Tag Archives: Strasbourg

Metsola:”Europe is future”

Strasbourg 09.05.2022 The President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola addressed the opening speech of The State of the Union 2022 at the European University Institute in Florence.
In her speech ‘Is Europe fit for the next generation?’, she encouraged European citizens and leaders to believe, to be confident and to use this difficult moment in time as an opportunity for change.

“…In my first address as President of the European Parliament I described myself as part of the generation that sees no old and no new Europe. We are the first of the Erasmus generation, the last of the Wałęsa, Kohl and Havel generation.

“What I meant was that I am part of the Europe generation. 18 years ago on the 1st May, I was standing in Valletta with what felt like the entire country, at midnight staring across the sea in our Grand Harbour as we counted the minutes and the seconds until Malta, together with nine other countries, joined the European Union as Member States.
I still recall the feeling of unbridled possibility, hope and belief in the future. A sort of sense of homecoming, of victory in the potential of our people, of relief, of joy – feelings shared by millions across Europe.

“With war in Europe, today, it is that spirit, that sense of purpose, of enthusiasm, of a clear direction, that I want our European project to re-capture.
People in Ukraine, in Moldova and Georgia, and still in the Western Balkans, are now looking to Europe, with the same sense of belonging and hope.

“And I want people to believe as we did. And to do that we need to understand that we are not just an economic bloc, we are not just about free movement, or about abolishing roaming charges. For my generation, Europe is – as cliché as this might sound – about a shared dream. About shared values. About a shared future, about coming together.

“To us, Europe is the future. It has always been the future.
However, we cannot deny that over the last years polarisation in our societies has increased. There are still too many people who feel lost, let down and left out. At the same time many will now look to Europe and to our institutions for leadership. And we need to be able to respond, we need to be able to lead. We must counter the anti-EU narrative that takes hold so easily and so quickly: mis- and dis-information, enhanced by bots and fabricated in Russian troll factories.

“Europe is about the defence of multilateralism. The understanding that we can only face the future together…”

CoE debates Ukraine

Strasbourg 13.03.2022 The consequences of the Russian Federation’s aggression against Ukraine will be the focus of an extraordinary plenary session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), to be held in hybrid mode on Monday 14 and Tuesday 15 March 2022. The President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, will address the Assembly via video-conference.

The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe has decided to consult the Parliamentary Assembly on potential further measures to be taken, after suspending the Russian Federation’s rights of representation under Article 8 of the Organisation’s Statute (*) on 25 February in response to “serious violations” of its statutory obligations as a member state.

At the end of the extraordinary plenary session, PACE will adopt an Opinion which will be addressed to the Committee of Ministers. The majority required for the adoption of this text is set by the PACE Rules of Procedure at a two-thirds majority of the votes cast.

The session will also include exchanges of view with Benedetto della Vedova, Under-Secretary of State at the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, in the framework of the Italian Presidency of the Committee of Ministers, as well as with the Secretary General of the Organisation, Marija Pejčinović Burić.

(*) Article 8: Any member of the Council of Europe which has seriously violated Article 3 may be suspended from its right of representation and requested by the Committee of Ministers to withdraw under Article 7. If such member does not comply with this request, the Committee may decide that it has ceased to be a member of the Council from such date as the Committee may determine.

The an-European human rights institution suspended Russia’ rights of representation following the invasion of Ukraine.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs statement was published by the state-owned TASS news agency on Thursday (10 March) and accused NATO and EU countries of “undermining” the European foundation of the organisation.

“Russia does not intend to put up with these subversive actions carried out by the collective West in line with the imposition of a ‘rules-based order’ to replace international law trampled by the United States and its satellites,” said the Russian Foreign Ministry.

“Russia will not participate in the transformation by NATO and the EU obediently following them of the oldest European organisation into another platform for incantations about Western superiority and narcissism. Let them enjoy communicating with each other, without Russia.”

EP: Macron on Defence Union

Strasbourg 19.01.2022 This semester will also lead to the adoption of the “strategic compass”, the definition of “our own security doctrine in addition to NATO”, and a real “strategy in terms of industry, defense and technological independence », the whole to find «a Europe power of the future».

