Tag Archives: Leyen

EU-China Summit videoconference

European Union and China held their 22nd bilateral Summit via videoconference on 22 June 2020. President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, accompanied by High Representative Josep Borrell, hold the Summit meeting with Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang followed by exchanges with Chinese President Xi Jinping.

EU-China relations have evolved in recent years. Our economic interdependency is high, and we must work together on global challenges like climate action, meeting the Sustainable Development Goals or dealing with COVID-19. Engaging and cooperating with China is both an opportunity and necessity. But, at the same time, we have to recognise that we do not share the same values, political systems, or approach to multilateralism. We will engage in a clear-eyed and confident way, robustly defending EU interests and standing firm on our values” President Michel said.

The COVID-pandemic and a number of major bilateral and multilateral challenges show clearly the EU – China partnership is crucial, be it in terms of trade, climate, technology, and the defence of multilateralism. But for our relations to develop further, they must become more rules-based and reciprocal, in order to achieve a real level playing-field” President von der Leyen said.

The EU-China summit had a comprehensive agenda addressing bilateral relations; regional and international issues, the COVID-19 pandemic and economic recovery.

The EU recalled the important commitments made at the 2019 EU-China Summit and stressed the need for the implementation of these commitments in a dynamic and result oriented manner as progress today is limited.

The EU strongly emphasised the need to advance negotiations for an ambitious EU-China Comprehensive Investment Agreement that addresses the current asymmetries in market access and ensures a level playing field.. Urgent progress is needed in particular on behaviour of State-Owned Enterprises, transparency on subsidies and rules tackling forced transfers of technology.

On economic and trade issues, the EU recalled the joint commitment to work constructively and expeditiously towards the resolution of a number of market access and regulatory issues. The EU welcomed confirmation by China that the recent China-US “phase 1” deal will be implemented in full compatibility with World Trade Organisation (WTO) obligations and without discrimination against EU operators. The EU recalled its expectation that European exporters immediately benefit from trade facilitating measures in the agri-food sector.

The EU reiterated the urgent need for China to engage in future negotiations on industrial subsidies in the WTO, and address overcapacity in traditional sectors such as steel as well as high-tech areas.

The EU is looking forward to the signature of the EU-China Agreement on Geographical Indications in coming weeks and entry into force in nearest future.

The Summit was also an opportunity to discuss the importance of the digital sector to economies and societies worldwide. The EU stressed that the development of new digital technologies must go hand in hand with the respect of fundamental rights and data protection. The EU also raised outstanding issues on cybersecurity, disinformation.

Leaders had a substantive discussion on climate change. China is the EU’s partner under the Paris Agreement, but needs to commit to decisive and ambitious domestic action to reduce emissions in the short term and to set a goal of climate neutrality at the earliest possible date.

The EU called on China to assume greater responsibility in dealing with global challenges through the rules-based international system, promoting international peace and security, and adhering to international standards to support sustainable development, especially in Africa.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EU underlined the shared responsibility to participate in global efforts to stop the spread of the virus, boost research on treatments and vaccines, and support a green and inclusive global recovery. The EU stressed the need for solidarity in addressing the consequences in developing countries, notably as regard debt relief. The EU also called on China to fully participate in the independent review of lessons learned from the international health response to COVID-19, mandated by the resolution adopted at the last World Health Assembly. The EU also called on China to facilitate the return of EU residents in China.

On Hong Kong, the EU reiterated its grave concerns at steps taken by China to impose national security legislation from Beijing and considers those steps not in conformity with the Hong Kong Basic Law and China’s international commitments, and put pressure on the fundamental rights and freedoms of the population protected by the law and the independent justice system.

The EU raise its concerns on the deteriorating human rights situation, including the treatment of minorities in Xinjiang and Tibet, and of human rights defenders, as well as restrictions on fundamental freedoms. The EU also underlined its expectation that the Human Rights Dialogue will take place in China later in the year once the COVID-19 restrictions are eased. EU Leaders raised a number of individual cases, including the reports on citizens who have disappeared after reporting/expressing their views on the handling of the Coronavirus outbreak, as well as the continued arbitrary detention of Swedish citizen Gui Minhai and two Canadian citizens – Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor.

