The Letter n°971

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The Letter n°971
The Letter
Tuesday 15th March 2022
issue 971
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The Eastern Partnership under the test of war in Ukraine
Author : Pierre Mirel
Pierre Mirel
Faced with the invasion of Ukraine, the European Union has responded quickly and forcefully by imposing the largest sanctions package in its history, says Pierre Mirel. However, recent upheavals have made the Eastern Partnership more hostage to Russia than ever before. The author revisits the question of Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine's accession to the European Union, insisting on the risks it represents, and proposes the organisation of a new "Helsinki Conference" to rethink the security of the European continent.
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Front page! : Alone, Europe faces its fate
L'OTAN et ses alliés ont renoncé à dissuader Poutine d'agresser son voisin ukrainien. Il appartient désormais aux Européens de faire preuve de détermination et d'unité pour arrêter une tragédie qui peut en appeler d'autres, écrit Jean-Dominique Giuliani... Read more

Elections : Katalin Novak elected President of the Republic
On 10 March, the Hungarian Parliament elected Katalin Novak, the candidate of the ruling Fidesz party, as President of the Republic for a five-year term. The former minister for family policy is the first woman to hold this position and also the youngest. She will take office on 10 May... Read more
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Who will face Emmanuel Macron in the second round of the French presidential election?
The French presidential election is being held on 10 and 24 April in a context of crisis: international with the war in Ukraine, and national, with the health situation which continues to give cause for concern. With one month to go before the first round, incumbent President Emmanuel Macron is expected to come out ahead in the first round, with 30.5% of the vote. His potential opponents for the second round are Marine Le Pen (Rassemblement national, RN), who is credited with 16% of voting intentions, Éric Zemmour (Reconquête!) with 13.5% of the vote, Jean-Luc Mélenchon (La France insoumise, LFI) (12%) and Valérie Pécresse (Les Républicains, LR) (11%)... Read more

Foundation : Unreservedly European
In his book, Jean-Dominique Giuliani, Chairman of the Foundation, freely addresses his fellow citizens, who must refuse to accept the lies about the European Union, while at the same time making a constant contribution to improving it. This book, published by Marie B, is available in paper format on the Foundation's website and in bookshops. Order it here... Read more
Belarus: chronology of a revolution in progress
On 9 March, the Council decided to block the access of three Belarusian banks and their subsidiaries to the SWIFT financial messaging system and to limit the country's financial flows to the EU. In addition, it banned the supply of euro banknotes to Belarus, as well as market transactions with the Central Bank and state-owned companies. To follow the latest developments in the crisis triggered by the rigged presidential election of August 2020 and the repression of the democratic opposition, the Foundation offers a timeline of events... Read more
Map of Health Measures and Travel Conditions in Europe
Romania lifted all restrictions on 8 March. In France, the vaccination pass has been suspended as of 14 March and the wearing of masks remains mandatory only in transport and health facilities. In Austria and Italy, FFP2 masks must still be worn in enclosed spaces. In Germany, the cap on the number of people allowed in private gatherings will be lifted on 20 March. To follow the development of the situation and to learn about the measures in place in the EU Member States, the Foundation offers you a complete map of the steps currently in force. An indispensable, regularly updated resource... Read more
The Permanent Atlas of the European Union is available
To better understand Europe in 2022, the Permanent Atlas of the European Union, published by Marie B Editions, is a unique work that offers a complete and easy-to-access view of the European Union, the euro zone and each of its 27 Member States, with numerous maps. It is available in French in both paper and digital versions... Read more

