european union

EU Deplores Russian Decision To Impose Travel Restrictions On Some EU Officials

Brussels [Belgium], January 29 (ANI/Sputnik): The European Union has deplored the Russian decision to extend the list of EU officials that will be subject to travel restrictions, the EU External Action Service said.

On Friday, the Russian Foreign Ministry said that Moscow had extended the list of EU residents on whom travel restrictions are imposed. The list includes heads of several European private military companies and some politicians among others. The Russian Foreign Ministry described the move as a symmetric response to the EU policy toward Russia.

“The European Union deplores the decision by Russian authorities, announced on Friday, to ban an unknown number of representatives of EU Member States and institutions from entry into Russia. This decision lacks any legal justification and transparency and will meet an appropriate response. With it, Russia continues to fuel a climate of tensions in Europe instead of contributing to de-escalation,” the EU External Action Service said in a statement on late Friday.

The relations between Russia and the European Union are facing a sharp crisis as in the past few months, the West and Ukraine have accused Russia of concentrating troops near the Ukrainian border in alleged preparation for an invasion. Russia has repeatedly said that it has no intention of invading Ukraine, while stressing that it has the right to move forces within its own territory.

EU Commissioner says high inflation drivers to remain strong until second half of 2022

Brussels [Belgium] (ANI/Sputnik): European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni said on Tuesday that factors contributing to high inflation in the European Union will diminish, but not earlier than in the second half of the year.
“It is clear that the factors driving to high inflation in the EU will decline, will fade, but probably not as soon as we expected, so probably in the second part of the year and not before, we will have our forecast in February the 11th, the Commission forecast,” Gentiloni said in a doorstop interview on arriving to the Economic and Financial Affairs Council meeting in Brussels. Earlier in the month, the EU Statistics Office revealed data showing that annual inflation in Euro zone is estimated to reach record 5 per cent in December, hitting its highest level in 13 years, with the prices soaring mainly in Lithuania by 10.7 per cent and Estonia by 12 per cent.
As the European Central Bank (ECB) argued, the key drivers of high inflation in the EU include swift reopening of European economy amid slower pace of lifting COVID-19 restrictions and energy prices’ uptick worldwide. The annual inflation rate in the energy sector exceeded 26 per cent last year.
The ECB forecast earlier that the inflation will decrease over the course of 2022. (Image source: Instagram)

EU’s Von Der Leyen tells Russia more sanctions will follow escalation on Ukrainian border

Brussels [Belgium]: The European Union is ready to impose more sanctions on Russia if it acts aggressively toward Ukraine, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has warned.
The EU boss told Le Journal du Dimanche in an interview published Saturday that “any act of aggression against Ukraine will lead to sanctions and massive consequences. They have been prepared.” She was answering a question about whether Brussels could make Moscow respect itself after it passed the EU over and opted for dialogue with Washington instead.
“European countries are united, they are acting in tandem with the US and NATO. We want to get along well with Russia,” the chief commissioner said, adding Russia needed to stop “provocations.”
The EU and the US have accused Russia of massing troops on the border with Ukraine in what Kiev claims is preparation for invasion. Russia says it is free to move military personnel anywhere within its territory and demands security guarantees from NATO.

EU envisages strategy to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative

Washington [US]: European Union has envisaged better planning to counter China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) and become a stronger geopolitical entity.
Eight years after the announcement of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)–conceived first as One Belt, One Road, the European Union (EU) has a good plan to counter it and become a stronger geopolitical actor in an era of strategic competition as European policymakers seem to have awakened to Chinese economic and geopolitical designs, according to National Interest. Therefore, European policymakers seem to have understood the Chinese economic and geopolitical designs.
In line with this vision, Beijing is expanding Chinese outreach in the global economy, reducing its technological dependence on the West–in line with its “Made in China 2025”–and maintaining a favorable external influence while addressing domestic challenges writes Valbona Zeneli for the National Interest.
The BRI is an economic and geopolitical necessity for Beijing as it tries to unlock the potential for new sources of growth and export markets for China’s excess industrial capacities in its struggling industries (construction, steel, and cement) which could be done through advance innovation.
Despite Beijing’s significant investment to strengthen the BRI’s narrative power–focusing on the mantra of a “win-win” strategy, promising to advance global development, and presenting China as a benevolent rising power–BRI has become controversial and caused a backlash in several countries, according to National Interest.
Since its inception, 2013, most Chinese projects in Eurasia have been incorporated into the BRI, the brainchild of President Xi Jinping, a foreign policy narrative that exports the “China Dream” that was cemented into the Chinese Communist Party’s constitution during the Nineteenth Party Congress.
To put this into perspective, since the launch of the BRI in 2013, the EU and the United States together have contributed USD 800 billion to global development–more foreign aid to developing countries than China’s BRI loans, writes Valbona Zeneli for the National Interest.
Further, a grant represents a much bigger financial contribution than a loan, and the EU’s donations alone ($550 billion since 2013) are greater than the BRI’s infrastructure lending thus far.