The EU and China exchanged views on a number of regional and international issues, including Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (the Iran nuclear deal), Afghanistan as well as situation on the Korean Peninsula. The EU expressed concerns about the escalation of other regional conflicts and the importance of upholding international law in the maritime domain. We agreed to continue contacts in the future

MFF: Michel committed to political talks

“…I am totally committed to start immediately real negotiations with the Member States.  We intend to have a physical summit around the middle of July in Brussels.  We will have the occasion to focus on some concrete proposals. Before this summit, I will put on the table some concrete proposals in order to try to take a decision. We are aware that it is essential to take a decision as soon as possible” said Charles Michel, the president of the EU Council after the teleconference with the EU heads of states and government.

“… The main topic was the MFF (Multiannual Financial Framework) and the Recovery Fund. It was the first occasion to discuss at the level of the leaders the proposals put on the table by the Commission, the MFF and the Recovery Fund. It was the occasion to observe that on different points there is an emerging consensus, which is very positive. But at the same time, we don’t underestimate the difficulties. And on different topics we observe that it is necessary to continue to discuss” Michel continued.

The European Commission has already put forward a budget proposal for the recovery from COVID-19, and adopted its first proposal for the EU’s long-term budget, the 2021-2027 multiannual financial framework (MFF) package, on 2 May 2018. To respond to the economic and social fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Commission proposed a revamped long-term EU budget on 27 May 2020.

The proposal includes an emergency recovery instrument, Next Generation EU, to help repair the immediate damage brought by the coronavirus pandemic and kick-start the recovery.

The Commission’s proposal is a seven-year EU budget of €1 850 billion:

a revised long-term EU budget of €1 100 billion for 2021-2027
a temporary reinforcement of €750 billion ⁠– Next Generation EU
The EU Council has been analysing and assessing the proposal. In parallel, Charles Michel, the President of the European Council has been consulting member states ahead of the video conference of EU leaders on 19 June 2020.

However the Duthc Prime Minister Mark Rutte leads a coalition of four member states that are opposed to distribute €500bn in grants to the countries most severely hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. His leadership has broad national support, according to Dutch media 61% of the voters did not support the EU recovery plan as proposed by the European Commission, and only 4% of Dutch voters responded positevly to the Commisison generous plan.

The “Frugal Four” at present including Austria, Denmark, the Netherlands and Sweden -presented their own concept for an EU recovery fund revealed to the EU capitals on 23 May. The most important point is lending. While the Commission proposal supported by Franco-German alliance includes a mixture of grants, loans and guarantees, the “Frugal Four” oppose the idea of grants, and stand for the temporary fund that should not lead to ‘debt mutualisation’, and the recipients of loans, mainlty the countries of the southeren Europe would have to display a ‘strong commitment to reforms’.
Since the end of May Mark Rutte has been at the forefront of a campaign refusing ‘gifts’ to southern European countries, promoting proposal of a ‘modernised’
The EU budget that will guarantee countries are strenghtened through the reforms, emerging with stronger economies after the pandemic crisis.

EU-UK to «work hard» to deliver agreement

Prime Minister Boris Johnson met the President of the European Council Charles Michel, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, on 15 June by videoconference to take stock of progress with the aim of agreeing actions to move forward in negotiations on the future relationship.

“The Parties noted the UK’s decision not to request any extension to the transition period. The transition period will therefore end on 31 December 2020, in line with the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement, the reads the EU-UK Statement following the High Level Meeting on 15 June.

“The Parties welcomed the constructive discussions on the future relationship that had taken place under the leadership of Chief Negotiators David Frost and Michel Barnier, allowing both sides to clarify and further understand positions. They noted that four rounds had been completed and texts exchanged despite the challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The Parties agreed nevertheless that new momentum was required. They supported the plans agreed by Chief Negotiators to intensify the talks in July and to create the most conducive conditions for concluding and ratifying a deal before the end of 2020. This should include, if possible, finding an early understanding on the principles underlying any agreement.

“The Parties underlined their intention to work hard to deliver a relationship, which would work in the interests of the citizens of the Union and of the United Kingdom. They also confirmed their commitment to the full and timely implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement.

Leyen stands for ECJ primacy

“The recent ruling of the German Constitutional Court put under the spotlight two issues of the European Union: the Euro system and the European legal system” reads the statement of the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen on decision of the German Constitutional Court.

“We take good note of the clear statement of the European Court of Justice of 8 May.

