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EU Space Policy: Space for industry Massimiliano Salini

The new Space Programme might not yet allow us to reach the moon, but it will be the key tool for the EU economy in the coming years, writes Massimiliano Salini.

The new Space Programme might not yet allow us to reach the moon, but it will be the key tool for the EU economy in the coming years, writes Massimiliano Salini.

Photo Credit: Adobe Stock


In May last year, and for the first time in eight years, the Competitiveness Council held a joint meeting with European Space Agency (ESA) member states. The aim of this meeting was to create a “joint space council” - an annual ministerial meeting on space policy.

On that occasion, it was reiterated that space policy is crucial for the EU and the ESA, and that coordination between these two organisations must be strengthened.

Since then, the new Von der Leyen Commission has set up a directorate dedicated to space and defence policy within the broader Directorate-General for the Internal Market, entrusted to French Commissioner Thierry Breton.


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Both events took place just after the conclusion of negotiations over the new Space Programme and are signs of the EU’s growing interest in space policy. For those less familiar with the EU’s space programme, it can be summed up as an initiative under the next multiannual financial framework (MFF) for the period 2021-2027.

Even though the EU’s space industry is already one of the most competitive in the world, the emergence of new players and the development of new technologies are revolutionising traditional industrial models.

The Space Programme aims to maintain EU leadership in this domain and to encourage competitiveness among Europe’s space sector-related industries, in particular, small and medium-sized enterprises, start-ups and innovative businesses, and ensure investment continuity in EU space activities.

It will also exploit the growing opportunities that the space sector can offer to improve our security, including making the most of synergies between the civil and defence sectors.

The negotiations were successfully concluded before the end of the last mandate, when Parliament and the Council managed to find an agreement on simplifying space governance and strengthening the EU Agency for the Space Programme (EUSPA).

"Today, it is clear that space is becoming an increasingly accessible market for private individuals"

The agreement also improves the allocation of responsibilities, including of downstream markets; safeguards GovSatCom; bolsters the EU’s space diplomacy and promotes EU technology and industry. However, despite the conclusion of these negotiations, a key element is still on the table: the budget.

We are entering a crucial phase of the budget negotiations, where we must determine how to finance the main European programs for the next seven years (2021-2027).

The proposal from the Finnish Presidency back in December was to reduce the €16bn budget, initially put forward by the European Commission, by 10.5 percent, despite Parliament’s calls to increase it by €900m.

For the Parliament, this is an unacceptable reduction, because it will undermine the existing programs (Copernicus and Galileo), and it could also prevent the launch of new programs such as GovSatCom and Space Surveillance & Tracking (SST).

In response to the Finnish negotiating box, Parliament made it clear that the proposed €16bn budget for the next seven years will be crucial if we want the EU to remain a world leader in this field, and it will help us play a key role in international cooperation and serve as an essential building block for the EU’s strategic autonomy.

In order to understand the importance of the space sector, we first need to understand what the space economy is and the opportunities for industry that it creates.

"At European level, the space sector has created 230,000 jobs, ranging from manufacturing to space operations, and is valued at €46-54 billion"

According to Commissioner Breton, “The space industry is absolutely essential. Europe is the second-largest continent in the world in terms of space, and it will remain so. This is essential for our autonomy and for our independence.”

When we refer to the ‘space industry’, this is an umbrella term for private initiatives that are not part of government programs. Today, it is clear that space is becoming an increasingly accessible market for private individuals.

At European level, the space sector has created 230,000 jobs, ranging from manufacturing to space operations, and is valued at €46-54bn, according to the latest Commission statistics.

The EU’s space sector also stands to benefit from the recent agreement reached at the ESA Ministerial Conference on the allocation for the next three to five years. This is a considerable boost for the space industry and it will allow us to guarantee independent access to space.

As for the commercial activities based on the use of data provided by space infrastructure, such applications make space more accessible, both to the EU, SMEs and EU citizens. This is an area that the Commission and EU agencies should focus on more.

Especially in light of Galileo reaching the milestone of one billion users worldwide, last year. The new Space Programme might not yet allow us to reach the moon, but it will be the key tool for the EU economy in the coming years.

/articles/feature/eu-space-policy-space-industry Wed, 05 Feb 2020 12:06:13 +0100
Committee guide 2020 | CONT: Command and control Monika Hohlmeier

EU money is taxpayers’ money, and the CONT Committee ensures that it is spent correctly, efficiently and in a purposeful way, explains Monika Hohlmeier.

EU money is taxpayers’ money, and the CONT Committee ensures that it is spent correctly, efficiently and in a purposeful way, explains Monika Hohlmeier.

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The Committee on Budgetary Control’s (CONT) main focus over the next five years will focus on highlighting systemic issues regarding the rule of law, conflicts of interest, the misuse of EU funds by organised crime, the creation of oligarch systems through the misuse of EU money, land-grabbing and weaknesses in our customs and VAT-collection systems.

The CONT Committee wants to guarantee that EU money benefits the majority of citizens. Subsidies should reach those who need them most: small and medium-sized companies and family led small and medium-sized farms, innovative start-ups, researchers and family businesses - not oligarchs.

