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.
Georgian Prime Minister and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen discuss Georgia’s steps toward EU integration
Georgia’s steps toward EU integration and the regional security environment were the key topics discussed between Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili and President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen at today’s meeting within the scope of the Munich Security Conference.
The European Commission is proposing a tenth package of sanctions against Russia to further weaken Russia’s ability to maintain its war machine, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament Plenary in Strasbourg today.
The suggested package contains trade bans and controls on technology exports worth €11 billion.
The Commission proposes, among other things, export restrictions on multiple electronic components used in Russian armed systems, such as drones, missiles, and helicopters.
The Commission is also proposing – for the first time – to sanction Iranian entities including those linked to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, producing drones.
Ursula von der Leyen said there were hundreds of Iranian-made drones used by Russia on the battlefields in Ukraine. “These Iranian made drones kill Ukrainian civilians – this is atrocious!” said the European Commission President. “It is our duty to sanction them, and confront Iran about the supply of drones and the transfer of know-how to build production sites in Russia.”
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European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced its proposal for a ninth package of sanctions against Russia on Wednesday evening.
The Commission proposes to add almost 200 additional individuals and entities to the EU’s sanctions list. This includes the Russian armed forces, as well as individual officers and defence industrial companies, members of the State Duma and Federation Council, ministers, governors and political parties. “This list covers key figures in Russia’s brutal and deliberate missile strikes against civilians, in the kidnapping of Ukrainian children into Russia, and in the theft of Ukrainian agricultural products,” says the press release by the Commission.
Secondly, the Commission proposes to introduce sanctions against three additional Russian banks, including a full transaction ban on the Russian Regional Development Bank “to further paralyse Putin’s cash machines”.
Third, the Commission suggests imposing new export controls and restrictions, particularly for dual-use goods. This includes key chemicals, nerve agents, electronics and IT components that could be used by the Russian war machine.
Fourth, the sanctions will cut Russia’s access to all sorts of drones and unmanned aerial vehicles. The Commission proposes to ban the direct exports of drone engines to Russia and the export to any third countries, such as Iran, which could supply drones to Russia.
Proposed economic measures against the Russian energy and mining sector include a ban on new mining investments in Russia.
Ursula von der Leyen also said that the Commission aims to target the Russian propaganda machine by taking four additional channels off the air and all other distribution platforms.
She added that this package comes on top of the full EU import ban on Russian seaborne oil that came into force this week, as well as the global oil price cap agreed between the G7.
“Russia continues to bring death and devastation to Ukraine,” said von der Leyen. “We stand by Ukraine and we are making Russia pay for its cruelty.”
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The European Commission today proposed an unprecedented support package for Ukraine of up to €18 billion for 2023. These funds will be provided in the form of highly concessional loans to be repaid in regular instalments starting in 2033.
“This stable, regular and predictable financial assistance – averaging €1.5 billion per month – will help cover a significant part of Ukraine’s short-term funding needs for 2023, which the Ukrainian authorities and the International Monetary Fund estimate at €3 to €4 billion per month,” says a press release from the European Commission.
Thanks to this package, Ukraine will be able to keep on paying wages and pensions and keep essential public services running, such as hospitals, schools, and housing for relocated people. It will also allow Ukraine to ensure macroeconomic stability, and restore critical infrastructure destroyed by Russia in its war of aggression, such as energy infrastructure, water systems, transport networks, roads and bridges.
The funds will be provided through highly concessional loans, to be repaid in the course of maximum 35 years, starting in 2033. The EU also proposes to cover Ukraine’s interest rate costs, through additional targeted payments by Member States into the EU budget.
EU Member States and third countries will also be able to add more funds to the instrument, to be used as grants, should they wish to do so. The funds will then be channelled through the EU budget, allowing Ukraine to receive the support in a coordinated manner.
The MFA+ instrument will be accompanied by reforms to help Ukraine advance on its path to becoming a member of the EU. This means that the Ukrainian government will have to complement the financial support with sectoral and institutional reforms, including anti-corruption and judicial reforms, respect of the rule of law, good governance, and modernisation of the national and local institutions.
