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EU MEPs demand penalties for EU countries undermining rule of law

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Parliament has endorsed a new law giving the European Commission the power to assess, whether a member state is failing to uphold the principles of the rule of law, tackle tax fraud and corruption or implement the EU budget correctly. It would be assisted by independent experts in constitutional law and financial matters.

In cases of shortcomings in a member state’s management of the budget, the Commission could, for example, reduce pre-financing and suspend payments once Parliament and Council approve the measures. The new rules would come into effect under the terms of the EU’s next long-term budget for 2021-2027.

In a debate with Günther Oettinger, the commissioner responsible for the budget, on 16 January, many MEPs emphasised the need to defend the rule of law in order to safeguard democracy.

Spanish S&D member Eider Gardiazabal, one of the MEPs responsible for steering the plans through Parliament, said: “This isn’t a Europe à la carte where we can just hang on to the rights and not the duties.”

She noted that if a state wants to join the EU, it has to fulfil a set of economic, political, tax and judicial criteria, which is why the process is long. “And then what happens when you join? Does it mean that just because you passed the test, you can do whatever you like? Obviously not. This test has to be a constant one.”

Oettinger said the EU would be better off under the system for the next long-term budget “because we will have an instrument that we can apply to protect Europe, its budget and therefore its citizens against abuse and fraud and any sort of misuse of funding.”

“If there are issues with the users, member states, regions and local authorities, that need to be resolved, sometimes they end up in court. In this case in every member state we need to be sure that all the courts are impartial, that the rule of law holds sway and that there are guarantees of impartial rulings by impartial judges,” the commissioner continued.

German EPP member Ingeborg Grässle, chair of the budgetary control committee, pointed to problems where government representatives use their position to enrich themselves, their friends and relations. “They are illicitly obtaining EU money and illicitly using it. This will enable us to tackle these issues.”

Not freezing funds for final beneficiaries

The draft law text says that even if a decision is taken to, for example, halt payments, a government would still have to implement the respective EU programme. The Commission would have to try to ensure that the final beneficiaries still receive funding.

Both Bulgarian ALDE member Iskra Mihaylova, chair of the regional development committee, and Finnish EPP member Petri Sarvamaa, one of the MEPs responsible for steering the plans through Parliament, underlined the need to ensure that researchers, civic organisations and ordinary people do not suffer if funds are cut or frozen.

However, Polish ECR member Ryszard Czarnecki said that Europe needs to be protected from those who want to destroy it. “But the question is: who is it who wants to destroy Europe? Is it those who have triggered the wave of euroscepticism in the member states, or is it those who are interfering with the internal affairs in member states?”

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Europe accuses US of ‘profiting from war’

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Top European officials are furious with Joe Biden’s administration and now accuse the Americans of making a fortune from the war, while EU countries suffer. “The fact is, if you look at it soberly, the country that is most profiting from this war is the U.S. because they are selling more gas and at higher prices, and because they are selling more weapons,” one senior official told POLITICO.

Washington announced a $369 billion industrial subsidy scheme to support green industries under the Inflation Reduction Act that Brussels went into full-blown panic mode. “The Inflation Reduction Act has changed everything,” one EU diplomat said. “Is Washington still our ally or not?”

“We are really at a historic juncture,” the senior EU official said, arguing that the double hit of trade disruption from U.S. subsidies and high energy prices risks turning public opinion against both the war effort and the transatlantic alliance. “America needs to realize that public opinion is shifting in many EU countries.”

The biggest point of tension in recent weeks has been Biden’s green subsidies and taxes that Brussels says unfairly tilt trade away from the EU and threaten to destroy European industries. Despite formal objections from Europe, Washington has so far shown no sign of backing down.

As they attempt to reduce their reliance on Russian energy, EU countries are turning to gas from the U.S. instead — but the price Europeans pay is almost four times as high as the same fuel costs in America. Then there’s the likely surge in orders for American-made military kit as European armies run short after sending weapons to Ukraine.

Officials on both sides of the Atlantic recognize the risks that the increasingly toxic atmosphere will have for the Western alliance.

“The U.S. is following a domestic agenda, which is regrettably protectionist and discriminates against U.S. allies,” said Tonino Picula, the European Parliament’s lead person on the transatlantic relationship.

Cheaper energy has quickly become a huge competitive advantage for American companies, too. Businesses are planning new investments in the U.S. or even relocating their existing businesses away from Europe to American factories. Just this week, chemical multinational Solvay announced t is choosing the U.S. over Europe for new investments, in the latest of a series of similar announcements from key EU industrial giants.

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American view: ‘Putting an end to Volodymyr Zelensky’s follies!’

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“Zelensky comes out of the process smelling really bad as he has worked assiduously at blaming Russia, which clearly is not true,” – writes Philip Giraldi from Ron Paul Institute.

One week ago, he reminds, the Ukrainian government may have deliberately attacked neighbor Poland in an attempt to draw the NATO alliance into its war with Russia. The incident involved a missile that hit a grain processing site inside Poland and killed two farmers.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky immediately blamed Russia for the incident even though he surely must have known that the missile had been fired from Ukraine, meaning that he may have been using a so-called “false flag” to create a false narrative of what had occurred.

Given the fact that Zelensky has been saying and doing everything possible to draw the US and NATO into fighting Russia on his behalf, I believe that the missile strike was quite plausibly a deliberate “false flag” attempt to start a much broader war.

That such a war could easily turn nuclear reveals just how reckless Zelensky can be. One NATO country foreign diplomat based in Kiev told “The Financial Times”, that “This is getting ridiculous. The Ukrainians are destroying [our] confidence in them. Nobody is blaming Ukraine and they are openly lying. This is more destructive than the missile.”

There has been considerable speculation that the unregulated and unmonitored flow of billions of dollars of US taxpayer provided money through Ukraine’s notoriously corrupt government provided a perfect mechanism for large scale money laundering.

Even assuming that the Ukrainian missile strike on Poland was due to some malfunction, Zelensky comes out of the process smelling really bad as he has worked assiduously at blaming Russia, which clearly is not true.

He is using his contrived narrative to dramatically expand the war by creating a situation which would bring NATO directly into the conflict and which could easily go nuclear.

Indeed, he is attempting to compel NATO participation.

Beyond that, the US and NATO, burdened with such an “ally,” should take immediate steps to disengage from supporting the fighting and call for a negotiated settlement of the conflict.

To be sure, Zelensky is capable of anything and no lie is too mendacious for the former comedy actor who is now basking in the glow of his celebrity, writes Philip Giraldi.

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Iran’s Parliament approves bill on accession to SCO

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Iran’s Parliament has approved by a majority vote a bill on the Islamic republic’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), according TASS information.

205 parliamentarians voted for the bill, 3 voted against and 4 abstained.

On September 30, Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi signed a bill on the country’s accession to the Shanghai Cooperation Organization. According to the Young Journalists Club news agency, Raisi sent the bill to the country’s parliament for consideration.

Iran signed a memorandum on liabilities for joining the Organization.

The Organization’s summit in Uzbekistan on September 15-16 launched the procedure of admitting Belarus as a full-fledged member.

Egypt and Qatar were granted a dialogue partner status, while Bahrain, Kuwait, the Maldives, Myanmar, and Saudi Arabia began the procedure for obtaining this status.

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