Tag Archives: European Parliament

Navalny assassination Europarl resolution

In a Resolution adopted on September 17 with 532 votes in favour, 84 against and 72 abstentions, Parliament strongly condemns the attempt to assassinate prominent Russian opposition politician and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny with a nerve agent.(Image: illustration, European Parliament, Brussels)

The text notes that the poison used, belonging to the “Novichok group”, can only be developed in state-owned military laboratories and cannot be acquired by private individuals, which strongly implies that Russian authorities were behind the attack. Should someone else, nevertheless, be found responsible, it would still be a clear breach of Russia’s international legal commitments, according to the text.

MEPs underline that the attempted assassination of Navalny was part of a systemic effort to silence dissident voices in Russia, in particular with a view to influencing Russia’s local and regional by-elections on 11-13 September. His case is only one element of a wider Russian policy focusing on oppressive internal policies and aggressive actions worldwide, notes the text.

The resolution asks for an international investigation into Navalny’s case and the alleged breaches of Russia’s international commitments in the area of chemical weapons to be launched immediately, while urging the Russian authorities to fully cooperate with such an inquiry and to hold those responsible to account.

It also calls on EU member states to take an active stance on the matter such as swiftly putting in place ambitious restrictive EU measures vis-à-vis Russia and strengthening already existing ones. The text urges the deployment of sanction mechanisms that would allow the European assets of corrupt individuals to be collected and frozen in accordance with the findings of Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation.

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson, said that certain political forces in the EU are boosting an information campaign aimed at making sure that Brussels won’t reverse its destructive policy towards Moscow.
The idea of naming the European Union’s new human rights sanctions after Alexey Navalny is aimed at directing the restrictions against Moscow, the diplomat said at a briefing on September 17, commenting on EU top diplomat Josep Borrell’s recent initiative.
“We view initiatives on naming new EU sanctions after Navalny as an overt attempt to direct them against Russia,” she concluded.

“We expect that common sense will prevail in the European Union, so that our partners will abandon the practice of passing the buck randomly and will draw conclusions only from documented facts in the future,” the Russian diplomat concluded.

#SOTEU: Leyen promises EU Magnitsky law

In her State of the Union #SOTEU #SOTEU2020 address on 16 September 2020, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen presented her vision for the European Union in post- pandemic period, tools for recovery, and sources for new vitality. In spite of the fact that the foreign policy of the EU has been overshadowed by the coronavirus issue, the ruptures in communications it has caused, and standstill in many areas, it stayed an integral part of the presentation, although in a rather sketchy way drawing the lines of the bloc foreign policy, with the accent of “planet fragility” and Climate Change.

One of the most courageous minds of our times, Andrei Sakharov – a man so admired by this House – always spoke of his unshakeable belief in the hidden strength of the human spirit. In these last six months, Europeans have shown how strong that human spirit really is. We saw it in the care workers who moved into nursing homes to look after the ill and the elderly. In the doctors and nurses who became family members for those in their last breath. In the front line workers who worked day after night, week after week, who took risks so most of us didn’t have to. We are inspired by their empathy, bravery and sense of duty – and I want to start this speech by paying tribute to them all. Their stories also reveal a lot about the state of our world and the state of our Union.They show the power of humanity and the sense of mourning which will live long in our society. And they expose to us the fragility all around us.
“A virus a thousand times smaller than a grain of sand exposed how delicate life can be’.

“It laid bare the strains on our health systems and the limits of a model that values wealth above well-being.
It brought into sharper focus the planetary fragility that we see every day through melting glaciers, burning forests and now through global pandemics. It changed the very way we behave and communicate – keeping our arms at length, our faces behind masks.It showed us just how fragile our community of values really is – and how quickly it can be called into question around the world and even here in our Union.
But people want to move out of this corona world, out of this fragility, out of uncertainty. They are ready for change and they are ready to move on. And this is the moment for Europe.
The moment for Europe to lead the way from this fragility towards a new vitality. And this is what I want to talk about today”.

