The WHO Country Office in Ukraine, with support from the European Union and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has donated an additional 33 ambulances to the Ministry of Health of Ukraine to enable the provision of emergency medical care to patients during the war. The handover of ambulances took place in Lviv, western Ukraine, on 27 March.
The donation includes 20 ambulances equipped with a stretcher and first aid equipment. They are intended for the non-critical transportation of patients. Another 13 ambulances, equipped with patient ventilators, oxygen supply, IV pumps, suction pumps, stretchers, medication bags, will allow for the transportation of seriously injured patients to health facilities.
The ambulances will be handed over to hospitals and emergency centres throughout the country, with a particular focus on eastern Ukraine.
“It is one of our top priorities to support the Ukrainian healthcare system, which has come under extreme pressure since the start of the war,” said Janez Lenarčič, European Commissioner for Crisis Management. “We are working with partners like WHO to ensure that medical professionals have the means and equipment to reach people in urgent need of medical assistance. These ambulances will save lives across the country, including in hard-to-reach areas.”
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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.
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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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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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.
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.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili hosted a formal dinner in honor of the EU delegation members currently visiting Georgia.
The official dinner honoring the diplomats was held at Mtatsminda. The Head of Government and the European diplomats discussed Georgia’s European integration in an informal setting.
The high-level regional ambassadorial of the EU is held periodically and represents an important forum for discussing the EU’s policy toward concrete countries.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is committing new funds to address solid waste treatment issues in Batumi and the wider Adjara region in Georgia. A sovereign loan of up to €19 million for Adjara Waste Management Company will help tackle some of the most pressing environmental challenges faced by the tourist region’s inhabitants and visitors.
The first committed tranche of up to €3 million will be used to purchase new solid waste management equipment. This will enable the borrower to start new landfill operations and, consequently, stop waste being disposed of at the current non-European Union (EU) compliant dumpsites. The second uncommitted tranche of up to €16 million will be used to build a new waste treatment plant, allowing the company to recover recyclables and divert waste sent to the new sanitary landfill.
The investment will address the priority needs of Batumi and the wider Adjara region. This includes stopping the disposal of waste at existing dumpsites in Kobuleti and Batumi, with the latter being the largest and most dangerous polluter in Georgia. “These dumpsites are active sources of land, water and air pollution, impacting the ecosystem of the region in particular, and the Black Sea in general,” says EBRD.
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The EU Delegation to Georgia has welcomed today’s announcement by the Georgian ruling party ‘Georgian Dream” that it would withdraw the draft legislation on the “Transparency of foreign influence”.
“We encourage all political leaders in Georgia to resume pro-EU reforms, in an inclusive and constructive way and in line with the 12 priorities for Georgia to achieve candidate status,” the Delegation said on Twitter.
On 7 March, the bill passed its first reading in the Georgian parliament, despite widespread protests.
The EU said the law was incompatible with EU values and standards and goes against Georgia’s stated objective of joining the European Union, adding that this is “a very bad development for Georgia and its people”.
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In the course of his visit to Brussels, Irakli Beraia, Chairman of the Defense and Security Committee, met with the Chairman of the European Union Military Committee, General Robert Brieger.
At the meeting, the security environment in Georgia, the situation in the occupied territories, and Russia's military action against Ukraine and its effects on regional security were all covered.
The relevance of and potential for expanding defense and security cooperation between Georgia and the European Union were discussed by the parties.
The Deputy Chairman of the Defense and Security Committee, Vladimer Chachibaia, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of Georgia to the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg and the Representative of Georgia to the European Union, H.E. Vakhtang Makharoblishvili and the Military Representative of Georgia to NATO and the European Union, Brigadier General Irakli Dzneladze participated in the meeting.