Parliament asks EU Commission to reimpose visa requirements for US citizens | European Parliament – Press Release

The EU Commission is legally obliged to take measures temporarily reintroducing visa requirements for US citizens, given that Washington still does not grant visa-free access to nationals of five EU countries. In a resolution approved on Thursday, MEPs urge the Commission to adopt the necessary legal measures “within two months”.

The text prepared by the Civil Liberties Committee was adopted by a show of hands.

Visa reciprocity

Citizens of Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, Poland and Romania still cannot enter US territory without a visa, while US citizens can travel to all EU countries visa-free.

According to the visa reciprocity mechanism, if a third country does not lift its visa requirements within 24 months of being notified of non-reciprocity, the EU Commission must adopt a delegated act – to which both Parliament and the Council may object – suspending the visa waiver for its nationals for 12 months.

Following a notification of non-reciprocity on 12 April 2014, the Commission should have acted before 12 April 2016 but it has yet to take any legal measure. Canada also imposes visa requirements on Bulgarian and Romanian citizens, but it has announced that they will be lifted on 1 December 2017.


In April 2014, the European Commission was notified that five countries were not meeting their obligations towards the EU with regard to reciprocity of visa-free travel: Australia, Brunei, Canada, Japan and the US.

Australia, Brunei and Japan have since lifted their visa requirements for all EU citizens and Canada will do so in December this year.

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President Juncker’s speech on the White Paper at the European Parliament: “Quo vadis Europa at 27? Avenues for a united future at 27” | European Commission – Daily News

As announced in President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union speech, he yesterday presented the “White Paper on the Future of Europe: Avenues for Unity for the EU at 27”, which forms the Commission’s contribution to the Rome Summit on 25 March 2017. President Juncker said: “Quo vadis Europe at 27? There is no better time, there is also no other time, than now to have this admittedly difficult debate.” The White Paper sets out the main challenges and opportunities for Europe in the coming decade. It presents five scenarios for how the Union could evolve by 2025 depending on how it chooses to respond. “The choices we make today, tomorrow, in two years from now, until 2025, have to be guided by a full understanding of their implications, not for us, but for the generations to come. Because we will be judged not for what we inherited but for what we leave behind,” said President Juncker. Read the full speech here.

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“United we stand, divided we fall”: letter by President Donald Tusk to the 27 EU heads of state or government on the future of the EU before the Malta summit | European Council – Press Release

Dear colleagues,

In order to best prepare our discussion in Malta about the future of the European Union of 27 member states, and in light of the conversations I have had with some of you, let me put forward a few reflections that I believe most of us share.

The challenges currently facing the European Union are more dangerous than ever before in the time since the signature of the Treaty of Rome. Today we are dealing with three threats, which have previously not occurred, at least not on such a scale.

The first threat, an external one, is related to the new geopolitical situation in the world and around Europe. An increasingly, let us call it, assertive China, especially on the seas, Russia’s aggressive policy towards Ukraine and its neighbours, wars, terror and anarchy in the Middle East and in Africa, with radical Islam playing a major role, as well as worrying declarations by the new American administration all make our future highly unpredictable. For the first time in our history, in an increasingly multipolar external world, so many are becoming openly anti-European, or Eurosceptic at best. Particularly the change in Washington puts the European Union in a difficult situation; with the new administration seeming to put into question the last 70 years of American foreign policy.

The second threat, an internal one, is connected with the rise in anti-EU, nationalist, increasingly xenophobic sentiment in the EU itself. National egoism is also becoming an attractive alternative to integration. In addition, centrifugal tendencies feed on mistakes made by those, for whom ideology and institutions have become more important than the interests and emotions of the people.

The third threat is the state of mind of the pro-European elites. A decline of faith in political integration, submission to populist arguments as well as doubt in the fundamental values of liberal democracy are all increasingly visible.

