Powerful explosions struck the terminal of international airport, Zaventem Tuesday morning, followed by explosions at Maalbeek metro station, close to several European Union institutions.
All metro stations and Brussels’ airport were closed, while the terrorist alert level was raised to 4, similar level alert as that established last year, when the Belgian capital was the subject of security threats after Paris’ attacks. Belgium declared three days of national mourning, flags being lowered to half-mast at european institutions, as a symbol of solidarity.
Jihadist group Islamic State claimed responsability for Brussels attacks. According to the latest information, 32 people died and 230 people have been injured.
Romanian MEP, Ramona Mănescu published an analysis showing the situation caused by Tuesday’s attacks and the challenges for the future. We present the content of MEP’ analysis:
“Most of us flew at least once by plane. And we can clearly remember those precautions before take-off: “In the event of a decompression, an oxygen mask will automatically appear in front of you… Place it firmly over your nose and mouth… If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person.”
We are in a situation where Europe tries to help so many other people in need but it is itself more and more sick. Terrorism, the most horrible “disease” of this century, penetrates more and more into a vulnerable, permissive, even impassive Europe. It is obvious that the list of vulnerabilities is endless and that the secret services and law enforcement forces are overwhelmed by a Sisyphean task: protecting the life of European citizens, in their own home.
A Belgian, a Romanian, a French or any other European citizen finds himself in the situation where he doesn’t know if, on his way towards work, the metro that he uses every day, will blow up. Or, while he says bid goodbye to a relative at the airport gates, some crazy one will decide to blow himself up, taking with him the ones around.
This disease spreads from country to country, from one suburb to another, engulfs whole communities, seeps into the most quiet and peaceful places tearing them upside down. Salah Abdeslam, a Daesh terrorist and a murderer guilty of killing 130 people in Paris, escaped security forces for more than four months. All this time he got help from friends and relatives, all part of a closed community from the middle of Brussels, composed of fresh or old immigrants, attracted by a prosperous Europe but refusing to change their ways of life, trying in exchange to model their new homeland according with their mentalities.
When we find ourselves, facing a Europe which is vulnerable and infected by terrorism, incapable to integrate the various migration waves which it attracted, we cannot hope anymore to export security and prosperity in the neighbouring countries.
The integration difficulties of the millions of immigrants, which added in the last time to the previous millions more, already residents on the European continent and with their own gaps in assimilating European values and ways of life, risk of bringing the whole Europe into chaos. This threat becomes obvious when we look at the percentages the extremists parties are scoring nowadays, or when we see local communities ravaged like we see on Lesbos island – the entry point for so many migrants, in Calais – where “the Jungle” and 18.000 migrants are or Koln – a city where the New Year’s Eve became a nightmare.
Europe must think earnestly of its own security and stability and act in consequence immediately, efficiently and with determination. It owes this to its citizens. It must do so if it wishes to preserve its hard earned status of prosperity, stability and democratic island, or, even more, to export this undoubtable wellness into the neighbouring countries.
Despite the threatening declarations of terrorist groups like Daesh, there are measures and solutions within reach of Member States and European Institutions, capable to bring back the security and stability.
The European Parliament doesn’t have intervention forces or the possibility of immediate action. But this body, the main institution of democratic representation for the European citizens, has a lot of power, which can direct towards supporting the European security and defence efforts. The European Parliament has this duty towards the citizens that it represents, whose needs and problems be addressed.
What happened today in Brussels might have been avoided if the Passenger Name Record (PNR) would not have waited from 2011 ‘till the end of 2015 to be approved. Anyway, not so many European citizens would not have been able to leave to join Daesh and return now, unknown, hidden inside the migrant’s wave.
The money used by terrorist networks to pay their members and provide guns for them would have been much more difficult to reach if, in October 2015, the European Parliament would not have voted for suspension of the TFTP Agreement with the USA (Terrorist Finance Tracking Programme).
Organizing and coordinating terrorist attacks, like those in Paris and Brussels, would have been much more difficult to do if theResolution on the electronic mass surveillance of EU citizens would have suffered less delays and amendments from those which, arguing in favour of the right to privacy, are ending by putting the whole continent and the lives of 500 million Europeans vulnerable.
Still, the European Parliament can do so much more. First, it can support the initiative of creating a “European Border and Coast Guard Agency” and help for the final paper to get a green light faster. The same attitude must be taken towards the recent Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on combating terrorism, now under work at the LIBE Committee.
We saw, immediately after November 2015 Paris attacks, that the first measure of the authorities was to close the borders. In the same way, the European Union must impose a much tighter control over its external borders. This necessity results from the information provided by the intelligence services of the Member States and NATO partners- the same intelligence that talks about Daesh, who, with other terrorist groups, is infiltrating its own recruits with the migratory waves that are trying to reach Europe.
Europe can and must show its solidarity to those, so many, in dire need, who are fleeing conflict zones. This is in line with its own values and the fundamental commitments that we all took. Nevertheless, this solidarity and support are not does not impede with putting rigorous control of those who come to ask for asylum. When a person is fleeing from a war zone that endangers his life, I don’t see any holdback for a clear and strict registering procedure at the entry point into the territory offering shelter. EU cannot afford to see situations like those when thousands of migrants are forcibly entering through border check points.
