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Commitments made at the hearing of Olivér VÁRHELYI, Commissioner-designate - Neighbourhood and Enlargement

22-11-2019

Commissioner-designate Olivér Várhelyi appeared before the European Parliament on 14 November 2019 to answer questions from MEPs in the Committee on Foreign Affairs (the Committee on International Trade was invited). This document highlights a number of commitments which he made during the hearing. They refer to his portfolio, as described in the mission letter sent to him by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission, including: Western Balkans and Turkey; Eastern Neighbourhood ...

Commissioner-designate Olivér Várhelyi appeared before the European Parliament on 14 November 2019 to answer questions from MEPs in the Committee on Foreign Affairs (the Committee on International Trade was invited). This document highlights a number of commitments which he made during the hearing. They refer to his portfolio, as described in the mission letter sent to him by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission, including: Western Balkans and Turkey; Eastern Neighbourhood; Southern Neighbourhood.

Hearings of the Commissioners-designate: Olivér Várhelyi - Neighbourhood and Enlargement

11-11-2019

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication ...

This briefing is one in a set looking at the Commissioners-designate and their portfolios as put forward by Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen. Each candidate faces a three-hour public hearing, organised by one or more parliamentary committees. After that process, those committees will judge the candidates' suitability for the role based on 'their general competence, European commitment and personal independence', as well as their 'knowledge of their prospective portfolio and their communication skills'. At the end of the hearings process, Parliament votes on the proposed Commission as a bloc, and under the Treaties may only reject the entire College of Commissioners, rather than individual candidates. The Briefing provides an overview of key issues in the portfolio areas, as well as Parliament's activity in the last term in that field. It also includes a brief introduction to the candidate.

Outcome of the European Council of 17-18 October 2019

22-10-2019

After endorsing the revised UK withdrawal agreement, and approving a revised political declaration, in the European Council (Article 50) format, EU Heads of State or Government had to tackle a range of divisive issues at their 17-18 October meeting, including the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, enlargement, climate change and Turkey. EU leaders were not able to find common ground on key elements of the MFF, nor to reach consensus on the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and ...

After endorsing the revised UK withdrawal agreement, and approving a revised political declaration, in the European Council (Article 50) format, EU Heads of State or Government had to tackle a range of divisive issues at their 17-18 October meeting, including the 2021-2027 Multiannual Financial Framework, enlargement, climate change and Turkey. EU leaders were not able to find common ground on key elements of the MFF, nor to reach consensus on the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. On climate, the European Council only reiterated its June 2019 conclusions considering persistent lack of agreement on raising climate targets. With respect to Turkey, EU leaders did not go beyond the Foreign Affairs Council conclusions, either in the area of sanctions or in the area of arms exports control. In the presence of the European Commission President-elect, Ursula von der Leyen, EU leaders also discussed the political priorities of the EU for the coming years and the follow-up to the Strategic Agenda 2019-24.

Western Balkans: State of play in the European Council

17-10-2019

The Western Balkans have regularly featured on the agenda of the European Council since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009. Three dimensions – enlargement, counter-terrorism and migration – have been at the centre of the EU leaders' discussion of the subject. The European Commission recommended twice in the last two years the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. In the absence of an agreement at the 15 October 2019 General Affairs Council, the ...

The Western Balkans have regularly featured on the agenda of the European Council since the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty in December 2009. Three dimensions – enlargement, counter-terrorism and migration – have been at the centre of the EU leaders' discussion of the subject. The European Commission recommended twice in the last two years the opening of accession negotiations with Albania and North Macedonia. In the absence of an agreement at the 15 October 2019 General Affairs Council, the decision on whether to open accession negotiations with the two countries now lies with the European Council.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: Foreign policy

28-06-2019

European Union (EU) action beyond its borders often requires a combination of approaches. The EU Treaties differentiate between common foreign and security policy (CFSP), common security and defence policy (CSDP), external action, and the external dimension of internal policies, but in the field, issues are so intertwined that more often than not a single tool is not sufficient. For example, population displacement triggered by a conflict over natural resources has to be addressed by humanitarian ...

