Eastern Partnership initiative marks 10 year anniversary

epa05101450 (FILE) A file photo dated 15 December 2008 showing an exterior view of the European Bank of Investment in Luxembourg. The European Investment Bank has put on hold lending to the German carmaker Volkswagen, amid concerns that a previous loan may have played a role in its emissions scandal, the president of the European Union's lending arm Werner Hoyer says 14 January 2016. 'For many, many years we have been active in high-tech research and development with Volkswagen,' Werner Hoyer said in Brussels. 'We were astonished, disappointed and we are now concerned about the allegations, including indications by senior company executives of improper and possibly fraudulent behaviour by Volkswagen.' EPA/NICOLAS BOUVY

On the occasion of the 10th anniversary, stakeholders met on 11 July in Georgia to discuss the achievements of the Eastern Partnership initiative, a joint initiative of the EU and six Eastern European Partners – Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.
The European Investment Bank finances projects in the initiative’s six countries with a focus on projects of significant interest to the EU. The main sectors targeted by EIB loans are social and economic infrastructure, private sector development and climate action.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Georgia and EIB to facilitate public sector projects. The EIB loans to Georgia related to this program amount to €1.3bn.

Left in the EU parliament won’t support von der Leyen’s Commission bid


European Parliament MEP’s from the Left have said they will not support Ursula von der Leyen‘s candidacy for the European Commission presidency.

European United Left/Nordic Green Left’s acting president Martin Schirdewan said the MEPs have “grilled” von Der Leyen on the party’s 10 key demands for the next Commission. “Her responses were insufficient to satisfy the basic aspirations of EU citizens. They will help perpetuate chronic problems the EU is facing,” Schirdewan said.

“We realise she does not have a vision that is based on social justice and human rights. She will perpetuate the neo-liberal policies that have led to the economic crisis and unprecedented poverty and inequality among Europeans. We saw little desire to tackle tax avoidance and fraud by big corporations,” added Schirdewan.  “We are also concerned about the militarisation of the EU that von der Leyen is proposing. Her legacy in Germany is of arms to Saudi Arabia and support for military intervention. Likewise, no credible proposals to reform the EU asylum system and end the shameful deaths in the Mediterranean.”

The Left parties were also not satisfied with von der Leyen’s climate stance, saying her proposals were insufficient.

MEPs from the Greens MEPs also declared their decision to boycott von der Leyen’s candidacy along with a moderate number of Socialists and Democrats’ MEPs.

Thus far,182 MEPs of the EPP are considered her clear supporters, while Renew Europe still awaits with its 108 MEPs to receive further assurances on several issues. The S&D MEPs are split, with the Spanish and British as her likely supporters. The Spanish leader of the Socialist group, Iratxe García, said the Socialists will try to consolidate their position by the time of the vote.

Russia’s Tatneft, KazMunayGaz ink MoU to develop oil and gas cooperation


Kazakhstan’s state oil and has company and Russia’s Tatneft on 11 July signed a Memorandum of Understanding to boost oil and gas cooperation between the two companies.

KazMunayGas Chairman Alik Aidarbayev and Samruk-Kazyna Chairman Akhmetzhan Yesimov visited Kazan city, Tatarstan’s capital, where they met with Tatarstan Republic President Rustam Minnikhanov, agreeing to start a new stage of cooperation in the oil and gas field.

In particular, the parties discussed the possibilities of interaction between enterprises of the Republic of Tatarstan and KMG in matters of exploration, oil and gas chemistry, technical cooperation and digitalization.

The parties signed a Memorandum of Understanding between KazMunayGas and Tatneft. The parties identified areas of cooperation in the field of geological study and joint exploration in Kazakhstan and Russia; introducing new oil production technologies and sharing experience in digitization of production.

Aidarbayev, noted that Tatneft and KazMunayGaz companies have long-standing and strong relations in the field of technical information exchange and training of specialists.

“I am confident that with the signing of the Memorandum, we will launch a new phase of a large joint journey. Prospects for the development of the Caspian Basin oil and gas basin are of great interest among large international oil companies. Russian, including Tatarstan companies could become an active participant in this process,” Aidarbayev said.

The parties stressed that the meeting in Kazan will strengthen the partnership between the leading oil and gas companies of Kazakhstan and Tatarstan.



National flags taken down at NATO’s old headquarters

epa07480726 The flag of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in Tapa Army base, Estonia, 02 April 2019. EPA-EFE/Toms Kalnins

In a final tribute to the building that hosted NATO since 1966, soldiers from the member nations took down their national flags in a small ceremony on 10 July.
The move to the new headquarters, fit for a modern, forward-looking Alliance took place in 2018.
The old site will soon be handed over to NATO’s host nation Belgium, which will decide on its future use.

Pasquier reacts at harassment cases in UK Parliament

epa07576301 Liliane Maury Pasquier, President of the Parliamentary Assembly, speaks in the Finlandia House during the commemoration ceremony of the 70th anniversary of the Council of Europe in Helsinki, Finland, 16 May 2019. EPA-EFE/KIMMO BRANDT

Liliane Maury Pasquier, the President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, has reacted to the publication of two independent inquiries into bullying and harassment in the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
The Assembly called for a series of measures aimed at stopping sexism and sexual harassment, recommendations that are addressed to national parliaments, but also to political parties and governments.
Pasquier is shocked that this kind of behaviour existed among those who aspire to lead the nation: according to a recent study, over 40% of parliamentary staff said they had been sexually harassed at work.
“For that reason, in October last year – together with the Inter-Parliamentary Union – we launched the #NotInMyParliament initiative. Since then, I am proud to say that hundreds of parliamentarians, and others working with them, have pledged to do all they can to end sexual harassment, abuse and violence against women in parliaments.”, she stated in her reaction, and urged the Westminster authorities to take the steps necessary to put an end to abusive behaviour.

European Data Protection Board holds 12th plenary session

epa06053460 A mirror reflects a computer screen displaying binary code in Taipei, Taiwan, 28 June 2017. Kaspersky Lab reported that the malware, despite resembling 'Petya' malware that affected computers last year, is believed to be a new type of ransomware, which the cybersecurity company called 'ExPetr'. The ransomware has reportedly affected mostly Ukraine and Russia and several cases were also found in Poland, Italy, Britain, Germany, France, the US and several other countries, with around 2,000 cases reported so far. The ransomware has reportedly affected US pharmaceutical giant Merck, Russia's oil producer Rosneft, Ukrainian central bank, Spanish food company Mondelez, Australia's Cadbury chocolate factory and French shipping company TNT, among other global companies. EPA/RITCHIE B. TONGO

The twelfth plenary session of the European Data Protection Board took place on July 9 and 10 in Brussels. During the plenary a wide range of topics were discussed.

The Board emphasized the need of a comprehensive EU-US agreement regarding cross-border access to electronic evidence, containing strong procedural safeguards for fundamental rights.

The Board adopted an opinion in which it agreed that all codes covering non-public authorities and bodies are required to have accredited monitoring bodies in accordance with the GDPR, as well as an opinion on the competence of a supervisory authority in case of a change in circumstances.

An opinion on the personal data protection aspects of the processing of patients’ data in the eHealth Digital Service Infrastructure was also adopted, in which the Board stressed the need to ensure that all the processor duties of the Commission are set out in the Implementing Act.

Identity and Democracy group accuses of lack of democracy in European Parliament

epa07687734 The plenary hall is preparing for the election of the Speaker of Parliament at the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, France, 01 July 2019. In Brussels, negotiations have been postponed for the succession of the President of Parliament and the President of the European Commission. EPA-EFE/PATRICK SEEGER

Identity and Democracy, the political group in the European Parliament launched on 13 June for the Ninth European Parliament term, condemned the way the committee chairs and vice-chairs were elected, saying that it was not transparent.

“In most committees the chairs and vice-chairs were elected by acclamation as the number of candidates was equal to the number of posts, as the traditional groups respect the D’Hondt method as long as they benefit from it themselves.

In every committee where the ID group fielded a candidate, however, the federalist groups presented a common candidate of their own and outvoted the ID candidate. By doing so, they prevented the ID group of having even a single (vice-)chairmanship.”, the party said in an statement.

“This denial of democracy is unacceptable, as the 21 million Europeans who voted for the national parties of the ID group should be respected as any other voters.”, said Marco Zanni, president of the ID group.

