Latviski English По-русски
Friday 23.03.2018 | Name days: Mirdza, Žanete, Žanna

Juncker and all of EC invited to step down during EP talks

(No Ratings Yet)

Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUNever before have plenary meetings been called in such a short time. Nevertheless, the decision of British citizens to leave the European Union is an unprecedented case, said Martin Schulz, Chairman of the European Parliament, at the opening of an extraordinary plenary session in Brussels on 28 June.

Schulz thanked the former European Commissioner Lord Hill for his work in the European Commission and his decision to step down following residents’ urge to vote for Britain’s remainder in the EU. Schulz’s announcement was accompanied by standing ovation from European commissioners, as reported by European Parliament’s Information Bureau in Latvia.

«It is in the interest of us all to make sure relations [EU and UK] are constructive and mutually beneficial in the future. No one will benefit from lasting political uncertainty,» – said Dutch minister Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert. «At the same time, UK should be given time to recover and make the necessary decisions. Europe now has a new objective – convince residents that unity remains the best choice. The fact that separation is possible seriously impacts us all,» – she added.

«The will of British residents has to be taken into account,» – said Jean Claude-Juncker, Chairman of the European Commission, warning that «this will not go without consequences». He urged the British government to clarify their position as soon as possible to avoid prolonging the period of uncertainty. «We will not get anywhere without an official statement,» – he said, emphasizing that there will not be any secret or unofficial talks with London. Junker told the leader of the UK Independence Party Nigel Farage: «You were fighting for the exit. The British people voted in favour of the exit; why are you here?».

«We won’t leave you on your own,» – Manfred Weber, leader of the European People’s Party from Germany promised British youth, of whom more than 73% voted in favour of remaining in the EU. Populists had won the referendum, he said, adding «shame on you» to Nigel Farage, whom he called a «liar» in a reference to allegedly false campaign claims. «We now expect an Article 50 notification and swift and fair exit negotiations», he insisted, adding that «the times of appeasement are over» and urging politicians to stop «bashing Brussels» and take responsibility.

The European Union cannot become a hostage to the internal party politics of the Conservatives. The British authorities have to notify us as soon as possible of the United Kingdom’s desire to leave, said S&D group leader Gianni Pitella (Italy).  «Today I say clearly that our group will oppose with all its strength the translation of the ‘Fiscal Compact’ into EU law. Budgetary flexibility is good, but we have to go further to encourage public and private investments. Either Europe provides answers to these questions or sooner or later it will be swept away,» – he added.

Now that the British people have spoken, it is time to look to the future and stop replaying the past, said ECR group leader Syed Kamall (UK). The EU treaties are clear and they must be respected, he added, calling for clarity about the timetable for the withdrawal negotiations. Britain and the EU must remain close partners for years to come and Britons must become «good neighbours and not reluctant tenants», he said.

«It’s hard to accept a decision you disagree with,» – but the UK’s choice must be respected, said ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt (Belgium). However, the way in which the Leave campaign succeeded, with posters like Nazi propaganda and lies that created a climate of fear and negativism. Continuing today’s uncertainty would make things worse. «Only triggering Article 50 immediately can stop this – 27 member states should not wait for a disorientated Tory party to get its act together,» – he said.

Gabriele Zimmer (Germany), leader of GUE/NGL, said her group could not agree with the resolution tabled by most groups because it lacked self-criticism. The financial crisis, the «brutal treatment» of Greece, Italy and other countries had left bad memories with EU citizens, and it was precisely those in Britain who feared for their jobs, healthcare and pensions, who voted to leave, she said, adding that «the EU has not shown it can protect its citizens against the risks of globalisation.»

«Today, there is a possibility to put forward a new project, but do not be surprised if between Denmark, Ireland and all way to Greece, there is a lot of suspicion,» – said Philippe Lamberts (Belgium) on behalf of the Greens/EFA group. «We need to link up to the roots of the European project and deliver peace and sustainable prosperity. Is it possible that we ensure human dignity for all human beings, inside and outside the EU? Our answer is yes!» – he concluded.

Following a call of order by the president to calm the chamber to allow for the next speaker to be heard, EFDD leader Nigel Farage (UK) noted that those who had laughed at him 17 years ago, when he arrived in Parliament announcing a campaign to leave the EU, were not laughing now. «You, as a political project, are in denial,» – he said, predicting that the UK would not be the last member state to leave the Union. He warned that if the EU were to reject «a sensible trade deal», then the consequences would be far worse for the 27 than for the UK. «Even no deal is better for the UK than the rotten deal we have now,» – he said.

ENF leader Marine Le Pen (France) called the UK vote «by far the most important historic event since the fall of the Berlin wall» and an outcry of love of the British people for their country. It was a slap in the face for «EU supporters» and showed that the EU project is not irreversible, she added. Delaying implementation of the decision would not be democratic, she warned.

