Tag Archives: Frans Timmermans

EU-EEA discuss Green Deal

The members of the EEA Council discussed, via video conference, the overall functioning of the Agreement on the European Economic Area (EEA Agreement) and the effect of COVID-19 on the internal market.

The members of the EEA Council also held an orientation debate on the European Green Deal, with the participation of Frans Timmermans, Executive Vice-President of the European Commission.

In the margins of the informal meeting of the members of the EEA Council, the ministers held an informal exchange of views on the EU-UK negotiations with Michel Barnier, Head of the Task Force for Relations with the UK. The ministers also discussed the external dimension of the COVID-19 crisis.

Lastly, the members of the EEA Council adopted a joint statement addressing the following areas:

– response to the Covid-19 pandemic
– cooperation in the EEA
– political dialogue
– withdrawal of the UK from the EU and the EEA Agreement
– development of the internal market
– incorporation of EEA-relevant EU acts
– European Green Deal
– EU programmes
– EEA and Norway Financial Mechanisms

The meeting was chaired by Gordan Grlić-Radman, Minister of Foreign and European Affairs of Croatia. The EEA EFTA side was led by Ine Marie Eriksen Søreide, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Norway, who was accompanied by Katrin Eggenberger, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein, and Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Iceland.

EU marathon talks to continue for third day

EU leaders suspended Sunday Summit after 20 hours marathon talks failing to produce an agreement on who should be appointed for the bloc’s top jobs, prompting criticism from French President Emmanuel Macron who said Europe’s indecisiveness was damaging its image abroad. (Image above: arrivals).

The failure to reach consensus during 20 hours long night owl negotiations reflected the fragmentation of the bloc’s politics, occurring after the European elections, leaving both center right and left substantially weaker.

President Macron, who left the Council premises shortly after the talks were suspended till Tuesday morning, labeled the breakdown a “failure” though he added an agreement could still be found.

Eastern European countries had strongly objected the candidates, proposed by Macron, and the leaders of Germany and Spain to  attribute presidency of the European Commission to Dutch Socialist Fran Timmermans. His candidacy did not inspire Italian either.

 

Franco-German wrestling over EU top jobs

European Union leaders clashed over future EU institutions top jobs, primary of powerful position of the European Commission president,  promising to meet a deadline for appointments at  June Summit (20-21/6).

German Chancellor Angela Merkel  faced resistance when French President Emmanuel Macron publicly rejected the Bavarian politician Manfred Weber,  her preferred candidate, a center-right (European People’s Party) Member of the European Parliament.

After the EU elections the center-right European People’s Party (EPP) and the center-left Socialists & Democrats (S&D) would no longer be able to form a majority in the European Parliament to determine the next Commission head.

The EPP are have to turn for support to the liberal Alliance of Liberals and Democrats (ALDE), or/and the Greens, since three groups assembly needed to approve any nomination by the 28 heads of states.

The national government leaders agreed to finalize their nominations at end semester Summit on June 20-21,  well ahead Jean-Claude Juncker mandate expiration at the end of October.

Among leading figures to heir the job of Jean-Claude Juncker, next to Manfred Weber, three oher names were announced by the President Macron:  Dutch Socialist Frans Timmermans, Danish Liberal Margrethe Vestager,and the  EU top Brexit negociator Michel Barnier, “and others”.

At Informal Summit in Brussels the EU leaders bargained behind closed doors, but by the end of the meeting the Council president Donald Tusk announced that there is a target of assigning half of top jobs to women.

 

Macron supports strong personalities for EU top jobs

At his arrival to the EU Informal Summit President Emmanuel Macron said on he prefers two women and two men with strong personalities to lead the European Union in the next five years. French President declined to name his favorite candidates at this stage, but he mentioned the  names of the contestants as Frans Timmermans, Margrethe Vestager, and Michel Barnier, next to the official spitzenkandidat Manfred Weber.

“The key for me is for the people at the most sensitive positions to share our project and be the most charismatic, creative and competent possible,” Macron told press corps after an informal dinner of EU leaders in Brussels. 

“I’m not part of those who… want leaders of the European Commission or the European Council who don’t overshadow national leaders,” he explained. And added that it is not about the names or candidates, but about uniting people, and advancing the European project.

Dutch Labour leads in surprise victory

The Socialist (Labour)  party of European Commissioner Frans Timmermans (pictured) won a surprise victory in a Dutch election for European Parliament, an exit poll showed,  beating a Eurosceptic challenger who had been topping the polls.

The leading social democrat candidate to head the EU Commission, Timmermans propelled his pro-European party to a win, taking more than 18% of the vote.

The upstart far right Forum for Democracy of nationalist Thierry Baudet, which had been neck and neck in polls alongside Prime Minister Mark Rutte’s c, finished third at 11% (3 seats), the exit poll showed.

A European breakthrough ! Thanks for all the votes! We will be tireless for the DUTCH sake over the next five years!

Dutch Labour doubled its 2014 result, showing and beat opinion polls, most of which showed it finishing third at best. At chart below PvdA wins 5 seats in the European Parliament.

 

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 Spain. Gomes 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 RaĂĽl 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.

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