Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα European Union. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων
Εμφάνιση αναρτήσεων με ετικέτα European Union. Εμφάνιση όλων των αναρτήσεων

Δευτέρα, Αυγούστου 14, 2017

Τρίτη, Αυγούστου 08, 2017

Britain denies agreeing to multi-billion under Brexit divorce bill

A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May
A spokesperson for British Prime Minister Theresa May on Monday denied Britain agreed on the amount of its Brexit divorce bill, days after a report claimed that it plans to offer the European Union (EU) 36 billion pounds (46.8 billion US dollars).

Δευτέρα, Αυγούστου 07, 2017

Σάββατο, Αυγούστου 05, 2017

Παρασκευή, Φεβρουαρίου 13, 2015

EU failed to discuss Russia’s gas turn to Turkey in place of South Stream (Juncker)

Russia’s decision to scrap its South Stream gas pipeline project and the subsequent move to extend a new gas route to Turkey instead was raised at an extraordinary summit of the European Union on Thursday night, Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Commission, said.

Juncker said, however, that although the issue of the Russian natural gas deliveries via the abandoned South Stream pipeline project was raised at the summit, the participants failed to discuss subject.

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced on December 1, 2014 that the project to build the South Stream gas pipeline was closed due to the European Union’s unconstructive approach to cooperation in that sphere, including Bulgaria’s decision to stop the construction of the pipeline’s stretch on its territory.

Instead, Russia will build a gas pipeline to Turkey where a gas hub on the border with Europe will be created, Putin said.................http://tass.ru/en/economy/777375


Πέμπτη, Φεβρουαρίου 05, 2015

EU launches work on bloc energy union

The European Union (EU) has drew a plan for reorganizing European energy policies and kicked off work for European Energy Union, said the European Commission (EC) on Wednesday.

The EC considered it "a fundamental step towards the completion of single energy market", and hoped this helps reform how Europe produces, transports and consumes energy.

The Energy Union with a Forward-looking Climate Change Policy is one of the key political priorities of the Juncker Commission, said the EC.

It also pointed out that the work for Energy Union is timely in that the EU imports 55 percent of its energy and 90 percent of the housing stock in Europe is energy inefficient.

"The Energy Union will be an ambitious project that will set a new direction and a clear long term vision for European energy and climate policy.... Effective implementation will be crucial, as will full and proper enforcement of existing legislation," said Miguel Arias Canete, EU Commissioner for Climate Action and Energy.

The Energy Union framework strategy is scheduled for adoption on February 25.

Xinhua - china.org.cn

Κυριακή, Φεβρουαρίου 01, 2015

Greece offers olive branch as search for allies begins

Greece sought to repair relations with its international creditors on Saturday (Jan 31) as the new anti-austerity government began a charm offensive in European capitals, even as Germany insisted it would not support any debt relief...

Just hours before Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis headed to Paris to seek support for a renegotiation Greece's massive loans, Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras said he believed a deal could be reached with the European Union (EU) and International Monetary Fund (IMF).

"No side is seeking conflict and it has never been our intention to act unilaterally on Greek debt," Tsipras said in a statement issued to the Bloomberg news agency.

In its first meeting with creditors since it took office, the Greek government clashed with the head of the Eurozone finance ministers on Friday over its plans to rethink its rescue package and to halve Greece's debt.

Tsipras, who will himself visit Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and French President Francois Hollande next week, said Greece had no intention of reneging on its commitments to the European Union and International Monetary Fund.

"My obligation to respect the clear mandate of the Greek people with respect to ending the policies of austerity and returning to a growth agenda, in no way entails that we will not fulfil our loan obligations to the ECB (European Central Bank) or the IMF," he said. "On the contrary, it means that we need time to breathe and create our own medium-term recovery programme."

This includes aiming to balance the budget - excluding debt repayments - and clamping down on tax evasion, corruption and policies which favour only a wealthy few, he said.

"I am absolutely confident that we will soon manage to reach a mutually beneficial agreement, both for Greece and for Europe as a whole," Tsipras said.


Varoufakis was to leave for Paris on Saturday night with talks scheduled with French finance minister Michel Sapin and economy minister Emmanuel Macron on Sunday. Neither he nor Tsipras are intending to visit Germany, which has shouldered the bulk of Greece's loans and which strongly objects to Athens' plans.

