Tag Archives: France

New heads of EU representations

Brussels 20.07.2021 Today, the Commission has appointed two new Heads of Representation in Paris and Luxembourg.

Ms Valérie Drezet-Humez will start in her new function in Paris on 01 September 2021. Ms Anne Calteux will take up her duties as Head of Representation in Luxembourg, at a date still to be decided. They will act as the official Representatives of the Commission in the Member States under the political authority of President Ursula von der Leyen.

Ms Valérie Drezet-Humez, a French national, with 25 years of experience in the Commission, will draw on her strong policy background, her strategic communication and managerial skills and legal expertise in EU matters. Since 2010, she has been working in the Secretariat-General, as Head of Unit responsible for briefings for the President and Vice-Presidents touching upon all policy priorities and political developments. Prior to that, she headed the team in charge of written, empowerment and delegations procedures in the Secretariat-General where she acquired a deep understanding of the functioning of the Commission while supporting critical adoption to enable Commission decision-making. She started in the Secretariat-General as policy assistant to the deputy Secretary-General and then to the Secretary–General, after leaving the Directorate General for Translation where she was policy assistant to the Director-General, posts where she was exposed to the political and delivery dimension of files. She joined the European Commission in 1995, in the Directorate-General for Environment, where she worked in the industry and environment domain, and in policy coordination, a domain which is key to the current political agenda. Ms Drezet-Humez is a lawyer who graduated from the University of Lyon III where she specialised in EU Law.

Ms Anne Calteux, a Luxembourg national, brings a long experience in the Luxembourg and European diplomacy to her new assignment, which will allow her to effectively manage key political communication and strategic coordination. Since 2016, Ms Calteux has held a number of leading positions where she exercised a high level of responsibility and crisis management, most notably the last one as a responsible to coordinate the COVID-19 Crisis Cell in the Ministry of Health in Luxembourg. As a Head of EU and International Affairs and a Senior Advisor to the Minister in the Ministry of Health in Luxembourg since 2016, she has gathered ample knowledge of EU affairs and policies. Between 2016 and 2018 Ms Calteux headed the Communications Unit at the Ministry which proves her sound communication and analytical skills and ability for overall strategic orientation and management of the Commission’s Representation in Luxembourg. Between 2004 and 2013, she worked in the Permanent Representation of Luxembourg to the European Union, as a Counsellor in charge of public health, pharmaceuticals and social security. Ms Calteux holds a Master of laws, from LLM, King’s College in London, where she has specialised in Comparative European law.

The Commission maintains Representations in all capitals of EU Member States, and Regional Offices in Barcelona, Bonn, Marseille, Milan, Munich and Wroclaw. The Representations are the Commission’s eyes, ears and voice on the ground in EU Member States. They interact with national authorities, stakeholders and citizens, and inform the media and the public about EU policies. Heads of Representations are appointed by the President of the European Commission and are her political representatives in the Member State to which they are posted.

Cornwall G7: tempering ambitions

Brussels 11.06.2021 The G7 summit is being held in these often tranquil, and picturesque coastal communities less than 20 miles/32km from Land’s End in Cornwall. Although 5,500 extra police officers have been sent on errand there are not many around the harbour, and delivery vans are passing through without problems.

Preparations have been ongoing since the shock announcement in January 2021, and now the reality has arrived.

Following the unsuccessful UK-EU talks to resolve differences in implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol, French president Emmanuel Macron has repeated his insistence that the Protocol is not negotiable, according Bloomberg reports.

Macron is set to discuss the issue and the access of French fishermen to UK waters during a meeting with prime minister Boris Johnson on Saturday, June 12, on the sideline of the G7 Cornwall.

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Joe Biden appeared to put their differences behind them for the limelight in Cornwall. Johnson assessed the meeting with the American president as a “breath of fresh air”, reports the Telegraph newspaper.

Despite the previous reports Joe Biden was preparing to play down the differences with his British counterpart over the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the leaders traded compliments, and gallantries to underline the everlasting strength of the Atlantic ties.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May has criticised the “incomprehensible” travel rules that mean the UK is “shut for business”, the Telegraph newspaper reports.

While praising the UK’s advancing vaccine programme, May said that if ministers blocked travel every time there was a new COVID-19 variant, “we will never be able to travel abroad ever again”.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to make a milestone decision next week on whether to go ahead with lifting the final Covid-19 restrictions on 21 June.

EU: concerns of peace in N.Ireland

Brussels 10.06.2021 Britain should respect its post-Brexit commitments, especially on Northern Ireland and fishing, and the EU is entitled to take action if that should not be the case, said French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune, who added he was “very worried” by Britain’s behaviour.

“I’m very concerned by the British behaviour so far,” Beaune told the Public Senat TV channel on Thursday, June 10.

Beaune’s comments came as U.S. President Joe Biden brought a grave Brexit warning to his first meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson: prevent a row with the European Union from imperilling the delicate peace in Northern Ireland.

JCPOA continues work in Vienna

Brusssels 02.06.2021 The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) resumes today Wednesday 2 June, in Vienna (pictured).