Major warns that closing parliament to impose no-deal Brexit would trigger constitutional crisis

epa07448017 Britain's Queen Elizabeth (L) is greeted by former Prime Minister John Major as she arrives at Kings College in London, Britain, 19 March 2019. They opened Bush House and new educational facility on the London universities Strand campus. Bush House is the new teaching-and-research centre spread out over five iconic buildings on the Strand campus in central London Bush House previously served as the headquarters of the BBC World Service. EPA-EFE/NEIL HALL

The former Conservative prime minister Sir John Major has told the BBC he is willing to take any future government in court that would suspend parliament to deliver a no-deal Brexit.

MPs have consistently voted against a no-deal Brexit, but by closing Parliament (proroguing) in the run-up to Brexit day they would be denied of the opportunity to block it. Major said he would be willing to initiate a process of judicial review of any decision to call for elections while the government reaches the October 31 deadline.

During the campaign to succeed prime minister Theresa May, the former Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab was explicit about his intention to suspend the parliament to ensure that the UK’s default legal position is enforced, a prospect the former Conservative prime minister finds “utterly and totally unacceptable.”

The frontrunner to succeed Theresa May, Boris Johnson, has refused to rule out proroguing Parliament. “I’m not going to take anything off the table,” Boris Johnson said during a televised debate with Jeremy Hunt, reiterating his commitment for the UK to leave the EU on October 31 with or without a withdrawal deal.

John Major warned aspirant successors of Theresa May that forcing a “no-deal” Brexit by suspending parliament would drag Queen Elizabeth II into a “constitutional controversy,” as she would be advised by the prime minister to call for elections, a request that she has no constitutional mandate to reject. Major said that in such an event a “queue of people,” not least himself, would be prepared to go and seek judicial review of the prime ministers’ advice.

Jeremy Hunt has categorically stated that he would not close parliament to impose a no-deal Brexit.

The next prime minister of the UK will be selected by 160,000 Conservative party members, who will vote for a successor to Theresa May.

Chernobyl new safe confinement concluded

epa07708599 General view of the new Safe Confinement covering the 4th block of Chernobyl Nuclear power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine, 10 July 2019. A solemn event connected with transfer of the new safe confinement from Novarka to the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant for exploitation took place in Chernobyl. French company Novarka has ended work on the installation of an arch for the new safe confinement over the Generating Unit No. 4 of Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. EPA-EFE/SERGEY DOLZHENKO

The keys for the New Safe Confinement shielding the destroyed reactor 4 of the hapless Chernobyl nuclear power plant were symbolically presented to the Ukrainian authorities on 10 July in a ceremony on the site of the former NPP attended by Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the EBRD said.

French company Novarka reportedly has ended work on the installation of an arch for the new safe confinement over reactor 4.

This marked the next step in the transformation of Chernobyl into an environmentally safe and secure state, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development said, adding that the handover also represented the completion of the largest ever example of international cooperation in the field of nuclear safety.

In addition to Zelenskyy, Chernobyl Shelter Fund Chairman Hans Blix, EBRD Managing Director for Ukraine, Eastern Europe and the Caucasus Matteo Patrone, EBRD Nuclear Safety Director Balthasar Lindauer, and donour representatives, also attended the event.

“We are proud and pleased to see the completion of the New Safe Confinement. I would like to congratulate Ukraine on reaching this milestone and I would like to take this opportunity to thank those who have made this happen: the donors’ community, the EBRD and its shareholders, the international and local companies that turned the plans into reality, our experts from the Project Management Unit and the workforce which delivered this unprecedented achievement,” Lindauer said.

According to the EBRD, the New Safe Confinement cost €1.5 billion and was financed by 45 donour countries and institutions. It encloses the destroyed reactor 4, the unit destroyed by the 1986 nuclear accident at Chernobyl, and the provisional shelter built after the accident which still contains the molten core of the reactor and an estimated 200 tonnes of highly radioactive material.

The giant arch was constructed in two halves near the accident site from 2010 to 2016 and eventually slid over the damaged reactor. It is the largest moveable land-based structure ever built, with a span of 257metres, a length of 162 metres, a height of 108 metres and a total weight of over 36,000 tonnes equipped with a crane system for future dismantling work.

The structure is the most prominent component of the €2.1 billion Shelter Implementation Plan which included the completion of crucial infrastructure and safety projects, among others the stabilisation of the old shelter and the creation of the necessary infrastructure needed for the work at the Chernobyl site, the EBRD said.

The delivery of the Shelter Implementation Plan and the New Safe Confinement is financed through the EBRD-managed Chernobyl Shelter Fund, established in 1997 and funded by contributions from 45 countries, the European Commission and the EBRD, which is providing €715 million of its own resources to support Chernobyl projects including the New Safe Confinement.


Italy calls for Eurobonds without debt mutualisation

epa04266463 The sign of the European Stability Mechanism (ESM) building prior to the ESM board of the governors meeting in Luxembourg, Luxembourg, 19 June 2014. The eurozone finance ministers are to meet in Luxembourg to discuss Europe's financial situation. Woman on left is not identified. EPA/NICOLAS BOUVY

The European Affairs Minister of the Italian Government, Paolo Savona, is calling for a European bond amid renewed economic volatility.

In an open letter to the Financial Times on Wednesday, Savona calls for “an asset” that would promote investment and economic stability, whilst strengthening the international role of the euro.

The Italian economist notes that the current structure of the Eurozone with differentiated risk assets gravitating around the German Bund is inadequate for two reasons: first, because investors seek safe assets as not all investors can deposit at the European Central Bank (ECB) and secondly because the German government issues less debt.

Savona’s proposal is timely.

This week Germany sold new Bunds that do not provide investors with regular interest payments for the first time since the aftermath of the 2016 Brexit vote. Bunds were sold at a minus 0.26% negative yield, that is, the lowest on record for 10-year bonds. By contrast, Italy’s 10-year bonds are trading with a yield of around 1.8%, while those on Greek paper are 2.2%.

Savona is careful to categorically exclude the possibility of debt mutualization, which is unconstitutional in Germany and vehemently opposed by EU net budget contributors. “Member states should remain fully responsible for their own debt,” Savona asserts.

However, the Italian proposal is to replace a share of national debt sales with multinational debt, managed by a multilateral authority, pointing to the European Stability Mechanism. In this scheme, the ESM would have a wider mandate than crisis-management, selling debt backed by eurozone member states on behalf of all member-states rather than merely states facing a debt crisis.

The difference is that interest paid on ESM loans would be equal for all member states.

As a creditor, the ESM would be formally given a higher ranking than other lenders to eurozone governments, while each member state would have a ceiling to how much multilateral debt is can accumulate, protecting the ESM’s creditworthiness without reducing the incentive for national governments to pursue responsible fiscal policies.

Savona notes that this would give rise to a truly European yield curve, with ESM bonds emerging as a global benchmark and be the main asset bought by European banks.  This would allow banks to gradually reduce their balance sheets’ exposure to national debt without creating problems for member states, reducing the so-called “death-loop” faced by major systemic lenders. In sum, this would create the conditions required for a banking union with a genuine European deposit insurance scheme.

Wall Streets buoyant as US Fed signals interest rate cut

epa04866290 Traders work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at the start of the trading day in New York, New York, USA, 30 July 2015. US stocks opened lower as most Wall Street economists expect the Federal Reserve to begin tightening monetary policy as early as September 17. EPA/JUSTIN LANE

US shares rallied on Wednesday as the Federal Reserve chairman Jerome Powell signalled a move towards cutting interest rates, in a “weak(er) dollar” policy that could boost exports.

US interest rates currently stand between 2.25% and 2.50%.

The benchmark S&P 500 surged past 3,000 points while the Dow Jones and Nasdaq rose almost 1%.

Although Powell told the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee that he expects continued US growth, he warned that weaker growth of other trading partners and a downturn in business investment would inevitably affect the US outlook.

Powell has not committed to lower rates but his reference to below-target inflation points to that direction. A binding decision is expected on July 31st.

US Treasuries currently yield higher than Greece, after the European Central Bank (ECB) has signalled the second wave of quantitative easing given a slowdown in Europe’s export-driven economy. On Monday Greece’s benchmark 10-year bond yield briefly touched 2.01%, slightly lower than equivalent US Treasuries.

Turkey defies Washington to receive Russian S-400 system

Visitors walk in front of the S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile system during the Army 2019 International Military Technical Forum in Patriot Park in Alabino, Moscow region, Russia, 25 June 2019. The Army 2019 International Military Technical Forum is held from 25 to 30 June. EPA-EFE/MAXIM SHIPENKOV

Turkey is expected to take delivery of the first shipment of a $2,5bn Russian S-400 Triumph air defence system, defying US pressure.