Merkel on Saturday ruled out fresh debt relief for Greece, telling the Hamburger Abendblatt daily: "There has already been voluntary debt forgiveness by private creditors, banks have already slashed billions from Greece's debt."

"I do not envisage fresh debt cancellation," she said, as a new poll for broadcaster ZDF found 76 per cent of Germans oppose any reduction in debt.

Portuguese Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho also opposes any renegotiation of Greece's debt, saying it would "go against the interests of Portugal and the Portugese people".

Despite a restructuring in 2012, Greece is still lumbered with a debt pile of more than 315 billion euros, upwards of 175 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) - an EU record.

But in its first week in power, the government scrapped the privatisation of Greece's two main ports and the state power company and announced a major raise in the minimum wage.

Varoufakis also raised the stakes by saying that Greece wanted direct access to its EU-IMF creditors and would no longer work with their widely hated fiscal audit staff team, known as the "troika".

Martin Schulz, the German head of the European Parliament, told the Frankfurter Allgemeine on Saturday that this position was "irresponsible".


Varoufakis's comments followed a strained meeting on Friday with Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who represents finance ministers from the 19-nation Eurozone. Dijsselbloem warned Athens that "taking unilateral steps or ignoring previous arrangements is not the way forward".

Greece has been promised another 7.2 billion euros (US$8.1 billion, S$10.9 billion) in funds from the EU, IMF and European Central Bank (ECB), but this is dependent on the completion of a review of reforms at the end of February.

  • Varoufakis has said his government does not want the loans, but there are concerns Greece cannot survive without them. These concerns are focused on Greece's banks, which are helping the state stay afloat by purchasing its treasury bills - and which are being supported by the ECB.
  • "If the ECB turns the tap off, it's over," Alexandre Delaigue, economics professor at the elite French military academy Saint-Cyr, told AFP.
The stunning success of Syriza in last Sunday's polls sent shockwaves through Europe and gave encouragement to other anti-austerity parties.

Tens of thousands of people, meanwhile, took to the streets of Madrid on Saturday in support of the Spanish party Podemos, which has been surging in polls ahead of elections later this year. Like Syriza, Podemos has found popular support by targeting corruption and rejecting austerity programmes aimed at lifting the countries out of deep economic crisis.

- AFP/fl

31/1/15 --1/2/15


Παρασκευή, Ιανουαρίου 30, 2015

EU to consider lifting fish import ban on Sri Lanka

The European Commission has offered Sri Lanka assistance to meet the regulatory requirements that would enable an early lifting of ban on fish exports from Sri Lanka to the EU, the Sri Lankan External Affairs Ministry said on Thursday.

The External Affairs Ministry said the decision was made following talks held between Sri Lanka and the European Commission.

Sri Lanka's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mangala Samaraweera, was in Brussels this week in an attempt to have the ban on Sri Lankan fish imports lifted.

Foreign Minister Samaraweera met Belgian Foreign Minister Didier Reynders and members of the European Parliament.

He also held talks with the European commissioner for environment, maritime affairs and fisheries and the European commissioner for international cooperation and development.

Discussions focused on strengthening Sri Lanka's relations with the European Union and Belgium, the steps Sri Lanka has taken and will take to comply with international fishing regulations and the process of requalifying for tariff concessions, the External Affairs Ministry said.

"During the fruitful meetings the European Commission offered Sri Lanka assistance in meeting the regulatory requirements that would enable an early lifting of the ban on fish exports to the EU and displayed strong interest in expanding socio-economic ties and development programmes," the Ministry said.

The EU had imposed the ban after Sri Lanka continued to violate international regulations on deep sea fishing.

Sri Lanka, under the previous government, was given time to remedy the situation before the ban took effect this month, but the government had failed to meet the requirements.

 Source: Xinhua - globaltimes.cn

Τετάρτη, Ιανουαρίου 28, 2015

Greek PM Tsipras pledges radical change, markets tumble

Leftwing Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras threw down an open challenge to international creditors today by halting privatisation plans agreed under the country's bailout deal, prompting a third day of heavy losses on financial markets...

A swift series of announcements signaled the newly installed government would stand by its anti-austerity pledges, setting it on course for a clash with European partners, led by Germany, which has said it will not renegotiate the aid package needed to help Greece pay its debts.