The Joint Commission is chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by the Deputy Secretary General/Political Director of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora. It is attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran.

Participants continue their discussions in view of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and on how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA.

EU river cruises restart

Brussels 28.05.2021 Five more river cruise lines have announced summer 2021 restart dates, as the European Union moves toward approving international travel for vaccinated passengers.

Scenic and Emerald Cruises, river lines owned by Australia’s Scenic Group, will restart their Europe season with sailings on Portugal’s Douro River beginning in late July. Uniworld will be restarting in Italy and France. And AmaWaterways will restart in Portugal on July 3, with more sailings throughout Europe later in the month.

Meanwhile CroisiEurope announced restart dates for river and canal cruises on a number of European rivers, starting with Portugal’s Douro River on June 7, and followed by the Gironde and the Seine on June 30, in France.

Scenic and Emerald Cruises, river lines owned by Australia’s Scenic Group, will restart their Europe season with sailings on Portugal’s Douro River beginning in late July. Uniworld will be restarting in Italy and France. And AmaWaterways will restart in Portugal on July 3, with more sailings throughout Europe later in the month.

Meanwhile CroisiEurope announced restart dates for river and canal cruises on a number of European rivers, starting with Portugal’s Douro River on June 7, and followed by the Gironde and the Seine on June 30, in France.

On Scenic and Emerald, all guests must be fully vaccinated and the cruises are open only to U.S .and UK residents, the company said. The lines are popular with residents of Australia and Canada as well, but currently those countries are restricting international travel.

Scenic Azure will begin operating 11-day sailings on the Douro on July 30. Emerald Radiance will restart its eight-day itineraries on the river on July 31. Both ships will sail from Porto, Portugal, through November.

Scenic Group said its ship would operate under protocols established by a dedicated Health & Safety Steering Committee, and that the company had also been working with the Cruise Lines International Association and Portuguese authorities on health guidelines.

France: leadership vs. citizens

Brussels 14.05.2021 One year before the next presidential election, a new poll indicates that the 2017 duel Macron-Le Pen could be re-played again in 2022.
Will in 2022 once again Emmanuel Macron and Marine Le Pen compete at the polls in the second round of the presidential election? In 2017, Emmanuel Macron won against his rival with 66.1% of the votes cast, against 33.9% for Marine Le Pen.

According to a survey carried out by Ipsos-Sopra Steria in partnership with Cevipof and the Jean-Jaurès Foundation the 2017 finalists would be the same in 2022, and this in different scenarios envisaged according to the various applications already announced or potential.

However this time the situation in not so favourable for the incumbent President of the V Republic. The second open letter of French military critical of the President Emmanuel Macron policies received a strong support of the compatriots, viewed two million times, and it was signed by 250 000 citizens. This declaration from active officers of the French army reinforces the one previously published letter by the military veterans on the site of Valeurs Actuelles journal (@Values). This text, the second one, which has been already circulating a lot and which caused the media echo, the editorial decided to publish in a form of a Petition for the signature of French citizens. Like the previous one, the purpose of this forum is not to undermine the institutions but to alert citizens and authorities of the gravity of the situation in France.

“…Cowardice, deceit, perversion: this is not our view of the hierarchy.
On the contrary, the army is, par excellence, the place where we speak truthfully to each other because we commit our lives. It is this confidence in the military institution that we call for” the second letter reads.

“…Yes, if a civil war breaks out, the military will maintain order on its own soil, because it will be asked to. This is even the definition of civil war. No one can want such a terrible situation, our elders no more than us, but yes, again, civil war is brewing in France and you know it perfectly well..”

“…Take action, ladies and gentlemen. This time it is not about custom emotion, ready-made formulas or media coverage. It’s not about extending your terms or winning new ones. It is about the survival of our country, of your country”.

French commentators suggest that both letters reflect the state of the political debate, which has been substantially weakened by the belligerent political parties, deviating from the traditional right and left in search for re-branding with the centre right Republicans plagued by scandals, and the Socialists vanishing after failed Francois Holland presidency. Weakened by economic and social consequences of the sanitary measures President Macron’s party ‘La République En Marche’ (LaREM) leaves sufficient room for the citizens initiatives. If there were active and constructive democratic debates between the main parties represented in the National Assembly, there would be no room for this kind of position on the part of the former military, warning the President about the possibility of the civil war as a result of mass migration.

“A leadership that does not stand behind its most loyal citizens, will eventually be devoured by them. The French Revolution, a strange masterpiece of history, set the stage for all other great democracies of the world and gave the gift of the French culture to the world,” – said Canadian writer Mark Hecht (@HechtWriter).
“To see France’s leadership today, not honour its own traditions and defend them without reservation, is a shattering reminder of that other, less noble, French character–for the elite to grow heads too large for the body.”

Europe day 9 May

Brussels 09.05.2021 Europe Day is held on 9 May every year to celebrate peace and unity in Europe. The date marks the anniversary of the historic Schuman declaration, which started Europe on the path to today’s European Union.

