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Home arrow newsitems arrow Despite BREXIT zig-zag +Terror Attack etc, EU Summit Advances on Civil Security/Defence +€uro-Budget

Despite BREXIT zig-zag +Terror Attack etc, EU Summit Advances on Civil Security/Defence +€uro-Budget

Written by ACM
Friday, 14 December 2018
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*Brussels/EU Summit/Angelo Marcopolo/- Despite the Fact that EU's Flags were exceptionaly Lowered to Half-staff in Brussels, and 28 Heads of State/Government started working by observing a Minute of Silence, as a sign of mourning for the Civilian Victims cowardly targetted by Islamist Terror earlier this week in Strasbourg, where EU Parliament concludes Today its December 2018 Plenary Session, (See : ..., etc),

 

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and nonobstant a considerable disruption, from the beginning up to the end, by a Bumpy BREXIT zigzag, added, almost at the Same Time, also to a quite "Foggy" situation on Future EU - UK Relations, (Comp : ..., etc),


nevertheless, this most Important EU Summit before the forthcoming, crucial European Elections of May 2109, succeeded to Mark a decisive Progress on certain Landmark Issues, including, particularly, EU Security and Defence, as well as €uroArea :


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- On the 1st point, EU Commission's President, Experienced former Long-Time Prime Minister of Luxembourg and €uroGroup's Chairman, Jean-Claude Juncker, speaking to Journalists, including "Eurofora",  at EU Summit's opening day's Press Conference, appeared, exceptionaly, "very Glad", for the fact that EU Leaders Timely Adopted a Key EU Commission's proposal on Civic aspects of EU's Security/Defence policy :


- This New EU Agreement creates "a Civil Protection Mechanism in Europe", for Both "Prevention and Reparation" of serious Incidents' consequences, as, f.ex., Big Fires or EarthQuakes, etc., which were particularly Highlighted f.ex. "by Greece and Italy" respectively, etc., as Juncker observed in this regard.


Experienced Former EU Commissioner, MEP and Minister, currently EU's Negotiator on BREXIT, Michel Barnier from France, had notoriously worked, in the Past, (including as pioneer Rapporteur), in order to Prepare such a Key EU Tool.


Now, EU Summit's Official Conclusions clearly Announce, under the Heading of "Security and Defence", that EU's Heads of State/Government have just "Endorsed" what is named as the "Civilian Compact" of EU's Common Security and Defence Policy ("CSDP").


- That "Civilian Compact" is Part of a Series of Recent EU "Initiatives" on CSDP, which "contribute to enhancing the EU's Strategic Autonomy", as well as "its Capacity to Act as a Security Provider", while also respecting the "Principle" of "Decicion-Making Autonomy of the EU", (despite the fact that it's, at the same time, "Complementing and ReinForcing" NATO's Activities, "strengthening EU-NATO Cooperation"), as also the Implementation of "PESCO" Projects, (See: ..., etc), and EU's Defence Industrial development programme", better Military "Mobility", "negotiations on the proposed European Defence Fund", etc., EU Summit's Conclusions add.


Indeed, EU Parliament has just Debated and Voted for the Creation of such a "European Defence Fund", during its Plenary session in Strasbourg,
 ... starting, by a Timely Coincidence, precisely when an Islamist Terrorist Attack cowardly Targetted and Killed 5 Civilian Victims, Wounding another 7 there, on Tuesday evening, 11 December 2018, during which MEPs (Staff and Journalsts, including "Eurofora") had been massively Locked in the main Buildings, as a matter of Precaution, overnight, while the French Police was still Searching to find the Armed Killer or Killers, Downtown, (See : ..., etc).


EU Parliament President Antonio Tajani, (an Experienced former EU Commissioner, Top MEP, Foreign Minister from Italy, christian-democrat/EPP), gave a Decisive Impulsion by Deciding for MEP's Work to Continue as Scheduled, without any Modification, despite those Deadly Terrorist Attacks, (while also Holding, afterwards, an UnPrecedented Plenary Meeting with MEPs on the Evacuation of the Parliament's Buildings, between 3 and 4 a.m. in the Morning, Comp., f.ex., also : ..., etc).


But it was Polish Conservative MEP, Professor Zdzislaw Krasnodebski, vice-President of EU Parliament, and Rapporteur for that European Defence Fund, (as well as GrandSon of a Famous Military Aiplane Pilot of the 2nd World War), who, while Chairing that Plenary Session, already during the Previous Reports tabled for that Tragic Evening, slamed some Other MEPs' attempts to Stop EU Parliament's Work, by Opposing mainly the Argument that the Creation of new EU Tools such as a Defence Fund would, precisely, Strengthen Europe also into Fighting against similar Deadly Islamist Terrorists !


