Tag Archives: Leyen

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”.

EU-UK first lawsuit in view

Brussels 1.10.2020 Today the European Commission has sent to the United Kingdom a letter of formal notice for breaching its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement. This marks the beginning of a formal infringement process against the United Kingdom. It has one month to reply to today’s letter.

Article 5 of the Withdrawal Agreement states that the European Union and the United Kingdom must take all appropriate measures to ensure the fulfilment of the obligations arising from the Withdrawal Agreement, and that they must refrain from any measures which could jeopardise the attainment of those objectives. Both parties are bound by the obligation to cooperate in good faith in carrying out the tasks stemming from the Withdrawal Agreement.

On 9 September 2020, the UK government tabled a Bill (‘United Kingdom Internal Market Bill’) that, if adopted, would flagrantly violate the Protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland, as it would allow the UK authorities to disregard the legal effect of the Protocol’s substantive provisions under the Withdrawal Agreement. Representatives of the UK government have acknowledged this violation, stating that its purpose was to allow it to depart in a permanent way from the obligations stemming from the Protocol. The UK government has failed to withdraw the contentious parts of the Bill, despite requests by the European Union.

By doing so, the UK has breached its obligation to act in good faith, as set out in Article 5 of the Withdrawal Agreement. Furthermore, it has launched a process, which – if the Bill is adopted – would impede the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. As a result, the Commission has launched infringement proceedings today in line with the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement.

The UK has until the end of this month to submit its observations to the letter of formal notice. After examining these observations, or if no observations have been submitted, the Commission may, if appropriate, decide to issue a Reasoned Opinion.

The Withdrawal Agreement was ratified by both the EU and the UK. It entered into force on 1 February 2020 and has legal effects under international law.

Following the publication by the UK government of the draft ‘United Kingdom Internal Market Bill’ on 9 September 2020, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič called for an extraordinary meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee to request the UK government to elaborate on its intentions and to respond to the EU’s serious concerns. The meeting took place in London on 10 September between Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič.

At the meeting, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič stated that if the Bill were to be adopted, it would constitute an extremely serious violation of the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law. He called on the UK government to withdraw these measures from the draft Bill in the shortest time possible and in any case by the end of the month of September.

At the third ordinary meeting of the Joint Committee on 28 September 2020, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič again called on the UK government to withdraw the contentious measures from the bill. The UK government on this occasion confirmed its intention to go ahead with the draft legislation.

The Withdrawal Agreement provides that during the transition period, the Court of Justice of the European Union has jurisdiction and the Commission has the powers conferred upon it by Union law in relation to the United Kingdom, also as regards the interpretation and application of that Agreement.

Review: RULE Of LAW culture in EU

Brussels, 30 September 2020 The European Commission has today published the first EU-wide report on the rule of law. Today’s report includes input from every Member State and covers both positive and negative developments across the EU. It shows that many Member States have high rule of law standards, but important challenges to the rule of law exist in the EU. It also reflects relevant developments stemming from the emergency measures taken by Member States due to the coronavirus crisis. The report covers four main pillars with a strong bearing on the rule of law: national justice systems, anti-corruption frameworks, media pluralism and freedom, and other institutional issues related to the checks and balances essential to an effective system of democratic governance.

The aim of the new Rule of Law Report is to enlarge the existing EU toolbox with a new preventive tool and kick-start an inclusive debate and rule of law culture across the EU. It should help all Member States examine how challenges can be addressed, how they can learn from each other’s experiences, and show how the rule of law can be further strengthened in full respect of national constitutional systems and traditions.

“The rule of law and our shared values are the foundation of our societies. They are part of our common identity as Europeans. The rule of law protects people from the rule of the powerful. While we have very high rule of law standards in the EU, we also have various challenges. The European Commission will continue working with the national authorities to find solutions, to guarantee people’s everyday rights and freedoms,” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

“Today we are filling an important gap in our rule of law toolbox. The new report for the first time looks at all Member States equally to identify rule of law trends and help to prevent serious problems from arising. Each citizen deserves to have access to independent judges, to benefit from free and pluralistic media and to trust that their fundamental rights are respected. Only then, can we call ourselves a true Union of democracies,” Vice-President for Values and Transparency, Věra Jourová, said.

“The new Rule of Law Report is the start of an open and regular dialogue with every Member State, a way in which we can share good practices and pre-empt challenges before they become entrenched. The goal is to instil a real rule of law culture across the European Union, and trigger a genuine debate at national and EU level,” Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Didier Reynders, said.