In foreign policy the COVID-19 pandemic and world-wide vaccination have been addressed by the president vor der Leyen in the first place and became an issue of international politics:


“…In the pandemic, European planes delivering thousands of tonnes of protective equipment landed everywhere from Sudan to Afghanistan, Somalia to Venezuela. None of us will be safe until all of us are safe – wherever we live, whatever we have. An accessible, affordable and safe vaccine is the world’s most promising way to do that. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was no funding, no global framework for a COVID vaccine – just the rush to be the first to get one.This is the moment the EU stepped up to lead the global response. With civil society, the G20, WHO and others we brought more than 40 countries together to raise 16 billion euro to finance research on vaccines, tests and treatments for the whole world. This is the EU’s unmatched convening power in action. But it is not enough to find a vaccine. We need to make sure that European citizens and those around the world have access to it. Just this month, the EU joined the COVAX global facility and contributed 400 million euro to help ensure that safe vaccines are available not only for those who can afford it – but for everyone who needs it. Vaccine nationalism puts lives at risk. Vaccine cooperation saves them”.


On UN, WTO, conflicts in Libya and Syria:
“We are firm believers in the strength and value of cooperating in international bodies.It is with a strong United Nations that we can find long-term solutions for crises like Libya or Syria.It is with a strong World Health Organisation that we can better prepare and respond to global pandemics or local outbreaks – be it Corona or Ebola. And it is with a strong World Trade Organisation that we can ensure fair competition for all.But the truth is also that the need to revitalise and reform the multilateral system has never been so urgent. Our global system has grown into a creeping paralysis. Major powers are either pulling out of institutions or taking them hostage for their own interests. Neither road will lead us anywhere. Yes, we want change. But change by design – not by destruction.And this is why I want the EU to lead reforms of the WTO and WHO so they are fit for today’s world”.

EU-China relations:
“But we know that multilateral reforms take time and in the meantime the world will not stop.Without any doubt, there is a clear need for Europe to take clear positions and quick actions on global affairs.Two days ago, the latest EU-China leaders meeting took place.The relationship between the European Union and China is simultaneously one of the most strategically important and one of the most challenging we have.From the outset I have said China is a negotiating partner, an economic competitor and a systemic rival.
We have interests in common on issues such as climate change – and China has shown it is willing to engage through a high-level dialogue. But we expect China to live up to its commitments in the Paris Agreement and lead by example.There is still hard work to do on fair market access for European companies, reciprocity and overcapacity. We continue to have an unbalanced trade and investment partnership”.


Announcing of anti-semitsm as EU “issue”
“And there is no doubt that we promote very different systems of governance and society. We believe in the universal value of democracy and the rights of the individual. Europe is not without issues – think for example of anti-semitism. But we discuss them publicly. Criticism and opposition are not only accepted but are legally protected”.


On Hong Kong and Uygurs:
“So we must always call out human rights abuses whenever and wherever they occur – be it on Hong Kong or with the Uyghurs. But what holds us back? Why are even simple statements on EU values delayed, watered down or held hostage for other motives? When Member States say Europe is too slow, I say to them be courageous and finally move to qualified majority voting – at least on human rights and sanctions implementation.


Magnitsky Act proposal:
“This House has called many times for a European Magnitsky Act – and I can announce that we will now come forward with a proposal. We need to complete our toolbox”…

MEPs «disappointed» by Internal Market Bill

The UKCG and the EP political group leaders issued the following statement after meeting with Chief EU Negotiator Michel Barnier and Joint Committee Co-Chair Maroš Šefčovič, on Friday, September 11,202O.

“The European Parliament’s UK Coordination Group (UKCG) met today to assess the impact of the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement with EU-UK Joint Committee Co-Chair Maroš Šefčovič and to evaluate the ongoing negotiations on the future EU-UK relationship with EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier.

“EP political group leaders and UKCG members are deeply concerned and disappointed that the UK Government published an Internal Market Bill that clearly represents a serious and unacceptable breach of international law. It violates the Withdrawal Agreement that was signed and ratified by the current UK Government and Parliament less than a year ago. The Internal Market Bill gravely damages the trust and credibility that the European Parliament has already said is “an essential element of any negotiation”, thus putting at risk the ongoing negotiations on the future relationship.

“The European Parliament supports EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier and Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič in asking the UK government to withdraw these measures from the bill immediately; by the end of September, at the very latest. The European Parliament’s UK Coordination Group stresses that:

“the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, has legally binding force regardless of whether or not the EU and the UK conclude any new treaty governing their future relationship; and

any issue regarding the implementation of its provisions should be addressed by the Joint Committee and in no case unilaterally by any party to the agreement.
The European Parliament expects the UK government to uphold the rule of law and demands nothing less than the full implementation of all provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, including the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, which is essential to protect the Good Friday Agreement and peace and stability on the island of Ireland.