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+ In Addition, during the 2nd Day of this December 2018 EU Summit, Focused on €uro-Area developments, (but including also several Other EU Member Countries), it was Decided, "for the 1st Time", to create an "€uroZone's Budget", in the foreseable Future, as French President Emmanuel Macron, (notoriously a Fervent Supporter of such an Idea), stressed from the Outset, at his Concluding Press Conference Today (14/12/2018).


- EU Leaders decided to Fix the concrete "Features" of such a "Budgetary Instrument" on "June 2019", and this Fact proves that such Ideas were "Not Impossible", (Contrary to what some Others had Claimed in the Past), observed the French President.


- According to the "Compromise" endorsed Today by an inclusive €uro-Summit, that New Tool will mainly Aim to Strengthen "Convergence" and "Innovation", even if France's position would also like to Add "Stabilisation" : A point on which Negotiations are Still on-going, Macron said.

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+ Meanwhile, German Chancellor Angie Merkel, in her parallel Press Conference, also Today, added that the "€uroZone's Budget" (as she named it),  was decided "on the Basis of a Franco-German proposal, and a proposal by EU Commission", after "a Long and very Controversial Debate" among Ministers of Finance.


- Its main "Purpose" is "to promote Competitiveness and Convergence between €uro-Area's Member Countries", but it will be "Part of EU's Budget", and evolve in "Parallel" with (on-going) "Negotiations on the Medium-Term Financial Perspectives", she noted.


=> This Agreement includes "Essential Parts of what (French President) Emmanuel Macro had (initialy) proposed", Merkel Replied to a relevant Press Question, but also "in a Version in which All €uroArea's Member States can Join", while, in Addition, "we have also Opened this €uroZone Budget for Countries .. which  are  very Close to Joining the €uro, (i.e., already in the ERM II Mechanism), and can Participate in the Process, on a Voluntary basis".  "It was always foreseeable that some very Different Ideas existed. So, it's not a question of just making a proposal, but that, at the end of the day, Something is Actually being Created, that today 27 Member States have been able to support".


- So, it's mainly "through a Franco-German Cooperation", that "we have made a good contribution" for €uroArea's further development, and "the French President was fully Satisfied that this has now been Achieved. And me, too. ...That was very Good", Chancellor Merkel stressed.


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++ According to the Official EU Summit's Conclusions, published Today, European Leaders "Mandate the €uroGroup to Work on the Design, the Modalities of Implementation, and Timing of a Budgetary Instrument, for Convergence and Competitiveness of the €uro-Area".


- It can also include "ERM II Member States (Comp. Supra), on a Voluntary Basis".


- Even if "it will be Part of EU Budget", and "Coherent withy Other EU Policies", nevertheless, it will also be "subject to Criteria and strategic Guidance from the €uro-Area Member States".


- This is done "in the Context of the (EU's) Multi-Annual Financial Framework (MFF)" for 2021-2027, according to which, EU Leaders "will Determine its (€uroArea Budget's) Size".


- While the more concrete "Features of the (€uroArea's) Budgetary Instrument will be Agreed on June 2019", nevertheless, "the Instrument" itself, "will be Adopted  in accordance with the Legislative Procedure, as foreseen by the (EU's) Treaties, on the Basis of the relevant EU Commission's proposal, to be Amended, if necessary", (i.e. according to the Usual Process, for the rest).

 

 

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(../..)
 

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(NDLR : "DraftNews", as already send, Earlier, to "Eurofora"'s Subscribers/Donors. A more accurate, full Final Version, might be Published asap).

 

***

 

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People in Europe and the World expect from CoE to make a succes of its "Monitoring" for Human Rights and Democracy, despite difficulties, said Finland's President Tarja Halonen to "EuroFora" at a crucial moment for the mecanism built 15 years ago by the paneuropean organization which celebrates its 60th Anniversary in 2009.

Halonen, known as "Mother" of CoE's "Monitoring" mecanism, a long-time MEP and former Foreign Minister before becoming Finland's President, holds a long experience in the mattter, after also serving twice as CoE and EU Chairwoman in the past. That's why she is well placed to judge how CoE's "monitoring" should deal today with some crucial issues of importance both to CoE and to the EU.

The move came just a Month before a crucial, last visit to Turkey, scheduled for June, by the President of CoE''s "Monitoring" Committee, Ukranian MEP Serge Holovaty, to finalize his Report on Ankara, the CoE Member State with the longest Monitoring procedure. From its results depends its overall credibility.

