Tag Archives: Strasbourg

MEPs strategy towards Russia

Strasbourg 16.09.2021 Parliament says the EU must push back against aggressive policies while laying the groundwork for cooperation with a future democratic Russia.

Assessing the state of EU-Russia relations, the European Parliament makes clear that it distinguishes between the Russian people and President Vladimir Putin’s regime. The latter is, Parliament says, a “stagnating authoritarian kleptocracy led by a president-for-life surrounded by a circle of oligarchs”.

MEPs stress, however, that a democratic future for Russia is possible and that the Council must adopt an EU strategy for this scenario, encompassing incentives and conditions to strengthen domestic democratic tendencies.

The text was approved by 494 votes in favour, 103 against with 72 abstentions.

“Russia can be a democracy and defending ‘Democracy First’ in EU relations with Russia is our first task. The EU and its institutions have to work on the assumption that change is possible in Russia. It also needs more courage in taking a strong stance vis-a-vis the Kremlin regime when it comes to defending human rights; this is what strategic engagement with the Russian people is all about. It is about ending domestic repression, returning the choice to the people, and freeing all political prisoners”, said rapporteur Andrius Kubilius (EPP, Lithuania) after the vote.

“In addition, if this week’s parliamentary elections in Russia are recognised as fraudulent, the EU should not recognise the Russian Duma and should ask for the country to be suspended from international parliamentary assemblies, including the one of the Council of Europe. The Kremlin’s continuous repression of all opposition candidates, free media and NGOs undermines the legitimacy and fairness of these elections. The Russian people must have the right to choose and their choices must be honoured, as in any other democratic country”, he added.

Parliament proposes the EU establishing an alliance with the U.S. and other like-minded partners to counterbalance the efforts of Russia and China to weaken democracy worldwide and destabilise the European political order. It should foresee sanctions, policies to counter illicit financial flows, and support for human rights activists.

Support to Russia’s’ neighbouring countries

On Russia’s aggression and influence over the EU’s eastern neighbourhood, the EU must continue to support so-called “Eastern Partnership” countries such as Ukraine or Georgia, and to promote European reforms and fundamental freedoms in the region. These efforts should also serve to encourage Russian support for democratic reforms.

Reduce the EU’s energy dependency on Russia, fighting “dirty money” at home

The text further states that the EU needs to cut its dependency on Russian gas, oil and other raw materials, at least while President Putin is in power. The European Green Deal and the boosting of new resources will play a crucial geopolitical role in achieving this.

MEPs want the EU to build its capacity to expose and stop the flows of dirty money from Russia, as well as to expose the resources and financial assets that regime-linked autocrats and oligarchs have hidden in EU member states.

Worries ahead of the 2021 parliamentary elections in Russia

Members conclude by demanding the EU be prepared to withhold recognition of the Russian parliament if the 2021 parliamentary elections in September are conducted in violation of democratic principles and international law.

#SOTEU: Photo reportage Strasbourg Plenary

Strasbourg 15.09.2021 Aleksy Witwicki photo reportage: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivers her state of the union address #SOTEU at the European Parliament Plenary on Wednesday (15 September), outlining the future perspectives for the Commission policies.

Von der Leyen, a former German defence minister who took the reins of the EU executive two years ago charts some new policy or the 27 bloc, particularly underlining the importance of strategic thinking on the issues of Defence, security, and migration.

Unlike per predecessor Jean-Claude Juncker after the highly enthusiastic speech the president of the Commission preferred to avid the meeting with press, and left Strasbourg without media democratic scrutiny, confirming once again her reputation of “virtual” head of the Insitution.

#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Ursula von der Leyen, State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Hemicycle European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org

#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021 Greetings. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org

#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Ursula von der Leyen, European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 MEPs European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Coffee breake European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Sanitary COVID19 rules European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Vice-president Pedro Silva Pereira, European Parlamenst State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Ursula von der Leyen, State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Comissioner Didier Reynders interview, State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org
#SOTEU STRASBOURG 15.09.2021 Ursula von der Leyen, State of the Union Address 2021. (c) Aleksy Witwicki photo correspondent http://www.witwicki.org

#SOTEU: EU migration Pact slow motion

Strasbourg 15.09.2021 “… Look at what happened at our borders with Belarus. The regime in Minsk has instrumentalised human beings. They have put people on planes and literally pushed them towards Europe’s borders” the president of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said, while addressing the European Parliament Plenary in Strasbourg.

“This can never be tolerated. And the quick European reaction shows that. And rest assured, we will continue to stand together with Lithuania, Latvia and Poland.

“And, let’s call it what it is: this is a hybrid attack to destabilise Europe”.

“These are not isolated events. We saw similar incidents at other borders. And we can expect to see it again. This is why, as part of our work on Schengen, we will set out new ways to respond to such aggression and ensure unity in protecting our external borders. But as long as we do not find common ground on how to manage migration, our opponents will continue to target that.