Ukraine/Russia : Meeting of Heads of State and Government
Meeting in Versailles on 10-11 March, EU leaders called on Russia to immediately cease its military actions in Ukraine. They called for the implementation of the cohesion action for refugees in Europe and invited the Commission to give its opinion on the applications of Ukraine, which is "part of our European family", Moldova and Georgia. They agreed to strengthen the EU's defence capabilities by investing in cyber security and new technologies. They also intend to reduce their energy dependence on Russia. The EU also aims to reduce its strategic dependence in the areas of raw materials, digital technology, food and health... Read more
New sanctions against Russia and Belarus
On 9 March, the EU extended sanctions to 146 members of the Russian Federation Council, and 14 oligarchs. It banned the sale, transfer or export of maritime navigation goods and radio communication technology to Russia. In addition, it blocked the access of 3 Belarusian banks and their subsidiaries to the SWIFT financial messaging system, and restricted financial flows from the country to the EU. It also banned the supply of euro banknotes to Belarus, as well as market transactions with the Central Bank and Belarusian state-owned enterprises... Read more
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Aid to people fleeing conflict in Ukraine
On 8 March, the Commission proposed €500 million in humanitarian aid for Ukrainians fleeing the war. It announced an increase in the number of European border agencies and the creation of a solidarity platform to facilitate the exchange of information between Member States on their reception capacity. The Commission also proposed a "Cohesion Action for Refugees in Europe" (CARE) to make the rules of cohesion policy and the distribution of EU funds in emergency situations more flexible... Read more
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Plan to reduce dependence on Russian hydrocarbons
On 8 March, the Commission proposed a plan (REPowerEU) to make the European Union independent of Russian fossil fuels by 2030 and to respond to rising energy prices. The measures aim to diversify gas supply, increase imports of liquefied natural gas, replace gas used for heating and electricity generation and build up gas reserves for the coming winter. The Commission proposes to increase production and diversify imports of bio-methane and hydrogen. It details how Member States can regulate prices and redistribute revenues from high energy profits and emissions trading to consumers... Read more
Emergency macro-financial assistance to Ukraine
On 11 March, the European Commission disbursed €300 million in emergency macro-financial assistance to Ukraine. This is the first part of a first disbursement of €600 million under the new €1.2 billion emergency MFA programme for Ukraine. A further payment of €300 million is expected to be made shortly... Read more
Northern Europe: suspension of activities with Russia
On 8 March, the European Union, Iceland and Norway announced the suspension of Northern Dimension policy activities involving Russia and Belarus. On 9 March, Finland, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Sweden and the European Commission suspended activities involving Russia in the Barents Euro-Arctic cooperation... Read more
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Council of Europe consultations on measures against Russia
The Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe decided on 10 March to consult the Parliamentary Assembly on the adoption of measures against Russia, which could lead to its exclusion. An extraordinary session of the Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) will be held on 14 and 15 March. The Committee is calling on Russia to ensure safe evacuation routes for civilians and the passage of humanitarian aid. It is also calling for those responsible for the bombing of the children's hospital and maternity hospital in Mariupol on 9 March to be brought to justice... Read more
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ECHR emergency measures for the Russian daily Novaya Gazeta
On 10 March, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) called on the Russian government to refrain from any action and decision aimed at "totally obstructing and terminating" the activities of the daily Novaya Gazeta. The case was brought before the Court by the newspaper's publisher, as the Russian authorities are interfering with the activities of media outlets that do not follow the official view of the armed conflict in Ukraine... Read more
UN call for unity and humanitarian action
On 10 March, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called on states to unite in "supporting all those affected and overcoming this violation of international law". On the ground, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has stepped up its support in Ukraine and neighbouring countries for the estimated 2.5 million refugees and war-affected people. On 13 March, UNICEF, WHO and UNFPA called for an immediate halt to all attacks on healthcare in Ukraine... Read more
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G7 Leaders' Statement
G7 leaders reiterated on 11 March their determination to hold Vladimir Putin's regime responsible for the "unprovoked and unjustified" war in Ukraine. They announced new sanctions to isolate Russia, such as the suspension of most-favoured-nation status or the suspension of funding from the IMF, World Bank and European Bank for Reconstruction and Development. They called on Russia to allow humanitarian access to civilian populations... Read more
IMF and World Bank emergency aid
The IMF approved $1.4 billion in emergency financing on 9 March to help Ukraine meet urgent financing needs and to mitigate the economic impact of the war. The Fund stresses that "significant" post-war financial support is likely to be needed to facilitate the reconstruction of the country. For its part, on 7 March the World Bank approved $723 million in grants, loans and guarantees to help the Ukrainian authorities provide essential public services to the population... Read more
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Commission : Approval of 225 reform proejcts
On 9 March, the Commission approved 225 projects under the Technical Support Instrument to help Member States implement reforms in favour of growth, a more resilient economy and efficient public administrations. This instrument is allocated a budget of €116.8 million for the year 2022 and includes two new features: "multi-country or multi-regional projects" consisting of the joint management of projects between Member States and "flagship projects" aimed at supporting Member States in the implementation of essential reforms... Read more
Measures to combat violence against women
On 8 March, the Commission put forward measures to combat violence against women and domestic violence. The directive aims in particular to criminalise female genital mutilation, online stalking, non-consensual sharing of intimate images and cyber-bullying on the basis of lack of consent. Victims' access to justice should be strengthened... Read more
Investigation into possible anti-competitive practices by Google and Meta
On 11 March, the Commission opened an investigation into whether a 2018 agreement between Google and Meta for online display advertising services may have breached EU competition rules. The Commission will cooperate with the UK Competition Authority (CMA), which has also begun an investigation... Read more