We do not accept that the political decisions on how taxpayers’ money is used and those receiving the benefit of these subsidies should be in the same hands.


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Despite these issues, CONT Committee members are well aware that most financial discrepancies are due to the complexity of the EU’s rules and procedures - particularly in areas such as agriculture, cohesion and research and innovation.

Therefore, simplifying our rules and procedures as well as reducing any unnecessary gold-plating - the addition of national rules and requirements to our already complex EU legislation - as well as non-transparent procedures will be another important issue on the Committee’s agenda for this legislative term.

As CONT Committee chair, I believe that simplifying procedures and improving transparency will result in better and speedier implementation of EU programmes.

“As CONT Committee chair, I believe that simplifying procedures and improving transparency will result in better and speedier implementation of EU programmes”

It is important that the CONT Committee continues to monitor and analyse the effectiveness of national management and audit authorities while asking how we can ensure more or better technical assistance, or more effective knowledge-sharing systems and exchange of excellence between Member States.

One of the most important, but extremely sensitive, topics on the Committee’s agenda is the continued fight against corruption.

In a small number of cases, national governments may be involved, which can make things highly political. Therefore, it is crucial that we improve ‘rule of law’ enforcement across the Member States.

Unfortunately, the existing rule of law mechanism in the Lisbon Treaty isn’t working properly and there is a lot to be done to move forward in creating an effective and transparent rule of law legislation.

We must ensure that the rule of law mechanism becomes effective and is applied equally, without exception, in all Member States.

I believe that we in the CONT Committee should focus on the big issues and point our finger at issues of systemic failure in a constructive way.

EU money is taxpayers’ money, and the CONT Committee ensures that it is spent correctly, efficiently and in a purposeful way. I want to avoid EU citizens having to pay more taxes because of fraudsters and criminals.

Therefore, the Committee keeps an eye on Member States’ collection of the EU’s own resources. In addition, CONT pushes on strengthening the rule of law, monitors that all Member States have efficient and effective mechanisms to avoid conflicts of interest, that EU subsidies reach the right beneficiaries, and that national management and control authorities can work independently.

“It is crucial that we improve ‘rule of law’ enforcement across the Member States”

I am delighted that the Parliament’s candidate, Laura Kövesi, was confirmed as European Chief Prosecutor.

I expect the European Public Prosecutor’s Office (EPPO) to make a strong contribution in combatting cross-border VAT fraud, money laundering and crimes against the EU’s financial interests, where the EU is losing out on enormous amounts of revenue - around €95bn in VAT fraud alone - every year.

For EPPO to become a success we must ensure that it is adequately equipped to have a serious impact. Therefore, I am happy that we could agree on five additional staff members for EPPO in the 2020 budget negotiations.

Though we are seeing improvements in the area of cohesion, there are still a lot of weaknesses. Going forward, we must do more to improve the support of SMEs and start-ups.

In the area of agriculture we are facing a problem due to the huge concentration of CAP subsidies delivered to a small number of recipients.

CONT would like to strengthen opportunities for small and medium-sized farms rather than subsidies for industrial conglomerates.

There is a clear need for reforms to improve fairness. In the multiannual financial framework (MFF) there will be new priorities that require fresh money.

The new European Green Deal will also need to be monitored to ensure its sustainability, effectiveness and added value.

The European Development Fund and the different trust funds should be included in the European budget to help streamline activities and ensure that its commitments help fulfil the policy and development goals outlined in its strategy.

The introduction of financial means currently being managed outside the EU Budget should not lead to cuts but should help align and increase the EU’s influence in the regions concerned.

Finally, we are facing challenges because of underfinanced programmes in the area of research and innovation. Additional means are necessary to ensure we have a fair distribution of grants.

/articles/feature/committee-guide-2020-cont-command-and-control Wed, 05 Feb 2020 11:35:53 +0100
Committee guide 2020 | BUDG: Adding value Johan van Overtveldt

Britain’s exit from the EU should generate a discussion over the Union’s potential new own resources, suggests Johan van Overtveldt

Britain’s exit from the EU should generate a discussion over the Union’s potential new own resources, suggests Johan van Overtveldt

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What are the biggest challenges facing the committee and how do you plan to tackle them?

Obviously, the negotiations about the MFF, which will determine the direction for the coming years. This is not going to be easy, because there is a need for common ground between both the European institutions and also between Parliament’s political groups.

This a more diverse Parliament than the previous legislature, and this needs to be taken into account; it hasn’t got any easier to find majorities. We reached an agreement on the budget for 2020.

It’s truly a turning point with future-oriented choices. It’s no longer an old-fashioned European budget, it has more emphasis on research, innovation and technology in response to challenges. I hope that we can deliver a multi-annual budget that will continue to build on this.


Also, I’m convinced that we have to exercise sufficient budget orthodoxy and that every Euro needs to be spent efficiently.

This is essential for reconnecting with our citizens; they really don’t need expensive promises that cannot be kept. This is where Europe can seize the chance to gain trust. The same is true for financing the European Commission’s Green Deal.

I believe that a large majority backs the principles of this project, but everything will, of course, depend on financing.

