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INTERVIEW. EU Commission candidate Jean-Claude Juncker: You can not build a future on debt alone

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Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission, offered an interview for caleaeuropeana.ro, in which he stated that Europe should focus on creating growth that it is not based on debt. Juncker also talked about his priorities as chief of the EC, EU’s relations with Asia, USA and Russia, and his expectations for the right wing political parties in Romania, as the european elections approach. juncker Full interview: 1. Given the fact that Russia is an important issue for the regional situation, do you think that European partner states, like Moldova and Georgia, are in real danger? How do you comment Mr Schulz’s attitude about Russia? Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: In the 21st century, Russia cannot bully its neighbours into its sphere of influence and it must respect international Law. Let’s be clear: Russia will only learn to respect the territorial integrity of its neighbours if it gets a clear, strong and united European reply. No responsible politician wants war. But we Europeans have other common tools at our disposal to put pressure on Russia. And we should not underestimate the effectiveness of economic pressure. In our modern globalised world, no country can afford to live in permanent isolation from the rest of the world. We need to step up – if Russia does not change it’s behaviour – the level of our sanctions and extend their scope, including cutting the financial channels to and from Russia. Putin is testing Europe. And we must not let him get away with it. This is why I firmly support the signature of the Association Agreements with Moldova and Georgia, which should happen as soon as possible.   

  1. You have criticized the central role -that some would even call “monopoly” – that larger states of the EU had during the economic crisis. Since the subject is still a reality, what is your solution for this problem?

Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: I have always been a supporter of the principle of equality between Member States, which is a founding principle of the European Union and written into the EU Treaties. This does not mean that I do not appreciate the important contribution that larger Member States have made during the recent crisis to help stabilising euro countries in difficulty. However, also smaller Member States have made important contributions. Per capita, for example, the citizens of Luxembourg have contributed the most to the coordinated loans needed for the rescue of the euro: 3506 Euro per person, while German citizens contributed 2317 Euro per capita and France 2179 Euro per capita. Let’s also not forget that the clear majority of Member States in the European Union are small countries. Small countries have therefore shaped the direction of the European Union at least as much as big countries. As a Luxembourger, I can tell you that the European Union makes small countries big.  

  1. The European Union comes after two Barroso terms, concerning his presidency to the European Commission. Which would be the three main things you would reproach him, in terms of EU’s leadership?

Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: In a very difficult context, Barroso and his Commission have worked continuously to put the European economy back on its feet and to stabilise the euro. As Commission president, I will build on this important and broadly successful work. As president of the Commission, I would furthermore focus my efforts on growth and employment, on strengthening Europe’s energy policy and on developing a truly common foreign policy. I also want the members of the Commission to be politically experienced men and women, who bring clear proposals in order to reach these goals.  

  1. Which are the three main things that make you different, in front of the other candidates, and thus give you the necessary plus, in order to consider yourself the best option for the next presidential term of the European Commission? 

Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: I have gained a lot of experience during my 19 years as Prime Minister of Luxembourg and the 8 years I spent as President of the Eurogroup. I know and I value the importance of listening and of building consensus. I am a bridge-builder, and I want to rebuild the ties that have been damaged during the last years due to the crisis, between north and south, between east and west. I don’t see the other candidates as enemies – only as opponents. Our main differences are in our competing visions for the future direction we want to give Europe and notably the direction we want to give to Europe’s economic and social policies. 

  1. You previously mentioned that it is vital to talk about “the true Europe”, as it was imagined by the “founding fathers” through their political programs written right after WWII.  How would you adapt the original goals to the present-day EU?

Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: Most of the EU’s founding fathers were Christian democrats, like I am. Robert Schuman, Konrad Adenauer and Alcide de Gasperi thought of a set of values placed at the core of the European project and I hold those values dearly: solidarity between European nations; subsidiarity, in the sense of letting the Member States take care of things they can still do by themselves and overall, the promotion of a Social Market Economy, a market economy with a social orientation in which it is the economy that serves the people and not the other way round.

  1. You addressed the issue of Europe’s Foreign, Security and Defence capacities – and enhancing its ability to act in the world and in cyberspace. Could you please give us an example of such policies regarding the cyberspace?

Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission:  We need to enhance our cybersecurity capabilities. Less than two years ago the European Union established a European Cybercrime Centre within Europol which has been off to a good start. We can use this as a platform to go further and increase our reach. Cooperation between the private and public, between Member States and with our partners outside the EU must also be improved in the sense of pooling and sharing information about potential threats. We also have to stimulate innovation in this area in Europe. Not only can that have a positive effect on our cyber-capabilities but also on our economy. 

  1. What would you do as the president of European Commission in order to enhance European capabilities in defending itself?

Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: I believe that the European Union needs to start paying closer attention to the existing provisions in the Treaties that allow us to progressively build a common European defence among those countries that are willing and ready to do so. I understand this is not a popular idea everywhere but the Treaties also allow for countries who want to do so, to go ahead. Pooling our defence capacities also makes perfect economic sense. 

  1. Which is your vision in the relationships between EU and USA, Russia and China?

Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: We are in the midst negotiating a far-reaching trade agreement with the United States. Concluding that agreement will be one of my priorities as Commission President. It is anachronistic that we still impose custom duties on each other’s products. Of course, it will be also my priority to make sure that we do not sacrifice Europe’s safety, health, social and data protection standards on the altar of free trade. With Russia I would like to re-establish a relation of mutual respect and understanding. We share many things and we could benefit from each other but Russia must respect the European Union as well as its neighbours’ European aspirations. A precondition for better relations with Russia is that Russia fully respects international law and the existing borders in Europe. China is our second largest trading partner and there is room for improvement in our relations over the next years. It would be beneficial for Europe. However, we will only be able to talk to China as equals if we stand together and if we hold a common line as the European Union. Issues like getting fair, equal treatment for European businesses in China, can only be addressed if we speak with a single, strong voice. 

  1. Mr. Juncker, in your confrontation with Mr. Schulz, you said that your priority as President of the Commission would be the solving of the unemployment issue. How would you address this sensitive subject?

Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: We have to create growth that is not based on debt. We can do so by making stronger use of the best asset we have in Europe: our single market stretching over a whole continent, with 500 million potential consumers. That is why I have made my top priority as Commission President completing the Digital Single Market – making use of the great opportunities of digital technologies which know no borders. To do so we will need to have the courage to break down national silos in telecoms regulation, in copyright and data protection legislation, in the management of radio waves and in competition law. By doing this, we can generate 500 billion Euro of additional growth in Europe in the course of the mandate of the next Commission, thereby creating hundreds of thousands new jobs and a vibrant knowledge-based society.        10 As a specialist in finances, you enjoy working with numbers, percentage and statistics. What is your prediction for decreasing the unemployment until 2019? Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: By the end of the next Commission term, we can be in a much better situation if the EU institutions and national governments intensify their efforts to bring yong people in decent jobs. Our recipe of consolidation and solidarity against the crisis is already showing results and we are starting to see good prospects in the whole EU, with Spain as a particular example, which is now at its lowest level of unemployment since 2006. As Commission President I will devote myself to making sure that by 2019 the scandalous levels of unemployment and youth unemployment that we see today are something of the past. I will work night and day on this. 11.It is largely known that the EU is the main benefactor in Africa in terms of humanitarian  and development aid, but unfortunately the Union failed to give proper assistance in the violent incidents that tore apart countries like Mali and the Central African Republic. The question is how would you push for more concerted action when addressing security issues in Africa? Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: Fortunately, France has saved the honour of Europe in Mali. In the future, we should be better prepared and ready to deploy EU missions to crisis zones in Europe’s neighborhood to stabilize the situation and to guarantee peace. Also here, if not all 28 EU Member States are ready to do so, those who are should be allowed to go ahead. After all, Europe has too often been stabilized and helped by other countries as that it could now shy away from shouldering larger responsibilities for world peace.   12. As a former leader of the Eurozone, you are very familiar with the EU financial sector, but many citizens of the Union can feel the effects of the financial mechanisms, while being oblivious to what triggers them. Therefore, could you explain the implications for the European citizens of the Single Supervisory Mechanism as a pillar of the Banking Union project?   Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: It was the European People’s Party who put in place the architecture to regulate the financial sector better; return public finances to health; and improve the governance of the euro area. We can now prevent, supervise and deal with crises together. During the crisis years we saw how citizens’ money had to be used to save failing banks. We have made sure that this will never happen again. The single supervisory mechanism means that the European Central Bank, with close involvement of national supervisory bodies, will be able to supervise the Eurozone’s 6.000 banks and assure that they do not take part in risky situations that compromise the financial stability of all the countries that share the euro as currency.  13. What do you plan to inovate in the EPP philosophy for the European Commission, after the two Barroso terms, another EPP leadership?   Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: If there’s one thing the crisis has shown is that you’re in safe hands with EPP leadership. EPP-led countries are returning to growth after, often painful, structural reforms. In Socialist-led countries, however, structural reforms are blocked and unemployment is still on the rise. Therefore, the question is less to change the EPP philosophy, but to implement it to the full.          14. Which are the espectations for the elections in Romania?    Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: I hope that centre-right parties of our family will perform well. The EPP has solid partners in Romania, many of them have already been working in Brussels delivering results for the Romanian people and my hope is that citizens will realise this and will place their trust in us.         15. Why is important for European citizens to vote? Why for Romanians?   Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: You should vote in these European elections because this is your chance to have a say about where Europe goes next. In less than 30 days, 300 million Europeans will go to the polls to vote in a new European Parliament. Citizens in 28 countries will directly elect their 751 representatives in the European Parliament. 32 of these European Parliamentarians will be directly elected here in Romania, which is a considerable number that can change majorities in the European Parliament. And for the first time in the history of European integration, we have lead candidates for President of the European Commission, giving citizens a clear choice about who they want shaping and implementing European policies for the next five years. The days of backroom deals are over. All the polls now point to a neck and neck race between the European People’s party and the Socialists in these elections – meaning every vote counts. This is your chance to choose. 16. When should the austerity measures stop in Europe? Jean-Claude Juncker, EPP Candidate for President of the European Commission: You talk of austerity as if it were the 1930s – it is now. At the start of the crisis we acted ’Keyensian’ and injected 250 billion euros into the economy, running a counter-cyclical programme that is by definition the opposite of austerity. But at the same time we also have to address the public debt problem. There is no alternative to these painful reforms. You can not build a future on debt alone, sooner or later you have to pay it back. The painful measures that have been taken to consolidate our budgets and put our debt under control were necessary because during the previous years some governments, and particularly socialist governments in countries like Spain and Portugal behaved in an irresponsible manner spending the money that they didn’t have. The focus going forward now has to be on creating growth that is not based on debt.       .   .