Tsipras told the first meeting of his cabinet members that they could not afford to disappoint the voters who gave them a mandate in Sunday's election, which his Syriza party won decisively.

After announcing a halt to the privatisation of the port of Piraeus yesterday, for which China's Cosco Group and four other suitors had been shortlisted, the government said on Wednesday it would block the sale of a stake in the Public Power Corporation of Greece (PPC).

It also plans to reinstate public sector employees judged to have been laid off without proper justification and announced rises in pension payments for retired people on low incomes.

Uncertainty over the new government's relations with the European Union went beyond economic policy. A day before the EU is expected to extend sanctions against Russia for six months, it was unclear if Athens would back its European partners on this move, after dissenting over a joint statement from the bloc on Ukraine yesterday.

Tsipras, who met Russia's ambassador to Athens on Monday and the Chinese envoy the next day, told ministers that the government would not seek "a mutually destructive clash" with creditors. But he warned Greece would not back down from demanding a renegotiation of debt.

"We are coming in to radically change the way that policies and administration are conducted in this country," he said.

Financial markets have taken fright. Greek bank stocks plunged more than 22 percent today, taking their cumulative losses since the election to 40 percent.

The overall Athens stock market fell almost 8 percent , while Greek five-year government bond yields hit around 13.5 percent. This marked their highest level since a 2012 restructuring which wrote off a large proportion of Greek debt held by private investors.

Newly-appointed Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis, who meets Jeroen Dijsselbloem, head of the euro zone finance ministers' group on Friday, said negotiations would not be easy but he expected they would find common ground.

"There won't be a duel between Greece and Europe," he said, in his first meeting with reporters since taking office.

Varoufakis said he would meet the finance ministers of France and Italy - both countries which have pressed for a change of course in Europe from rigid budget orthodoxy - in the coming days.

France has ruled out straight cancellation of Greece's debt, about 80 percent of which is held by other euro zone governments and multinational organisations such as the IMF. However, Paris has said it would be open to talks on making Greece's debt burden more sustainable and Tsipras is expected to meet President Francois Hollande before an EU summit on Feb. 12.

The response from Germany was frosty. Economy Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Athens should have discussed the halt to privatisations with its partners before making an announcement.

"Citizens of other euro states have a right to see that the deals linked to their acts of solidarity are upheld," he said, adding that it would be the "wrong solution" for Greece to quit the euro but that it was up to Athens to decide.

Fears that talks between the new government and its creditors would break down, with unforeseeable consequences for Greece's future in Europe, fuelled the third successive day of f turmoil on the markets.

Tsipras said the government would pursue balanced budgets but would not seek to build up "unrealistic surpluses" to service Greece's massive public debt of more than 175 percent of gross domestic product.

Priorities would be helping the weakest sections of society, with policies to attack endemic cronyism and corruption in the economy, reduce waste and cut Greece's record unemployment.

The new government also confirmed it would stop the planned sale of state assets, in line with its election pledges.

Shares in PPC, which is 51 percent owned by the state and controls almost all of Greece's retail electricity market, were down nearly 13 percent, while Piraeus Port stock fell nearly 8 percent.

"We will halt immediately any privatisation of PPC," Energy Minister Panagiotis Lafazanis told Greek television a few hours before officially taking over his portfolio. "There will be a new PPC which will help considerably the restoration of the country's productive activities," he said.

The previous government of conservative Prime Minister Antonis Samaras passed legislation last year to spin off part of PPC to liberalise the energy market under a privatisation plan agreed under the EU/IMF bailout.


Russia’s Gazprom cancels plans to expand Nord Stream (Sources)

Russia’s Gazprom has cancelled a plan to build two more branches of the Nord Stream natural gas pipeline because of the “complicated” political situation, sources at the state-controlled firm said Jan 28...

“The political situation is currently complicated. We were not allowed access to OPAL (gas pipeline in Germany). Why build two more arms? We are not building them,” one source told Reuters.

Gazprom said last year it could increase the pipeline that runs under the Baltic Sea to Germany with a line that would go to Britain, but a second source confirmed Gazprom currently had no plans to extend the pipeline to Britain.

