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Sassoli on budget negotiations: Parliament is not obstructing anything

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President David Sassoli addressed EU leaders at the start of their two-day summit on 1-2 October 2020 

David Sassoli told EU leaders Parliament is not obstructing anything in the budget negotiations, but is protecting the interests of European citizens.

The President of the European Parliament spoke at the start of a special EU summit on 1-2 October. In his speech, he stressed the need for a Europe that meets the expectations of Europeans.

“We are starting out on a path to creating a different, more responsive, more inclusive and fairer Europe, one which delivers tangible benefits to our citizens. It is incumbent on us to stay the course and not waver,” President Sassoli told EU leaders.

He mentioned the need for actively working to restore the single market in the wake of the coronavirus crisis, rebuilding the economy and creating jobs, as well as addressing social and economic inequalities and meeting the needs of those who have suffered most.

As one of the causes of widening inequality, he mentioned lack of internet access: “In the world which is now taking shape, access to the internet should be seen as a new human right,” he said. “The challenge the EU faces is to be a pioneer and to lead by example in the democratisation of the digital world.”

He also called out EU leaders for “unacceptable delays in decision-making” when it comes to migration. He described the Commission’s pact on migration and asylum presented on 23 September as “a step forward” and stressed that Parliament is open to negotiations with the Council and German presidency on the matter.

On the ongoing long-term budget negotiations, the President stated the need for proposals on the table, because “for the moment, the proposals under discussion are those put forward by Parliament”.

“I want to be very clear, because some aspersions being cast are entirely unacceptable: Parliament is not obstructing anything. Our demands are in the interests of European citizens. The delays are due to a lack of counter-proposals from the Council,” he said.

He called on the German presidency to make constructive proposals on three main issues: guaranteeing the funding of strategic programmes, ensuring that the cost of the recovery plan is met by new EU revenue sources, and not by citizens, and incorporating an effective conditionality mechanism linked to respect for the rule of law.

President Sassoli expressed support for those in Belarus fighting for democracy and called for immediate sanctions from the EU against perpetrators of electoral fraud, violence and repression.

Commenting on tensions in the Eastern Mediterranean, Parliament’s President said: “We are unwavering in our resolve to show solidarity with Greece and Cyprus”. He called for dialogue with Turkey that can lead to a lasting settlement of the conflict.

Sassoli underlined the need for a quick start of a Conference on the Future of Europe in Strasbourg. “Our citizens deserve an EU which has the courage of its convictions and is ideally placed to tackle the challenges ahead, and which does not rely solely on outdated methods,” he concluded.

Belarus

2020 Sakharov Prize awarded to the democratic opposition in Belarus

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Democratic forces in Belarus have been protesting the brutal regime since August 

The democratic opposition in Belarus has been awarded the 2020 Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. European Parliament President David Sassoli announced the laureates in the Brussels plenary chamber at noon today (22 October), following an earlier decision by the Conference of Presidents (president and political group leaders).

“Let me congratulate the representatives of the Belarusian opposition for their courage, resilience and determination. They have stood and still stay strong in the face of a much stronger adversary. But they have on their side something that brute force can never defeat - and this is the truth. So my message for you, dear laureates, is to stay strong and not to give up on your fight. Know that we are by your side,” President Sassoli said, following the decision.

“I would also like to add a word on the recent killing of one of this year’s finalists, Arnold Joaquín Morazán Erazo, part of the Guapinol environmental group. The group is opposing an iron oxide mine in Honduras. It is imperative that a credible, independent and immediate investigation is launched into this case and those responsible must be held to account,” he added.

Protesting against a brutal regime

The democratic opposition in Belarus is represented by the Coordination Council, an initiative of brave women, as well as prominent political and civil society figures. Read more about the laureates, as well as the other finalists here.

Belarus has been in the midst of a political crisis since the disputed presidential elections on 9 August, which led to an uprising against authoritarian President Aliaksandr Lukashenka and a subsequent brutal crackdown on demonstrators by the regime.

The Sakharov award ceremony will be held on 16 December.

On Wednesday (21 October), Parliament also adopted new recommendations calling for a comprehensive review of the EU's relations with Belarus. Read more here.

Background

The Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought is awarded each year by the European Parliament. It was set up in 1988 to honour individuals and organisations defending human rights and fundamental freedoms. It is named in honour of Soviet physicist and political dissident Andrei Sakharov and the prize money is €50,000.

Last year, the prize was given to Ilham Tohti, an Uyghur economist fighting for the rights of China’s Uyghur minority.

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Belarus

#Belarus - EU ups sanctions, while Tsikhanouskaya issues an ultimatum to Lukashenka

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EU foreign ministers met to discuss the continued deterioration in the situation in Belarus (12 October). The EU’s High Representative on Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, said the EU was sending a clear message after the attacks on peaceful protesters on Sunday that ‘business as usual’ was no longer possible in EU-Belarus relations. The EU’s High Representative briefed ministers on a conversation he had with the Belarus Minister of Foreign Affairs, Vladimir Makei, where he underlined the EU’s support for democratic freedoms and the rights of Belarusian citizens to peacefully protest. He also stressed during the call, that the EU wanted to see an inclusive national dialogue, as well as the acceptance of the OSCE as a mediator. Ministers gave their political green light to start preparing the next sanctions package, which will include the Belarus President Aleksandr Lukashenko and members of his family. Today, one of the opposition leaders, Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya issued an ultimatum to Lukashenka: 'Release political prisoners, end violence, resign by October 25, or the whole nation will strike, peacefully, on October 26 - blocked roads, no factory work, boycott of state shops.” She added, “'If you're waiting for my order, this is it.” Yesterday, the International Relations Advisor to Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, Franak Viacorka, reporter via Twitter that the Belarus Ministry of the Interior said: “The security forces won't leave the streets and will use lethal weapons if necessary. The protests, which shifted mainly to Minsk, became organized and extremely radical." EU Reporter asked the EU’s External Action Service spokesperson, Peter Stano, about this new threat. He said that with more bad behaviour the EU will continue to add to the sanctions list and restrictive measures, but will also reach out to call for an inclusive national dialogue.

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Belarus

Police in Belarus detained 317 people at protests on Sunday - ministry

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Police in Belarus detained 317 people during protests in Minsk and across the country on Sunday, the Interior Ministry said on Monday (5 October), write Maxim Rodionov and Tom Balmforth.

Tens of thousands of people marched through the centre of Minsk to demand that the authorities free political prisoners, prompting police to turn a water cannon on them.

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