The Letter n°927

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The Letter n°927
The Letter
Tuesday 16th March 2021
issue 927
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The Greens will do everything they can to make the Conference on the future of Europe a success!
Author : Franziska Brantner
Franziska Brantner
A coalition between German Christian Democrats and Greens at national level has become a possibility in the run-up to the federal elections on 26 September. Green MEP Franziska Brantner, her parliamentary group's spokesperson on European affairs, explains the relationship of the German Greens to power and their positions on Europe, its future and the Franco-German relationship.
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Foundation : Europe of urgency, Europe of hope
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On 18th and 19th March the European Affairs Committee of the National Assembly in partnership with the Robert Schuman Foundation and the Jacques Delors Institute is organising a colloquium that will offer an opportunity to debate issues that are central to the European Union and to answer questions that are crucial to its future. The Chairman of the Foundation, Jean-Dominique Giuliani, will moderate a round table entitled "Defending Europe? The shortfalls of pacifism, the limits of Atlanticism"; the Managing Director, Pascale Joannin, will moderate a round table on "Is Europe geopolitically marginalised?"; the Chairman of the Scientific Council, Alain Lamassoure, will speak on budgetary democracy; Roza Thun, MEP and member of the Board of Governors, on the institutional model; and Sabine Thillaye, Chairwoman of the National Assembly's European Affairs Committee and member of the Board of Governors, on the involvement of the national parliaments,.. Read more
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Table of Health Measures and Travel Conditions in Europe
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Italy is locking down ten regions from 15 March, Poland is implementing regional restrictions and Portugal is gradually ending lockdown. To follow the development of the situation in European countries, the Foundation offers you a summary of the sanitary measures in place and travel conditions across Europe. An essential, regularly updated resource for a better understanding of the situation... Read more
Belarus: chronology of a revolution in progress
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As the protests continue in Belarus, the European Broadcasting Union has rejected the Belarusian song, which is considered to be pro-regime, for the Eurovision Song Contest. To follow the crisis since the rigged presidential elections of August 2020, the Foundation is offering you a chronology of events and links to European reactions and initiatives... Read more

Commission : Digital Transformation Strategy for 2030
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On 9 March, the Commission published its "digital compass" for a digitally autonomous Union in 2030. Among the objectives set: basic digital skills for 80% of adults, access to digital infrastructure for all Europeans, the digital transformation of businesses and the digitalisation of public services. The Commission wants the EU to produce 20% of the world's advanced sustainable semiconductors by 2030 and have its own quantum computer. It proposes to develop a framework of digital principles to guarantee Europeans' rights... Read more
Extension of vaccine export control mechanism
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The Commission announced on 11 March the extension until the end of June of the transparency and authorisation mechanism for exports of Covid-19 vaccines. It requires prior authorisation for exports of vaccines produced in the Member States outside the EU. It concerns companies with which the Commission has concluded a purchase contract and does not apply to exports to neighbouring countries or on humanitarian grounds. The Commission has announced a simplification of the administrative procedure... Read more
Propsoals to strengthen humanitarian action
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On 10 March, the Commission called for a strengthened and accelerated external humanitarian response to the Covid-19 pandemic. These actions also aim to uphold respect for international humanitarian law and to address the consequences of climate change. The Commission wants to set up a European humanitarian response capacity to facilitate and improve interventions by simplifying logistics and pooling resources... Read more
Union Activity Report 2020
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On 10 March, the Commission published the general report on the Union's activities in 2020, which summarises the Union's concerted responses to the health and economic crisis and the decisions taken to achieve the Union's political priorities... Read more

