EU Visa-free for Russians

Offering Russians unilateral visa-free to the EU – is one of the major proposals of the Alliance of European Liberals and Democrats announced at a year conference on EU-Russia relations #EURussia, taking place on the third anniversary of Boris Nemtsov assassination.

The move is meant in ‘immediate and unconditional’ support of the civil society, experiencing difficulty of alienation from Europe, while regular Russians increasingly perceive the EU as an antagonistic power, especially after confrontation with the negative consequences of the EU Enlargement policy, leading to conflicts in Georgia and Ukraine.

“The biggest mistake on our behalf towards the West is that we trusted you too much,” President Vladimir Putin said. He underlined that the West, in their turn, made an unforgivable mistake – abused this trust.

Would the visa-free enhance exchanges, people-to-people contacts and heal the profound mistrust Russians feel towards the West? While Donetsk and Lugansk are under siege, and Russian children go to school risking being shot by shelling of Ukrainian army, while so-called ‘Syrian opposition’, supported by European, kills Russian pilots on counter-terrorist missions, – while the bloodshed is going on, it will be rather simplistic to consider that visa-free would restore the harmony. Although had it ever existed in relations between Europe and Russia?..

Children Donbass

Image: citizens’ journalism ‘Killed children of Donbass’




‘Five Stars’ MEPs to join Liberals


Today he Italian Five Star movement  launches negotiations over joining ALDE group in the European Parliament, meaning an enlargement of the EP Liberals by 17 MEPs. Certainly a hight tight for Guy Verhofstadt, who recently launched campaign #guy4president, wishing to chair the institution.

The decision of abandoning the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy (EFDD) group appeared after on-line Five Star party vote concluding 80% of participants supportive of the idea of joining the European Liberals.

Apparently,  for Five Star leader and former Italian comedian Beppe’s Grillo ALDE is ‘second to best’ choice, because initially he attempted to join the Greens, but has not found reciprocity. The necessity of leaving of the EFDD group lead by #Brexit ideologist MEP Nigel Farage became obvious immediately after the UK referendum when the major political objective was attained, said Grillo, commenting the anticipated change. However the independent experts noticed , that at the moment there is no clarity how the Five Star will harmonise its political programme with the Liberals in view of many incompatible positions.

(Source: ‘5 Stars movement’)




MEP Tajani for European Parliament President


The promotion of the former EU Industry top civil servant Antonio Tajani (Italy, EPP) from Barroso’s Commission to the position of the European Parliament president, once again demonstrates the failure of the institution to  renew. The civil servants becoming politicians and politicians styled into mandarins, surfing freely between  Schuman and Luxembourg squares, just hanging backdrop of the official photos, do not inspire confidence of the EU citizens, trying to figure out a raison d’être of the EU costly project, while getting increasingly confused between loyalties and separations of powers.

Nobody is going to held Antonio Tajani (63) responsable for a move of his former boss José-Manuel Barroso accepting a chairmanship at Goldman Sachs, however the maneuvering of Tajani as the Industry Commissioner to Member of the  European Parliament (MEP), with a view of ascending to the top of the latter, makes the whole intrigue look more as a part of a chess game, than a progressive political process, reflecting public interest.
Once the spokesperson of Silvio Berlusconi, Tajani made a spectacular career in the EU institutions, coming just as a replacement of a departing for a national appointment college. With zero chance to receive a second mandate as a civil servant to ‘reign’ over the EU industry while rival party gained power at home, he returned to active politics in European elections to mold into a Member of the European Parliament immediately after
the end of his mandate in the Commission.
At present a much-anticipated farewell of twice a president of the European Parliament Martin Schulz (61),(Germany, S&D) evoked European People’s Party (EPP) to claim its rights, indicating that the second mandate of Schulz was already against all the odds, because according to the  major agreement the five years Parliamentary term was divided between representatives of two biggest political groups EEP  and Socialists and Democrats.
However the double mandate of five years  of a Socialist did not become a window of opportunity to new political actors. No new generation, no new member-states, no new leaders, but the former Commission apparatchik from fading ‘Forza Italia’ party, claiming to be a brand new political group, led  by one of the most controversial figures of Italian politics, four times Prime Minister – Silvio Berlusconi (80), whose lucky star is at decline.
Reportedly Tajani is campaigning, looking for support at home and among the other political groups in the European Parliament. The situation should be clarified mid-January, because Social democrats leader Gianni Pittella (IT, S&D) does not accept EEP president bid, claiming it will ruin the fine balance among the EU institutions, leaving socialists in minority in position of leadership.
The beginning of this year a long standing leader of EP Liberals – Guy Verhofstadt (63) (ALDE, Belgium) entered the presidential race, in hope for tactical votes.
However the chances of Mr.Tajani to raise to the summit remain high, thanks to support of his own political group – the most representative in the EP.
Still it looks the idea of renewal remains foreign to the Europarl, along with the idea of gender equality  largely remaining a rhetoric exercise: since Simone Veil (1979-1982) no one women-politician ascended the president’s position, acutely no women before either.
The true impact of institutional stagnation expressed in reshuffling the very same people over and over again will be concluded at next Parliament elections, when the European citizens will come to drop their ballots, or will not come. So far last two decades the turnouts for European elections are in study decline.
#Anna van Densky