In a world full of tension and confrontation, what is needed is courage, determination and political solidarity of Europeans. Without them we will not survive. If we do not believe in ourselves, in the deeper purpose of integration, why should anyone else? In Rome we should renew this declaration of faith. In today’s world of states-continents with hundreds of millions of inhabitants, European countries taken separately have little weight. But the EU has demographic and economic potential, which makes it a partner equal to the largest powers. For this reason, the most important signal that should come out of Rome is that of readiness of the 27 to be united. A signal that we not only must, but we want to be united.

Let us show our European pride. If we pretend we cannot hear the words and we do not notice the decisions aimed against the EU and our future, people will stop treating Europe as their wider homeland. Equally dangerously, global partners will cease to respect us. Objectively speaking, there is no reason why Europe and its leaders should pander to external powers and their rulers. I know that in politics, the argument of dignity must not be overused, as it often leads to conflict and negative emotions. But today we must stand up very clearly for our dignity, the dignity of a united Europe – regardless of whether we are talking to Russia, China, the US or Turkey. Therefore, let us have the courage to be proud of our own achievements, which have made our continent the best place on Earth. Let us have the courage to oppose the rhetoric of demagogues, who claim that European integration is beneficial only to the elites, that ordinary people have only suffered as its result, and that countries will cope better on their own, rather than together.

We must look to the future – this was your most frequent request in our consultations over the past months. And there is no doubt about it. But we should never, under any circumstances, forget about the most important reasons why 60 years ago we decided to unite Europe. We often hear the argument that the memory of the past tragedies of a divided Europe is no longer an argument, that new generations do not remember the sources of our inspiration. But amnesia does not invalidate these inspirations, nor does it relieve us of our duty to continuously recall the tragic lessons of a divided Europe. In Rome, we should strongly reiterate these two basic, yet forgotten, truths: firstly, we have united in order to avoid another historic catastrophe, and secondly, that the times of European unity have been the best times in all of Europe’s centuries-long history. It must be made crystal clear that the disintegration of the European Union will not lead to the restoration of some mythical, full sovereignty of its member states, but to their real and factual dependence on the great superpowers: the United States, Russia and China. Only together can we be fully independent.

We must therefore take assertive and spectacular steps that would change the collective emotions and revive the aspiration to raise European integration to the next level. In order to do this, we must restore the sense of external and internal security as well as socio-economic welfare for European citizens. This requires a definitive reinforcement of the EU external borders; improved cooperation of services responsible for combating terrorism and protecting order and peace within the border-free area; an increase in defence spending; strengthening the foreign policy of the EU as a whole as well as better coordinating individual member states’ foreign policies; and last but not least fostering investment, social inclusion, growth, employment, reaping the benefits of technological change and convergence in both the euro area and the whole of Europe.

We should use the change in the trade strategy of the US to the EU’s advantage by intensifying our talks with interested partners, while defending our interests at the same time. The European Union should not abandon its role as a trade superpower which is open to others, while protecting its own citizens and businesses, and remembering that free trade means fair trade. We should also firmly defend the international order based on the rule of law. We cannot surrender to those who want to weaken or invalidate the Transatlantic bond, without which global order and peace cannot survive. We should remind our American friends of their own motto: United we stand, divided we fall.

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Populism is not fascism, but it could be a harbinger, by S. Berman | Foreign Affairs Magazine


As right-wing movements have mounted increasingly strong challenges to political establishments across Europe and North America, many commentators have drawn parallels to the rise of fascism during the 1920s and 1930s. Last year, a French court ruled that opponents of Marine Le Pen, the leader of France’s National Front, had the right to call her a “fascist”—a right they have frequently exercised. This May, after Norbert Hofer, the leader of Austria’s Freedom Party, nearly won that country’s presidential election, The Guardian asked, “How can so many Austrians flirt with this barely disguised fascism?” And in an article that same month about the rise of Donald Trump, the Republican U.S. presidential candidate, the conservative columnist Robert Kagan warned, “This is how fascism comes to America.” “Fascist” has served as a generic term of political abuse for many decades, but for the first time in ages, mainstream observers are using it seriously to describe major politicians and parties.