Washington is threatening Ankara with sanctions over the acquisition of one of the world’s most advanced air defence systems, capable of taking out drones, fighter jets and cruise missiles.

NATO allies are concerned that the system will jeopardise the stealth capacity of the F-35 stealth fighter jet, as Russian military stationed can collect sensitive data about the fifth-generation aircraft. Turkey insists it can protect the security of the F-35 by ensuring that the air defence system is not linked to the broader Nato-integrated defence architecture.

The Pentagon is expected to suspend Turkey’s purchase of 100 F-35 aircraft, also cancelling a co-production agreement with Turkey. Ankara may also face other economic sanctions under Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA).

The threat of sanctions adds to the volatile political climate that follows the firing of the Governor of the Bank of Turkey, Murat Cetinkaya, on Saturday.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan justified his decision to oust him after a clash over the pace and depth of rate cuts, going on record to claim the right to intervene on monetary policy. “From now on, the central bank will provide stronger support for our economic programme,” Erdogan said on Wednesday, confirming the view that monetary policy is now government policy.

EU commemorates Srebrenica genocide victims

epa04841797 A general view of headstones at a cemetery in Srebrenuca where are buried Bosnian Muslims at the Potocari Memorial Center during the burial of 136 newly-identified Bosnian Musliims killed by Bosnian Serb forces in Srebrenica 20 years ago, in Srebrenica, Bosnia and Herzegovina, 11 July 2015. The burial was part of a memorial ceremony to mark the 20th anniversary of the Srebrenica massacre, the worst atrocity of Bosnia's 1992-95 war. More than 8,000 Muslim men and boys were summarily executed in the 1995 killing spree after Bosnian Serb forces overran the eastern town. On 08 July Russia vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution that would have labeled as genocide the 1995 massacre of Muslims in Srebrenica by ethnic Serbs. EPA/FEHIM DEMIR

In a joint statement on 11 July, the EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and Commissioner Johannes Hahn expressed support to Bosnia and Herzegovina, on the 24th anniversary of Srebrenica massacre of more than 8.000 Bosniaks during the Bosnian War.
The statement said that it was a duty to remember Srebrenica, describing it one of the darkest moments of humanity in modern European history.
“While remembering, we have the responsibility to firmly anchor peace and ensure a stable future for all people living in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the wider region”, the statement reads.
The Union also expressed its commitment to support Bosnia and Herzegovina to establish a society based on pluralism, justice, and human dignity.

The name is Ambassador. EU Ambassador.


It’s very cool to have a great twitter handle. Typically, for the European Commission politicians, and civil servants you would expect to find something that combines ones name with the letters EU. Or maybe just the name.

For example, European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker uses @JunckerEU, and the Secretary General of the European Commission, Martin Selmayr, uses @MartinSelmayr.

Some people however, have more imagination. The Ambassador heading the EU Delegation in North Macedonia, uses the awesome twitter handle @AmbassadorEU.

How cool is that? All the heads of EU representations and heads of EU delegations must be insanely jealous.

One thing though. The man’s name is nowhere to be found on his twitter profile.

In Kassandra’s head it all sounds kind of like:
“The name is Bond. James Bond.” but with “… Ambassador. EU Ambassador.”

If you follow the link on the twitter account however, and go to the EEAS delegation’s website, and then feel adventurous enough to click on ‘About‘, you’ll find the man’s name is even sexier: “Žbogar. Samuel Žbogar.”


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Crucial days for von der Leyen’s EU Commission bid


The European Council’s chosen one to be put forward as the future European Commission president, Ursula von der Leyen’s candidacy is set to be put to a vote next week, and it is evident that she is set to have problems in securing more groups than her centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the liberal Renew Europe group, as the S&D group is currently split on the decision.  Von der Leyen could look for support in the further on the right of the political spectrum, namely the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR).

“You in this group cannot take for granted any vote next week,” warned von der Leyen an S&D MEP Javi López on Wednesday during the S&D meeting, underlining that the group is deeply disappointed about her lack of support for key policies that the Socialists believe should be at the heart of the programme of the next European Commission, including a Common Asylum Reform package.

Von der Leyen has no easy path to becoming the next head of the Commission, as even a weak majority of around 400 MEPs will mean her European Commission mandate will be seen as too weak, raising a question about her legitimacy to put forward her political programme.

In order to avoid this, von der Leyen has to secure the support of the four political parties, namely the EPP, S&D, Renew Europe and Greens/EFA, and even if von der Leyen tested the waters with ECR on Tuesday, their support would paint an even darker picture for the German mainstream conservative politician.

Von der Leyen promised to the ECR to be “softer” on rule of law, give more time and money to energy transition, and that migrants would not be imposed on countries.

Many in the European Parliament worry, however, about how credible and consistent her promises would be.

Faster transfer of data from space with European technology

epa04535492 A handout picture made available by NASA on 20 December 2014 shows a view of the Gulf of Mexico and the US Gulf Coast at sun set taken from the International Space Station (ISS) Expedition 42's Flight Engineer Terry W. Virts, in space, 10 December 2014. The space station and its crew orbit Earth from an altitude of 220 miles, traveling at a speed of approximately 28,164 kilometers per hour. Because the station completes each trip around the globe in about 92 minutes, the crew experiences 16 sunrises and sunsets each day. EPA/NSASA/TERRY VIRTS HANDOUT EDITORIAL USE ONLY

The European External Action Service and the European Commission hosted on 10 July a live demonstration of the European Data Relay System, also known as “Space data highway”.

The system is the world’s first laser-link in the sky, based on cutting-edge European laser technology, and allows transferring a large volume of data from satellites in space to the Earth in quasi-real-time.

The system is a result of the partnership between the European Space Agency and Airbus, and benefits from €90 million of EU funding from the Copernicus Earth Observation programme and through ESA in the 2015-2020 period.

Final list of Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs of European Parliament


The European Parliament Committees met today to elect their Chairs and Vice-Chairs after intense horse-trading between the political Groups this week. New Europe brought you provisional lists prior to the votes, but here we present the official results.

Note that a few gaps still remain, to be voted in future committee meetings.


Committee on Foreign Affairs

Chair: Mr David McALLISTER (EPP, DE)

1st Vice-Chair: Mr Witold Jan WASZCZYKOWSKI (ECR, PL)

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Vice-Chairs will be elected at a forthcoming meeting

Subcommittee on Security and Defence

Chair: Ms Nathalie LOISEAU (Renew Europe, FR)

1st Vice-Chair: Mr Nikos ANDROULAKIS (S&D, EL)

2nd Vice-Chair: Ms Kinga GÁL (EPP, HU)

3rd Vice-Chair: Ms Özlem DEMIREL (GUE/NGL, DE)

4th Vice-Chair: Mr Lukas MANDL (EPP, AT)


Subcommittee on Human Rights

Chair: Ms Maria ARENA (S&D, BE)

1st Vice-Chair: Ms Irina VON WIESE (Renew Europe, UK)

2nd Vice-Chair: Ms Hannah NEUMANN (GREENS/EFA, DE)

3rd Vice-Chair: Ms Karoline EDTSTADLER (EPP, AT)

4th Vice-Chair: Mr Raphaël GLUCKSMANN (S&D, FR)


Committee on Development

Chair: Mr Tomas TOBÉ (EPP, SE)

1st Vice-Chair: Ms Pierrette HERZBERGER-FOFANA (Greens/EFA, DE)

2nd Vice-Chair: Mr Norbert NEUSER (S&D, DE)

3rd Vice-Chair: Ms Chrysoula ZACHAROPOULOU (Renew Europe, FR)

4th Vice-Chair: Mr Erik MARQUARDT (Greens/EFA, DE)


Committee on International Trade

Chair: Mr Bernd LANGE (S&D, DE)

1st Vice-Chair: Mr Jan ZAHRADIL (ECR, CZ)

2nd Vice-Chair: Mr Iuliu WINKLER (EPP, RO)

3rd Vice-Chair: Ms Anna-Michelle ASIMAKOPOULOU (EPP, EL)

4th Vice-Chair: Ms Marie-Pierre VEDRENNE (Renew Europe, FR)


Committee on Budgets


1st Vice-Chair: Mr Janusz LEWANDOWSKI (EPP, PL)

2nd Vice-Chair: Mr Olivier CHASTEL (Renew Europe, BE)

3rd Vice-Chair: Ms Margarida MARQUES (S&D, PT)

4th Vice-Chair: Mr Niclas HERBST (EPP, DE)


