Kiev (EFE) – The European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, said that Russia was “going all out” and that it was necessary to explain, with a view to the European elections in June, what it would mean to have a “puppet government” in Ukraine – like in Belarus – and the Russian army “on the border” of the European Union.

“Russia is going all out. Russian President Vladimir Putin has no intention of backing down. His political survival is at stake,” said the head of European diplomacy in an interview with EFE during his fourth visit to Ukraine since the large-scale Russian invasion, the second anniversary of which falls on 24 February.

Borrell, who brought a “strong” message of solidarity as well as military, political and financial support from the EU to Kiev, said he was sure that Putin “will go all out and will not mind sacrificing his army and his people, because he is suffering enormous material and human losses and has not made any significant territorial advances.”

With the European elections just around the corner (6-9 June), the EU foreign policy chief believes it is an educational task to explain the reasons why the EU is helping Ukraine and what the consequences of its defeat would be, because, he said, a possible defeat of Ukraine would mean “having the Russian army on the border of Europe.” (7 February)

Viktor Orban, Ministerpräsident von Ungarn, während einer internationalen Pressekonferenz. (zu dpa "Drohkulisse für Orban: EU-Beamte malen vor Gipfel düsteres Szenario")
Viktor Orbán, Prime Minister of Hungary, during an international press conference. Photo: Denes Erdos/AP/dpa

Sovereignty law in Hungary: the EU opens infringement proceedings

Brussels (AFP) – The European Commission has launched infringement proceedings against Hungary, following the adoption in mid-December of legislation setting up a supervisory authority designed to prevent “foreign interference” in electoral process and “protect the sovereignty” of the country.

This legislative package, which includes prison sentences, has been denounced by NGOs and critics of nationalist Prime Minister Viktor Orbán. They see it as a new offensive aimed at muzzling checks and balances.

In a statement, the Commission said it had sent Budapest a letter of formal notice for breaching EU law. The Hungarian government now has two months to respond.

While the Commission released some 10 billion euros for Hungary in mid-December, 21 billion euros of EU funds earmarked for the country remain frozen by the EU under various procedures for alleged breaches of the rule of law. (7 February)

Fertilising a field in Slovenia. Photo: Tamino Petelinšek/STA

Slovenian Agriculture Minister: pesticide rules cannot apply equally to all

Ljubljana/Brussels (STA) – Slovenia will advocate at EU level for individual treatment with regard to pesticide use, said Slovenian Agriculture Minister Mateja Čalušić, following the announcement by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that she would withdraw the proposed regulation on pesticides. Čalušić stressed that before a regulation was adopted, it was important to know what alternatives were available to protect crops.

“Slovenia has been advocating at least some relaxation of the regulation, but at the same time we have always pointed out that farmers and farmers’ organisations are also in favour of reducing the use of plant protection products, but in a way that is adapted to the member states,” said Čalušić.

Slovenia, she explained, had many specificities, with fragmented agricultural land, which meant that the rules of the regulation could not be applied equally to all. “That’s why we are going to propose a country-by-country inventory of the problems we face. But we will make absolutely sure that before any regulation is re-adopted, we know what alternatives farmers can use to protect their crops,” the minister said.

Commission President Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament plenary that the proposal for a regulation on the sustainable use of plant protection products had been withdrawn because it had become a symbol of polarisation. (6 February)

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