Leyen welcomes Swiss vote result

“Switzerland and the EU are more than just neighbours. We have very close and deep ties, rooted in a long, shared, European history. Geographical proximity plays a role of course, But, much more importantly, the close bonds between our citizens.About 1.4 million EU citizens live in Switzerland and 450,000 Swiss live in the EU. Another 320,000 EU citizens cross the border daily to work in Switzerland” said, w President von der Leyen, while reacting upon the result of the Swiss referendum regarding freedom of movement with the EU in favour of EU-Switzerland close ties.

“The citizens of Switzerland have shown today that they value these ties.
Their vote upholds one of the core pillars of our relationship: the mutual freedom to move, to live and to work in Switzerland and the EU.

“I welcome this outcome. I see it as a positive signal to continue to consolidate and deepen our relationship.
I will soon speak to Mrs Sommaruga, President of the Swiss Confederation. I will congratulate her on this result. Of course, I look forward to the Swiss Federal Council now moving swiftly on the signature and ratification of the International Framework Agreement that we negotiated in 2018.

“I will reiterate this message I passed last January when we met in Davos”.

Swiss voters have refused a proposal to end an accord with the EU, allowing the free movement of people.
In the outcome of the referendum early 62% said they wished to keep free movement, while 38% were against.
Switzerland is not a member of the EU but has a series of interdependent treaties with the bloc which allow it to access to Europe’s free trade area.

The move to rein in immigration was proposed by the Swiss People’s Party (SVP), but opposed by the government.
An initiative to introduce quotas on immigrants from the EU to Switzerland narrowly passed in a 2014 referendum, reflecting upon Swiss-EU relations.
Swiss people are given a direct say in their own affairs under the country’s system of direct democracy. They are regularly invited to vote on various issues in national or regional referendums.

EU New Pact on Migration & Asylum

Brussels 23.09.2020 Today, the European Commission is proposing a new Pact on Migration and Asylum, covering all of the different elements needed for a comprehensive European approach to migration. It sets out improved and faster procedures throughout the asylum and migration system. And it sets in balance the principles of fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity. This is crucial for rebuilding trust between Member States and confidence in the capacity of the European Union to manage migration.

Migration is a complex issue, with many facets that need to be weighed together. The safety of people who seek international protection or a better life, the concerns of countries at the EU’s external borders, which worry that migratory pressures will exceed their capacities and which need solidarity from others. Or the concerns of other EU Member States, which are concerned that, if procedures are not respected at the external borders, their own national systems for asylum, integration or return will not be able to cope in the event of large flows.

The current system no longer works. And for the past five years, the EU has not been able to fix it. The EU must overcome the current stalemate and rise up to the task. With the new Pact on Migration and Asylum, the Commission proposes common European solutions to a European challenge. The EU must move away from ad-hoc solutions and put in place a predictable and reliable migration management system.

Following extensive consultations and an honest and holistic assessment of the situation, the Commission proposes to improve the overall system. This includes looking at ways of improving cooperation with the countries of origin and transit, ensuring effective procedures, successful integration of refugees and return of those with no right to stay. No single solution on migration can satisfy all sides, on all aspects – but by working together, the EU can find a common solution.

“We are proposing today a European solution, to rebuild trust between Member States and to restore citizens’ confidence in our capacity to manage migration as a Union. The EU has already proven in other areas that it can take extraordinary steps to reconcile diverging perspectives. We have created a complex internal market, a common currency and an unprecedented recovery plan to rebuild our economies. It is now time to rise to the challenge to manage migration jointly, with the right balance between solidarity and responsibility” European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said.

“Moria is a stark reminder that the clock has run out on how long we can live in a house half-built. The time has come to rally around a common, European migration policy. The Pact provides the missing pieces of the puzzle for a comprehensive approach to migration. No one Member State experiences migration in the same way and the different and unique challenges faced by all deserve to be recognised, acknowledged and addressed” Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said.

Commissioner for Home Affairs, Ylva Johansson, said: “Migration has always been and always will be part of our societies. What we are proposing today will build a long-term migration policy that can translate European values into practical management. This set of proposals will mean clear, fair and faster border procedures, so that people do not have to wait in limbo. It means enhanced cooperation with third countries for fast returns, more legal pathways and strong actions to fight human smugglers. Fundamentally it protects the right to seek asylum”.

Stronger trust fostered by better and more effective procedures

The first pillar of the Commission’s approach to building confidence consists of more efficient and faster procedures. In particular, the Commission is proposing to introduce an integrated border procedure, which for the first time includes a pre-entry screening covering identification of all people crossing the EU’s external borders without permission or having been disembarked after a search and rescue operation.

This will also entail a health and a security check, fingerprinting and registration in the Eurodac database. After the screening, individuals can be channeled to the right procedure, be it at the border for certain categories of applicants or in a normal asylum procedure. As part of this border procedure, swift decisions on asylum or return will be made, providing quick certainty for people whose cases can be examined rapidly.

