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Dacian Cioloș hails groundbreaking agreement on rule of law: Renew Europe is delivering on the pledges it made to EU citizens, protecting EU funding

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The European Parliament and the Council have reached a provisional agreement on a Rule of law conditionality mechanism, which will be an indispensable part of the EU budget 2021-2027, and the Next Generation EU Recovery instrument, says Renew Europe, the third largest political group in the European Parliament.

In the face of intensifying Rule of Law backsliding and corruption linked to EU funding in some Member States, Renew Europe led a determined campaign for an effective and comprehensive Rule of Law conditionality mechanism. It will ensure that those governments that do not live up to the EU rules and values will not receive EU funds, according to a press release.

“Protecting EU funding from infringements of the rule of law and corruption has long been a priority for Renew Europe. I am delighted with our strong family effort to deliver this innovative legislation. Renew Europe is delivering on the pledges it made to EU citizens. We passionately believe it is unacceptable that some EU countries continue to use EU taxpayer’s money to reinforce their own illiberalism and undermine the fundamental rights of EU citizens. Today we take an important step to tackling this. The European Union is not a cash machine, it is a union of values and fundamental rights, which must be defended. Europe is first and foremost a Union of values. This rule of law mechanism will make it clear. Thanks to our negotiating team and all our family members in the different institutions pushing in the same direction, the mechanism we have agreed has been significantly strengthened, from the scope of the regulation, to protections for non-governmental beneficiaries and a multitude of other areas. This is a ground-breaking mechanism which we believe will play an important role in reinforcing the rule of law and moving the European project forward”, said  Dacian Cioloş, President of Renew Europe.

The establishment of a link between upholding the Rule of Law and EU funding was a key campaign priority for Renew Europe both before and after the 2019 European elections.  

Thanks to the hard negotiating of Renew Europe, the agreement has been significantly reinforced:

 – Firstly, the scope has been broadened and includes a stand-alone Article with a list of examples of possible breaches, which includes endangering the independence of the judiciary. Moreover, rule of law is to be understood in relation to all Union values in Article 2 TEU.

– Secondly, the mechanism will be preventative and can be triggered with a considerably shortened timetable when compared to the German Presidency’s proposal if there is a serious risk that breaches of the rule of law can affect the budget. This was vital for Renew who obtained legally binding guarantees insuring that the Council cannot block decisions via procedural tricks, and clarifying the role and responsibility of the Commission. This was final and most difficult point of the negotiations.

 – Thirdly, Renew Europe actively fought to secure that strengthened provisions are included for the protection of final beneficiaries, to ensure that non-governmental organizations and other final recipients are not victims to the illegal actions of their own Government.

 – Fourthly, another achievement pushed by Renew Europe is the inclusion of the Commission’s Annual Rule of Law report among the sources of information on which the Commission should base its assessments whether there are breaches. By taking into consideration the annual evaluation of the rule of law situation in all Member States, we add to the Commission toolbox another instrument to  guarantee assessments that are unbiased, transparent and comprehensive.

Robert Lupițu este redactor-șef, specialist în relații internaționale, jurnalist în afaceri europene și NATO. Robert este laureat al concursului ”Reporter și Blogger European” la categoria Editorial și co-autor al volumelor ”România transatlantică” și ”100 de pași pentru o cetățenie europeană activă”. Face parte din Global Shapers Community, o inițiativă World Economic Forum, și este Young Strategic Leader în cadrul inițiativelor The Aspen Institute. Din 2019, Robert este membru al programului #TT27 Leadership Academy organizat de European Political Strategy Center, think tank-ul Comisiei Europene.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: The crisis in Afghanistan, especially in its social dimension, must have a firm response from the EU

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MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP) argues that the current crisis in Afghanistan must be a priority on the agenda of the European institutions, which have resumed their work after the summer break.

In a statement for CaleaEuropeană, MEP Vasile Blaga said that the crisis in Afghanistan, especially in its social dimension, “must have a clear and firm response from the European Union.”

“The European Parliament has put the crisis in Afghanistan on its agenda this session. I expect that all the debates on the situation in Afghanistan will lead to solutions to the serious humanitarian situation that is about to unfold in Afghanistan. The EU, but also the Member States, owe a debt of gratitude to Afghan citizens who suddenly see their security and that of their families threatened”, added the EPP MEP.

The European Union this week began discussing the implications of recent events in Afghanistan for security and migration within the 27-nation Union.

The Foreign Affairs Committee, Development Committee and Parliament’s Delegation for relations with Afghanistan will hear from Gunnar Wiegand, Managing Director for Asia and the Pacific at the European External Action Service, who will present an assessment of the latest developments in Afghanistan. European Commission representatives are also expected to address MEPs.