Read the full Article here

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Cybercrime, cybersecurity and cyberdefence in Europe – Presentation by L. Ulmann | The European Files

Our civilization must deal with issues no other people have ever experienced. The world is more sensitive and interconnected than ever before, and our actions today may decide whether or not our civilization will still be here 100 years from now. It is from this perspective that the European Union chooses to tackle the issue of cybersecurity. Globally, the uncertainty around this new world of activity is understandable. The connections are complex and it is obvious no single government or organization has the capacity to answer all the problems we see today. This issue of The European Files assumes an explorative role in the subject of “cyberpower” and its consequences. Essentially, this new realm of activity must be properly defined. Our contributors are acutely aware of the need for a paradigm shift regarding our perspective on cyberdefence. Ultimately, the Internet transcends the European Union’s key operations as well as the lives of its citizens. Indeed, solutions will necessarily require a collaborative effort from a multitude of actors present in this magazine. Firstly, the policymakers and experts are uniting their spheres of operations to best identify the priorities and objectives within the realm of cybersecurity. The threats to our personal privacy and national security are constant and understated. National governments and international defence organizations alike are overwhelmed by attacks to infiltrate and uncover sensitive information about Europe’s infrastructure. Cybercriminality networks that support violence, extremism, racism, and pedophilia are protected by the complexity of cloud computing. Additionally, businesses are weary of the reputation lost amongst consumers when their information centers are cracked. It is a legislative priority to protect and promote a balance between privacy and security in this hyper-speed network. The future of European innovation is at risk and national governments such as Germany and Estonia are leading the way in providing revolutionary public and defence policies to deal with these new threats. The infrastructure for most crucial sectors of European activity rely heavily on the progress made in cyber-networks and states are looking to pool expertise to support the weakest links in the network.
Fortunately, within the European community, there is certain richness in capacity and policymaking regarding cyberstrategies. Whether it’s the European Defence Agency or the International Telecommunication Union, coordination and transparency underlie each step of this journey. Although the priorities many vary from one organization to another, the strategies demand for a stronger partnership between the public and private sector. Like all relationships, it is built on trust and each joint effort highlights the importance of a normative framework that empowers businesses and people through greater awareness of the issues ahead. The Cyber Convention Committee provides the international precedence regarding the efforts taken by states across the world to set standards of security. Organizations such as NATO share the urgency and dynamism felt in this sector of defence without necessarily discussing the sources of the threats to our security. All actors do acknowledge the sensitivity of this information and each provides their own motivations to set aside their inhibitions to cooperate more effectively.
This issue also unites the activity of all citizens, private or public. As cyberspace is the basis for billions of euros in economic activity, it is only natural that action plans created by governmental and non-governmental institutions should focus on a new kind of relationship. Public-Private Partnerships should play a central role in tackling the issues regarding cyberspace. This tool is a favorite of the European Union to promote united markets and innovation across the continent. In this case, actors discuss the areas of cybersecurity that will benefit most from a freedom of information and expertise. Many hope the Public-Private Partnerships will not only be a tool for innovation, but also develop into a standard of European economic activity. Ultimately, these partnerships will be judged on their ability to tackle the many challenges created by an evolved sphere of criminality and insecurity.
The challenges of cybersecurity are pushing the European Union to devote considerable resources to better equip its citizens with the capacity and confidence to protect themselves in this new world. Proposals from governments and suprastate departments reiterate the importance of education through trainings and academic curriculums as the basis for a better future. The solutions of tomorrow will also rest on our ability to collaborate on issues such as information freedom. No matter the actor, the consensus it that action must be comprehensive. This edition of The European Files unites the many players involved in developing this framework that our world will need for a brighter and more confident future.

Download this issue of European Files as a .pdf here


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Save the date: 9 September – Debate: “Which way forward for shale gas in Europe?”

We are delighted to invite you to the debate organised by PubAffairs Bruxelles which will be held on the 9th of September at 19.00 at the premises of Science14 Atrium, rue de la Science, 14-b, Brussels. The debate will concern  the future of shale gas in Europe. Although speakers and event details will be announced in the coming days, we are sending you this email now to make sure you save the date.