“This a more diverse Parliament than the previous legislature, and this needs to be taken into account; it hasn’t got any easier to find majorities”

To put it kindly, I can only note that the financial narrative surrounding the Green Deal, as proposed by the Commission, currently has too many loose ends.

In which policy areas do you think citizens will see the greatest benefit from your work over the coming years?

It’s not so much about “my work” but about the contribution of Parliament in the budget negotiations. Choices are made in that budget and options are taken on the future.

As chair, I also represent Parliament in those negotiations, and I try to emphasise these things personally. We have to commit ourselves to those projects where Europe can offer substantial added value due to the scale.

In addition, the economist in me follows the developments in monetary and economic matters with a considerable passion.

Some of these domains may be a bit out of reach for citizens, but they remain fascinating and of great importance to how our economy and our society functions.

The entire discussion around the internet giants is also of paramount importance. These companies can deliver formidable results, but they have a hint of monopoly to them. This is bad for the citizens and the economy, in short, for all of society.

What are your priority areas for investment in the multiannual financial framework?

I’m convinced that we have to rise to the challenges of research, development and innovation.

“Brexit will obviously have an impact on the budget. We will have to reach an agreement on how we compensate for this” 

As the EU, we can make a difference in this. Innovation can help us find answers to many of the challenges regarding climate change.

However, it goes further than that; by differentiating ourselves this way we can also strengthen our competitive position, and that of the Member States, on an international level.

What will be the impact of Brexit on the budget and how will the EU cope without their financial support?

Brexit will obviously have an impact on the budget. We will have to reach an agreement on how we compensate for this.

I strongly advocate for personally making an effort to see where efficiency gains can be achieved and where money can be saved.

This will also generate a discussion over potential new own resources for the EU. It is a good discussion to have, because it will force us to seriously think about the kind of future we want for the EU.

/articles/feature/committee-guide-2020-budg-adding-value Tue, 04 Feb 2020 18:11:01 +0100
EU Space Policy: Thinking Big Marian-Jean Marinescu

The EU must take the lead on space security, argues Marian-Jean Marinescu.

The EU must take the lead on space security, argues Marian-Jean Marinescu.

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Almost two years ago, the United States took its first legislative steps on establishing a Space Traffic Management system and framework. These rules should apply to other countries with space activities as well.

As the EU has already similar experiences with US regulations affecting its banking or energy operations, to mention just two of them, the question is what should the EU do to prevent the same thing happening in the space sector. Well, nothing less than thinking big and becoming a space power is what I strongly believe.

We need our own Space traffic management system and not be reliant or dependent on an American one. With this in mind, I put forward a pilot project on Space Traffic Management to the European Commission last year.


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It would seem that now is the right time for such an objective, especially as European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen recently said that promoting Europe’s technological sovereignty and strategic autonomy would be key priorities for her term.

A safe, stable, and operationally sustainable space environment is of paramount importance to the EU. But the adoption of US standards, guidelines and norms would have an impact on European industries while generating new markets for Space Traffic Management services for US companies.

Are we going to allow this to happen? Several weeks ago, the European Space Agency had to perform a last-minute avoidance manoeuvre to protect one of its spacecraft from colliding with a Space X satellite in the Starlink constellation.

"We need our own Space traffic management system and not be reliant or dependent on an American one"

In the next period, we will experience a high development of the space field with many satellites out there. More than 5000 spacecraft have been placed in space since the launch of Sputnik 1 in October 1957, of which some 2000 satellites are still active.

There are also more than 5000 objects over a metre long in geostationary orbits, more than 30,000 objects larger than 10 cm and more than a hundred million pieces of debris of one centimetre or less.

This debris poses an increasingly serious risk of collision in space as well as a huge insecurity for our space infrastructure, such as the Galileo and Sentinels satellites.

The pilot project on Space traffic management will have to identify and assess the legal and regulatory challenges, needs and best practices and provide recommendations on Space Traffic Management to both EU and national policymakers.

The results should also compare the pros and cons of international, European and national approaches.

Meanwhile, European industries (launchers, satellites ground segment and operators) must get involved and speak with one voice about their concerns, challenges and technology needs in the area of space traffic management. Certainly, for the EU to become a space power will take more than that.

"Becoming a space power is a matter of EU security and of EU leadership on the global scale"

We need a comprehensive approach which should include a European launching facility for European needs that would provide services for other entities as well.

We also need an EU R&D Programme for launching equipment, continuing support for the Galileo, Copernicus and Egnos programmes, an R&D programme for the new generation of satellites and for providing security of systems. Horizon EU should be the main tool in this direction.

We must also look at spending efficiencies. Thanks to the new Green Deal, we are undergoing a massive and radical paradigm shift. The EU and Member States will put many resources to finance these changes, but as funds are limited, it is necessary to use money efficiently.

An EU R&D programme is therefore absolutely necessary. The Space Joint Technology Initiative should be one of the future European partnerships Regarding Space Traffic Management and Space Situational Awareness, the pilot project on Space Traffic Management can play a crucial role.