European Union (EU) action beyond its borders often requires a combination of approaches. The EU Treaties differentiate between common foreign and security policy (CFSP), common security and defence policy (CSDP), external action, and the external dimension of internal policies, but in the field, issues are so intertwined that more often than not a single tool is not sufficient. For example, population displacement triggered by a conflict over natural resources has to be addressed by humanitarian aid, itself secured by a CSDP mission, and its effects mitigated by adequate migration and development policies, while peace talks are conducted. Coordination between all stakeholders is challenging but vital, not only as a response but also for prevention. To address new challenges such as climate change, rising insecurity or new migration patterns, the EU has put forward concrete solutions to shape synergy between the actors, in order to use shared expertise more effectively, and to find new sources of funding. The new foreign policy framework (EU global strategy) is intended to map the tools and resources best designed to help society as a whole, in the EU and partner countries, to withstand natural and manmade shocks more effectively. This means making connections between actors and between traditionally separate policy areas. Budgetary constraints and the will to depart from a donor/recipient relationship have also resulted in innovative financing tools, using EU funds to leverage private investments. While, since its launch, the global strategy has proved to be a coherent vision, sturdy, comprehensive external action nevertheless requires coordination at all levels. In the years to come, global instability is expected to rise; the challenge for the EU will be to ensure security while upholding the core values of the Treaties – human rights, democracy and the fight against poverty – as its primary objectives on the global stage. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

EU policies – Delivering for citizens: EU support for democracy and peace in the world

28-06-2019

From the outset, the European Union (EU) has been an integration project directed at preserving peace among its Member States – a fundamental objective that it has succeeded in achieving for over 60 years. As a community of like-minded states, the EU is also based on certain fundamental values, such as democracy and the rule of law, which the Union aspires to promote, both internally and externally, and which guide all its policies. In line with this vision, the EU has developed specific policies ...

From the outset, the European Union (EU) has been an integration project directed at preserving peace among its Member States – a fundamental objective that it has succeeded in achieving for over 60 years. As a community of like-minded states, the EU is also based on certain fundamental values, such as democracy and the rule of law, which the Union aspires to promote, both internally and externally, and which guide all its policies. In line with this vision, the EU has developed specific policies to support democracy and peace in the world. It also aims to integrate the pursuit of peace and democracy with all its other external actions in areas such as trade, development, enlargement and neighbourhood policies, its common foreign and security policy, and political and diplomatic relations with third countries and multilateral institutions. The EU has established a reputation as a soft power organisation guided by a normative vision and as an effective actor for peace and democracy. Strengthening peace and democracy globally has never been an easy task, however, and today's geopolitical context poses new challenges. The proliferation and increasing gravity and duration of conflicts – some in the EU's immediate neighbourhood, the emergence of new threats, such as terrorism or nuclear proliferation, and the crisis of liberal systems have driven the EU to widen and intensify its efforts. They have also led to a new vision for action revolving around the concept of 'resilient societies' based on the mutually reinforcing pillars of peace and democracy, and a special emphasis on fragile states. Against this background, recent surveys have shown that citizens expect the EU to be even more active in promoting peace and democracy externally – something that should surely strengthen its resolve to make further progress in this crucial area. This is an update of an earlier briefing issued in advance of the 2019 European elections.

Reconciliation in the Western Balkans: The difficulty of emulating the EU model

17-04-2019

In 2017, the European Union turned 60, celebrating not only six decades of peace between its Member States but also integration – based on a framework for a peaceful European ethos – which helped bring reconciliation to its citizens that would have otherwise been impossible to achieve. In the Western Balkans, which were torn apart by wars after the disintegration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, conflicting narratives about the past continue to charge intra-regional relations with animosity ...