“In the same vein, the European Commission upholds three basic principles: that the Union’s monetary policy is a matter of exclusive competence; that EU law has primacy over national law and that rulings of the European Court of Justice are binding on all national courts.

“The final word on EU law is always spoken in Luxembourg. Nowhere else.

“The European Commission’s task is to safeguard the proper functioning of the Euro system and the Union’s legal system.

“We are now analysing the ruling of the German Constitutional Court in detail. And we will look into possible next steps, which may include the option of infringement proceedings.

“The European Union is a community of values and of law, which must be upheld and defended at all times. This is what keeps us together. This is what we stand for”.

COVID19: European Commission measures

The EU’s next seven year budget should be a key instrument in the recovery plan to confront the negative economic consequences of the COVID-19 crisis, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on April 2.

Some people are talking about a Marshall Plan. The European budget should be the Marshall Plan we lay out together,” von der Leyen said while proposing a package aimed at support of the most affected countries.

A number of member states, including Spain along with the European Council president Charles Michel, have been calling for an EU Marshall Plan to support European economy in the aftermath of the pandemic.

We all know that in this crisis we need quick answers and we cannot take two or three years to invent new tools,” von der Leyen pointed out, “the MFF (Multiannual Financial Framework, the EU’s long-term budget) is the strongest tool we have,” she concluded. 

We want to shape the MFF in such a way that is a crucial part of our recovery plan,” the president added. 

COVID19: G20 pivotal role in global coordination

Today, Thursday 26 March 2020, the President of the European Council Charles Michel and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen participated in the extraordinary G20 Leaders’ videoconference called by Saudi Arabia that currently holds the G20 Presidency.

Against the backdrop that Europe currently is at the epicentre of the global COVID-19 crisis, the Presidents thanked all G20 leaders for the solidarity shown to the European Union and its Member States most affected by the crisis.

They also underlined that the European Union is committed to international cooperation in tackling this pandemic and will continue to assist vulnerable countries and communities around the world, especially in Africa.

The Presidents of the Council and the Commission stressed that unprecedented events call for unprecedented action and that fast, massive and coordinated global action is necessary on the health and economic fronts to save lives and avoid a further economic crisis.

The G20 has a pivotal role in ensuring such global coordination.

The Presidents insisted that G20 countries should coordinate their macroeconomic policies, mobilising all instruments available, to mitigate the economic downturn, support workers and companies most affected.

President Michel and President von der Leyen also stressed that in order to limit the economic impact on our economies – and to maintain our ability to manufacture and provide the necessary protective and medical equipment, it is imperative that we keep trade flows and supply chains open and avoid any new restrictions.

The EU called on G20 members to assist each other in repatriating citizens stranded abroad who wish to return home.

The European Union thanked the G20 Presidency for its focus on global coordination towards enhancing our collective pandemic preparedness and welcomed the fact that the G20 asked the WHO, working closely together with relevant organizations, to come up quickly with a global initiative on pandemic preparedness and response.

In this context, Europe stands ready to set up an international online pledging event to ensure adequate funding to develop and deploy a vaccine against COVID-19.

Johnson’s post-Brexit vision

The European Union and Britain started arugment over a post-Brexit trade deal on February 3, setting out very different visions of a future relationship that could result in the most distant of ties, and even the departue without a deal.

Boris Johnson has set out his vision for a trade deal with the EU, saying there is “no need” for the UK to follow Brussels’ rules, underlining that in many areas British standards are higher and practices more advanced than the ones on the continent.
The PM expressed his clear preference for a Canada-style free trade deal, saying the UK would return to the Withdrawal Agreement if such a deal was not reached.

Almost three days since Britain officially left the EU, both sides presented their aims, with the question of whether the UK will sign up to EU rules to ensure frictionless trade shaping up to be the defining argument of the negotiations.

We have often been told that we must choose between full access to the EU market, along with accepting its rules and courts on the Norway model, or an ambitious free trade agreement, which opens up markets and avoids the full panoply of EU regulation, on the example of Canada“, the Boris Johnson said in his speech in Greenwich, London.

We have made our choice – we want a free trade agreement, similar to Canada’s but in the very unlikely event that we do not succeed, then our trade will have to be based on our existing Withdrawal Agreement with the EU.
The choice is emphatically not ‘deal or no deal’. The question is whether we agree a trading relationship with the EU comparable to Canada’s – or more like Australia’s. In either case, I have no doubt that Britain will prosper mightily.”
PM rejected the requirement for the UK to adopt Brussels-made rules “on competition policy, subsidies, social protection, the environment, or anything similar, any more than the EU should be obliged to accept UK rules”.

