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2018 marks the 20th anniversary of the European Commission's Twinning instrument, one of the most successful and most used tools for supporting the European Union's neighbouring countries and regions.With the recent launch of the newest Twinning project in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, the total number of Twinning projects implemented in the past 20 years surpasses 2700 in this anniversary year. The new project aims to establish peer-to-peer, on the ground cooperation with the partner country's Customs Administration in Skopje in order to simplify customs procedures and to create a business-friendly environment.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, will be in Serbia from 7 to 8 February and Montenegro on Friday 9 February. These are the first visits immediately following yesterday's Commission's adoption of the Strategy 'A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans'. Meeting with key countries' representatives – political authorities including opposition groups as well as representatives of the civil society organisations, Commissioner Hahn will discuss the Strategy and its implications for the two countries and the whole region.
The Commission adopted today a strategy for 'A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans'. As President Juncker announced in his 2017 State of the Union address, the Commission adopted today a strategy for 'A credible enlargement perspective for and enhanced EU engagement with the Western Balkans', confirming the European future of the region as a geostrategic investment in a stable, strong and united Europe based on common values. It spells out the priorities and areas of joint reinforced cooperation, addressing the specific challenges the Western Balkans face, in particular the need for fundamental reforms and good neighbourly relations. A credible enlargement perspective requires sustained efforts and irreversible reforms. Progress along the European path is an objective and merit-based process which depends on the concrete results achieved by each individual country.
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations is today in Washington D.C. to discuss EU and US bilateral relation and common work in the EU neighbourhood. Commissioner Hahn will meet officials of the US administration including the Senior Advisor to the President Jared Kushner, the Deputy Assistant to the President and Senior Director for European and Russian Affairs Fiona Hill, the U.S. Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations Kurt Volker and Under Secretary for Political Affairs Tom Shannon. Commissioner will discuss with the First Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund David Lipton, and the Chief Executive Officer of the World Bank Kristalina Georgieva, how to enhance the common work between the EU and the International Financial Institutions. Commissioner Hahn will also participate in an informal roundtable discussion at the Hudson Institute. Photos and videos of the visit will be available on EbS.
The EU will fund projects to increase the resilience of locals and support the Palestinian presence in the city, through targeted measures benefiting young people and the private sector. The European Commission has adopted a new €42.5 million assistance package benefiting Palestinians, including substantial support in East Jerusalem. Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, Johannes Hahn, said: "With this new assistance package the EU continues to support the Palestinians on their way towards the establishment of their own state as part of the two-state solution, with Jerusalem as capital of both Israel and Palestine. The European Union is, and will remain, Palestine's most reliable and important donor, investing in businesses, youth and schooling, helping to provide access to clean water in Gaza, strengthening civil society and investing on education and health."
Johannes Hahn, Commissioner for European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations will visit Belarus on 30 January to follow up the Eastern Partnership Summit which took place on 24 November in Brussels. Commissioner Hahn will meet with the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko, the Prime Minister of Belarus Andrei Kobyakov and with Vladimir Makei, Minister of Foreign Affairs, to discuss the priorities of the Eastern Partnership Summit and the deepening of EU-Belarus relations. This will also be reflected in the new EU-Belarus Partnership Priorities which will define further cooperation for the coming years. The Commissioner will also meet with representatives of the opposition and participants of the MOST project.
Johannes Hahn, Commissaire pour la Politique Européenne de Voisinage et les négociations de l'élargissement, se rendra à Alger ce dimanche 21 janvier pour participer à la 14e réunion des Ministres des Affaires étrangères du "Dialogue 5+5" (Méditerranée occidentale). S'adressant à la session plénière, le Commissaire Hahn contribuera aux discussions sur la manière de stimuler le développement socio-économique, promouvoir l'investissement pour une croissance durable, et favoriser l'interconnectivité entre les deux côtés de la Méditerranée. La coopération en matière de sécurité, les défis auxquels sont confrontés les jeunes de la région, notamment en matière d'emploi, et la coopération régionale seront également à l'ordre du jour. En marge de la réunion, le Commissaire aura plusieurs réunions bilatérales sur les relations avec les différents pays participants. Des vidéos et des photos de la visite seront disponibles sur EbS.
From 17-18 January, a high-level workshop on ''Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism in the Middle East and North Africa Region" takes place in Beirut, Lebanon. Organised by one of the EU's key capacity-building instruments - the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Instrument (TAIEX) – the event brings together government representatives, experts and practitioners from Lebanon, Jordan, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and Mali. Together with national experts from EU Member States, as well as from international organisations and civil society groups, the regional, multi-agency and inclusive set-up of the workshop aims at developing a knowledge-based platform that will build on the ongoing EU cooperation in this field with its partner countries and facilitate further targeted actions and boost cooperation. Thematically, the workshop focuses on two main topics: radicalisation in prisons and internet radicalisation.
In the first meeting of 2018, the College of Commissioners discussed the institutional priorities for this year, a year to deliver on the reform of the Economic and Monetary Union, secure the EU's borders, overhaul the EU's asylum system, get back to Schengen, complete the Digital Single Market, and bring the Western Balkans closer to the Union. 89 priority files are currently on the table, 29 have already been delivered, and the College discussed how to ensure that the rest is finalised before May 2019. The orientation debate also included an overview of the major new proposals to be expected for 2018, which will feed into the Roadmap for a more united, stronger and more democratic Union.
The National Bank of Belarus (NBRB) is at the heart of the first ever Twinning project in the country, endorsed today during an official signature ceremony in Minsk in the presence of Andrea Wiktorin, Head of the European Union Delegation to Belarus.
With a budget of over 1 million Euros, the project aims at supporting Belarus' sustainable economic growth by improving the capacity of the NBRB to address the major challenges it faces as an independent central bank. The role of a National Bank is key to each country's economic development, as the institution is in charge of protecting the national currency, ensuring its stability, maintaining the solidity of the national banking system and ensuring an efficient functioning of the economy. An increased professional capacity of the staff of the National Bank of Belarus will bring, in the long-term, more economic stability and a stronger banking supervision, leading to more trust in economic governance. The focus is on delivering results for citizens, who will benefit from the institution's capacity to bolster competitiveness, support investments and secure innovation-driven development.