Tag Archives: Leyen

EU: 60% vaccinated adults

Brussels 02.07.2021 Today,the European Commission president announced that 60% of all adults in the EU are now fully vaccinated. “Full vaccination protects us from #COVID19 and its variants” the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen wrote on her Twitter micro blog.
“Let’s stay vigilant. Let’s get vaccinated! For our own health – and to protect others” the EU top official called.

Pfizer company is raising the price of its Covid19 product in Europe by over 25% under a newly negotiated contract with the European Union (EU), according to a report from the Financial Times (FT) newspaper. Competitor Moderna is also hiking the price of its vaccine in Europe by roughly 10%.

Pfizer’s Covid19 biological agent is already expected to generate the most revenue of any medicine in a single year—about $33.5 billion for 2021 alone, according to the pharmaceutical company’s own assessment. However the company says it’s providing poorer countries the vaccine at a highly discounted price.

Pfizer company previously charged the EU €15.50 per dose for its vaccine, which is based on new revolutionary mRNA technology. The company will now charge €19.50 for 2.1 billion doses that will be delivered through the year 2023, according to the FT newspaper.

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.

Belgium: Day of mourning

Brusssels 20.07.2021 Belgium held a day of mourning Tuesday,July 20, for the victims of the devastating floods, while German Chancellor Angela Merkel undertook her second visit to the region worst hit by the disaster.

“In this day of mourning, we observed a minute of silence for the victims of the devastating floods. No words can describe the suffering and destruction caused.The European Commission stands with the communities rebuilding their lives and homes. We will support in any way we can” the top EU executive Ursula von der Leyen wrote on her Twitter micro blog.

“The Belgian king and queen visited the eastern town of Verviers to console people who had lost family members, friends, and neighbours, and many lost their possessions as the flows swept through villages in eastern Belgium, taking at least 31 lives.

King Philippe and Queen Mathilde discuss with each of the victims invited to the official ceremony of national mourning. Queen Mathilde spoke at length with an upset little girl.

Some 70 people are still missing or have been unable to be contacted after massive rains turned streets in eastern Belgium into deadly torrents of water, mud and debris. Flags flew at half staff and at noon, sirens wailed throughout the nation, followed by a moment of silence.

Help is pouring in from across the nation and some 10,000 volunteer workers have offered to visit the hilly region to start the cleanup once the waters have receded enough.

“Please accept my most sincere condolences on the tragic consequences of floods in the southern and eastern regions of your country” reads letter of Russian President Vladimir Putin to the King of Belgium Philippe.
“Russia shares the grief of those who lost their loved ones as a result of this natural disaster, and hopes for a speedy recovery of all those affected”.

MEPs debate Slovenian presidency

Strasbourg 06.07.2021 MEPs discussed the planned activities of the Slovenian Presidency of the Council of the EU with Prime Minister Janez Janša and Commission President von der Leyen.

Prime Minister Janša recalled the various crises that the EU has experienced over the last few years, ranging from financial issues, to migration, Brexit and the COVID-19 pandemic, all of which has forced the European Union to be more strategic and focus on foreign policy.

Under the slogan “Together. Resilient. Europe.”, the Slovenian presidency will focus on recovery and resilience, translating ambitious green goals into binding legislation, strategic autonomy, the digital transition, rule of law and the protection of external borders.

Regarding the Conference on the Future of Europe (CoFoE), the Prime Minister stressed that all points of views will be welcomed in the debates. On external relations, special attention will be paid to the Western Balkans.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen highlighted ongoing work on recovery programmes in member states and the need to progress with vaccination campaigns. She called for support on EU values, adding that financial interests and media freedom must be protected, and diversity preserved.

Most MEPs welcomed the Slovenian presidency’s priorities, particularly the focus on recovery through the digital and green transition, economic growth and job creation as well as giving impetus and content to CoFoE discussions. Several insisted that work on upholding rule of law across the EU must continue, and cited concerns regarding the situation of independent media and judiciary in Slovenia.

Many speakers urged Janša to nominate the Slovenian representative to the European Public Prosecutor Office (EPPO) without further delay. In his reply, the Prime Minister said this process should be completed by autumn and called on the member states who are not part of the initiative to join, to ensure equal controls on EU funds across the EU.

EU-Switzerland talks in stalemate

Brussels 25.04.2021 Talks on future ties between Switzerland and the European Union have once again hit a dead end in April, with Swiss President Guy Parmelin saying that “substantial differences” remain between the two parties, after talks with the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen. (Image above: Bern, Switzerland).

Parmelin and von der Leyen held much-anticipated discussions in Brussels on Friday, April 23, in the hope of breaking a negotiating stalemate over an overarching framework agreement between Switzerland and the EU.

Switzerland has demanded that state aid, labour rules and citizens’ rights are removed from a draft agreement that was sketched in 2018, however the EU has refused.

Speaking at a press conference after the meeting Parmelin said that Switzerland could not sign the deal as it is but added that the two sides would remain in contact.

