Migrants: Brussels proposes emergency plan for Italy, calls for European solidarity

Lampedusa (AFP) – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen presented an emergency plan on Sunday on the small Italian island of Lampedusa to help Rome manage migratory flows. She also called on Italy’s European partners to show solidarity.

After visiting a reception centre for migrants with Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni, von der Leyen detailed a 10-point aid plan designed to manage the emergency situation, distribute asylum seekers more effectively between European countries, facilitate returns and prevent episodic mass arrivals.

The plan is supposed to combine a firm stance against human traffickers with the facilitation of legal channels of entry into Europe for those eligible for asylum.

“Irregular migration is a European challenge and it needs a European response, we are in this together”, von der Leyen stressed. “We urge other Member States to use the Voluntary Solidarity Mechanism”, she said. French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin announced on Monday that he would be travelling to Rome. (18 September)

Croatian mistakenly omitted from list of official EU languages ​

Brussels (HINA) – In its proposal to declare Catalan, Basque and Galician as official languages ​​in the European Union, the Spanish Permanent Representation to the EU accidentally omitted the Croatian language from that list. The mistake will be corrected immediately, according to Spanish diplomatic sources.

“We heard about the mistake, don’t worry, it will be corrected,” said the source when asked why there is no Croatian in the proposed list of official and working languages.

Spain’s government of Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez, who is trying to form a new government after the parliamentary elections ended without a clear winner, has proposed that Catalan, Basque and Galician be declared official languages ​​of the EU. It is a concession to the regional parties of Catalonia, the Basque Country and Galicia, in a bid to win their support for the formation of the government.

The Spanish proposal is on the agenda of tomorrow’s meeting of the General Affairs Council, which consists of the ministers for European affairs of the member states.

The European Union has 24 official languages, and the last language that was accepted as official was Croatian in 2013, when Croatia became a member of the European Union.

Changing the regulation on official languages ​​requires the consent of all member states and the Spanish proposal has very little chance of being accepted. First of all, such a decision could create a domino effect so that other member states also start asking for the same status for their regional languages. Second of all: the high costs. For example, according to its spokesperson, the Commission alone spent around 300 million Euro last year on translation into all official languages.

There is also the problem of a lack of translators and interpreters, especially for Basque and Galician, which have very few speakers. (18 September)

The EU organises beach cleaning on Prespa Lake 

Skopje (MIA) – The Deputy Head of the EU Delegation in North Macedonia, Ben Knupnau, and the Mayor of Resen, Jovan Tozievski, launched the first “EUBeachCleanup” on Prespa Lake. 

The clean-up action is an annual global initiative and this year it will be organised on Slivnica beach through the EU-funded network of young European ambassadors “We Balkans”. 

This year the shore of Prespa Lake will be cleaned by 20 young European ambassadors from the Western Balkans who will join their Macedonian peers to clean Slivnica beach. According to a statement from the EU Delegation in Skopje, this will encourage people to clean the beaches of Lake Prespa from the rubbish that bothers them. (17 September) 

Commission calls on Slovakia, Hungary and Poland to take a constructive approach to grain imports

Brussels (TASR) – The European Commission (EC) on Sunday called on Poland, Hungary and Slovakia to take a constructive approach after the countries unilaterally extended a ban on Ukrainian grain imports despite the Commission’s decision to lift it.

“We are aware of some Member States’ announcements in respect to unilateral measures. What is important right now is that all countries work in the spirit of compromise and engage constructively,” an EC spokeswoman said.

Ukraine was one of the world’s leading grain exporters, but Russia’s military invasion in 2022 has reduced its ability to supply agricultural products to world markets through Black Sea ports. Since then, Ukrainian farmers have been reliant on grain exports through neighbouring countries.

However, the flood of grain and oilseeds to neighbouring countries has affected the incomes of farmers there and led governments to ban imports of agricultural products from Ukraine.

The EU intervened in May to prevent individual countries from acting unilaterally and imposed its own ban on imports from Ukraine to neighbouring countries. Under this ban, Ukraine could export through these countries on condition that the products were sold elsewhere.

The EU did not extend the ban on Friday after Ukraine pledged to take measures to tighten export controls to neighbouring countries. In response, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary announced on Friday that they would maintain their own restrictions on grain imports from Ukraine despite the Commission’s decision.

The issue is particularly sensitive in Poland, which faces elections in October and where farmers are a key constituency of the ruling nationalist Law and Justice (PiS) party.

“Our focus now is to put in place and make work the new system just announced,” a spokeswoman for the European Commission said, adding that Monday’s meeting with representatives of all EU countries involved would provide an opportunity to discuss the issue further. (17 September)

European Commission terminates the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism for Bulgaria and Romania

Brussels/Sofia (BTA) – The European Commission has suspended the Cooperation and Verification Mechanism (CVM), which monitored judicial reforms, the fight against corruption and the fight against organised crime in Bulgaria and Romania. The Commission introduced the monitoring mechanism in 2007, preparing assessment reports and recommendations every six months at first and later once a year.

In 2018, the Commission decided to stop issuing reports on Bulgaria due to sufficient implementation of recommendations, having issued 17 assessments by then. In July this year, the Commission announced that it intended to terminate the mechanism. From 2020, the Commission has introduced a common annual report on the state of the rule of law in each EU country.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen congratulated Bulgaria and Romania on the significant progress made since their accession to the EU. “The rule of law is one of our fundamental common values as a Union and both Member States have delivered on important reforms in these past years. Today we recognise these efforts by putting an end to the CVM,” said Von der Leyen.

According to Bulgarian Vice President Iliana Iotova, the termination of the monitoring mechanism is undoubtedly one of the best news for Bulgaria. The efforts of many Bulgarian governments, politicians and MEPs for all these 17 years have been crowned with success, she said.

Prime Minister Nikolay Denkov said that with the decision of the European Commission another barrier to be on equal footing with the rest of the European Union had been removed. He added that Bulgaria must soon remove the others – to be accepted in Schengen and to join the Euro area, the Bulgarian prime minister said.

Politicians in the Bulgarian parliament described the Commission’s decision as a huge success, a recognition of reforms, but also a vote of confidence in advance. (15 September)

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