The Council and other EU institutions traditionally celebrate Europe Day by opening their doors to the public. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re bringing Europe Day to you!

President of France Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of the European Union (EU) are expected, Sunday, May 9 in Strasbourg, to launch the Conference on the Future of Europe. For the solemn inauguration of this vast citizen consultation on Europe Day, “we want interactivity and exchanges, from this first day, with citizens,” said the Elysee in a statement.

In the Hemicycle of the European Parliament will be delivered, from 2 p.m., the speech of Emmanuel Macron and that of the three European institutions, represented by the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, for the Council.

France: Sudanese migrant crime

A Sudanese asylum-seeker killed an employee at a centre for migrants in the southern French city of Pau
after his request was rejected, authorities said.

A police source said the Sudanese asylum seeker killed the director of the centre by stabbing him repeatedly in the throat. The assailant had arrived in France five years ago and had committed acts of violence with a knife in 2017, the French media reports, referring to governmental sources.

“This is a terrible drama, all the more so because the victim spent his entire professional life helping migrants and asylum seekers,” Pau Mayor Francois Bayrou said on France Bleu radio.

“The man’s asylum request had been rejected, and for good reasons. He then turned against the head of the service, this is extreme and absurd violence,” said Bayrou continued, adding that the suspect had previously spent time in jail.

The police source said the assailant’s demand for political asylum had been rejected but that it was not clear whether this was the motive for the homicide. It was also unclear whether it was the head of the centre who had notified him of his request being rejected.

French media reported that the alleged assailant had been arrested.

French Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin was heading to the asylum seekers centre in Pau and was expected to speak to reporters at spot.

EU-UK Channel Tunnel railroad future

The EU is working on legislation to ensure the safe and efficient operation of the Channel Tunnel railway connection between continental Europe and the United Kingdom (Channel Fixed Link) after the end of the Brexit transition period. Today, the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee agreed on a negotiation mandate on two proposals aimed at maintaining a single safety authority, which would continue to apply the same set of rules over the whole infrastructure, including in its section under UK jurisdiction.

Currently, all matters concerning the operation of the Channel Fixed Link are supervised by an Intergovernmental Commission set up by the Treaty of Canterbury, signed between France and the UK in 1986.

Under the Council mandate, France will be empowered to negotiate an amendment to the Canterbury Treaty and the EU railway safety and interoperability rules will be amended so that the Intergovernmental Commission can be maintained as the safety authority competent for the application of EU law within the Channel Fixed Link.

The draft regulation amending the safety and interoperability provisions will be split into two draft regulations, in order to amend the Statute of the European Court of Justice in a manner that respects the Court’s prerogatives while avoiding a delay in the start of the negotiations.

A swift adoption of the draft decision and draft regulation will allow the prompt start of the talks between France and the UK. The adoption of the amendments to the Statute of the ECJ will be essential at the end of these negotiations, before France is authorised to sign and conclude the actual agreement.Th

The negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament on the two proposals are taking place as a matter of urgency.

France bans bird trap four decades after EU

France prohibits an archaic bird hunting technique four decades after the European Union ban. The country has suspended the use of glue traps, which conservationists say are especially cruel to animals and harmful the environment. The hunting technique involves coating branches with glue to trap songbirds, which are caged to attract prey birds that can then be killed.

Activists have condemned it as cruel to the animals and harmful to the environment, and such practices have been banned in all European Union countries except France, which created a workaround to allow hunters to continue to apply it bypassing the European ban.

This week, France said that it, too, was temporarily banning the practice — a move that follows mounting pressure from conservationists, a complaint to the European Court of Justice, and a threat from the European Union’s executive body in July that the country faced legal action if the glue traps were not banned within three months.

French environment minister, Barbara Pompili, described it “good news for the law and for biodiversity.” And Christophe Baticle, an anthropologist at the University of Picardy Jules Verne in northern France, named the move “symbolic.”

The suspension, issued by President Emmanuel Macron affects a minority of French hunters and applies only to the coming hunting season, pending a final decision from the European Court of Justice. And most people in the country disapprove of hunting, considering it cruel and outdated.

However the hunting lobby is a powerful political force in France. There are about 1.5 million registered hunters in the country, and they can form an influential voting bloc in rural areas. Mr. Macron has made efforts to attract their support since his election in 2017, including cutting the price of national hunting licenses in half, to 200 euros (about $240). About 5,000 hunters use glue traps to hunt birds, according to the French National Hunters’ Federation.

Willy Schraen, the head of the hunters’ federation, called the suspension “unacceptable.” “Let’s leave people alone,” he suggested in a television interview. “Why is this an issue to occupy Europe and our minister?” he questioned, referring to Ms. Pompili.

The hunting technique, known as glue-covered bird traps, is used to catch songbirds like thrushes and blackbirds. Conservationists explain that it not only is cruel to the trapped songbirds, but also threatens endangered species because the traps ensnare many kinds of birds.

The European Union moved to outlaw glue traps in a 1979 measure that prohibited “nonselective” hunting, but France influenced by hunting lobby then created a workaround by regulating how birds captured by mistake could be released.

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