In Strasbourg, Emmanuel Macron gave the traditional speech marking the launch of the rotating presidency of the European Union, which France will exercise until June 30. Before the MEPs, and less than three months before the French presidential election, the Head of State expressed a vision deeply attached to this continent, a long symbol of an “intangible peace” but now subject to “doubts”. To “rebuild our Europe”, the tenant of the Élysée has drawn up the major projects to come and established three promises: democracy, progress and peace.

EU: Macron highlights priorities

Strasbourg 19.20.2021 Anna van Densky President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola and President of France Emmanuel Macron held a press conference on Wednesday at 14.45, after the debate on the priorities of France’s Presidency of the Council. (Image: illustration)

In Strasbourg, Emmanuel Macron gave the traditional speech marking the launch of the rotating presidency of the European Union, which France will exercise until June 30. Before the MEPs, and less than three months before the French presidential election, the Head of State expressed a vision deeply attached to this continent, a long symbol of an “intangible peace” but now subject to “doubts”. To “rebuild our Europe”, the tenant of the Élysée has drawn up the major projects to come and established three promises: democracy, progress and peace.

What is it to be European? It is to feel an equal emotion in front of our treasures. For the tenant of the Élysée, this presidency will also be that of European civilization – a culture that should be “promoted” through a “common project respectful of the singularities and identities of each”. To do this, historians and intellectuals will help to “build together the legacy of this common history” and make Europe “once again a cultural and educational democratic power, proud of itself”.

The president named two: the climate challenge and the digital challenge. For the first, “strong proposals” made by the European Commission must be implemented “in the coming weeks”, then be “deployed at national level”. A “summit for the oceans” is scheduled for February to defend biodiversity and the “great maritime power” that is Europe. “We have to move from intention to action,” said the head of state.

Europarliament: Roberta Metsola elected president

Strasbourg 18.01.2022 Maltese centre-right politician Roberta Metsola succeed the Italian David Sassoli in Strasbourg and Brussels, at the head of the European Parliament. Several candidates have been promoted to replace the Italian Socialist David Sassoli, who died on January 11 from the complications of myeloma cancer at the age of 65 and whose mandate was due to end this month.

The election of the President of the European Parliament has taken place by secret ballot on Tuesday 18 January, in plenary session in Strasbourg. Roberta Metsola MEP from the party assembling European center-right, became, at 42, the youngest president of this European institution. Although it is a huge leap forward for equity agenda, there are also a number of MUST KNOW facts to understand Roberta Metsola vertical ascendance:

As a politician she has spent her entire career in the European institutions.
Roberta Metsola, born in 1979, graduated from the University of Malta and the College of Europe in Bruges (Belgium). A professional lawyer, she is “a pure product of the Brussels bubble”, sums up the Politico site. Speaking fluent Italian and Finnish, the Maltese worked from 2004 to 2012 in the Permanent Representation of Malta to the European Union in Brussels. Roberta Metsola headed the Justice and Home Affairs unit there, after having held the position of legal and judicial cooperation attaché.

The Maltese specialist in European law and policy subsequently collaborated with Baroness Catherine Ashton, First ever High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, as legal adviser, specifies the European People’s Party in her biography.

Appointed MEP in 2013, replacing Simon Busuttil, Roberta Metsola thus became one of the first Maltese representatives sitting in Strasbourg. A member of the Maltese Nationalist Party, she was re-elected in the 2014 European elections with a “record number of votes for a woman”, underlines the Europoean think tank Bruegel.

As an MEP, Roberta Metsola is a member of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs, where she has been also a coordinator for the EPP, continues Bruegel. The MEP also participated in the special committee of the Parliament devoted to the fight against terrorism, as well as in the delegation for relations with the USA. The MEP also took part in the European Parliament’s commission of inquiry into the Panama Papers.

According to Politico, Roberta Metsola is considered, within the Parliament, as one of the main MEPs focused on migration issues. She was notably the co-author of the Parliament’s report on Europe’s response to the refugee crisis, which effected her native Malta.

The candidacy of Roberta Metsola, mother of four, arouses controversy, because the MEP promotes conservative pro-life policy, fiercely opposing abortion. As French newspaper Liberation underlines, the elected official continues to disapprove of resolutions defending the right to abortion and contraception. Last September, Metsola also abstained during a vote calling on the European Commission to criminalise violence against women, points out French newspaper Le Monde.

