President Barroso's call with President Putin
President Barroso spoke with President Putin by phone yesterday following the trilateral talks of last Friday on the Association Agreement and the Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area .
Both Presidents marked their agreement with the joint conclusions reached in the Trilateral talks. These conclusions should be implemented and on the EU side this will now be discussed with the Member States.
On this basis, President Putin confirmed that there would be no changes to the current bilateral trade regime between Russia and Ukraine.
The two Presidents also discussed the energy situation and it was agreed that a trilateral meeting at ministerial level should take place. Russia will propose a date for this very shortly. President Barroso underlined the need for a full respect of the 12 point cease fire plan agreed in Minsk. Both Presidents agreed that these steps should contribute to a political and peaceful solution, in full respect of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity.
Statement: Ratification of EU-Ukraine Association Agreement
President Barroso and President Van Rompuy issued a statement today, welcoming the ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.
"We welcome the simultaneous ratification of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement in the Verkhovna Rada and in the European Parliament today as an important step in Ukraine's political association and economic integration with the European Union. The Association Agreement will provide a blueprint for Ukraine's transformation into a modern and prosperous European democracy."
Background: According to the agreed outcome at the trilateral ministerial meeting on 12 September between the EU, Ukraine and Russia on the implementation of the EU-Ukraine AA/DCFTA, the Commission will now propose to Member States delaying until 31 December 2015 the provisional application of the trade-related provisions of the Association Agreement, and at the same time propose the continued application of the EU's autonomous trade measures for the benefit of Ukraine. For its part, Russia confirmed that the CIS-FTA preferential regime with Ukraine will continue to apply. The three sides have agreed that consultations will continue and shall be part of an overall peace process in Ukraine, respecting Ukraine's territorial integrity as well as its right to decide its own destiny.
President Barroso presented with the “Chair Library”
This Wednesday, at the Berlaymont, Art on Chairs will present a chair conceived for President Barroso.
The same had previously been done by them for the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, the football manager José Mourinho and the businessman Luciano Benetton.
After having interviewed President Barroso and inspired by his words: “my favourite thing is a book”, Paulo Parra designed the “Chair Library”.
Art on Chairs is a design platform that promotes the Portuguese furniture industry. As part of its activities, it has promoted a cycle of “Duets” between eleven designers and eleven personalities. The result was the design of eleven chairs which reflected these celebrities’ personalities, cultural heritage and life experience. In association with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the chairs were auctioned off and raised 112.000 euros, which was used to support educational projects in Africa.
According to Paulo Parra, reading is an act of reflection naturally associated to a resting state: to be seated. Thus, the “Chair Library” seeks to converge these two human activities: to sit in an environment that is prepared to accommodate books. The set up - in which reading is the central element - consists of a seat lounge, a travelling seat, a small fixed library and a deployable library. This chair will have more than one version - it can be used either static (in a room) or dismantled to be transported. The “Chair Library” is made of wood and leather, two materials which are naturally associated to books and writing.
Art on Chairs, which was honoured by the RegioStars 2014 (the “Oscar” for the best European projects supported by European funds), combines both the traditional and the modern and connects talented designers with local committed entrepreneurs, thus contributing to the development of the creative industries cluster of the northern region of Portugal.
The Chair has been prototyped and produced in J. Moreira da Silva & Sons.
Visit by President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III
On 15 September, President Barroso receives the President of the Philippines Benigno Aquino III for a bilateral meeting in Brussels.
Philippines Benigno Aquino is in Brussels to mark the 50th Anniversary of the establishment of the Philippine Embassy in Belgium.
The President will discuss bilateral issues, in particular some priority aspects of the Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (which was signed in 2012), the Mindanao Peace negotiations, trade and investment, bilateral development cooperation and maritime issues. They will also address EU and Asia relations.
President Barroso last met President Aquino in the margins of the ASEM summit in November 2012 in Laos.
President Barroso receives Corvinus University honoris causa
On 11 September, President Barroso received the Doctor Honoris Causa degree of the Corvinus University of Budapest from the hands of Prof.. Dr. Zsolt Rostoványi, Rector of the University.