EU Foreign Policy chief warns against ‘excluding’ Brussels from security talks with Russia

Brussels [Belgium]: EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell claims that Moscow could try to exclude the European Union from talks on security guarantees.
“Russia’s ultimate intentions are not clear, except that it seeks to threaten and weaken Ukraine. Different scenarios can unfold. …We cannot exclude Russia’s desire to use this crisis as leverage for its declared purpose to reshape the security framework in Europe, also excluding the Europeans from the discussions,” Borrell said on his blog on Sunday. He emphasized that any Russian action against Ukraine and its sovereignty would have serious consequences and expressed hope that the US will not allow Brussels to get excluded from talks on security.
“…the EU must of course be at the table of any discussion on the European security architecture. Russia’s Foreign Ministry this Friday released a draft proposal on security guarantees between Russia and the US as well as to European members of NATO. It is clear that the EU must be an integral part of such discussions,” Borrell stressed.
He recalled the Helsinki Final Act and the Paris Charter, as well as mechanisms and rules of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), which, according to Borrell, must be used when engaging with Russia on issues of security.
On Friday, Moscow published draft agreements between Russia, the United States and NATO on security guarantees. The proposals, if agreed to, would ban NATO from expanding in eastern Europe and prohibit the US and Russia from deploying intermediate and shorter-range missiles within striking distance of each other’s territory, among other terms.
German Defense Minister Christine Lambrecht said on Sunday that NATO was going to discuss Russia’s proposals on security guarantees this week.
The security issue has surged in importance on the backdrop of the growing tensions around Ukraine, as Russia stands accused of allegedly deploying troops near the Ukrainian border in preparation for an invasion.
Moscow has repeatedly denied these accusations, pointing to NATO’s military activity near the Russian borders, which it deems a threat to its national security. Russia has also said that it has the right to move forces within its own territory.

EU leaders unanimously vote for prolonging Russia sanctions

Brussels [Belgium]: Leaders of the EU countries have unanimously voted for the prolongation of sanctions against Russia during the EU summit in Brussels, European Council President Charles Michel said on Friday.
“Massive consequences & severe cost will follow if Russia takes further military action against Ukraine. #EUCO leaders unanimously agreed to roll over economic sanctions against Russia. We call on Russia to keep its part of the bargain and proceed with Minsk implementation,” Michel wrote on its Twitter page. According to the EU Summit, the existing restrictions have a significant economic impact on the Russian economy and deprive Moscow of an access to sensitive technologies.
“Sanctions limit access to EU primary and secondary capital markets for certain Russian banks and companies and prohibit forms of financial assistance and brokering towards Russian financial institutions. The measures also prohibit the direct or indirect import, export or transfer of all defence-related material and establish a ban for dual-use goods for military use or military-end users in Russia. The sanctions further curtail Russian access to certain sensitive technologies that can be used in the Russian energy sector, for instance in oil production and exploration,” the council said.
The sanctions on Russia were introduced over the 2014 crisis in Ukraine and Crimea’s decision to rejoin Russia. The West has accused Moscow of meddling in Ukrainian internal affairs, while Russia has denied the accusations and introduced a food embargo on the states that targeted it with restrictive measures.

France to consult with EU partners on US boycott of Beijing Olympics

Paris [France]: France has “well noted” the decision of the United States to diplomatically boycott the Winter Olympics in Beijing of 2022 and it will consult with European partners on the next step, a foreign ministry spokesperson on Tuesday.
“We have well noted the US choice and we will coordinate on this topic at the European level,” the spokesperson told a news conference. In a symbolic protest against China’s “ongoing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang,” the Biden administration on Monday announced that it has decided not to send an official US delegation to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing
US athletes will still participate in the Olympics, but the administration will not be sending government officials to the games. The same policy applies to the Paralympic Games to be held in Beijing, CNN reported.
According to CNN, the move marks an escalation of pressure by the US on China over allegations of forced labour and human rights abuses in China’s western region of Xinjiang, particularly against the Uyghur population and other ethnic and religious minority groups.
The US is looking to send a “clear message” that the human rights abuses in China mean there cannot be “business as usual,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told media persons at a White House briefing.
President Joe Biden has said last month that he was weighing a diplomatic boycott as Democratic and Republican lawmakers, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, advocated for a protest of China’s human rights abuses, CNN reported.

EU’s Borrell says Brussels working to forestall conflict between Russia, Ukraine

Rome [Italy]: The European Union is making a diplomatic effort to prevent an escalation of tensions on the border between Russia and Ukraine, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell has said.
Over the past several weeks, Ukraine and some Western countries have expressed concern about the alleged increase in what they characterize as “aggressive actions” by Russia on their border. Moscow, for its part, has rejected the accusations by saying it is moving troops within its own territory and at its own discretion. “We are using our diplomatic capacity to let Russia know that this [alleged attack] would be a grave violation of international law,” Borrell said in an interview with Italian newspaper La Repubblica, published late on Saturday.
According to the EU official, at this stage, it is important to show Moscow “the range of possible outcomes.”
“We are working to avoid the crisis, but in the face of any unforeseen circumstances, the EU will steadfastly support Ukraine,” Borrell stated, while also saying that the upcoming Eastern Partnership summit in Brussels will provide an opportunity for the bloc to demonstrate its commitment.
Relations between Moscow and Kiev deteriorated Crimea’s reunification with Russia in 2014 and the ongoing armed conflict in Donbas. In January 2015, the Ukrainian parliament adopted a statement calling Russia an “aggressor country.” Russia denies the accusations of the Ukrainian party and calls them unacceptable.