Non-attached member Diane Dodds (UK) said that the decision of the people of the UK «cannot be rewritten». She accused EU leaders of having «turned a deaf ear» to the frustrations that British people have voiced «for years – but today you are listening», she added. She nonetheless said that Britain «had not turned its back on Europe.»

Replying to MEPs’ comments, Mrs. Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert said: «At this stage, the answer is not more or less Europe, but it is a better Europe. It is clear that we have to act. Our Union only exists if it is supported by the millions of citizens and that support cannot be taken for granted. The common challenges we all face will not disappear and no country on the face of the earth can face these challenges alone».

Jean-Claude Juncker underlined that the Commission was not to blame for the referendum result. He pointed out that the UK had not voted on austerity policies or the adequacy of protection of the EU’s external borders, because it belongs neither to the euro nor to the Schengen Area. He too accused Mr Farage of lying: «You fabricated reality».

Diane Dodds underlined that the tone of the debate had «reinforced all the stereotypes that the British people fear about Europe». «Threats and bullying will not work», she said, urging the UK and the EU to now build a relationship leading to prosperous economies and peace in an «increasingly dangerous» world.

Marcel De Graaf (Netherlands) said that 23 June had been a fantastic day of liberation for the UK people and the beginning of the end of a misconceived project. He asked for Juncker and the whole of the Commission to step down. The dismantling process must start as quickly as possible and economic and political integration must stop, he added.

For Nigel Farage, things in the UK «are looking pretty good» after the referendum, there is only some political upheaval, namely the resignation of the Prime Minister and the British Commissioner, «for the right reason», he noted. If the vote sweeps some of the British political class, «so be it», he said, adding that he looks forward to celebrating next year “Independence day” on 23 June.

Alyn Smith (UK): «We are proudly Scottish, and I am proudly European. I want my country to be internationalists, cooperative, ecological, fair – European. And the people of Scotland, along with the people of Northern Ireland and people of London and lots of people from Wales and England, voted to remain within our family of nations. I demand that this status be respected. We will need cool heads and warm hearts. But please remember this: Scotland did not let you down. Please, I beg you, cheers colleagues, do not let Scotland down now!» This was followed by standing ovation.

Martina Anderson (UK) said: «We in the North of Ireland are not bound by the UK vote. We respect and will stand by the votes of North Ireland, who just like Scotland voted to remain. The last thing the people of Northern Ireland need is a new border with 27 member states!»

Guy Verhofstadt appealed to fellow MEPs to send a strong message to the European Council and «vote massively the resolution we have prepared». Addressing UKIP’s Nigel Farage, he said: «Finally we are going to get rid of the biggest waste in the EU Budget, which we have paid for 17 years, your salary!»

Rzsyard Antoni Legutko (Poland) said that «this is the worst thing ever happened in the history of European integration. We have to reflect on how to correct this, Commission as well as Parliament. The picture is not rosy at all,» – he said, wondering whether EU leaders would be able to learn from mistakes.

Pittella told Farage: «I must say one thing: you have not done the best for your country and history will demonstrate that. This is no time for polemics, this is an historic event and we need clarity. Did we get clarity from the Brexit side? You have to draw your conclusion and notify the decision. We have got clear ideas on what to do in the short and mid-term to salvage Europe.»

Weber said in conclusion that the debate had made clear two things: The «challenge we are facing» and that the European Parliament supports the European project. He urged the European Council not to get bogged down in internal disputes tomorrow but to send a strong signal.


Leave a reply

Farmers in Latvia dissatisfied with resolution of electricity-related problems

Two months have passed since farmers in Latvia had received unjustifiably large electricity bills. Countless meetings and discussions have taken place in those two months. Unfortunately, no decisive measures have been undertaken to resolve the problem. Farmers are confused with decision-makers’ incisiveness in a matter important to the national economy, as noted by the Farmers’ Saeima.

Life after 25 May: is this the end for free publication of photo galleries from events?

Many of us like to check out photos from concerts, conferences or sport events on gallery portals and social networks to have a look at guests of those events. However, after 25 May, when General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) comes into force, the situation will no longer be the same.

Saeima to establish legal framework for Baltic cooperation in disaster prevention

On Thursday, 22 March, Latvian Saeima supported a legislative draft, ratification of which will help create legal framework with other Baltic States in prevention of disasters, as reported by the parliament’s press-service.

Number of complaints with postal services on a rise in Latvia

Public Utilities Commission has compiled information about complaints submitted by residents in regards to postal services in 2017. The number of complaints has increased alongside opposing views about package terminals – the regulator has received 37 complaints in total.

Output of livestock products in Latvia increased in 2017

Compared to 2016, output of meat grew by 4.6 % and output of milk by 1.4 % in 2017. In 2017, in Latvia 91.2 thousand tonnes of meat were produced, which is 4.0 thousand tonnes or 4.6 % more than in 2016. The most significant increase was observed in the output of poultry (of 11.3 %) and pork (4.7 %).

Turkey's offensive in Syria condemned by NATO ally Germany

Angela Merkel, the head of the German federal government has stated that Turkey’s military offensive in the northern Syrian town of Afrin was unacceptable and she blamed Russia for simply watching, while attacks by Syrian government forces on besieged eastern Ghouta continue.