The President made a speech entitled 'In varietate concordia'. He said: "I am especially excited to receive it at a time when we celebrate 10 years of this university – following the merger of the economics and horticulture universities in 2004; after just having commemorated 10 years of Hungary's accession to the European Union – which marked the true re-union of East and West; and at a moment when I prepare to hand over my mandate as President of the European Commission to my successor, Jean-Claude Juncker. He also reminded the audience that all three Hungarian Commissioners are former alumni of this university, which is so renowned for international relations, economics, and EU-studies through its Jean Monnet Chair.
President Barroso in Kiev (12-13 September)
On Friday afternoon, President Barroso meets with President Petro Poroshenko. Saturday morning, President Barroso meets with Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk.
During these bilateral talks, leaders will discuss the security situation and the current cease fire, the political and economic situation in Ukraine and the EU/Ukraine relations – namely the EU support and the next steps on the agreements. The President will be accompanied by Commissioner Stefan Fule.
On Friday evening, President Barroso will speak at the dinner of the Yalta European Strategy's (YES) 11th Annual Meeting. YES is the largest social institution of public diplomacy in Eastern Europe, providing an open and equal dialogue on global issues affecting the European Union, Ukraine, Russia and other countries. President Petro Poroshenko ok Ukraine, President Toomas Hendrik Ilves of Estonia and President Martin Schulz also take part in this event.
The EU has been fully engaged and is working as hard as ever to help bring about a political solution, in all its dimensions, to the Russia-Ukraine crisis. President Barroso’s visit marks an important symbol of support to Ukraine. The visit also follows an agreement on a ceasefire, reached in Minsk on 5 September within the Framework of the Trilateral Contact Group.
Following his meeting with President Poroshenko, President Barroso said:
"This visit to Kiev means a lot to me. I think we can say it is a clear symbol of Europe's support to Ukraine's sovereignty and unity."
"The situation in Ukraine remains very fragile. The cease fire agreed last week, in Minsk within the Framework of the Contact Group is certainly a positive step which needs to be uphold and respected. However it is still insufficient to guarantee sustainable peace."
"Today we have discussed how to best achieve progress for a sustainable political solution to the conflict, based on the respect for Ukraine's sovereignty. This is our primary goal - a political solution for this conflict based on the principle of Ukraine's sovereignty."
"We need a solution that has clear guarantees regarding border security and control, as well as a disarmament of all illegal groups and a withdrawal of any foreign troops. We have full confidence in President's Poroshenko efforts and we commend his initiatives to bring about such a solution. We support President Poroshenko's peace plan. We call on the Russian side to show the same commitment to peace and act in line with international norms and principles."
"And while we are committed to reach out and seek negotiated solutions, we also do not hesitate in responding decisively to Russia's unacceptable behaviour."
"As you know the European Union has already adopted restrictive measures in several sectors of the economy and we have recently stepped up the pressure by deepening these measures as well as by listing additional individuals to our visa ban and asset freeze list. These measures aim at bringing Russia to the conclusion that it is better to have a positive, constructive relation both with Ukraine and the European Union. And they mean also that the European Union and its Member States stand by Ukraine."
"We all know that a country under threat has many challenges to deal with. But I had the opportunity to say to President Poroshenko that political reforms and national dialogue are essential and indispensable part of the lasting, political solution for the crisis."
"Let me share with you very briefly one point on the humanitarian situation on the ground. Just yesterday the European Commission has decided to mobilise an additional €22 million to meet the most urgent needs of the population, this adding to the efforts already taken."
"Our message is clear. We stand by Ukraine's sovereign choices. And stand by Ukraine's European path. This does not have to be seen as threat."
Interview with La Stampa
On 10 September, an interview of President Barroso with Italian daily La Stampa was published.
Asked about the economy, the President notably underlines the strong growth and investment agenda that the Commission has been driving since many years, while underlining the need for fiscal consolidation, structural reforms and targeted investment.
On Italy, the President points out that the country, despite its great potential, is lagging behind in terms of competitiveness, basing his comments on the Competitiveness Reports the Commission released on the same day. Regarding investments, he regrets that Italy has a very low absorption rate (58%) of the EU's structural and investment funds.
President Barroso fully acknowledges the progress made by the government of Prime Minister Matteo Renzi, building on previous reform efforts.
He underlines positively the new enthusiasm and favourable political conditions to successfully implement an ambitious reform agenda, and encourages Italy to continue on this path.