At the same time, all other procedures will be improved and subject to stronger monitoring and operational support from EU agencies. The EU’s digital infrastructure for migration management will be modernised to mirror and support these procedures.

Fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity

The second pillar at the core of the Pact is fair sharing of responsibility and solidarity. Member States will be bound to act responsibly and in solidarity with one another. Each Member State, without any exception, must contribute in solidarity in times of stress, to help stabilize the overall system, support Member States under pressure and ensure that the Union fulfils its humanitarian obligations.

In respect of the different situations of Member States and of fluctuating migratory pressures, the Commission proposes a system of flexible contributions from the Member States. These can range from relocation of asylum seekers from the country of first entry to taking over responsibility for returning individuals with no right to stay or various forms of operational support.

While the new system is based on cooperation and flexible forms of support starting off on a voluntary basis, more stringent contributions will be required at times of pressure on individual Member States, based on a safety net.

The solidarity mechanism will cover various situations – including disembarkation of persons following search and rescue operations, pressure, crisis situations or other specific circumstances.

A change of paradigm in cooperation with non-EU countries

The EU will seek to promote tailor-made and mutually beneficial partnerships with third countries. These will help address shared challenges such as migrant smuggling, will help develop legal pathways and will tackle the effective implementation of readmission agreements and arrangements. The EU and its Member States will act in unity using a wide range of tools to support cooperation with third countries on readmission.

A comprehensive approach

Today’s package will also seek to boost a common EU system for returns, to make EU migration rules more credible. This will include a more effective legal framework, a stronger role of the European Border and Coast Guard, and a newly appointed EU Return Coordinator with a network of national representatives to ensure consistency across the EU.

It will also propose a common governance for migration with better strategic planning to ensure that EU and national policies are aligned, and enhanced monitoring of migration management on the ground to enhance mutual trust.

The management of external borders will be improved. The European Border and Coast Guard standing corps, scheduled for deployment from 1 January 2021, will provide increased support wherever needed.

A credible legal migration and integration policy will benefit European societies and economies. The Commission will launch Talent Partnerships with key non-EU countries that will match labour and skills needs in the EU. The Pact will strengthen resettlement and promote other complementary pathways, seeking to develop a European model of community or private sponsorship. The Commission will also adopt a new comprehensive Action Plan on integration and inclusion for 2021-2024.

#SoTEU: Leyen WARNS UK

The UK has no legal power to unilaterally set aside the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement signed by Boris Johnson, European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen has warned in her State of Union #SOTEU speech on September 16. In the traditional annual address of the president of the European Commission to the European Parliament. The president said both sides had agreed it was the only way to guarantee the Northern Ireland peace process. In her speech she insisted that the trust would be undermined if the UK started reverse its international Treaty obligations.
Ursula von der Leyen addressed issue of the Withdrawal Agreement, which was concluded as a direct result of Brexit.

“We need new beginnings with old friends – on both of sides of the Atlantic and on both sides of the Channel. The scenes in this very room when we held hands and said goodbye with Auld Lang Syne spoke a thousand words. They showed an affection for the British people that will never fade. But with every day that passes the chances of a timely agreement do start to fade. Negotiations are always difficult. We are used to that.
And the Commission has the best and most experienced negotiator, Michel Barnier, to navigate us through.
But talks have not progressed as we would have wished. And that leaves us very little time.

As ever, this House will be the first to know and will have the last say. And I can assure you we will continue to update you throughout, just as we did with the Withdrawal Agreement.That agreement took three years to negotiate and we worked relentlessly on it. Line by line, word by word. And together we succeeded. The result guarantees our citizens’ rights, financial interests, the integrity of the Single Market – and crucially the Good Friday Agreement.

“The EU and the UK jointly agreed it was the best and only way for ensuring peace on the island of Ireland.
And we will never backtrack on that. This agreement has been ratified by this House and the House of Commons.
It cannot be unilaterally changed, disregarded or dis-applied. This a matter of law, trust and good faith.
And that is not just me saying it – I remind you of the words of Margaret Thatcher: “Britain does not break Treaties. It would be bad for Britain, bad for relations with the rest of the world, and bad for any future Treaty on trade”. This was true then, and it is true today.
Trust is the foundation of any strong partnership” von der Leyen said.

Boris Johnson has urged MPs to support a bill which modifies the Brexit deal he signed with the EU in January. While the British Prime Minister said the Internal Markets Bill would “ensure the integrity of the UK internal market” and hand power to Scotland and Wales, and it would protect the Northern Ireland peace process. Critics insist that the move will damage the UK’s international standing after a minister admitted the plans break international law.

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