Nord Stream consists of two pipes with an annual capacity of 55 billion cubic meters, enough to supply around 10 percent of the European Union’s annual gas needs.

The construction of two more pipes would have doubled Nord Stream capacity.

  • Currently Nord Stream is running at around half its capacity because Gazprom is allowed only limited access to the Opal pipeline which runs through Germany to the Czech Republic and connects to Nord Stream.

The Russian company has so far failed to secure greater access, with talks complicated by tensions between the EU and Russia over the Ukraine crisis. In November, the EU pushed back a deadline for deciding on Russian access to Opal until the end of January.

Last year, Russia also scrapped its South Stream pipeline project over disagreements with the EU.

Instead, Gazprom said it planned to build a pipeline across the Black Sea towards Turkey, bypassing Ukraine as a transit route to Europe.

Gazprom was not available for immediate comment. 





Δευτέρα, Ιανουαρίου 19, 2015

EU to work closer with Turkey,Egypt and Gulf countries to combat terrorism

EU leaders have agreed on sharing intelligence with not only member states, but also with other countries, including Turkey,Egypt and Gulf countries to combat terrorism, it was announced Monday.

The decision was made during EU foreign ministers' meeting in Brussels that discussed ways to combat terrorism in Europe and other parts of the world. The meeting comes in the aftermath of the deadly attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and anti-terrorism raids in Belgium.

After the meeting, EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini told reporters about measures to curb terrorism. "We are looking at specific projects to launch in the coming weeks with some specific countries to increase the level of cooperation on counter-terrorism, and I would name Turkey, Egypt, Yemen, Algeria and the Gulf countries.''

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom said ''everyone thinks it’s important to engage with Turkey.''

''Turkey is central in so many ways and can play a constructive role if they use their position and setting in the right way,'' Wallstrom added.

Passenger name records
EU leaders also decided to call on the European Parliament to work on implementation of the Passenger Name Record system, which would require EU member states to share information of airline passengers with other countries.

Currently, up to 16 EU countries use the record system without an EU framework.

The legislation was proposed by European regulators in 2011, but later rejected by EU Parliament’s Civil Liberties committee in April 2013. Critics argue that the record system interferes with the right to privacy and protection of personal data.

Improving communication with Arabs

Mogherini said another strategy on developing cooperation on security issues would be to improve communication with the Arab-speaking population in EU and other parts of the world.

''We need to improve our capacity to read Arabic, speak Arabic and listen to messages coming from the Arab world,'' Mogherini said. ''This is basic communication strategy we need to implement.''

Her comments came after calling for a stronger alliance with Arab countries amid deadly terror attacks and arrests across Europe. Mogherini also met Arab League Secretary-General Nabil el-Araby on Monday.

''The threat is not only the one we faced in Paris, but spreading in other parts of the world starting from Muslim countries,'' Mogherini said. ''We need to strengthen our way of cooperating, first of all, with Arab countries.''

"Good cooperation"

Mogherini said an alliance between Europe and Arab countries was needed because Muslims were mostly affected by terrorist attacks.

Mogherini said ''I've always said it is not an issue between Europe or the West and Islam."

"Terrorism and terrorist attacks are targeting most Muslims in the world, so we need an alliance, we need a dialogue there to face the issue together.''

''What we need to do is face terrorism while respecting Islam," she added.

U.K. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond told reporters ahead of the meeting: ''We have very good cooperation with our partners across the Arab world in counter-terrorism."

"The Muslim countries of the world are the ones who have suffered the greatest burden of terrorism. They will continue to be in the front line and we have to work closely with them to protect both those countries and European Union countries," Hammond added.


Russian gas deliveries to Ukraine and EU uninterrupted (Ukraine's Naftogaz)

Russia is supplying gas to Ukraine and the EU according to plan, Ukraine's Naftogaz said on Monday.
"The information circulating in the media that Russian gas has stopped going to the EU through Ukraine dates back to 2009 and has nothing to do with the current situation. As of 2015, there were no breaks in Russian gas deliveries to the Ukraine GTS," the statement said.

The CEO of Russia's Gazprom gas giant said in mid-January that risks persist for gas supplies to Europe via Ukraine as the latter falied to import the necessary ammounts of natural gas in November and December due to financial difficulties.

