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Manfred Weber hails an historic agreement on the rule of law budget conditionality: The EPP Group kept the promise made during our European elections campaign

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The deal reached between the European Parliament and the Council is an historic agreement all Europeans, says Manfred Weber, leader of the EPP Group in the European Parliament.

The deal reached today is an historic agreement for all Europeans. While Member States failed to do so in July, the European Parliament has pushed for and finally obtained a mechanism to defend our European values. European citizens expected us to act and we did! The EPP Group kept the promise made during our European elections campaign. Throughout this negotiation, the EPP Group’s priority has been to make sure European taxpayers’ money is well spent and that a Member State that receives EU funds respects the basic principles of the rule of law. This is what has been achieved now, thanks to our political family’s determination”, said Weber, in a press release from the EPP Group.

EU countries that disrespect the rule of law will risk losing access to EU funds, under a provisional deal struck by Parliament and Council negotiators on Thursday.

According to a press release from the Parliament, MEPs succeeded in ensuring that the new law does not only apply when EU funds are misused directly, such as cases of corruption or fraud. It will also apply to systemic aspects linked to EU fundamental values that all member states must respect, such as freedom, democracy, equality, and respect for human rights including the rights of minorities.

Parliament’s negotiators also insisted that tax fraud and tax evasion are considered possible breaches, by including both individual cases and widespread and recurrent issues.

Moreover, they succeeded in securing a specific Article that clarifies the possible scope of the breaches by listing examples of cases, such as threatening the independence of the judiciary, failing to correct arbitrary/unlawful decisions, and limiting legal remedies.

Prevention

Crucially, MEPs succeeded in keeping a strong preventive aspect for the mechanism: not only can it be triggered when a breach is shown to directly affect the budget, but also when there is a serious risk that it may do so, thus ensuring that the mechanism prevents possible situations where EU funds could finance actions that are in conflict with EU values.

Protecting final beneficiaries

To ensure that the final beneficiaries who depend on the EU support – such as students, farmers, or NGOs – are not punished for the actions of their governments, MEPs insisted that they can file a complaint to the Commission via a web platform, which will assist them in ensuring they receive the due amounts. The Commission will also have the possibility to make a financial correction by reducing the next instalment of EU support to the respective country in question.


Functioning of the mechanism

MEPs succeeded in shortening the time that the EU institutions will have for the adoption of measures against a member state, if risks of breaches of the rule of law are identified, to a maximum of 7-9 months (down from 12-13 months as initially requested by Council).

The Commission, after establishing the existence of a breach, will propose to trigger the conditionality mechanism against an EU government. The Council then will have one month to adopt the proposed measures (or three months in exceptional cases), by a qualified majority. The Commission will use its rights to convene the Council to make sure the deadline is respected.

Next steps

The agreed compromise now needs to be adopted formally by the Parliament and EU ministers.

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.

ENGLISH

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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ENGLISH

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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