In Malta, one of a few societies in Europe where abortion remains illegal in all circumstances. The candidate for the presidency of the European Parliament has however promised not to defend her openly anti-abortion positions at the head of the institution, notes Liberation. And as Euractiv media has underlined that, the EU has no competence in matters of abortion.

Malta is the only EU member state to strictly prohibit abortion entirely while Poland recently tightened the rules further shifting to conservative view by making it illegal to terminate a pregnancy even in cases of severe and irreversible fetal defects. Abortion is also illegal in Andorra and San Marino — although residents in the latter overwhelmingly backed a proposal to make abortion legal in a referendum over the weekend. Residents in Gibraltar similarly voted to ease abortion rules earlier this year. The European list is concluded by Lichtenstein and Monaco also have restrictive abortion rules.

Roberta Metsola “is consensual, except with the subject that makes us talk about her”, indicated a spokesperson for the Renew Europe (Liberals) parliamentary group with Elle magazine. As French newpaper Le Monde notes, the MP has regularly defended the rights of LGBTQ+ people. “As a woman, I know how important it is to have allies in your struggles. (…) Europe is a zone of freedom,” she said in December, Elle reports.

According to the Green MEP Manon Aubry, interviewed by the magazine, the Maltese candidate “has always defended a fairly strict sanitary cordon with the far right”. The elected also had more moderate positions than others, on the right, on the reception of refugees, recalls Le Monde. Metsola also called for the resignation of Maltese Prime Minister Joseph Muscat in the wake of the death of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia, murdered in October 2017.

Borrell: EU “steadfast by Ukraine”

Strasbourg 15.12.2021 “We changed the geographical situation. We changed the latitude and the longitude of the coordinates, but the problem is also very worrying. Now we talk about the situation in the Ukrainian border and in the Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine” the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell said, while addressing the Members of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on December 14.(Image above: illustration).

“I have been talking a lot about it during this weekend in Liverpool, together with my fellow colleagues of the G7, the biggest democracies in the world. I have been talking a lot with Secretary of State [of the United States, Antony] Blinken and we will talk a lot about it in the next European Union Council. We talked yesterday also about it with my fellow Ministers of Foreign Affairs.

“I think I have all the information I may have in order to come here to discuss with you about the Russian military build-up around Ukraine.

“First, facts.

“Since November, Russia has been massing troops and weapons in an unusual manner around Ukraine’s borders. Ukraine is our direct neighbour and border. It is also a close and strategic partner. So it is normal that we are worried about this movements of Russian troops.

“I had the opportunity also to talk about this with the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister, Sergei Lavrov, during the OSCE Meeting in Stockholm and with the Foreign Affairs Minister of Ukraine [Dmytro Kuleba]. In the OSCE meeting in Stockholm, we witnessed a lively exchange of views between Minister Lavrov and Secretary of State Blinken about this issue.

“We at the European Union maintain regular contacts with President [of Ukraine, Vladimir] Zelensky, Prime Minister [Denys] Shmyhal, and Foreign Minister Kuleba. We express at all levels our political support to Ukraine. We publicly recall our unwavering support to Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders.

“According to the Russian sources, nothing happened. They are only moving their troops inside their territory; they are not violating any international law, nor any constitutional internal rule. Certainly, they are moving troops inside their borders but, with the precedent, with what has happened between Ukraine and Russia, it is quite justified that the Ukrainians are worried and that we have to express our political support.

“But today we are on prevention mode. Today we are trying to avoid further escalation. And to work on all avenues that we can, in order to deter further Russian effort. Today we are in a deterring-mode, prevention-mode, dissuasion-mode. In order to avoid the crisis to escalate, and to reach a level of a military conflict. We are doing what we can for that.

“Yesterday at the Foreign Affairs Council, our members reiterated our support to Ukraine. And also, we have recently adopted a set of assistance measures under the European Peace Facility, a new financial tool which is under my political implementation authority, in supporting Ukrainian armed forces in areas including the provision of military, medical, engineering equipment, mobility, logistics and cyber-defence support. Not providing lethal arms, but on all the fields that an army requires in order to be operational. This is a tangible way of showing our support to strengthening Ukrainian resilience and also, our support to the Ukrainian reform agenda since 2014. Because the reforms inside Ukraine are an important component of Ukrainians overall resilience to external challenges. The better the Ukrainian democracy works, the higher quality they have on fighting internal problems, the stronger they will be in facing external challenges.