The Commission’s proposal will need approval by the European Parliament and EU Member States in the Council before entering into force.
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The European Union has urged the Georgian authorities to ensure the highest legal standards in cases against media owners.
Reacting to the Tbilisi Court of Appeal decision to uphold charges against Nika Gvaramia, Director General of one of the TV channels in Georgia, including the sentence of 3 years and 6 months’ imprisonment, the EU said that it has been monitoring this case closely.
“The European Union does not comment on the merits of individual Court cases, but we note once again that questions have been raised, including by the Public Defender, in relation to this case,” says a press release by the European Union External Action Service.
The press release also reminds that the European Union remains committed to supporting Georgia in addressing all 12 priorities in order to live up to the European aspirations of its citizens.
In this respect, the EU recalls that “stronger efforts to guarantee a free, professional, pluralistic and independent media environment, notably by ensuring that criminal procedures brought against media owners fulfil the highest legal standards” represent one of the priorities identified by the European Commission.
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If you are a student
The EU offers a wide range of study opportunities through the Erasmus+ programme, including student exchanges in European universities at bachelor, master and doctoral levels – the exchanges will be part of the programme you are following and can last between one term and one year. And your expenses will be covered! You can also apply for an Erasmus+ scholarship to study for a Master’s degree at top European universities.
For exchanges, visit the international relations office at your university – they will tell you which opportunities are available in your subject and will help you to apply.
For a Master’s degree, you need to check out the catalogue of Erasmus Mundus Joint Master Degrees, which lists the courses offering Erasmus scholarships in the upcoming academic year (there are 163 courses currently listed), then contact the university to apply for the course and scholarship.
College of Europe Scholarships
The College of Europe offers a large number of scholarships to university graduates coming from Georgia and other countries of the European Neighbourhood Policy for post-graduate studies. Scholarships are also available for students from the Eastern Partnership countries, funded by the EU4Youth programme. Applications for the academic year 2023/2024 will open in October 2022 and close in mid-January 2023. You can pre-register now at coleuropenatolin.eu to receive a reminder about the opening of applications.
Young European Ambassadors
The Young European Ambassadors (YEAs) initiative is a non-political, voluntary, vibrant communication network connecting young people from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, the Republic of Moldova, Ukraine and the EU Member States and the United Kingdom. The aim of the network is to raise awareness about the EU’s cooperation with its Eastern partner countries, showcase the tangible results of this cooperation, and contribute to policy dialogue on various topics. There are currently more than 500 active YEAs representing over 34 different nationalities, including 77 in Georgia (click here to meet them). The network is open to young people aged between 16 and 26, interested in public diplomacy and outreach activities. Applications take place every year, usually in the autumn.
For civil society activists, young leaders and volunteers
Erasmus+ Youth Exchanges
Erasmus+ is not just for students. Indeed, in recent years, thousands of young people and youth workers from Georgia have participated in joint Erasmus+ Youth projects (exchanges, trainings, policy debate, volunteering). Erasmus+ youth exchanges are open to anyone between the ages of 13 and 30, and last between 5 and 21 days. These exchanges take place through youth organisations and you cannot apply directly as an individual.
To find out more, contact the Erasmus+ Youth Info Centre in Georgia, by visiting their Facebook page or calling on +995 574 27 11 27
European Solidarity Corps
One way to gain experience abroad is by volunteering through the European Solidarity Corps. This is a unique way to experience different cultures and make new friends, while also helping others and learning new skills. You need to be between 17 and 30and be willing to spend between two weeks and 12 months abroad. Volunteer projects could be anywhere in the EU or its partner countries, and in fields as varied as culture, youth, sports, children, cultural heritage, arts, animal welfare or the environment. Find out how to apply and check out hundreds of opportunities on the European Solidarity Corps portal.
Civil Society Fellowships
The EU supports young civil society leaders and activists in Georgia and across the Eastern Partnership through its EaP Civil Society Fellowships programme. Every year, the programme helps 20 civil society activists in their efforts to achieve positive social change in their communities, offering tailored training, grants of €5,000 and access to networking opportunities. Details about the Fellows selected since the programme began 2017 and their areas of interest can be found here. Applications, currently open until 15 October, usually take place very year in the autumn. Check here for updates.
