Tag Archives: Frans Timmermans

International Women’s Day

“Europe ranks among the safest and most equal places for girls and women in the world”, says the statement of the European Commission issued on the occasion of the 8th of March International Women’s Day.

“…Also in Europe women are still facing challenges, inequalities and threats in their everyday lives: abuses and harassment, lower wages, fewer job and career opportunities. And that is unacceptable. […] Many of the remaining inequalities are linked to the place of women at work. The EU’s new rules on Work-Life Balance will contribute to getting more women at work by giving families a real choice on how to organise their professional and private life. […] Women remain underrepresented in politics. In the upcoming European elections, we would like to see more women across the EU not only voting, but standing and succeeding as candidates.

“The Commission also calls for more women to be represented in the highest level of all EU institutions, including as Commissioners. This Commission has been leading by example: today we have 9 female Commissioners and women account for almost 40% of our managers.

“…Gender equality is also at the core of our continuous engagement with partner countries worldwide. […] We are committed to giving all women and girls equal access to health services, education and economic empowerment, and the opportunities to shape their own future.”

The Commission has also published its 2019 report on equality between women and men in the EU, under the responsibility of First Vice-President Timmermans and Commissioner Jourová. n in law enforcement. For more information on the Commission’s action in the field of gender equality, click here. Eurostat data on the gender employment gap is available here, on women in managerial positions here, and statistics on women in national parliaments and governments here.

Catalan trial aggravates crisis

Spain riot police clashed with pro-independence Catalan protesters in Barcelona on while some activists burned tires and blocked highways across northeast of the country as part of a day of protests against the trial of 12 politicians.

A total of 28 people, including twelve police officers, were wounded and four people were arrested, police informed.

In spite of the rising tensions in Barcelona  the European Commissioner on Human Rights Frans Timmermans prefers to keep silence, insisting the trail is the issue for Spanish justice.

Gomes MEP on “political prisoners” in Spain

Ana GOMES MEP (Portugal, S&D) raises concerns about the policy of Pedro Sanchez government, dealing with the Catalan independence issue as if it is a legal problem, instead of acknowledging its political nature. Gomes promotes dialogue between Madrid and Barcelona, breaking the deadlock through talks. She is also concerned about the methods of repressing of Catalan politicians, reminiscent of times of General Franco regime. “Yes, I have to acknowledge it, there are political prisoners in Spain“, Gomessaid. She criticises the position of the Human rights Commissioner Frans Timmermans, who prefers to ignore the existence of political prisoners in SpainGomes questions the freedom of press in Spain, and inquires if there is a practice of self-censorship among mass media journalists in covering Catalan issue. Among the prisoners is the former colleague of Ana Gomes – MEP Raül Romeva i Rueda appointed later the Minister for External and Institutional Relations of Catalonia.

Refugee Day: Timmermans calls for EU asylum reform

“Every minute, every day, nearly 31 people are forcibly displaced. Today, more than 68.5 million people have been forced to leave their homes due to conflicts and violence, persecution, natural disasters or the very real consequences of climate change –25.4 million of them are refugees.

“More than 67 years after the 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees, its international principles remain more valid than ever. These principles are enshrined in the EU’s asylum acquis, and the EU remains committed to continue standing up for those who are in need of help.

“As a global player, we are working to tackle and solve the main crises through diplomatic means. As the leading global aid donor in the world, we provide humanitarian assistance and support to refugees, asylum seekers, displaced people, inside and outside Europe. We have shown unprecedented support during the migratory crisis of 2015 and 2016 by accommodating hundreds of thousands of refugees fleeing war and persecution, and we continue to provide protection to those in need: in 2017 alone, EU Member States granted protection to more than 538 000 people.

“Our support also reaches those displaced by long-standing conflicts, from Afghanistan to Colombia to the Horn of Africa, while responding to emerging crises, such as the displacement of the Rohingyas. It has given a lifeline to millions of Syrian refugees and their host communities inside the country and across the region.

“In this endeavour we work hand in hand with our partners around the world, certain that only a global response can match the challenge ahead. To this end we are building an ever closer relation with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, responding to the plight of refugees worldwide and developing innovative solutions. For example, in November 2017, together we put in place an Emergency Transit Mechanism to evacuate those in need of international protection from Libya for further resettlement to Europe and have so far already helped over 1,600 people. These very same principles of solidarity, shared responsibility, multilateralism and engagement will be guiding us towards the adoption of the UN Global Compact on Refugees later this year.

“But challenges remain. We must continue our work together with our Member States to establish more legal and safe pathways and close the dangerous and irregular migration routes. Over the next two years, Member States have committed to resettle more than 50,000 of the most vulnerable persons and provide them with a new home in the EU. We must also reach, without delay, an agreement on the reform our Common European Asylum System based on the principles of responsibility and solidarity. And we must work harder to foster the integration of those who receive protection in the European Union and in particular the most vulnerable, such as women and children.

“In times of increasing divisive rhetoric against vulnerable people fleeing war and persecution, the EU is and will continue to protect those in need, and we will continue to endeavour to bring stability where there is conflict.”