EU launches new USD 340bn global connectivity strategy to counter China’s BRI

Brussels [Belgium]: The European Commission (EC) has announced a new USD 340-billion global strategy to boost sustainable links around the world called Global Gateway, a move being seen as a counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
“We aim to mobilize investees up to 300 billion euros [$340 billion] in the years 2021 to 2027, such funds cannot be found by EU alone, the global gateway will build a team Europe approach,” Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said on Wednesday during EC press conference on Global Getaway. The new strategy aims at boosting the world’s interconnectivity through building and strengthening high standard sustainable digital, economic, transportation, research and health systems across the world, according to a statement.
The commission added that for implementing the strategy, the European Union would use the so-called “team Europe” approach, encouraging member states with their financial and development institutions, including the European Investment Bank to work together and seek to mobilize the private sector in order to leverage investments for a transformational impact.
Experts believe that the European Union’s Global Gateway has been launched to compete with Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)/ Writing for The Times of Israel, geopolitical analyst Sergio Restelli in September said that the European Union’s Global Gateway project has started becoming a major challenge to the BRI.
The BRI is a huge, geopolitically significant network of infrastructure and transport investments that Beijing uses to connect its exporters to western markets. The BRI was adopted by the Chinese government in 2013 and grew rapidly over the next few years. It intended to invest in nearly 70 countries and international organizations.
The US Government has announced a similar program, Build Back Better (at the world (B3W)) a few months ago also aimed at halting the BRI’s expansion. Now with Europe in the fray Chinese expansion is likely to be severely curtailed, said Restelli.
According to the writer, China would potentially face difficulties in maintaining current deals and bilateral agreements under the BRI as the US and EU-led schemes to endorse transparency in trading, partnership and value-driven infrastructure development are conspicuously absent in the BRI’s terms of reference.

Belarusian Foreign Minister, EU diplomacy chief discuss border crisis

Minsk [Belarus]: Belarusian Foreign Minister Vladimir Makei on Sunday discussed the Polish-Belarusian border crisis and sanctions in a phone conversation with EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, the Belarusian Foreign Ministry said.
“On November 14, 2021 Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus Vladimir Makei held a telephone conversation with EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy / Vice-President of the European Commission Josep Borrell,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that “the difficult migration situation at the Belarus-EU border was discussed.” “The Belarusian side reiterated its readiness as a matter of principle for an equal and mutually respectful dialogue with the EU. The futility and counter-productivity of sanctions for the development of Belarus-EU relations was emphasized,” the ministry also said.

EU countries, US, UK calling for strong international reaction to Belarusian activities

New York [US]: Four EU member states that have seats in the UN Security Council – Estonia, France, Ireland and Norway – the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as Albania, have called for a strong international reaction to the Belarusian activities regarding the migration crisis on the border with Poland.
In a joint statement read out by Estonian Ambassador Sven Jurgenson in the UN Security Council, the countries accused Belarus of triggering a border migration crisis to exert pressure on the EU. “This tactic is unacceptable and calls for a strong international reaction and cooperation in order to hold Belarus accountable. It demonstrates how the [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko regime has become a threat to regional stability. We call on the Belarusian authorities to stop these inhumane actions and not to put people’s lives at risk. International organisations need to be provided with immediate and unhindered access to people therein to deliver humanitarian assistance,” the joint statement read.
“The Belarusian authorities should understand that putting pressure on the European Union in this way, through a cynical instrumentalisation of migrants, will not succeed,” the statement added.

EU will expand sanctions against Belarus, says German foreign minister

Berlin [Germany]: The European Union will expand sanctions on Belarus and individuals and companies involved in transporting illegal migrants there, including sectoral sanctions, Acting Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said on Thursday.
“The EU will expand and tighten its sanctions against the regime of [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko. We will make a decision on this at the foreign ministers’ council in Brussels on Monday. Sanctions will be imposed on individuals and companies engaged in targeted smuggling all over the world. Further options are being discussed, for example, the expansion of existing sanctions, primarily the so-called sectoral sanctions, that is, economic ones,” Maas told the German parliament.

EU to impose more sanctions against Minsk soon: Commission

Brussels [Belgium]: The European Union will impose more sanctions against Belarus over the situation at the Belarusian-Polish border, European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said on Tuesday.
“More sanctions are on the way, more are under discussion among the member states in order to take into account latest actions of the [Belarusian President Alexander] Lukashenko regime,” Stano told a press briefing.

EU top diplomats to discuss situation in Belarus next Monday

Brussels [Belgium]: Foreign ministers of the European Union member states will discuss the situation in Belarus amid the influx of migrants to Poland during a meeting next Monday, Peter Stano, the lead spokesman for foreign affairs and security policy, said on Monday.
“This is a matter of urgency for the EU and as such it was discussed not only by the leaders on 21st – 22nd October and it will be discussed again by the foreign ministers at the upcoming meeting next Monday,” Stano said during a European Commission briefing.

Iran, EU to resume nuclear talks from November 29 in Vienna

Brussels [Belgium]: Iran and European Union (EU) on Wednesday agreed to resume nuclear talks on November 29 in Vienna.
“The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will convene in a physical format on 29 November in Vienna,” the EU’s European External Action Service says in a statement, adding that it will be chaired by Enrique Mora on behalf of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, reported The Times of Israel. In Teheran, Deputy Foreign Minister Ali Bagheri, Iran’s lead negotiator, confirmed the Nov 29 resumption of talks in Vienna. He tweeted that the date had been set in a phone call with Mora.
The EU statement said that the remaining parties to the deal – Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and Iran – would be represented.
“Participants will continue the discussions on the prospect of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the agreement by all sides,” it said.
Bagheri tweeted, “We agreed to start the negotiations aiming at the removal of unlawful and inhumane sanctions on Nov 29 in Vienna.”
Meanwhile, in reaction, the US said that a deal is possible quickly if Iran is “serious” in the Vienna talks, reported The Times of Israel.
Talks have been stalled for long months following the election of a hardline new Iranian president, Ebrahim Raisi.
The US government under former President Donald Trump unilaterally withdrew from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in May 2018 and re-imposed sanctions on Iran. In response to actions undertaken by US, Iran gradually stopped implementing parts of its JCPOA commitments.