Parliament : Approval of the InvestEU programme
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On March 9, MEPs approved the InvestEU programme to support public and private companies in the face of the health crisis. The aim is to ensure access to strategic investment projects. 30% of the investments must be devoted to the fight against global warming. The programme is expected to generate €400 billion by 2027 and the European Investment Fund will receive €375 million to help implement it. The text is subject to final adoption by the Council... Read more
Approval of the health programme, EU4Health
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On 9 March, MEPs approved the EU4Health programme, with a budget of €5.1 billion for the period 2021-2027. The aim is to prepare the EU's health systems for cross-border health threats by encouraging States to work together, share data and provide better access to medicines through available and affordable medical devices... Read more
Position on taxation on online trade
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On 10 March, MEPs adopted a proposal to tax digital commerce. They call for faster information sharing between tax authorities, harmonised penalties for platforms and for non-EU platforms to register in a Member State where they have substantial economic activity... Read more
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Resolution regarding carbon tax on the Union's borders
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In a resolution adopted on 10 March, MEPs call for the EU to set up a European border carbon adjustment mechanism to tax certain goods imported from third countries that are not ambitious enough on climate change. The mechanism should be aligned with WTO rules and apply from 2023 to the energy and energy-intensive sector... Read more
Corporate due diligence and accountability
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On 10 March, MEPs called for binding EU legislation to ensure that companies are held accountable when they harm or contribute to harming human rights, the environment and good governance. The Commission is due to present a proposal later this year... Read more
Common declaration on the Conference on the future of Europe
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Parliament President David Sassoli, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa, whose country holds the Council Presidency, signed a joint declaration on the Conference on the Future of Europe on 10 March. The declaration sets the framework for the organisation of the debates and discussions with European citizens, who will be able to publish their contributions on a multilingual platform. It defines how the three institutions will oversee the work of the conference... Read more
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Council : Meeting of Justice Ministers
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On 11 March, the Justice Ministers discussed the possibilities of disclosing electronic communication data to police and judicial authorities in order to fight crime and terrorism. They are considering the establishment of a harmonised legal system for data retention. The ministers spoke of their desire to strengthen the application of the Charter of Fundamental Rights and the establishment of the European Public Prosecutor's Office... Read more
Meeting of Home Affairs Ministers
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On 12 March, the Home Affairs Ministers discussed the proposal for a directive aimed at strengthening the resilience of critical entities providing essential services such as health, transport or drinking water in the EU and their capacity to respond to the risks of major incidents. They also discussed the asylum and migration pact, particularly with regard to return, and the launch of a political dialogue to strengthen cooperation between the EU and the countries of North Africa... Read more
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Agreement on the Connecting Europe Facility
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The Council and Parliament reached agreement on 11 March on the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) for the period 2021-2027. The programme, with a budget of €33.71 billion, concerns the financing of projects in the transport and mobility sector (€25.81 billion), energy (€5.84 billion), and digital (€2.06 billion). Climate action is to be integrated into the programme... Read more
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Eurogroup Meeting
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Eurozone Finance Ministers took stock of the state of play of fiscal support measures on 15 March. They agreed on the need to maintain this support for 2021 and 2022. They discussed the 9th Enhanced Surveillance Report on Greece, exchange rate developments and the international role of the euro, in preparation for the Eurozone summit on 26 March... Read more
Meeting of Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs
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On 15 March, the Ministers for Employment and Social Affairs discussed the action plan on social rights and initiatives on equality and non-discrimination and called for a global strategy to ensure "a true union for equality". They then exchanged views on employment and social policies in the context of the European Semester 2021, in the context of recovery and resilience plans... Read more
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Meeting of ministers regarding Migration
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On 15 March, the ministers for foreign affairs and home affairs discussed the EU's migration policy and how best to develop cooperation between countries of origin, transit and destination, within the framework of the new asylum and migration pact. They discussed migration objectives, in particular how coordination and cooperation within the EU should be improved. Furthermore, the Council presented elements for a proposal for a comprehensive dialogue with the North African partner countries... Read more
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Diplomacy : John Kerry's visit to Brussels and Paris
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Visiting Brussels, US climate envoy John Kerry called on 9 March for "enhanced" cooperation between his country and the EU in the fight against climate change, stressing that it was "time" to act. The US has recalled its nationally determined contribution to the Paris agreement and has committed to achieving zero net greenhouse gas emissions by 2050... Read more
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Extension of sanctions linked to violations of Ukraine's integrity
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On 12 March, the Council decided to extend the sanctions targeting those responsible for actions that undermine or threaten the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Ukraine for a further six months. The sanctions were introduced in 2014 and include travel restrictions, asset freezes and a ban on making funds or other economic resources available to the 177 individuals and 48 entities concerned... Read more
The Union condemns the electoral reform in Hong Kong
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The Commission's annual report on political and economic developments in Hong Kong, published on 12 March, highlights the significant erosion of autonomy, democracy and fundamental freedoms in the territory. This is illustrated by China's reform of electoral rules, which violates the territory's status and the "one country, two systems" principle on which it is based. The Union called on 11 March for the restoration of the democratic process and an end to the persecution of those who defend democratic values... Read more
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Court of Justice : Referral by Hungary and Poland on budget conditionality
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Poland and Hungary filed an application with the European Court of Justice on 11 March to challenge the EU regulation setting up a mechanism making the payment of EU funds conditional on compliance with the rule of law. The two countries consider that the mechanism has no basis in the Treaties and that it constitutes an interference in the competences of the Member States... Read more
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ECB : Boost to debt purchases
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The European Central Bank announced on 11 March that it is keeping its key interest rates unchanged and that it plans to increase the pace of its emergency debt purchase programme (EDPP) over the next quarter to calm the nervousness of the markets in the face of a recent rise in bond rates. Although the EPPP envelope (€1.850 billion to be used by March 2022) is not expected to be fully utilised, it can be recalibrated if the situation requires it... Read more
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European Agencies : Green light for the Janssen vaccine by Johnson&Johnson
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The Commission, following the recommendation of the European Medicines Agency, gave the green light on 11 March for the marketing of the Janssen vaccine developed by Johnson & Johnson. The fourth vaccine to be used in the EU, it can be administered in a single dose. The Commission has ordered 200 million doses. On 10 March, the Commission reached an agreement with BioNtech/Pfizer to supply Member States with a further 4 million doses, to be delivered by the end of March. Their use will be targeted in border regions, to restore or ensure free movement within the European area... Read more
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Large scale operation against groups of criminals
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The Belgian, French and Dutch police have succeeded in decrypting the communications of criminal groups and on 10 March launched operations to prevent more than 100 large-scale criminal operations planned for the coming months. Europol states that 170 000 people were using the encrypted Sky ECC platform, 20% of whom were based in Belgium and the Netherlands... Read more
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Germany : Elections in Rhinland Palatinate and Baden Württemberg
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Elections were held on 14 March in two Länder. In Baden Württemberg, which has been governed since 2016 by a Green/CDU coalition, the Greens won with 31% of the vote. The results could pave the way for a new alliance between the Greens, the SPD and the FPD. In Rhineland-Palatinate, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) came first with 34.5% of the vote. In office since 2016, the SPD/FDP/Green coalition is expected to be renewed. The Christian Democratic Union (CDU) lost ground, with 23% of the vote in Baden-Württemberg and 26% in Rhineland-Palatinate... Read more

