July 2018.

Since the outbreak of the crisis in early 2014, the Commission has disbursed a total of EUR 2.8 billion in macro-financial assistance (MFA) through three consecutive programmes of low-interest loans.

 

EU-Swiss relations vector unchanged

The European Commission favorably received the results of the Swiss referendum on auto determination, the spokesperson said. He underlined that the vote brought clarity and indicated that Swiss will remain “reliable partner” in international relations, and those with the EU. (Image: climbing in Swiss Alps).

Swiss voters have rejected an initiative to give national laws precedence over international laws and treaties, according to results coming in from the plebiscite.

Data based on partial results indicated  two thirds of voters rejected the proposal  – 67% against and 33% in favour, national broadcaster SRF reported.

Critics of the imitative said the proposal would have damaged the country’s global standing, and status of an international player.
When it comes to our favorite themes, self-determination, sovereignty, immigration, we are alone against all. In this context, this defeat is not a failure,” explains the father of the initiative on self-determination, the lawyer and Zurich national councilor Hans-Ueli Vogt.

Contrary to the demographic pressure caused by immigration, which everyone feels every day on the train or in traffic jams on the highway, the safeguard of democracy is too abstract” – adds the president of the Swiss People’s Party (UDC), the Bernese Albert Rösti, lamenting the loss.

In 2014, the EU and Switzerland started negotiations on a common institutional framework. Such overarching “house rules” are necessary to ensure a “homogenous application of internal market law in both the EU and Switzerland” according to the European Commission. An institutional agreement would enable Switzerland to strengthen the partnership with the EU and deepen it further.

However,  in spite of the vote, favorable for the relations with the EU, there are just a few Swiss enthusiasts to engage with the bloc. Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, in charge of the framework deal negotiations with the EU, will meet trade union and business leaders this week in a highly  likely to be an unsuccessful bid to convince them to support the Swiss-EU deal, newspaper Sonntags Zeitung reported on the weekend.

Berlaymont-Rome budget crisis deepens

Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini responded to the European Commission’s decision to reject Italy‘s budget draft and request a new package within three weeks, assessing  it as an “attack” on the Italian economy.

The Commission regards the proposal, which suggests Italy running a deficit of 2.4% of GDP next year to help finance pledges for a basic income, a pension overhaul and a two-tier flat tax, is of high risk leading to a breach of the Stability and Growth Pact.

The government, however, says critics of the draft are failing to consider the positive effect the generous budget will have on a growth and, in the process, on bringing down the debt-to-GDP ratio. “We are here to improve the lives of the Italian people,” Salvini said to RTL radio when asked about Berlyamont‘s verdict. “It seems to me to be an attack based on prejudice”. “It’s an attack on the Italian economy because someone wants to buy our companies on the cheap. “If they keep giving slaps for no reason, I’ll start to want to give more money to the Italian people.

“All the budgets that have passed through Brussels in recent years have made the debt rise by 300 billion euros”, Salvini concluded.
He also added that the Commission could send a “dozen of letters” of criticism to Rome, but the budget still would not change.

AMENDED:

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said to Der Spiegel that “we will ask more questions in the coming days” on the Italian budget which the EC rejected earlier this week.
“But I will also meet Premier Conte in the next few weeks,” he continued.
“Dialogue continues,” said the boss of Berlaymont.

Tajani calls Commission to avoid offensive language

There are no “dictators” in Italy, European Parliament President Antonio Tajani pointed out, reacting upon European Economic Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici offensive comments, naming politicians in Italian government “little Mussolinis“.

I don’t share the words of Commissioner Moscovici,” Tajani said.
The European Commission must not use offensive language towards member States.”
As an Italian I say there are no dictators in our country“.

Deputy Premier Matteo Salvini said previously Moscovici should “wash his mouth out” after the remark Deputy Premier and Labour and Industry Minister Luigi Di Maio said the remarks were “intolerable“.

Moscovici said that the rise of European “populists” showed that “today there is a climate that very much resembles the 1930s. Certainly, we must not exaggerate, clearly there isn’t Hitler, perhaps little Mussolinis“.

EU-Italy relations on the rocks over illegal migrants flows

The European Commission has not responded to Italy’s threat to withhold funding to the bloc next year unless other member states accept migrants currently held on a ship moored in Sicily.

Alexander Winterstein, a spokesman for the European Commisssion, said that EU”operates on rules, not threats,” and urged all parties involved to “work constructively together to find a solution for the persons on board in the spirit of good cooperation.”
Italian Coast Guard ship Ubaldo Diciotti picked up 190 migrants on August 15 from an overcrowded boat 17 miles from the island of Lampedusa after they were refused entry to Malta. Of those, 13 people suffering serious medical issues were taken to Lampedusa for treatment.
The Interior Ministry spokesman said that 27 unaccompanied minors were allowed to disembark, leaving 150 adult migrants stuck aboard the vessel, which has been docked in the port of Catania since August 20. Italian authorities cited “humanitarian reasons” for allowing the children to go ashore.
The Interior Ministry said that all those remaining on the ship are being supplied with food and medical aid and none are in critical condition so far.

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“If the European Union stubbornly continues to keep this attitude, if tomorrow nothing comes out from the European Commission, if they decide nothing regarding the Diciotti vessel, on the redistribution of the migrants, then I and all the 5 Star Movement will no longer be willing to give 20 billion each year to the European Union.”

 

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