Eastern Partnership

EU needs to make the right choice

Thursday, April 8, 2021 - 2:01pm

Some reasons of its own have also put the EU in a dilemma, such as its inexplicable sense of superiority concerning human rights and excessive insecurity over economic and trade competition.

Key Points: 
  • Some reasons of its own have also put the EU in a dilemma, such as its inexplicable sense of superiority concerning human rights and excessive insecurity over economic and trade competition.
  • In fact, the EU clearly understands the benefits of cooperation with China and the damage of politicizing and weaponizing human rights.
  • If the EU sticks to its current path, it will only turn itself into an accessory of the U.S.
  • Therefore, in order to prove its true ability to engage in "strategic autonomy" and participate in the game of great powers, the EU must first make the right choice, and avoid being led astray by its "ally" and therefore losing its strategic partners and development opportunities.

8th Environment Action Programme: Member States ready to start negotiations with Parliament

Thursday, March 18, 2021 - 8:00am

Ambassadors of EU Member States today approved a mandate for the Council to start negotiations with the European Parliament in order to reach an agreement on the 8th Environmental Action Programme (EAP).

Key Points: 
  • Ambassadors of EU Member States today approved a mandate for the Council to start negotiations with the European Parliament in order to reach an agreement on the 8th Environmental Action Programme (EAP).
  • Member States added provisions in their position regarding the need to further define actions when the European Green Deal's key actions have been put in place by 2024.
  • Environment action programmes have led the development of EU environment policy since the early 1970s.
  • The European Commission presented its proposal for "a Decision of the European Parliament and the Council on a General Union Environment Action Programme to 2030" on 14 October 2020.

The European Green Deal remains the compass of the EU's COVID-19 recovery plan

Tuesday, February 2, 2021 - 12:07am

​Florika Fink-Hooijer, Director-General of DG Environment, European

Key Points: 


​Florika Fink-Hooijer, Director-General of DG Environment, European
Commission

  • The CoR holds a plenary session on 3-5 February 2021.
  • During his intervention, the CoR rapporteur on the European Green Deal,
    Andries Gryffroy (BE/EA) , recalled the CoR proposal to develop a
    regional scoreboard in order to assess the implementation of the EU's sustainable growth strategy at the local level.
  • Mayor Karnavos sees the 8th EAP as a
    'tool to promote a sustainable business environment and foster green investments' .
  • Rapporteur Kanavos' opinion requests the EC to add the
    Technical Platform for the Environment in its 8th EAP proposal, which is currently subject to inter-institutional negotiations.
  • The members of the ENVE commission adopted a draft opinion on'A Renovation Wave for Europe - greening our buildings, creating jobs, improving lives'.
  • RapporteurEnrico ROSSI (IT/PES), former president of the Tuscany Region (2010-2020) and now councillor of Signa Municipality (Florence), said:"The European resources available in the coming years are extraordinary.
  • -
    Local and regional authorities protecting the marine environment by
    Emma Nohrn (SE/The Greens) , the vice mayor of Lysekil Municipality.
  • Read
    here
    the CoR web interview to Dimitrios Karnavos (EL/EPP) on the 8th Environment
    Action Programme (EAP).Discover the CoR's
    Green Deal Going Local
    initiative and the CoR's best practices
    online map.

COVID-19 is the opportunity to speed up the environment agenda

Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 4:05pm

The Mayor of Kallithea is the rapporteur for

Key Points: 
  • The Mayor of Kallithea is the rapporteur for
    a draft opinion that requests adequate resources for local and regional authorities to
    implement environment policies on the ground.
  • From a local and regional perspective, what priorities should the 8th Environment Action Programme focus on?
  • The 8th Environment Action Programme,alongside the six priority objectives described in the proposal, reflect the objectives and expectations of local and regional leaders.
  • In this context, a better link between health and environment is both fundamental and necessary.
  • We need to ensure that the 8th EAP contributes to a toxic-free environment, provides better living standards for people and creates communities that are more resilient.
  • We must also ensure that the 8th EAP promotes a sustainable business environment and fosters green investments at all levels (EU, national, regional and local).
  • How can the new EAP ensure better integration of environment and climate prerogatives with other EU sectoral policies?
  • Integrating environment and climate with other EU sectoral policies more effectively is not always easy, as different sectors have different priorities.
  • Concerning the impact of COVID-19 on the environment agenda, is it a barrier or an opportunity to speed up action?
  • It goes without saying that COVID-19 should be treated as an opportunity to accelerate the environment agenda.
  • In 2019, the CoR adopted an own-initiative opinion entitled Towards an 8th Environment Action Programme led by rapporteur Cor Lamers (NL/EPP), Mayor of Schiedam.