Committee on Budgetary Control

Chair: Ms Monika HOHLMEIER (EPP, DE)

1st Vice-Chair: Ms Isabel GARCÍA MUÑOZ (S&D, ES)

2nd Vice-Chair: Ms Caterina CHINNICI (S&D, IT)

3rd Vice-Chair: Ms Martina DLABAJOVÁ (Renew Europe, CZ)

4th Vice-Chair: Mr Tamás DEUTSCH (EPP, HU)


Committee on Economic and Monetary Affairs

Chair: Mr Roberto GUALTIERI (S&D, IT)

1st Vice-Chair: Mr Luděk NIEDERMAYER (EPP, CZ)

2nd Vice-Chair: Ms Stephanie YON-COURTIN (Renew Europe, FR)

3rd Vice-Chair: Mr Derk Jan EPPINK (ECR, NL)

4th Vice-Chair: Mr José GUSMÃO (GUE/NGL, PT)


Committee on Employment and Social Affairs

The bureau will be elected in a forthcoming meeting


Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety

Chair: Mr. Pascal CANFIN (Renew Europe, FR)

1st Vice-Chair: Mr Bas EICKHOUT (Greens/EFA, NL)

2nd Vice-Chair: Mr Seb DANCE (S&D, UK)

3rd Vice-Chair: Mr Cristian-Silviu BUŞOI (EPP, RO)

4th Vice-Chair: Ms Anja HAZEKAMP (GUE/NGL, NL)


Committee on Industry, Research and Energy

Chair: Ms Adina-Ioana VĂLEAN (EPP, RO)

1st Vice-Chair: Mr Zdzisław KRASNODĘBSKI (ECR, PL)

2nd Vice-Chair: Mr Morten PETERSEN (RE, DK)

3rd Vice-Chair: Ms Patrizia TOIA (S&D, IT)

4th Vice-Chair: Ms Lina GALVEZ MUÑOZ (S&D, ES)


Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection

Chair: Ms Petra DE SUTTER (Greens/EFA, BE)

1st Vice-Chair: Mr Pierre KARLESKIND (Renew Europe, FR)

2nd Vice-Chair: Ms Maria GRAPINI (S&D, RO)

3rd Vice-Chair: Ms Róża THUN (EPP, PL)

4th Vice-Chair: Ms Maria Manuel LEITÃO MARQUES (S&D, PT)


Committee on Transport and Tourism

Chair: Ms Karima DELLI (Greens/EFA, FR)

1st Vice-Chair: Mr Johan DANIELSSON (S&D, SE)

2nd Vice-Chair: Mr Sven SCHULZE (EPP, DE)

3rd Vice-Chair: Mr István UJHELYI (S&D, HU)

4th Vice-Chair: Mr Jan-Christoph OETJEN (Renew Europe, DE)


Committee on Regional Development

Chair: Mr Younous OMARJEE (GUE/NGL, FR)

1st Vice-Chair: Mr Krzysztof HETMAN (EPP, PL)

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Vice-Chairs will be elected at a forthcoming meeting


Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development

Chair: Mr Norbert LINS (EPP, DE)

1st Vice-Chair: Mr Francisco GUERREIRO (Greens/EFA, PT)

2nd Vice-Chair: Mr Daniel BUDA (EPP, RO)

The 3rd and 4th Vice-Chairs will be elected in a forthcoming meeting


Committee on Fisheries

Chair: Mr Chris DAVIES (Renew Europe, UK)

1st Vice-Chair: Mr Peter van DALEN (EPP, NL)

2nd Vice-Chair: Mr Søren GADE (Renew Europe, DK)

3rd Vice-Chair: Mr Giuseppe Ferrandino (S&D, IT)

4th Vice-Chair: Ms Cláudia MONTEIRO DE AGUIAR (EPP, PT)


Committee on Culture and Education

Chair: Ms Sabine VERHEYEN (EPP, DE)

1st Vice-Chair: Mr Romeo FRANZ (Greens/EFA, DE)

2nd Vice-Chair: Ms Dace MELBĀRDE (ECR, LV)

The 3rd and 4th Vice-Chairs will be elected in a forthcoming meeting


Committee on Legal Affairs

Chair: Ms Lucy NETHSINGHA ( Renew Europe, UK)

1st Vice-Chair: Mr Sergey LAGODINSKY (Greens/EFA, DE)

2nd Vice-Chair: Ms Marion WALSMANN (EPP, DE)

3rd Vice-Chair: Mr Ibán GARCIA DEL BLANCO (S&D, ES)

4th Vice-Chair: Mr Raffaele STANCANELLI (ECR, IT)


Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs

Chair: Mr Juan Fernando LÓPEZ AGUILAR (S&D, ES)

1st Vice-Chair: Ms Maite PAGAZAURTUNDÚA (RE, ES)

2nd Vice-Chair: Mr Pietro BARTOLO (S&D, IT)

4th Vice-Chair: Mr Emil RADEV (EPP, BG)

The 3rd Vice-Chair will be elected in a forthcoming meeting


Committee on Constitutional Affairs

Chair: Antonio Tajani (EPP, IT)

1st Vice-Chair: Gabriele Bischoff (S&D, DE)

The 2nd, 3rd and 4th Vice-Chairs will be elected at a forthcoming meeting


Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality

Chair: Ms Evelyn REGNER (S&D, AT)

1st Vice-Chair: Ms Eugenia RODRÍGUEZ PALOP (GUE/NGL, ES)

2nd Vice-Chair: Ms Gwendoline DELBOS-CORFIELD (Greens/EFA, FR)

3rd Vice-Chair: Ms Elissavet VOZEMBERG-VRIONIDI (EPP, EL)

4th Vice-Chair: Mr Robert BIEDROŃ (S&D, PL)


Committee on Petitions

Chair: Ms Dolors MONTSERRAT (EPP, ES)

1st Vice-Chair: Ms Tatjana ŽDANOKA (GREENS/EFA, LV)

2nd Vice-Chair: Ms Yana TOOM (Renew Europe, EE)

3rd Vice-Chair: Mr Ryszard CZARNECKI (ECR, PL)

4th Vice-Chair: Ms Cristina MAESTRE MARTÍN DE ALMAGRO (S&D, ES)

Renew Europe MPs do not guarantee support for von der Leyen

epa07598391 Dacian Ciolos, former Romania's Prime Minister and EU Commissioner for Agriculture, the leader of the Freedom, Unity and Solidarity Party (PLUS), addresses to supporters during a Alliance 2020 USR + PLUS rally for European Parliament elections held at Izvor Park, in downtown Bucharest, Romania, 24 May 2019. Hundreds of supporters, from all over the country face a heavy rain to see their party candidates for the European Parliament. Romanians will vote their representatives for the European Union Parliament on 26 May 2019, when they will make their choice for the Justice Reforms Referendum, initiated by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis. EPA-EFE/ROBERT GHEMENT

The president of the liberal group Renew Europe, Dacian Ciolos, confirmed on 11 July that his group’s MEPs vote is not to be taken for granted in support of Ursula von der Leyen after the group earlier faced off with von der Leyen in a closed doors session.

In a statement to the press after the group meeting, Ciolos stated the debate was “very positive” but added that he “still” does not guarantee a favourable vote from the entire group, reiterating that his group will strongly advocate for the vote to take place in next week’s plenary session, once the group receives needed “clear commitments” on a series of issues.

Aiming to focus on the idea of transnational lists and “democratise the vote in the European Parliament,” Ciolos’ intention is to propose the debate in order to have a legislative proposal.
Regarding the next Commission’s commitment for rule of law, Ciolos asked for a European mechanism concerning all EU member states that will be accompanied by sanctions. This would allow the EU to “avoid using the nuclear mechanism of Article 7” on the rule of law.
Ciolos asked von der Leyen to ensure the group that its Spitzenkandidat Margrethe Vestager will be equal to the First Vice-President of the European Commission with Socialist Spitzenkandidat, Frans Timmermans.
“We are very clear and we are still waiting for clear commitment to take on board that inside the Commission we will have two main First Vice Presidents,” he added.  Asking for “a very clear commitment next week in the parliament.”

