Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 220

Posts Tagged ‘E.U.’

EU citizens want more competences for the EU to deal with crises like COVID-19

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 29 maggio 2020

Conducted at the end of April 2020, nearly seven out of ten respondents (69%) want a stronger role for the EU in fighting this crisis. In parallel, almost six out of ten respondents are dissatisfied with the solidarity shown between EU Member States during the pandemic. While 74% of respondents have heard about measures or actions initiated by the EU to respond to the pandemic, only 42% of them are satisfied with these measures so far.Around two-thirds of respondents (69%) agree that “the EU should have more competences to deal with crises such as the Coronavirus pandemic”. Less than a quarter of respondents (22%) disagree with this statement. Agreement is highest in Portugal and Ireland, and lowest in Czechia and Sweden.In responding to the pandemic, European citizens wanted the EU to focus primarily on ensuring sufficient medical supplies for all EU Member States, on allocating research funds to develop a vaccine, direct financial support to Member States and improving scientific co-operation between Member States.This strong call for more EU competences and a more robustly coordinated EU response goes hand in hand with the dissatisfaction expressed by a majority of respondents as concerns the solidarity between EU Member States in fighting the Coronavirus pandemic: 57% are unhappy with the current state of solidarity, including 22% who are ‘not at all’ satisfied. Only a third of respondents (34%) are satisfied, with the highest returns in Ireland, Denmark, the Netherlands and Portugal. Respondents from Italy, Spain and Greece are among the most dissatisfied, followed by citizens from Austria, Belgium and Sweden.Three out of four respondents across all countries surveyed say they have heard, seen or read about EU measures to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic; a third of respondents (33%) also know what these measures are. At the same time around half (52%) of those who know about EU action in this crisis say they are not satisfied with the measures taken so far. Only 42% are satisfied, most of all in Ireland, the Netherlands, Denmark and Finland. The degree of dissatisfaction is highest in Italy, Spain and Greece, and quite high in Austria and Bulgaria.A clear majority of respondents (58%) stated in the survey that they have experienced financial difficulties in their own personal life since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic. Such problems include a loss of income (30%), unemployment or partial unemployment (23%), using personal savings sooner than planned (21%), difficulties paying rent, bills or bank loans (14%) as well as difficulties having proper and decent-quality meals (9%). One in ten said that they have had to ask family or friends for financial help, while 3% of respondents faced bankruptcy.Overall, respondents in Hungary, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy and Spain are most likely to have experienced financial problems, while those in Denmark, the Netherlands, Sweden, Finland and Austria are least likely to report problems. Indeed, in the latter countries, more than half of respondents have not experienced any of these financial problems: 66% in Denmark, 57% in the Netherlands, 54% in Finland and 53% in Sweden.

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EU future at stake: MEPs broadly welcome Commission’s recovery package proposals

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 28 maggio 2020

Focussing on future generations, Commission President von der Leyen discussed the €750 billion recovery instrument within a revamped long-term EU budget in plenary.Following the presentation by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and the pledge by the Croatian Council representative Nikolina Brnjac to work with member states to swiftly conclude negotiations with Parliament on the new package, political group leaders took the floor to outline their initial reactions. Click on names to view the individual statements.“European solidarity is back and we are opening a new chapter for the EU”, Manfred Weber (EPP, DE) said. The new money needs to be spent on fresh ideas and not on Europe’s old problems. “Solidarity goes hand in hand with responsibility”, therefore it must be clear how the money will be paid back, he said, calling for new own resources and for digital giants to pay their part.Iratxe García Perez (S&D, ES) thanked von der Leyen for an ambitious proposal and for giving the EP “the role it deserves” in the design of the recovery package. Warning that the survival of the European project is at stake, she urged the Council to adopt the new MFF by qualified majority to avoid keeping the EU “hostage by four member states that prefer a national response to a European one”.“It is a game changer, unprecedented in the history of Europe”, said Dacian Ciolos (Renew, RO). “The MFF and the recovery plan must focus on the future”, with the Green deal and digital agenda as building blocks, he said. “We may differ on some details, but I really welcome the approach”, he said, reminding member states that “the EU is not a cash machine. Solidarity comes with values”.Jörg Meuthen (ID, DE) rejected the package proposal as “completely wrong and nonsense”, without a proper legal basis and lacking responsibility or economic sense. The Commission wants to spend money “as if there was no tomorrow”. It is a huge price for European taxpayers, he concluded.Ska Keller (Greens/EFA, DE) urged: “We must not repeat the big mistakes of the past and force countries into austerity and blind market ideologies. Instead, we need to make sure that the money is well invested into projects that will help in the long term, create jobs and save the one planet that we have.”Johan van Overtveldt (ECR, BE) said: “If we are going to allow loans and grants, there must be clear conditions. The money needs to go to where it is most needed, and there must be safety mechanisms in place for our businesses. People working and saving should not have to “fork out” for these programmes”.“Instead of making a clean break with past dogmas”, the Recovery Plan stops “midstream” said Manon Aubry (GUE/NGL, FR). Welcoming the new proposals on Own Resources, she called for the crisis debt to be cancelled, for direct perpetual loans to member states, and for public support to be conditional on social considerations.The Commission has also unveiled its adjusted Work Programme for 2020, which will prioritise the actions needed to propel Europe’s recovery and resilience.

