EU leaders back immediate candidate status for Kyiv

The leaders of France, Germany, Italy and Romania have backed Ukraine’s bid to join the EU, saying it should be given “immediate” candidate status. “Ukraine belongs to the European family,” German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said at a joint briefing in Kyiv. But he added that Ukraine still had to meet the accession criteria in full. Meanwhile, French President Emmanuel Macron stressed the 27-member EU would stand by Ukraine until its victory against Russia. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky described Russia’s continuing aggression as a war “against the united Europe”, adding that the “most effective weapon” was unity. And he again appealed … Continue reading EU leaders back immediate candidate status for Kyiv

#Russianinvasion: European leaders risk train ride to meet Zelensky

Ukraine has praised the courage of three European leaders who made a long, hazardous journey by rail from Poland to Kyiv in a show of support as the city came under further Russian attack. The prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia and the Czech Republic met Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday evening as a curfew began in Kyiv. The trip was a Polish idea, after the EU warned of potential security risks. The Czech prime minister said Ukraine was fighting for its freedom. “We admire your brave fight,” Petr Fiala wrote in a tweet after the meeting. “We know that you’re … Continue reading #Russianinvasion: European leaders risk train ride to meet Zelensky

#Russianinvasion: EU says it will hold the Kremlin accountable for attack on Ukraine

European Commission President Von der Leyen The European Union will hold Moscow accountable for the “unjustified” attack on Ukraine, the chief of the bloc’s Executive Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said on Thursday. “In these dark hours, our thoughts are with Ukraine and the innocent women, men and children as they face this unprovoked attack and fear for their lives,” she said on Twitter. “We will hold the Kremlin accountable,” von der Leyen added. EU leaders are set to hold an emergency summit in Brussels later on Thursday, after a first round of EU sanctions on Russia took effect on … Continue reading #Russianinvasion: EU says it will hold the Kremlin accountable for attack on Ukraine

EU unveils €1.6 billion investment in Morocco

It is the first African scheme in the EU’s €300 billion “Global Gateway” infrastructure plan, the bloc’s response to China’s Belt and Road strategy. The European Union will invest €1.6 billion ($1.8 billion) in Morocco to produce green energy, European Commission Presiden Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday. Ursula von der Leyen Morroco is the first country to receive funding under the infrastructure program. “This is a great opportunity for the green and digital transition,” von der Leyen wrote on Twitter after meeting the Morrocan Prime Minister, Aziz Ajanuch. On Thursday, she will meet Senegalese President Macky Sall, who … Continue reading EU unveils €1.6 billion investment in Morocco

European Parliament president David Sassoli dies aged 65

European Parliament President David Sassoli has died at the age of 65, his spokesman says. The Italian former journalist and centre-left politician had been seriously ill for more than two weeks and cancelled all official activities. Mr Sassoli was admitted to hospital in Italy last month due to a serious complication with his immune system. He died in the early hours of Tuesday in a hospital in Aviano, his spokesman, Roberto Cuillo, announced on Twitter. In September, Mr Sassoli was taken to hospital in Strasbourg where he was treated for a severe case of pneumonia. He resumed his political duties … Continue reading European Parliament president David Sassoli dies aged 65

EU flag removed from Arc de Triomphe after right-wing outrage

A giant European Union flag displayed at the Arc de Triomphe in Paris to mark France taking on the bloc’s presidency has been removed after it was criticized by right-wing politicians. Far-right leader Marine Le Pen said “replacing” the French flag at the monument was an attack on the country’s identity. A government minister said the move was only ever meant to be temporary. France has taken over the EU’s rotating presidency for the next six months. Ms Le Pen, who is a candidate in the presidential election in April, had vowed to file a complaint with the State Council, … Continue reading EU flag removed from Arc de Triomphe after right-wing outrage

Malta becomes first EU nation to legalize cannabis

Malta has become the first EU country to legalize the cultivation and personal use of cannabis. Adults will be allowed to carry up to seven grams of cannabis, and grow no more than four plants at home. But smoking it in public or in front of children will be illegal. Several other nations have similar plans, such as Germany, Luxembourg and Switzerland. Countries like the Netherlands tolerate cannabis use in certain circumstances. Malta’s parliament voted in favour of the reform on Tuesday afternoon, with the bill winning 36 votes in favour and 27 against. Equality Minister, Owen Bonnici, said the … Continue reading Malta becomes first EU nation to legalize cannabis

Europe region faces 700,000 more deaths by March – WHO

A further 700,000 people could die of Covid-19 by March in Europe and parts of Asia, the World Health Organization has warned. The death toll already exceeds 1.5 million in the 53 countries of what the WHO terms as its Europe region. The WHO warned of “high or extreme stress” in intensive care units in 49 of the nations by March 2022. Europe is facing a surge in cases, prompting Austria to return to lockdown and others to consider fresh measures. A number of countries – including France, Germany and Greece – could also soon make booster jabs a requirement … Continue reading Europe region faces 700,000 more deaths by March – WHO

EU to widen Belarus sanctions as row intensifies over border crisis

The European Union is to step up sanctions against Belarus in response to an escalating migrant crisis on the border with Poland. Top EU diplomat Josep Borrell confirmed the move, saying that vulnerable migrants were being exploited in a “hybrid war” that is “intensifying”. Belarus is accused of pushing migrants towards its borders to undermine security, a charge it denies. On Monday, hundreds of migrants were blocked at a crossing by Polish troops. Those migrants came from a large makeshift camp at the Kuznica crossing, where thousands have settled in tents just inside Belarus. “Goodbye!” called out a smiling girl, … Continue reading EU to widen Belarus sanctions as row intensifies over border crisis

UK and France blame each other over fishing row stalemate

Boris Johnson and French President Emmanuel Macron remain at loggerheads in the ongoing dispute over permits for fishing boats. On Sunday, the leaders met to discuss tensions and the UK government said it was “up to France” to step back from threats over port access. But Mr Macron said the ball was “in Britain’s court” and he hoped there would be a positive response on Monday. Mr Macron added it was not a bilateral issue for the nations but an EU issue. The row comes ahead of Tuesday, which is the deadline for more permits to be granted for French … Continue reading UK and France blame each other over fishing row stalemate

Poland told to pay €1m a day in legal row with EU

The EU’s top court has told Poland to pay a daily fine of €1m (£850,000) in a row over judicial reforms. Earlier this year, Poland was ordered to suspend a controversial disciplinary chamber, but has not yet done so. It is the latest development in a bitter feud with the EU over changes that are seen as weakening the independence of Polish courts. The hefty penalty was immediately denounced as “blackmail” by Polish government spokesman Piotr Muller. Some fear the escalating situation could put Poland’s membership in the EU at risk. Earlier this month, Poland’s constitutional court ruled that Polish … Continue reading Poland told to pay €1m a day in legal row with EU

Polish PM accuses EU of blackmail as row over rule of law escalates

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has accused the EU of blackmail in a heated debate with European Commission chief Ursula von der Leyen over the rule of law. The clash in the European Parliament follows a top Polish court ruling that rejected key parts of EU law. Mrs von der Leyen said she would act to prevent Poland undermining EU values. In response, Mr Morawiecki rejected “the language of threats” and accused the EU of overstepping its powers. Poles overwhelmingly support being part of the EU, opinion polls suggest, but Poland’s right-wing nationalist government has increasingly been at odds with … Continue reading Polish PM accuses EU of blackmail as row over rule of law escalates