US, EU agree to suspend Trump-era tariffs on steel, aluminium: EU Commission President

Brussels [Belgium]: The US and the European Union have reached an agreement on suspending the tariffs on steel and aluminium imposed in 2018 by then-US President Donald Trump, European Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen said on Sunday.
“We agreed to suspend the tariffs on steel and aluminium and to start … a new global sustainable steel arrangement. And this marks a milestone in the renew EU-US partnership,” Von der Leyen said at the G20 meeting in Rome. The European Commission also intends to develop proposals to suspend the reciprocal tariffs imposed on US goods following Washington’s decision on tariffs on steel and aluminium, the official added.
The tariffs imposed by the Trump administration in 2018 in a bid to change US trade policy and reduce the trade deficit largely affected a set of steel, aluminium and other European goods worth 6.4 billion euros (USD 7.4 billion). Brussels responded by introducing tariffs on various US items worth 2.8 billion euros in June 2018.

Italian PM, other EU leaders laud India’s achievements in COVID-19 vaccination

New Delhi [India]: Foreign Secretary Harsh Vardhan Shringla on Friday said European Union leaders including Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi have congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi for India’s excellent progress on COVID-19 vaccination.
“EU leaders, as well as the Italian PM, congratulated PM Modi for India’s excellent progress on vaccination both in terms of the number of vaccines administered in our country and also in terms of percentage of people covered in the first dose,” Shringla said during the special briefing on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Italy. Highlighting that the EU is one of India’s very important partners, Shringla said that in today’s meetings, the leaders reviewed India-EU cooperation covering political and security relations, trade and investment relations, as well as roadmap 2025 adopted for the India EU summit.
They also discussed developments around climate change, COVID-19 pandemic and contemporary global and regional developments of interest, he said, adding that Prime Minister highlighted India’s perspectives on climate change, Afghanistan, Indo-Pacific.
Shringla mentioned that during the visit, PM Modi paid floral tribute to Mahatma Gandhi’s bust at Piazza Gandhi. This was in the presence of a large number of members of the Indian community who came there to greet the Prime Minister there. And it was all with great enthusiasm.
He further stated that PM Modi also met different cultural groups including members of the Sikh community. The PM paid respect to the Indian soldiers who fought valiantly in Italy during World War II.
Moreover, PM Modi also met his Italian counterpart Mario Draghi at Palazzo Chigi in Rome. This was their first in-person meeting. The Prime Minister has spoken on a number of occasions with Prime Minister Draghi including recently on August 27 when they discussed the issue of Afghanistan, the Foreign Secretary said.
Regarding bilateral cooperation in renewable and clean energy, Shringla said that India and Italy issued a joint statement announcing a strategic partnership on energy transition, and agreed to explore partnerships in areas such as large size green corridor projects, smart grids, energy storage solutions, gas transportation, integrated waste management, deployment of green hydrogen and promotion of biofuels.
He added that India and Italy also signed an agreement of intent on textiles cooperation during the meeting.
Talking about the issue of vaccination certification, he said that “Issue of vaccination certificate was discussed especially with EU representatives. There was a conversation on mutual recognition of vaccines…a doable mechanism to facilitate easier international travel… Details to be worked out bilaterally.”
“Fact of the matter is that the point PM tried to make (on vaccine certification) has been received. Most countries are quite happy with the idea of facilitating smoother international travel…and feel that we need to collectively work on it,” he stated.
“A few EU countries have already responded to our proposal. We have proposed mutual recognition of vaccine certification even at the G20… Discussions are still on…,” Shringla added.

EU plans to reopen diplomatic mission in Kabul

Brussels [Belgium]: The European Union is seeking to reopen its diplomatic mission in Afghanistan in months time as the bloc is looking to enhance its engagement with the new Taliban government.
The 27-member bloc will return to the capital city of Kabul as Brussels seeks to co-ordinate aid efforts and the continued evacuation of some Afghans, UK based newspaper Financial Times (FT) reported. This move comes at a time when the international community is working on ways to deal with the country’s new leadership. The bloc has said it heading for a “calibrated approach” to the outfit, pursuing engagement with the administration, without recognizing them.
The EU’s diplomatic and security arm, plans to reopen a representative office that would house its officials and could be used by diplomats from member states, the FT report said.
Last month, the EU sent an exploratory mission to Afghanistan to assess the feasibility of sending diplomats back to Kabul, hoping to find a way to implement a pledged regional aid package worth about one billion euros.
Nabila Massrali, the EU spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said that “a final decision has not been taken yet” on the security provision.
“We can confirm that we are working on establishing a minimal presence on the ground. For security reasons, we cannot enter into the details,” the spokesperson said in a statement to the FT.
“As we have repeatedly said, this is not a sign of recognition. We want to be able to better assist the Afghan people who need our help by being closer and, inevitably, we need to engage with the Taliban,” she added.
Earlier this month, the EU chief Ursula von der Leyen had announced a billion-euro EU aid package for Afghanistan to avert a major humanitarian and socioeconomic collapse.

EU calls on Syria to abolish death penalty

Brussels [Belgium]: The European Union on Saturday condemned the practice of death penalty in Syria and called on Damascus to abolish the punishment.
“The European Union condemns the recent execution of 24 people sentenced on charges of terrorism for starting wildfires in coastal regions of Syria in September and October 2020,” the statement read. The EU also expressed concern that minors received verdicts of 10 to 12 years imprisonment on the same charges.
The bloc stressed that it strongly opposes the death penalty at all times and in all circumstances as it is a “cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment” and pledged to continue the efforts to achieve its universal abolition. The EU further urged Syria to join the “worldwide trend to abolish the capital punishment.”
In fall 2020, Syria was hit by massive forest fires in the provinces of Latakia, Tartus, Homs and Hama. Those responsible were identified by the Syrian law enforcement agencies later in the year. The Syrian Interior Ministry reported that the number of fires at the time reached 187, they affected around 280 villages and settlements, three people died.