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European Youth Event 2020: giving a voice to young people to influence EU policy

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 26 maggio 2020

The European Youth Event (EYE) goes online to engage young people with high-level politicians, experts and influencers and discuss EU role in the COVID-19 crisis.‘EYE online’, following the postponement of EYE2020 due to the pandemic, goes into its final week and offers young people from the EU and beyond an opportunity to virtually meet and exchange views with experts, decision-makers, activists and influencers. It will address youth concerns about the role of the EU in the context of COVID-19 crisis, as part of the #EuropeansAgainstCovid19 campaign.During the final week, participants will be able to debate with high-level speakers such as EP President Sassoli, EP Vice-presidents Katarina Barley and Othmar Karas, ECB President Christine Lagarde as well as several EU Commissioners and MEPs.EP President David Sassoli, who will close the event on Friday 29 May, said: “We strive to find opportunities even in difficult times. The EYE online is taking the European Youth Event to the next level by allowing even more young people from Europe and beyond to engage in the democratic debate and voice their ideas for the future of Europe. The EYE has become even more accessible and inclusive for all”.The programme of EYE online kicked off on April 7 after it became clear that the biennial event in Strasbourg could not take place this year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Its last week, from Monday 25 to Friday 29, includes several interactive sessions such as, inter alia, a debate with key EU policy makers, understanding what it is like to be an MEP or an interpreter, and to join several panels on a variety of topics.President Sassoli will participate in the closing session entitled “In the shoes of the EP President”, to present his daily work, particularly in these challenging times, and Parliament’s response to Covid-19 and the way forward after this crisis.EP Vice-Presidents for Communication, Katarina Barley and Othmar Karas, will open the final week, on Monday, replying to questions from participants on the EU response to the crisis.The European Central Bank’s President, Christine Lagarde, is also among the several guest speakers, as she will discuss the response to the coronavirus pandemic and, particularly, how it affects people, businesses and banks.Participants will also be able to share views on how young people can contribute to shaping policies in the aftermath of the COVID-19 without leaving their home. Other sessions cover the impact of COVID-19 on youth mobility, particularly Erasmus+ and European Solidarity Corps programmes, and the job market, inequalities in health and health care, as well as the climate emergency.

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Response to pandemic is vital for the sustainable future of the transport sector

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 16 maggio 2020

Transport Committee MEPs supported the urgency procedure for proposed measures. However, they noted also that there is a need for greater transparency and deliberation before rushing any legislative proposals through:
Aviation: Contracts with ground-handling services should be flexible, as should modified air carrier licensing rules. The measure mostly received support in the debate.
Maritime: Ports should be able to defer, reduce or lift port infrastructure charges for port users. Many MEPs underlined that it is not clear who would benefit from this proposal and it is difficult to see its added value in a very competitive environment. This might cause unfair competition. The Commission said that it remains an optional tool to provide additional flexibility and keep supply lanes open.
Rail: the deadline to transpose EU law on rail safety and interoperability should be extended. Transport Committee MEPs agree with the extension; however, the timeframe remains under discussion.
Relieving the administrative burden: the validity of certain certificates and licences should be extended by providing temporary derogation from 15 legal acts. Many MEPs supported the changes by the Council, i.e. for the less affected member states to opt out from the relief measures.The MEPs also reiterated the need for a coordinated approach to easing COVID-19 lockdown measures as well as the need for additional support measures for both the transport and tourism sectors.
Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans acknowledged that transforming the transport sector is essential to the success of the European Green Deal. “COVID-19 or not, there is still a climate crisis. That will not go away. We have to do everything we can to stop the temperatures rising”, he said. “We want to make sure that, in the recovery plan, we save jobs and at the same time make the transition to sustainability. We will have to invest as much as possible at the EU and national level. This is the most challenging part of our mandate.”Many MEPs raised doubts about whether a strong economy is compatible with a fair transition to sustainability. “Can we afford a green deal in this crisis? There is no contradiction between the need to recover economically and to do it in line with the Green Deal. We cannot succumb to short-term expediency”, explained the Executive Vice-President, adding that it is already evident that investments into sustainable energy now outpace the investments in old energy. Several questions also tackled the loss of jobs in the car industry, the lack of infrastructure for electric vehicles, the aviation sector’s struggles in the current crisis and a possible additional tax burden, the importance of rail transport, as well as rethinking transport systems in cities.

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EU, Norway and the Faroe Islands reach an agreement for better monitoring and control of pelagic fish stocks

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 9 maggio 2020

The European Union, Norway and the Faroe Islands reached a coastal states agreement for the monitoring, control and surveillance (MSC) of shared pelagic stocks fisheries in the North-East Atlantic (mackerel, horse mackerel, blue whiting and herring).
This is the first dedicated agreement on fisheries control and a major step in progressively achieving a level playing field on control and management of these pelagic stocks. The agreement is open for the signature of other coastal and fishing states. Greenland, Iceland and the Russian Federation were, regrettably, not in a position to commit to the agreement. However, these coastal states can and are encouraged to join it fully in the future. The three signatories commit to adopt a number of control measures for these fisheries in order to avoid discards and to monitor the landing and weighing operations. To ensure compliance with the landing obligation, several measures to prevent illegal discards will be mandatory. Measures such as providing control authorities with real-time access to weighing data and camera surveillance of landing and processing facilities will ensure better control and monitoring of catches. The signatories also agreed, for the first time, a number of measures aimed at ensuring accurate weighing and catch recording. In addition, an ambitious plan to test Remote Electronic Monitoring systems on board fishing vessel, such as cameras and sensors, will be implemented. The agreement calls for a regular review of the achievements, so that the measures could be enhanced in the future.