The EU’s space industry should have one voice when it comes to putting pressure on EU decision makers to make them aware that becoming a space power is a matter of EU security and of EU leadership on the global scale.

/articles/feature/eu-space-policy-thinking-big Tue, 04 Feb 2020 16:09:13 +0100
F2F can contribute to society’s wellbeing Daniel Buda

As Romanian EPP deputy Daniel Buda argues, the Farm to Fork strategy (F2F) can help the EU meet pressing challenges in the food supply chain

As Romanian EPP deputy Daniel Buda argues, the Farm to Fork strategy (F2F) can help the EU meet pressing challenges in the food supply chain

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Europe is committed to becoming the world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050. The European Green Deal addresses environmental sustainability, protection of natural resources and the responsible utilisation of resources.

The main role of the Green Deal is to ensure a smooth transition towards sustainable growth, since decarbonising the economy will be an important source of development for the future.

As part of this transition, the Farm to Fork strategy is an essential strategic component for ensuring sustainability in the sense that the agricultural sector together with rural areas represent the foundation for the health and wellbeing of EU citizens.


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The EU is one of the most important actors in the international trade of agri-food products. I want to underline the fact that European products are characterised by their high quality, appropriate safety standards and high nutrient content.

Our key objective is to become the main player of sustainability in the food system from a global perspective.

“Sufficient funding for CAP for 2021-2027 must be provided”

In the context of a rapidly growing world population, the European food supply chain should meet all the needs of this sector and provide sufficient, affordable and high-quality food that corresponds to a healthy diet with less impact on the environment and climate.

However, at present, food chain processes (production, storage, processing, distribution and consumption) do not work according to the ideal model due to various factors.

The food supply chain in the EU system is still facing challenges such as demographic trends, consumption behaviours and climate change plus other issues that have consequences (such as food waste) and long-term effects (decline of biodiversity, cancer, obesity).

In this context, the Farm to Fork strategy (F2F) aims to reduce any imbalances that may occur in the food chain.

This is the case whether we are talking about the processes of production, transport, distribution, marketing or consumption or whether we analyse it from the regional, national, or European perspective.

But how do we achieve this goal? Firstly, we consider that at EU level it is necessary to ensure coherence and complementarity between the agriculture, fisheries, environment, transport, health and energy sectors.

Isolated strategies, strictly focused on developing a policy segment, cannot achieve any tangible results. For example, issues arising in the field of agriculture cannot be solved only throughout the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) as long as we don’t have a larger and multi-sectoral approach.

Thus, common actions must be carried out in close cooperation between EU Member States and the EU institutions by involving citizens, stakeholders, researchers, as well as international partners, if appropriate.

Secondly, we must ensure that sufficient funding for the CAP from 2021-2027 will be provided to reduce waste, preserve biodiversity, invest in research and modern technologies, fight against climate change and protect the environment.

“The European food supply chain should meet all the needs of the sector”

In this context, we should adopt measures to reward farmers for programmes which aim to increase their climate performance, store carbon in the soil, develop nutrient management and promote low emissions targets.

EU farmers play a key role in this context: they are one part of the solution for the success of the F2F strategy. They have to receive necessary funding to fight and adapt to climate change, such as investing in the transition to more sustainable agricultural systems.

Thirdly, it is necessary to have national strategic plans to ensure compliance with the Farm to Fork strategy.

These plans should include, among other things, the use of sustainable practices (such as agro-ecology, organic farming, agro-forestry and high animal welfare standards) plus the limited use of chemical pesticides, fertilisers and antibiotics.

Furthermore, it is important to stress that all actors throughout the food chain should benefit from new opportunities and new sustainable investments. We have to be aware of the challenges that may arise in the entire food chain, from business adaptation models to changing consumer preferences.

Concerning the possible outcomes of international trade agreements, the F2F strategy aims to build a truly long-term vision for sustainable and competitive food systems while promoting the reciprocity of EU production standards in trade agreements.

EU consumers consider a top priority of the CAP to be providing safe, healthy and quality food and have also raised concerns about the origin of food and its environmental footprint.

With this in mind, implementation of the F2F strategy should consider the introduction of consumer-friendly product information labels that, for instance, would offer the possibility to trace a product through the food supply chain and indicate its impact on the climate and the environment.

In conclusion, increasing natural capital, reducing food waste, generating sustainable, safe, accessible agri-products, preserving biodiversity and reducing our environmental impact will, I believe, be the main benefits of the F2F strategy.

Together with other actions highlighted in the Green Deal, the F2F strategy can contribute to ensuring the wellbeing and prosperity of European society – while also saving the environment.

/articles/feature/f2f-can-contribute-society%E2%80%99s-wellbeing Tue, 04 Feb 2020 14:48:13 +0100
Steps to sustainable farming Elsi Katainen

The Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy is a welcome response to global food production challenges, but it needs to be implemented coherently and correctly, writes Elsi Katainen.

The Commission’s Farm to Fork strategy is a welcome response to global food production challenges, but it needs to be implemented coherently and correctly, writes Elsi Katainen.