Von der Leyen to request both men and women Commissioner candidates for a balanced College

epa07708018 Ursula von der Leyen the nominated President of the European Commission gives a press briefing following a meeting of Political groups Presidents at European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, 10 July 2019. Von der Leyen is meeting alll groups about her nomination as the head of the European Commission, a vote will take place next week at plenary session of the parliament. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET
The president-designate of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen has revealed that if she is elected she intends to ask each EU leader to come with two nominations to the table, a man and a woman for Commissioner candidates, in order to form a fully gender-equal college.
“I want a Commission with half male and half female commissioners,” von der Leyen said during a meeting in Brussels with the liberal parliamentary group of the Renew Europe”.
The current European Commission led by Jean-Claude Juncker has 19 Commissioners against only nine female Commissioners. In 2014, when the College was formed, the President of the Community Executive, who at that time also wanted 14 Commissioners, had to apply pressure to the member states to present female candidates, succeeding mostly with the smaller countries.
Von der Leyen also said that she would have two First Vice Presidents – Dutch Socialist Frans Timmermans and the Danish Liberal Margrethe Vestager – after pressure from the group, as both were the “top candidates”, or Spitzenkandidaten, of the European Socialists and the Liberals to the presidency of the European Commission.

Greens to vote against von der Leyen for EU Commission chief bid

epa06278978 German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU) gestures during a break in the first exploratory talks of four political parties in Berlin, Germany, 20 October 2017. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), the Christian Social Union (CSU), the Greens and the Free Democratic Party (FDP) are holding talks to form the next Government after the general elections in September. EPA-EFE/ALEXANDER BECHER

The Greens/EFA group took the decision on 10 July to vote against the candidacy of Ursula von der Leyen, following a hearing with the Group in the European Parliament.

The German politician and the EU Council’s chosen one to lead the EU executive through the next mandate held three back-to-back hearings with the Socialists and Democrats and the Liberals from the Renew Europe group and the Greens/EFA. Two other groups decided to discuss the matter further, and the Greens declared they would be voting against her candidacy – thought to be taking place next week.

“The statements of Ursula von der Leyen were disappointing. We did not hear any concrete proposal, be it on rule of law or on climate. We have been elected on a mandate for change and we don’t see how change will be possible with this candidate,” said the Greens Co-President, Ska Keller suggesting that the president of the European Commission “needs to be the guardian of the rule of law and European values,” but that Ursula von der Leyen “evaded our questions on the rule of law and democracy in Europe. This is a major shortcoming on one of the main questions that the EU is confronted with.”

Philippe Lamberts, the other co-president of the Greens added that just a few weeks post the elections where the Greens proposals were endorsed by voters, von der Leyen “is ignoring the climate emergency and even wants to aim for lower climate targets than previously agreed by the European Parliament. Ms von der Leyen is simply not a Commission President that the Greens/EFA group can support”.

“We insist that the voters deserve a democratic and transparent process when it comes to the choice of Commission President. The lead candidate process has not been respected, which is a betrayal of the European electorate,” concluded Lamberts.

The European Parliament is set to vote for von der Leyen’s candidacy on 17b July, with the numbers adding up to a slim majority of just over 400 MEPs for the German minister.

EU Commission president nominee says Brexit could be delayed a third time

epa07186695 A technician put the British flag before British Prime Minister Teresa May and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker meeting at the EU Commission headquarter in Brussels, Belgium, 24 November 2018. The British Prime Minister and EU Commission president Juncker will meet to discuss the future ties between the UK and the European Union, one day ahead of a special meeting of the European Council on Britain leaving the EU under Article 50, also dubbed the 'Brexit'. EU27 leaders will meet to endorse the draft Brexit withdrawal agreement and to approve the draft political declaration on future EU-UK relations on Sunday 25 November 2018, the European Council announced in its calendar. EPA-EFE/JULIEN WARNAND
Ursula von der Leyen, the European Council’s favourite to replace Jean-Claude Juncker as president, said on Wednesday that the UK could be granted another extension, meaning Brexit could be delayed for a third time.
Von der Leyen said the Withdrawal agreement of Prime Minister Theresa May that was rejected by British lawmakers was a good one, signalling that under her leadership the European Commission will be no more willing to renegotiate than before. The German politician said she still hoped Britain would change its mind and stay in the EU, saying that if London needed more time, another postponement should be granted.
“If the United Kingdom needs more time, I think that’s the right way to go,” she told Green MEPs during a hearing for her nomination as Commission president in the European Parliament, insisting, however, that there would be no change to the Irish “backstop”.
Von der Leyen  further  warned Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt, the two favourites to become the UK’s new premier, that the “tone and attitude” of Brexit were vitally important to future relations between Britain and the EU.
“Though I still hope you remain, it is in our interests to have you sort things out. We have an agreement — which hasn’t been signed on both sides — and we have the backstop,” she added responding to a liberal MEP during the Renew Europe hearing on Wedesday, reiterating that the deal negotiated was a good one: “I think it’s a good deal but it is your responsibility and your noble task to sort things out,” she added.
“I think the backstop is of utmost importance. We absolutely know how crucial this non-existing of a border for you is, and therefore having the backstop in the Brexit deal is,” she said in response to an Irish MEP. “The backstop is precious, important, and has to be defended.”
But what happens if we do have a Brexit? “In case we’re going to have a Brexit, I am convinced it is crucial the tone and attitude with which Brexit happens,” said von der Leyen, because “Brexit is not the end of something. Brexit is the beginning of future relations and it’s of absolute importance that we have good cooperation.”

Vattenfall to build offshore wind farms in Dutch North Sea

epa04724978 A picture made available on 29 April 2015 shows the converter station 'SylWin alpha' of the Dutch electricity provider Tennet and wind turbines protrude from the North Sea in the offshore wind farm 'DanTysk' operated jointly by the Swedish energy company Vattenfall and the city of Munich, Germany, power utility, some 70 km West of the island of Sylt, Germany, 27 April 2015. On 30 April 2015 the wind farm at the German-Danish border will be officially brought into service. EPA/CHRISTIAN†CHARISIUS

The Netherlands Enterprise Agency announced on 10 July that Swedish energy company Vattenfall has won the tender for the second phase of the offshore wind farm Hollandse Kust Zuid (HKZ) 3 & 4 in the Dutch North Sea. In September 2018, Vattenfall was granted permits to build the first phase, HKZ 1 & 2.

“This is excellent news for Vattenfall, our partners and the Dutch energy transition,” Vattenfall CEO Magnus Hall said. “It means a significant step for Vattenfall in view of our ambition to make fossil-free living possible within one generation and to grow in renewable energy production. The Netherlands is an important market for us and this will be one of our biggest offshore projects. We are looking forward to contribute with this project to the transformation of the Dutch energy system,” he added.

The wind farms will have a capacity of approximately 1.5 GW combined and will become the two first non-subsidized offshore wind farms in the world when commissioned.

Gunnar Groebler, senior vice president and head of Business Area Wind of Vattenfall, said winning the bid for Hollandse Kust Zuid 3&4 is a result of Vattenfall’s continuous efforts along the company’s entire value chain and the solid track record and portfolio approach of the company. “Adding to that, working collaboratively with our partners in the supply chain has enabled us to hand in a state-of-the-art proposal for this project. We can bundle now the projects Hollandse Kust Zuid 1&2 and 3&4 which is a great advantage leading to further optimization and synergies” he said.

Offshore construction is scheduled to take place in 2022. According to the tender rules, Hollandse Kust Zuid 3&4 needs to be fully operational within 5 years after permit have become irrevocable. In total, HKZ 1 – 4 will produce renewable energy to up to 3 million Dutch homes.

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said on 10 July this auction shows yet again that offshore wind is now very competitive – and is consistent with Bloomberg data that shows offshore wind is now the cheapest form of new power in North Western Europe apart from onshore wind. “The ‘zero subsidy’ system seems to work in the Netherlands, because the Dutch share a lot of the project risk, and it’s not hard for wind farms to find corporate buyers for the power they produce. But in most European countries offshore wind auctions need to offer stable revenues – and this reduces the financing and therefore the total societal costs,” Dickson said.

“The Dutch are doing well on offshore wind. They’ve a good steady auction plan of 700MW every year. They provide clear visibility of what they’re auctioning and when which helps reduce costs. They’re taking a strategic approach to grid investments – and a healthy long-term view of marine spatial planning aiming at happy co-existence between offshore wind and e.g. fishing and biodiversity,” Dickson said, reminding that their recent Climate Agreement sets a target of 11.5 GW total offshore wind by 2030. “They could actually do more than this and should do once they factor in increased electrification in industry,” he said.





