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European Union Geopolitical Watch – from February 12 to February 18, 2022

02/12/2022 : Head of EU delegation to Ukraine urges international staff to evacuate Kiev

Amid rising tensions in Ukraine, Matti Maasikas, head of the European Union delegation in Kiev, has urged international staff to leave as soon as possible. “After exchanging with headquarters in Brussels, I urged all expatriate colleagues, with the exception of essential staff, to leave Ukraine as soon as possible to telework from outside the country.” For his part, Peter Stano, spokesman for the European Union’s external service, wants to put the possible evacuation into perspective. “For the moment, non-essential personnel have had the opportunity to telework from outside the country“, he said. Many Western countries have called on their non-essential diplomats to evacuate to western Ukraine, but the European Union, meanwhile, is seeking to keep its delegation in Kiev as a sign of solidarity with Ukraine.

02/13/2022 : Greek farmers threaten to block highways to protest against rising energy prices

Greek farmers expressed their determination on February 13 to close major highways in response to rising energy costs, demanding a meeting with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis. In the context of rising energy costs, Greek farmers are claiming subsidies to reduce their fuel costs and an end to the cost of adjusting the price of electricity to variations in the price of oil and natural gas imports. According to the demonstrators and unions, the price of diesel is higher than the European average, 1.60 euros per liter in Greece.

02/14/2022 : Poland says it is ready to take in Ukrainian refugees if tensions escalate

On February 14, Poland has announced that it is prepared to receive Ukrainian refugees in case of an increase in the current tensions. In this context, it has decided to maintain its diplomatic representations in Ukraine for the time being in case they are needed to facilitate a mass departure of Ukrainians. Marcin Przydacz, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, said that Poland has already received a large number of Ukrainian economic migrants in recent years. According to him, in the event of a scenario similar to the Ukrainian crisis of 2014, the number of Ukrainian refugees would not consist of “hundreds or thousands, but a much larger number“. This reception policy would consist of accommodation of refugees in homes, dormitories, sports facilities and other places.

02/15/2022 : EU warns Russia about possible recognition of self-proclaimed Donbass republics

On February 15, Josep Borrell, warned Moscow on Tuesday against recognizing the separatist regions of Donbass as independent, saying that such a move would violate the Minsk agreements signed by Russia. “The EU’s support and commitment to the independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders remains unwavering“, he said. The Duma, the lower chamber of the Russian parliament, voted on January 15 in favour of a bill asking Russian president Vladimir Putin to recognize the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics. For its part, the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said that “Ukraine’s position remains unchanged: Russia’s recognition of the so-called ‘Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics’ will amount to its deliberate withdrawal from the Minsk agreements.

02/16/2022 : The Court of Justice of the European Union confirms the mechanism of conditioning payments of European funds to respect for the rule of law

Denounced by Hungary as an abuse of power, the Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed, on February 16, the mechanism of attribution of European funds to the respect of the rule of law. This mechanism concerns Poland and Hungary in particular and tends to apply to funds paid out under the European budget and recovery plans. In order to justify this decision, the Court considers that “this mechanism was adopted on an adequate legal basis” and “respects the limits of the powers conferred on the Union as well as the principle of legal certainty“.

02/17/2022 : European Commission strongly condemns the alleged shelling of a kindergarten in Stanytsia Luhanska

In a February 17 statement, the European Commission has condemned the recent shelling of a kindergarten in Stanytsia Luhanska as a clear violation of the cease-fire and the Minsk agreements. At the same time, it has called for an immediate halt to the escalation of violence and reaffirmed its unwavering support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.

02/18/2022 : European Commission announces funding for environment and climate projects

In a press release on February 18, the European Commission has decided to invest more than 110 million euros in projects integrated into the LIFE program for environmental and climate protection. This funding will provide support for environmental and climate projects in 11 EU countries (Cyprus, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Slovenia, and the Czech Republic). Such an investment will allow EU member states to benefit from additional sources of funding, including agricultural and research funds, as well as domestic funding and private sector investment. According to Virginijus Sinkevičius, Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, “Through these projects, Member States can green their economies, bring back nature and biodiversity, and improve their resilience. I look forward to seeing the benefits this investment will bring across the 11 countries and beyond their borders.

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