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Return of people residing illegally in the EU

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 26 aprile 2020

Under the readmission agreement, Belarus commits to readmit its nationals who do not, or who no longer, fulfil the conditions in force for entry to, presence in, or residence on, the territory of EU member states. This will also apply to persons who hold a residence permit or a valid visa issued by Belarus, and those who illegally entered EU territory directly after having stayed on, or transited through, the territory of Belarus.The general visa fee for both Belarusians and EU citizens travelling to the other territory for up to 90 days in any 180-day period will be reduced to €35 (some categories of travellers will be exempt from paying fees). The deadlines for consulates to deal with requests will be reduced to 10 calendar days (extendable to a maximum of 30 days). Some Belarusian travellers, such as journalists, students and members of official delegations, will be able to receive multiple-entry visas that will be valid for longer and they will have to submit fewer supporting documents to justify their purpose of travel.
EU citizens can already enter Belarus without a visa for periods of up to 30 days, provided they cross the border at Minsk International Airport. For longer periods, of up to 90 days in any 180-day period, the new agreement will apply reciprocally.
MEPs underline that Belarus has engaged in the last few years in improving the respect of universal freedoms, the rule of law, and human rights, including the freedoms of speech, expression and of media, and labour rights. They also stress that these all constitute fundamental criteria for the EU’s policy towards third countries and that the visa facilitation agreement could be suspended, totally or partially, for human rights and democracy considerations. The two agreements will not apply either to Denmark or Ireland. Petar Vitanov (S&D, BG), rapporteur for the readmission agreement, considered that “the EU should engage more with all Eastern partners, despite the challenges or perhaps, even more so, because of them, as deeper relations should extend the frontiers of the area of freedom, security and justice”. Looking ahead, Vitanov asked for “a more active role for the EP in the opening and negotiations of future readmission agreements, as well as the subsequent monitoring of their application”. “Simplification of travel to and from the EU for both Belarusian as well as EU citizens is an important step on the path for deeper cooperation and understanding between the EU and Belarus and also to intensify the dialogue on democratic values. I would also encourage the European Commission to come back to us one year after the agreement is in place, so that we can evaluate to what extent the agreement meets its intentions”, said Ondřej Kovařík (Renew, CZ), rapporteur for the visa facilitation agreement.

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Aegean Plan 2.0 – preventing a disaster in the times of Corona

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 24 marzo 2020

The EU has an interest to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe when the corona virus hits the more than 40,000 refugees and migrants crammed together on Greek islands under dismal conditions, without sufficient medical care or even the option to wash their hands regularly. The EU and Turkey also have a common interest to support more than 3.5 million refugees now in Turkey; to control mobility in the face of the biggest public health crisis in a century: and to provide humanitarian assistance to more than 2 million displaced near the Turkish border in Syria.Governments across Europe are closing borders and restricting movement: cities, regions, countries are under lock-down. UNHCR and IOM have suspended all humanitarian resettlement. Public institutions, including asylum services, are closing, from the Netherlands to Greece. There is a strong public health interest to stop movement and ensure social distance to contain the spread of the Corona virus.This has consequences for refugees, asylum seekers and irregular migrants. One result of recent border closures and measures to restrict mobility is that most of them will not be able to leave the countries where they are now. This creates an even more urgent need to help people where they are, and to support the communities hosting them. And it requires concrete steps:
A renewed EU-Turkey statement 2.0, including a renewed EU commitment to support refugees and communities in Turkey for the next years with substantial financial assistance. At the same time Turkey should reaffirm its commitment to implement the EU-Turkey Statement of March 2016.
A joint plan for the EU and Turkey to provide immediate humanitarian support to displaced people in Idlib in the North-West of Syria.
A transfer of at least 35,000 asylum seekers from the Greek islands to the Greek mainland as a matter of urgency. The humanitarian situation on the islands is catastrophic and a huge threat to the health of Greeks and asylum seekers on Lesbos and the other islands.
To achieve such a transfer will require building new accommodation on the mainland for 20,000 people, i.e. at least ten camps for 2,000 people each. The Greek government, supported by IOM and with EU funding, could do this in two stages: first build tent camps (within the next 10 days); then follow up with more solid accommodation (within months). Add to this the capacity of three camps already under construction by IOM (for 5,000 people) and one arrives at 25,000 places. So where could 35,000 people be accommodated? This is where leadership by some EU member states becomes crucial. Greece already has more asylum seekers per capita in the country (with 250,000 applications since early 2016) than any other EU member state. But if EU member states would be ready to relocate in the next days 10,000 recognised refugees from the Greek mainland two huge problems would be addressed. The Greek Prime minister could point to real, not just rhetorical, solidarity, as he needs to persuade communities on the mainland to host more camps to relief the islands. And there would be 10,000 additional existing places to accommodate families now on the islands.
To relocate already recognised refugees from the Greek mainland to other EU countries should be straight-forward. Their asylum claims have already been examined and they have been found to deserve protection. 4,000 of them are in existing camps managed by IOM and 6,000 are in apartments, organised by UNHCR, both financed by the European Commission and organized by DG Home.Such an evacuation will not be easy. Some may say it is politically impossible. European publics have their own anxieties. But if nobody in Europe is prepared to do this it becomes even harder for Greek politicians to transfer people to the mainland now. The Greek mainland already hosts some 70,000 refugees and asylum seekers. Greek leaders and citizens need to know that they are not alone.To move 35,000 people from the islands to the mainland, building accommodation for 20,000 and relocating 10,000 to other European countries, would be an historic operation: an airlift of humanity.Do EU members have the capacity to do this? Yes, they do. In the coming days they will bring home more than 100,000 of their citizens stuck somewhere outside the EU. In late February 2011 Turkey evacuated 5,000 people from Libya in 72 hours and a total of 15,000 people within a few days, while Greek ships evacuated 15,000 Chinese from Tripoli at the time of the 2011 turmoil there. Germany has just announced that it might bring back 20,000 Germans from Egypt over the weekend.It is a matter of will and leadership to make the extra effort. Germany could set an example and bring 5,000 recognised refugees from the Greek mainland to Germany. Other countries should join this effort. Containing a deadly virus, and preventing dangerous tensions leading to a social explosion on Greek islands, is a pan-European interest.