Parliament : Plenary session of the Conference on the Future of Europe
The fourth plenary session of the Conference on the Future of Europe was held on 11 and 12 March in Strasbourg. Discussions focused on the recommendations of the nine working groups. Discussions were held with Ukrainian representatives... Read more
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Resolution to combat disinformation and foreign interference
MEPs on 9 March called for a common strategy and more sanctions against foreign interference and disinformation campaigns. The resolution takes up the findings of the special committee on foreign interference that malicious actors in authoritarian countries such as Russia and China are influencing elections, carrying out cyber attacks and increasing the polarisation of public debate. MEPs warn of a general lack of awareness of the impact of foreign interference on European democracy, and suggest revoking the licences of organisations that disseminate foreign state propaganda... Read more
Approval of the Union's environmental goals
On 10 March, MEPs adopted their position on the European Union's environmental programme, which aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by 2030, achieve zero pollution, build a sustainable economy, protect biodiversity and reduce the ecological footprint. The programme includes a binding framework for phasing out fossil fuel subsidies and a new methodology for identifying other environmentally damaging subsidies... Read more
Tightening the rules on the life cycle of batteries
MEPs adopted a position on the regulation of batteries on 9 March, introducing stricter performance and waste management requirements. They proposed the adoption of a label, a carbon footprint statement, the introduction of a new category of batteries for 'light transport' and called for portable batteries to be easier to replace. The industry will have to follow standards of due diligence throughout their value chain... Read more
Call to apply rule of law conditionality
In a resolution adopted on 9 March, MEPs called on the Commission to take urgent action and apply the rule of law conditionality mechanism "immediately", following its validation by the Court of Justice on 16 February. They asked that the Commission act independently of Member States' electoral calendars, and that the mechanism cover both the EU budget and the NextGenerationEU recovery instrument... Read more
Resolution on the defence of civil society
In a resolution on 8 March, MEPs proposed measures to combat the repression of civil society in Europe. They call for the creation of a "European Civic Space Index" and a comprehensive strategy for civil society, which should introduce common minimum legal and administrative standards for civil society organisations as well as a statute for cross-border and non-profit associations.. Read more

Council : Informal Meeting of Ministers of Culture
Meeting on 7 and 8 March in Angers, the Ministers of Culture expressed their support for Ukrainian artists, journalists and cultural and media professionals. They discussed the role of the States and the European Union in consolidating the economic model of the media, insisted on the importance of restoring public confidence in the media, and exchanged views on ways to strengthen cultural diversity online. They recalled the need to strengthen the fight against illicit trafficking in cultural goods and stressed the need to enhance the accessibility and enhancement of heritage, notably through digital means... Read more
Agreement on the extension of the Covid Certificate
On March 11, the Council adopted its position on the one-year extension of the Covid certificate, until June 30, 2023. It must now agree with the Parliament for the measure to enter into force... Read more

ECB : Reduction in asset purchases
The European Central Bank decided on 10 March to reduce its asset purchase programme to €40 billion in April, €30 billion in May and €20 billion in June, whereas it had planned to maintain a pace of €40 billion in the second quarter and reach €20 billion per month by the end of the year. The ECB confirmed that it would discontinue the emergency pandemic purchase programme (EPPP) at the end of March. It said it was ready to take "all necessary measures" to seek price stability and preserve financial stability... Read more

Court of Justice : Decision regarding posted workers
In a judgment delivered on 8 March, the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled that in the case of an infringement of administrative obligations concerning the posting of workers, a national judge may apply a national system of sanctions contrary to the Posting Directive if that system ensures the proportionality of the sanctions... Read more
UK's failure to meet its anti-fraud obligations
The European Court of Justice ruled on 8 March that the UK had failed to fulfil its obligations in 2011 and 2014 due to insufficient customs controls and the return of duties collected on imports of textile and footwear products from China. The UK government did not apply effective customs controls to prevent fraud on the value of the products, nor did it make available to the Commission the correct amounts of customs duties collected. The Court asked the Commission to recalculate the amounts owed by the UK, taking into account its recommendations on the assessment of the quantity and value of the losses... Read more

Poland : The Constitutional Court rejects the European Convention on Human Rights
The Polish Constitutional Court ruled on 10 March that the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) was "not competent" to judge the independence of the Polish judiciary. This is the second decision in which it questions the compatibility between the Polish Constitution and Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which guarantees the right to a fair trial... Read more

Studies/Reports : Publication of the General Report on the Activities of the European Union in 2021
As part of the fight against Covid-19, the EU helped deploy vaccines by exporting or sharing more than 1.7 billion doses with 165 countries in 2021 and validated 22 national plans for recovery and resilience, according to the General Report on Activity in 2021 published on 9 March. With the adoption of the Climate Act, the European Union has turned its 2050 climate targets into obligations. Measures concerning public life were implemented with the Conference on the Future of Europe, laws on political advertising, electoral rights and party financing. Finally, the Union's international partnerships and capacity for action were strengthened through the Global Gateway initiative and the European Peace Facility... Read more