Switzerland is not a member of the EU, operating within a set of bilateral agreements. Currently both sides are trying to finalise an institutional “framework agreement” aimed at simplifying future ties between the two parties.

During his meeting with the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the Confederation, Guy Parmelin have opted for a diplomatic approach: “We have made progress on certain points. Even though our positions remain at times very distant from those of the EU, we have decided to stay in touch. ”

While commenting on the issue the spokesperson of the Commission Eric Mamer, said that “the text of 2018 is the right one and the one we need”, clearly indicating that it could not be changed further, but the “door to the EU will always remain open” for Switzerland.

Boris Johnson travels to Brussels

Brussels 08.12.2020 British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will travel to Brussels for a summit in persona with the European commission president, Ursula von der Leyen, in an attempt to reach a breakthrough in the EU-UK stalled negotiations.

A long-awaited decisive meeting will be held in the “coming days”, the two leaders said in a joint statement following a phone call lasting over an hour, to ensure the agreement on a trade and security. The diplomatic sources on both sides pointed to 9-10 December as the most likely dates.

However none of the diplomats expressed certainty about the sealing of the deal. There is also a backdrop of pessimism among the experts, presuming this “gesticulation” is mere attempt to convince the electorates at both side of the Channel in sincere attempt to reach a results.

“Talks are in the same position now as they were on Friday,” a UK government source said, referring to the December 4. “We have made no tangible progress. It’s clear this must now continue politically. Whilst we do not consider this process to be closed, things are looking very tricky and there’s every chance we are not going to get there.”

Leyen condemns Vienna attack

The president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen offered her condolences to the Austrian people, following the Vienna attack by the terrorist group Islamic State. The EU top executive has spoken to Austria Chancellor Sebastian Kurz to express the determination to “relentlessly fight terrorism”, and stand by Austrian people in this tragic circumstances. At least one assailant killed four people and seriously injured more than a dozen of others before being shot dead by police in an attack in Vienna, that officials assessed as radical Islam terrorism.

“I offered my deepest condolences to the Austrian people following the Vienna attack by “Islamic State” terrorists. I condemn this despicable attack in the strongest terms possible”, von der Leyen wrote on her Twitter micro blog.

The president of the European Parliament David Sassoli reacted with “sadness and horror” on Vienna attack, adding that Across our continent, the Europeans “stand united against violence and hate”.

At least four people were killed and 15 others injured in a series of shootings that started near the Stadttempel synagogue in central Vienna on Monday night, on November 2, the attackers, according to the Interior Minister Karl Nehammer were connected to the ISIS terrorist group.

The shooting began at about 20H00 local time at six different locations by multiple gunmen armed with rifles, according to local authorities. Police shot and killed one of the suspects, whom authorities later described as an Islamic terrorist, who was wearing a fake explosive belt.

France: EU condemns barbaric attacks

Brussels 29.10.20 “I condemn the hideous and brutal attack which has just taken place in Nice and am wholeheartedly with France. My thoughts are with the victims of this heinous act” the European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen wrote on her Twitter micro blog.

“The whole of Europe stands in solidarity with France. We remain united and determined in the face of barbarism and fanaticism” von der Leyen underlined.

At present, three people have died from knife attack committed in the church Notre Dame at heart of Nice. Among the victims a beheaded elderly women. It is a terrorist attack according to Mayor Christian Estrosi.
“In Nice the entire Christian world was targeted. I address my thoughts to all Christians in France and around the world” the Mayor said in his video addresse.

Only a few hours after the attack on the Notre-Dame basilica in Nice, Jean Castex launched a vigipirate plan at the “emergency bombing” level across the country. This is the highest level. The Prime Minister also announced that a Defense and Security Council was scheduled for “tomorrow morning”. Emmanuel Macron is also on his way to Nice.

According to information gathered by Europe 1 and Franceinfo, three people have died including the guardian of the church. One of them was reportedly beheaded. Several people are injured. One of them is said to be in serious condition. A police and demining operation is still in progress in the Notre-Dame basilica in Nice. “The detonations you hear are those caused by the national police services, do not panic, the situation is under control,” wrote the local national police on Twitter. According to the local daily Nice-matin, a stabbing attack therefore took place in the Notre-Dame basilica located on Avenue Jean Médecin in the heart of downtown Nice. Shots were also heard, causing panic among residents.

The mayor of Nice said the perpetrator of the knife attack has already been arrested by municipal police. He would have “repeated Allah Akbar repeatedly,” the mayor reported on BFMTV. The anti-terrorism prosecution has opened an investigation for “murder and attempted murder in connection with a terrorist enterprise” and “criminal terrorist association”.

Christian Estrosi asked “the people of Nice to avoid the area to let the police and emergency services work”. The city Councilor of Nice has also confirmed that “everything suggests a terrorist attack in the Notre-Dame basilica”. He also said on BFMTV: “It is time for France to break free from the laws of peace”.

vigipirate plan was decreed by the Prime Minister Jean Castex.