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EU City Summit

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 19 marzo 2020

Si è tenuto a Bruxelles l’EU City Summit, un importante evento B2B dedicato al target associativo. Oltre ad essere un’occasione importante per promuovere le destinazioni europee presenti in ottica turistico-congressuale, l’EU City Summit ha rappresentato la prima iniziativa congiunta tra convention bureau europei. Le città di Firenze, Göteborg, Lubiana, Lione, Salisburgo e Valencia si sono unite per promuovere in modo congiunto le loro potenzialità come destinazioni MICE, con Bruxelles – importante punto di riferimento per le associazioni internazionali ed europee, come sede principale.Attraverso questo modello di collaborazione e business exchange, i convention bureau mirano a costruire relazioni reciprocamente vantaggiose con le associazioni, offrendo loro uno sportello unico attraverso cui accedere ad una rete di destinazioni per organizzare il proprio meeting o evento congressuale.
L’idea di creare un network collaborativo è nata lo scorso anno tra alcune città europee che condividono caratteristiche comuni. Mentre in alcuni casi competono per gli stessi eventi associativi, ognuna delle sei sei città riconosce il vantaggio di lavorare in sinergia e di promuovere a sua volta le altre destinazioni. Vantaggi evidenti di questa iniziativa sono l’opportunità per i potenziali clienti di conoscere in modo più approfondito le città del network, la condivisione di know-how ed esperienze per i convention bureau coinvolti e l’uso delle risorse in modo rapido e conveniente. L’EU City Summit, organizzato da Pitch Perfect e moderato da Mariska Kesteloo, Word of MICE, ha suscitato molto interesse tra i rappresentanti delle principali associazioni medico-scientifiche con sede a Bruxelles.

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Europa: Chiusura frontiere tra Stati

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 18 marzo 2020

Dichiarazione del Presidente della commissione libertà civili, Juan Fernando López Aguilar (S&D, ES) sulla reintroduzione dei controlli di frontiera interni a Schengen.”Negli ultimi giorni, diversi Stati membri dell’UE hanno reintrodotto i controlli alle loro frontiere interne, dentro l’area Schengen, o le hanno addirittura chiuse per alcune categorie di persone, mentre altri Stati membri stanno prendendo in considerazione tali misure. In qualità di Presidente della commissione per le libertà civili, giustizia e affari interni del Parlamento europeo, pur condividendo pienamente la necessità di misure di politica pubblica che limitino l’interazione sociale per rallentare la diffusione del Coronavirus, esorto gli Stati membri ad adottare le loro misure nel pieno rispetto dei principi di proporzionalità e, soprattutto, di solidarietà tra gli Stati membri dell’UE, oltre che di non discriminazione e delle norme Schengen applicabili. È fondamentale che, nell’adottare tali misure, non vi sia alcuna discriminazione tra i cittadini dell’UE.È solo attraverso un approccio coordinato, piuttosto che attraverso azioni intraprese dai singoli Stati membri, che riusciremo ad affrontare con successo la sfida che tutti abbiamo davanti.La commissione per le libertà civili sta monitorando attentamente la situazione e si aspetta che la Commissione europea, la Presidenza del Consiglio UE e gli Stati membri proteggano tutti i benefici dell’area Schengen”. Il regolamento (UE) 2016/399 relativo al regime di attraversamento delle frontiere da parte delle persone (codice frontiere Schengen) prevede esplicitamente il rischio per la salute pubblica come motivo di rifiuto d’ingresso alla frontiera esterna dello spazio Schengen (titolo II), ma non prevede la possibilità di ripristinare temporaneamente i controlli alle frontiere interne per motivi di salute pubblica (titolo III).