Tolerance is a value of great price these days. And it is in grave danger. The rejection sentiments towards those that are seen now as a group and perceived as a threat – the immigrants or Muslim communities, are already an undeniable reality. Part of the responsibility falls upon the Europeans’ own lack of reaction. When radical and extremist elements are identified or when we see an open propaganda against European values, the reaction must be fast and decisive. Deporting those who clearly oppose any form of integration into a society, who came by their own will, can prove to be the most efficient measure. Just monitoring their whereabouts, like we already saw from the last terrorist attacks, doesn’t bring any results. Many of those who killed European citizens in terrorist attacks have previously passed through the offices of law enforcement forces easily. For such a change in attitude, the lawmakers like the European Parliament must provide the necessary legal backup.
For the Romanians and Romania, which still hopes to become a full member of the Schengen space, the freedom of movement is a great achievement and a very special European value. Still, as a Romanian, I consider that my freedom of movement will have a problem if I provide information to flight companies. The Passenger Name Record is an instrument which just takes these pre-existing information and gives them a valuable reading from a security perspective. The PNR must function on top of this, over the whole European territory and cover today’s vulnerabilities. These gaps in security have been used by those that freely travelled between Daesh’s training camps and among European countries.
The Paris attacks have been coordinated using less known methods: the unmonitored community of online gamers. To believe that any high school kid who plays FIFA over a PlayStation is a potential terrorist is profoundly wrong. But completely ignoring such communication channels is equally wrong. The legislation concerning electronic mass surveillance of the EU citizens must help the law enforcement forces when a security threat is present.
Finally, I consider that the same effort the EU and its Member States are putting into helping the communities in need from neighbouring countries, must be mirrored towards EU’s own troubled communities. Maybe even more. From such isolated communities, emerged those who joined Daesh. These communities are used by those who are trying to promote extremism and radicalism inside the European space. The new migrants waves, who do not speak the language of the hosting countries and lack the skills needed in getting a job, completely dependent of social security systems, will just end up feeding these communities and their endemic problems. Europe must turn its eye towards its internal integration problems and ensure that all its 500 million citizens adhere to its values.”
European Committee of the Regions, local authorities from Alba Iulia and Calea Europeană organise a local dialogue on digitalization and smart city (LIVE, February 20, 11:00)
European Committee of the Regions (CoR), Romanian National Delegation to CoR and CaleaEuropeană.ro organise, with the support of Alba County Council and Alba Iulia City Hall, and in partnership with the European Parliament Office in Romania, a local event designed as a platform of dialogue between local and regional authorities and citizens and focused on a key subject both for local and regional development and for the EU’s capacity to innovate and reduce development gaps through technology and digitalisation.
The event, entitled ”New technologies and digitalisation: Connectivity and smart city opportunities” takes place on Wednesday 20 of February, at the Principia Museum in Alba Iulia, starting at 11:00. The event will be broadcast live on CaleaEuropeană.ro.
In dialogue with citizens will engage Robert Negoiță, President of the Romanian National Delegation to the European Committee of the Regions (PES, RO); Ion Dumitrel, President of the Alba County Council, alternate member of the Romanian National Delegation to the European Committee of the Regions (EPP, RO); Mircea Hava, Mayor of Alba Iulia; and Nicolaie Moldovan, City Manager of Alba Iulia.
The debate is part of CoR’s ”Future of Europe” new initiative and aims to pave the way for the CoR’s 8th European Summit of Regions and Cities, scheduled for 14-15 of March 2019, in Bucharest, ahead of the European Council Summit in Sibiu on 9 of May 2019 and during Romania’s EU Council Presidency. This local dialogue subscribes also to the awareness campaign for the European elections from 23-26 of May 2019 (www.thistimeimvoting.eu), at the 40th anniversary since the first European Parliament elections.
This local dialogue will be held after the #SOTREG 2018, State of the Union: the view of Regions and Cities address, a speech held on October 9th by the President of the European Committee of the Regions Karl-Heinz Lambertz within the European Week of Regions and Cities frame, which has also marked the approval of CoR opinion on the Future of Europe, entitled „Reflecting on Europe: the voice of local and regional authorities to rebuild trust in the European Union”.
”Future of Europe” campaign in a nutshell
In 2016 the President of the European Council, Donald Tusk, asked the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) – as the voice of cities and regions – to submit its recommendations on the future of Europe. Subsequently, the CoR launched its “Reflecting on Europe” campaign whereby members held local events with citizens in their regions and cities to hear their views. Now, the opinion and speech mentioned above form the basis of the CoR’s efforts to contribute to the debate on the ”Future of Europe” ahead of the meeting of the EU leaders in Sibiu on 9 May and the European elections on 23-26 May 2019.
The ”Future of Europe” campaign is an initiative of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR) providing a platform for regions, cities and their citizens’ engagement in the debate on the future of Europe.