Should the UK authorities breach – or threaten to breach – the Withdrawal Agreement, through the United Kingdom Internal Market Bill in its current form or in any other way, the European Parliament will, under no circumstances, ratify any agreement between the EU and the UK.

Regarding the outcome of the eighth negotiating round, the European Parliament remains committed to an ambitious partnership with the UK. We are disappointed with the continued lack of reciprocal engagement from the UK side on fundamental EU principles and interests.

The European Parliament calls on the UK to work with the EU constructively and find compromises that are in the interests of our citizens and companies on both sides. Any potential deal should not only preserve our interests, but also respect the integrity of the European Union and its single market.

For any deal to take effect, democratic oversight institutions on both sides of the Channel must be able to carry out a meaningful assessment, as stated in the Withdrawal Agreement. The European Parliament recalls that its consent to any deal will only be granted after detailed scrutiny of the legal provisions. The European Parliament will not accept having its democratic oversight curbed by a last-minute deal beyond the end of October.”

Signed by EP group leaders:

Manfred WEBER (EPP, DE)

Iratxe GARCÍA PEREZ (S&D, ES)

Dacian CIOLOŞ (Renew, RO)

Philippe LAMBERTS (Greens/EFA, BE) co-chair

Ska KELLER (Greens/EFA, DE) co-chair

Raffaele FITTO (ECR, IT) co-chair

Ryszard LEGUTKO (ECR, PL) co-chair

Martin SCHIRDEWAN (GUE, DE) co-chair

Manon AUBRY (GUE, FR) co-chair

and by the UK Coordination Group:

David McALLISTER (EPP, DE), chair

Bernd LANGE (S&D, DE)

Nathalie LOISEAU (Renew, FR)

Christophe HANSEN (EPP, LU)

Kati PIRI (S&D, NL)

Kris PEETERS (EPP, BE)

Pedro SILVA PEREIRA (S&D, PT)

Morten PETERSEN (Renew, DK)

Gunnar BECK (ID, DE)

Merkel sets German Presidency priorities

MEPs discussed with Chancellor Angela Merkel and Commission President Ursula von der Leyen the strategy and goals of the German Presidency in the coming six months.
Under the motto “Together for Europe’s recovery”, the German presidency is determined to tackle the huge challenge posed by the pandemic, Mrs Merkel said. She highlighted five areas that Europe needs to work on if it wants to emerge unified and strong from the current crisis: fundamental rights, solidarity and cohesion, climate change, digitisation and Europe’s role in the world. “Germany is prepared to show extraordinary solidarity”, she underlined, to build a Europe that is green, innovative, sustainable, more digital and competitive. “Europe is capable of achieving great things if we work together and stand together in solidarity”, she concluded.

“The challenge ahead for all of us could not be more extraordinary”, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said. “But we can emerge stronger thanks to Next Generation EU. Germany chose the word: together. That is the engine of our union”. She underlined that Europe needed both, a new EU long-term budget (MFF) and Next Generation EU. The Commission will do its utmost to make sure we will reach agreement, she said.

Manfred Weber (EPP, DE) said that the EU stumbles from crisis to crisis because of fear. “Fear is the enemy of solidarity, future and freedom”. There are high expectations for the German Presidency, he continued. “The EU needs now courage to show solidarity: We need a solution this month for the Recovery Fund”, Weber insisted. “No community can survive without community spirit. For us, this is simply the European Way of Life.”

Iratxe García Perez (S&D, ES) offered to work “side by side” with the German Presidency to overcome North-South and East-West differences and divisions in Europe, for the benefit of citizens.

“We have to prove that it is possible to create a fairer and more sustainable society, which thinks about the environment and future generations (…), protects workers, values diversity and manages migration flows with solidarity”, she added.

“The priority right now must be the adoption of the recovery plan and the new multiannual financial framework”, said Dacian Ciolos (Renew Europe, RO). “We build Europe around a project, a vision and strong values”, he added. “It is high time we make the respect of the rule of law a condition for accessing EU funds. The political opportunity is here. Use this unprecedented package as leverage”.

Jörg Meuthen (ID, DE) criticised the chancellor for being ignorant and ideological. “You are betraying the European idea and endangering the future of coming generations”, he said, pointing to the European Green Deal and the recovery fund. “Your understanding of solidarity is absurd”, he concluded.

Ska Keller (Greens/EFA, DE) said the same decisiveness that the EU shows against COVID-19 should apply to the climate crisis. “We need to overcome the Coronavirus crisis and to avoid the climate crisis”. The German presidency can make an important contribution here, she said, such as an ambitious climate law, calling for 65 % reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2030.