The EU4Youth Alumni Network brings together young beneficiaries (aged 18-30) of the Erasmus+ Youth and European Solidarity Corps, EU4Youth grant projects, Young European Ambassadors Network as well as other regional programmes targeting young people across the Eastern Partnership. The Network offers Alumni the opportunity to connect with disadvantaged young people in Georgia and support them to become more active in their communities and actively participate in EU mobility programmes. Applications take place once a year, usually in the autumn, with up to 15 alumni selected in each country to participate in the programme for 10 months.
The Travelling University is a civic education platform established by the United Nations Association of Georgia (UNA Georgia) as part of the EU-supported project ‘Local Investments in Networks for Knowledge and Skill-share’ (LINKS). It organises lectures for young people in villages (more than 60 so far) on issues such as human rights, civic activism and engagement, and gender equality, as well as informing young people about the demands and expectations of the labour market promoting vocational education and lifelong learning in Georgia. Look out for opportunities on the UNA Georgia Facebook page.
If you are still at school
Erasmus+ Youth Exchanges
Erasmus+ is not just for students: the programme also offers youth exchanges, and these are open to anyone between the ages of 13 and 30. Activities could involve workshops, exercises, debates, role-plays, outdoor activities and more. These exchanges take place through youth organisations and you cannot apply directly as an individual. To find out more, contact the Erasmus+ Youth Info Centre in Georgia, by visiting their Facebook page or calling on +995 574 27 11 27.
Eastern Partnership European School
The Eastern Partnership European School in Tbilisi offers a two-year International Baccalaureate programme for pupils from all six Eastern Partnership countries, including Georgia, with full scholarships paid by the European Union, including fees, boarding and travel home for holidays. But the number of places is limited – only 35 per year – so you have to meet certain conditions and pass through competitive process in order to apply. Since the launch of the programme in 2018, 145 students have received scholarships for the school, graduating with the IB diploma and going on to study at top universities across the world. The next cohort of students will be recruited to join for the 2023-2025 IB programme.
Young European Ambassadors
The Young European Ambassadors (YEAs) initiative is open to young people from the age of 16, so if you are interested in Europe and its values, want to learn new skills and make new friends, then you can apply to join to join this network that brings together more than 500 young people from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, Ukraine and the EU Member States and United Kingdom. Note that candidates aged 16-17 can take part in online engagement and local activities in their countries, but not international travel. Applications take place every year, usually in the autumn.
Internships and training
Erasmus+ supports work placements and internships abroad for Bachelor, Masters and Doctoral students, as well as recent graduates (within one year of your graduation). But your traineeship must be relevant to your degree and, wherever possible, be integrated in your study programme, so check the opportunities with your university. Work placements can last between two and twelve months, and Erasmus+ grants are available to cover your costs.
Blue Book traineeships
Twice a year, the EU offers five-month paid traineeships at the European Commission, its services and agencies, mostly in Brussels, but also in Luxembourg and elsewhere across the European Union. The call is mostly for EU citizens, but a limited number of places are also allocated to non-EU nationals. You can apply if you are a university graduate of any discipline who does not have more than six weeks of experience working in an EU institution, body, agency or delegation, and have a very good knowledge of English, German or French. Find out more.
Schuman Traineeships in the European Parliament
Twice a year, the European Parliament offers different traineeships within its Secretariat, including to applicants from outside the European Union. The traineeships are awarded for a period of five months, and are open to anyone over the age of 18, with a university level diploma. The goal of the Schuman traineeships is to contribute to participants’ European education and vocational training, and to provide an insight into the work of the European Parliament. The deadlines for application are at the end of May and October every year. Click here to find out more.
If you are setting up or have a small business, the EU4Business initiative offers a wide range of loans and grants depending on the type and size of your business, as well as advice and consultancy services to help you take the next step in developing your business. Visit the EU4Business page for full details of partner banks and projects that you can apply to, as well as examples of successful beneficiaries.
