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EPP MEP Adina Vălean co-chaired the high level conference towards a renewed partnership between EU and Africa

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The European Parliament held a high level conference with African leaders in Brussels on Wednesday 22 November to discuss development in the run-up of a EU-Africa summit.

The conference towards a renewed partnership with Africa was co-chaired by Romanian EPP MEP, Adina Vălean, Chair of the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee.

FOTO: valean.eu

”I would like to welcome the praiseworthy initiative, called ‘The Great Green Wall’, a 7,000-km long belt of trees stretching from Senegal to the coastal areas of Djibouti. This African Union project was partly funded by the European Union and has multiple objectives: By blocking the sands in the Sahara desert, the further expansion of the desert is halted, restoring 50 million hectares of land and absorbing almost 250 million tonnes of land carbon “, said the Romanian MEP.

The conference discussed issues such as peace and security, human rights, sustainable development and migration. African political leaders, African Union representatives and UN officials were debating with MEPs, Parliament President Tajani and Federica Mogherini, the EU’s foreign affairs chief.

Over the last few decades there have been significant demographic shifts in Africa. Since the 1980s the population has nearly trebled. The continent’s population is also very young: 40% is less than 15 years old, while 15-24-year-olds make up another 20%.

This population growth leads to challenges regarding economic growth and job creation, as well as for security, migration and political participation.

 

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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 most effective weapon against Russia’s blackmail to turn off the gas tap is EU solidarity

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© Vasile Blaga/Facebook

The cut-off of gas supplies to Poland and Bulgaria should be the start of the EU finding solutions to disconnect Europe from the Russian Federation, said MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP).

The MEP stressed that the most effective weapon against Russia’s blackmail to turn off the “gas tap” is EU solidarity.

“A generalised and overnight disconnection of Europe from Russian resources is not realistic, but in the medium and long term it is the only solution. The dependence of large EU economies – such as Germany’s – is a major obstacle to this necessary disconnection, but a united reaction, comparable to that during the pandemic, can provide the solutions to get out of this situation, which is immoral to say the least”, said the liberal MEP for the CaleaEuropeana.ro.

According to the MEP, it is necessary, as a first step, even if only in principle, for all EU Member States to speak “with one voice” on eliminating energy dependence on Russia.

“It is obvious that the European democratic architecture is incompatible with the immoral paradox of financing Russia’s war machine in the context of military aggression against the sovereign state of Ukraine. Then, without delay, we need to take concrete steps that will bring us within a reasonable timeframe closer to this priority objective”, added the EPP MEP.

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MEP Vasile Blaga will vote against transnational lists: This kind of electoral system would reduce democracy in the EU

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© Vasile Blaga / Facebook

The proposal for transnational lists for the upcoming European Parliament elections will be on the agenda of next week’s plenary session in Strasbourg, said MEP Vasile Blaga (PNL, EPP).

“In short, it is about two votes that voters should exercise. One, as at present, for MEPs who will represent national constituencies. The second vote is for 28 MEPs from a European Union constituency, proposed by coalitions of European political parties, national voters’ associations and European political parties,” the MEP explained to CaleaEuropeană.ro.

According to the MEP, this is a hybrid system that dilutes electoral representation and creates a greater distance between representatives and represented.

“My vote will be against this initiative, as will the vote of my political group, the EPP. Those who support transnational lists say they do it to increase democracy in the EU. I would say that this argument is completely wrong, such an electoral system would reduce democracy in the EU as voters will vote for people they do not know”, said Vasile Blaga.

He said that the issue is highly disputed within the EPP group, but the vast majority is “inclined to reject this system which, moreover, would clearly benefit large countries and disadvantage medium and small countries”.

“Moreover, such a system goes beyond the EU’s remit and in many countries even requires changes to their constitutions”.

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EP S&D Group President: There is no excuse not to allow Romania to join the Schengen area. It has met all the requirements the EU has asked of it

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© Marcel Ciolacu - Twitter

The President of the S&D Group in the European Parliament, Iratxe Garcia Perez, told a press conference with PSD leader Marcel Ciolacu on Monday that there is “no excuse” not to allow Romania to be accepted into the Schengen area and remain in this “situation of inequality with other countries”.

Iratxe Garcia Perez is visiting Romania. She will visit the port of Isaccea, where thousands of Ukrainian refugees have arrived in recent weeks. Afterwards, the delegation will go to Galați for a meeting with local authorities and a visit to the refugee centre, and the next day the visit continues to the Republic of Moldova.

“I would like to thank the President of the Social Democrats in the European Parliament for his presence in Romania and his support for the PSD and our country at key moments, particularly at this very difficult time given what is happening in Ukraine,” said PSD leader Marcel Ciolacu.

The two discussed the European response to the current situation in the economic, social and humanitarian fields.

“I presented to Mrs Perez the steps taken by the social democratic ministers to manage the refugee situation in Ukraine and, at the same time, our country’s ambition for Romania to become a strategic regional hub for the reconstruction of Ukraine and the development of the Black Sea area. Romanians have shown that they can be a positive example at European level”, continued Marcel Ciolacu.

The PSD president also reiterated that Romania should join the Schengen area as soon as possible in order to increase Romania’s role in the region. 

“We need a common response from the EU regarding the energy crisis, the future approach in the field of agriculture, as well as to support the states bordering Ukraine”, said Marcel Ciolacu, after the meeting with the leader of the Social Democrat group in the European Parliament.

For her part, Iratxe Garcia Perez stressed that Romania meets all the technical criteria required by the European Union in order to join the Schengen area.

“There is no excuse for this not to be a reality as soon as possible. There is no excuse not to allow Romania to be accepted into the Schengen area and remain in this situation of inequality with other countries. Romania has done its job, Romania has fulfilled all the requirements that the EU asked of it to join the Schengen area”, said the chair of the S&D Group in the European Parliament.  

At the end of his speech, Iratxe Garcia Perez offered Romania his personal and political commitment to “work together to make this a reality as soon as possible”.

“Romania is showing what the EU needs, namely solidarity and commitment. And we must respond to all this generosity that the Romanian people are showing towards the EU”, she added.

Iratxe Garcia Perez also discussed how Romanian citizens and authorities reacted to the war in Ukraine.

“I want to thank you for your hard work and for the solidarity shown by the Romanian people in these difficult times. Today I could see with my own eyes that the Romanian Government and the Romanian people are working with great commitment, respecting the principles and values of the European Union, and it has been proven once again that you are doing this in an exemplary way for the whole EU. We have seen for ourselves by visiting the school centre where a group of minors from an orphanage in Ukraine are being cared for and received in a way that deserves appreciation. It is an example of how we should act in the EU,” she told the conference at PSD headquarters.

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