Merkel calls for dialogue with Poland at EU summit

Berlin [Germany]: Germany’s outgoing Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday called for dialogue between EU member states and Poland to settle a row over the rule of law issues.
Speaking to journalists upon her arrival in Brussels for probably her last show at an EU summit, Merkel insisted that member states needed to discuss political differences. “We need to find ways and possibilities to come back together,” she said. “An avalanche of legal disputes taken before the European Court of Justice is not a solution to the problem,” she said, in a reference to the legal action the European Commission was preparing against Poland in front of the EU’s top court.
Poland’s rule of law topped the agenda of the summit of EU leaders on Thursday, with the European Commission expressing growing concern over judicial independence, which was exacerbated with the Polish constitutional court decision this week which ruled that Polish laws enjoyed supremacy over EU laws.
Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told journalists as she arrived at the EU summit that “the core question is the independence of the judiciary in Poland.”
“This is not new…but with the recent ruling of the (Polish) constitutional court, this has taken a new dimension,” she added.
Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki came under heavy criticism during a tense debate with Von der Leyen in the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday.
The EU chief warned that the Commission will use one of the tools at its disposal, either an infringement procedure, or an EU probe into the ruling, or the new tool of rule of law conditionality which could lead to the suspension of EU funds, or the Article 7 sanctions procedure.
Poland and the Commission have not agreed on the 23.9 billion euros in grants and 12.1 billion euros in cheap loans that Poland can receive from the EU’s COVID-19 recovery fund.
The global energy crisis also topped the leaders’ agenda but the Polish situation took precedence, with many leaders arriving at the summit calling for dialogue to diffuse the situation before it ballooned into a much larger political crisis that could threaten the EU’s own foundations.
“It’s very clear that a red line has been crossed,” said Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo, with Austria’s Chancellor Alexander Schallenberg warning that Poland cannot “cherry-pick” EU laws.
Morawiecki said he was “ready for dialogue” but warned that they would not “act under the pressure of blackmail.”
He defended the controversial Oct. 7 ruling by his country’s Constitutional Court that declared EU law could only apply in just a few specific areas, and that Polish law prevailed in all other national matters.
Meanwhile, in a resolution adopted on Thursday with 502 votes for, 153 against, and 16 abstentions, MEPs emphasized that the Polish Constitutional Tribunal lacks legal validity and independence, and is unqualified to interpret the country’s constitution.
The MEPs “deeply deplore” the decision which they described as “an attack on the European community of values and laws as a whole,” and said that the Tribunal has been transformed “into a tool for legalizing the illegal activities of the authorities.”

EU calls to deepen ties with Taiwan amid growing threats from China

Taipei [Taiwan]: The European Union (EU) on Tuesday expressed to enhance ties with Taiwan and said the union has to address China’s assertiveness and attempts to intimidate Taiwan’s like-minded partners.
The remarks came from EU Commissioner for Competition Margrethe Vestager at a European Parliament plenary session focused on Taiwan-EU relations, Taipei Times reported. “While enhancing ties with Taiwan, the EU has to address China’s assertiveness and attempts to intimidate Taiwan’s like-minded partners,” Vestager said in her remarks.
Vestager also pointed at China’s increasing military presence in the Taiwan Strait, including flying missions off the southwest coast of Taiwan.
“This display of force may have a direct impact on European security and prosperity,” she said, adding that the EU encourages all parties to avoid any unilateral actions that might increase tensions across the Strait.
During her remarks, Vestager also expressed that the Europeans will continue voicing the concerns related to China and will step up coordination with like-minded partners such as the G7.
The EU’s remarks came as Beijing claims full sovereignty over Taiwan, a democracy of almost 24 million people located off the southeastern coast of mainland China, despite the fact that the two sides have been governed separately for more than seven decades.
Taipei, on the other hand, has countered the Chinese aggression by increasing strategic ties with democracies including the US, which has been repeatedly opposed by Beijing.
China has also threatened that “Taiwan’s independence” means war. On June 1, Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged to complete reunification with self-ruled Taiwan and vowed to smash any attempts at formal independence for the island.

EU commissioner on climate action hugely impressed by India’s renewable energy commitment

