The Letter n°866

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The Letter n°866
The Letter
Tuesday 5th November 2019
issue 866
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Emerging from Totalitarianism
Author : Ramona Bloj
Ramona Bloj
30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Central and Eastern Europe reveal a contradiction in terms: their populations are mainly supportive of Europe electing democratically representatives who attack the dismantling of democratic institutions and European values. Two factors explain the present situation: incomplete economic catch up and an exodus towards the West.
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Foundation : 30 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, where does the Defence of Europe stand?
On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Robert Schuman Foundation together with EuroDéfense-France is organising a seminar on 8th November at the Senate to address issues involving the defence of Europe... Read more
The Big Shift
Contrary to popular discourse, Jean-Dominique Giuliani shows that the European Union has the means to address the new challenges of the 21st century. Europe has succeeded beyond the expectations of its founding fathers. It can still succeed in guaranteeing its place among the three greatest powers in the world by the end of the century... Read more
A Blueprint for Tomorrow's Europe
The Foundation has published "A Blue for Tomorrow's Europe", the first paper in a new series entitled "Open Horizons" which gives young European authors the opportunity to express new ideas in support of European integration. In "A Blueprint for Tomorrow's Europe" Jérôme Gazzano and Andi Mustafaj deem that the present crises provide an opportunity, to redesign the European Union so that it can face the challenges of this century head on... Read more

Commission : Results of the Commission's work towards the Security Union
On 30th October the Commission published the results of its work for the Security Union, particularly in terms of the fight to counter terrorism, exchange of intelligence, the fight to counter radicalisation and cybersecurity. It highlights the progress made but calls on the Member States to do more to implement European legislation... Read more
Reports on climate action and the European carbon market
On 31st October the Commission presented two reports on the Union's climate action in 2019 and on the functioning of the European carbon market. According to the Commission the emissions of the installations covered by the EU's emissions trading system have reduced by 4.1% in comparison with 2017... Read more
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Position on agricultural negotiations at the WTO
On 30th October the Commission presented its proposal regarding the European position on the WTO's assessment in December of the Marrakesh Agreement on the measures regarding the administration of tariff rate quotas on agricultural products... Read more
Fight to counter disinformation: first self-assessment report
On 29th October the European Commission published the first self-assessment report by Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Mozilla, Twitter and seven European professional associations as part of the code of good conduct on on-line disinformation. It welcomed the progress achieved but regretted that none of the platforms nor any of the stakeholders in the advertising sector had subscribed to the code... Read more
Launch of inquiry into the purchase of the Chantiers de l'Atlantique by Fincantieri
On 30th October the Commission launched an inquiry into the project to acquire the Chantiers de l'Atlantique by the Italian company Fincantieri. It deems that the operation might "reduce competition significantly" on cruise shipbuilding market... Read more
Thierry Breton and Oliver Varhelyi, Commissioners designate for France and HungaryComp
The President elect of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen approved the candidatures of Thierry Breton and Oliver Varhelyi to the posts of French and Hungarian Commissioner after having met them on 28th October. The Commission's spokesperson however expressed his doubts about the legitimity of the candidature presented by Romania on 29th October, due to the dispute between outgoing Prime Minister Viorica Dancila and President Klaus Iohannis on the choice of Victor Negrescu. On 29th October the European Council recalled the UK's obligation to put a candidate forward since it has been granted a delay on Brexit... Read more
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Diplomacy : Conference on Venezuela
The international conference for solidarity regarding the refugee and migrant crisis in Venezuela organised by the EU and the UN took place on 28th and 29th October in Brussels. The High Representative Federica Mogherini stresses that the Union is prepared to continue supporting the 4.3 million Venezuelans who have fled their country due to the political situation... Read more
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Court of Justice : Opinion of the Advocate General on the relocation of asylum seekers
In an opinion published on 31st October the Advocate General from the Court of Justice deemed that Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic "failed to fulfil their obligations under the Union's law", when these countries refused to implement the provisional mechanism and the temporary relocation of asylum seekers in 2015. The opinion is not binding for the Court when it gives its decision... Read more
Decision against the reform of the Polish legal system
The EU's Court of Justice deemed on 5th November that the reform of the rules governing the age of retirement of judges and magistrates at the Prosecutor's Office, introduced in Poland in July 2017, was contrary to EU law. The Court which was referred to by the European Commission deemed in particular that the reform infringed the principles of magistrates' independence and their security of tenure... Read more