 This event is kindly sponsored by:

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About the debate

In January 2014, following the publication of a recommendation by the European Commission on shale-gas exploration, the Commissioner in charge of the environment, Mr Janez Potočnik, stated that “shale gas is raising hopes in some parts of Europe, but is also a source of public concern. The Commission is responding to calls for action with minimum principles that Member States are invited to follow in order to address environmental and health concerns and give operators and investors the predictability they need.” The Commission’s recommendation invited EU Member States to apply a series of principles on planning, assessment of environmental impacts and risks, use of best practices and environmental monitoring. EU Member States were asked to give effect to these principles within a period of six months and to inform the Commission regularly about the measures which have been put into force. The Commission also undertook to monitor the results of the recommendation via a publicly available scoreboard  in order to both map  the state of play of the matter in a comparative perspective and to review its approach by the end of 2015

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Invitation – Debate: “Dangerous liaisons or avenues to greater influence in the global arena? EU trade policies towards the east and the west of the world” (8 July)

We are most pleased to invite you to participate in an evening of discussion on EU trade policies towards the east and the west of the world with Ms Elena Peresso, Member of Cabinet of Commissioner for Trade, Mr Richard Howitt MEP(S&D/UK), and Mr Cédric Dupont, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Executive Education at the Graduate Institute, Geneva, on the 8th of July at 19.00 at the premises of Science 14 Atrium

The debate will be moderated by Stéphanie Hofmann, Associate Professor of Political Science and Deputy Director, Centre for Conflict, Development and Peacebuilding of the Graduate Institute, Geneva

This event is kindly sponsored by:


Dangerous liaisons or avenues to greater influence in the global arena? EU trade policies towards the east and the west of the world

In 2010, the European Commission communication concerning “trade, growth and world affairs” aimed at revisiting the EU trade policy strategies set out in the previous Commission’s  “Global Europe” release of the year 2006, while acknowledging the role of external economic relations as a vital catalyst for growth and job creation, as well as the need to coordinate the EU’s internal and external policies. The Commission committed itself “to asserting the EU more effectively on the world stage by actively contributing to shaping the future global economic order and defending the European interest worldwide”. This important shift  in EU trade policy was due not only to the  need to respond to the economic crisis, to keep  pace with a fast-changing global environment and to cope with the challenges posed by emerging economies, but was also a consequence of the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty, which mandated the Commission to both include the European Parliament in the decision-making process and to ensure stricter consistency with the principles and the objectives of the Union’s external action.

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Ukraine: four crises, one country | EUobserver Neighbourhood Policy blog

For most of the last two decades virtually every Ukrainian election or opinion poll has displayed two Ukraines – one Western-leaning and another looking to Moscow; one voting Timoshenko or Yushchenko and another pro Yanukovich; one against Putin and another in favour of him. Unsurprisingly, many feared that the ousting of Yanukovich, the Russian annexation of Crimea, and the infiltration of eastern Ukraine by Russian military intelligence would lead Ukraine to split in two or collapse altogether like a house of cards.

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New EU ‘strategy’ fudges British, German and Italian demands | EUobserver

A draft plan for EU priorities in the coming years tries to strike a balance between the devolution of powers demanded by Britain and the anti-austerity drive of Italy, in a typical German-inspired fudge. The “strategic agenda for the Union in times of change”, seen by EUobserver, is the second draft of a paper by EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy after consulting with member states. The final text will be adopted on Friday (27 June) at a summit in Brussels, which should also decide on who should fill the top posts in the EU institutions for the coming five years.

More on this story: New EU ‘strategy’ fudges British, German and Italian demands.

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Sannino: Italy will turn the perfect storm into the perfect rainbow | EurActiv

After the eurozone’s perfect storm, Europe can regain competitiveness and growth through an aggressive investment plan. The Italian presidency starting next week will do its utmost to push partners to adopt  measures  for the ‘perfect rainbow’ of sustainable recovery, said Italy’s ambassador to the EU, Stefano Sannino, in an exclusive interview.

More on this story: Sannino: Italy will turn the perfect storm into the perfect rainbow

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