Tag Archives: Frans Timmermans

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 ‚Äď25.4 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.

Brussels issues warning to Poland

The Commission substantiates its grave concerns on the planned reform of the judiciary in Poland in a¬†Rule of Law Recommendation¬†addressed to the Polish authorities. In the Commission’s assessment, this reform amplifies the systemic threat to the rule of law in Poland already identified in the rule of law procedure started by the Commission in January 2016. The Commission requests the Polish authorities to address these problems within one month.

The Commission asks the Polish authorities notably not to take any measure to dismiss or force the retirement of Supreme Court judges. If such a measure is taken, the Commission stands ready to immediately trigger the¬†Article 7(1)procedure¬†¬†‚Äď a formal warning by the EU that can be issued by four fifths of the Member States in the Council of Ministers.

The Commission also decides to launch an infringement proceeding against Poland for breaches of EU law. The College will immediately send a Letter of Formal Notice once the Law on the Ordinary Courts Organisation is published.

At the same time, the Commission recalls its offer to pursue a constructive dialogue with the Polish Government.

The Commission is determined to defend the rule of law in all our Member States as a fundamental principle on which our European Union is built. An independent judiciary is an essential precondition for membership in our Union. The EU can therefore not accept a system which allows dismissing judges at will. Independent courts are the basis of mutual trust between our Member States and our judicial systems. If the Polish government goes ahead with undermining the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law in Poland, we will have no other choice than to trigger Article 7″ –¬†President¬†Jean-Claude Juncker¬†said.

“Our Recommendations to the Polish authorities are clear. It is time to restore the independence of the Constitutional Tribunal and to either withdraw the laws reforming the judiciary or bring them in line with the Polish Constitution and with European standards on judicial independence. Polish courts like the courts of all Member States are called upon to provide an effective remedy in case of violations of EU law, in which case they act as the “judges of the Union” and must comply with the requirements of the independence of the judiciary in line with the Treaty and the Charter of Fundamental Rights” – First Vice-President¬†Frans¬†Timmermans¬†said.

¬†“We want to resolve these issues together in a constructive way. The Commission’s hand remains extended to the Polish authorities for dialogue, and we welcome any steps to amend these laws in line with our Recommendations” –¬†Timmermans concluded.

The government of Prime Minister Beata Szydlo¬†passes through period of turbulence with the EU, having disagreements of a range of issues, including EU open door migrant policy. Not the least factor in upsetting the relations between the EU and Poland as the member-state, ¬†was the endorsement of Donald Tusk as EU Council president against the advice of incumbent government. Tusk is widely regarded as a ‘transmitter’ of Brussels will onto Poland, without consideration of Polish national interests. The move officiated a start of confrontational politics against Poland. (Photo: president Tusk helping ¬†president Juncker with his jacket. Courtesy of Dominika Cosic).


Shoukry: ‘no’ for refugee camps in Egypt

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Egypt Sameh Shoukry attended a number of meetings with high officials in Brussels, exchanging views on illegal immigration and security. Shoukry clearly rejected the set up of refugee/migrant camps in Egypt.

Meeting press after the meeting Shukry underlined that his country is ready to co-operate with the EU on issues of illegal migration and security, however he is not looking for any specific agreement on the matter.

Minister Shoukry reviewed the considerable efforts carried out by Egypt in fighting illegal immigration, conceaving a national committee to combat it, however he pointed out that there should be understaning for treating the route causes of the problem.

These meetings took place on the sidelines of the Foreign Affairs Council that is expected also to determine projects that Egypt aspires to implement in cooperation with the EU.

Shoukry met with EU commission vice-president Frans Timmermans and EU commissioner for migration and home affairs Dimitris Avramopoulos, reminding that no illegal migration boat left Egypt since September 2016.

The minister’s talks with the EU commissioner addressed the Egyptian point of view towards the issue of illegal immigration,  the EU commissioner said that Egypt is an essential part of European security.

Timmermans' Polish dilemma

polish-courtThe European Commission launched  consultancies with the EU member states on whether to take further action against Poland in an ongoing dispute over the rule of law, according to diplomatic sources.

The European Commission criticises the Polish government, accusing of undermining democratic checks and balances, namely through its overhaul of Poland’s constitutional court.

The ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party has refused to follow EU recommendations based on Venice Commission opinion, claiming that the Commission is transgressing its remit in instructing a democratically elected government with a large parliamentary majority.

First Vice President Frans Timmermans told his Commission colleagues at their weekly meeting on Wednesday he wanted to take the Polish case to other EU states, officials confirmed. However with support for Polish government, arriving from Hungary, the task of Timmermans becomes increasingly complicated, risking to lay news divides between West and East  EU member-states.

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