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EU leaders agree on sanctions for 40 individuals in Belarus, but not for Lukoshenko

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After nearly ten hours of negotiations, EU leaders managed to finally agree to imposing sanctions on around forty individuals. The EU’s sanction list does not include Alexander Lukoshenko, unlike the UK and Canada lists. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said that she was very happy that they had finally reached a way forward. Up until this evening Cyprus had blocked the needed unanimity because of what they saw as a failure to support sanctions on Turkey, this question will be revisited in December. In their conclusions the European Council condemned the unacceptable violence by Belarusian authorities against peaceful protesters, as well as intimidation, arbitrary arrests and detentions following the presidential elections.
The European Council called on the Belarusian authorities to end violence and repression, release all detainees and political prisoners, respect media freedom and civil society, and start an inclusive national dialogue, possibly involving the OSCE (Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe). The Council also encouraged the European Commission to prepare a comprehensive plan of economic support for democratic Belarus and reiterated the importance of ensuring safety at the Belarusian Nuclear Power Plant, Ostrovets.

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European Commission

European Commission adopts its 2021 work programme

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The Commission has adopted its 2021 work programme, designed to make Europe healthier, fairer and more prosperous, while accelerating its long-term transformation into a greener economy, fit for the digital age. It contains new legislative initiatives across all six headline ambitions of President von der Leyen’s Political Guidelines and follows her first State of the Union Speech.

The 2021 Commission work programme sees a shift from strategy to delivery across the following six political priorities:

  1. A European Green Deal
  2. A Europe fit for the digital age
  3. An economy that works for people
  4. A stronger Europe in the world
  5. Promoting our European way of life
  6. A new push for European democracy

Under the first priority “A European Green Deal”, the Commission stated to propose measures to implement Europe’s circular economy action plan, the EU biodiversity strategy and the farm to fork strategy. However, the EU Forest Strategy,  which is considered as one of important policy strategies in achieving the objectives of the European Green Deal, including climate neutrality by 2050, is missing from this work programme.

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The work programme is closely linked to the recovery plan for Europe, with the NextGenerationEU recovery instrument and a reinforced EU budget for 2021-2027.

A full list of the 44 new policy objectives under the six headline ambitions are set out in Annex 1 of the 2021 work programme.

Next steps

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The Commission’s 2021 work programme is the result of close cooperation with the European Parliament, member states and the EU consultative bodies. The Commission will now start discussions with the Parliament and Council to establish a list of joint priorities on which co-legislators agree to take swift action.

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Asbestos

Asbestos protections could save 90,000 lives a year

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Responding to the result of the vote in the European Parliament on the Villumsen report on protecting workers from asbestos, ETUC Deputy General Secretary Claes-Mikael Ståhl said: “Nobody should die because of their job. Yet more than 100,000 people still lose their lives every year in Europe from work-related cancer and asbestos is responsible for more than half of those deaths.

“Construction workers, miners, firefighters and waste disposal workers have been among those most likely to develop lung cancer because of contact with asbestos, but the widespread use of the material in buildings means many teachers and office workers have also died.

“This silent killer has been tolerated for too long so trade unions are relieved the European Parliament has supported protections which could save up to 90,000 lives a year following a campaign led by the EFBWW and we call on the Commission and Council to put them into action as soon as possible. The Commission removed the asbestos from its own offices in the mid-1990s so it’s not right the problem should still be tolerated at other people’s workplaces.

“This is a vital first step towards ending the scandal of work-related cancer. But there are still no workplace exposure limits for 23 high-risk cancer-causing substances, while limits for another 27 carcinogens are often still far too high to protect workers from cancers which can be fatal or cause reproductive problems. It’s time for the Commission to match its rhetoric on combating cancer with action.”


Letter sent by European trade unions to MEPs

ETUC position on the EU strategic framework on health and safety at work 2021-2027

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European Youth Event (EYE)

Future of Europe: Citizens discuss foreign policy and migration

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People from across the EU met in Strasbourg to discuss trade, relations with the US and China and Europe’s approach to migration 15-17 October, EU affairs.

This was the last of four European citizens’ panel that will provide input from ordinary Europeans to the conclusions of the Conference on the Future of Europe. The focus was on the EU’s role in the world and migration policy.

A total of 200 participants from all EU countries met in Parliament’s buildings to start a debate on how the EU should exert influence on the global stage, whether there should be an EU army and what to do with irregular migrants arriving on Europe’s shores.

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“I didn't expect it, but I feel really good [about the discussion]. I feel like something is moving in Europe. They [the EU institutions] are intending to move something, and hopefully not just on a superficial level but on a substance level,” said panellist Sotiria from Greece.

In search of common solutions

In discussions with experts, Europeans raised questions about EU relations with the US and China; arms exports from EU countries; and how feasible it is for the EU to speak with one voice at the UN Security Council.

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They also wanted to know why EU countries do not do more to train unskilled migrants and what the obstacles are to a uniform asylum system in Europe.

Joachim from Luxembourg said: “We are facing immigration from third countries, economic immigration, pushbacks at the border. Migration is an extremely complex issue and I find that it is up to Europe, as a bloc, as a unit of cultural values, to find a solution.”

Issues to be discussed

At the first of the three sessions of the panel, participants identified issues to be discussed in the next two sessions:

  • Self-reliance and stability
  • The EU as an international partner
  • A strong EU in a peaceful world
  • Migration from a human perspective
  • Responsibility and solidarity across the EU

The objective is to come up with recommendations about EU policy. They selected 20 representatives to join the Conference Plenary and present the outcome of their work.

In her welcome speech, Dubravka Šuica, European Commission vice-president and co-chair of the executive board of the Conference on the Future of Europe, underlined the commitment of EU institutions to act on citizens’ ideas.

“We open up a truly European public space, where from mountains to islands, from Lapland to Lisbon, you can share your ideas with others, appreciate different perspectives, and most importantly, you have the real possibility to make your voice heard and to stimulate change

What’s next?

The meeting of the fourth citizens’ panel concludes the first round of European citizens’ panels.

The fourth panel will meet again online 26-28 November and in person 14-16 January in Maastricht, the Netherlands, where they should finalise their recommendations.

The Conference on the Future of Europe meets in plenary 22-23 October to discuss progress so far and hear recommendations from young people, developed during the European youth Event.

The Conference’s conclusions. taking into account recommendations from the panels, are expected in spring 2022.

Get involved and share your ideas for the future of Europe on the Conference platform.

Find out what was discussed by the first, the second and the third citizens’ panels.

More information 

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