UN concerned over Iran denying prisoners medical treatment

The military hospital Baqiatollah Azam in northern Teheran was where 54-year-old Iranian-Canadian photojournalist Zahra Kazemi died due to what was on Thursday, July 17, confirmed by Iranian officials after an autopsy of a brain haemorrhage inflicted by a severe blow. Kazemi was arrested on June 23 while taking pictures of the notorious Evin prison in the Tehran and died two weeks later. While her family in Canada accuses her interrogators of murder, the Teheran administration asked for more time to announce the final results of its investigations. EPA PHOTO/The Gazette/Phil Carpenter

Despite repeated calls, Iran continues to deny medical treatment to detainees in what amounts to “a consistent pattern”, according to eight UN human rights experts, in a statement on 10 July.
The experts noted as particularly alarming the denial of medical treatment for human rights activist Arash Sadeghi, diagnosed with bone cancer, as well as of Austrian-Iranian dual national Kamran Ghaderi, who has a tumour in his leg, and of other prisoners with severe health conditions, who have also continued to be denied appropriate healthcare.
Experts also highlighted the unsafe and unsanitary detention conditions, including contaminated food and water, rodent and insect infestations, and inadequate temperature controls.

EU Ambassadors meet with Lebanon’s PM


The Ambassadors of the European Union were received on 10 July by Lebanon’s Prime Minister Saad Hariri where both sides exchanged views on the political and economic situation in Lebanon as well as bilateral relations between Beirut and Brussels.

At the meeting the ambassadors reaffirmed the strong partnership between the EU and Lebanon and Europe’s concern for the security and stability of the country, while at the same time emphasising the need to continue with the implementation of agreed fiscal and structural reforms, notably the context of following up to the CEDRE conference, an international gathering that pledged to release $11 billion in loans and donations for Lebanon and with a view to jointly support Lebanon’s stability and prosperity.

WTO ministerial conference to be held in Nur-Sultan in June 2020


NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan – The 12th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO) will be held in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, in June 2020, the deputy director of Congress and Exhibition Events Department of National company Astana EXPO-2017, Indira Karazhanova said in Nur-Sultan on 10 June.

“One of major events planned next year is the meeting of General Council of the World Trade Organization. Recently, the member countries of the Organization unanimously voted in favor of holding the 12th Ministerial Conference of the WTO in Nur-Sultan in June 2020. We expect the attendance of the trade ministers from 164 member countries and 20 observer countries of the WTO. The total number of participants in the event will exceed 4,000 people,” Karazhanova said.

Astana EXPO-2017 activities include the organisation and conducting of World’s Fair EXPO-2017 in Astana; development and promotion of EXPO-2017 main theme “Future Energy”; facilitation of new technologies implementation in Kazakhstan; facilitation of development of tourist industry in Kazakhstan and attraction of investment to the tourist infrastructure; participation in research and development work and experimental design in the field of technology, technics and ecology; and participation in development and promotion of energy-saving technologies and providing ecological security of the JSC facilities.


CPC pipeline modernisation to boost transfer of Kazakh oil via Russia


The Caspian Pipeline Consortium (CPC) said the company plans a new modernisation project, which will increase the transportation of Kazakh oil from the current 61 million tonnes of oil per year to 72.5 million tonnes per year.

CPC General Director Nikolay Gorban told reporters in Atyrau the Consortium shareholders currently reviewed and agreed to implement a Comprehensive Programme for upgrading the CPC oil pipeline system.

“According to the received forward-looking applications of shippers, it is expected that the volume of oil supplies from Kazakhstan to CPC will exceed the current throughput capacity of the pipeline system starting from 2022. In this regard, the Caspian Pipeline Consortium will need to modernise the pipeline system to be ready for Kazakh oil,” Gorban said.

After completion of the modernisation, the capacity of the system will ensure the transportation of Kazakh oil to at least 72.5 million tonnes of oil per year.

According to him, CPC should provide opportunities for receiving additional volumes of Kazakh oil in CPC from mid-2022.

Secondly, the Consortium plans to complete the modernisation by December 2023. The cost of the modernisation project for the period 2019-2023 will be $599.9 million.

The CPC pipeline takes oil directly from the fields in West Kazakhstan to the Russian Black Sea port of Novorossiysk. After the completion of the CPC Expansion Project in 2017, the volume of transportation of Kazakh oil has doubled, from 30 million tonnes to 60 million tonnes per year. However, with the release of the Kashagan field to the planned capacity, Kazakhstan intends to significantly increase the production of oil.

EU becomes observer to anti-corruption body GRECO

epa05667781 An interior view of the Europa building's atrium in Brussels, Belgium, 09 December 2016. Located at the heart of the European district, the Europa building combines a new part, a lantern-shaped structure designed by the consortium of Samyn and Partners (Belgium), Studio Valle Progettazioni (Italy) and Buro Happold (UK), and a renovated section listed Art Deco complex designed by architect Michel Polak in 1922. The building is scheduled to host it's first European head of governments summit in January 2017. EPA/STEPHANIE LECOCQ

The Committee of Ministers representing the 47 Member States of the Council of Europe adopted a decision on 10 July accepting a request by the European Union to become an observer with the Group of States against Corruption, or GRECO.
GRECO is the Council of Europe anti-corruption body, that helps states to identify deficiencies in national anti-corruption policies, prompting the necessary reforms. It comprises the 47 Council of Europe Member States, Belarus and the United States of America.

Finnish renewable energy fund backed by Juncker Plan

epa06340563 A wind turbine of Vesta at the Outokumpu steel mill's production site, Tornio, Finland, 20 November 2017. During 2016 at total of 182 new wind power units were built in Finland, with a combined capacity of 570 MW. At the end of 2016, Finland's total wind power capacity stood at 1553 MW, produced by 552 wind enery units. The wind energy capacity has seen a rapid growth in Finland, but still lags behind international development in the sector according to the Wind Power Association of Finland. EPA-EFE/JOEL KARPPANEN

The European Investment Bank is providing up to €60 million in financing to the Finnish Taaleri SolarWind II fund, to create approximately 850 megawatts of renewable energy capacity which will offset over one million tonnes of CO2 annually throughout the 25 year life of the assets.
This contribution, together with additional financing from other sources is under the European Fund for Strategic Investments, the core element of the Investment Plan for Europe, or Juncker Plan, that has mobilised as of June nearly €410 billion of additional investment, including €8.5 billion in Finland.

Europe’s birth rate drops, population rises due to migration

epaselect epa04804007 Migrants sleep by the sea, in Ventimiglia on the Italian border with France, 17 June 2015. Plans to tackle a migration surge that has challenged Europe for months hit a hurdle as EU interior ministers clashed over plans to redistribute asylum seekers. EPA/LUCA ZENNARO

Ahead of World Population Day on 11 July, Eurostat issued the first population estimates.
The figures show that on 1 January 2019, the population of the EU was estimated at almost 513.5 million, compared with 512.4 million on 1 January 2018.
During 2018, more deaths than births were recorded in the EU (5.3 million deaths and 5.0 million births), meaning that the natural change of the EU population was negative for a second consecutive year. The population change (positive, with 1.1 million more inhabitants) was therefore due to net migration.

Eurojust helps dismantle pimping and money laundering network

epa05925273 Fake Euro notes hang on a washing line during a protest action against money laundering in front of the Parliament offices in Berlin, Germany, 24 April 2017. Various associations call for an improvement in the law as they demonstrate before the finance committee debates on the implementation of the European guidelines on money laundery. According to them the German Federal law is lax on tax evasion and corruption. EPA/FELIPE TRUEBA

Eurojust actively supported the national authorities of 15 countries in taking down an organised crime group involved in pimping and money laundering.
In a joint investigation team with Spain, Finland and Sweden, almost €0.5 million in cash, as well as equipment, illegal assets, such as luxury items, false documentation, and cryptocurrencies were seized, and several web domains were confiscated. The main suspects were arrested in Malta, Romania and Finland.

EIB and Amundi partner to promote ecological transition

epa01591806 Ceramic insulators are seen on high voltage electrical power station in Montarnaud, near Montpellier, France the 06 january 2009. On 05 January at 7pm, France's Electricity consumption record was broken because of the cold spell. 90.200 MW were consummated. EPA/GUILLAUME HORCAJUELO

The European Investment Bank has signed an agreement with Amundi, a French asset management company, to ensure better access for European companies and green projects to market financing to speed up their energy transition.
This will be achieved by boosting supply and demand of green finance through the development of three new segments on the European green bond market, offering attractive yields to institutional investors, and the creation of a European Green Transaction Network and a Scientific Committee to set and disseminate green standards.
To meet its climate commitments under the Paris Agreement and finance the associated energy transition, Europe is missing an estimated €180bn in financing a year until 2030. To reach this level of investment, green finance must mobilise all of the debt capital markets.

