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EU and Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific Leaders intensify the regional talks in Samoa

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In the context of the ongoing negotiations to modernize relations between the EU and 79 countries in Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific (ACP), chief negotiators met with Pacific leaders today.

The talks’ aim was to lay the ground for the creation of a EU-Pacific pillar, within the future agreement. The negotiators focused on the specific needs and priorities to address together in the decades to come.

In Apia, Samoa, the EU’s Chief Negotiator, Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, said: “Today’s exchanges are a concrete example of how our future bilateral relations EU–Pacific, EU-Africa, EU-Caribbean, will grow deeper and stronger under the next ACP-EU agreement. We need to find new ways to fight climate change, and to protect our people and our planet. We also aim to foster blue growth in a sustainable way, and address cross border challenges together, such as human development and security issues.”

The ACP Chief Negotiator and Chair of the Ministerial Central Negotiating Group who is also the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and Africa integration of Togo Professor Robert Dussey, said: “The ACP Group cherishes its partnership with the EU, which it has enjoyed since 1975. The process we have embarked on aims to further strengthen our relations. We also recognize the necessity to address specific needs and aspirations of the ACP regions. For that reason, we are delighted to be in Apia to broker Pacific regional interests. We hope to set the stage for negotiating a Pacific-EU protocol for the benefit of the citizens of the region.”

Prime Minister of Samoa, Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi, added: “As one of the Pacific’s key partner and contributor to our national and regional development programmes, we continue to use every opportunity to foster the strengths of a collective voice and positions of our Blue Pacific in our discussions with the European Union. My Government is very pleased to host this important political dialogue with the EU, and to discuss issues of high priority to the Pacific. We look forward to a partnership with the EU that we can all be proud of, and one which encapsulates the aspirations and hopes of our peoples for a more prosperous and peaceful future”. 

Background

The Cotonou Agreement currently governing EU-ACP relations is due to expire in 2020. Political negotiations on a new ACP-EU Partnership were launched in New York on 28 September 2018. 

Current talks mainly focus on the so-called common foundation at EU-ACP level. This contains the values and principles that bring the EU and ACP countries together. It also indicates the strategic priority areas that the two sides intend to prospectively work on together. In the future agreement, on top of the foundation there will be three action-oriented regional pillars to focus on each region’s specific needs. Through the future partnership, EU and ACP countries will seek closer political cooperation on the world stage. Together, they represent more than half of all UN member countries and unite over 1.5 billion people. 

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Agreement on linking the emissions trading systems of the EU and Switzerland

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As ministers gather at the COP25 in Madrid to discuss the rules for international carbon markets, the EU and Switzerland finalised the process that allows for the link of their emissions trading systems to enter into force. As of 2020 allowances from both systems can be used for compliance to compensate for emissions occurring in either system. The Linking Agreement between the EU and Switzerland is the first of its kind, and demonstrates that emissions trading systems can pave the way to broader international carbon markets.

Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans said: “The Linking Agreement between the EU and Switzerland, which also covers the aviation sector, sends a strong signal that we can create broader and more comprehensive carbon markets with benefits to our climate and environment.”

There are significant benefits to linking carbon markets. By expanding the market and increasing the availability of emission reduction opportunities, the cost-effectiveness of the linked systems can be increased and their liquidity enhanced, thus resulting in better burden sharing, more efficient emissions reductions, and decreased overall compliance costs. The European Green Deal will strongly support these principles, underlining that with linked carbon markets we can bring carbon prices in different countries closer together, which in turn may reduce carbon leakage risks. Linking also strengthens cooperation between parties with binding targets and encourages others to take action, as well as to support global cooperation on climate change and the development of a global carbon market.

Background

The EU ETS Directive allows for linking, provided both systems are compatible, mandatory and have an absolute emission caps. These conditions for linking have been laid down in the Annexes to the Linking Agreement and will ensure that both parties meet these requirements.

Negotiations on the Linking Agreement between the EU and Switzerland started in 2011. The linking agreement was signed at the end of 2017 and will enter into force on 1 January 2020.