New Delhi [India]: On the first day of his visit to India, European Commission Executive-Vice President for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans said that he is hugely impressed by India’s renewable energy commitment.
“I am really, hugely impressed by India’s commitment to have 450 gigawatts of renewable energy production by 2030. That is, and I can tell you, and I’m travelling around the world right now, this has really focused the minds of people around the world as an ambition to aspire for, or at least to be inspired by. And I really will hope that we can be part of that because, to make it succeed we will need massive investment, not just public also private,” Timmermans said. “I think many European nations in the EU want to be part of that development. We will also need technology transfers, and sharing of technology, and jointly developing of technology, and I believe that the International Solar Alliance (ISA) can play a pivotal role in all of this,” he said.
He participated in the opening session of the International Solar Alliance Assembly and confirmed the EU support of the initiative and also announced the imminent launch of a project, worth around 1 million Euro, funded by the EU, aiming at further strengthening the engagement of the EU, EU Member States, and EU academic, business and financial communities with the International Solar Alliance.
“I am happy to announce that there is a 1 million euro support program that we are launching, that will allow the deepening of the cooperation between the European Union and the International Solar Alliance, including by connecting and mobilizing our academic, financial and business communities so that everybody puts their weight behind this development. I think this is opportunity humanity cannot afford to disregard. In addition, by this we can support the Alliance’s Secretariat, to develop capacity-building activities for its member countries under the Star-C program. Through our engagement with the International Solar Alliance we want to also demonstrate our engagement to emerging and developing economies,” said EU commissioner on climate action.
“We share this common objective at the European Union. And we have to because we are now legally obliged to become climate neutral by 2050 and to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55 per cent by 2030, which is only, you know, slightly over eight years from now. A huge, huge challenge,” added Timmermans.
“The project will help to develop synergies between the EU and ISA projects and programmes, enhance the transfer of knowledge, support research and innovation and strengthen capacity-building initiatives. The project will further facilitate sharing of knowledge on solar energy technologies, models, policies and practices,” said the EU Climate envoy.
Highlighting the important milestones achieved by the ISA since its launch in Paris in 2015, Frans Timmermans, said: “With today’s announcement, the EU will work more closely with ISA, for the promotion of solar projects all over the world, so that we can jointly scale-up technological solutions that can help reach climate neutrality by 2050.”
Dr Ajay Mathur, Director General, International Solar Alliance (ISA), marked the occasion by stating, “The solar power landscape is evolving every day with new technologies, investment sources and ever lower tariffs being discovered across the globe. At ISA, we are making significant efforts to accelerate solar power deployment in every corner of the world and mobilising USD 1 trillion in solar investments. Over the years, we have forged strategic alliances and our partnership with European Union is towards creating a multiplier impact. We endeavour to work together with the EU in making solar accessible, and equitable and help in combating the climate crisis”.
The project would also build synergies with other EU funded projects that are ongoing in India including the EU-India Technical Cooperation project-Energy, Support to India-EU Clean Energy and Climate Partnership (CECP), Strategic Partnership on Implementation of Paris Agreement (SPIPA), Business Support to EU-India Policy Dialogues and Technical Assistance to the Resource Efficiency Initiative
The newly launched project will engage with relevant stakeholders from the financial and technology sectors in the EU Member States and ISA member countries.
The EU Cooperation with International Solar Alliance project builds on an earlier EU-funded project, “Infopedia”, which focused on setting up an online knowledge-sharing platform to promote access to solar power among ISA member countries from April 2018 to April 2020.

China poses serious political, economic, security, technological challenges to EU

Brussels [Belgium] : The European Union (EU) parliament published an 18-page resolution on a new EU-China strategy on September 16 whose fundamental message was that Beijing poses serious political, economic, security, and technological challenges to the group.
Di Valerio Fabbri, writing in said that quite aptly, the resolution was released soon after the United States announced the creation of a new alliance with the United Kingdom and Australia (AUKUS). The fundamental message of the resolution is that “China is asserting a stronger global role both as an economic power and as a foreign-policy actor, which poses serious political, economic, security and technological challenges to the EU. In turn, this has significant and long-lasting consequences for the world order and poses serious threats to rules-based multilateralism and core democratic values.”
True to its core values, the EU also highlighted every aspect of the complicated relationship with China, including Bejing’s gross violation of human rights in Xinjiang and Tibet.
In this regard, particular attention was paid to the Chinese government’s ‘Strike hard against violent terrorism’ campaign launched in 2014, which has led to a rapid deterioration in the condition of the situation of Uyghur in Xinjiang, reported
Perhaps the most recent illustration of the totalitarian nature of the Chinese state, which also finds mention in the EU document, is the departure of some foreign correspondents from the mainland, said Fabbri.
Furthermore, the ridiculous labelling by the Chinese government of the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, the professional association of Beijing-based journalists reporting on China globally, as an ‘illegal organisation’ is the latest in a long and increasing instances of harassment and obstruction of foreign journalists.
This is part of the effort to police speech about China globally and, as the EU rightly concludes, to determine what kind of speech and discussions are allowed as part of a totalitarian threat, said Fabbri.
The document also expressed regret over China’s one-party system and its commitment to Marxism-Leninism, which precludes the possibility to embrace “democratic values such as individual freedom, freedom of speech and freedom of religion”.
The latest report makes a number of recommendations, including calls to adopt targeted sanctions against senior Chinese officials responsible for abuses in Hong Kong and Xinjiang.
It called for better coordination to counter Beijing’s growing global influence and anti-rights agenda and for a diplomatic boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Beijing, reported
The European Parliament also urged the EU’s foreign policy branch to seek a more effective and benchmark-based human rights dialogue.
Moreover, the EU perceives the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as a “threat stemming from China,” among other initiatives like the “dual circulation strategy, Made in China 2025, China Standards 2035” and other policies, including its military modernization and capacity build-up.
For this reason, the EU welcomed the G7 leaders’ agreement to develop a partnership called Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative as an alternative to China’s BRI, reported

EU leaders discuss EU-NATO declaration, alliance’s new strategic concept

Brussels [Belgium]: The leaders of the European Union countries discussed on Tuesday updating the EU-NATO declaration on counteracting mutual threats as well as the alliance’s new strategic concept, an EU official said.
Earlier in the day, the leaders met for an informal working dinner in Slovenia. “PEC (European Council President Charles Michel) announced member states will need to agree on a new EU-NATO declaration and the preparatory discussions leading up to a new strategic concept of the alliance,” the official told media.
Another important issue at the dinner was the concept of the bloc’s strategic autonomy and development of its own defense capacities, the source added.
“A central theme which keeps coming back is strategic autonomy. But this principle also needs to be clear/clarified among member states,” the official stated.
In June, the NATO leaders adopted a new strategic concept for the next decade, however, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said the new Australia-UK-US (AUKUS) defense pact will have an impact on the alliance’s strategy in the future. On September 22, French Defense Minister Florence Parly said NATO partners, at the initiative of France and Germany, agreed to revise the strategic concept of the alliance.