Spain : 11€ billion plan for businesses
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On 12 March, the Spanish government approved a plan totalling €11 billion to help businesses affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. The plan includes €7 billion in direct non-repayable aid to avoid bankruptcies that would be detrimental to the recovery of the economy... Read more
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France : Scale Up Europe
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The Scale-Up Europe initiative was launched by the French Secretary of State for Digital Transition and Electronic Communications in partnership with the European Commissioner for Innovation. This initiative, announced by E. Macron in December 2020, aims to develop a series of recommendations to accelerate the emergence of European technological champions in the digital field... Read more

UK : Collapse of trade and postponement of customs controls
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In the first month after the UK's exit from the single market, British exports to the European Union fell in January by 41% and imports by 29% compared with the previous month, the Office for National Statistics said on 12 March. In price and volume terms, this was "the biggest decline in a month since measures began in January 1997", the ONS said. The British government decided on 11 March to postpone customs controls on imports from the EU until January 2022. It explained that it wanted to allow British businesses to focus on recovering from the economic crisis caused by the pandemic... Read more
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European Union launches a procedure for the infringement of the withdrawal agreement
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The European Commission sent a letter of formal notice to the United Kingdom on 15 March because of the postponement until 1 October of certain controls on the arrival in Northern Ireland of agri-food products and pets from Great Britain, in breach of the Protocol on Ireland signed at the time of the UK's withdrawal from the EU. The UK has one month to respond and faces a fine or penalty payment. The Commission is also asking the UK government to enter into "good faith" discussions in the EU-UK Joint Committee... Read more

