Von der Leyen back in Kyiv for talks with Ukrainian President

Published in World
Monday, 13 June 2022 12:22

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has travelled to Kyiv today, meeting Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

“Good to be back in Kyiv,” she tweeted. “I will take stock of the joint work needed for reconstruction and of the progress made by Ukraine on its European path.”

Speaking at a press point with the Ukrainian President, she said the EU and Ukraine were working together on a reconstruction platform to channel contributions, adding there was “huge interest from all over the world – NGOs, businesses, international institutions – to help Ukraine rise from the ashes.”

She added that the European Commission was currently preparing its recommendation for the EU member states – the so-called opinion – on Ukraine’s EU accession application. “We have been working day and night on this assessment. The discussions today will enable us to finalise our assessment by the end of next week,” she said, adding: “The path is known. It is a merit-based path forward. It is a path where I highly appreciate the enormous efforts and the determination of Ukraine in this process.”

It is the European Commission President’s second visit to Ukraine since the full-scale Russian invasion. On 8 April, Ursula von der Leyen travelled to Kyiv, launching Ukraine’s EU application process by handing the Ukrainian President the questionnaire that would form the starting point for the EU to decide on Ukraine’s membership.

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Twitter thread

EU disburses €600 million in Macro-Financial Assistance to Ukraine

Published in Economics
Monday, 23 May 2022 10:04

The European Commission, on behalf of the EU, today disbursed €600 million in Macro-Financial Assistance (MFA) to Ukraine to address its acute financing gap related to its exceptional humanitarian and defence needs. 

The first tranche of €600 million of this emergency macro-financial assistance operation, worth €1.2 billion, was paid in two tranches on 11 and 18 March.

These funds are provided to Ukraine in the form of long-term loans on highly favourable terms. They contribute to financing part of the sizable funding gap of the country, estimated by International Financial Institutions at around $15 billion for the second quarter of 2022.

The disbursement of this macro-financial assistance was to be conditional on the implementation of a series of the structural policy measures by the Ukrainian authorities. However, due to force majeure circumstances, the Commission decided to allocate the second tranche as a matter of urgency. 

“Going forward, the EU will continue to provide short-term financial support to Ukraine while accompanying it in its long-term reconstruction, in line with the plans announced on Wednesday. Ukraine will get back on its feet as a democratic and prosperous country,” President Ursula von der Leyen said. 

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Press release

Georgia to submit the second part of the EU self-assessment questionnaire to the European Commission by 10 May

Published in Politics
Saturday, 07 May 2022 13:12
Georgia will submit the second part of the EU self-assessment questionnaire to the European Commission on 10 May, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ilia Darchiashvili said following the meeting of the Georgian government commission on EU integration, chaired by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.

"Georgia has completed the second part of the questionnaire and we are going to hand it over to the European Commission by 10 May," the minister is quoted as saying.
As Ilia Darchiashvili noted, the second part of the questionnaire was of technical-sectoral nature, and it took a great deal of efforts to complete it. The Minister thanked the government agencies that took part in the process.
According to the Minister of Foreign Affairs, the European Commission’s opinion regarding the document  will be the next step on the path of EU integration.
On 2 May, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Irakli Gharibashvili, handed over the first completed part of the EU questionnaire to the EU Ambassador to Georgia, Karl Hartzel.

MFA of Georgia

EU announces new aid worth €200 million for displaced people

Published in Politics
Friday, 06 May 2022 09:48

The European Commission today announced a new aid package of €200 million to support displaced people in Ukraine, in the context of the International Donors’ Conference convened jointly by Poland and Sweden.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said: “Today we came together with a clear purpose: to support the brave people of Ukraine, who fight the aggressor and stand up for their freedom. We are now in the 10th week of Russia’s brutal invasion. Ten weeks during which the European Union stood firmly by Ukraine. Today, the European Union answered the call, once more, to support Ukraine. On behalf of the European Commission, I pledged €200 million for Ukraine. And last month, during a pledging event, we raised €9.1 billion for Ukrainians inside and outside Ukraine. We know that more will be needed. And we will continue to stand up for Ukraine.

Close to 8 million people, two-third of whom are children, have been internally displaced since the beginning of Putin’s war in Ukraine. More than 5.3 million have left Ukraine to seek shelter in the EU and neighbouring countries.

The European Union has been supporting the Ukrainian people from the very beginning of  Russia’s brutal invasion, mobilising the EU’s economic power, with series of sanctions designed to drain the resources used by Putin to finance his war. 

