Brussels, 29 July 2020 - Little progress has been done so far towards a final agreement as "the UK continued to request single market-like benefits", said EU chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in the press conference at the end of the meeting in London with his British  counterpart.

"There is still no progress on two essential topics of our economic partnership. First, there must be robust guarantees for a level playing field – including on State aid and standards – to ensure open and fair competition among our businesses, also over time. This is a core interest for all 27 Member States – and in my view also for the UK.

Second - goes on Barnier - we have to agree on a balanced, sustainable and long-term solution for fisheries, with the interests of all Member States concerned in mind, and not least the many men and women whose livelihoods depend on it on both sides".

EU Brexit chief negotiator Michel Barnier at a press conference in London, 23 July 2020  -  Copyright © Europe House

With no progress made so far, have Tories decided to 

go for no-deal without a mandate?

Brussels, 15 April 2020 - The EU is working on a common exit strategy coordinated in timed phases. The roadmap traces a common path for the 27 members to follow when reopening and getting back to life in order to avoid a second wave of contagion.

So far the deadly SARS-COV2 made more than 126,700 victims; the figure is actually far higher as many are not counted, not just the homeless, those who died home and in care homes and those who died with complications by coronavirus, but also the uncounted and unknown deaths in Africa, India, Latin America, countries without a working healthcare system.

The pandemic revealed how in European countries public health systems are broken and only able to save lives thanks to the sacrifice of nurses and doctors coping with lack of ventilators and protection equipment.

But while covid continues to spread across Europe, as the economy faces a dangerous recession comparable to the 1929 one, we need to plan an exit strategy and since the infection does not know borders, we need to coordinate phases timely.

The EU roadmap is a common plan to coordinate post-pandemic among 27 member state. 

Main points: 

Borders: allow for the flow of essential workers and goods.

1. Internal border controls should be lifted in a coordinated manner. Travel restrictions should first be eased between identified low-risk areas. Neighbouring Member States should stay in close contact to facilitate this.

2. In a second phase, external borders would reopen access for non-EU residents, taking into account the spread of the coronavirus outside the EU. Restrictions to non-essential travel to the EU must be continuously reviewed.

A phased roadmap: EU plans a common exit strategy

including contact tracing mobile apps  

Paolo Gentiloni VIDEO  ©EP  European Union  

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu during a TV broadcast while showing a plan for occupation of territories in the Jordan Valley

Geneva, 4 February 2020 - "In line with international law and relevant UN Security Council resolutions, the EU does not recognise Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied since 1967. Steps towards annexation, if implemented, could not pass unchallenged".

The EU Foreign Policy chief, Joseph Borrell made clear in a statement the bloc is not prepared to accept the Middle East peace plan for a solution of the conflict between Israel and Palestine announced by Trump last January. The plan has been strongly rejected by the Palestinian Authority's leader Abbas who Saturday 1st February announced the end of any security cooperation with Israel.

"The EU - he said - recalls its commitment to a negotiated two-State solution, based on 1967 lines, with equivalent land swaps, as may be agreed between the parties, with the State of Israel and an independent, democratic, contiguous, sovereign and viable State of Palestine, living side by side in peace, security and mutual recognition as set out in the Council Conclusions of July 2014. The US initiative, as presented on 28 January, departs from these internationally agreed parameters".

Calling on Israeli and Palestinians to re-engage and to refrain from any unilateral actions against international law, Borrell expressed the 27 members' concerns about "statements on the prospect of annexation of the Jordan Valley and other parts of the West Bank"; the Union will challenge any steps towards occupation  of new territories.

Israel-Palestine: EU concerned by statements on annexation 

of the Jordan Valley 
"The US initiative departs from internationally agreed parameters for a two-State solution"

photo Joseph Borrell Copyright © EU Parliament 

Brussels, 1 February 2020 - From today the premises of the former Commission Representation in London will become those of the European Union Delegation. Operations will start officially from 1st February 2020, the day when  the United Kingdom left the EU and became a third country.