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The global food system faces major challenges. The global population is increasing as the land area for farming decreases. In the EU, agriculture is responsible for 10 percent of greenhouse gas emissions. One-fifth of our food goes to waste, resulting in 170mn tonnes of CO2 emissions.

The challenges of poor access to healthy food, a loss of biodiversity and climate change need to be tackled. Today’s farmers are expected to produce more with less money and without increasing the environmental impact.

As we adopt more sustainable farming, we need to remember that farmers are part of the solution, not the problem. They must have the opportunity to become champions of the fight against climate change. Change requires rethinking of the whole agri-food sector; Europe can take a lead in this.


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The upcoming ‘Farm to Fork strategy’, part of the Green Deal that the Commission will publish this spring, provides the opportunity for a much-needed long-term strategy for the food sector. The EU has to take a comprehensive look at food production.

We need to consider all the different steps of the food supply chain: as well as consumption and disposal of food, we should examine production, storage, processing, packaging and distribution.

The Farm to Fork strategy, as well as the other parts of the Green Deal, need to be prepared carefully with thorough impact assessments. Excessively complex regulation will only increase farmers’ administrative burden and hinder efforts to achieve sustainable farming.

EU farming is at a turning point and we cannot afford to lose a single farmer. The same applies to the CAP, which - as hinted in the Green Deal communication - should be adapted to, and to a certain extent reflect, the new climate ambition.

"Excessively complex regulation will only increase farmers’ administrative burden and hinder efforts to achieve sustainable farming"

Instead of fining and forcing the farmers, new ecoschemes must encourage farmers and provide incentives for adopting new technologies and measures. This can only be possible with proper funding for European agriculture; only profitable farms can afford to invest in environmental actions.

Similarly, Farm to Fork gives an opportunity to have a closer look on how to strengthen farmers’ position in the food chain. Farm to Fork should take a holistic approach, as the circular economy, bioeconomy, forestry and energy policy are closely linked to the food system.

We should not prepare, for example, circular economy issues in isolation from agriculture. Renewable raw materials must be at the heart of both the circular economy and food system reforms.

The EU Bioeconomy Strategy from 2018 should be implemented efficiently, as described in the European Parliament Green Deal resolution. As EU decision makers, we need to ensure that when we raise environmental standards on foods produced in Europe, those same standards should apply to imports.

That way, farmers will know that their produce will not be replaced with cheaper food from third countries following lower environmental standards. That said, we must not regulate ourselves out from the food markets.

In its communication of the Farm to Fork strategy, the Commission has focused on more sustainable use of plant protection products and fertilisers in order to promote biodiversity.

We must continue to rely on the best scientific knowledge available at the EU Food Agency. If we ignore the science, we will lose the benefits and face negative consequences in international trade.

"We need to ensure that when we raise environmental standards on foods produced in Europe, those same standards should apply to imports"

When setting targets, we also need to consider the significant differences between Member States in, for example, animal welfare, pesticide use, antibiotic use in livestock production or cadmium levels in fertilisers.

Some Member States have done more than the others, therefore the costs and opportunities for mitigation vary. The starting point for the whole strategy must be to respect existing regulation.

For example, in the area of animal welfare and animal transport, there is still room for improvement in many Member States, particularly when it comes to fully implementing existing legislation. In the Europe of the 2020s, pig tails should no longer be amputated or chickens’ beaks cut.

The three parallel processes of EU decision-making should not bring more uncertainty to the agri-food sector. The transitional regulation on CAP, which, as the Parliament’s rapporteur enjoys my particular focus, will take place from the start of 2021 until the new CAP takes effect.

This transition period should be short as possible and provide clarity and stability. This can be done only if we continue with current rules until the new CAP takes effect, where changes to European food production up to 2027 are still possible as opportunities for decision-making remain open.

In the Farm to Fork strategy, we can create a long-term vision for the food system until 2050. Such decisions need careful preparation, a global perspective and policy coherence from the EU.

/articles/feature/steps-sustainable-farming Tue, 04 Feb 2020 14:38:18 +0100
Parliament hears Auschwitz survivor testimony Martin Banks

An 89-year-old Italian senator, speaking in Parliament, has told how she survived Auschwitz, the “evil” Nazi death camp.

An 89-year-old Italian senator, speaking in Parliament, has told how she survived Auschwitz, the “evil” Nazi death camp.

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Liliana Segre recalled the “absolute inhumanity” of the concentration camps and “death marches” organised by the Nazis in 1945, which she survived as a young girl “unlike many others.”

Saying she has a “duty to bear witness, as long as she lives” she said, "they were merely guilty of being born."

Speaking in Parliament, she remembered her “introduction” to Auschwitz on February 6, 1944. Seven days previously the thirteen-year-old, along with her father, had been put onto a train carriage departing platform 21 of Milan Central Station.


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The passengers, she said, were “paralysed by a frightening silence” among themselves as they made their way north, destined for the “cradle of Europe’s most heinous evil.”

“As soon as I go off the train my father’s hand left mine. He was hastily marched to the gas chamber but I was spared. Due to my physique I had been regarded as fit for work.”

She was one of the few who survived Auschwitz but says she was “forever confounded by the nauseating terror that marked this fragile period of my childhood.”