France calls for European online payment system to rival US and Chinese platforms

epa06772250 A young woman demonstrates a trial system for facial recognition-authorized online payments for premium wine presented by Alibaba Group's TMall, a Chinese language website for business to consumer online retail, on day two of VinExpo in Hong Kong, China, 30 May 2018. According to the organizers, VinExpo runs in Hong Kong from 29 to 31 May 2018 and hosts 1,460 exhibitors from 30 countries around the world. EPA-EFE/ALEX HOFFORD

The Governor of the Bank of France Francois Villeroy de Galhau called on Tuesday for a European system for retail payments to rival the US and Chinese equivalents.

Addressing a financial conference in Paris, Villeroy de Galhau said that “the European payments market is already dominated by non-European stakeholders,” American or Chinese. European banks have failed to rival Visa and Mastercard and Chinese platforms, and Facebook’s recent announcement that it aims to introduce a new digital currency should be seen as a wakeup call.

Real-time payments have been possible in the 19-country eurozone since 2017, but Villeroy wants to see the EU building on the success of the Target Instant Payment (TIP) infrastructure, which banks have been slow to adopt, to create a single-brand, integrated payment platform.

EU holds high level bilateral consultations with Peru

epa07700355 A general view of the plenary session of the Pacific Agreement countries' representaives, in Lima, Peru, 06 July 2019. The Pacific Alliance is a regional trade bloc that started in 2011, and it includes Mexico, Chile, Colombia, and Peru, with some 56 observer states. EPA-EFE/Ernesto Arias

The EU-Peru Bilateral Consultation Mechanism held its ninth meeting on 9 July in Brussels, where both sides discussed trade and cooperation issues, human rights, the fight against drugs, climate change and environment, regional policy and border integration, SMEs and innovation, and cooperation on multilateral issues.

The EU acknowledged the Government of Peru’s efforts in relation to the Venezuelan migrant and refugee crisis, and expressed its willingness to intensify dialogue and cooperation with the Pacific Alliance.

Both parties expressed satisfaction with the continued positive evolution of the bilateral relationship.

EU-Mercosur deal criticised as an environmental disaster

A photograph made available on 04 October 2013 shows the river Tiputini as it passes by the northern border of Yasuni National Park in Ecuador, 16 May 2007. The Ecuadoran Congress approved on 03 October 2013 new drilling for oil development and accompanying roads in the remote northeast section of Yasuni National Park, a 900,000 hectare Amazon forest which is considered one of the most biodiverse areas in the world.
A photograph made available on 04 October 2013 shows the river Tiputini as it passes by the northern border of Yasuni National Park in Ecuador, 16 May 2007. The Ecuadoran Congress approved on 03 October 2013 new drilling for oil development and accompanying roads in the remote northeast section of Yasuni National Park, a 900,000 hectare Amazon forest which is considered one of the most biodiverse areas in the world. EPA/CECILIA PUEBLA

On its way to ratification by national parliaments, the recently concluded EU-Mercosur trade deal has come under intensive criticism for its perceived negative effects on the environment.

The Mercosur deal envisages the import of 100,000 tonnes of meat on tariff-free terms, which will be matched with a higher quota for car, cheese and wine exports. The so-called “cows-for-cars” accord has been targeted by environmentalists as it encourages Brazilian cattle ranching and the continued deforestation of the Amazon.

Brazil’s President Jair Bolsonaro is opening up sections of the rainforest to commercial activity, creating a mass constituency of individuals that are able to take over land and sell it at a big profit. Data from Brazil’s space agency suggests that there has been a 90% increase in deforestation over the last year.

Cattle ranching is responsible for 80% of this deforestation, while soya plantations that provide animal feed complete the picture of ecological devastation. It is estimated that Brazil cuts down a football pitch of forest every minute, a policy that reduces the amount of carbon dioxide the rainforest pulls from the atmosphere and destroys the most biodiverse ecosystem on the planet. It is estimated that the Amazon is home to 10% of all species of plants and animals on the planet.

Over the course of 2018, up to 80% of the EU’s beef imports came from Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay and Uruguay.

Opposition to the agreement also comes from EU beef producers. Addressing the Irish parliament on Tuesday, the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys sought to address farming concerns, noting that Mercosur initially sought a quota of 300,000 tonnes of meat, which the EU reduced by two-thirds.

French President Emmanuel Macron is defending the EU-Mercosur agreement, suggesting that attention should shift to Brazil adhering to the Paris climate accord, which President Bolsonaro has challenged. The EU has thus far not taken a commitment not to buy beef from deforested lands, although a similar commitment for soybeans produced in deforested land is already in place.

Labour calls for a second referendum on EU membership and will back Remain

Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the British Labour Party, attends the Labour Conference in Brighton, Britain, 27 September 2015. New Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has stated that the party will hold a string of key policies, including Trident, Syria and the EU referendum.
Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of the British Labour Party, attends the Labour Conference in Brighton, Britain, 27 September 2015. New Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has stated that the party will hold a string of key policies, including Trident, Syria and the EU referendum.

The British opposition is taking a clear stand in favour of a repeat referendum on the UK’s EU membership, in which the Labour party will back the option to remain a member of the EU.

The evolved position of the Labour party constitutes a difficult choice that requires the Labour Party to make a decision that will be opposed in certain constituencies, especially in the North of England. However, there was an equal and perhaps more significant cost in Labour’s middle-of-the-road stance: the party had seen defections from its parliamentary group and, as the recent European Parliament elections make clear, a significant number of voters opted for clearly pro-Remain parties.

The leader of the party, Jeremy Corbyn, called on the next British Prime Minister to hold a second referendum before taking the UK out of the European Union, making clear he would campaign for remain, just as he did in the 2016 referendum.

In an interview with the BBC, Corbyn argues that Labour’s new evolved position is the result of “consultation” with the shadow cabinet, MPs, affiliated unions and the NEC (national executive committee). In a letter to the party’s membership, the Labour leader recognizes that a no-deal Brexit threatened by both Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt “does not protect the economy and jobs.”

Labour’s Brexit spokesman Keir Starmer said that “campaigning for remain … is a really important point of principle,” Twitting that this position has the support of trade unions, party members, and the shadow cabinet.

Former Labour MP Chris Leslie said the party’s new position “wasn’t good enough” as it does not clarify what a Labour government would do if it came to office, noting that Brexit will cost jobs and business no matter which government is handling it. The Liberal Democrat’s Brexit spokesperson, Tom Brake, said Labour “are still a party of Brexit.”

Juncker to replace Romanian-Estonian Commissioners 

epa07691577 EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker at the start of the weekly college meeting of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, 03 July 2019. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

A change in the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s plans comes after both EU Romania and Estonia wrote to Finnish Prime Minister Antti Rinne expressing their desire to continue to be represented in Brussels.

Estonia’s Vice-President Andrus Ansip and Romania’s European Commissioner Corina Cretu stepped down after being elected to the European Parliament. Romania’s Prime Minister Viorica Dancila wrote that following the resignation Cretu that Romania wanted an interim member on the European Commission for the remainder of the current Commission mandate.

MEP Ioan Mircea Pascu‘s name has been floated by Dancila as her choice to serve as Romania’s interim representative.

Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas put forward Kadri Simson as Tallinn’s choice to fill Ansip’s position and urged the Finnish rotating presidency of the Council of the EU to “launch the necessary procedures for her nomination at the earliest opportunity”.

Before the EU Council’s decision to allow member states to move forward with their candidates, Juncker had reassigned Ansip’s digital single market role to Vice-president Maros Sefcovic, Commissioner for Energy, whereas Cretu’s Regional Policy portfolio was given to the Austrian-born Enlargement Commissioner, Johannes Hahn.

Simson is set to remain as a Commissioner to the incoming College of the current candidate for Juncker’s position, Ursula von der Leyen.

Update: All the Committee Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the European Parliament revealed

epa07509935 Members of Parliament vote on the conservation of fishery resources and protection of marine ecosystems through technical measures at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, 16 April 2019. EPA-EFE/PATRICK SEEGER

New Europe is now able to bring you a near-complete partial list of those you can expect to find chairing committees in the new European Parliament based on internal party and institution documents. The voting and expected confirmation of these names will take place in the respective committee meetings as of 14:30 today.

Only a minor change from the first list we published yesterday, and we have added all the Vice-Chairs. These may still change in the hours to come. Changes from previous list are shown by strikethrough text.

Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET)

Chair: David McAllister, EPP Group (Germany)

1st Vice-Chair: Witold Jan Waszczykowksi, ECR Group, (Poland)
2nd Vice-Chair: Urmas Paet, Renew Europe Group (Estonia)
3rd Vice-Chair: A member of the S&D Group
4th Vice-Chair: Traian Băsescu, EPP Group (Romania)


Development Committee (DEVE)

Chair: Tomas Tobé, EPP Group (Sweden)

1st Vice-Chair: A member of the Greens/EFA Group
2nd Vice-Chair: A member of the S&D Group
3rd Vice-Chair: Chrysoula Zacharopoulou, Renew Europe Group (France)
4th Vice-Chair: A member of the Greens/EFA Group


International Trade Committee (INTA)

Chair: Bernd Lange, S&D Group (Germany)
Kathleen Van Brempt, S&D Group (BE), or Udo Bullman, S&D Group (DE)

1st Vice-Chair: Jan Zahradil, ECR Group (Czechia)
2nd Vice-Chair: Maximilian Krah, Identity and Democracy Group (Germany)
3rd Vice-Chair:  Iuliu Winkler, EPP Group (Romania)
4th Vice-Chair: Marie-Pierre Vedrenne, Renew Europe Group (France)

Budgets Committee (BUDG)

Chair: Johan Van Overtveldt, ECR Group (Belgium)

1st Vice-Chair: Janusz Lewandowski, EPP Group (Poland)
2nd Vice-Chair: Olivier Chastel, Renew Europe Group (Belgium)
3rd Vice-Chair:  A member of the S&D Group
4th Vice-Chair: Niclas Herbst, EPP Group (Germany)

Budgetary Control (CONT)

Chair: Monika Hohlmeier, EPP Group (Germany)

1st Vice-Chair: A member of the S&D Group
2nd Vice-Chair: Isabella Adinolfi, Identity and Democracy Group (Italy)
3rd Vice-Chair:  Martina Dlabajova, Renew Europe Group (Czechia)
4th Vice-Chair: Tamás Deutcsch, EPP Group (Hungary)

Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee (ECON)

Chair:  Roberto Gualtieri, S&D Group (Italy)

1st Vice-Chair: Luděk Niedermayer, EPP Group, (Czechia)
2nd Vice-Chair: Antonio Maria Rinaldi Identity and Democracy Group (Italy)
3rd Vice-Chair:  Derk Jan Eppink, ECR Group (Netherland)
4th Vice-Chair: José Gusmāo, GUE/NGL Group (Portugal)

Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL)

Chair: Beata Szydło, ECR Group (PL) – though this may not hold as it is being challenged by the S&D Group

1st Vice-Chair: A member of the S&D Group
2nd Vice-Chair: A member of the GUE/NGL Group
3rd Vice-Chair:  Tomáš Zdechovský, EPP Group (Czechia)
4th Vice-Chair: A member of the Greens/EFA Group

Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety Committee (ENVI)

Chair:  Pascal Canfin, Renew Europe Group, (France)

1st Vice-Chair:  A member of the Greens/EFA Group
2nd Vice-Chair: A member of the S&D Group
3rd Vice-Chair:  Cristian Busoi, EPP Group (Romania)
4th Vice-Chair: A member of the GUE/NGL Group

Industry, Research, and Energy Committee (ITRE)

Chair: Adina Valean from the EPP Group (Romania)

1st Vice-Chair: Zdisław Krasnodębski, ECR Group (Poland)
2nd Vice-Chair: Morten Petersen, Renew Europe Group (Denmark)
3rd Vice-Chair:  A member of the S&D Group
4th Vice-Chair:  Joëlle Mélin Identity and Democracy Group (France)

Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO)

Chair:  Petra De Sutter, Greens/EFA (Belgium)

1st Vice-Chair: Dita Charanzova, Renew Europe Group (Czechia)
2nd Vice-Chair: A member of the S&D Group
3rd Vice-Chair: Róża Thun Und Hohenstein, EPP Group (Poland)
4th Vice-Chair:  A member of the S&D Group

Transport and Tourism (TRAN)

Chair: Karima Delli, Greens/ EFA Group (France)

1st Vice-Chair: A member of the S&D Group
2nd Vice-Chair: Sven Schulze, EPP Group (Germany)
3rd Vice-Chair:  A member of the S&D Group
4th Vice-Chair: Julie Lechanteux, Identity and Democracy Group (France)

Agriculture and Rural Development (AGRI)

Chair: Ivan David, Identity and Democracy Group (France)

1st Vice-Chair: A member of the Greens/EFA Group
2nd Vice-Chair: Daniel Buda, EPP Group (Romania)
3rd Vice-Chair:  Mazaly Aguilar, ECR Group (Spain)
4th Vice-Chair: Elsi Katainen, Renew Europe Group (Finland)

Regional Development Committee (REGI)

Chair:  Younous Omarjee, GUE/NGL Group (France)

1st Vice-Chair: Krzystof Hetman, EPP Group (Poland)
2nd Vice-Chair: Cristian Ghinea, Renew Europe Group (Romania)
3rd Vice-Chair:  A member of the S&D Group
4th Vice-Chair: Francesca Donato, Identity and Democracy Group (Italy)

Fisheries (PECH)

Chair:  Chris Davies, Renew Europe Group (UK)

1st Vice-Chair: Peter van Dalen, EPP Group (Netherlands)
2nd Vice-Chair: Søren Gade, Renew Europe Group (Denmark)
3rd Vice-Chair:  A member of the S&D Group
4th Vice-Chair: Rosanna Conte, Identity and Democracy Group (Italy)

Culture Committee (CULT)

Chair: Sabine Verheyen, EPP Group (Germany)

1st Vice-Chair: A member of the Greens/EFA Group 
2nd Vice-Chair:  Dace Melbārde, ECR Group (Latvia)
3rd Vice-Chair:  A member of the S&D Group
4th Vice-Chair:  Andrea Bocskor, EPP Group (Hungary)


Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) 

Chair: Gilles Lebreton, Identity and Democracy Group (France)

1st Vice-Chair: A member of the Greens/EFA Group
2nd Vice-Chair: Marion Walsmann, EPP Group (Germany)
3rd Vice-Chair:  A member of the S&D Group
4th Vice-Chair:  Raffaele Stancanelli, ECR Group (Italy)

Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs (LIBE)

Chair: Juan Fernando Lopez Aguilar, S&D Group (Spain)

1st Vice-Chair: Maite Pagazaurtundúa, Renew Europe Group (Spain)
2nd Vice-Chair: Jean-Paul Garraud, Identity and Democracy Group (France)
3rd Vice-Chair:   Balázs Hidvéghi, EPP Group (Hungary)
4th Vice-Chair: Emil Radev, EPP Group (Bulgaria)


Constitutional Affairs (AFCO)

Chair: Antonio Tajani, EPP Group (IT)

1st Vice-Chair: Gerolf Annemans, Identity and Democracy Group (Belgium)
2nd Vice-Chair: Charles Goerens, Renew Europe Group (Luxembourg)
3rd Vice-Chair:  A member of the S&D Group
4th Vice-Chair: László Trócsányi, EPP Group (Hungary)

Women’s Rights and Gender Equality Committee (FEMM)

Chair: Evelyn Regner, S&D Group (Austria)

1st Vice-Chair: Rodriguez Palop, GUE/NGL Group (Spain)
2nd Vice-Chair: A member of the Greens/EFA Group
3rd Vice-Chair:  Eliza Vozemberg, EPP Group (Greece)
4th Vice-Chair: A member of the S&D Group

Petitions Committee (PETI)

Chair: Dolors Montserrat, EPP Group (Spain)

1st Vice-Chair: A member of the Greens/EFA Group
2nd Vice-Chair: Yana Toom, Renew Europe Group (Estonia)
3rd Vice-Chair:  Ryszard Czarnecki, ECR Group (Poland)
4th Vice-Chair: A member of the S&D Group

Subcommittee on Human Rights (DROI)

Chair: Maria Arena, S&D Group (Belgium)

1st Vice-Chair: Irina von Wiese, Renew Europe Group (UK)
2nd Vice-Chair: A member of the Greens/EFA Group
3rd Vice-Chair:  Karoline Edtstadler, EPP Group (Austria)
4th Vice-Chair: A member of the S&D Group

Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE)

Chair: Nathalie Loiseau, Renew Europe Group (France)

1st Vice-Chair: A member of the S&D Group
2nd Vice-Chair: Kinga Gál, EPP Group (Hungary)
3rd Vice-Chair:  Özlem Demirel, GUE/NGL Group (Germany)
4th Vice-Chair: Lukas Mandl, EPP Group (Austria)