Afghanistan has been rocked by deadly violence and a brutal terror attack against Kabul airport over the past few days, in the midst of U.S. and international troops evacuating from the country by 31 August.

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MEP Vasile Blaga: EU response to future health crises and progress of national recovery and resilience plans, important issues on EP agenda

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MEP Vasile Blaga  (EPP) argues that the September plenary session of the European Parliament should debate as a priority the EU’s instruments in the face of health and humanitarian crises, as well as the progress of National Recovery and Resilience Plans.

According to the MEP, the European Parliament is putting on the agenda extremely important issues for the future of the Union.

„I believe that an EU response to the effects of the COVID 19 pandemic is vital. The future of the Union must find us prepared for potential health threats similar to the coronavirus pandemic. We can all see that a health emergency of the scale of the present one can only be managed by joint measures taken by all Member States. This unfortunate experience of the last two years has shown us the fragility of the EU in the face of external health threats. We need to learn from this so that the negative social and economic effects will not be repeated in the future”, said Vasile Blaga in a statement to CaleaEuropeană.

A second priority, says the EPP MEP, is linked to an accelerated recovery of the EU economies: “National recovery and resilience plans must be urgently adjusted and approved so that investment policies become engines of development in each Member State and, as a whole, kick-start the EU economy as a whole. The European Parliament must closely follow, also during this session, the progress of the national recovery plans and the way each Member State spends the money allocated by the NRRP to achieve the objectives listed in the Recovery and Resilience Facility”, added Vasile Blaga.

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After working on infrastructure projects for NASA and the British Air Force F-35 aircraft, Lagan Aviation & Infrastructure will modernize Campia Turzii Air Base, together with the consortium represented by Leviatan Design

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©️ Forțele Aeriene Române

The British company Lagan Aviation & Infrastructure, with extensive experience in the field of infrastructure and logistics projects of the British Royal Air Force and with collaborations at NASA level, will participate as a subcontractor in the infrastructure project in the operational area of the air base at Câmpia Turzii, according to the announcement on the public procurement platform SICAP.

The British company Lagan Aviation & Infrastructure, with extensive experience in the field of infrastructure and logistics projects of the British Royal Air Force and with collaborations at NASA level, will participate as a subcontractor in the infrastructure project in the operational area of the air base at Câmpia Turzii, according to the announcement on the public procurement platform SICAP.

The tender for the first phase of the project, worth 514 million lei, on “Realization of infrastructure – operational area in barracks 1833 Câmpia Turzii” was won by the joint venture Telekom Romania Communications SA – Ubitech Construcții SRL – Petrodesign SA and Leviatan Design SRL, as leader of this partnership.

“Our consortium has the necessary experience, both from a national perspective, through similar specific projects it has carried out, and from an international perspective, through the partners we collaborate with”, said Cătălin Podaru, director of Leviatan Design, the company that participated in the pre-feasibility study for the multi-roller infrastructure at Câmpia Turzii.

Among the key international partners involved in the Câmpia Turzii project is Lagan Aviation & Infrastructure, part of the Lagan Construction Group Ltd, established in 1962. The Brits build infrastructure to the highest safety standards for Romania’s most important strategic-military partners: Among the most recent major British-managed projects are aviation projects at Dublin Airport and RAF Marham, an important strategic base for the British Royal Air Force, for the operation of F35 multi-role aircraft. The contract to upgrade infrastructure and facilities at RAF Marham is worth £135 million.

Recently, the company has successfully delivered projects at Heathrow, London City Airport, RAF Akrotiri and RAF Gibraltar. In recent years, the company has also executed a £23 million runway resurfacing contract at RAF Northolt.

The group also has a specialist US airport team based in Virginia, Washington DC, currently working at Ronald Reagan National Airport and the Wallops Flight Facility for NASA.

This company’s expertise in infrastructure projects for F-16 aircraft is important for defence projects at Câmpia Turzii, as the Romanian base hosts F-16 aircraft of the Romanian and allied air forces, as well as American MQ-9 Reaper drones.

The Campia Turzii Air Base is one of the key strategic points in Romania’s defence and security infrastructure, being treated as such even by allies. In May this year, the US Air Force announced that the United States will invest $152 million in 15 infrastructure upgrades at Romania’s Câmpia Turzii Air Base.

The first works have already started in May-August 2021. The US Air Force plans to spend $130 million this year on “mission optimisation” at the Romanian air base. This amount is reflected in the Department of Defense budget for this year and represents the largest US military investment in Europe for 2021.

Other new modernisation projects are due to start at the end of 2021.

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