“Meanwhile, human traffickers continue to exploit people through deadly routes across the Mediterranean.

“These events show us that every country has a stake in building a European migration system. The New Pact on Migration and Asylum gives us everything we need to manage the different types of situations we face.
All the elements are there. This is a balanced and humane system that works for all Member States – in all circumstances. We know that we can find common ground.

“But in the year since the Commission presented the Pact, progress has been painfully slow.
I think, this is the moment now for a European migration management policy. So I urge you, in this House and in Member States, to speed up the process.

“This ultimately comes down to a question of trust. Trust between Member States. Trust for Europeans that migration can be managed. Trust that Europe will always live up to its enduring duty to the most vulnerable and most in need.

“There are many strongly held views on migration in Europe but I believe the common ground is not so far away. Because if you ask most Europeans, they would agree that we should act to curb irregular migration but also act to provide a refuge for those forced to flee.”

“They would agree that we should return those who have no right to stay. But that we should welcome those who come here legally and make such a vital contribution to our society and economy”.

“And we should all agree that the topic of migration should never be used to divide. I am convinced that there is a way that Europe can build trust amongst us when it comes to migration”.

#SOTEU: Future of Europe debate

Strasbourg 14.09.2021 The State of the EU debate, looking at work to date and plans for the future, takes place on 15 September in Strasbourg. .

What is the State of the European Union debate?
The State of the European Union debate takes place every September when the president of the European Commission comes to the European Parliament to discuss with MEPs what the Commission has done over the past year, what it intends to do in the coming year and its vision for the future.

This is an opportunity for Parliament, the EU’s only directly-elected institution, to hold the European Commission to account. Members will scrutinise the Commission’s work and make sure that the key concerns of Europeans are addressed.
Why is the 2021 State of the EU debate important?
The priorities that European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented during last year’s State of the European Union debate are still relevant: the EU continues its efforts to fight the coronavirus pandemic and move towards social and economic recovery, while staying true to its flagship programmes, such as the European Green Deal and the Digital Strategy.

What is the best way to follow it?
The debate will be streamed live online on our website on Wednesday 15 September from 9.00 CET. Interpretation will be available in all 24 official EU languages – simply select the language of your choice. The Parliament together with the Commission will also stream the debate on Facebook.

You can also join the discussion on our other social media channels, including Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram. Don’t forget to use the hashtag #SOTEU.

MEPs debate Hungary EU budget restrictions

Strasbourg 06.07.2021 The budget conditionality regulation does not require any additional clarification to be applied and rule of law breaches must be addressed without delay, say the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).

“We are now one step closer to finally applying the Conditionality regulation against those breaking the Rule of Law in the member states. With the Parliament’s contribution to the guidelines, we offer the Commission the means and tools to act without hesitation. The regulation is ready to be used”, said the co-rapporteur Petri Sarvamaa (EPP, FI) after the vote.

In a resolution adopted by the Budget and Budgetary Control committees on Thursday with 53 votes 11 against and 2 abstentions, MEPs regret that the Commission has decided to abide by the non-binding December 2020 European Council conclusions and delay application of the budget conditionality regulation.

They stress that the guidelines cannot alter, expand or restrict the scope of the budget conditionality regulation and that, in order to add any value, they must clarify how the legislative provisions will be applied in practice, outlining the procedure, definitions and methodology.
They also call on the Commission to set out a “clear, precise and user-friendly system” for submitting complaints under the regulation.

MEPs call on the Commission to investigate swiftly any potential breaches of the principles of the rule of law “that affect or seriously risk affecting the sound financial management of the Union budget”, by pointing out that “the situation in some member states already warrants immediate action”. The Commission should report to Parliament on the first cases under investigation by October 2021 the latest, they add.

MEPs finally criticise the Commission for having missed the deadline set by Parliament to apply the regulation and adopt the guidelines by 1 June 2021. They welcome the 23 June letter by the President of Parliament saying that if the Commission does not act, the EP will take action in the Court of Justice.

“We have said from the beginning that the guidelines were not necessary, but the Commission put forward its proposal and asked the EP for its position. So here it is. Parliament is always ready to work with the Commission on the rule of law, and in turn we expect the European Commission not to deceive us. It must act swiftly and strongly”, said the co-rapporteur Eider Gardiazabal Rubial (S&D, ES).

French European Affairs junior minister Clement Beaune said on Wednesday he expected a form of sanctions against Hungary over Hungary’s anti-LGBT law.

Beaune also said he was not in favour of kicking Hungary out of the European Union, reiterating earlier comments to this effect from French President Emmanuel Macron.

“I am not in favour of Hungary being kicked out of the European Union”, he told RTL radio.

