Ukraine: blocked grain exports, Russia accuses of causing famine risk over blocked grain exports

Moscow (AFP) – The transport of Ukrainian grain in the Black Sea was blocked on Sunday, after Russia suspended the agreement on exports vital for the world’s food supply, a decision castigated by Kiev, Washington and the EU. Russia has said that the decision to block grain exports was taken after a drone attack on their ships in Crimea, but Ukraine has denounced this as “a false pretext”. It called for pressure to be exerted on Russia to “recommit itself to respecting its obligations” under the agreement reached in July under the aegis of the UN and Turkey, the only one between Moscow and Kiev since the start of the conflict.

The Joint Coordination Center (JCC) responsible for overseeing this agreement confirmed that no cargo movements had been approved for Sunday. Nine cargo ships were able to use the Black Sea maritime corridor on Saturday and “more than ten others” are ready to do the same in both directions. The EU has urged Russia to “reverse its decision”, which “endangers the main export route of cereals and fertilizers needed to respond to the global food crisis caused by the war.” (October 30)

Reynders: Seventeen billion euros in Russian assets frozen in the EU

Brussels (Belga) – The European Union has frozen 17 billion euros in Russian assets as part of the sanctions package against Russia, said European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders in a newspaper interview. “So far, the assets of 90 people have been frozen, more than 17 billion euros in seven member states, including 2.2 billion in Germany,” Reynders added.

“We are investigating what else we can do,”

European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders stated.

Since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine eight months ago, the EU has adopted eight sanctions packages against Russia. Ukrainian politicians in particular have asked several times to use the frozen assets to rebuild the country after the war. “When it comes to money from crime that the EU seizes, it is possible to transfer it to a compensation fund for Ukraine. But the sum is far from sufficient to finance the reconstruction.” As part of Western sanctions, 300 billion euros in Russian central bank reserves have also been frozen. “I think it is possible to keep the 300 billion euros as a guarantee until Russia voluntarily helps to rebuild Ukraine,” Reynders said. (October 29)

Ursula von der Leyen visited BiH and reiterated that the country’s future lies in the European Union

Sarajevo (FENA) – European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen traveled to Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of her multi-day visit to the Western Balkan countries, where she told the citizens of BiH that they are the future of the European Union and that their future lies in the European Union. During her visit to the country, von der Leyen addressed political representatives in BiH, representatives from civil society and the field of culture as well as the business community, saying that BiH is part of Europe.

“You belong to our Union. It was touching to see the European flag on three landmarks in Sarajevo, Banja Luka and Mostar – in honor of our proposal to make BiH a candidate for EU membership. Because our flag will be your flag, too. It belongs in this country. And that’s why I’m here today,” 

Ursula von der Leyen said.

She continued that in addition to political action, BiH has a unique opportunity to move forward in this generation. This was a moment for BiH and “I want to encourage all of you to take advantage of it. This is the meaning of our recommendation to grant BiH candidate status,” stated the President of the European Commission. She added that the last four years have not been easy because of the pandemic, the war in Ukraine and deep political divisions. But even in such difficult circumstances, some progress has been made in BiH in the field of public procurement, in achieving membership of the Union Civil Protection Mechanism and in cooperation with EUROPOL. Von der Leyen pointed out that now was the time to rejoin forces in the country and make progress on the way to the Union. This was the first visit by European Union officials after the Commission’s recommendation to grant BiH the status of candidate country for membership in the bloc. The final position on candidate status should be given by the European Council in December.

The European institutions confirmed the importance of the region for the EU and assured their continued support and solidarity in the face of strategic challenges, von der Leyen added. In this context, she also announced the EU’s intention to involve the countries of the Western Balkans in joint resolutions on the energy crisis on the continent. Members of the Presidency of BiH reiterated their and the country’s commitment to the European path and the reform process. (29. October)

Agreement in the EU to end sale of vehicles with a combustion engine by 2035

Brussels/Madrid (EFE) – Negotiators from the European Council, the European Parliament and the European Commission reached an agreement to ban the sale of new cars and vans with a combustion engine starting in 2035. This is the first legislative part of the “Fit for 55” package to decarbonize the EU by 2050 that has been approved.

“Pending formal adoption, the co-legislators agreed on a CO2 emissions reduction target of 55 per cent for new cars and 50 per cent for new vans by 2030 compared to 2021 levels” and “100 per cent for new cars and vans by 2035,” the European Council said in a statement. “The agreement sends a strong signal to the industry and consumers: Europe is embracing the shift to zero-emission mobility. European car manufacturers are already proving they are ready to step up to the plate, with increasingly affordable electric cars coming to the market,” said Frans Timmermans, executive vice-president of the European Commission for the European Green Deal.

The European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) urged European policymakers to accelerate the deployment of the conditions necessary to make zero-emission mobility possible, since “there is no time to lose”, while environmental organizations called for more ambition. For its part, Spain must not make any legal changes to implement the agreement reached. This is because article 14.2 of the Climate Change Act already states that the objective of vehicles with zero emissions will be adapted to that established by EU regulations, the Ministry for Ecological Transition explained to EFE. (October 27 and 28)

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.