“We have today to talk about an attempt to undermine further Ukrainian territorial integrity, which was jeopardised when Russia took over Crimea. And this would come, if it happens again, in severe political consequences and with a high political and economic cost for Russia, if this was the case.

“We have to act in unity, we are coordinating closely with our transatlantic and like-minded partners. We did that on Sunday. Our G7 statement was clear in this position: we called on Russia to de-escalate, to pursue diplomatic channels, and abide by its international commitments of transparency of military activities as President [of the United Sates, Joe] Biden also did in his call with President [of Russia, Vladimir] Putin on 7 December.

“In the meantime, we are in deterring, dissuasion, prevention-mode, we continue to do a full diplomatic outreach. We reconfirm our support to France and Germany in the Normandy Format to achieve full implementation of the Minsk Agreements in order to resolve the conflict in eastern Ukraine. We are studying the different scenarios that one could imagine could happen in the following days or weeks. We recall [that] Russia’s responsibility in implementing the Minsk Agreements remains a key issue”.

Europarl: Belarus sanctions in view

Strasbourg 26.10.2021 Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya spoke to MEPs about the continuing crackdown on dissenting voices in Belarus and called on the EU to take firm action against the regime.

“The Belarusian regime has shown itself willing to seize individuals from international flights, misuse international agencies to punish dissent, to weaponise migrants in a way deliberately designed to undermine the stability and security of Europe,” said Tsikhanouskaya during her speech in the Parliament on 24 November.

The Belarusian opposition leader called on the EU to help address the ongoing crisis with migrants on the EU-Belarus borders: “Both Belarussians and migrants are now hostages of the regime and these two problems cannot be solved separately.”

She said the EU should coordinate sanctions against the regime with the US and the UK to make the sanctions “effective and not only symbolic”.

Ahead of Tsikhanouskaya’s speech, Parliament President David Sassoli condemned the actions of the Belarusian regime and called on other institutions to defend the respect of fundamental rights in the country.

“Belarus continues to violate the rights of its citizens, to silence civil society’s voice, to use repression as a daily weapon,” said Sassoli. “The regime didn’t hesitate to use men, women and children who needed protection, putting their lives in danger without any respect for fundamental human rights, just to destabilise the EU.”

Tsikhanouskaya’s address comes amid a continuing geopolitical crisis on the EU-Belarus border. The Belarusian regime has been funnelling migrants primarily from the Middle East to the country’s border with the EU, and in particular Poland. In response, the EU agreed to expand the bloc’s existing sanctions on Belarus to target, among others, airlines and officials involved in bringing migrants to the border areas.

EU-Poland crisis deepens

Strasbourg 18.10.2021 Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has been attempting to defend an explosive ruling from his country’s top court in front of the Members of the European Parliament (MEPs).
(Image: European Parliament Chamber, Strasbourg, archive).

The verdict, which declared some EU laws incompatible with Poland’s constitution, has stirred the further argument. The majority of MEPs have pressed for a hard line towards Warsaw after it ignored the EU’s top court order to reverse controversial changes to the judiciary.

The EU has delayed the approval of €36 bn of pandemic recovery fund for months, and as soon as this week it may trigger a new tool to withhold budget payments to members states over democratic backsliding.

Prime minister Morawiecki sent a letter to EU leaders ahead of the Summit to take place later this week on 21-22 October in Brussels, clarifying Poland is open for dialog but that it won’t be pushed around.