Europe day 9 May

Brussels 09.05.2021 Europe Day is held on 9 May every year to celebrate peace and unity in Europe. The date marks the anniversary of the historic Schuman declaration, which started Europe on the path to today’s European Union.

The Council and other EU institutions traditionally celebrate Europe Day by opening their doors to the public. This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re bringing Europe Day to you!

President of France Emmanuel Macron and the leaders of the European Union (EU) are expected, Sunday, May 9 in Strasbourg, to launch the Conference on the Future of Europe. For the solemn inauguration of this vast citizen consultation on Europe Day, “we want interactivity and exchanges, from this first day, with citizens,” said the Elysee in a statement.

In the Hemicycle of the European Parliament will be delivered, from 2 p.m., the speech of Emmanuel Macron and that of the three European institutions, represented by the President of the European Parliament, David Sassoli, the President of the Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, for the Council.

Strasbourg #EPlenary to be held remotely

Brussels 15.10.2020 “I regret to announce that next week’s plenary will not take place in Strasbourg, but will be held remotely” David Sassoli announced on his Twitter micro blog.

“The situation in France and Belgium is very serious and travelling is not advised” he added.
However “Strasbourg remains the home of the European Parliament, and we will do everything we can to return”.

President Macron will impose a 9pm-6am curfew for Paris and eight other big French cities from Saturday, October 17, in an attempt to contain a “second wave” coronavirus outbreak that has spread across Europe.

During the announcement on October 14 President Macron ensured his compatriots, that the exceptional measure will last four weeks, with a possibility of prolongation until December 1. There are fines of 135 euro and 1500 euro foreseen for “non-respect” of the curfew. The popularity of President Macron has dropped almost 40% after the announcement, because the effectiveness of this extreme restrictive measure is not understood.

On contrary, to European continental restrictive and punitive measures, in countries like Sweden, where the accent was made on a dialog with the citizens, and educational strategy, the COVID-19 is largely in the past.

COVID19: Eurparl to distribute meals

The European Parliament President outlines measures to help support the communities where parliament works

In a video message, European Parliament President David Sassoli today outlined measures Parliament is taking to support health workers and those in need in Brussels. The President said:

“Showing concrete solidarity with citizens. This is the line of the European Parliament. In agreement with the Brussels Capital Region, we have decided to make part of our building available to homeless people and the most vulnerable in society, during this serious health emergency.

“In addition, our kitchens will make more than 1000 meals a day to be distributed to those in need, as well as to health workers to help them do their jobs.

“We want to be close to those who suffer, to those who work tirelessly in our hospitals, to the city and people of Brussels, as well as those of Strasbourg and Luxembourg, who welcome us and who need our help today. Europe’s strength is in its ability to act in solidarity.”

Original VIDEO available on European Parliament site:

https://multimedia.europarl.europa.eu/en/statement-sassoli-measures-solidarity-brussels_I188710-V_v

Image below: archive: European Parliament, Strasbourg

COVID19: Europarl reduced modus operandi

Today, European Parliament President David Sassoli has announced that the Parliament will take further precautionary measures in response to the Coronavirus COVID-19. (Image: illustration, Europarl Brussels).

For the course of the next three weeks, 130 events at Parliament premises, which were expected to be attended by 6000 to 7000 participants, will be cancelled. In addition, visitors will not be allowed to access the Parliament for this period.

At the same time, Sassoli stressed that parliamentary work will continue, including committee meetings and the plenary session. The current set of measures applies for the next three weeks with the possibility of changes and adaptations, according to the development.

Statement of European Parliament President David Sassoli on the situation regarding COVID-19:

We assess the spread of the Coronavirus on a daily basis, in close cooperation with the European health services as well as national authorities. As a result of this assessment, we have decided to update our set of precautionary measures.

“We will limit the access of visitors to the Parliament. This measure derives from the fact that we are a very open institution by nature with 700.000 visitors per year. Under the current circumstances, it is our responsibility to suspend these visits. In the same spirit, we will cancel 130 events such as exhibitions or external conferences planned for the next weeks on Parliament premises.

“As far as EP administration and staff is concerned, we demand everybody who has visited one of the areas affected or has been in touch with an infected person to work from home and monitor closely their health status. Members of Parliament are advised to apply the same principle of responsibility.

“The Parliament has the duty to maintain its legislative work. Activities such as the next plenary session, committee meetings, the Conference of Presidents as well as the work of President’s office will therefore be upheld.”

Sassoli removes national flags

To indignation of some Members of the European Parliament, the January Plenary session in Strasbourg started with removal of national flags from the desks in the Chamber.
The European Union is slipping further. The autocratic socialist Sassoli, who was appointed President of the European Parliament, has ordered to bailiffs to seize all national flags on the banks of parliamentarians. Continuation follows!”wrote Gerolf Annemans, MEP from Vlaams Belang party.

Nigel Farage leading the UK Brexit party expressed his content to leave the bloc.

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