Council approves conclusions on the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024

Friday, November 20, 2020 - 8:03am

The Council has approved conclusions on the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024.

Key Points: 
  • The Council has approved conclusions on the EU Action Plan on Human Rights and Democracy 2020-2024.
  • With this Action Plan, the Council reaffirms the EU's strong commitment to further advancing universal values for all.
  • The conclusions acknowledge that while there have been leaps forward, there has also been a pushback against the universality and indivisibility of human rights.
  • To implement the EU Strategic Framework of 2012, the EU has adopted two EU Action Plans (2012-2014 and 2015-2019).

Foreign Affairs Council: Press remarks by the High Representativ

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 - 8:01am

Before the Council [of Foreign Affairs Ministers], the Ministers had the opportunity of receiving Ms [Sviatlana] Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the Belarusian opposition.

Key Points: 
  • Before the Council [of Foreign Affairs Ministers], the Ministers had the opportunity of receiving Ms [Sviatlana] Tsikhanouskaya, the leader of the Belarusian opposition.
  • We consider these elections falsified, we do not recognise the results and so we do not recognise Lukashenkos legitimacy.
  • We do not seek to interfere in the internal affairs of the country.
  • We just want to support people who are asking to have a political system that allows them to elect their rulers.
  • We only ask for a national dialogue on how to resolve the current crisis, and for free and fair elections.
  • We have also discussed the review of our overall relations with Belarus and further financial support to the civil society and independent media.
  • Since the beginning of the year, the oil blockade has cost to Libya more than 10,000 million dollars.
  • Just compare this big figure with the amount of our help, which is, in the best of the cases, some hundred million dollars.
  • The country is losing its revenues and, at the same time, they are lacking electricity and water in the main cities.
  • We agreed to step up our efforts for the resumption of the political dialogue in the framework of the Berlin process.
  • We are not doing everything that is needed, but nobody is doing more than the European Union on that side.
  • As you know, the Summit and the Ministerial meeting of the Foreign Affairs Council has been delayed I am afraid - until next year.
  • [The Foreign Affairs Council] will have a comprehensive discussion on Russia next month.
  • This will be the main issue to deal with at the forthcoming European Council, where I will inform about the debates of the Foreign Affairs Council.
  • It has consequences for example for the participation of Belarus in the Eastern Partnership or in meetings at high political level.
  • I will do whatever I can in order for sanctions against Belarus to be adopted at the next Foreign Affairs Council.
  • This is a high voltage political problem that the European Council will have to solve.
  • Il faut faire en sorte que a aille ensemble, de faon ce que tout le monde y trouve sa part.

Ukraine: Interview of the High Representative/Vice-President Jos

Tuesday, September 22, 2020 - 12:07am

With their permission, a translation of the original interview (in Ukrainian and Russian) can be found below.

Key Points: 
  • With their permission, a translation of the original interview (in Ukrainian and Russian) can be found below.
  • Any subsequent reporting using quotes from the interview should refer to the original source Novoe Vremya.
  • COVID-19 is an unprecedented challenge for the healthcare systems and economies of both our EU Member States and Ukraine.
  • We are ready to cooperate on the future COVID-19 vaccine, for it to become a global, affordable common good.
  • We have applied a careful approach, strictly based on the epidemiological data that is available.
  • We expect that once the epidemiological situation allows it, the situation will be assessed again and the decisions adapted accordingly.
  • Approximately two million Ukrainians work and live in the EU, mostly in Poland, Italy and the Czech Republic.
  • Ukrainian workers and migrants make a big contribution to labour markets around the world, first and foremost to those of the EU.
  • In 2018, Member States granted almost 490,000 first residence permits to Ukrainian nationals in 2018.
  • At the end of 2018, Ukrainian nationals held 1.18 million valid residence permits in the EU.
  • Legal migration and mobility with key third countries, including the Eastern Partnership countries, could be an avenue of cooperation to be further explored.
  • Do you think that the association and free trade agreement between EU and Ukraine needs an update, specifically, in terms of trade restrictions?
  • Since 2014, the EU and the European Financial Institutions have mobilised more than 15 billion to support the reform process.
  • Maintaining macro-economic stability and central bank independence, as well as continuing cooperation with the IMF is of utmost importance for Ukraine.
  • It is our deep conviction that a solution to current crisis should be found by Belarusian people, with no outside interference.
  • The EU is ready to facilitate and support the efforts to establish an inclusive dialogue between the authorities and civil society.
  • And last but not the least, I wish to underline that violence and repression against peaceful protesters is unacceptable and should stop.