"While we regret the decision of the UK to leave our Union, we fully respect this choice and are ready to move forward" says Joseph Borrell, in an official communique explaining "the diplomatic representation of the European Union from now on will be ensured by an EU Delegation, under my authority as High Representative of the Union for Foreign affairs and Security Policy".

"I have appointed Ambassador João Vale de Almeida as Head of Delegation and I trust that he will be working tirelessly to ensure smooth cooperation between the European Union and the United Kingdom" says  Borrell highlighting the "key role" in the guarantee of respect of rights of EU citizens in the UK.

"In addition to the traditional responsibilities of an EU Delegation in a third country, such as EU diplomatic representation, EU coordination and reporting and promotion of the EU in the host country, the EU Delegation to the United Kingdom will have a key role in ensuring the implementation of the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement. Together with the embassies of EU Member States, it will also raise awareness on the rights of EU citizen’s in the United Kingdom after Brexit.

photo:  João Vale de Almeida, head of EU Delegation to the UK

Borrell: with de Almeida EU Delegation to the UK will rise awareness of EU citizens' rights

EU Parliament president David Sassoli with Liliana Segre Copyright © EU Parliament 

Brussels, 29 January 2020  - “We need to bow before the victims of the Shoah, we must remember because we know Auschwitz was build by Europeans. We have to hold upon our shoulders this paternity, because what happened there causes us to face the responsibility.” said EU Parliament president David Sassoli who before the ceremony in Brussels for the 75th Anniversary from Auschwitz liberation by the Red Army, welcomed Auschwitz survivor Liliana Segre.

An Italian Senator for life, Segre, 90 years old, signed on a memory book with the sentence ‘What an emotion! I do exist and the EU Parliament as well’, adding “this was not in someone’s plans”. Segre was threatened few weeks ago by neo-fascists in her city of origin, Milan where right on the remembrance day (27 January) another anti-semitic attack took place.
 

Later her testimony moved MEPs: “We ate snow in order to drink water wherever there was snow that wasn’t blood”; it was a flash, a moment of the march of the death.  

 

"People still ask me how is it possible antisemitism still exists. Antisemitism has always existed, it’s just that politics enact this in the circular course of history".

She tells a silent audience in an unwritten discourse that follows the emotional flow of memories that gave us the ultimate meaning of a united Europe: "When I've arrived I saw all the coloured flags at the entrance; so many countries here in  spirit of brotherhood where people speak straight and look into each other eyes. But this hasn't been  always that way".

Antisemitism: an open wound Europe is

still unable to heal 

The UN Convention on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work recognises that violence and harassment at work can be a human rights violation or abuse, posing a threat to equal opportunities. 

The Convention sets the legal frame of definition of "violence and harassment in the world of work" stating that everyone in the world of work has the right to be free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence.

Brussels, 22 Jan 2020 -  In the EU countries the 32% of all reported cases of sexual harassment the perpetrator was someone related to the woman's employment: colleague, boss or customer.

The alarming figures are behind the Commission's decision to call all EU member states to ratify the Convention on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, adopted June last year during the Centenary of the International Labour Organization, the UN agency for the guarantee and enhancement of respect of Human Rights in the workplace.

"The adoption of ILO Convention No. 190 and Recommendation No. 206 recognizes the right of everyone to a world of work free from violence and harassment, including gender-based violence and harassment",  it is stated in the official text of the UN agency's Convention.

The Commission adopted a proposal for a Council decision allowing Member States to take forward the process of ratifying it at national level as it cannot ratify ILO Conventions because the EU is not a member of the UN Organisation. That means such Conventions can be ratified at national level only.

Nicolas Schmit, Commissioner for Jobs and Social Right, stressed that “the new Convention is a much-needed international instrument to protect everyone's right to a workplace free from violence and harassment. Once adopted, this Decision will support Member States in leading the way for its ratification and implementation.”


According to a survey on violence against women conducted by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, 1 in 2 women in the EU said they have experienced some sort of sexual harassment at least once since the age of 15.

 Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work:

EU Commission calls members to ratify ILO Convention

Paolo Gentiloni VIDEO  ©EP  European Union  

Joseph Borrell, eu High Representative of the European Union for Common Foreign and Security Policy - Photo Copyright ©EU Parliament 2020. 

Brussels, 7 Jan 2020 - Urgent meeting of ministers of foreign affairs in Brussels today after a deadly strike in Libya where conflict is worsening. Recently Turkey sent its army in support of the UN-backed Government of National Accord, led by the prime minister, Fayez al-Sarraj, which is under attack from Libyan National Army rebel forces led by Gen Khalifa Haftar, backed by the United Arab Emirates  and Russia.

The EU calls for a strict respect of the arms embargo declared by United Nations and is addressing Turkey intervention in order to prevent dangerous interference in the conflict.

The contingency of the Iran-Iraq crisis is also mounting pressure at EU level.

“The EU is of the firm conviction that there is no military solution to the Libyan crisis and that a protracted conflict will only bring more misery to ordinary people, exacerbate divisions, increase the risk of partition, spread instability across the region and aggravate the threat of terrorism”, said EU Foreign Policy chief Joseph Borrell in a joint statement with British Dominic Raab, Italian Luigi Di Maio, French Jean-Yves Le Drian and German Heiko Maas after the meeting.

The foreign ministers expressed their concern addressing the “worrying recent military escalation in Libya" and also in view of the Foreign Affairs Council scheduled next Friday. After the meeting Borrell said that Turkey's decision to send military to Libya grows EU's concerns.

From Brussels Germany, Italy, France and UK call for non-interference in Libya

Borrell : "respect and enforce the UN arms embargo" 

Paolo Gentiloni VIDEO  ©EP  European Union  

RELEVANT: Gentiloni declared his commitment to the delivery of the European unemployment insurance scheme in a move which might have also positive impact on Italy's domestic politics where coalition partners 5StarM (also in Brussels) are promoting similar measures of social welfare.

Brussels, 3 Oct. 2019 - In a recently renewed EU Parliament where political alliances and mutual support are essential to be effective former Italian Prime Minister, and previously Foreign Minister, Paolo Gentiloni (Italian Democratic Part / S&D Group) outlined his longstanding Parliamentary experience as starting point addressing commissioners:

"I have almost 20 years of parliamentary experience as a member of Parliament, as the chairman of a committee, Minister, Prime Minister and during that time I have learnt something fundamental: it's important to hold dialogue and debate with elected representatives and always answer their questions. Today's hearing is the earliest chance to do that and if I'm confirmed as commissioner many other chances will follow".
 

Paolo Gentiloni, Commissioner for Economy

outlines his "ambitious and shared programme" 

EP President David-Maria Sassoli Photo ©EP  European Union  

"European People's Party, S&D group, Renew Europe, the Greens and GUE/NGL have decided to table a resolution in the plenary next week"

EP President David-Maria Sassoli Photo ©EP  European Union  

"The resolution stresses a very clear message: You cannot have an agreement without the backstop."

EP President David-Maria Sassoli Photo ©EP  European Union  

"On our side we are ready to get back to the original proposal formulated by the EU that backstop is valid only in Northern Ireland. This is an act of trust in the dialogue and negotiations". 

Brussels, 12 Sept. 2019 - You know - said EP president David Sassoli to journalists - that we discuss everything, we argue over everything, but with regards to Brexit we have a unified position and the European Parliament wants to re-state this unity adding updated considerations". 

EU President Sassoli: "No agreement without backstop". EU anyway ''open to an extension'' 

Photo  Copyright © EP European Union  Parliament

Brussels - While restating the priority of the Transatlantic alliance, Ursula von der Leyen outlined what EU new course of foreign policy would be.