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Parlamento mobilitato per convogliare i fondi UE in favore delle persone colpite da Coronavirus

Posted by fidest press agency su domenica, 15 marzo 2020

Il Presidente della commissione per lo sviluppo regionale del PE, Younous Omarjee (GUE/NGL, FR) ha dichiarato: “L’Europa deve mostrare solidarietà in questo momento. La politica di coesione è intrinsecamente legata alla solidarietà e ora più che mai deve essere all’altezza della sfida, in modo che sia attuata nel modo più efficiente possibile. La commissione per lo sviluppo regionale farà tutto il possibile per garantire che i fondi siano a disposizione dove è più necessario”.La modifica delle regole di finanziamento dell’UE rientra nella procedura di codecisione, quindi sia il Parlamento che il Consiglio dovranno adottare l’atto. L’ufficio di presidenza e i coordinatori della commissione per lo sviluppo regionale discuteranno la procedura e annunceranno i prossimi passi da compiere il prima possibile. La commissione si adopererà per concludere l’esame della proposta il più rapidamente possibile.L’adozione della proposta consentirà di convogliare i finanziamenti verso le aree e i settori interessati.Il 10 marzo, la Commissione europea ha annunciato che avrebbe lanciato una “Corona Response Investment Initiative” diretta ai sistemi sanitari, alle PMI, ai mercati del lavoro e ad altre parti vulnerabili delle economie degli Stati membri dell’UE. Il 13 marzo è stata pubblicata una proposta legislativa per modificare il regolamento sulle disposizioni comuni, il Fondo europeo di sviluppo regionale e i regolamenti del Fondo europeo per gli affari marittimi e la pesca.La Commissione ha proposto di destinare 37 miliardi di euro nell’ambito della politica di coesione alla lotta contro la crisi del Coronavirus, rinunciando quest’anno all’obbligo di chiedere la restituzione dei prefinanziamenti per i fondi strutturali. Si tratta di circa 8 miliardi di euro del bilancio dell’UE, che gli Stati membri potranno utilizzare per integrare 29 miliardi di euro di fondi strutturali, per tutta l’UE. Inoltre, la Commissione ha proposto di estendere il campo di applicazione del Fondo di solidarietà dell’UE includendo anche la crisi della sanità pubblica, in vista di una eventuale mobilitazione per gli Stati membri più duramente colpiti.

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“Turkey and the EU must intensify dialogue”, says EP Foreign Affairs Chairman McAllister

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 29 febbraio 2020

“Re-establishing trust and improving communication are crucial for improving EU-Turkey relations”, emphasised the Chairman of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee, David McAllister, following the visit of a delegation of eight members of the Foreign Affairs Committee to Ankara and Mardin. The Chairman emphasised the importance of dialogue between Turkey and the EU at all levels: “We may not always share the same views, but we must continue talking to each other. This is why we came to Turkey. It is also the reason why I have invited the Foreign Minister to address the Foreign Affairs Committee in Brussels or Strasbourg.”“Turkey is an accession candidate and a key strategic partner for the EU, despite the current difficulties in our relations. The EU and Turkey continue to share many common challenges and interests. Therefore, we need to keep working with each other, for instance on foreign policy and regional challenges like Syria, the fight against terrorism, the economy and migration”, the Chairman said.David McAllister emphasised that improvements in the area of the rule of law are required to get the accession process back on track. “Our expectation is clear: Turkey must take concrete steps to improve the rule of law and ensure the independence of the judiciary, freedom of the press and respect for human rights. It should also work towards good neighbourly relations with Cyprus. These issues are at the heart of the accession process. On the other hand, the EU should encourage reforms by maintaining a credible accession perspective. Turkey should be judged on the basis of the same objective criteria as any other candidate country.”The delegation also visited an EU-funded migrant health centre in Mardin, one of 178 in Turkey funded through a EUR 300 million grant to the Turkish Ministry of Health under the Facility for Refugees in Turkey. The Members acknowledged Turkey’s commendable hospitality toward the 3,6 million Syrian refugees in the country. David McAllister said: “We owe gratitude to the Turkish people. Europe will not leave Turkey alone in shouldering this burden.”

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Subsidy ceilings to protect EU funds from oligarchs