Earlier reports said Ukraine imported 572.2 million cubic meters of Russian gas in the first two weeks of January. Besides direct supplies from Russia, Ukraine gets reverse gas supplies from Slovakia and Hungary.................http://itar-tass.com/en/economy/771883

Πέμπτη, Ιανουαρίου 08, 2015

EU leaders assess security following Paris attack

In the wake of the massacre Wednesday in Paris, European security officials are re-visiting their plans for countering what they see as a growing jihadist threat and what to do with young disaffected Muslim men either returning from combat in the Middle East or radicalized  via the Internet by militant groups fighting there.

They warn though there is no such thing as absolute security.

While a massive manhunt continued for the two suspects – French-born Algerians Chérif and Saïd Kouachi – broader questions are being raised already over how the attack could have happened despite a robust intelligence and surveillance system in France.

France’s Prime Minister Manuel Valls told reporters Wednesday in the French capital that even with good intelligence services there is a “no zero risk.”  He also emphasized that several terror plots had been thwarted in recent months.

What is alarming, though, to security officials and analysts is how the Kouachi brothers managed to secure the automatic weapons, and possibly a rocket-propelled grenade launcher, and plot the assault without triggering preventive action by French authorities.

Both suspects had well-known militant histories stretching back to at least 2005. Chérif was convicted in 2008 in a case connected to jihadist recruitment of fighters against Americans in Iraq, serving 18 months of a three-year prison sentence. And in 2010, he was arrested again – although not charged – for alleged involvement in a failed plot to help an Algerian Islamic militant escape from a French jail, according Le Monde newspaper.

Analysts are asking, if French intelligence can’t stop known militants from launching murderous attacks, how can authorities hope to counter threats from those who are not known yet?

According to Claude Moniquet, director of the European Strategic and Intelligence Center, a Brussels think tank, an urgent task will be to establish whether the assailants, who were skilled with their weapons and tactics, had gained training and combat experience overseas. “I suspect they had training elsewhere, but an investigation will have to establish these details,” he said.

If it emerges the pair did travel to the Mideast, alarm bells will ring even louder.

An estimated 1,000 French militants have either left to fight for jihadist groups in Syria or already returned. At least 3,000 Europeans are believed to have volunteered to fight with Islamic militant groups in Syria.

In the summer European security ministers adopted an action plan to tackle the security threat they believe these fighters pose to their home countries.

Some of the measures are not known but those that are aim at identifying militants already in Syria and those likely to enlist. The plan included greater intelligence-sharing procedures among European Union countries, according to the bloc’s counter-terrorism coordinator Gilles de Kerchove.

At a press conference to announce the action plan he said that not all of the returnees “intend to carry out attacks, but some of them will.”

In November, EU security ministers met again to discuss tightening security checks on their borders and the sharing of passenger records. But European right-to-privacy rules and European Parliament objections are delaying some of the surveillance measures the ministers are keen to implement. Security officials say they need quickly to require all airlines to include passenger data in a digital system, allowing European intelligence agencies to know the name of every person who enters, leaves or crosses the EU.

The European Commission will submit new proposals to fight terrorism in the next few weeks, Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said Thursday. “I know from experience that one should not react on the moment to such events given the risk of doing either too much or too little,” he said. But he noted further measures were needed.

EU states have been toughening their own national anti-terror laws. In a bid to curb the flow of French militants to Syria, the French government introduced legislation a few months ago making it easier to detain suspects at airports and to confiscate their passports.

European governments have increased their intelligence endeavors by working with Muslim communities and mosque leaders to discourage recruits from heading out and by monitoring social media sites in an effort to identify those who have gone to join militant fighters in the Middle East.

Last year, the then counterterrorism chief of London’s Metropolitan Police appealed to Muslims across the UK to help stanch the flow of young Britons heading to Syria. At least 500 British Muslims are thought to have gone to Syria. Commander Richard Walton admitted that authorities are “desperate” to obtain further assistance.

Britain’s interior minister Theresa May Thursday chaired an emergency meeting of the British government’s COBRA security committee to review what had happened in France and to decide whether there needed to be any changes in UK security plans. The panel ordered a ramping up of border security. “Following the attacks we took the precautionary step of increasing security at the French-UK border,” she told reporters in London.