EU weighs sending military training mission to Ukraine

Berlin [Germany]: The European Union is considering a Ukrainian military training mission after the eastern European nation asked for an allied military presence on its border with Russia, German media reported Sunday.
An EU working document, seen by the Welt am Sonntag newspaper, mentions an EU Military Advisory and Training Mission Ukraine for Ukrainian officers. The internal document justifies sending military personnel to Ukraine by Russia’s “ongoing military activities.” Ukrainian foreign and defense ministers reportedly asked for the training program in July in a letter addressed to EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell.
Russia denied claims by Ukraine and its Western allies that it amassed troops on its western border in spring to invade Ukraine. A Russian presidential spokesperson said in April that Russia was free to move military personnel anywhere within its borders.

If UN approves representative, will strengthen relations with US, EU, others, says Taliban

Kabul [Afghanistan]: Taliban on Friday said that it will focus on strengthening relations with the United States, European Union, and other countries if the United Nations approves its representative.
In an interview to Sputnik, Afghan Deputy Minister of Culture and Information Zabihullah Mujahid said: “If my brother Suhail is approved by the UN as our representative, he will obviously make effort to strengthen relations with other states, including the European Union and the US, as well as with Muslim countries for the sake of strong and long-term cooperation. This will be the primary task.” He further said that the Taliban may ask friendly countries like Qatar to help it obtain a seat in the UN.
“Yes, why not. Other countries close to us, such as Qatar and others, those that supported us during a difficult period, could take on the role of mediators or a link and help us get a seat in the UN. This is our right and we welcome any nation capable of assisting this,” Mujahid said, reported Sputnik.
Taliban has earlier nominated Suhail Shaheen as a permanent representative to the organization.
The outfit also said that it is not seeking the extradition of former President Ashraf Ghani but wants the return of funds allegedly taken away by him.
“No, we are not seeking the extradition of Ghani. But Ashraf Ghani has stolen state funds and we demand that they must be returned to the bank. They belong to people and our banks,” Mujahid said in a Sputnik interview.
Last month, Ghani left Kabul for the United Arab Emirates after the Afghan capital had been seized by the Taliban.

European Union to impose universal phone charger for smartphones

Brussels [Belgium]: The European Union on Thursday said it will impose a universal charger for smartphones, in a bid to cut back on electronic waste.
The commission proposed a harmonised charging port for electronic devices to allow consumers to charge their devices with the same USB charger, regardless of the device brand. “Today, the Commission takes an important step against e-waste and consumer inconvenience, caused by the prevalence of different, incompatible chargers for electronic devices. Years of working with industry on a voluntary approach already brought down the number of mobile phone chargers from 30 to 3 within the last decade, but could not deliver a complete solution,” EU said in a statement.
“With today’s proposal for a revised Radio Equipment Directive, the charging port and fast charging technology will be harmonised: USB-C will become the standard port for all smartphones, tablets, cameras, headphones, portable speakers and handheld videogame consoles,” the statement added.
The Commission is now putting forward legislation to establish a common charging solution for all relevant devices, it added.
The revision of the Radio Equipment Directive is part of the Commission’s broader action to address the sustainability of products, in particular electronics on the EU market, which will be the focus of a forthcoming proposal on sustainable products.
In 2020, approximately 420 million mobile phones and other portable electronic devices were sold in the EU. On an average, consumers own around three mobile phone chargers, of which they use two on a regular basis.
Despite this, 38 per cent of consumers report having experienced problems at least once that they could not charge their mobile phone because available chargers were incompatible. The situation is not only inconvenient but also costly for consumers, who spend approximately EUR2.4 billion annually on standalone chargers that do not come with electronic devices, the statement said.
In addition, disposed of and unused chargers are estimated to pile up to 11,000 tonnes of e-waste every year, it added.

EU calls for reconsidering trade ties with Pakistan amid deteriorating human rights condition

Islamabad [Pakistan]: As Pakistan failed to make meaningful advances in protecting human rights in the country, the European Union has called for an immediate reassessment of the EU-Pakistan trade regime that was granted in January 2014.
The trade regime allows products to come into the EU market from developing countries without import duties. As a result, Pakistan’s exports to the EU increased from Euro 4.538 billion to Euro 7.492 billion: an increase of 65 per cent, EU today reported. As per the reports, the EU is one of Pakistan’s most important trading partners with accounting for 14.3 per cent of Pakistan’s total trade in 2020 and absorbing 28 per cent of country’s exports, majorly in the textile and clothing sector.
But the EU’s 3rd Biennial Assessment of GSP, published in 2020 showed that Islamabad has failed to improve the misery of human rights in the country. Particularly in relation to the country’s controversial blasphemy laws. Those accused of blasphemy are subject to immediate incarceration, and most accused are denied bail. Many, even when acquitted or released from jail, have been murdered, EU Today reported.
Meanwhile, Islamabad’s relations with the Taliban group that ousted the people-elected government in Afghanistan are also said to be a major reason behind this ‘reassessment’.
Pointing at the Pak-Taliban relations, former Afghan vice president Amrullah Saleh also asserted that the Taliban are being micromanaged by Pakistan notorious intelligence agency–the ISI, adding that Islamabad is in charge of the war-ravaged country effectively as a colonial power.
Experts believe that Pakistan has been a key player in removing the elected Afghan government from power and establishing the Taliban as a decisive power in Afghanistan. Recently, a UN Monitoring report has said that a significant part of the leadership of Al-Qaida resides in Afghanistan and Pakistan border region.