Finance minister still believes tax reform in Latvia has brought results

«The tax reform has given us the results we had expected, especially in regards to combating envelope wages,» said Latvia’s Finance Minister Dana Reizniece-Ozola in an interview to 900 seconds programme of LNT.

Planned hospital reorganisation in Lithuanian regions irks both mayors and patients

If the plan of the Lithuanian Ministry of Health to overhaul treatment services in the provinces does not hit a snag, the rural hospitals will be soon providing only essential care and nursing, the focus will be on out-patient care and treatment will be available only in larger county hospitals.

Ventspils beach high in popularity this week; Lembergs gets spotlight time as well

Ventspils ended up in the spotlight in an unusual way this week: seals washed up on the beach there. Animal Freedom emphasizes that human contact with baby seals would hurt them. Residents are asked to maintain at least 50 m distance from them. However, the suspended Mayor of Ventspils Aivars Lembergs decided to take photos with baby seals and publish them on his Facebook profile.

Ombudsman: problems in nursing homes and social care centres are associated with lack of funding

Problems in nursing homes and social care centres are largely associated with lack of funding, because it is not possible to perform high-quality work using currently available resources. This is the responsibility of ministries and the government, as ombudsman Juris Jansons mentioned in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

Estonian music authors receive record royalties for 2017

The organisation, which is tasked by collecting royalties for local and foreign music in Estonia, the Estonian Authors' Society, has received six million euros in royalties in 2017, which is its record level.

Facebook sorry for permitting exploitation of 50 million user data in politics

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has apologised for the social network failing to ensure enough privacy to its users that allowed for data on about 50 million of its users to abused by a political consultancy firm.

Zhdanok’s replacement to promote non-citizen matter in European Parliament

Miroslavs Mitrofanovs, who has taken Tatyana Zhdanok’s place in the European Parliament, plans to promote the matter of non-citizens in the institution.

Riga City Council committee supports increasing municipalities’ expenditures by 42.38 mln euro

Following an initiative from the Financial Department, the outlook for the municipality’s base budget revenue has been increased by EUR 1.66 million for 2018. The expenditures portion of the budget is planned to be increased by EUR 42.377 million, as reported by Riga City Council.

French ex-President named suspect in Libya funding case

In France, its ex-President Nicolas Sarkozy has been named as a suspect in the formal investigation for alleged illicit campaign financing, misappropriation of public funds of Libya and passive corruption.

Finance sector’s development council supports prohibition of shell companies

On Wednesday, 21 March, Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis’ managed Finance Sector’s Development Council supported initiative on prohibiting shell companies, as confirmed by the prime minister.

Level of producer prices in Latvia’s industry is up 3.4%

Compared to January, level of producer prices in the Latvian industry rose by 0.5 % in February 2018. Prices of products sold on the domestic market grew by 0.7 %, but prices of exported products went up by 0.3 %.

Minister: Latvia is far behind its neighbours in terms of digitization and e-skills

In terms of digitization and e-skills, Latvia is far behind its neighbouring countries and the rest of Europe, said Latvian Economy Minister Arvils Ašeradens in an interview to Latvijas Radio.

OECD: Latvian employees work longest hours in Baltics

In a comparison of Baltic countries per average annual hours worked, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development has found earlier this year that the average Latvian worker spends 1,910 hours at work, followed by the Lithuanian employee with 1,885 hours and the average Estonian worker with 1,855 hours.

12th Saeima failed to complete half of its pre-election promises in field of justice

In 2014, Delna – society for openness and Providus think tank received support from all parties represented in the 12th Saeima in regards to an action plan to help strengthen the rule of law in the country.

Russia carries out military drills in Gulf of Finland

Russian Defence Ministry has stated that in the Baltic Sea Gulf of Finland, which has Finland, Russia and Estonia in its coastline, the Russian military has performed drills for its tactical special operations units.

Prime minister doubts Anti-Money Laundering Service head’s competence

«The work performed by the service requires drastic changes. Whether or not it can be done by its current head [Viesturs Burkāns], I am not sure,» said Latvian Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis in an interview to LNT, commenting on the work performed by Latvian Anti-Money Laundering Service.

Vilnius chosen for office of game developer Lockwood Publishing from UK

UK's mobile game developer Lockwood Publishing has unveiled plans to open its first overseas office in Vilnius, pointing to the industry's talent in Lithuania and the wider region.

Association: municipalities should organize their work on their own

On 6 March, Latvian Association of Local and Regional Governments reviewed the letter sent to Riga City Council by Environment Protection and Regional Development Ministry, in which the institution ordered the municipality to review their internal order and lift restrictions on the length of debates and the number of questions deputies are allowed to ask.

Canada moves to increase gun control

Canada's federal federal government has proposed new gun control measures, but they could reduce support to the ruling Liberal Party in rural areas, where guns are widely owned and used.