He finally confirms the Commission's full support to Italy and expresses his personal admiration for the country.
In the interview the President also speaks about the role of the EU's High Representative/Vice President, a post that Foreign Minister Federica Mogherini has just been appointed to. He makes clear that the success of this role crucially depends on Member States granting the necessary authority and on embedding it more in the European institutions.
President Barroso visits Budapest
On Thursday 11 September, President Barroso travels to Budapest on an official visit.
He meets Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, and, on the occasion of a ceremony in the Hungarian Parliament, presents him with the decision by the European Commission on a Partnership Agreement with Hungary on the mobilisation of structural funds and EU investments for 2014-2020. This ceremony is open to the press and will start at 12:30 CET.
In the afternoon of the same day, President Barroso will receive a Doctor Honoris Causa at the Corvinius University in Budapest.
Finally he will also visit the European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) in Budapest.
President Barroso attends La Biennale di Venezia
On 7 September, President Barroso participated in a Domino Conversation organized in the framework of the New Narrative for Europe project at La Biennale di Venezia.
The event took place in the context of the Weekend Specials Program of Monditalia, an essential part of the 14th International Architecture Exhibition settled in the Corderie of Arsenale, one of the main venues of La Biennale di Venezia.
The Domino Conversations are an initiative of the collective theTomorrow, which provides a digital space that involves a large group of intellectuals, artists, scientists, researches, students and various players in European cultural life to look at the near future of Europe. The European Commission, in the context of the New Narrative project, supports the activities of theTomorrow.
For the Domino Conversation, a select group of European artists and intellectuals as Rem Koolhaas, Alice Rohrwacher, Stefano Boeri, Elif Shafak, Okwui Enwezor and Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev prepared a statement that focuses on and engages one of the themes addressed in the Declaration "The Mind and Body of Europe ", the main output of the New Narrative for Europe project. Each intervention concluded with a question addressed to President Barroso, to which he answered amongst others:
"The concept we want to develop is unity not uniformity."
"European Union is one of the best antidotes to extreme nationalism."
"The EU is not a foreign power. Decisions are taken together. As long as this is not being recognised we will not succeed."
The conversation will be published in the book " The Mind and Body of Europe: a new narrative", together with the main contributions received throughout the two years of the project. The book will be presented at the closing event of the project.
Commission participates in Ambrosetti Forum, 5-7 September
President Barroso and other members of the Commission participated in the 40th edition of the Ambrosetti Forum, organised by the renowned think tank "The European House – Ambrosetti".
This year's Forum was entitled “Intelligence on the World, Europe and Italy ”, and offered Italian and international decision-makers the opportunity for high-level examination of geopolitical, economic, technological and social scenarios and their implications for business.
The European Commission was represented by President Barroso as well as Vice President Almunia, responsible for Competition, Vice President Barnier, responsible for Internal Market and Services, Vice President Katainen, responsible for Economic and Monetary Affairs and Commissioner for Trade De Gucht.
President Barroso gave a key note speech, entitled “The Future of Europe: Delivering Reform”.
President Barroso attends NATO Summit in Wales
The President of the European Commission will join world leaders at the NATO Wales Summit on 4 and 5 September in Newport (UK).
This NATO summit will take place in a substantially different security environment caused mainly by the instability in Eastern Europe but also in the Middle East and North Africa.
President Barroso will take part in the session on Afghanistan, together with President Van Rompuy. High Representative Vice President Ashton will also take part in some sessions. President Barroso is expected to reiterate the EU long-term commitment to Afghanistan, exemplified in new strategy and funding until 2020 – including for the policing commitments made at the Chicago Summit in 2012.
Leaders will also discuss the implications of Russia’s actions in Eastern Europe.
European Council: No military solution to Ukraine crisis, says President Barroso
President Barroso has insisted that there can be no military solution to the crisis in Ukraine, and that time is quickly running out to reach a compromise.
"The contrast is too strong between the repeated commitments to political dialogue and the dramatic reality on the ground,” he told journalists after a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.
"There can be no military solution to this crisis. It's time for everyone to get down to the business of peace-making. It is not too late, but time is quickly running out.” he said.
The European Council meeting also heard from Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, who met with President Barroso separately ahead of the summit. President Barroso said leaders sent a clear message to President Poroshenko "that they stand behind the Ukrainian people and their right to decide their own future".