On the other hand, the EU has already channelled around €4 billion in macro-financial assistance, humanitarian aid and support to Member States welcoming refugees from Ukraine.

Now, the European Commission stands ready to help rebuild the country after the war. Yesterday, President von der Leyen proposed to start working on an ambitious recovery package. It should bring the massive investment needed to rebuild, implement reforms and make Ukraine an attractive place for investments.

Source: EU NEIGHBOURS east

Russian aggression against Ukraine: European Commission proposes sixth sanctions package

Published in World
Thursday, 05 May 2022 11:13

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen today presented the sixth package of sanctions against Russia.

First, the EU is listing high-ranking military officers and other individuals who committed war crimes in Bucha and who are responsible for the inhuman siege of the city of Mariupol. “This sends another important signal to all perpetrators of the Kremlin’s war: we know who you are, and you will be held accountable,” said Ursula von der Leyen.

Second, the EU is to de-SWIFT Sberbank, Russia’s largest bank, and two other major banks. These banks are systemically critical to the Russian financial system and Putin’s ability to wage destruction, according to the European Commission. “This will solidify the complete isolation of the Russian financial sector from the global system,” the President said.

Third, the EU is banning three big Russian state-owned broadcasters from the EU airwaves. They will not be allowed to distribute their content any more in the EU, in whatever shape or form, be it on cable, via satellite, on the internet or via smartphone apps. 

We have identified these TV channels as mouthpieces that amplify Putin’s lies and propaganda aggressively. We should not give them a stage anymore to spread these lies,” stated von der Leyen. “Moreover, the Kremlin relies on accountants, consultants and spin-doctors from Europe. And this will now stop. We are banning those services from being provided to Russian companies.”

The European Commission is also proposing a ban on Russian oil. This will be a complete import ban on all Russian oil, seaborne and pipeline, crude and refined. The EU will make sure that it phases out Russian oil in an orderly fashion in a way that allows the EU and its partners to secure alternative supply routes and minimises the impact on global markets. 

This is why we will phase out Russian supply of crude oil within six months and refined products by the end of the year. Thus, we maximise pressure on Russia, while at the same time minimising collateral damage to us and our partners around the globe,” said von der Leyen.

The President said that all these steps aim to deprive the Russian economy from its ability to diversify and modernise. “Putin wanted to wipe Ukraine from the map. He will clearly not succeed. On the contrary: Ukraine has risen up in unity. And it is his own country, Russia, he is sinking,” concluded the President.

She noted that the “EU wants Ukraine to win this war” and will help Ukrainians rebuild their country for the next generation. That is why the European Commission is also proposing to start working on an ambitious recovery package for Ukraine that should bring massive investment to meet the needs and the necessary reforms, address the existing weaknesses of the Ukrainian economy and lay the foundations for sustainable long-term growth.

Source: https://euneighbourseast.eu/news-and-stories/latest-news/russian-aggression-against-ukraine-european-commission-proposes-sixth-sanctions-package/

On Prime Minister’s decision, Georgian Government to make European Commission’s questionnaire public

Published in Politics
Friday, 15 April 2022 16:35

The European Commission's questionnaire, designed to form an opinion on Georgia's bid to EU membership, will be made public by the Georgian Government. This decision was made at today's meeting of the Government Commission on EU Integration of Georgia, chaired by Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili.
The first part of the special EU membership questionnaire was handed over to Georgia on April 11, in Luxemburg. Based on this questionnaire, the European Commission will develop a document known as the Opinion on granting candidate country status.
The questionnaire consists of political and economic sections. In near future, Georgia will receive the second part comprising sectorial topics and compatibility with EU legislation by sector.

European Commission's questionnaire

War in Ukraine: European Commission proposes 5th package of sanctions

Published in Economics
Wednesday, 06 April 2022 11:33

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU High Representative Josep Borrell today proposed a 5th package of sanctions against Russia for the approval of the European Council.

These sanctions aim to further cripple Putin’s war machinery, following the atrocities committed by the Russian armed forces in Bucha and other places under Russian occupation in Ukraine.

