EU to extend sanctions against Belarus and Iran for supporting Russian war against Ukraine, says von der Leyen
The European Union will extend its sanctions, announced in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine, to those who militarily support Russia’s war, such as Belarus or Iran. This was announced by the Head of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, at a press conference today following the signing of the Third EU-NATO Joint Declaration on Cooperation.
“The European Union will keep doing everything in its power to support the brave people of Ukraine. We will keep the pressure on the Kremlin for as long as it takes with the biting sanctions regime,” said von der Leyen. “We will be coming forward with new sanctions on Belarus answering Belarus’ role in this Russian war in Ukraine.”
She also confirmed that the EU will continue its “substantial humanitarian economic and Security Assistance to Ukraine as long as it is necessary”.
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European Peace Facility: Council increases the financial ceiling to nearly €7.98 billion until 2027
The Council adopted a decision increasing the financial ceiling of the European Peace Facility (EPF) to €7.979 billion (in current prices) until 2027, ensuring that additional financial needs can be covered.
The European Peace Facility has now become an integral part of the EU’s support to promote peace and security globally. Today’s decision brings the financial ceiling of the European Peace Facility to over €7.9 billion. Ensuring the financial sustainability of this instrument is crucial for our support not only to Ukraine, but also for our partners in other parts of Europe, Africa and the Middle East, as needs continue to arise.
This decision implements the political agreement reached on 12 December 2022, when the Council decided to increase the overall EPF financial ceiling by €2 billion (in 2018 prices) in 2023, and allow for the possibility of a further increase at a later stage (up to €5.5 billion in 2018 prices until 2027).
The Council also decided to set a financial reference amount for the common costs of the EU Crisis Management Military Exercise 2023 (MILEX 23) at €5 million and introduce more flexibility in the collection and use of financial contributions from member states and in their use by the facility.
In its conclusions of 15 December 2022, the European Council reiterated the global dimension of the Facility and welcomed the agreement in the Council on 12 December 2022 to ensure its financial sustainability.
Background and next steps
The European Peace Facility was established in March 2021 to finance all common foreign and security policy (CFSP) actions relating to military and defence matters, with the aim of preventing conflict, preserving peace, and strengthening international security and stability. In particular, the European Peace Facility allows the EU to finance actions designed to strengthen the capacities of non-EU countries and regional and international organisations in relation to military and defence matters.
The EPF is an off-budget instrument and originally had an overall financial ceiling of €5 billion in 2018 prices for the period 2021-2027, with annual ceilings that ranged from €420 million in 2021 to €1.132 billion in 2027.
Thanks to the EPF, the EU has been supporting the Ukrainian Armed Forces through seven successive support packages so far, as well as many other countries such as: Mozambique, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, the Republic of Mali, Somalia, Niger, Jordan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Lebanon and Mauritania, as well as military components of African-led Peace Support Operations and multinational units such as the Balkan Medical Task Force.
- European Peace Facility: Council agrees €2 billion increase of the financial ceiling in 2023 (press release, 12 December 2022)
- European Peace Facility (background information)
With us, not for us: conference in Georgia calls for inclusive environment for people with Down Syndrome
On the occasion of World Down Syndrome Day, a conference entitled “With Us, Not for Us” was held in Georgia on 21 March.
The event was organised by the Down Syndrome Association of Georgia with the support of the European Union (as part of ‘HumanRights4All’ initiative) , the United Nations Development Programme, and Open Society Georgia.
Non-governmental organisations, organisations of persons with disabilities, and organisations of parents of children with Down Syndrome took part in the conference.
Participants discussed existing problems and the possibility of creating an inclusive and equitable environment for people with Down Syndrome.
World Down Syndrome Day is celebrated on 21 March and has been held for 18 years. This year, its slogan is #StandWithUs.
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EU disburses another €1.5 billion in macro-financial assistance to Ukraine
European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced today that the European Union has disbursed another €1.5 billion in macro-financial assistance to Ukraine.
“Our support helps keep Ukraine running, while defending itself,” wrote von der Leyen on Twitter. “And puts Ukraine firmly on its EU path by supporting reforms – good governance and financial stability, for example.”
On 17 January, the European Union disbursed the first €3 billion of the €18 billion of promised macro-financial assistance agreed in December 2022.
This emergency assistance aims to provide short-term financial relief, financing Ukraine’s immediate needs, rehabilitation of critical infrastructure and initial support towards sustainable post-war reconstruction, with a view to supporting Ukraine on its path towards European integration. The loans will have a 10-year grace period.
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MEETING OF MAKA BOTCHORISHVILI AND IRAKLI CHIKOVANI WITH FRENCH SENATORS
The Georgian MPs informed the French senators about the relations between Georgia and the European Union and the current situation in the occupied regions of the country.
The Chair of the EU Integration Committee, Maka Botchorishvili, and the Head of the Permanent Delegation of Georgia to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Irakli Chikovani met with members of the European Affairs Committee in the Senate of the French Republic.
The session was chaired by the Chair of the European Affairs Committee of the Senate, Jean-François Rapin.
Maka Botchorishvili dwelt on Georgia's priorities, the dynamics of relations with the European Union, and the role of EU enlargement in terms of ensuring security in the region.
The parties also focused on Georgia-EU relations and the progress achieved in the process of EU integration.
Irakli Chikovani drew attention to the situation in the occupied territories of Georgia.
The parties attached special attention to the security challenges in the region and the importance of the EU integration process.
STATEMENT OF THE MINISTRY OF INTERNAL AFFAIRS
The Ministry of Internal Affairs, on the basis of Article 17418 under the Code of Administrative Offenses, launched administrative proceedings, which implies Desecration of official symbols of the European Union, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization or other international organizations or desecration of the flag or coat of arms of other states.The law enforcement officers will identify and fine the violators.The Ministry of Internal Affairs calls on rally participants gathered near the Parliament, not to go beyond the limits defined by the law on freedom of assembly and expression, observe the norms of public order and follow the lawful requests of police.Each act of violation will be immediately foiled by police and strict legal response will be followed.
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