He explained that there was unity among EU leaders that if Russia continues to escalate the crisis, "it will come with a high cost".
The European Commission has been asked by the European Council to deliver further proposals for restrictive measures, and President Barroso assured EU leaders that the Commission would be “quick” to do so, as it had been before.
However, he insisted that sanctions or restrictive measures are not an end in themselves. "They are instruments to show to the Russian leadership that in the 21st century, the current behaviour is not acceptable, and that we urge them to come to reason, and to work constructively with the European Union and of course also with Ukraine,” he said. "Only with this path to peace can we credibly address the issues of concern.”
President Barroso also extended his congratulations to Donald Tusk and to Federica Mogherini on their appointments as future European Council President and High Representative for Foreign and Security Policy. "I know they are both deeply committed Europeans and I am sure that, together with Jean-Claude Juncker, they will make a great team and they will work actively on European priorities,” he said.
President Barroso also welcomed the fact that EU leaders will discuss employment, especially youth employment, at a conference in October in Italy, and assured his counterparts that the European Commission will ensure a smooth transition between this and the next Commission, presenting its orientations on economic matters this autumn. “Job creation, based on growth, is obviously at the centre of our priorities,” he said.
President Barroso has said it is not too late to find a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine and has called on all parties to avoid an escalation of the conflict.
Speaking following a meeting with President Poroshenko of Ukraine, President Barroso said that the situation was "serious" and "dramatic" and could reach a point of no return.
"We are in a very serious, I would say, dramatic situation. We may see a situation where we reach the point of no return. If the escalation of the conflict continues, this point of no return can come," he told journalists in Brussels on 30 August.
"I believe it's still not yet too late to find a political solution. I believe we should do everything we have in our capacity to avoid an escalation. That would certainly be detrimental to the interests, first of all, of Ukraine but certainly also of Russia and of Europe as a whole," he added.
President Barroso explained what he and the European Commission as a whole have been doing to help solve the conflict and find a political solution to the crisis. His meeting with President Poroshenko came the day after he had a "very long and frank" phone conversation with Russian President Vladimir Putin, during which he urged the Russian leader to "change course".
"No one's interest is served by new wars on our continent. No one's interest is served by confrontation. This is simply not the way that responsible, proud nations should behave in the 21st century," President Barroso said after the meeting, which came ahead of a summit of EU leaders in Brussels.
"Nobody is underestimating Russia’s concerns. We are ready to listen to Russia's concerns. But political differences need to be resolved through political means," he said.
Western Balkans: "Progress is tangible and real", says President Barroso
President Barroso attended on 28 August the Western Balkans summit in Berlin, preceded by a bilateral meeting with Chancellor Merkel. At a joint press conference with Chancellor Merkel and Albanian Prime Minister Edi Rama, the President reiterated the EU's commitment to the European perspective of all Western Balkan countries and support for the accession process.
"Our common goal is clear: We want to see the Western Balkan countries to ultimately join the European Union. This is in our joint political, economic and geo-strategic interest", he said.
The President stressed also that "further accessions depend on our partners own speed of reforms. But they will happen over time. We don't want to leave any doubt about it."
Regional integration and cooperation are key to make accession faster and easier: "Politically they create stability, and practically they remove obstacles. They also improve the conditions for economic and social development by fostering a positive and predictable business environment. This is what matters to all citizens of the Western Balkans".
Heads of government and ministers from all Western Balkans countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia) were present at the summit. Croatia, Slovenia, Austria and France participated at leaders' and/or ministerial level.
President Barroso had a one-hour bilateral meeting with Chancellor Merkel and then participated in the leaders' segment of the summit. He notably introduced the discussion about regional cooperation and the EU dimension. A press conference took place at the Chancellery with Chancellor Merkel, President Barroso and the Prime Minister of Albania Edi Rama who is the current Chair of the South East Europe Cooperation Process.
In the context of the summit, Commissioner Füle attended the meeting with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Vice President Oettinger a Western Balkans business meeting.
President Barroso in Vietnam
On 25 and 26 August, the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso paid an official visit to Vietnam. This was his second visit to the country.
The relationship between the EU and Vietnam have grown stronger and closer since President Barroso and Prime Minister Dung launched the negotiations for the EU–Vietnam Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) , during President Barroso’s first visit in 2007.