And British politicians appealed for Muslim communities to be more vigilant for jihadist outliers. But critics warn there are risks in targeting local Muslim communities and making them feel under pressure to collaborate with authorities. The effort can come off as discrimination, further alienating young and disaffected Muslims and presenting recruitment opportunities for militants.

In the UK, police have been aggressively using counter-terrorism legislation to detain and question anyone, even without reasonable cause for suspicion. More than 60,000 people were detained for up to nine hours in 2012 and 2013 but all those stops and interrogations resulted in just 24 terrorism-related arrests.

Asim Qureshi, research director of CagePrisoners, a civil libertarian campaigning group, says the approach is too intrusive. He told the Al Jazeera news network, “For example, they get asked, ‘what type of Muslim are you? What are your foreign policy opinions? What are your views on Palestine?’ None of those questions pertain to whether that person poses a credible risk to UK security.”

European leaders and their advisers have also been delving into the question of what to do with fighters who have returned from the Middle East. Should they be arrested and prosecuted for fighting in a foreign war, if there are laws available to do so? Is it better to monitor returnees, rather than risk further radicalization in jail? Should returnees be required to go through de-radicalization programs? None of the individual states of the bloc have found answers to those questions, so an EU consensus remains far off.
Source: VOANews.com - sofiaglobe.com


Τρίτη, Ιανουαρίου 06, 2015

EU urges Israel, Palestine to stop aggravating tense situation

The European Union foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini said here on Tuesday recent steps taken by Palestinians and Israelis could aggravate the already tense situation on the ground and bring them further away from a negotiated solution.

The decision of the Israeli government to halt the transfer of tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority "runs counter to Israel's obligations under the Paris Protocol," Mogherini said in a statement.

An effective Palestinian Authority, committed to non-violence and a peaceful resolution of the conflict, is a key element for a two-state solution, she said, urging Israel and Palestine to refrain from taking actions that could raise obstacles to the rapid return to the negotiations.

She said the EU was providing considerable support, including financial assistance, to ensure the building of the institutions and infrastructure of a future Palestinian State. And these achievements should not be put at risk by not meeting obligations regarding the timely and transparent transfer of tax and custom revenues.

"The European Union will promote and support now more than ever efforts to achieve a lasting peace based on a two-state solution, including through the Middle East Quartet," she said.

Half a billion shekels, or about 128 million US dollars, in tax revenue that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinian Authority for the month of December were being frozen. Israel made the decision last week to punish the Palestinians' bid to join the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Israel's collection of tax money for the Palestinian Authority was established under the 1993 Oslo Accords. The last time Israel froze the money's transfer was in April last year, following the Authority's reconciliation with Hamas and the establishment of a Palestinian unity government.

Palestinians sought to join the ICC after the UN Security Council rejected a resolution on Israel's withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem by 2017, in order for a Palestinian state to be established unilaterally.

 Source: Xinhua - globaltimes.cn

Παρασκευή, Ιανουαρίου 02, 2015

EU vows to fight new tactics by migrant smugglers

The EU vowed Jan. 2 to fight people smugglers' new tactic of abandoning "ghost ships" full of migrants off European coasts.
The European Commission, the EU's executive arm, said it was "following closely the events surrounding" the crewless Ezadeen merchant ship which had drifted toward Italy's southern shores with 450 migrants aboard before Italian sailors took control of it Friday.

It was the second incident in two days after the Blue Sky M ship was abandoned Wednesday by smugglers who set it on autopilot toward Italy's rocky shores with nearly 800 migrants aboard.    

"The rescues of the Blue Sky M two days ago and of the Ezadeen show that smugglers are finding new ways to enter EU territory," a commission spokesperson told AFP.        

"To prevent such events and to protect the lives of migrants, fighting smuggling will continue to be a priority under the commission's agenda for comprehensive migration in 2015," the spokesperson said.
Responsibility for patrolling Europe's southern shores in theory lies with Triton, a multinational operation run by the European borders agency Frontex. But in practice the Italian navy has continued to carry out most of the rescues despite officially scaling back its own Mare Nostrum operation at the end of October, after failing to persuade other EU governments to help fund it.
The migrant boat dramas come after a record year for people fleeing conflict and poverty in the Middle East, Africa and Asia attempting to reach Europe by sea.
More than 170,000 people have been rescued by Italy in the last 14 months and hundreds, possibly thousands, have perished trying to make the crossing.
They are almost invariably under the control of ruthless traffickers who earn thousands of dollars for every person they put to sea, mainly from lawless Libya and other departure points in North Africa.