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 21 febbraio 2020

To avoid fraud and an unfair distribution of EU subsidies, the Commission should propose a maximum amount of direct payment per natural person, making it impossible to receive subsidies of hundreds of millions of Euros in one MFF-period. The Commission should also come up with rules to disclose who benefits from agricultural funds.Quoting recent cases in Italy and Slovakia, the committee wants an EU complaint mechanism enabling farmers to inform the Commission when land-grabbing malpractices, misconduct of national authorities, pressure from organised crime and forced labour occur.MEPs ask the Commission to table guidelines to fight conflicts of interest of high-profile politicians and ask the Council to adopt common ethical standards in this regard.
The committee stresses that the newly created EU Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) needs at least 76 additional posts and EUR 8 Million in order to deal with an estimated 3000 cases per year.The committee insists that adopting the regulation enabling EU funds for EU countries to be restricted when the rule of law is violated should be prioritised – this regulation is currently blocked in the Council.
MEPs are especially concerned about the situation in Czechia and ask the Commission to supervise payments to companies directly and indirectly owned by the Czech Prime Minister or other members of the Czech Government.“One of the most worrying issues observed in some Member States is land grabbing or the misuse of EU funds by organised crime. The discharge report we voted on today includes a call to establish a mechanism whereby farmers can issue complaints directly. Furthermore, we ask for a fairer distribution of EU subsidies. It is unacceptable that individual beneficiaries can receive up to three-digit million sums. We also call for EU-wide rules to avoid conflicts of interests of high-level politicians and emphasise the need for common ethical standards”, said the rapporteur for the Commission discharge Monika Hohlmeier (EPP, DE).The Commission discharge, along with the other EU bodies, has to be backed by the full Parliament, with a vote scheduled during the March II session.

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The EU must contribute to ending female genital mutilation, say MEPs

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 14 febbraio 2020

In a resolution adopted by 612 votes in favour, 7 against and 32 abstentions, MEPs call on the Commission to ensure that the upcoming Gender Equality Strategy, to be presented in early March, includes actions to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and provide care for survivors, robust commitments, clear indicators, regular reporting and a strong monitoring mechanism.
Parliament calls on member states to urgently ratify the Istanbul Convention and urges the Council and the Commission to ensure its full integration into the EU legislative framework to ensure the prevention of FGM, the protection of women, the prosecution of offenders and adequate provision of services in response to FGM.Furthermore, MEPs urge the Commission and member states to ensure that EU funding goes to projects aimed at training and awareness-raising campaigns for professionals on how to prevent, detect and respond to cases of FGM. They also call on them, as well as on the EEAS, to step up cooperation with non-EU countries in order to encourage them to adopt national laws banning FGM.
MEPs are worried about the increasingly widespread phenomenon of the ‘‘medicalisation’’ of FGM in some countries (even those in which FGM is illegal) and the growing involvement of health professionals in this practice. They invite the countries concerned to explicitly outlaw medicalisation, while raising awareness among medical staff of its harmful effects by providing information and training, as well as adequate supervision and enforcement.
According to the World Health Organisation, FGM is a global issue affecting at least 200 million women and girls around the world. In Europe, the latest national data available estimate that around 600,000 women and girls are living with the lifelong consequences of FGM, and that a further 180,000 girls are at high risk of FGM every year.FGM comprises all procedures that involve partial or total removal of the external female genitalia, or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. It is recognised internationally as a violation of the human rights of girls and women.

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In order to boost the slowing EU economy and encourage growth

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 14 febbraio 2020

MEPs asked the ECB to continue to expand the overall money supply. However, sustainable growth cannot be achieved through monetary policy alone and EU member states still need their own fiscal policies and to implement economic reforms, says the resolution. Furthermore, low or negative interest rates have a harmful impact on pensions and insurance systems, they add. Parliament also notes the importance of continuing with the ECB’s preparatory efforts to ensure EU financial markets remain stable after the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU.
Parliament calls on the ECB to better integrate environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles into its policies and redesign its corporate sector purchase programme (CSPP) to better support environmentally sustainable initiatives. MEPs deplored that green bond issuance still accounts for only 1 % of the overall supply of euro-denominated bonds, while a majority (62.1 %) of ECB corporate bond purchases remain in sectors that are responsible for 58.5 % of euro area greenhouse gas emissions.The resolution invites the ECB to step up its efforts to combat money laundering, tax evasion and other forms of financial crimes, by creating a system to better monitor large transactions. MEPs also note the need to monitor crypto-assets more closely. In collaboration with the Commission, the ECB should assess the EU legal and regulatory framework on e-money, financial instruments and virtual currencies/assets.MEPs regret that the ECB has not yet included Greek bonds in its public sector purchase programme (PSPP), despite positive developments in Greece. They urge the bank to analyse the debt sustainability Greek bonds.

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The EU organised a workshop on environmental assessments to help conclude a treaty on the high seas

Posted by fidest press agency su venerdì, 7 febbraio 2020

The European Commission organised an international workshop on environmental impact assessments (EIAs) and strategic environmental assessments (SEAs) in areas beyond national jurisdiction in Brussels on 28 and 29 January 2020. The event was organised in the context of ongoing negotiations on a new legally binding instrument on the conservation and sustainable use of marine biological diversity of areas beyond national jurisdiction (BBNJ) under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). At the start of the workshop, Virginijus Sinkevičius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, said: “Let’s seize the opportunity this year for concluding a new Treaty that will protect the high seas, half of our planet.”The workshop contributed to the intersessional work of the BBNJ negotiations by bringing together over 100 participants representing governments, international institutions, business, civil society and science to discuss the EIA chapter of the future Treaty. This provided a unique opportunity for more than 30 UN delegations active in the negotiations and coming from different regions of the world to discuss environmental impact assessments, strategic environmental assessments and key outstanding issues with experts and other relevant stakeholders. The interactive panel sessions also explored potential solutions to some of these issues by analysing concrete proposals for the future Treaty. The fourth session of the BBNJ negotiations will take place at the UN from 23 March to 3 April 2020.