On 25 August, in Hanoi, President Barroso had a bilateral meeting with Prime Minister Dung. Their last meeting was held in March, in The Hague, in the margins of the Nuclear Security Summit. They are expected to discuss the conclusion of the Free Trade Agreement negotiations, development cooperation and South China Sea/East Sea-related issues. The EU-ASEAN relations – in particular the ASEM Summit - will also be a key element of their discussions. These bilateral talks were followed by a joint press conference at 10:55 am Brussels time at which President Barroso said:
"Europe values its special partnership with Vietnam. Vietnam is not just an emerging economy and a promising market, it is also a close partner with strong historical bounds uniting us and a trusted supporter of EU presence in this part of the world."
"Today the EU is Vietnam's largest export market and second largest trade partner. Our trade relations come today to 27 billion euro (USD 36 billion) a year. And Europe's foreign direct investment in Vietnam amounted to € 656 million in 2013 (around USD 880 million).
But we can and must do more.
This is why in 2012 we have launched talks for a Free Trade Agreement. This will be the second pillar in which our Partnership will stand. This Free Trade Agreement will offer important new business opportunities and promote growth and employment in Vietnam and in Europe."
"The EU is today Vietnam's largest grant donor and I can confirm that we decided this month to significantly increase our assistance to Vietnam for the period 2014-2020 to 400 million euro."
The President also witnessed a joint signing ceremony of trade-related assistance grants. This is related to a EUR 2.3 million EU funding to six business associations and research institutes under the project "EU-MUTRAP", a successful example of trade-related assistance.
In the afternoon, President Barroso paid courtesy calls on the President Truong Tan Sang and the General-Secretary of the Communist Party Nguyen Phu Trong.
At 12.35 Brussels time, President Barroso was awarded an Honorary Doctorate at the National Economics University. In his acceptance speech, President Barroso said:
"I am grateful to receive this honorary doctorate not only from a leading university in Vietnam, but from one of the leading business schools in South East Asia;
Because, your university understands the importance of being forward thinking and outward looking, not least by working together with some of the best economic institutes in Europe, and taking advantage of the European Union's increased opportunities under our Erasmus + and the Marie Skłodowska-Curie programmes for students and researchers.
This is what international cooperation is all about."
On the 26 August, a wreath laying ceremony at the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum closes the programme in Hanoi. Straight after President Barroso left for Ho Chi Minh City, the business heart of Vietnam. He met representatives of the EU business community. In the late afternoon he paid a short courtesy call on the Chair of Ho Chi Minh City's People's Committee Le Hoang Quan.
Phone call: President Barroso and President Poroshenko
President Barroso spoke with President Poroshenko on the phone yesterday and today to discuss the latest events in Ukraine.
President Barroso expressed his concern with the security situation and condemned the shelling of a convoy of internally displaced people.
The President of the European Commission urged an enquiry on this incident and recalled the need to protect civilian lives. He underlined the need to stop border hostilities and the flow of arms and personnel from Russia into Ukraine.
President Barroso also informed President Poroshenko that, following the invitation he received from both President Putin and President Poroshenko to attend the Customs Union - Ukraine Summit meeting in Minsk on 26th August, he has decided to ask High Representative/Vice-President Catherine Ashton, Vice-President Günther Oettinger responsible for energy and Commissioner for Trade Karel de Gucht, to represent the European Union at this event.
President Barroso, on his behalf and that of the President of the European Council, also invited President Poroshenko to visit Brussels in the near future.
Phone call on the situation in Ukraine
On Thursday, 14th of August, President Barroso and President Putin spoke on the phone.
As in the call on the day before with President Poroshenko and in the contacts earlier the same week with both the President of Russia and the President of Ukraine, the purpose was to discuss the situation in Ukraine and its overall context, including ways to de-escalate the current situation. It was agreed to hold consultations between the Presidents of Russia, Ukraine and the European Commission on the issues related with the implementation of the Association Agreement as well as on the supply of gas, in parallel with the efforts to stabilise the political and security situation. The concrete arrangements for these talks will be further discussed through the appropriate diplomatic channels.
Joint message of congratulations following the elections in Turkey
President Barroso and President Van Rompuy issued a statement today on the election of Recep Tayyip Erdogan as President of Turkey.