In any negotiations, both sides will do what is best for them.
The EU will protect the interests of our citizens and of the European companies.
We know time is short and the road is long, so we kick off the negotiations today”
the EU top executive Ursula von der Leyen said, indicating to the approach of the bloc.

MEPs give consent to Withdrawal Agreement

In Brussels Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have overwhelmingly gave their terms of the UK’s departure from the EU.

MEPs ratified the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement by 621 votes to 49 following an debate highly charged with sentiments and vivid human emotions.

After the vote, MEPs marked the UK’s exit by singing Auld Lang Syne, is a Scots-language poem written by poet Robert Burns in 1788, and set to the tune of a traditional folk song. It is well known in many countries, especially in the English-speaking world, its traditional use being to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. By extension, it is also sung at funerals, graduations, and as a farewell or ending to other occasions.

Several British MEPs said they hoped the UK would return one day although Eurosceptics, including the Brexit Party’s Nigel Farage, used their final speeches to phrase the departure from the EU.

The UK is due to leave the bloc at 23:00 GMT on Friday. The Withdrawal agreement (WA) is expected to be signed off in Brussels later.

Some MEPs have marked the occasion with songs – others wore “always united” scarves. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen told the UK: “We will always love you.”

Ratification of the Withdrawal agreement, agreed by the UK and EU in October, was not in doubt after it easily cleared its committee stage last week.

EU signs Brexit bill

“Charles Michel and I have just signed the Agreement on the Withdrawal of the UK from the EU, opening the way for its ratification by the European Parliament” the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen informed via her Twitter micro blog.

“Things will inevitably change but our friendship will remain. We start a new chapter as partners and allies” wrote EU Council president Charles Michel.

“Looking forward to writing this new page together” he added in French.

After parliamentary ratification in the UK was concluded earlier, with Royal Assent granted for the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill, Constitutional Affairs Committee MEPs voted in favour of a positive recommendation regarding the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, with 23 votes for, three against and no abstentions.
The vote took place after a statement by Committee Chair Antonio Tajani (EPP, IT) and a discussion between the Parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt (Renew Europe, BE) and political group coordinators.

The debate in the Committee focussed on Parliament’s contribution to protecting citizens’ rights in the context of Brexit (with the majority of speakers during the first round commending the EU’s negotiating team), as well as the steps that should be taken by the UK and EU27 governments to continue protecting these rights during the transition period and beyond. The discussion also addressed the overall impact of Brexit and the future relationship between the EU and the UK, which is going to be the objective of the future negotiations.

Von der Leyen Commission start

“Starting today, we are the guardians of the Treaties, the custodians of the Lisbon spirit. I feel this responsibility. It is a responsibility towards our predecessors, our founding fathers and mothers, and all that they have achieved” said new president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen at inauguration event in Museum of European History Brussels on December 1.

“But it is also a responsibility towards our children. The responsibility to leave them a Union that is stronger than the one we have inherited.

https://twitter.com/vonderleyen/status/1201158580361203713?s=21

“This place (the House of European history) shows the road that has led us here. It shows the treasure that we have inherited. A continent in peace. The liberation from tyranny. A single market with unprecedented economic opportunities. Greater rights and liberties than in any other place in the world.

“It is our duty to preserve this treasure. For me, this is almost personal. You know that my father was there at the very beginning of this European adventure – I might even be in some of the pictures that we see here today. The history of the European project for me is also family history.

“But Europe is not just a treasure we inherit. Europe is a promise. Europe is future. Europe is something that we all have to build – brick by brick, day by day.

“Ten years ago, our predecessors were still discussing whether Europe should have a flag or an anthem. But in these ten years, millions of people have taken to the streets waving the European flag, our flag. And millions have been inspired and moved by the Ode to Joy, our European anthem.

“Europe is changing fast. Our responsibility is to accompany such change. To leave no one behind. To be a champion for our fellow Europeans – with their dreams and aspirations.

The people of Europe have the strength to look towards the future with confidence.

https://twitter.com/vonderleyen/status/1201159832105111552?s=21

« Older Entries