The Skills for Success project has launched a Youth Opportunities Online Platform - https://youthplatform.gov.ge - which gathers in one place all available education, training and employment opportunities for young people, whether offered by state, NGO or international partners.
The project supports young people Not in Education, Employment or Training (NEETs) in four regions of Georgia (Guria, Racha Lechkhumi, Shida Kartli, and Kakheti) and Tbilisi, to develop their business and employment skills. As part of this effort, it has trained mobile youth workers to provide needs-based training, career counselling, as well as share information on existing opportunities. The project has also created Youth Innovation Labs in the regions, where NEET Youth trained on entrepreneurship are able to initiate business ideas with the support of mentors. Follow Save the Children Georgia on Facebook for examples and available opportunities under the project.
Local Hubs for Skills Development
These centres operate in four regions of Georgia – Adjara, Guria, Kvemo Kartli, and Shida Karltli – as part of the Local Investments in Networks for Knowledge and Skill-share (LINKS) project funded by the European Union. The centres offer young people aged 15-29 the following activities to develop market-relevant skills and competences:
- Development of key competences
- Digital and computer literacy
- Citizenship education
- English language courses
- Key entrepreneurial competences
- Access to lifelong learning resources
- Career guidance sessions
- Professional secondments for selected candidates
- Access to skills/vacancy management portal
- Funding of social and socially responsible start-ups
Full details of the centres in Adjara, Guria, Kvemo Kartli, and Shida Karltli: https://www.una.ge/Employment_centers
Look out for opportunities on the UNA Georgia Facebook page.
The EU4Youth programme will soon launch a series of projects aimed at developing digital skills among young people, especially in disadvantaged communities, and for the development of social entrepreneurship and career management skills, linked to the promotion of youth entrepreneurship in the green and digital economies. The previous wave of EU4Youth projects saw hundreds of skills development activities carried out in Georgia, as well as apprenticeships and internships for young people, training and grants to launch new business ideas, and the creation of three rural innovation knowledge hubs in Gori, Ninotsminda and Akhmeta. Follow the EU4Youth page for upcoming opportunities.
Looking for inspiration
Hundreds of young Georgians are there to give you inspiration and new ideas!
Maia is a Young European Ambassador and member of the EU4Youth Alumni network. With the support of the network, she has set up a youth project in Chkhorotsku, a village in western Georgia.
Avto and Iza received business training, mentorship and grants from the EU4Youth Social Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Development for Green Growth project to help set up their woodworking business.
Nino graduated from the Eastern Partnership European School and has now won a scholarship to study natural sciences in San Francisco.
Tinatin spent a semester in Copenhagen as part of an Erasmus+ exchange: “Studying in Denmark was a life-changing experience,” she says.
Mariam and Yuri benefited from training and mentorship at the Youth Innovations Lab established by the Skills for Success project, and have now launched a business processing organic waste into livestock feed.
Marina, aged 16, attended the Travelling University when it visited her village of Kvemo Chibati. “It was the most special project I have ever participated in. The advice we received was especially valuable in terms of advancing our careers and achieving success,” she says.
EU annual report on Georgia: some progress in Association Agreement implementation and the need for further inclusive reformsTuesday, 16 August 2022 14:23
The European Union has published its annual Association Implementation Report on Georgia, which reviews Georgia’s progress in implementing reforms under the EU-Georgia Association Agreement over the past year. The publication comes ahead of the next EU-Georgia Association Council meeting scheduled for 6 September 2022.
“Georgia continued its reform path under difficult circumstances, against the background of its socio-economic recovery from COVID-19, a tense political environment and Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine,” said the EU High Representative Josep Borrell. “However, we have seen setbacks in the key areas of rule of law, governance and human rights. As Georgia embarks on the new phase of its relations with the EU, with its European perspective, Georgia needs to take a responsible and conscientious approach that matches its stated objectives and its citizens’ aspirations.”