Council of Europe : Call for the protection of migrants in the Mediterranean
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In a report published on 9 March, the Council of Europe deplored the "lack of will on the part of European States" to establish policies for the protection of migrants crossing the Mediterranean. It stresses that the situation has deteriorated due to the gradual withdrawal of rescue vessels, the practice of turning back migrant boats, and the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic. It calls on European States to respect the European Convention on Human Rights and to take measures to protect the lives of migrants... Read more
Poland must guarantee women's access to abortion
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The Council of Europe's Committee of Ministers called on Poland on 12 March to introduce clear and effective procedures to ensure women's access to legal abortion. The resolution highlights Poland's failure to implement three rulings of the European Court of Human Rights, while the Polish Constitutional Court further restricted access to abortion in an October 2020 ruling... Read more
Malta: handling of the problem of migrants in detention
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The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) published on 10 March a report on the difficult conditions of detention of migrants in Malta. The report calls on the Maltese authorities to improve the conditions of detention by ensuring that detainees are treated with dignity and humanity... Read more

OECD : World economic outlook
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In its interim forecast published on 10 March, the OECD expects stronger-than-expected global growth of 5.6% in 2021 and 4% in 2022. For the euro area, the forecast remains the same, with 3.9% growth in 2021 and 3.8% in 2022. The OECD stresses that economic and employment recovery is linked to the pace of vaccination... Read more
Mathias Cormann appointed Secretary General of the OECD
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Australian Mathias Cormann was appointed Secretary-General of the OECD on 16 March by the OECD Council. He won the vote of member states on 12 March. He will succeed Mexican Angel Gurria on 1 June for a five-year term. A former finance minister of his country, he has said his priorities are sustainable economic recovery, expanding global trade and setting rules for the digital economy and business taxation... Read more
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Eurobarometer : Survey regarding the conference on the future of Europe
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On 9 March, the Parliament and the Commission published a joint Eurobarometer survey on the Conference on the Future of Europe. 76% of respondents support the Conference, and 92% call for the voice of citizens to be better taken into account in the European decision-making process. In 14 countries, respondents consider respect for democracy, human rights and the rule of law as the Union's most important asset. Furthermore, 6 out of 10 people say that the Covid-19 crisis has made them think about the future of Europe... Read more

Culture : French Language Week
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As part of the International Day of La Francophonie celebrated on 20 March, the 54 member countries and 27 observer countries of the International Organisation of La Francophonie are offering a month of activities to celebrate the French language around the world. This year, all the events presented in Europe will be held online with literary meetings, online competitions, theatre workshops and film screenings... Read more
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The architecutre of Aldo Rossi in Rome
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The National Museum of 21st Century Art in Rome is presenting a retrospective of the architect Aldo Rossi until 17 October. The exhibition analyses Rossi's theoretical and practical contribution to modern architecture through drawings and sketches, projects, writing and models... Read more
Marinus van Reymerswale in Madrid
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Until 13 June, the Prado National Museum in Madrid is presenting the first monographic exhibition devoted to the Dutch painter Marinus van Reymerswale (1490-1546). The exhibition features 10 paintings by the artist, complemented by books, engravings and coins, with the aim of offering a different perspective on his work... Read more
The faces of Weimar in Vienna
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The Albertina Museum in Vienna is showing an exhibition of portraits from the Weimar Republic period of the 1920s and 30s, when photography was no longer intended only to show the personality of the subject, but became a material for the photographer's ideas... Read more
Warhol's photos in Paris
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Until April 10, the Galerie Italienne in Paris is hosting an exhibition of Andy Warhol's photographs, entitled "Instantanés", which includes Polaroids, silver prints, collages and what the artist called "stitched photographs"... Read more
Shakespeare in virtual reality
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Until 20 March, the Royal Shakespeare Company presents Dream, a 50-minute virtual production based on Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, in which the actors perform in a virtual reality setting... Read more
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Napoleon Bicentenary : Marengo or Bonaparte's strange victory
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In "Marengo ou l'étrange victoire de Bonaparte" (Marengo or Bonaparte's Strange Victory), Jean Tulard reveals all the facets of this battle fought in Piedmont on 14 June 1800, which enabled the First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte to remove the last obstacles in his quest for power. The battle is also the subject of a book by the military historian Olivier Lapray, "La bataille de Marengo, la première victoire du siècle", translated into English, and a work by the Pole Slawomir Lesniewski. Napoleon is the subject of a biography in German by the historian and journalist Volker Ullrich... Read more