Eurostat : Increase in GDP and employment
In the fourth quarter of 2021, GDP increased by 0.4% in the European Union and by 0.3% in the euro area compared with the previous quarter, according to data published by Eurostat on 8 March. Employment increased by 0.5% in both the EU and the euro area... Read more

Culture : Chernobyl Safari in support of Ukraine
The Museum of Applied Arts-MAK in Vienna is holding an exhibition until 5 June of a series of photographs by the artist Anna Jermolaewa of the animals in the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. In support of Ukraine, she has made copies of one of the works in this collection which are being offered for sale. The proceeds will go to charitable causes for the Ukrainians... Read more
Vilhelm Hammershøi: light and silence
For the first time, an exhibition at the National Museum in Krakow is presenting the work of Vilhelm Hammershøi, an artist considered to be the most outstanding Danish painter of the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries. The exhibition presents a selection of paintings and drawings from Danish, Finnish, French, Dutch and Norwegian collections and runs until 8 May... Read more
Art and Afghan Women in Lille
On the occasion of Women's Rights Day, the Maison Folie Moulins in Lille is hosting the exhibition "Femmes, regards d'artistes afghans" until 10 April. Eleven artists who had to flee their country share, through photographs, paintings, illustrations and textile creations, their poetic, cultural and political vision of Afghan women... Read more
Stephan Goldrajch in Athens
Until 22 May, the work of artist Stephan Goldrajch is being shown at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Athens. The exhibition "Palaver Tree" consists of knitted, crocheted or woven pieces with patterns and threads made by people of different ages and social backgrounds resulting in an inclusive and welcoming space... Read more
Sculptures de Kestutis Svirnelis à Vilnius
The Meno nisa gallery in Vilnius is hosting works by sculptor Kestutis Svirnelis until 1 April. Through his installations made with recycled objects, the artist invites the visitor to question the notion of the absolute in art and to define the limits of aesthetics... Read more
Immersion in the Mona Lisa in Marseille
Until 21 August, the Palais de la Bourse in Marseilles is offering a unique interactive and sensory experience to rediscover the Mona Lisa, Leonardo da Vinci's masterpiece... Read more
Vincent Van Gogh's olive groves
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is bringing together Vincent Van Gogh's paintings of olive groves for the first time until 12 June. The artist created numerous representations of olive trees, continually experimenting with new approaches depending on the season and the time of day... Read more
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The art of the trompe-l'oeil
From 16 March to 22 May, the Museo Nacional Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid is presenting an exhibition on the art of the trompe l'oeil from the 15th century to the present day. This exhibition offers the visitor the opportunity to revisit the genre through works from different artistic movements that illustrate the most common themes in painting... Read more
Donatello celebrated in Florence
From 19 March to 31 July, the Palazzo Strozzi Foundation and the Museo Nazionale del Bargello present the exhibition "Donatello, the Renaissance", which reconstitutes the career of one of the most important artists in Italian art. The exhibition explores the materials, techniques and genres used by the artist and compares his works with those of other masters of the Italian Renaissance... Read more
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Northern Lights in Norway
The Borealis music festival celebrates the Northern Lights in Bergen. From 16 to 20 March, a wide range of festivities is on offer: concerts, theatre, craft markets, ski competitions, sound and light shows, etc. Norwegian traditions, cultures from other countries and experimental creations are mixed together... Read more
Panarts Musical Compositions
The Panarts festival is being held in Belfast from 16 to 19 March. Around one hundred singer-songwriters from all over the world will be performing in forty concerts across the city. This festival in partnership between Belfast and Nashville (USA) is an opportunity to discover pop-rock, folk and indie-folk music... Read more
Lisbon Animation Festival
From 16 to 27 March, Lisbon will host the Monstra animation film festival. Film premieres, retrospectives, documentaries and experimental cinema are on the programme, and exhibitions will be held to showcase the work of international artists... Read more

14 March 2022


Eurogroup Employment, Social Policy, Health and Consumer Affairs Council

14-15 March 2022


Extraordinary Plenary Session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe

15 March 2022


Economic and Financial Affairs Informal Meeting of Health Ministers

16 March 2022


Meeting of NATO Defence Ministers Informal video conference of Education Ministers

17 March 2022


Environment Council

21 March 2022


"Foreign Affairs" Council "Defence" Council "Agriculture and Fisheries" Council

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The Letter n°971
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