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Message of the Digital Assembly Forum and SET Plan 2019 climate and digitalization conferences in Bucharest: Cities and regions are at the heart of Europe’s carbon-neutral and digital transformation

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© CaleaEuropeană.ro/ Diana Zaim

Cities and regions are at the heart of Europe’s carbon-neutral and digital transformation, is the message essentially conveyed by the two high level international climate and digitalization conferences organized this week in Bucharest, under the auspices of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, according to a press release of the European Committee of the Regions.

Under the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union, this week Bucharest hosted two high-level events with a strong presence of the European Committee of the Regions (CoR): the Digital Assembly 2019 and the 12th SET Plan Conference. EU cities and regions have put inclusiveness at the centre of Europe’s digitalisation strategy, warning that effective multi-level dialogues are the only way to deliver the EU’s energy and climate targets as well the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.

The Digital Assembly 2019 – the EU’s top forum that takes stock of the achievements of the Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy, has given support to the CoR claim that the future DSM must have inclusiveness in its centre. In Bucharest, the CoR presented the “Digital Europe for all” paper – a series of proposals by the CoR’s President, Karl-Heinz Lambertz and First Vice-President, Markku Markkula- that contributes to the renewal of the European Commission’s mandate in the field of the Digital Single Market for the next five years.

As a keynote speaker at the Digital Assembly’s closing session, First Vice-President Markku Markkula (FI/EPP), said:

”The digital revolution starts local. We need to ensure that Europe’s digitalisation is fully inclusive and doesn’t leave any community behind. It is of key importance that digital and sustainable solutions are affordable and available for all. We must also connect the internet of things to the fields of transport, energy efficiency and the circular economy in order to interlink Europe’s digitalisation to the completion of the EU’s energy and climate targets and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

Amongst the CoR’s “Digital Europe for all” proposals is the development of a local Digital Economy and Society Index to better encapsulate the variety of ‘digital situations’ of Europe’s cities and regions. The CoR’s proposals for the digitalisation of the single market will now be put forward to the incoming Finish Presidency of the EU Council and be part of the discussions on the Digital Europe Programme, firstly proposed in June 2018.