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Aviation Safety: EU Commission adopts new EU Air Safety List

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The European Commission today updated the EU Air Safety List, the list of airlines that do not meet international safety standards, and are therefore subject to an operating ban or operational restrictions within the European Union. The EU Air Safety List seeks to ensure the highest level of air safety for Europeans and all other passengers travelling in the European Union.

There is positive news for Gabon as all airlines certified in Gabon have been released from the list following improvements to the aviation safety situation in that country. However, the Armenian Civil Aviation Committee has been put under heightened scrutiny because of signs of a decrease in safety oversight.

Commissioner for Transport Adina Vălean said: “Today’s decision illustrates our continuous efforts to offer the highest level of safety. Not only to European travellers, but to travellers worldwide, because aviation safety knows no border or nationalities. I am pleased to announce that the European Commission was able today to clear all Gabonese air carriers from the EU Air Safety List. Gabon was on the List already since 2008, so it is very good that we can recognise the efforts the aviation safety authorities in Gabon have made.”

The EU Air Safety List not only helps to maintain high levels of safety in the EU, but also helps affected airlines and countries to improve their levels of safety, in order for them to eventually be taken off the list. In addition, the EU Air Safety List has become a major preventive tool, as it motivates countries with safety problems to act upon them before a ban under the EU Air Safety List would become necessary.

Following today’s update, a total of 115 airlines are banned from EU skies:

  • 109 airlines certified in 15 states, due to a lack of safety oversight by the aviation authorities from these states;
  • Six individual airlines, based on safety concerns with regard to these airlines themselves: Avior Airlines (Venezuela), Iran Aseman Airlines (Iran), Iraqi Airways (Iraq), Blue Wing Airlines (Suriname), Med-View Airlines (Nigeria) and Air Zimbabwe (Zimbabwe).

An additional three airlines are subject to operational restrictions and can only fly to the EU with specific aircraft types: Air Koryo (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea), Air Service Comores (the Comoros) and Iran Air (Iran).

Background information

Today’s update of the Air Safety List is based on the unanimous opinion of the aviation safety experts from the Member States who met from 20 to 21 November 2019 under the auspices of the EU Air Safety Committee (ASC). This Committee is chaired by the European Commission with the support of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). The update equally got the support from the European Parliament’s Transport Committee. Assessment is made against international safety standards, and notably the standards promulgated by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

The Commission is constantly looking at ways to improve aviation safety, notably through collaborative efforts with aviation authorities worldwide to raise global safety standards. With this in mind, the Commission, through EASA, will implement two cooperation projects in the course of 2020 to assist Angola and Mozambique to further improve their safety oversight systems.

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Towards a Conference on the Future of Europe

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The Constitutional Affairs Committee will vote on Monday on its suggestions to Parliament’s leaders for the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe.

On Monday 9 December, MEPs from the Constitutional Affairs Committee will vote on their input to Parliament’s Conference of Presidents (i.e. President Sassoli and political group leaders) on the organisation of the upcoming Conference on the Future of Europe.

Following the establishment of the relevant Working Group by Parliament’s leaders, the Constitutional Affairs Committee was invited to contribute to its work in line with its leading role on topics of significance affecting the future of Europe. This will in turn help define Parliament’s position in the negotiations with the Council and the Commission on the structure, mission and objectives of the Conference.

When: Monday, 9 December, 18.00 – 20.00

Where: European Parliament in Brussels, Spinelli building, room 3E2

Background

The Conference, to be organised by Parliament, Council and Commission, is among Commission President von der Leyen’s most prominent commitments. It is expected to start in 2020 and run for two years, involving a cross-section of society to give citizens the chance to contribute in shaping the future of the EU.

The most recent in a series of debates in the Constitutional Affairs Committee was a public hearing with Parliament’s Vice-President Othmar Karas (EPP, AT), European Economic and Social Committee President Luca Jahier, Committee of the Regions President Karl-Heinz Lambertz and a range of academic and civil society experts, as well as the two Commission Vice-Presidents: Dubravka Šuica (Democracy and Demography) and Věra Jourová (Values and Transparency).

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