Rafaele Fitto (ECR, IT) said that up to now the EU’s response to the pandemic was “slow, not very efficient and lacking in true solidarity”. Germany should put aside selfishness and recover the original spirit of the EU by avoiding the mistakes of the past. “We need to revitalise the economy, implement favourable trade policies and relaunch the single market.”

Martin Schirdewan (GUE/NGL, DE) recalled the harmful austerity policies implemented during the financial crisis and appealed to Mrs Merkel not to make the mistake twice. He also called on Germany to make Council protocols public and transparent and to no longer block a proposal on digital tax on big companies.

Socialist MEPs block Resolution on Turkey

The European Peopole’s Party (EPP) has issued a statement following the Left Groups S&D and GUE block of the Resolution from European Parliament as tensions continue to increase between the European Unions and Turkey.

On the initiative of the EPP Group, the European Parliament will debate the continued and repeated aggression of Turkey against Greece and Cyprus next week. In light of the situation, Chairman of the EPP Group, Manfred Weber MEP, called for an urgent debate with High Representative Josep Borrell.

“Turkey is unilaterally escalating conflicts with Europe and the situation is getting worse. Turkish security forces attack the Greek border on a regular basis and the drilling attempts in the waters of Cyprus are intensifying continuously. The EU cannot leave these aggressions unanswered.”

Greece has seen repeated attempts by groups of people trying to cross the border illegally, with the help of the Turkish security forces. The Head of the Greek Delegation of the EPP Group, Vangelis Meimarakis MEP, stated: “President Erdogan is provoking another refugee crisis for his own benefit on the back of desperate people. Turkey’s actions undermine the refugee agreement and are a threat to stability in Europe. The European Parliament should send a clear signal to Turkey that it has gone too far and that it must stop challenging the EU.”

Turkey’s illegal drilling activities in the Exclusive Economic Zone of Cyprus have also been escalating recently. “We expect the European Union to show solidarity in practice and to vigorously defend Cyprus and Greece against Turkish aggression. If the current measures do not stop Turkey’s illegal activities, it is clear we need to further increase the pressure”, said the Head of the Cypriot Delegation of the EPP Group, Lefteris Christoforou MEP.

The EPP Group called for a strong statement from the European Parliament, a debate and a Resolution, to denounce Turkey’s actions. However, during the discussions with the other political Groups, the Socialists (S&D) and the Communists (GUE) blocked a Resolution on the matter.

“In light of the facts on the ground, it is incomprehensible that the Left wing parties reject a strong and clear signal from the European Parliament”, the MEPs noted.

Image: illustration, European Parliament hearing, Brussels

Europarl has no comment on Russian referendum

Statement by Members of the European Parliament David McAllister and Tomas Tobé on the constitutional referendum in Russia.

“A constitutional referendum took place in Russia from 25 June to 1 July.

The European Parliament has not been invited to observe this electoral process, and consequently will neither comment on the process nor on the results that will be announced afterwards. No individual Member of the European Parliament has been mandated to observe or comment on this electoral process on its behalf.

Therefore, any Member of the European Parliament who decided to observe this electoral process in the Russian Federation, or in the illegally annexed Crimean peninsula, where the European Union does not and will not recognise the holding of this consultation, has done so on her/his own initiative and should under no circumstances through any statement or action, associate her/his participation with the European Parliament.”

Mr McAllister (EPP, DE) and Mr Tobé (EPP, SE) are Co-Chairs of the European Parliament’s Democracy Support and Election Coordination Group.

Image: European Parliament building, Strasbourg

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.

Borrell denies “kowtow” to China

Disinformation around the coronavirus pandemic: Opening statement by the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell at the European Parliament on April 30.

“…As is the case for all of the European External Action Service’s publications, there are internal procedures to ensure the appropriate structure, quality and length of our products. Given the sensitive nature of the information, every claim is verified before it is used in public material, which often delays by some days its publication. However – and let me underline this – the content and the timing of the European External Action Service’s public assessments on disinformation around the coronavirus pandemic are determined by the European External Action Service, and the European External Action Service alone. We have not bowed to anyone.

“Let me be clear: we are a diplomatic service. We maintain constant contact with representatives of third countries. This includes listening to their views on our policies and our assessments. But this cannot be presented as bowing to political pressure from outside. Especially on such crucial issues as disinformation at the time of this pandemic, where transparency is key.