Call African European Youth Forum 28-29 September 2020

Friday, September 11, 2020 - 12:06am

Online outreach event for the launch of the new EU priorities for the cooperation with the Council of Europe 2020-2022 – Strasbourg, 04 September 2020

Key Points: 

Online outreach event for the launch of the new EU priorities for the cooperation with the Council of Europe 2020-2022 – Strasbourg, 04 September 2020

On September 4th, the EU Delegation to the Council of Europe organised a well-attended online public event for the launch of the new EU priorities for the cooperation with the Council of Europe 2020-2022.

Europe’s Eastern Partnership countries make significant progress in expanding protected nature sites

Thursday, August 27, 2020 - 8:02am

The EEAs briefing 'Protected areas in the Eastern Partnership countries'found that between 2000 and 2019 coverage of nationally protected areas were expanded in all six partnership countries which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.

Key Points: 
  • The EEAs briefing 'Protected areas in the Eastern Partnership countries'found that between 2000 and 2019 coverage of nationally protected areas were expanded in all six partnership countries which includes Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine.
  • Thanks to the European Commissions financial and Council of Europes technical support, 561 so-called Emerald Network sites (under the Bern Convention) have been created covering just over 12 % of the Eastern Partnership countries territories.
  • The EEA also provided expertise on sufficiency assessments of species and habitats in the countries proposed for inclusion in the Emerald Network.
  • While Eastern Partnership countries have made substantial progress in overall performance over the duration of the project, more efforts are needed to improve data reporting obligations under international agreements related to biodiversity.

Belarus: violence must stop and regime must change

Friday, August 14, 2020 - 12:02am

Europe wants mutually beneficial relations with Eastern neighbours After the Cold War, which divided Europeans for more than forty years, and the period of instability following the break-up of the former USSR, the development of mutually beneficial relations with our Eastern neighbours has been a major objective of the European foreign policy.

Key Points: 

Europe wants mutually beneficial relations with Eastern neighbours

    • After the Cold War, which divided Europeans for more than forty years, and the period of instability following the break-up of the former USSR, the development of mutually beneficial relations with our Eastern neighbours has been a major objective of the European foreign policy.
    • For eleven years now, the Union has been engaged in an ambitious Eastern Partnership with six countries of the region, including Belarus.
    • However, relations between the European Union and this landlocked country can only develop fully when fundamental human rights and the basic rules of democracy are respected.

“Direct neighbour of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania, Belarus is a key element of our Eastern Partnership”


    Alexander Lukashenko came to power in Belarus in 1994 when the country became independent for the first time in history. In the following years, fundamental freedoms and democratic principles were openly ignored and violated. This led the EU to take restrictive measures against the regime after the 2010 elections.

A more positive path since 2015

    • The subsequent release of political prisoners in August 2015 then enabled the Union to lift most of the restrictive measures in place.
    • Since, we witnessed a more positive path in our relations and Belarus became a more active participant of the Eastern Partnership.
    • Between 2014 and 2020, more than 170 million euros have been allocated to Belarus via the European Neighbourhood Instrument.
    • Various exchange programmes for young people, researchers and professionals have been set up to increase people-to-people contacts.

Potential candidates were prevented to participate

    • Potential candidates were imprisoned or prevented to participate due to politically motivated restrictive measures.
    • Repression had intensified against political opponents and independent media, bloggers and activists.
    • The hardening of the regime had been aggravated in recent weeks by the outbreak of COVID-19 and its far-reaching economic and social consequences.
    • The pandemic hit the country particularly hard also because the Belarusian authorities did not take it seriously at the outset.

“The deterioration in the political climate culminated in neither free nor fair elections and an outburst of repressive violence”

    • The deterioration in the political climate culminated in elections that were neither free nor fair.
    • An outburst of repressive violence followed, when the people of Belarus courageously demonstrated their mistrust of the announced result and their desire for change.
    • Svetlana Tikhanovskaya, the most successful opposition candidate, who replaced her still imprisoned husband, was forced to take refuge in Lithuania.

Reconsidering relations with Belarus

    • Otherwise, we will have to reconsider our relations with Belarus and eventually take sanctions against those responsible for the violence, arbitrary arrests and falsification of election results.
    • We support of course the sovereignty and independence of Belarus, but we cannot develop our relations by ignoring blatant violations of human rights and political freedoms.

“The EU stands everywhere for democracy and human rights and we need to prevent the undermining of those values”


    The EU is a value-based community: beyond the Belarus case, we stand everywhere for democracy and human rights. We need to prevent the undermining of those values; a trend we unfortunately observe in recent years in a growing number of countries.