  Agence France-Presse / hurriyetdailynews.com

Τετάρτη, Δεκεμβρίου 24, 2014

Ukraine’s Naftogaz transfers $1.65 bln to Russia’s Gazprom under Brussels agreements

Ukraine’s Naftogaz has transferred 1.65 billion U.S. dollars to Russia’s Gazprom as repayment its gas debts, Naftogaz said on Wednesday.

Thus, in line with the agreements reached in Brussels, Naftogaz has paid 3.1 billion U.S. dollars in two tranches to pay for 11.5 billion cubic metres of gas supplied by Gazprom in November-December 2013 and April-June 2014. The first tranche of 1.45 billion U.S. dollars was transferred on November 4.

In October, Gazprom and Naftogaz reached an agreement to resume Russian gas supplies to Ukraine on condition Naftogaz repays its 3.1 billion U.S. dollar debt. In early December, Naftogaz made an advance payment for gas supplies in December.


Τρίτη, Δεκεμβρίου 23, 2014

Russia to Halt Gas Sales to Ukraine if Kiev Fails to Repay $1.65Bln

Russia will stop gas sales to Ukraine if Kiev fails to repay $1.65 billion of its gas debt to Russia, Energy Minister Alexander Novak said Tuesday.

"Under the agreement, there will be no supplies in January if the debt of $1.65 billion remains unsettled," the minister said.

Novak said the price of Russian gas for Ukraine is estimated to range between $340 and $360 per 1,000 cubic meters in the first quarter of 2015.

"Our [previous] discussions in the month of October were based on price forecast of $360. At the moment, the price may be lower… I think, [it will be at] $340-$360," he said.

The Minister said that after the discount of $100 per 1,000 cubic meters, granted by Russia's Gazprom to Ukraine's Naftogaz, expires on April 1, the price of Russian gas to Ukraine will amount to about $440. According to Novak, Moscow is ready to consider a request for a new discount, but so far Ukrainian authorities have not asked for it.

After a six-month break, Russia resumed gas sales to Ukraine on December 9. A temporary agreement between Moscow and Kiev, in force during the cold season, stipulates that Ukraine should repay $3.1 billion of its $5.3-billion gas debt.

Ukraine's state-run oil and gas company Naftogaz repaid $1.45 billion of its gas debt to Gazprom in early December and allocated $378 million as prepayment for future supplies of 1 billion cubic meters of gas.

On Monday Ukrainian Energy Minister Volodymyr Demchishin told journalists that Ukraine so far has purchased some 300 million cubic meters of Russian gas under the so-called "winter package."

On the same day in an interview on Rossiya-24 television Novak expressed hope that Russia and Ukraine will continue their cooperation in gas deliveries even after the ten-year contract on gas transit and supply between Gazprom and Naftogaz expires in 2019.



Τετάρτη, Δεκεμβρίου 17, 2014

Bulgaria to send delegation to Moscow to discuss South Stream (reports)

Bulgaria’s Cabinet plans to send a government delegation to Moscow on December 19 to discuss the prospect of reviving the South Stream gas pipeline project, Russian and Bulgarian media quoted Economy Minister Bozhidar Loukarski as saying in Belgrade on December 16, following meetings with Serbian officials.
“Bulgaria never intended to give up on the South Stream project and would like to hear the official position of the Russian Energy minister on it,” he is quoted as saying. He also said that the pipeline could be brought in line with the EU regulations, although it remains unclear to what extent Russia is willing to do so, given that EU rules were one of the main obstacles cited by Russian president Vladimir Putin when he announced the project’s cancellation in Ankara on December 1.

It is unclear, also, whether Russia has agreed on holding such a meeting, with Russian news agency Itar-Tass reporting on December 17, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation, that Russian energy minister Alexander Novak was still deliberating on the issue of a meeting..........http://sofiaglobe.com/2014/12/17/bulgaria-to-send-delegation-to-moscow-to-discuss-south-stream-reports/


Agreement over EU fishing quotas for 2015

The EU Commission had been proposing very sharp cuts to Irish quotas, including a 20% reduction in whitefish quota and a 14% reduction in prawn quotas

However, Minister for Agriculture Simon Coveney said he is relieved to have delivered a much improved outcome.