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EU-Vietnam free trade deal gets green light in trade committee

Posted by fidest press agency su giovedì, 23 gennaio 2020

The Committee on International Trade backed the free trade and investment protection agreements between the EU and Vietnam on Tuesday.The committee gave its consent to the free trade agreement by 29 votes, six votes against and five abstentions and recommends that EP Plenary should do the same. The agreement will remove virtually all tariffs between the two parties in ten years. It will protect emblematic European products, and allow Europe to access the Vietnamese public procurement market.The agreement is also an instrument to protect the environment and further social progress in Vietnam, including in labour rights, the resolution accompanying the consent decision states. The trade committee’s demands from Vietnam, including on labour and human rights, as well as on the mechanism ensuring the enforceability of the sustainability clauses, was adopted by 29 votes for, nine against and two abstentions.The main elements of the trade deal are the following:
• removal of customs duties: 65% of EU exports to Vietnam will be immediately duty free, with the rest – including motorcycles, cars, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, wines, chicken and pork – gradually liberalised over ten years. 71% of Vietnamese exports to the EU will be duty free on day one, with the rest catching up in seven years. Duty-free Vietnamese exports of sensitive agricultural products, such as rice, garlic or eggs, will be limited;
• non-tariff barriers will be eliminated in the automotive sector, export and import licensing, and customs procedures. Vietnam accepted the “Made in EU” marking, beyond national markings of origin, for non-agricultural products;
• geographical indications: 169 emblematic EU products such as Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, Champagne, or Rioja wine, will enjoy protection in Vietnam, as will 39 Vietnamese products in the EU;
• services: EU companies will have improved access to business, environmental, postal and courier, banking, insurance and maritime transport services in Vietnam ;
• public procurement: EU firms will be able to bid for contracts with Vietnamese ministries, state-owned enterprises, as well as with Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City;
• sustainable development: there are legally-binding rules on climate, labour and human rights. The agreement commits Vietnam to apply the Paris Agreement. Vietnam scheduled the ratification of two remaining bills on the abolition of forced labour and on freedom of association by 2020 and 2023, respectively. If there are human rights breaches, the trade deal can be suspended.
Separately, the trade committee also agreed by 26 votes for, seven against and six abstentions to an investment protection agreement providing an investment court system with independent judges to settle disputes between investors and state. The accompanying resolution passed by 27 votes for, seven against and five abstentions. Rapporteur Geert Bourgeois (ECR, BE) said: “With the consent to this trade deal with Vietnam, the trade committee is giving a positive signal to the ASEAN region and the rest of the world at a time when trade tensions are rising. Besides its geopolitical and economic importance, I am convinced that this agreement will accelerate the reform process within Vietnam. The ratification will strengthen further progress on labour and environmental standards and the respect for human rights.”

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EU and Norway reach agreement on the fisheries arrangements for 2020

Posted by fidest press agency su sabato, 21 dicembre 2019

The parties signed two bilateral arrangements and a neighboring arrangement following three rounds of negotiations in November and December.. The bilateral arrangements cover the North Sea and the Atlantic, and Skagerrak and Kattegat, whilst the neighbouring arrangement covers the Swedish fishery in Norwegian waters of the North Sea.The EU and Norway have agreed on quotas for the jointly-managed fish stocks in the North Sea (cod, haddock, plaice, whiting, herring, and saithe) and Skagerrak (cod, haddock, whiting, plaice, shrimp, herring and sprat), as well as an exchange of reciprocal fishing possibilities.In the North Sea, 5 out of 6 stocks jointly-managed with Norway have been set in line with the ICES scientific advices, at maximum sustainable yield (MSY) levels. This results in quota reductions in 2020 for saithe (-15%) and whiting (-13%), but increases in haddock (+23%) and plaice (+17%). A roll-over was set for herring.Concerning the North Sea cod stock, the EU had advocated for a strict application of the MSY approach for 2020, which would have resulted in a 61% TAC decrease. Unfortunately, the TAC was set at 17.679 tonnes (50% less than in 2019), a less ambitious decrease than the EU had hoped for. The two parties have however agreed to implement a range of additional measures, such as closures of areas and measures to protect adult and juvenile cod during the year. The EU will also implement a specific control and inspection programme to further reduce catches of juveniles.The EU and Norway also agreed to roll-over last year’s agreement on quota exchanges. In particular, the EU received over 21,518 tonnes of Arctic cod. These agreed arrangements will ensure continuation of fishing operations for both Parties in each other’s waters from 1 January 2020.

