Frontex on the borders between the countries of the Western Balkans

Brussels (HINA) – Strengthening border controls on the Western Balkan migrant route and deploying Frontex personnel to borders between Western Balkan countries is one of the elements of an action plan to ease migrant pressure on the EU. Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson and Commission Vice-President Margaritis Schinas presented the plan on Monday.

On the eve of the EU-Western Balkans summit in Tirana, the Commission announced a series of measures to address migrant pressure on the EU across the Western Balkans. Around 500 members of the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (Frontex) are currently deployed, but only to the external borders of the EU and Western Balkan countries. The Commission will negotiate a new mandate for Frontex with Western Balkan partners, which will enable the deployment of members of that agency to the borders between certain Western Balkan countries.

The Commission notes that harmonization of visa policies is essential for the good functioning of the visa-free regime between the EU and the Western Balkans. A large number of migrants from Burundi, Tunisia, Cuba and India had arrived visa-free by plane in Serbia. Belgrade had granted some states a visa-free regime in exchange for the non-recognition of Kosovo. According to Frontex data, 281,000 unregistered entries into the EU through the Western Balkans were recorded during the first 10 months of this year, an increase of 77 percent compared to last year. (December 5)

Von der Leyen wants to respond to US state aid with European investments

Bruges (Belga) – The European Union’s investment policy must be adjusted now that the United States has announced large-scale state aid for its green economy. Measures are needed to “restore the balance” after the distortion of competition from Washington, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, said during a speech at the College of Europe in Bruges on Sunday.

Von der Leyen plans further discussions with the United States to “resolve the most problematic aspects of their investment plan.” But in addition, Brussels must adjust its “own rules to facilitate public investment in the (climate) transition, and we need to reassess the need for European funding,” von der Leyen said.

She additionally stressed the importance of cooperation to address the climate challenge. With the US Inflation Reduction Act comes an investment plan of hundreds of billions of dollars. That massive investment should help build a new industrial ecosystem in strategic sectors for more environmentally friendly energy.

The plan includes subsidies and tax credits, so that US companies use American products or produce in the States. Average workers also benefit: They can pocket up to 7,500 USD in tax credits when buying an electric car, provided the car is assembled at a North American factory and equipped with a locally manufactured battery.

In early November, European finance ministers already expressed concern about Washington’s plans. They could cause serious damage to European companies at a time when they are already struggling with higher energy prices, the ministers said. (December 4)

West wants to significantly curb Russia’s oil revenues

Eine Tiefpumpe steht in der Nähe der Stadt Usinsk, 1500 Kilometer nordöstlich von Moskau. Die Europäische Union und ihre Partner wie die G7 und Australien wollen dem Gegner Russland vorgeben, zu welchem Preis es sein Erdöl auf dem Weltmarkt verkaufen darf. Der Preisdeckel soll zunächst bei 60 US-Dollar (57 Euro) je Barrel liegen. (zu dpa: «Ölpreisdeckel gegen Russland: Experiment mit vielen Unbekannten»)
A deep pump is located near the city of Usinsk, 1500 kilometers northeast of Moscow. Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky/AP/dpa

Kyiv/London (dpa) – Energy supplies in particular are financing Russia’s war of aggression in Ukraine. Now the European Union (EU), the leading Western industrialized nations (G7) and Australia want to significantly reduce Russia’s revenue. They want to dictate the price at which the country can sell its oil on the world market – no more than 60 USD (57 EUR) per barrel (159 liters).

This is how it is supposed to work: For transport and the necessary services such as insurance, European shipping companies will only be allowed to take on transport to third countries, such as China and India, if the price does not exceed the cap. Shipping companies from the EU are estimated to operate more than half of all tankers worldwide.

More than nine months after the start of the war, an EU oil embargo against Russia is also set to gradually take effect from December 5. The launch of the EU embargo and price cap will be followed by two further steps: After stopping maritime imports, Germany also wants to stop Russian oil deliveries via the Druzhba (Friendship) pipeline by the end of the year.

The turmoil on the global energy markets is also being felt by consumers. According to the German government’s plans, the gas and electricity price brake will put a stop to unjustified tariff increases. Price increases are to be prohibited until the end of 2023 – unless the supplier can prove “that the increase is objectively justified,” according to the drafts on the price brakes introduced in the Bundestag, the German parliament. (Dec. 4)

Strong reactions in Sofia as Dutch are expected not to support Bulgaria’s Schengen entry

Sofia/Brussels (BTA) – The Netherland’s refusal to support Bulgaria’s accession to the Schengen area triggered a wave of reactions among the eastern European country’s politicians and authorities. After the Dutch Broadcasting Corporation reported that the government in The Hague had judged that Bulgaria was not yet eligible to join Schengen, Bulgarian President Rumen Radev expressed disappointment: “Recently, three Bulgarian police officers died guarding the external border of the European Union. Today, the Prime Minister of the Netherlands, Mark Rutte, inadmissibly suggested that this border could be crossed for 50 euros. Instead of European solidarity, Bulgaria receives cynicism.”

EU Interior Commissioner Ilva Johansson and Bulgarian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior Ivan Demerdzhiev pointed out that in recent months, Bulgaria has successfully passed two additional consecutive inspections coordinated by the European Commission. These have shown once more that the country meets all the requirements of the Schengen legislation.

The Bulgarian prosecutor’s office said it does not have data supporting Rutte‘s statement to public media NOS that the Netherlands “want to rule out the possibility of illegally crossing the border between Turkey and the Schengen area into Bulgaria with a 50 euro banknote.”

“The prosecutor’s office has no data or evidence [of such a case]. If our partners in the law enforcement system of the Netherlands have them, I expect them to be made available to us in the framework of international legal assistance in accordance with the principles of the rule of law.”

Prosecutor General Ivan Geshev

The EU Justice and Home Affairs Council will vote on the Schengen enlargement on December 8. The agenda provides for a separate vote for Croatia and a second vote for Bulgaria and Romania. (3-5 December)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Wednesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.