The prawn quota has been increased by 3%, while the hake quota has also seen an 11% increase.

However, quotas for haddock and whiting have both been reduced by 12%, with a 13% reduction in cod quota.

Mr Coveney said the quotas which have now been agreed will be worth €123m to Irish whitefish fishermen next year, which is a small increase on this year.

The Minister said that an initiative from the Irish fishing industry to use new fishing gear that will allow more young fish to escape and reduce discards of haddock and whiting into the Celtic Sea by 4,000 tonnes per year greatly assisted in getting the sever EU proposed cuts reduced.

Fishermen’s representatives have described the outcome from the talks as disappointing.

Caitlin Uí Aodha, who represents fishermen in the south-east, said that the quota cuts in the Celtic Sea would only result in more discarding of fish at sea.

She added that these reductions will put further pressure on fishermen who are already finding it difficult to make a living.

Sean O'Donoghue, chairman of the Federation of Irish Fishermen, said that a zero quota for herring of the north-west was concerning and must be revisited in the New Year as it was unnecessary.He also said that the current quota management structure was “not fit for purpose” and called for a decommissioning scheme to reduce the numbers of boats at sea.


Δευτέρα, Δεκεμβρίου 15, 2014

Erdogan tells EU to 'mind own business' in Turkey arrests. EU's Mogherini 'very surprised' at Erdogan comments on arrests

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Monday (Dec 15) lashed out at the European Union for criticising the mass arrests targeting opposition media outlets, telling Brussels to "mind its own business."

"The European Union cannot interfere in steps taken ... within the rule of law against elements that threaten our national security," Erdogan said in a televised speech in the western Turkish city of Izmit. "They should mind their own business," he added, in his first comments after Sunday's raids.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and enlargement commissioner Johannes Hahn on Sunday condemned police raids as going "against the European values" and said they were "incompatible with the freedom of media, which is a core principle of democracy."

The unusually strongly worded statement followed a visit to Turkey by the two officials last week on expanding cooperation with Ankara and discussing its long-standing bid to join the bloc.

  • But Erdogan warned EU officials against pressuring Turkey's prosecutors, judges and police. "I wonder if those who keep this country at the EU doorstep for 50 years know what this step means?" he said, referring to the arrests.
"Elements that threaten our national security will receive the necessary response, even if they are members of the press," he said. "When taking such a step we don't care what the EU might say, or if the EU is going to accept us. We don't care... Please keep your mind to yourself," the combative president added.

Turkish police on Sunday arrested over two dozen people including the editor of Turkey's biggest-selling newspaper and others in lightning raids on supporters of US-based Turkish cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has become his number one nemesis.

Erdogan slammed EU member states, including Germany, for failing to cooperate with Ankara on a number of issues, including the fight against the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK). "Dossiers are being given to you and you say there's no result but you want to launch an operation against my own country," he said.
 - AFP/ec


  • Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Monday the judiciary and some other state institutions, including the state scientific agency Tubitak, must still be "cleansed of traitors" following the detention of two dozen opposition journalists and others...

Erdogan has been locked in a battle with followers of his erstwhile ally, the U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, whom he accuses of infilitrating state institutions, then trying to topple the government. Gulen denies the accusation.

Hundreds of civil servants, including police officers, prosecutors and Tubitak scientists, have been purged over the course of the last year or two as tension has escalated.

  • EU's Mogherini 'very surprised' at Erdogan comments on arrests...

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said Monday she was "surprised" after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticising mass arrests targeting opposition media.

"I've seen the reaction from President Erdogan and I'm very surprised," said Mogherini, pointing out that Erdogan's call for the EU to "mind its own business" came just a week after she visited Turkey for talks with him.

Οι νεκροί Έλληνες στα μακεδονικά χώματα σάς κοιτούν με οργή

«Παριστάνετε τα "καλά παιδιά" ελπίζοντας στη στήριξη του διεθνή παράγοντα για να παραμείνετε στην εξουσία», ήταν η κατηγορία πο...