A report prepared by the European External Action Service (EEAS) and the services of the European Commission shows that the EU-Georgia Association Agreement continues to be a driving force for reform. Overall, the process of aligning national legislation with EU legislation under the Association Agreement, including the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, is well underway and successful. Inclusive and green growth remains central to the EU-Georgia cooperation. In 2021, the EU continued assistance related to COVID-19 and contributed to a strong and sustainable socio-economic recovery, laying the groundwork for the implementation of the Eastern Partnership’s economic and investment plan.
“However, in 2021, challenges threatened to undermine the country’s democratic foundations and there were setbacks with regard to the rule of law. This demonstrates the need for a renewed and serious commitment to democratic consolidation, judicial reforms, and action to reduce political polarisation and to strengthen the rule of law and to guarantee a professional and pluralistic and independent media environment. These are essential priorities for Georgia to advance on its European path,” says a press release by the EEAS.
“The ball is now in Georgia’s court. A serious commitment to democratic consolidation, judicial reforms, strengthening the rule of law as well as fight against corruption and organised crime will be key,” said Olivér Várhelyi, Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement.
The EU-Georgia Association Agreement, which includes a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, was fully actioned on 1 July 2016. It deepens political ties, strengthens economic ties and respects shared values, and is the basis for EU-Georgian cooperation and EU support to reforms in Georgia.
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The European Investment Bank (EIB), the EU bank, is providing €1.59 billion, supported by guarantees from the EU budget, to help Ukraine repair the most essential damaged infrastructure and resume critically important projects addressing the urgent needs of Ukrainian people.
This is the second package of support for Ukraine under the EIB Ukraine solidarity urgent response developed in close cooperation with the European Commission. It follows an emergency support package of €668 million fully disbursed within a month of the war’s beginning. Like the first one, this new financing is offered at favourable terms including long tenors.
The package was agreed by the EIB Board of Directors yesterday; €1.05 billion will be made available immediately.
The financing will help essential services to resume and get the most critical infrastructure up and running again, strengthen the country’s resilience and maintain economic stability. It consists of two blocks of intervention:
- Immediate financial assistance totalling €1.05 billion. This will consist of upfront disbursements under eight existing finance contracts. It will help the Ukrainian government to cover priority short-term financing needs, provide support to strategic state-owned companies, ensure urgent repairs of damaged infrastructure, resume the provision of disrupted municipal services, and support urgent energy and energy efficiency measures in preparation for the cold season.
- Resuming implementation of EIB-financed projects in Ukraine totalling €540 million where possible, excluding areas of active hostilities and territories not controlled by the Ukrainian government. The selected projects will cover energy, energy efficiency, roads, transport, education and infrastructure, as well as reconstruction and recovery programmes. The exact timing of these disbursements will depend on the state of advancement of underlying projects.
Valdis Dombrovskis, European Commission Executive Vice-President for an Economy that Works for People, said: “This EIB support will keep strategic public sector companies financially viable and able to carry out urgent repairs of critical infrastructure, resume the provision of essential services and address other immediate needs of the Ukrainian people, including those displaced by Russia’s war. The European Commission will keep working with EU Member States and our international partners to support Ukraine on every level — for as long as it takes.”
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Yesterday in Baku, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev signed a new Memorandum of Understanding on a Strategic Partnership in the Field of Energy.
The agreement includes a commitment to double the capacity of the Southern Gas Corridor to deliver at least 20 billion cubic metres to the EU annually by 2027.
“With this new Memorandum of Understanding, we are opening a new chapter in our energy cooperation with Azerbaijan, a key partner in our efforts to move away from Russian fossil fuels,” said Ursula von der Leyen. “Not only are we looking to strengthen our existing partnership which guarantees stable and reliable gas supplies to the EU via the Southern Gas Corridor. We are also laying the foundations of a long-term partnership on energy efficiency and clean energy, as we both pursue the objectives of the Paris Agreement.”
According to the European Commission, the EU and Azerbaijan are also currently negotiating a new comprehensive agreement that would enhance cooperation in a wide range of areas. These include economic diversification, investment, trade and the full use of civil society potential, while stressing the importance of human rights and the rule of law.
Following the visit in Baku today, the EU-Azerbaijan Cooperation Council will meet on 19 July in Brussels to review overall relations and discuss potential areas of mutual interest for cooperation in the future.
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