“Let me address, therefore, directly what I can call the main “accusation”, if I can refer to it in such terms. An accusation that, I believe, has led to our discussion today: that the European Union “bowed” to Chinese pressure, as formulated in an article by the New York Times.

“After having been informed by the services about the way they proceeded in this case, I can assure you that no changes have been introduced to the report published last week to allay the concerns of a third party, in this case, China. The report very clearly points out State-sponsored disinformation campaigns and very specifically names the actors behind them – including China. There was no “watering down” of our findings, however uncomfortable they could be. Please check it personally, it is all online (link is external). You can compare the three reports, where we have progressively been refining our analysis and increased our understanding of how the different actors have been developing their messages and narratives.

“Let me also make a point about the functioning of a diplomatic service and activities. As you know, calls to present complaints or to advise in favour of a given course of action are the daily bread of diplomacy. We, at the European Union, practice them constantly, as do all other international actors, even our closest partners. It would be wrong to consider this inappropriate. I can assure you that I am very much used to it.

“Large international actors can accompany diplomatic demarches with a range of incentives and disincentives, which sometimes do not even need to be explicitly mentioned. We all bring things to the table, so that other decision makers take them into account. This is happening every day, from everybody, including us.

“The European Union is an international player, and this is our added value. Most of our Member States, taken separately, would stand no chance at all when faced with larger powers. Unsettling us is not easy as long as our Member States stand together. Those that are currently fanning the idea that the European Union may be giving up on its interests or principles under pressure by third countries should read attentively the report we published on disinformation. They should read it, and then they will acknowledge that we are among the very few to dare refer to such facts and publicise them.

“The choice of words used by those that criticise the European Union, saying “bowing to pressure”, has a clear historical resonance: it comes from Georges Macartney, a British diplomat who, in the XVIII century, went to China and failed due to his refusal to “kowtow” to the Emperor, which in Chinese means “to bow”. You see, now the word comes back. Working in the field of disinformation raises awareness regarding narratives, some of them rooted in the historical unconscious of the people who use it.

“Let me finish by saying that the European External Action Service will strive to maintain its position as the leading institution collecting, analysing and challenging disinformation, including on the coronavirus…” (Image: archive)

COVID19: Eurparl to distribute meals

The European Parliament President outlines measures to help support the communities where parliament works

In a video message, European Parliament President David Sassoli today outlined measures Parliament is taking to support health workers and those in need in Brussels. The President said:

“Showing concrete solidarity with citizens. This is the line of the European Parliament. In agreement with the Brussels Capital Region, we have decided to make part of our building available to homeless people and the most vulnerable in society, during this serious health emergency.

“In addition, our kitchens will make more than 1000 meals a day to be distributed to those in need, as well as to health workers to help them do their jobs.

“We want to be close to those who suffer, to those who work tirelessly in our hospitals, to the city and people of Brussels, as well as those of Strasbourg and Luxembourg, who welcome us and who need our help today. Europe’s strength is in its ability to act in solidarity.”

Original VIDEO available on European Parliament site:

https://multimedia.europarl.europa.eu/en/statement-sassoli-measures-solidarity-brussels_I188710-V_v

Image below: archive: European Parliament, Strasbourg

MEPs to practice remote vote

President and political group leaders decided to hold an extraordinary plenary session next Thursday, 26 March to allow for implementation of special measures.
Parliament´s President and Group leaders – Conference of Presidents – held an informal exchange of views on March 19 morning. They approved in written procedure the proposal of EP President Sassoli to convene an extraordinary plenary session next Thursday, 26 March in Brussels to debate and vote on the first three legislative proposals of the European Commission to tackle the effects of the COVID19 pandemic in EU Member States. (Image: illustration)

The European Parliament is doing its duty and will continue to do so. Parliament must remain open, because a virus cannot bring down democracy. We are the only European institution voted in by its citizens and we want to continue representing and defending them”, EP President David Sassoli said.

On the agenda:
The Coronavirus Response Investment Initiative, which will make available €37 billion of the Cohesion funds to member states to address the consequences of the crisis,
a legislative proposal to extend the scope of the EU Solidarity Fund to cover public health emergencies
a Commission proposal to stop the so-called ghost flights caused by the COVID-19 outbreak.

It is key that the European Parliament (pictured) adopts these three proposals swiftly, to provide concrete support to EU citizens and to the Member States in this unprecedented situation.

The Bureau of the European Parliament will adopt specific measures for this session to ensure the votes can be organised remotely.

This plenary will formally replace the session foreseen for 1-2 April.

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