16Mar
16 March 2021

Videoconference

Meeting of Economy and Finance Ministers

Videoconference

Meeting of Health Ministers

Brussels

EU-Georgia Association Council

Brussels

Tripartite Social Summit

17Mar
17 March 2021

Netherlands

General Elections

18Mar
18 March 2021

Videoconference

Meeting of Environment Ministers

22Mar
22 March 2021

Brussels

Foreign Affairs Council

Brussels

Agriculture and Fisheries Council

Videoconference

Meeting of Ministers responsible for Competitiveness

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Records of the Letter
année 2021
The Letter n°945
Covid-19 crisis and European mobility: What lessons? What future?
published on 19/07/2021
The Letter n°944
"Engaging in politics is a source of risk for the Commission. But it has become inevitable."
published on 12/07/2021
The Letter n°943
Fit for 55: towards the achievement of an ambitious European political compromise for climate
published on 05/07/2021
The Letter n°942
Participating in Sovereignty through the Law
published on 28/06/2021
The Letter n°941
From the Barcelona Process to the Mediterranean Programme, a fragile Partnership with the European Union
published on 21/06/2021
The Letter n°940
600th paper: Governance of the European Union: changing approaches without changing the treaties
published on 14/06/2021
The Letter n°939
The Franco-Italian relationship on the eve of the Quirinal Treaty: between asymmetry and proximit
published on 07/06/2021
The Letter n°938
Sanctions, a privileged instrument of European Foreign Policy
published on 31/05/2021
The Letter n°937
The European Central Bank's Strategic Monetary Policy Review: the key to a return to sustainable growth in Europe
published on 25/05/2021
The Letter n°936
Europe: good rules to recover growth
published on 17/05/2021
The Letter n°935
The Declaration of 9 May 1950
published on 10/05/2021
The Letter n°934
How to avoid the repetition of history: the case of North Korea
published on 03/05/2021
The Letter n°933
Germany turns the page post-Merkel
published on 26/04/2021
The Letter n°932
The Governance of the European Defence Fund
published on 19/04/2021
The Letter n°931
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on posted workers: the new posting framework
published on 12/04/2021
The Letter n°930
Protecting the checks and balances to save the rule of law
published on 06/04/2021
The Letter n°929
The Eastern Partnership, between resilience and interference
published on 29/03/2021
The Letter n°928
Reforming European Economic Policies
published on 22/03/2021
The Letter n°927
The Greens will do everything they can to make the Conference on the future of Europe a success!
published on 15/03/2021
The Letter n°926
Women's Europe
published on 08/03/2021
The Letter n°925
Public Development aid must refocus on agriculture and education in Africa
published on 01/03/2021
The Letter n°924
The Union's external borders: a European debate revisited
published on 22/02/2021
The Letter n°923
Europe-Africa Relations in the light of the Covid-19 pandemic
published on 15/02/2021
The Letter n°922
Brexit and the Irish Question
published on 08/02/2021
The Letter n°921
Europe as a power, European sovereignty, strategic autonomy: a debate that is moving towards an assertive Europe
published on 01/02/2021
The Letter n°920
"Europe is increasingly innovative"
published on 25/01/2021
The Letter n°919
European Trade Policy in the time of Covid-19: adaptation or change of paradigm?
published on 18/01/2021
The Letter n°918
The Biden Transition
published on 11/01/2021