I believe Europe should have a stronger and more united voice in the world and it needs to act fast. That’s why we should have the courage to take foreign policy decisions by qualified majority and to stand united behind them. The cornerstone of our collective defence will always be NATO. We will stay transatlantic, and we have to become more European, that’s why we created the European defence community. Our work for a European Community of security and defence is a comprehensive security. Stabilisation always comes with diplomacy reconciliation and reconstruction”

Photo  Copyright © EP European Union  Parliament

Ursula von der Leyen speaks for a Commission
closer to the Parliament 

Rome 3 July - “It will be a legislature for a Europe able to invest on social dimension; citizens are asking us to be active on politics developing jobs and investments. Our young are often forgot. We need institution more close to the needs of our people, our citizens and European citizens”. Soon after his election as new European Parliament president David Sassoli answers questions from Italian journalists keen to highlight how Italian Democratic Party, S&D group, is not in power in Italy “I hope Italians are happy today” he answers smiling in a optimistic call to unify a politically divided and conflicting country fighting with the EU over immigration policies and debt and concerned by and increasingly infighting coalition government.

KEY SENTENCES OF THE SPEECH:  
 

"The European Union is not just a mistake in the course of history. I am the son of a man who in his twenties fought against other Europeans and of a mother who in her twenties had to flee her home and find refuge with others families. And I am sure this is the story of many of your families"


“Our history is written on sufferance, on the blood of young British exterminated on the Normandy’s shores”.


"Nobody can be condemned for holding a particular political or religious or philosophical persuasion. Young people have to be able to travel and study and fall in love without any restriction".

"We mustn't allow any European to be humiliated or squeezed out of society because of their sexual orientation".

"Within Europe in one way or another Social cover is part of our identity our economic model our social market economy needs to have fresh life breathed into it. Our economic rules must bring together growth with social protection and respect to the environment. We need appropriate instruments to fight poverty and hold out prospects for our young people".

EP President David-Maria Sassoli Photo ©EP  European Union  

David Sassoli elected President of the European Parliament with 345 votes out of 667 at the second round after a shift of 20 votes previously spread among Germn Ska KELLER (Greens/EFA) Spanish Sira REGO (GUE/NGL) and Czech Jan ZAHRADIL (ECR)

EP President David-Maria Sassoli Photo ©EP  European Union  

New EU Parliament president Sassoli: “Our history is written on sufferance, on the blood of young British exterminated on Normandy’s shores”.

Brussels, 25 April - The European Parliament’s Spring 2019 Eurobarometer, measuring public attitudes to the EU three months ahead of the European elections in May, reveals that despite challenges and EU-scepticism, 68% of EU population support membership and think their own country benefited from being part of the Union (the highest level recorded since 1983).


Citizens’ feelings of uncertainty, partly due to the challenges experienced within the EU over the past years, have changed, as seen in the 27% of Europeans now considering that the EU is ‘neither a good thing nor a bad thing’, with an increase registered in 19 countries.
 

With regards to the voting intention to the upcoming elections in May the main reason to vote for 44% of Europeans is because ‘it is their duty’ as a citizen. Respondents to the survey said also among other reasons, would vote because they usually vote in political elections and because they feel they are citizens of the European Union. Equally important voting drivers are that respondents feel they can change things by voting in the European Parliament elections and because they want to support the European Union or a political party.

Citizens’ campaign priorities have further evolved over the past six-month period. Economy and growth (50%) and youth unemployment (49%) now top the agenda, followed by immigration (44%) and climate change (43%), whilst tackling terrorism moves down to fifth place with 41%.

Concern over Eurosceptic parties: 61% of Europeans see the rise of protest parties as a matter of concern; Sweden with 75% of people concerned is first, followed by Finland (73%), Germany (71%) Belgium (70%), Ireland (69%), Portugal and France (both 68%). UK with 23% registered low numbers of negativeness towards protest parties.


The the survey was carried out by Kantar from 19 February to 4 March 2019 among 27.973 Europeans, drawn as a representative sample from the general population aged 15 or over. Data from UK has being shown in addition.

KEY FIGURE:

41% think the role of EU Parliament stayed the same over the last years; but 54% would like it to play a more important role. 


Not only most of the people who believe that Parliament’s role had already been strengthened over the past years still do call for an even more powerful institution in the future, also a majority of those who did not see such a change in the past would like MEPs to have more power.

Eurobarometer: 68% citizens positive on membership. 50% want
EU Parliament to play a stronger role

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