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Changing the way the EU works

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 25 novembre 2019

The initiative “Input from political debates in regional parliaments” waslaunched today during the 9th Subsidiarity Conference held in the Italian Senate in Rome. The topics of the regional debates held across Europe will be used to feed the EU legislative process early on during the drafting of the annual European Commission work programme. The Committee – the EU’s assembly of local and regional governments – will oversee the project, collating input, thereby ensuring the implementation of the principle of subsidiarity and that decisions are taken as close to citizens, with the EU only acting when it is viewed as being more effective than at the national, regional or local level.The Committee’s President Karl-Heinz Lambertz, who is also President of Belgium’s German-speaking Community Parliament, said: “This initiative fires the starting gun on involving regional parliaments’ in EU policy making at an early stage. This project comes at a perfect moment just before the EU launches its Conference on the Future of Europe to reconnect with its citizens. We need to maximise the impact of every EU law by involving the right level of government – including those closest to citizens – regions and cities – throughout the policy-making to ensure they impact on daily life. The outcome of these regional parliament debates will be shared with the European Commission and contribute to future policy-making. It is not about less Europe, but an effective Europe that delivers results, putting citizens first”.The President of the Italian Senate Maria Elisabetta Alberti Casellati, opened the conference and stressed how urgent is for the European Union and its Member States to provide adequate answers to citizens requests of counting more in EU decisions.The initiative was endorsed by Antonio Tajani, Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Constitutional Affairs,: “The pilot project goes in the right direction and aims at a stronger involvement of regional parliaments in EU decision making. Regions’ role is vital in implementing EU policies ranging from agriculture to tourism, from transport to health. Regional councillors should be part of the forthcoming Conference on the future of Europe, which will be called by President von der Leyen next year. Only by involving democratically elected representatives can we bring EU institutions closer to citizens” he said.A priority that is fully shared by the coordinator of the Italian association of the Presidents of regional councils Rosa D’Amelio”: The Legislative Assemblies of regions are ready to contribute to the process of the Conference on the future of Europe which must be the embryo of a true European public space”. The input from regional parliaments during this project will be used to contribute to the early stage of EU decision-making. All EU regional parliaments with legislative power are welcome to participate the project “by contacting the CALRE secretariat (calre2020@parcan.es) by 24 January 2020. Participating parliaments will be selected shortly after the closing date with debates expected to take place between 1 March and 15 May 2020.
It complements another project being organised by the Committee – the Regional Hubs (RegHubs) project launched in 2019 – where 36 regions are assessing the effectiveness of a selected number of EU policies currently being implemented like public procurement and air quality.

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EU notifies Ecuador to step up action vs illegal fishing

Posted by fidest press agency su lunedì, 25 novembre 2019

The European Commission continues its action to fight illegal fishing worldwide by notifying the Republic of Ecuador that it needs to step up its actions (yellow card) in the fight against illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Karmenu Vella, said: “Ecuador is a major trade partner for fishery products. We have a huge responsibility towards the EU consumers to make sure that the imports from this country only stem from legal fishing activities. The European Commission has detected shortcomings that hinder the capacity of Ecuador to provide this assurance. We invite the Ecuadorian authorities to step up their efforts and implement the necessary reforms to fight against IUU fishing. We stand ready to work closely with Ecuador to tackle the identified issues and raise the standards of fisheries management. Fighting illegal fishing has been an integral part of the EU’s action to improve ocean governance over the last ten years, and it will remain high on the political agenda also under the incoming Commission”.
Today’s decision is based on identified shortcomings about the country’s ability to comply with agreed standards under international law of the sea as flag, port and market state. Ecuador is encouraged to step up its actions to ensure that fish entering its market do not stem from IUU fishing. In particular, it should develop an enforcement and sanctioning system to address IUU fishing activities. Moreover, an adequate control of the activity of processing plants – especially those exporting to the EU – is paramount. The Commission has also identified limitations in the fisheries legal framework. At this stage, the decision does not entail any measures affecting trade. The yellow card is a warning and offers Ecuador the chance to react and take measures to rectify the situation within a reasonable time. The mechanism to address IUU provides that in cases of continued non-compliance countries can ultimately face exclusion of their fish exports from the EU market (red card). The EU stands ready to continue working side by side with Ecuador, including through technical assistance where needed, to implement the necessary reforms.

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EU signs sustainable fishing partnership agreement protocol with Senegal

Posted by fidest press agency su martedì, 30 luglio 2019

The EU and Senegal have a long-standing partnership in the field of fisheries, which started back in 1980 and has evolved during the years. The new 5-year protocol implementing the 2015 agreement is replacing the current protocol due to expire in November 2019. This new protocol allows EU vessels – a maximum of 28 tuna seiners, 10 pole-and-liners, 5 long liners and 2 trawlers – to fish tuna-like species and hake in the waters of Senegal. This is based on the best available scientific advice, a stakeholders’ consultation, and follows the recommendations of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas (ICCAT). Reflecting on the principles of the common fisheries policy, this protocol will contribute to the sustainable management and conservation of natural resources in the waters of Senegal as, based on scientific advice; it foresees a lower total allowable catches for hake compared to the current protocol. The reference tonnage for tuna has been adapted to historical catches. Furthermore, it also foresees measures to limit catches of marine birds and marine mammals, and to reinforce the role of scientific observers.In exchange for the fishing rights, the EU will offer Senegal a yearly financial contribution of €1,700,000. Part of this contribution, €900,000 per year, is earmarked to promote the sustainable management of fisheries in Senegal, in particular through measures that reinforce control and surveillance capacities and the fight against illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing. Moreover, the EU funds will be used to promote the development of scientific capacities and to support the development of the artisanal fishing. In addition to this amount, ship owners will also contribute with approximately €1,350,000 per year. The new protocol will enter into force when the necessary legislative procedures for its conclusion have been completed.

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