In 2017, the European Union turned 60, celebrating not only six decades of peace between its Member States but also integration – based on a framework for a peaceful European ethos – which helped bring reconciliation to its citizens that would have otherwise been impossible to achieve. In the Western Balkans, which were torn apart by wars after the disintegration of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, conflicting narratives about the past continue to charge intra-regional relations with animosity, and a number of bilateral disputes await resolution. Just as the European Communities helped to bring peace to post-World War II western Europe, so does the EU promote the reconciliation process in the countries that were once part of Yugoslavia. A credible promise of accession to the EU for all Western Balkan countries gives them an incentive to improve their working relationships and work on reconciliation more vigorously. Since 2017, the EU has renewed its attempts to infuse the Western Balkan countries' enlargement process with fresh energy. In a March 2018 statement, the EU High Representative, Federica Mogherini, said it was 'time to close the wounds of the past' and take steps to guarantee stability for the whole of Europe. The European Commission's new enlargement strategy of February 2018, apart from placing special emphasis on solving all bilateral disputes, highlights reconciliation as a prerequisite for EU accession, and envisages a dedicated flagship initiative. This briefing aims to draw attention to the importance of reconciliation, both as part of the Western Balkans' EU integration process and as an answer to the region's widely perceived need to come to terms with the past. Civil-society representatives and experts often see reconciliation in the region as a prerequisite for building sustainable cooperation in many areas and a process that would help local youth to overcome their prejudices and restore their trust in their countries and region. However, achieving reconciliation requires cooperation in practice, something that will likely take decades to accomplish.

Constitutional Challenges of the Enlargement – Is Further Enlargement Feasible without Constitutional Changes?

26-03-2019

This in-depth analysis, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, recalls the earlier debates linking the enlargement of the Union with the need to adapt its constitutional framework, and discusses whether further constitutional reforms, involving Treaty change or not, are necessary when a further enlargement of the Union will take place in the near future. It focuses on three ...

This in-depth analysis, commissioned by the European Parliament’s Policy Department for Citizens’ Rights and Constitutional Affairs at the request of the Committee on Constitutional Affairs, recalls the earlier debates linking the enlargement of the Union with the need to adapt its constitutional framework, and discusses whether further constitutional reforms, involving Treaty change or not, are necessary when a further enlargement of the Union will take place in the near future. It focuses on three main themes: the Union’s decision-making capacity; forms of differentiated integration; and the question on how to ensure respect by all member states for the Union’s fundamental values.

Zunanji avtor

Bruno DE WITTE, Professor of European Union law, Maastricht University & European University Institute

Countering hybrid threats: EU and the Western Balkans case

06-09-2018

The aim of the workshop, held on 26 February 2018, was to assess and discuss the EU’s approach to hybrid threats in its neighbourhood using the Western Balkans as a case study, in the context of the extensive use of propaganda by Russia and its meddling into several elections and in the aftermath of the 2014 events in Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea. The first speaker, Jean-Jacques Patry, presented the concept of hybrid threat at various levels and the EU approach and measures to tackle ...

The aim of the workshop, held on 26 February 2018, was to assess and discuss the EU’s approach to hybrid threats in its neighbourhood using the Western Balkans as a case study, in the context of the extensive use of propaganda by Russia and its meddling into several elections and in the aftermath of the 2014 events in Ukraine and the Russian annexation of Crimea. The first speaker, Jean-Jacques Patry, presented the concept of hybrid threat at various levels and the EU approach and measures to tackle it, particularly in the Western Balkans. The second speaker, Nicolas Mazzucchi, delivered a presentation on Russia’s declining influence in the Western Balkans (on behalf of Isabelle Facon, who authored the briefing but could not attend the workshop) and added some of his own analysis on energy and cyber issues. The presentations were followed by a debate with members of the Security and Defence Committee of the European Parliament.

Zunanji avtor

Isabelle FACON, Nicolas MAZZUCCHI, Jean-Jacques PATRY

The effectiveness and visibility of EU funding in the Western Balkan countries with a special focus on the cross-border cooperation

16-08-2018

This briefing considers the effectiveness and visibility of EU funding in the Western Balkans, Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) in particular. CBC is reported to have enhanced relations between neighbouring countries at central and regional levels and it has reportedly helped prepare local authorities for eventual management of EU funds. Visibility is reported to be good but it is not known how this translates into public awareness and understanding of EU funding. With IPA II, there is increased emphasis ...

This briefing considers the effectiveness and visibility of EU funding in the Western Balkans, Cross-Border Cooperation (CBC) in particular. CBC is reported to have enhanced relations between neighbouring countries at central and regional levels and it has reportedly helped prepare local authorities for eventual management of EU funds. Visibility is reported to be good but it is not known how this translates into public awareness and understanding of EU funding. With IPA II, there is increased emphasis on outcome monitoring and evaluation, and on visibility and communication. The effects of these and other changes remain to be seen.

Zunanji avtor

Blomeyer & Sanz ; Ms Elsa Perreau ; Mr Roderick Ackermann

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