The pensioner, fighting back tears, also spoke out against what she says is a “rising tide” of anti-Semitism in Europe, adding, “We must be aware of this and ensure action is taken to tackle it, including at the EU level.”

“I am a gypsy and the Nazi crimes against gypsies are, sadly, often forgotten. This is particularly dangerous as we have also seen recently a wave of attacks on Roma and gypsies” Zoni Weisz

She said she had recently been assigned two paramilitary carabinieri officers to accompany her in public, as well as being offered police protection at her Milan home.

This came after she began to receive a barrage of anti-Semitic threats on social media, following her support for the establishment of a parliamentary committee on combatting hate.

Speaking at the same event, Zoni Weisz, an 82-year-old Dutch citizen, told how, as a seven-year-old boy, he managed to escape from a train taking passengers to a Nazi death camp.

He said, “I was put on a similar train to Liliana but managed to get off at the last minute and jump on a normal passenger train. My parents were on the train which went to the concentration camp and I never saw them again.”

“I am a gypsy and the Nazi crimes against gypsies are, sadly, often forgotten. This is particularly dangerous as we have also seen recently a wave of attacks on Roma and gypsies.”

“It seems Europe is going backwards in time and that feelings of hatred and intolerance we thought were buried are re-emerging” Antonio López-Istúriz MEP

Meanwhile, Spanish EPP MEP Antonio López-Istúriz has asked the European Commission for measures to combat growing antisemitism.

He said, “Given the wave of antisemitic attacks that’s been taking place in the EU over the past few years, it seems Europe is going backwards in time and that feelings of hatred and intolerance we thought were buried are re-emerging.”

His sentiments were echoed by the S&D group leader Iratxe García Pérez who said, “The most horrendous crimes against humanity were committed in concentration camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau.”

“We must never forget those victims, because they remind us that the foundations of Europe after World War II rely on the universality and inviolability of human rights. We owe them a lot. We now have the responsibility to ensure a society free of intolerance and discrimination, be it based on ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or any other ground.”

“Unfortunately we see that anti-Semitism, xenophobia, Islamophobia and the extreme right are again on the rise in Europe.”

“The most horrendous crimes against humanity were committed in concentration camps such as Auschwitz-Birkenau” Iratxe García Pérez, S&D group leader

Further comment came from NATO deputy secretary general Mircea Geoană who said, “The Holocaust was an assault on all of humanity. It was about the destruction of the different and what makes us different, what makes us unique, is what makes us human.”

“After the War, the free nations of the world sought a new path - a path built on the upholding of universal values enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, values such as the right to life, to freedom of religion, to freedom itself.”

He added, “NATO was created to uphold those values and to protect the peoples of Europe and North America from the tyranny that led to the Holocaust; we must always remember. We must always remain vigilant and we must always be prepared to act. For seventy-five years after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism remains. This we cannot accept.”

/articles/news/parliament-hears-auschwitz-survivor-testimony Tue, 04 Feb 2020 13:12:52 +0100
Committee guide 2020 | INTA: Forward-looking and independent Bernd Lange

Growing global uncertainty is the single biggest challenge for EU trade policy, writes Bernd Lange.

Growing global uncertainty is the single biggest challenge for EU trade policy, writes Bernd Lange.

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What do you see as the INTA committee’s principle priorities for the next couple of years?

I see three main issues for the Committee on International Trade (INTA) in this legislative term, the first of which is sustainability. We need to ensure that our trade agreements support labour rights, human rights and the environment and that they do not work to their detriment. There is growing recognition of the environmental impact of our policies and we will need to find ways to address this too. The second issue is enforcement and implementation. We have seen that the devil is in the detail. Therefore, implementing the agreements and the legislation that we already have in place in a meaningful way must be a priority. Simply adding new agreements on top of the pile and moving on to the next negotiation is a recipe for disaster. Finally, our trade policy must be consistent with other policy areas. To give you an example: we cannot, on the one hand, fight harmful subsidies for fishing fleets in the WTO while at the same time calling for their support in our domestic fisheries policies. Inconsistencies like these cost the EU time and money but also make us a less influential actor on the global stage.


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What are the biggest challenges facing INTA and how do you plan to tackle them?

The INTA Committee’s single biggest challenge will certainly be the growing uncertainty in the world. Brexit, the very unclear future of the WTO and the aggressive trade policies of some of our trading partners have fundamentally reshaped the landscape we are facing.

"I hope that trade policy will be seen as a tool to ensure jobs in Europe, contribute to a fairer world order and increase the standards of living, working and the environment worldwide"

In which policy areas do you think citizens will see the greatest benefit from your work over the next couple of years?

Trade has an impact on many areas of everyday life, but it is often indirect and hard to measure. Trade affects jobs and prospects for job creation, overall economic performance, the range of products and services consumers can choose from, our relationships with other parts of the world and the situation within those countries themselves. I hope that trade policy will be seen as a tool to ensure jobs in Europe, contribute to a fairer world order and increase the standards of living, working and the environment worldwide.

How can the EU’s international trade strategy survive the trade wars being embarked upon by Donald Trump?