#EUCO: EU-UK future relations at stake

Brussels 13.10.2020 Today the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has informed the EU Ministers on the state of play of talks between the block and the UK, and the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. He also confirmed the “strong EU unity” ahead of European Council on October 15-16. Barnier added that the EU will continue to work for a fair deal in the coming days and weeks.

Ahead of the Council European Council President Charles Michel has called the British government to put “all cards on the table” respecting to Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. “To get to a deal, we need significant steps by our British friends in the coming days”, he added.

“We have given a very strong signal to the British government: If the Finance Bill is introduced with that provision in it, many in the EU will see that as an indication that the British government simply doesn’t want a deal. It would be a second piece of legislation designed to deliberately break the Withdrawal Agreement text”.

With the 15 October European Council date approaching, the negotiations between the EU and the UK are becoming more intense to meet the deadline.

Michel Barnier next travelled to London to meet with UK Chief Negotiator David Frost, while informal talks continued this past week. European Council President Charles Michel and Prime Minister Johnson spoke by phone on 7 October to discuss the progress of the intensified negotiations ahead of the 15 October Summit.

Since UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen’s joint statement over the weekend, EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier travelled to Berlin on Monday to meet with German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas.

The latter stressed the pandemic has made the negotiations with the UK even more difficult. Regardless of this hurdle, Maas added a no-deal Brexit would be “irresponsible”, saying the EU remains open to establishing a “close and ambitious partnership” with the UK. He warned, however, that progress is needed at this stage of the talks on state aid, the Irish border and dispute resolution.

Meanwhile, the UK Government announced its intention to push through a Finance Bill (not yet published) for approval by the end of the year could prove problematic for achieving a deal with the EU. The Bill is expected to include clauses which would allow the UK Government to make unilateral decisions about which goods were “at risk” of being traded on from Northern Ireland into the EU, and should therefore be subject to tariffs. The EU argues that this would be a further breach the Withdrawal Agreement and may therefore risk a no-deal exit scenario.

On October 7 in a separate procedure the Scottish Parliament voted to withhold consent on the UK’s Internal Market Bill. Both the Scottish and Welsh governments have stated the Bill overrides their powers of administration.

#EUCO: EU reiterates call for digalogue with Turkey

Brussels 2.10.2020 “…The EU has a strategic interest in a stable and secure environment in the Eastern Mediterranean and in the development of a cooperative and mutually beneficial relationship with Turkey. Pursuing dialogue in good faith and abstaining from unilateral actions which run counter to the EU interests and violate international law and the sovereign rights of EU Member States is an absolute requirement in this regard”, the conclusion of the European Council All differences must be resolved through peaceful dialogue and in accordance with international law. In this context, the European Council reiterates its full solidarity with Greece and Cyprus, whose sovereignty and sovereign rights must be respected”.

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“The EU welcomes the recent confidence building steps by Greece and Turkey, as well as the announcement that they will resume their direct exploratory talks aiming at the delimitation of the Continental Shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone of the two countries. These efforts need to be sustained and broadened.

“At the same time, the European Council strongly condemns violations of the sovereign rights of the Republic of Cyprus which must stop. The European Council calls on Turkey to abstain from similar actions in the future, in breach of international law. The European Council underlines that delimitation of the Continental Shelf and Exclusive Economic Zone should be addressed through dialogue and negotiation in good faith, in full respect of international law, and calls on Turkey to accept the invitation by Cyprus to engage in dialogue with the objective of settling all maritime-related disputes between Turkey and Cyprus.

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“The European Council supports the speedy resumption of negotiations, under the auspices of the UN, and remains fully committed to a comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus problem within the UN framework and in accordance with the relevant UNSC resolutions, including UNSC resolutions 550 and 789, and in line with the principles on which the EU is founded. It expects the same of Turkey. The EU stands ready to play an active role in supporting the negotiations, including by appointing, upon resumption, a representative to the UN Good Offices Mission.

“Provided constructive efforts to stop illegal activities vis-à-vis Greece and Cyprus are sustained, the European Council has agreed to launch a positive political EU-Turkey agenda with a specific emphasis on the modernisation of the Customs Union and trade facilitation, people to people contacts, High level dialogues, continued cooperation on migration issues, in line with the 2016 EU-Turkey Statement. The European Council invites its President, in cooperation with the President of the Commission and with the support of the High Representative, to develop a proposal for re-energising the EU-Turkey agenda to this effect.

“Recalling and reaffirming i.a. its previous conclusions on Turkey of October 2019, in case of renewed unilateral actions or provocations in breach of international law, the EU will use all the instruments and the options at its disposal, including in accordance with Article 29 TEU and Article 215 TFEU, in order to defend its interests and those of its Member States.
The European Council will continue to closely monitor developments and will revert accordingly and take decisions as appropriate at the latest at its December meeting.

“Finally, the European Council calls for a Multilateral Conference on the Eastern Mediterranean and invites the High Representative to engage in talks about its organisation. Modalities such as participation, scope and timeline will need to be agreed with all involved parties. The Conference could address issues on which multilateral solutions are needed, including maritime delimitation, security, energy, migration and economic cooperation”.

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