This is a Test-case, because, in fact, it's in order to avoid Sanctions threatened against Turkey by a CoE's Assembly's April 1995 Resolution for grave Human Rights violations, Democracy gaps, the continuing Military Occupation in Cyprus, the unresolved Kurdish problem, Aegean differend with Greece, etc., that MEPs decided to create, for the 1st time on April 1996, a "Monitoring" proces, allegedly destinated to check, without excluding Countries who did not fulfill all CoE's standards.

In the Past, the obliged withdrawal of Greece's Military regime and of its "Civil" cover-up out of the CoE had helped bring back Democracy in 1974. But, on the contrary, since April 1996, the idea was to "monitor" Human Rights' respect while keeping most concerned Countries inside the CoE. After Turkey's oldest example, this was extended also to several former "Eastern" European Countries, even if CoE's Assembly has imposed to some of them (fex. Ukraine, Russia, etc., after Belarus, Serbia, etc) various "Sanctions", that Ankara always avoided. Curiously more succesful even than .. USA itself, (a CoE "Observer" since 1995), which has been at least threatened with sanctions some years ago..

EU-effects of CoE's Monitoring process became obvious between 2001-2008, since the "closure" of this procedure, when CoE felt that a Country had met most of its Human Rights, Democracy and Rule of Law obligations, (i.e. the "Copenhagen Criteria" for the EU), helped trigger Negotiations with the EU for "Accession" or other closer relations : This occured already before the 2004 and 2007 EU Enlargements to former "Eastern" European Countries, as well as for the commencement of "accession" negotiations with Croatia, and of "open-ended" negotiations with Turkey in 2005.

    But a stricking new development are Holovaty's recent findings that on core Human Rights issues as Torture and Freedom of Expression, Turkey, even "5 Years after" CoE closed its "Monitoring", back in 2004, inciting EU to start accession Negotiations in 2005, still presents grave problems.

    His findings are of crucial importance after a 2008 CoE Resolution called, "if need be", to "seriously consider the possibility of Re-Opening the Monitoring procedure for Turkey" : A move which might affect Ankara's controversial EU bid, since EU Accession Negotiations are based on the Hypothesis that the Candidate fullfils the "Copenhagen Criteria" (See above)..
-------------------------
    Holovaty expressed his will to check  "Matters still Outstanding" and  those that he "didn't have an opportunity to discuss" at an earlier visit this year, "in order to discuss the more complex issues in greater depth", at his forthcoming New Visit to Ankara, before the December 2009 EU Summit.  This is all based on the 2004 CoE Resolution which stresses that, CoE "will continue.. post-monitoring Dialogue with the Turkish authorities,...in addition to a 12-points list,..and on any Other Matter that might arise in connection with Turkey’s Obligations as a CoE member state".

    CoE's Resolution also asks  from Turkey "to secure the proper Implementation of Judgements, particularly in the Cyprus v. Turkey InterState case", of 2001, which concerns also the plight of many Hundreds of MISSING People. It adds Turkey's obligations to "execute" ECHR's Judgements in the Loizidou case,..and in particular adopt General Measures to avoid repetition or continuation of Violations found by the Court" to the detriment of Refugees.

    Nevertheless, Holovaty said to "EuroFora" that "MISSING" persons,"might be included" and cannot be excluded, but he has yet to examine the situation "to find out  which issues will be raised" to the Turkish Government.

    Therefore, "EuroFora" asked Halonen, as the Historic "Mother" of CoE's Monitoring mecanism, if she thought that, "whenever there are grave Human Rights Violations, as fex. "MISSING" persons, attested even by ECHR's judgements, they should be always checked by a Monitoring process. Or could they be forgotten ?"
    
     - "We (CoE) must be, at the same time, Fair, Realistic, but not in the mind that "now we have Forgotten", etc., replied to "EuroFora"'s question Halonen, speaking as a matter of general principle.

    - "When we think of those People that are suffering from the lack of Democracy, of Human Rights, and of the Rule of Law", "we should find a base on how to deal with the (Monitoring) system more rapidly"', she stressed.

    - "Sometimes it's very difficult to combine Transparency and Effectivenes together, particularly in this specific case", she went on to say. But, "I have not found a (CoE Member) Country who could be insensitive in this sens", Halonen answered concerning grave Human Rights violations attested by the ECHR.

    - "I have no ready-made answer. I have the expectations that you, in the CoE, will, step by step, find the different types of the monitoring systems."

    Also "because this is a part of the UN's Post-Conflict system, (fex. when it comes to Cyprus' MISSING persons), and it's a more Global system". So that, "If we make a succes in Europe, the others will follow", throughout the World.  "But they expect that we (Europe) are this opportunity, this Opportunity to make a Succes", Halonen concluded.

    In addition, she advised to extend CoE's Monitoring to all its 47 Member States, "because, as long as we hear that, all these monitoring systems are "OK for the neighbor, but not for me", "it's very difficult" to understand. Something which could make easier to Compare...