No hurry to recognise or to establish official relations with Taliban: EU

Brussels [Belgium]: The European Union is in no hurry to recognise the Taliban nor to establishing official relations with the group, said Gunnar Wiegand, the European Commission’s managing director for Asia and the Pacific on Wednesday.
“We need to communicate with the Taliban, we need to influence the Taliban, we need to make use of the leverages that we have but we will not rush into recognizing this new formation nor to establishing official relations,” Sputnik quoted Wiegand as saying at a joint session of the European Parliament’s committees with the delegation for relations with Afghanistan. Earlier, Wiegand said the EU mission in Afghanistan has evacuated 520 members and Afghan support staff, including family members, from Kabul.
He further stated that the EU mission in Afghanistan would continue its work in Brussels. They will return to Afghanistan when the situation permits, Sputnik reported.
Meanwhile, the United States forces left Afghanistan on Tuesday morning, marking the end of a chaotic and messy exit from America’s longest war.
Earlier today, US Defence Secretary Lloyd J Austin III said that the United States has evacuated about 6,000 American citizens and a total of more than 124,000 civilians from Afghnaistan.
Austin also honours those who died over the course of the war in Afghanistan. “Our forces risked their own lives to save the lives of others, and 13 of our very best, paid the ultimate price,” he said.

Brussels: Afghan diaspora protest Taliban takeover, seeks EU’s intervention

Brussels [Belgium]: Hundreds of Afghans protested in front of the European Commission, European Council, and the European External Action Service (EEAS) against the Taliban takeover and urged the 27-nation bloc to save people of Afghanistan from the terror group’s inhumane regime.
The protest was organised by the Network of Afghan Diaspora Organisations in Europe (NADOE) and the Afghan Refugee Committee of Belgium organised on Wednesday. Holding Afghan flags and placards inscribed with their demands, the protestors called on European Union institutions to step forward to save Afghans from the Taliban.
The protest demonstration was attended by about 200-250 members of the Afghan diaspora.

The Taliban entered Kabul on Sunday and took control of the presidential palace.
Soon after the terror group claimed control over the Afghan capital, several countries evacuated their diplomatic personnel from the country, and hundreds of people flocked to the Kabul airport in an attempt to leave Afghanistan.
On Wednesday, thousands of people gather in front of the German parliament in Berlin to demand an airlift and the welcome of Afghan refugees by the EU.
Dozens of demonstrators staged a rally outside the U.N.’s Geneva compound on Tuesday to call for respect for women and freedom of expression in Afghanistan after Taliban fighters seized power from the country’s government.
The demonstrators called for continued schooling for women and girls – which was banned during the Taliban’s previous rule in the late 1990s – and held up banners reading “We want peace” and “Make the Afghan people count!”
On Tuesday, European Union foreign ministers held an emergency meeting to discuss the Taliban takeover of the Afghan capital, Kabul.
The EU expressed “deep concerns” about reports of serious human rights violations and abuses in areas across Afghanistan.
The EU calls on all parties in Afghanistan to respect all commitments made and to pursue further an inclusive, comprehensive and enduring political solution.
“The EU stresses the utmost importance of the safety and security of all EU citizens in Afghanistan, as well as local staff working for the EU or member states,” the statement read.
The bloc called for an immediate cessation of all violence, the restoration of security and civil order and the protection and respect for civilian life, dignity and property throughout Afghanistan.

Afghanistan: NATO, EU, UN confirm they will not recognise govt formed through military

Kabul [Afghanistan]: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) members along with European Union and the United Nations on Friday confirmed that they will not recognize any government in Afghanistan imposed through armed forces.
A NATO official in Brussels also told Pajhwok Afghan News that allies are constantly consulting on the situation in Afghanistan. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is in regular contact with Allies and the Afghan authorities. “NATO is monitoring the security situation very closely. We continue to coordinate with the Afghan authorities and the rest of the international community. We continue to maintain our diplomatic presence in Kabul. As the security of our personnel is paramount,” NATO official informed.
His remarks came soon after a media report informed that Several foreign terrorist groups including Al-Qaeda are aiding the Taliban which is rapidly advancing in Afghanistan.
The Taliban escalated its offensive against the Afghan forces soon after the US forces started leaving Afghanistan in large numbers after the peace deal signed between Washington and the Taliban in February last year.
On Wednesday, President Ashraf Ghani also appointed a new chief of army staff in an attempt to give a robust response to the terror group on the ground.

India tells EU : Accept Covishield, Covaxin or face mandatory quarantine

As the European Union relaxes travel restrictions under its ‘Green Passport’ scheme, India has requested the members of the 27-nation grouping to individually consider allowing Indians who have taken Covishield and Covaxin vaccines to travel to Europe, sources said adding India will institute a reciprocal policy for recognition of the EU Digital Covid Certificate.

The sources said India has requested the EU member nations to accept the vaccination certificate issued through the CoWIN portal.

The European Union’s Digital COVID certificate framework to facilitate free movement during the COVID-19 pandemic is to come into effect on Thursday.

Under this framework, persons who have taken vaccines authorised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will be exempted from travel restrictions within the EU.

The individual member states have the flexibility to also accept vaccines that have been authorised at the national level or by the World Health Organisation.

“We have requested EU member states to individually consider extending similar exemption to those persons who have taken COVID-19 vaccines in India, that is Covishield and Covaxin, and accept the vaccination certificate issued through the CoWIN portal,” said a source.

The sources said the genuineness of such vaccination certification can be authenticated on the CoWIN portal.

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