The statement reads:
"We congratulate you on your election as President of the Republic of Turkey. Turkey is a key partner for the European Union: a candidate country negotiating EU accession, a neighbour, an important trade partner and a foreign policy ally. We look forward to enhancing our cooperation in all these areas. As you rightly underlined yourself, we trust you will maintain the conciliatory role which your new position involves, and strive to encompass all communities, beliefs, sensitivities, opinions and lifestyles of the Turkish society. We also look forward to your continuing support to the current process aiming at a settlement of the Kurdish issue, in which you already invested valuable efforts and on your continuing support to reach a settlement in Cyprus."
Phone calls with President Poroshenko and President Putin
President Barroso made separate telephone calls today to Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding the situation in Ukraine.
In both phone calls, President Barroso expressed the EU’s increasing concern regarding the humanitarian impact of the on-going conflict in eastern Ukraine, especially the civilian casualties. President Barroso called for the respect of international humanitarian law and for humanitarian organisations to be supported and facilitated in their present efforts to increase the assistance to all of the population in need.
Speaking with President Poroshenko, President Barroso emphasised the EU’s readiness to increase its support to the Ukrainian government-led humanitarian response efforts as well as to international humanitarian organisations. The President of the Commission welcomed President's Poroshenko willingness to seek international humanitarian assistance. In this vein President Barroso announced that the European Commission would take this week an emergency Decision on additional humanitarian support as a contribution to the UN-led international response plan.
President Barroso also stressed the importance of the on-going reform process in Ukraine in view of the expected provisional application of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.
Speaking with President Putin, President Barroso said that the EU would join in international efforts to assist people in need as a result of the conflict. President Barroso expressed concern at the gathering of Russian troops near the Ukrainian border, as well as the continuing flow of arms, equipment and militants from Russian territory, which run counter to efforts towards de-escalating the crisis. President Barroso warned against any unilateral military actions in Ukraine, under any pretext, including humanitarian. President Barroso also appealed on Russia to use its influence to ensure that civilian populations could safely and freely leave areas of conflict controlled by illegal armed groups.
In both phone conversations, President Barroso underlined the EU’s firm stance in upholding Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence and support for the implementation of the agreed peace plan.
Recalling that the EU’s restrictive measures against the Russian Federation were linked to the illegal annexation of Crimea and destabilisation of Ukraine, President Barroso underlined the EU’s regret at Russia’s announcement of measures targeting food and agricultural imports, for which there was no justification, reserving the EU’s right to take action as appropriate.
In this context the President of the Commission and the President of Russia agreed on the need to keep the channels of communication open on matters of relevance, namely on the economic and energy fields, as well as on the overall bilateral relations.
President Barroso offered once again to President Putin the possibility to work together in support of stabilising Ukraine, including through the national dialogue on constitutional reform and decentralisation.
President Barroso also addressed in both phone calls the active role of the Commission in helping Ukraine and the Russian Federation to identify solutions to questions raised in the on-going consultations on the impact of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement including a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Area, as well as regarding gas supply in forthcoming energy-related discussions.
Gaza: joint statement by Presidents Barroso and Van Rompuy
President Barroso and President Van Rompuy issued a statement in the name of the European Union on Sunday, 3 August.
"Gaza has been suffering from intolerable violence for more than three weeks already. We deplore the terrible loss of lives, including innocent women and children. Many have been injured, property and livelihoods have been destroyed. This needs to stop immediately. We strongly condemn continued rocket fire over Israel. It constitutes an unacceptable threat to its citizens. Israel has the right to live in peace in its recognised borders. Legitimate defence needs to maintain proportionality. We have all seen these cycles in the past and we know that there are limits regarding what military operations can achieve.
Only a negotiated solution, based on two States, living side by side and respectful of each other, will bring lasting peace. The bloodshed needs to stop. Today we join our voice to those of the Secretary General of the United Nations and other international leaders that are calling on both sides to put an end to hostilities. We are ready to support actively negotiations, confidence building measures, reconstruction and reconciliation efforts.
No more lives should be wasted. Palestinian and Israeli leaders need to exercise courage by putting an end to this senseless violence. They also need to exercise courage and wisdom to move beyond these cycles of violence and advance towards arrangements that will ensure peaceful and dignified coexistence, based on mutual respect."