    Finnish MEP Jaako Laakso, former CoE Rapporteur on the Occupied Territories of Cyprus and one of the 5 Signatories of the Historic CoE's call to create the "MONITORING" mecanism since 1996, was more specific :  - "We (CoE Assembly) have to find a way for the issue of Cyprus' MISSING People to be better followed", he stressed, anouncing his intention to "speak to Mr. Holovaty" about that. "There might be also other ways", added Laakso.

    - The 2008 "Year had been a very Bad one for Turkey with regard to Human Rights in general, and Freedom of Expression in particular", denounced, meanwhile, Holovaty's preliminary Post-Monitoringh Draft Report by Holovaty, published by the CoE on April 2009.

    "Amnesty International believes that freedom of expression is not guaranteed given the various articles of the Criminal Code that restrict it. .. "For example, 1,300 Websites are said to have been closed down by the (Turkish) authorities in 2008" ! While "the new Turkish Criminal Code was used to bring a total of 1,072 proceedings between June 2005 and April 2008, and led to the conviction of 192 people", for expressing views. "Representatives of the Özgür Gündem newspaper, which specialises in Kurdish affairs, ..complained about Numerous Attacks on their Freedom of Expression ...as was everyone who advocated a settlement to the question by means other than the intervention of the army" "According to their figures, 19 Newspapers had been suspended 43 times between 4 August 2006 and 4 November 2008" !...

    Moreover, on 2008,  CoE's "Ministers adopted its 4rth Resolution on the execution of the judgments of the ECHR, ...and outstanding issues regarding 175 Judgements and decisions relating to Turkey delivered between 1996 and 2008...  concerning Deaths resulting from the excessive use of force by members of the Security forces, the failure to protect the right to life, the DIisappearance and/or death of individuals, Ill-Treatment and the Destruction of property". CoE's " Ministers urged the Turkish authorities ...to ensure that members of Security forces of all ranks can be prosecuted without administrative
authorisation" for "serious crimes". Holovaty reminded.

"Nonetheless", Holovaty heard anew of "Several cases of Violence committed last year (2008) by the (Turkish) security forces". Amnesty International speaks of Many Cases of ill-treatment and Torture in the prisons and by the police". "Including, fex."'the death of Engin Ceber, a young man of 29 who died on October 2008 as a result of the TORTURE allegedly inflicted on him by police officers, prison staff and members of the gendarmerie. He was part of a group of people arrested on September 2008 during a demonstration and Press Conference in Istanbul'. Proceedings against suspects are "on-going" in this case.

- " I therefore noted an Obvious Contradiction between the Government’s stated “zero tolerance” policy.... of Torture and other forms of ill-treatment, and the different testimonies given", denounced CoE's Rapporteur.  Turkish "authorities must make considerable efforts to guarantee that proper investigations are carried out into allegations of abuses by members of the security forces and that perpetrators are effectively punished" "In this respect, I have requested detailed Statistics on the number of Investigations, acquittals and convictions in cases involving allegations of abuse in order to show the positive impact of the measures taken to date", Holovaty said, repeating a permanently unsatisfied CoE's demand to Turkey since a Decade...

    - "The Political Crisis that shook the country in the spring of 2008 highlighted the Weaknesses of the (Turkish) Constitution", which comes from the Military regime of 1982, "and the Urgent Need of Reforms", stressed from the outset CoE's Rapporteur in 2009. In particular, "the ...Democratic functioning of state institutions, including the independence of the judicial system, are crucial", he observes.

    But, "the Electoral  system and the ways in which it is circumvented do not appear to give those elected complete Legitimacy, and tend to pervert the course of direct universal suffrage", denounces Holovaty, observing that, even 5 Years later, Turkey did not yet change the 10% nationwide Threshold for a party to take any seat, which is "far higher" than the "3%" maximum in Europe and already condemned as contrary to European Standards by the CoE.

    + Moreover, EU Parliament's 2009 Report on Turkey, drafted by Dutch MEP Ria Oomen-Ruijten and adopted in Strasbourg on March, expresses "Concern over the Failure of the (Turkish) Judiciary to prosecute cases of Torture and Ill-treatment, the Number of which is Growing". EU also "is concerned about continuing Hostility and Violence against Minorities" in Turkey. It also "calls on the Turkish Government to launch, as a matter of Priority, a Political Initiatve favouring a lasting Settlement of the Kurdish issue, (while "condemning violence.. and terrorist groups"). EU "regrets that No progress has been made on establishing full, systematic Civilian suprevisory functions over the (Turkish) Military".

    The final results of Holovaty's 2nd and last visit to Turkley will be known later this year, and, at any case, before EU's December 2009 Summit.

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