ECB : Christine Lagarde takes office
Christine Lagarde officially took office as President of the European Central Bank on 1st November for an eight year mandate... Read more
Christine Lagarde pays tribute to Wolfgang Schäuble
On 4th November in Berlin Christine Lagarde paid tribute to former German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble, on the occasion of the award of the prize for his commitment to Europe and his work as a statesman since the fall of the Berlin Wall thirty years ago... Read more

Germany : Presentation of Gaia-X, European "cloud" project
German Minister for the Economy, Peter Altmaier, presented the project, Gaia-X for the European digital cloud developed with France. This secure infrastructure for data involves the cooperation of European businesses with shared standards and rules... Read more
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Denmark : Permit given for the Nord Stream 2 pipeline
The Danish Energy Agency authorised the passage of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline through its waters in the south east of the Bornholm Island. This decision will enable the completion of this project to bring Russian gas to Europe, directly from Russia via Germany... Read more
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Spain : Madrid will host COP25
On 1st November the UN announced that the 25th international conference on climate change, the COP25, will take place from 2nd to 13th December in Madrid. This announcement follows the decision taken by Chile's President Sebastian Pinera to withdraw its offer to host the event due to social unrest... Read more
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Estonia : Visit by the French Defence Minister
On 29th October Florence Parly, French Minister for the Armed Forces, travelled to Tapa in Estonia. She met the soldiers from Lynx 6, a non-permanent mission comprising the strengthening of NATO's military position in the Baltics... Read more

France : State visit to China
French President Emmanuel Macron started a three day state visit to China on 4th November. He is going to the Shanghai International Imports Fair, in which France is the guest of honour, then on to Beijing. Discussions will focus on multilateralism and trade relations, with special attention being given to Europe. Emmanuel Macron is travelling with the European Commissioner for Agriculture and future Commissioner for Trade, Paul Hogan, as well as the German Minister for Education and Research, Anja Karliczek. On the first day of the visit he announced that an agreement between the EU and China will be signed on 6th November regarding Protected Geographic Indications... Read more
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Greece : Vote on the law regarding the asylum procedure
In the night of 31st October to 1st November, following the significant increase in the number of refugees, Greek Parliament adopted a law that tightened up the procedure for access to asylum. Dunja Mijatovic, the Commissioner for Human Rights at the Council of Europe warned of the risk of a "superficial" assessment of asylum requests by the Greek authorities, which would significantly compromise migrant and refugee rights... Read more
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Hungary : Visit by Vladimir Putin
Russian President Vladimir Putin together with his Foreign Affairs Minister Serguey Lavrov, travelled to Budapest on 30th October to speak with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban. Their meeting mainly focused on the renewal of a gas supply contract which will come to an end in 2021, the expansion of the nuclear powerstation PaksII and a joint project to supply railway equipment to Egypt... Read more
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Romania : Investiture of Ludovic Orban's government
The Romanian government led by Ludovic Orban (PNL) was invested on 4th November by Parliament, 240 votes in support, ie seven more than the necessary minimum. Despite the boycott of the PSD and Pro Romania (left), the PNL managed to win the support of the main right/centre-right parties (USR, UDMR, PMP) and the minorities. It is now expected that Romania present a candidate for the post of European Commissioner... Read more
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UK : Snap election on 12th December
On 29th October the House of Common voted 438 votes against 20 in support of a snap election that will take place on 12th December. On 30th and 31st October, the motion was approved by the House of Lords and Queen Elizabeth II successively... Read more
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Brexit formally delayed until 31st January
On 29th October the European Council decided to delay the date of withdrawal by the UK from the EU until 31st January 2020. It said that if the British Parliament ratified the withdrawal agreement, then Brexit would occur before 31st January. Elections have been convened for 12th December... Read more