I am not too worried about the EU losing its capability to conduct a forward-looking and independent trade policy. We should not forget that the EU is the biggest trading block in the world, with a wide net of global trading partners. This puts us in a much more comfortable position than many smaller countries in the world, which have less clout and may be more dependent on individual partner countries. We of course see what other countries are doing, we recognise that some may be less inclined to pursue a path that puts cooperation and partnership first, but those countries do not dictate our policies.

"I am not too worried about the EU losing its capability to conduct a forward-looking and independent trade policy. We should not forget that the EU is the biggest trading block in the world"

With an increasingly protectionist us trade policy, how important is it for the EU to support the world trade organisation, and what more would you like to see Europe do?

The WTO is the foundation of a rules-based global trading order and as such it is of immense importance to the EU, but also to every other nation engaging in international trade. This does not mean that it is without fault, far from it. However, I fundamentally disagree with the notion that the right way forward is to tear the entire house down and try to rebuild a perfect institution from the ground up. I think we have achieved too much, and that the WTO is too valuable, for such a radical approach. I also believe that change and reform are possible when working with other members, even if we do not see eye to eye on every issue. Nevertheless, more and more countries have understood that change is necessary and that this may imply entering into a compromise for the greater good.

/articles/feature/committee-guide-2020-inta-forward-looking-and-independent Tue, 04 Feb 2020 12:28:57 +0100
Fighting against cancer: why Europe needs a new Deal Peter Liese and Matti Aapro

The time to set ambitious yet achievable targets against cancer is now argue Peter Liese and Matti Aapro.

The time to set ambitious yet achievable targets against cancer is now argue Peter Liese and Matti Aapro.

Photo credit: fotolia


Becoming the “world’s first climate-neutral continent by 2050” was the very first and clear message of the new European Commission when it took office a few months ago.

The fight against climate change, re-launched by the European Commission with the Green Deal, is making big headlines, shifting debates, raising awareness and more importantly enticing urgent commitments with this simple message.

This is not the only fight Europe has on its hands. As the Commission launches its discussion on the European Beating Cancer Plan, we need a similarly clear, bold and ambitious target for the very important fight against cancer. We need a plan that is ambitious, realistic and measurable.


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Cancer is one of the leading causes of death in Europe. According to the World Health Organisation, one out of five Europeans die because of cancer. As President von der Leyen mentioned in her political guidelines, around 40 percent of us will face cancer at some point in our lives.

Every single citizen in Europe is touched by cancer in some way. We have an ethical duty to ensure the fight against cancer is fully supported by the promise of European cooperation that the EU can deliver.

“The EU can play an important role by assisting countries and systems to align core standards and evidence-based indicators for evaluating the quality of cancer care”

European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides correctly said last December about the European Beating Cancer Plan that, “the discussion needs to be as inclusive as possible”.

We couldn’t agree more. The EU needs to ensure that all stakeholders in cancer initiatives are involved and aligned to avoid duplications and identify potential gaps during the consultation process of the plan.

Moreover, we need to break down the borders of cancer care between countries, professions, sectors and stakeholders. We need to boost the quality of cancer care in all countries and take better care of cancer survivors.

The quality of cancer care matters and we need to keep improving the patients’ experience and outcomes. The EU can play an important role by assisting countries and systems to align core standards and evidence-based indicators for evaluating the quality of cancer care.

“The fight against cancer needs a strong new impetus and ambitious targets. As with the Green Deal, Europe needs to set big goals and inspire change”

It can also help harness the potential of data for greater alignment and interoperability between cancer registries.

Also, the right to be forgotten is not only important for our digital lives but also our real ones: cancer survivors should not be forced to declare their cancer diagnosis to insurers and banks ten years after the end of treatment for adults, and five years after the end of treatment for young people.

The fight against cancer needs a strong new impetus and ambitious targets. As with the Green Deal, Europe needs to set big goals and inspire change.

Health experts and professionals across Europe are already setting ambitious yet achievable targets, for example: achieving 70 percent long-term survival for patients with cancer by 2035; implementing effective strategies to eliminate cancers caused by HPV as a public health problem in all European countries by 2035; doubling survival for poor prognosis tumours; halving the deaths for childhood cancer in Europe by 2030.

Now is certainly not the time to limit ambition. Rather, let us all work together to unleash the full force of the EU in the fight against cancer.

/articles/opinion/fighting-against-cancer-why-europe-needs-new-deal Tue, 04 Feb 2020 10:59:35 +0100
Von der Leyen warns UK it must abide by ‘level playing field’ in trade talks Martin Banks

Her comments come as the European Commission on Monday issued a recommendation to Member States to open negotiations on a new partnership with the UK.

 

Her comments come as the European Commission on Monday issued a recommendation to Member States to open negotiations on a new partnership with the UK.

 

Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


The draft mandate covers all areas of interest for the negotiations, including trade and economic cooperation, law enforcement and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, foreign policy, security and defence, participation in EU programmes and other “thematic” areas of cooperation.

A dedicated chapter on governance provides an outline for an overall governance framework covering all areas of economic and security cooperation.

Member States will have to adopt the draft negotiating directives at a summit in Brussels later this month.