President Barroso launches Partnership Agreement in Portugal
President Barroso and Commissioner Hahn are in Lisbon today to mark the launch of the Partnership Agreement in a meeting with Prime Minister Pedro Passos Coelho and members of the government.
The "Partnership Agreement" was adopted by the European Commission on the 30th of July, and sets down the strategy for the optimal use of European Structural and Investment Funds throughout the country. It paves the way for investing €21.46 billion in total Cohesion Policy funding over 2014-2020 (current prices, including European Territorial Cooperation funding and the allocation for the Youth Employment Initiative). Portugal also receives €4.06 billion for rural development and €392 million for fisheries and the maritime sector.
Commenting on the adoption, President Barroso said:
”The adoption of the 'Partnership Agreement' is vital to continue the support to Portugal's recovery and development. It is very much geared towards improving competitiveness, creating jobs and promoting social inclusion. It is now paramount to use the nearly €26 billion in an efficient and productive manner, directly benefiting Portuguese people.”
The EU investments will help tackle unemployment and boost competitiveness and economic growth through support to innovation, training and education in Portugal's cities, towns and rural areas. They will also promote entrepreneurship, fight social exclusion and help to develop an environmentally friendly and a resource-efficient economy.
Portugal is the 10th EU Member State to have adopted a Partnership Agreement.
G-7 Leaders Statement on Ukraine
G-7 leaders joined yesterday in expressing their grave concern about Russia’s continued actions to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence.
"We, the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission, join in expressing our grave concern about Russia’s continued actions to undermine Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and independence. We once again condemn Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea, and actions to de-stabilise eastern Ukraine. Those actions are unacceptable and violate international law.
We condemn the tragic downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 and the deaths of 298 innocent civilians. We demand a prompt, full, unimpeded and transparent international investigation. We call upon all sides to establish, maintain and fully respect a cease-fire at and around the crash site, as demanded by UN Security Council resolution 2166, so that the investigators can take up their work and to recover the remains of all victims and their personal possessions.
This terrible event should have marked a watershed in this conflict, causing Russia to suspend its support for illegal armed groups in Ukraine, secure its border with Ukraine, and stop the increasing flow of weapons, equipment and militants across the border in order to achieve rapid and tangible results in de-escalation.
Regrettably however, Russia has not changed course. This week, we have all announced additional coordinated sanctions on Russia, including sanctions on specific companies operating in key sectors of the Russian economy. We believe it is essential to demonstrate to the Russian leadership that it must stop its support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine and tangibly participate in creating the necessary conditions for the political process.
We remain convinced that there must be a political solution to the current conflict, which is causing rising numbers of civilian casualties. We call for a peaceful settlement of the crisis in Ukraine, and underline the need to implement President Poroshenko's peace plan without any further delay. To this end, we urge all parties to establish a swift, genuine and sustainable general cease-fire on the basis of the Berlin Declaration of 2 July with the aim of maintaining Ukraine's territorial integrity. We call upon Russia to use its influence with the separatist groups and ensure effective border control, including through OSCE observers. We support the OSCE and the Trilateral Contact Group as central players in creating the conditions for a ceasefire.
Russia still has the opportunity to choose the path of de-escalation, which would lead to the removal of these sanctions. If it does not do so, however, we remain ready to further intensify the costs of its adverse actions."
Statement on the agreed additional restrictive measures against Russia
President Barroso and President Van Rompuy issued a statement in the name of the European Union on Tuesday, 29 July.
"Today the European Union has agreed a package of significant additional restrictive measures targeting sectoral cooperation and exchanges with the Russian Federation. These decisions will limit access to EU capital markets for Russian State-owned financial institutions, impose an embargo on trade in arms, establish an export ban for dual use goods for military end users, and curtail Russian access to sensitive technologies particularly in the field of the oil sector.
This package reinforces the recently expanded listing of persons and entities undermining Ukrainian territorial integrity and sovereignty, including the so-called "cronies", the suspension of EIB and EBRD financing, the restriction of investment and trade with Crimea and Sevastopol and the reassessment of the Russia EU bilateral cooperation with a view to reducing the level of the cooperation.