This fifth package has six pillars. 
  1. An import ban on coal from Russia, worth €4 billion per year. This will cut another important revenue source for Russia.
  2. A full transaction ban on four key Russian banks, among them VTB, the second largest Russian bank. These four banks, now totally cut off from the markets, represent 23% of market share in the Russian banking sector. This will further weaken Russia’s financial system.
  3. A ban on Russian vessels and Russian-operated vessels from accessing EU ports. Certain exemptions will cover essentials, such as agricultural and food products, humanitarian aid as well as energy. Additionally, the Commission will propose a ban on Russian and Belarusian road transport operators. This ban will drastically limit the options for the Russian industry to obtain key goods.
  4. Further targeted export bans, worth €10 billion, in areas in which Russia is vulnerable. This includes, for example, quantum computers and advanced semiconductors, but also sensitive machinery and transportation equipment. With this, the EU will continue to degrade Russia’s technological base and industrial capacity.
  5. Specific new import bans, worth € 5.5 billion, to cut the money stream of Russia and its oligarchs, on products from wood to cement, from seafood to liquor. In doing this, the EU also closes loopholes between Russia and Belarus.
  6. A number of very targeted measures, such as a general EU ban on participation of Russian companies in public procurement in Member States, or an exclusion of all financial support, be it European or national, to Russian public bodies.

The European Commission also proposed further listings of individuals, adding, according to Borrell, “dozens of people from politics, the business sector and engaged in propaganda activities”.

According to Ursula von der Leyen, the Commission is also working on additional sanctions, including on oil imports, and reflecting on some of the ideas presented by Member States, such as taxes or specific payment channels such as an escrow account.

Source: https://euneighbourseast.eu

Stand Up For Ukraine: global pledging event for refugees and internally displaced people to take place in Warsaw on 9 April

Published in Economics
Friday, 01 April 2022 12:22

The ‘Stand Up For Ukraine’ pledging event, convened by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau, will take place in Warsaw on 9 April. Poland’s important role in supporting refugees fleeing the invasion of Ukraine will thus be recognised. 

The President of Poland Andrzej Duda will participate alongside President von der Leyen, while Prime Minister Trudeau will participate remotely.

The event will conclude a broader social media campaign launched earlier by the European Commission and the Canadian government at the request of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenski. The campaign, in partnership with Global Citizen, an international human rights organisation, aims to raise funding and other types of support to cater for the needs of internally displaced people in Ukraine and of refugees.

Stand Up For Ukraine’ seeks to mobilise governments, institutions, artists, companies and individuals to raise funding and other support for Ukrainian IDPs and refugees. Artists from around the world have already joined the campaign, including Bono, Madonna, Elton John, Miley Cyrus, Adam Lambert, Céline Dion, and Alanis Morissette.

According to the UN refugee agency UNHCR, more than four million refugees have fled Ukraine since the war began. Poland is hosting more than 2.5 million refugees and plays an important role as a humanitarian hub, dispatching to Ukraine support from all over Europe.

President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a joint Task Force to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and strengthen European energy security

Published in World
Tuesday, 29 March 2022 10:34
President Joe Biden and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced a joint Task Force to reduce Europe’s dependence on Russian fossil fuels and strengthen European energy security as President Putin wages his war of choice against Ukraine.
This Task Force for Energy Security will be chaired by a representative from the White House and a representative of the President of the European Commission. It will work to ensure energy security for Ukraine and the EU in preparation for next winter and the following one while supporting the EU’s goal to end its dependence on Russian fossil fuels.
The Task Force will organize its efforts around two primary goals: (1) Diversifying liquefied natural gas (LNG) supplies in alignment with climate objectives; (2) Reducing demand for natural gas.
 
US Embassy Tbilisi, Georgia

Commission urges Member States to act on ‘golden passports’ and ‘golden residence permits’ schemes

Published in Politics
Monday, 28 March 2022 17:17

On 28 March, the European Commission issued a recommendation urging Member States to immediately repeal any existing investor citizenship schemes and to ensure strong checks are in place to address the risks posed by investor residence schemes. The Russian aggression against Ukraine is once again highlighting these risks, says the press release by the Commission.

The Commission says that some Russian or Belarusian nationals who are subject to sanctions or are significantly supporting the war in Ukraine might have acquired EU citizenship or privileged access to the EU, including to travel freely in the Schengen area, under these schemes. 

To address these immediate risks, the Commission also recommends that Member States assess whether Russian or Belarusian nationals with ‘golden passports’ are on an EU sanctions list in connection to the war in Ukraine. In this case, the citizenship should be withdrawn. 

Residence permits granted under an investor residence scheme to Russian or Belarusian nationals subject to sanctions should be immediately withdrawn, following an individual assessment and in accordance with the principle of proportionality, fundamental rights and Member States’ national law. These measures should apply to Russian or Belarusian nationals significantly supporting the war in Ukraine.

European values are not for sale. We consider that the sale of citizenship through ‘golden passports’ is illegal under EU law and poses serious risks to our security. It opens the door to corruption, money laundering and tax avoidance,” said Commissioner for Justice and Consumers, Didier Reynders. 

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