In Bucharest, the Chairman of the Tipperary County Council and CoR member Michel Murphy (IE/EPP) received one of the first Wifi4EU vouchers of EUR 15,000 to install free Wi-Fi in his community. Wifi4EU is a fresh EU scheme to provide Wi-Fi free access to local communities.

From 12 to 14 June, Bucharest also hosted the 24th meeting of the CoR’s Commission for Environment, Climate change and Energy (ENVE). In collaboration with the European Commission, the Association of Romanian Municipalities and the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU, the CoR contributed to the organisation of the SET Plan conference. Vice-President Markkula emphasised that Europe will not be able to reach 2050 carbon-neutrality, nor deliver the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals , without a close and structured partnership between the European Union, academia, businesses and the national, regional and local governmental levels.

“Better involving sub-national levels in developing National Energy and Climate Plans is crucial, and the timing of the incoming Finnish EU Presidency is critical in this regard. The work of our Romanian colleagues on the implementation of the Clean Energy Package needs to be continued, notably as regards the integration of the Energy Union into Member State’s national policies and more specifically into the National Energy and Climate Plans. We need to make sure that a sufficient level of energy and climate ambition is engrained into each and every one of these plans. Only through structured multi-level dialogues involving local and regional authorities but also businesses and civil society will Member States effectively reach a clean energy transition”, declared First Vice-President Markku Markkula at the SET Plan conference closing session.

“During the Finnish EU Presidency our cities and regions want to showcase how the local Energy and Climate plans are drafted and implemented. The CoR can and will use different instruments in encouraging the forerunners from all parts of EU to take the lead in implementing UN SDGs”, he concluded.

Under the title ‘Making the energy transition happen’, the SET Plan conference has looked at the strategies needed at local and regional level to accelerate the sustainable energy transition and analysed currently available investment options to harness the potential of businesses to create low-carbon innovative economies at the local and regional level. Delegates have assessed local challenges and solutions towards the integration of different energy systems and the concrete ways through which the SET Plan contributes decarbonising local economies.

The Digital Assembly 2019 is a forum for stakeholders to take stock of the achievements of the Digital Single Market Strategy, draw lessons and to exchange views on the contours of a future digital policy. The event is also a great opportunity to showcase how digital is transforming our societies and economies, and how it can help bring positive change to our lives. It is co-organised by the European Commission and the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

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LIVE SET Plan & ENVE Conference 2019 in Bucharest: ”Making the energy transition happen locally”

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The 12th SET Plan Conference will be held on June 12th – 14th, 2019 in Bucharest, under the auspices of the Romanian Presidency of the Council of the EU and will be merged with the external ENVE (Environment, Climate change and Energy) Commission and Conference from the European Committee of the Regions, where more than 120 EU local and regional leaders are working on environment, climate change, energy and space policies. The event is organized by the European Committee of the Regions, the European Commission, the Romanian Municipalities Association and the Ministry of Energy.

Under the theme ”Making the energy transition happen locally”, the SET Plan & ENVE Conference will focus strongly on the interaction of various stakeholders with local and regional authorities on the road to a clean energy transition. The role of Hydrogen in the clean energy transition will be discussed throughout various sessions.

The SET Plan Conference will be broadcasted LIVE on CaleaEuropeană.ro and on Calea Europeană Facebook Page on June 12th-13th.

Sessions 5 and 6 & Closing session

Closing session

Chair:

  • Haitze Siemers, Head of Unit for new energy technology, innovation and clean coal, DG ENERGY, European Commission;

Speakers:

  • Markku Markkula, First Vice-President of the European Committee of the Regions;
  • Timo Ritonummi, Deputy Director General, Energy Department, Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment, Finland;
  • Victor Negrescu, Pro-rector National University of Political Studies and Public Administration (SNSPA);

Session 6: Investing in local and sustainable mobility systems

Chair:

  • Haitze Siemers, Head of Unit for new energy technology, innovation and clean coal, DG ENERGY, European Commission;

  Introductive pitch by the first national electric charger network in   Romania, by Raul Bura, Project manager, Renovation Group;

Panel debate:

  • Ilmar Reepalu, Member of the European Committee of the Regions, CEMR Spokesperson on Urban policies and Councillor of Malmö, Sweden;
  • Hechem Nadjar, Commercial Manager, Shell Hydrogen;
  • Julian Popov, Fellow at the European Climate Foundation;
  • Geert van Hecke, Head of Sales Public Transport, VanHool NV;
  • Anna Lisa Boni, Secretary General, EUROCITIES;

Session 5: Renewable energy at the scale of citizens and consumers: from generation to integration

Chair:

  • Hans Van Steen, Acting Director of Renewables, Research and Innovation, Energy Efficiency, DG ENERGY, European Commission;

  Introductive pitch by Cheap-GSHPs project – Alexandru Tanase from   Pietre Edil;

Panel debate:

  • Apostolos Tzitzikostas, Member of the European Committee of the Regions, Governor of the Region of Central Macedonia, Greece;
  • Mercè Almuni, Senior Energy Expert, the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC);
  • Mirela Atanasiu, Head of Unit Operations and Communications FCH JU;
  • Dominik Rutz, Chair of Biomass Technology Panel of European Technology and Innovation Platform on Renewable Heating and Cooling;
  • Victor Iancu, Founder of Cooperativa de Energie;

Day 2. Opening speeches & Session 3: Challenges and solutions at local level for resilient, safe and secure Integrated Energy Systems

Session 4: Accelerating innovation for existing and future energy efficient buildings

Opening speeches: unlocking the potential of Horizon Europe to support the clean energy transition

Chair:

  • Patrick Child, Deputy Director General, DG Research and Innovation, European Commission;

Speakers:

  • Anton Anton, Romanian Minister of Energy;
  • Nicolae Hurduc, Romanian Minister of Research and Innovation;
  • Florin Radu Ciocănelea, State Councilor of the Romanian Prime-minister;
  • Sorin Chiriță, Bucharest City-manager;

Session 3: Challenges and solutions at local level for resilient, safe and secure Integrated Energy Systems

Chair:

  • Tudor Constantinescu, Principal Advisor to DG Energy, European Commission;

  Presentation of Implementation Plan 4 “Energy Systems”, by Michael   Huebner, co-chair, Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and   Technology, Austria;

Panel debate:

  • Sirpa Hertell, Member of the European Committee of the Regions, City councillor of Espoo, Finland;
  • Bart Biebuyck, FCH JU Executive Director;
  • Richard Vidlicka, Chair of E.DSO Projects Committee and Manager of EU Projects and Innovations of CEZ Distribuce;
  • Ralf Goldmann, Head of Division of ELENA, EIB;
  • George Solomon, Director of Communications, E-ON Romania;

Session 4: Accelerating innovation for existing and future energy efficient buildings

Chair:

  • Stathis Peteves, Head of Knowledge for Energy Union at Joint Research Centre, European Commission;

  Presentation of Implementation Plan 5 “Energy Efficiency in   Buildings”,   by Jennifer Reichert, Project Management Jülich, Chair   IWG 5;

Panel debate:

  • Mihai Moia, Executive Director of ROENEF;
  • Roby Biwer, 1st Vice-Chair of ENVE Commission and President of the Luxembourg delegation, European Committee of the Regions, Bettembourg Municipal Council, Luxembourg;
  • Josef Baumeister, Managing Director of the EEBus Bosch Siemens;
  • Bertrand Deprez, VP EU Government Affairs Strategy, Schneider Electric;
  • Horia Petran, Senior Researcher, Romanian National Research Institute – Development in Construction, Urban Planning and Sustainable Territorial Development (URBAN – INCERC);

Session 2: Towards a EU Mission to invest in smart cities: leveraging on the Covenant of Mayors, Smart Cities and Communities to upscale smart city solutions

Chair:

  • Mark Van Stiphout, Deputy Head of Unit for new energy technology, innovation and clean coal, DG ENERGY, European Commission;

  Video by Stockholm city – Lighthouse Project

Panel debate:

  • Emil Boc, Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, Romania; Former prime-minister of Romania;
  • Lucienne Krosse, Thematic Leader on Smart Cities, InnoEnergy;
  • Joost Declerck, Promotor Energy Efficiency, Belfius Bank;
  • Ralf Goldmann, Head of Division of ELENA, EIB;

VIDEO – Opening session and Session 1

OPENING SESSION

Engaging citizens, cities and regions to implement the SET plan and deliver the EU’s 2050 decarbonisation goals

Chair:

  • Dominique Ristori, Director-General for Energy, European Commission;

Speakers:

  • Karl-Heinz Lambertz, President of the European Committee of the Regions;
  • Niculae Havrileț, Personal Adviser, Romanian Minister of Energy;
  • Robert Negoiță, President of the Romanian Municipalities Association; Member of European Committee of the Regions; Mayor of Sector 3, Bucharest, Romania;
  • Mihnea Cosmin Costoiu, Rector of the Politehnica University of Bucharest;

Session 1: Successful ecosystems in cities, regions and islands to deliver a climate-neutral Europe

Chair:

  • Andreea Strachinescu, Head of unit for maritime innovation, knowledge and investments, DG MARE, European Commission;

  Presentation of Implementation Plan 3.2 “Towards Positive Energy   Districts for sustainable urbanisation”, by Hans Guenther Schwarz,   Chair, Federal Ministry for Transport, Innovation and Technology,   Austria;

Panel debate:

  • Cor Lamers, ENVE Commission Chair, European Committee of the Regions, Mayor of Schiedam, Netherlands;
  • Rumen Radev, Economical Director of Holding Zadora OOD and Vice chair of the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association;
  • František Kubeš, Director of the Regional Policy Department of the Czech Ministry of Regional Development;

Arrival press point

Arrivals

LIVE Tweets

 

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The SET Plan & ENVE conference will be a key moment for Europe to reflect on the EU 2050 Long-Term Strategy (LTS) in practice: a powerful opportunity to take stock of innovation in the field of clean energy transition and to discuss further steps on making the pathway to climate neutrality more concrete.

The 2050 Long-term strategy (LTS) communication is creating the foundation for Europe to have a robust roadmap towards climate neutrality by 2050. The outcomes of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °C above pre-industrial levels have clearly shown how relevant is for Europe and for the entire world that this strategy is successfully implemented.

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Remove online terrorist content. MEP Ramona Mănescu (EPP): If we want to bring those who promote illegal content to justice, we need clear deadlines and coercive measures

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If we really want those who create, distribute and promote illegal content, inciting to commit terrorist acts in this case, be brought to justice, coercive measures, clear deadlines and the obligation to act are necessary, declared for CaleaEuropeană.ro MEP Ramona Mănescu (EPP).

The Romanian MEP also said that we can no longer rely on voluntary measures ”when we have content with an obvious terrorist character, but also in the case of misinformation campaigns or other forms of illegal or subversive character.”

”There will always be opposition, and many of the arguments of those who oppose any form of censorship are valid in a perfect world. Unfortunately, we do not live in such a world and we are obliged to take measures to defend the life, security, values and democracy we enjoy today. The signal given by the European Parliament is clear and it must be as quickly as possible in the legislation and practice of the Member States” said MEP Ramona Mănescu.

European Parliament backed on Wednesday a proposal to tackle the misuse of internet hosting services for terrorist purposes. Companies that systematically and persistently fail to abide by the law may be sanctioned with up to 4% of their global turnover.

Internet companies should remove terrorist content within one hour after receiving an order from the authorities, to combat radicalisation and contribute to public security.

Once an internet company hosting content uploaded by users (like Facebook or YouTube) that offers their services in the EU has received a removal order from the competent national authority, they will have one hour to remove it or disable access to it in all EU member states. However, they will not be generally obliged to monitor the information they transmit or store, nor have to actively seek facts indicating illegal activity.

To help smaller platforms, MEPs decided that, when a company has never received a removal order before, the competent authority should contact it, to provide information on procedures and deadlines, at least 12 hours before issuing the first order to remove content that they are hosting.

If a company has been subject to a substantial number of removal orders, the authorities may request that it implements additional specific measures (e.g. regularly reporting to the authorities, or increasing human resources). MEPs in the Civil Liberties Committee agreed not to impose an obligation to monitor uploaded content nor the use of automated tools.

The legislation targets any material -text, images, sound recordings or videos- that “incites or solicits the commission or contribution to the commission of terrorist offences, provides instructions for the commission of such offences or solicits the participation in activities of a terrorist group”, as well as content providing guidance on how to make and use explosives, firearms and other weapons for terrorist purposes.

Content disseminated for educational, journalistic or research purposes should be protected, according to MEPs. They also make clear that the expression of polemic or controversial views on sensitive political questions should not be considered terrorist content.

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