Europarl: Sakharov Prize 2021

Strasbourg 18.10.2021 The 2021 Sakharov Prize nominees  The 2021 finalists for the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought are Afghan women, Jeanine Áñez and Alexei Navalny. (Image above: European Parliament, Strasbourg)

Meet this year’s finalists of the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, who were chosen at a joint meeting of the foreign affairs and development committees on 14 October:

Afghan women, represented by 11 human rights activists

Jeanine Áñez, Bolivian politician

Alexei Navalny, Russian activist and political prisoner

Afghan women

Under the previous Taliban regime, women experienced forced marriage, high maternity mortality, low literacy, forced virginity tests and couldn’t travel without a man. Following the Taliban’s return to power, women are again excluded from government and education and their rights and freedoms are threatened. The women, who are nominated for their brave fight for equality and human rights, are:

Shaharzad Akbar – chair of the Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC)

Mary Akrami – head of the Afghan Women’s Network

Zarifa Ghafari – mayor of Maidan Shar since 2018

Palwasha Hassan – activist and the director of Afghan Women Educational Centre (AWEC)

Freshta Karim – founder of a mobile library and an advocate for education and learning

Sahraa Karimi – first female president of the Afghan state film company

Metra Mehran – women empowerment and education advocate and co-founder of the Feminine Perspectives Movement

Horia Mosadiq – human and women’s rights activist

Sima Samar – human rights advocate, former Minister of Women’s Affairs and former chair of Afghan Independent Human Rights Commission

Habiba Sarabi – member of the negotiating team of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Anisa Shaheed – political reporter

Jeanine Áñez

Jeanine Áñez is a Bolivian politician who became the interim president of her country in November 2019, after alleged electoral fraud by incumbent Evo Morales. In November 2020, after free and fair elections there was a peaceful transfer of power. However, on 13 March 2021 she was arrested on charges of “terrorism, sedition and conspiracy”. Accused of plotting a coup d’état against Morales, she has been imprisoned ever since.

Alexei Navalny

Alexei Navalny is a Russian opposition politician, anti-corruption activist and major political opponent of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Known through his LiveJournal blog, YouTube and Twitter accounts, where he has millions of followers Navalny came to international prominence by organising demonstrations, running for office and advocating reforms against corruption in Russia, Putin and his government. In August 2020, while on a trip to Siberia, he was poisoned. He spent months recovering in Berlin, but returned to Moscow in January 2021 where he was arrested. In February he was sentenced to 2½ years in prison. Now incarcerated in a high-security penal colony, he went on a 23-day hunger strike in April to protest the lack of medical care. In June 2021, a Russian court banned Navalny’s regional offices and his Anti-Corruption Foundation.

MEPs review EU-US relations

Strasbourg 05.10.2021 “…There are some difficult issues: secure the change of supply on the field of semiconductors, to be sure that we are not going to create in the future an overcapacity; to talk about tariffs; data protection; artificial intelligence. This is an incredibly broad set of issues that will shape the future and on which we have to engage more with the United States” said the EU top diplomat Josep Borrell, addressing the European Parliament plenary.

“A last word on COP-26, we look forward to continuing our close coordination with the United States to get every country to do more to fight climate change. Yesterday, I was in Saudi Arabia talking about it. Sometimes it is a difficult discussion, because we, Europeans, are only 8% of the global emissions. Even if we cancel them tomorrow, zero emissions, the problem will be the same. It will still be the 92%, the rest…”

Diplomatic relations between the EU and the U.S. date back to 1953. The relationship between the EU and the U.S. is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world. The EU and U.S. are the biggest economic and military powers in the world, dominate global trade, play the leading roles in international political relations, and whatever one says matters a great deal, not only to the other, but to much of the rest of the world.

Relations between the U.S. House of Representatives and the European Parliament can be traced back to 1972, when a group of Members of the House, led by Representative Sam Gibbons of the House Ways and Means Committee, traveled to Brussels for the express purpose of meeting and exchanging views with the Parliament. The first congressional visits to Brussels were arranged by Members of the House Committee on Ways and Means who were interested in issues such as agriculture subsidies, steel-tariffs, anti-dumping initiatives, and general trade-related areas. These initial parliamentary contacts, which only involved the House of Representatives, became known as the United States European Community Interparliamentary Group. Soon after these early exchanges were initiated, Members of the House and MEPs began meeting twice a year, once in the United States and once in Europe. On January 15, 1999, during the 50th inter-parliamentary meeting in Strasbourg, the European Parliament and the U.S. House of Representatives formalized their institutional cooperation into a framework called the Transatlantic Legislators’ Dialogue (TLD). This inter-parliamentary relationship is, indeed, the longest and most intensive one in the history of the European Parliament.

« Older Entries