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Speaking after publication of the EU’s negotiating position on Monday, von der Leyen said, “It's now time to get down to work. Time is short.”

She added, “We will negotiate in a fair and transparent manner, but we will defend EU interests, and the interests of our citizens, right until the end.”

The talks are due to get underway in March and her remarks come despite UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson saying the UK, post-Brexit, will not keep to EU rules.

At the stroke of midnight in Brussels last Friday, Britain left the EU with Johnson delivering on his election promise to “Get Brexit Done.”

“We will negotiate in a fair and transparent manner, but we will defend EU interests, and the interests of our citizens, right until the end” Ursula von der Leyen

February 1 marked the beginning of a new phase of negotiations between London and Brussels to agree on the shape of their future relationship.

They have until the end of 2020 — a transition period during which Britain will remain an EU member in all but name — to hammer out an agreement on trade and other issues including security, energy, transport links, fishing rights and data flow.

Getting more than that would be easier if Britain was willing to remain aligned with EU regulations, but the UK insists it will not be “a rule-taker.”

Britain’s concern is that sticking to EU rules would make it harder to strike trade agreements with other countries, especially the United States.

The EU says it will not seal a trade deal with a large, economically-powerful neighbour without solid provisions to guarantee fair competition.

Its demands will focus on “level playing field” issues — environmental and labour standards, as well as state aid rules — to ensure Britain would not be able to offer products on the bloc’s single market at unfairly low prices.

In a vote last week MEPs backed the Withdrawal Agreement by an overwhelming majority.

The issue of level playing fields was highlighted in a speech von der Leyen gave to MEPs in a debate in parliament last week.

She said, “The WA is just a first step but to be clear: I want the EU and UK to stay good friends and partners. But we will have to sort out how to deal with the UK as a third country.”

She warned, “A pre-condition to the UK continuing to access the single market is that Britain will also continue to abide by a level playing field.”

“I have to say now, though, that we will not expose our companies in Europe to unfair competition.”

She said, “The terms of the trade-off is simple: the more that the UK upholds social protection and other standards, the better the access will be to the single market. This is all about jobs and finding common solutions and this is something that will be in the interests of both sides.”

The Commission President said the EU will “remain vigilant” on the level playing field issue, along with citizens’ rights and the Irish border issue.

“We have a duty to seek the best for the British and Europeans in a post-Brexit world. We will devote all our energy, 24-7 to achieve results.”

In an emotional address, she said, “Today, I think of all the UK MEPs who have contributed to making the EU strong: you have our respect especially for what you have done over the last three years. We will miss you and always love you.”

Further contribution came from Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, who described the debate as “very touching and very moving.”

“Some moments here today have been extremely moving and very solemn. Many of us regret the decision to leave but respect it.”

He added, “Brexit will generate uncertainty for many citizens but we will continue, in the talks in the year ahead, in the same spirit and with the same objectives. There will no aggression but we will at the same time firmly defend the interests of the EU and its Member States.”

“Going beyond Brexit, the UK will remain a close partner  but we will need to work a on a new legal framework for the alliance.”

He warned, “Even so, we must not underestimate the task ahead and the need to fully implement this WA in all its aspects. I am thinking, in particular, about citizen’s rights and Ireland. One task for year to come is to deal with the consequences of Brexit and draw lessons from this. For now, we wish the UK well in this new beginning.”

Barnier also cited former MEPs Andrew Duff, Malcolm Harbour and Vicky Ford, along with Richard Corbett, for special thanks for their contribution to parliamentary life.

Further contribution came from Guy Verhofstadt who thanked Barnier “for keeping the unity of the EU27 and institutions together even though this was not easy.”

He also thanked “our UK colleagues, at least some of them, for their overwhelming contribution.  We will miss your wit, charm, intelligence and we will miss you.”

The Belgian MEP said the vote was “for an orderly Brexit or a wild Brexit. If we could stop Brexit today I would vote for it but it is not on the agenda. It is sad to see a country leaving that has twice given its blood to liberate us in Europe. How could this happen? 70 percent voted in the UK to enter the EU but 40 years later they have now voted to leave.”

In an often highly-charged debate, with Brexit party MEPs waving Union Jacks and many other British members in tears, EPP leader Manfred Weber said, “This is a sad day for the EU. We cannot change it but it is a huge mistake. The WD is a good agreement that creates unity but the UK will be a third party and the rules will now change.”

He added, “It is the UK’s choice to limit the transition period (to December 2020) but I can tell you that we will not allow the EU to reach a rushed deal. We want the right deal, not the quickest one.”

“Nor will there be any cherry-picking. Yes, access to the single market but only if you respect EU rules.”

The German deputy told the plenary, “There are lessons we have to learn from this so as to avoid another Brexit. The EU needs to act so that our work is once again seen to be at the centre of citizen’s lives.”

He concluded, “I hope that one day the UK will again send MEPs to this Parliament.”

/articles/news/von-der-leyen-warns-uk-it-must-abide-%E2%80%98level-playing-field%E2%80%99-trade-talks Mon, 03 Feb 2020 22:47:35 +0100