The statement was jointly issued on the occasion of World Refugee Day by the following EU officials:

Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission;

Federica Mogherini, Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President;

Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy;

Neven Mimica, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development;

Dimitris Avramopoulos, Commissioner for Migration and Home Affairs;

Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management;

Vera Jourová, Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality.

EU sets Poland on pariah track

The EU executive  Commissioner and First vice-president of the European Commission Frans Timmermans  launched an unprecedented process, triggering Article 7 of Lisbon Treaty to suspend Poland’s voting rights in the European Union after two years of dispute over judicial reforms that Brussels claims undermine Polish judiciary independence.

Polish government has three month ahead of them to abolish the judiciary reforms to avoid the so called “nuclear” opinion to lose voting rights within the EU. The visit of the incumbent Prime minister Mateusz Morawiecki to Brussels is forseen in January, however so far Polish government refused to bend to EU demands, insisting on their sovereign right to carve laws.  The move of the executive is largely interpreted as ‘anti-Polish’, and there are fears it will only deepen the growing gap between Brussels and Warsaw.

Many experts interpret the Commission’s selective application of Lisbon Treaty articles to fact of the growing longng of Poland for sovreignty, led by nationalist government of ight-wing Law and Justice (PiS) party.

EU claims “relocation success”

6.09.2017. Brussels. Today the Commission is presenting four progress reports on actions taken under the European Agenda on Migration to better manage migration and protect the EU’s external borders. The package outlines progress made in the EU’s relocation and resettlement schemes and also reports on the roll-out of the European Border and Coast Guard and the implementation of the EU-Turkey Statement, as well as on the progress made under the Partnership Framework on Migration and along the Central Mediterranean route.

“All EU actors have worked hard together to manage migration flows, to protect our external borders and to support the frontline Member States. We’re on the right track and the results can be seen on the ground. However, the challenges and risk factors of migration remain. So we must continue to improve our work to save lives, to put in place safe and legal pathways for those who deserve protection and to return those who have no right to stay,” – European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans said.

When we speak of migration, we often say that we are facing a complex challenge, but we should never forget that we are dealing with the stories of hundreds of thousands of human beings. We are advancing towards a system to jointly and sustainably manage, in full respect of human rights, a situation which requires strong partnership, sharing of responsibilities, solidarity, and sustained commitment. We are finally on the right path – we need to continue to work with consistency and determination,” – EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini said.

“When Europe works together in a spirit of responsibility and solidarity, we make progress and achieve concrete results, both inside and outside the EU. We also see intra-EU solidarity: with the relocation programme delivering results and almost all registered applicants having been relocated from Greece and Italy. This success now needs to be sustained on all these fronts,”  – Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship Dimitris Avramopoulos said.

 

Commission starts procedure against Poland

The European Commission launched an infringement procedure against Poland by sending a Letter of Formal Notice, following the publication in the Polish Official Journal of the Law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation on Friday 28 July. The Polish authorities have one month to reply to the Letter of Formal Notice.

The Commission’s hand is still extended to the Polish authorities, in the hope of a constructive dialogue.” –  said the First Vice-President Frans Timmermans in a letter to the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs reiterating the invitation to him and the Polish Minister of Justice for a meeting in Brussels at their earliest convenience in order to relaunch the dialogue. Formal Notice requests the Polish Government to reply within one month. After examining Poland’s reply, or if no observations have been submitted within the prescribed time-limit, the Commission may issue a Reasoned Opinion, the second stage of the infringement procedure.

The Commission’s key legal concern identified in the law on the organisation of ordinary courts relates to the discrimination on the basis of gender due to the introduction of a different retirement age for female judges (60 years) and male judges (65 years). This is contrary to Article 157 Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Directive 2006/54 on gender equality in employment.

In the Letter of Formal Notice, the Commission also raises concerns that by giving the Minister of Justice the discretionary power to prolong the mandate of judges who have reached retirement age, as well as to dismiss and appoint Court Presidents, the independence of Polish courts will be undermined (see Article 19(1) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU) in combination with Article 47 of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights).

The new rules allow the Minister of Justice to exert influence on individual ordinary judges though, in particular, the vague criteria for the prolongation of their mandates thereby undermining the principle of irremovability of judges. While decreasing the retirement age, the law allows judges to have their mandate extended by the Minister of Justice for up to ten years for female judges and five years for male judges. Also, there is no time-frame for the Minister of Justice to make a decision on the extension of the mandate, allowing him to retain influence over the judges concerned for the remaining time of their judicial mandate.

The Commission’s hand is still extended to the Polish authorities, in the hope of a constructive dialogue.” –  said the First Vice-President Frans Timmermans sent a letter to the Polish Minister of Foreign Affairs reiterating the invitation to him and the Polish Minister of Justice for a meeting in Brussels at their earliest convenience in order to relaunch the dialogue. As Timmermans underlined in the context of the Rule of Law dialogue. Formal Notice requests the Polish Government to reply within one month. After examining Poland’s reply, or if no observations have been submitted within the prescribed time-limit, the Commission may issue a Reasoned Opinion, the second stage of the infringement procedure.

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