The package responds to directions given by the European Council of 16 July. It is meant as a strong warning: illegal annexation of territory and deliberate destabilisation of a neighbouring sovereign country cannot be accepted in 21st century Europe. Furthermore, when the violence created spirals out of control and leads to the killing of almost 300 innocent civilians in their flight from the Netherlands to Malaysia, the situation requires urgent and determined response. The European Union will fulfil its obligations to protect and ensure the security of its citizens. And the European Union will stand by its neighbours and partners.
Since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis, the European Union has been calling on the Russian leadership to work towards a peaceful resolution. We have done this collectively and bilaterally. We regret to say that despite some mixed messages coming from Moscow, and exchanges in the Normandy and other formats, there has been scarce delivery on commitments. Our call has been, in practice, left unheeded. Arms and fighters continue flowing into Ukraine from the Russian Federation. Strong Russian State sponsored nationalist propaganda continues supporting the illegal actions of armed separatists. We have witnessed with anger and frustration the delays in providing international access to the site of the air crash, the tampering with the remains of the plane, and the disrespectful handling of the deceased.
The Russian Federation and the European Union have important common interests. We will both benefit from open and frank dialogue, from increased cooperation and exchanges. But we cannot pursue this important positive agenda when Crimea is illegally annexed, when the Russian Federation supports armed revolt in Eastern Ukraine, when the violence unleashed kills innocent civilians.
The package of new restrictive measures agreed today by the European Union constitutes a powerful signal to the leaders of the Russian Federation: destabilising Ukraine, or any other Eastern European neighbouring State, will bring heavy costs to its economy. Russia will find itself increasingly isolated by its own actions. The European Union remains ready to reverse its decisions and reengage with Russia when it starts contributing actively and without ambiguities to finding a solution to the Ukrainian crisis."
Joint statement by President Barroso and President Van Rompuy on the crash of the airliner in Mali
"On behalf of the European Union, we wish to convey our deepest condolences to the families of the victims of the Air Algérie flight that crashed in Mali. We also wish to express our sympathy and solidarity to the governments of all affected nations, including to the French and Algerian Presidents."
Ukraine: European Commission adopted legislative proposals on restrictive measures
In its conclusions on Ukraine of 22 July, the Foreign Affairs Council requested "the Commission and the EEAS to finalise their preparatory work on possible targeted measures and to present proposals for taking action, including on access to capital markets, defence, dual use goods, and sensitive technologies, including in the energy sector." In line with this request, on 24 July the Commission presented to the Council a document outlining a number of measures that could be taken in the areas set out by the Council conclusions and the procedure that should be followed to adopt the relevant legal instrument, and the Council's Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) exchanged view on the basis of this preparatory work last Thursday and Friday. Given the broad agreement on the Commission's approach, the European Commission tabled the necessary legislative proposals in all areas identified by the Council on Friday, 25 July, and President Barroso issued the following statement:
"Having been mandated to prepare a package of restrictive measures in the light of Russia's role in destabilising and escalating the situation in Ukraine, the European Commission tabled today a legislative proposal building on the package of targeted measures presented to Member States by the Commission and the EEAS earlier this week.
The final decision now lies with the EU's Member States, but I believe that this is an effective, well-targeted and balanced package providing the flexibility to adjust our reaction to changes on the ground. I hope that Member States will agree on this package of restrictive measures next week.
I recall that these measures are not an end in themselves, but a means to achieve a negotiated and political solution to the crisis - which remains the EU's firm priority. I call on Russia to take decisive steps to stop the violence and genuinely engage in peace plan discussions."
It is now for Member States to agree on the Commission's proposals. The Council's Committee of Permanent Representatives (COREPER) is due to go through the legislative proposals on Tuesday, 29 July.
Joint Statement on the crash of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17
The President of the European Commission, José Manuel Barroso, and the President of the European Council, Herman Van Rompuy, made a statement on Thursday's airliner crash in Ukraine.
"We are shocked by the crash of the Malaysian airliner in Ukraine and the tragic loss of so many lives. Citizens from many nationalities including from the European Union have been killed.
On behalf of the European Union, we wish to convey our deepest condolences to the Prime Ministers of the Netherlands, Malaysia, to the governments of all other affected nations, and to the families of the victims.
We call for an immediate and thorough investigation into the causes of the crash. The facts and responsibilities need to be established as quickly as possible. The European Union will continue to follow this issue very closely."