Over 40.000 citizens in more than 180 local debates organised across Europe already shared their views, concerns and ideas. The CoR is committed to ensuring that the voice of regional and local authorities and their citizens is heard within the EU, in an effort to make the European project more transparent and democratic and develop new forms of participative democracy.
The European Committee of the Regions invite Romanian citizens to share their view on the future of Europe (Fill the survey by clicking the image below)
In the context of the “Reflecting on Europe” initiative, the European Committee of the Regions launched a survey in 2016 on the main issues that people identify in the city or the region they live in. So far, More than 22.000 European citizens have responded to the survey, while more than 1.000 are from Romania.
At both European Union and Romanian level, unemployment, youth policies and mobility and public transport are considered the three main issues at local and regional level.
In Romania, the three mentioned problems have been classified by citizens as followed: 27% of them consider that mobility and public transportation is the main problem at local and regional level, while for 24% the main challenge is represented by youth policies and also, 23% see unemployment as the main issue.
Romanians rely on the European Union and on a local engagement to building the Future of Europe
Asked about the political level they most rely on, Romanian citizens grant a 82% trust rate to the European Union (60%) and to the local level (22%) to identify solutions and to provide them with security and prosperity. In this context, public perception itself favors dialogue based on local engagement and discussion on the European themes for defining the Future of Europe.
CaleaEuropeana.ro became member of OpenEUDebate, a European network that will be launched in Madrid by academic institutions and experts in EU politics
CaleaEuropeana.ro became member of OpenEUDebate, a Jean Monnet network of academic institutions (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Spain; the National University of Political and Administrative Studies – SNSPA, Romania;, Institut d’études européennes de l’Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; The Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium and Agenda Pública, Spain), practitioners and experts in EU politics and policies that marks its lauch in Madrid by organizing debates on the future of Europe, on 21-22 January, in the context of the next Elections to the European Parliament, that are expected to be held in 23-26 May 2019.
The upcoming May 2019 EU elections will determine to a great extent the direction of the European project. The struggle for the soul of Europe is not only between nationalists and pro-Europeans, but also between different European projects with different public policy proposals on issues such as climate change, inequality or migration.
Rather than an abstract debate on Europe per se, citizens need to hear and engage in a conversation on this set of public policy proposals in order to have a meaningful vote.
Tackling issues of EU citizens’ common concerns requires an open public debate, the first round of which, between Spanish MPs and MEPs, will take place on Monday, 21st January 2019, from 19:00 – 21.00 h.
The venue of the event is the office of the European Parliament in Madrid (Paseo de la Castellana 46), and the debate will be livestreamed in Spanish and English.
The event launches the public activities of the Jean Monnet network OpenEUdebate, which will put EU expertise at the service of journalists, civil society and political actors to improve public debates about Europe. OpenEUDebate is not yet another EU discussion outlet from the “Brussels bubble”.
It follows a bottom-up approach to match EU’s policies with politics at the national level. OpenEUDebate will launch an online platform that will connect the debate in the EU institutions and transnational civil society platforms with national publics.
The event on Monday, 21st January, from 19:00 – 21.00 h features a keynote speech by former EU Commissioner Laaszlo Andor on the challenges of the social union and a Eurozone unemployment benefit scheme, and a debate on the future of Europe with MP Melisa Rodríguez (Ciudadanos, ALDE), MEPs Jonás Fernández (Progressive Alliance of Socialists & Democrats, PSOE) and Ernest Urtasun (European Greens/European Free Alliance, Catalunya en Comú), and a representative of Partido Popular (European People’s Party). Journalist Claudi Pérez (El País) will moderate the debate. The livestreaming will be available in Spanish and English.
EPP MEP Ramona Mănescu: “By coordinating the Council successfully, Romania can leave a strong imprint on European policies and the lives of the 500 million European citizens”
“By coordinating the Council successfully, Romania can leave a strong imprint on European policies and the lives of the 500 million European citizens,” wrote MEP Ramona Mănescu in a post on the official Facebook page following her participation the debate on the ”Future of Romania”, a debate organized by the Grand National Lodge in Romania.
To facilitate the clarification of issues concerning major issues that concern Romania today, the Grand National Lodge in Romania organizes a series of conferences and debates, in a broad framework, with the involvement of civil society and stakeholders.
The first conference took place in Bucharest, a conference attended by MEP Ramona Mănescu on January 15, 2019.
While the debate was devoted to the importance of taking over the Presidency of the EU Council, the MEP stressed that “Romania has the most important maturity exam in the last 12 years! For six months now, Romania has a very complex task – technically and politically. Moreover, we must do this while the eyes of the whole of Europe are fixed on us. For the first time since joining the EU, we have to show what we can do for Europe. We have to demonstrate the capacity to handle large dossiers that far outweigh the country’s borders. “
“By coordinating the Council successfully, Romania can leave a strong mark on European policies and the lives of the 500 million European citizens. It’s a moment of great prestige! And it’s happening for the first time since joining the EU! “added Ramona Mănescu.
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