Council of Europe : Report on the local authorities in Russia
A report by the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities at the Council of Europe adopted on 30th October noted positive developments in Russia since 2010, notably the acknowledgement in the Constitution of the principle of local autonomy and the introduction of instruments enabling the participation of citizens in local public affairs. However there is still concern such as the reduced share of public affairs that come under the responsibility of local authorities and access to electoral rights... Read more
Report on the observation of the elections in Turkey
On 30th October the Council of Europe adopted a report on the Turkish local elections on 31st March and the election of the mayor of Istanbul on 23rd June. It noted that both elections took place in an "orderly manner and were administered adequately". The report also stressed the need to reform the Supreme Electoral Council, to clarify electoral legislation, to harmonise the law governing elections, and to lift excessive restrictions on the freedom of association, meeting and expression... Read more

Eurostat : Increase in GDP in third quarter
In the third quarter the EU's GDP increased by 0.3% and by 0.2% in the euro zone according to an estimation published by Eurostat on 31st October. In comparison with the third quarter of 2018 the increase has been 1.4% and 1.1% respectively... Read more
Unemployment stable in September
Unemployment lay at 6.3% in the Union in September and at 7.5% in the euro zone indicated Eurostat on 31st October. In both cases the figures are stable in comparison with August... Read more
Inflation decreases in October in the euro zone
The inflation rate dropped in the euro zone to 0.7% in October, in contrast to 0.8% in September. Whilst services are due to experience the highest rate (1.6% in October against 1.5% in September), the energy sector recorded the strongest decrease (-3.2% against a previous -1.8%)... Read more

Culture : Frida Kahlo in Rome
The exhibition "Il caos dentro" (The internal chaos) devoted to the life of Mexican and painter Frida Kahlo, is taking place until 29th March in the "SET - Spazio Eventi Tirso" in Rome. Apart from her paintings, there are also photographs, letters and extracts from her private diary and personal objects are on show... Read more
Tutankhamun in London
After the exhibition that rallied nearly 1.5 million visitors in Paris, it is the turn of the Saatchi Gallery in London to put on show the treasures of Tutankhamun. It is the last opportunity to see the 150 items dating back to ancient Egypt before it finally returns to Egypt... Read more
Film festival in Stockholm
From 6th to 17th November Stockholm is hosting a selection of 150 films for the 30 international film festival... Read more
Paris Photo at the Grand Palais
The Grand Palais is hosting the 23rd Paris Photo exhibition from 7th to 10th November. The event brings together nearly 200 exhibitors from the entire world; emerging and experienced galleries are showing historic and contemporary works, specialised publishers and sellers of art books will be presenting rare and limited editions, book launches and also many signatures with contemporary artists... Read more
Roswitha Doerig on show in Switzerland
Roswitha Doerig will be on show from 9th to 24th November in Switzerland. This contemporary painter is known for her abstract, coloured work which overflows with energy... Read more
Italian Film Festival in Villerupt
Until 11th November 2019 in Moselle, the town of Villerupt is organising the 42nd Italian Film Festival with more than 60 films on the programme. The 2019 jury is being chaired by actor and director Agnès Jaoui... Read more

7th November 2019


Eurogroup Meeting

8th November 2019


Economic and Financial Affairs Council


Education, Youth, Culture and Sports Council

10th November 2019


Parliamentary Elections (legislative and senatorial)


Presidential election (first round)

11th November 2019


Foreign Affairs Council

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