Region

EU plus

Stories in this section cover the EU-27 countries plus the UK, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and the Balkan Countries (Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia).

Editor's choice
News
Progress in EU hosted talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Progress in EU hosted talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan

A third round of meetings between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan hosted by the European Union in Brussels have resulted in progress on a range of issues as the two countries work to resolve the long standing conflict between them. European Council president, Charles Michel welcomed president Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and prime minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia for another meeting in trilateral format on Sunday (22 May). He later described the talks as "frank and productive". In a statement to the media late on Sunday night Michel said the talks focused on the situation in the South Caucasus and the development of EU relations with both countries as well as the broader region. Summarising the meeting, Michel said "the discussion was frank and productive. We reviewed the entire set of issues. We had a detailed discussion on humanitarian issues, including demining, and efforts to free detainees and address the fate of missing persons." He listed a number of outcomes from the meeting including on border issues, connectivity, on a future peace agreement and on socio economic development. In conclusion president Michel said that he also stressed the importance of preparing the populations for long-term sustainable peace. The EU is ready to step up its support. "We agreed to remain in close contact and will meet again in the same format by July/August." 

Filter archive

Editor's choice
News
Progress in EU hosted talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan

Progress in EU hosted talks between Armenia and Azerbaijan

A third round of meetings between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan hosted by the European Union in Brussels have resulted in progress on a range of issues as the two countries work to resolve the long standing conflict between them. European Council president, Charles Michel welcomed president Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan and prime minister Nikol Pashinyan of Armenia for another meeting in trilateral format on Sunday (22 May). He later described the talks as "frank and productive". In a statement to the media late on Sunday night Michel said the talks focused on the situation in the South Caucasus and the development of EU relations with both countries as well as the broader region. Summarising the meeting, Michel said "the discussion was frank and productive. We reviewed the entire set of issues. We had a detailed discussion on humanitarian issues, including demining, and efforts to free detainees and address the fate of missing persons." He listed a number of outcomes from the meeting including on border issues, connectivity, on a future peace agreement and on socio economic development. In conclusion president Michel said that he also stressed the importance of preparing the populations for long-term sustainable peace. The EU is ready to step up its support. "We agreed to remain in close contact and will meet again in the same format by July/August." 
Editor's choice
News
Russia steps up its support for the military government of Mali

Russia steps up its support for the military government of Mali

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday (20 May) received in Moscow his Malian counterpart Abdoulaye Diop with promises of Russian support for the the Malian military government across a range of areas, including defence, security and energy. Lavrov speaking at a press conference with Diop accused France of trying to dictate to Mali who they can or cannot communicate with. "This is unacceptable and does not make the French Republic or French manners look good", the Russian foreign minister said. The meeting came on the same day that the German parliament agreed on a reconfiguration of its military contingent in Mali.
Editor's choice
Opinion
Opinion: The decision of Sweden and Finland to apply for NATO membership is the right one and should be supported

Opinion: The decision of Sweden and Finland to apply for NATO membership is the right one and should be supported

For decades, Finland and Sweden weathered the dangers of the cold war as neutral states, sandwiched between Soviet Union and its Warsaw Pact allies, and the United States and its European allies in NATO. It was a risky situation. Their professed neutrality was seen as a naivety by some, as a vulnerability by others. But they used their status for the common good. Finland and Sweden, together with other neutral and non-aligned countries such as Austria, Switzerland, Yugoslavia and Malta, helped to bring about the Helsinki Conference on Security and Co-operation in Europe, and in 1975 the signing of the Helsinki Final Act, a milestone document that reduced tension during the cold war, and provided a blue print for what followed. This week they broke with their historic position of neutrality, which in the case of Sweden had lasted for two centuries, and applied to join NATO. Finland and Sweden were left with no choice. Their decision to apply for NATO membership was the right one, and should be supported.
Editor's choice
News
Slava Ukraina: Europeans embrace Ukraine, catapulting it to victory in the Eurovision Song Festival

Slava Ukraina: Europeans embrace Ukraine, catapulting it to victory in the Eurovision Song Festival

Kalush Orchestra have won the 2022 Eurovision Song Contest for Ukraine with their song 'Stefania', at the end of an emotional festival final held in Turin on Saturday (14 May). It was a memorable night for the iconic Eurovision Festival as Ukraine's Kalush Band swept to victory with the backing of a popular vote from across Europe. If European politicians are hesitant in embracing Ukraine as one of their own, the people of Europe have shown no hesitation in embracing Ukraine's music and culture, and the cause of the Ukrainian people as they fight against Russian aggression. Receiving the winning trophy, lead singer Oleh Psiuk declared: "Thank you for supporting Ukraine. This victory is for every Ukrainian. Slava Ukraina." Speaking backstage, the singer said he hoped Ukraine could stage the contest in 2023. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky congratulated Kalush Orchestra and said Ukraine's courage "impresses the world". In a post on Instagram, he vowed one day to host Eurovision in a "free, peaceful and rebuilt" Mariupol, the port city that has been completely destroyed by the Russian invaders and is now mostly under Russian occupation.
Editor's choice
News
That other European border

That other European border

The Spanish Interior Minister announced on Thursday, 12 May, that Madrid and Rabat have decided to reopen the borders between Morocco and the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla in the next few days, after two years of closure. The enclaves, on the African continent, are surrounded by the sea, and by Moroccan territory. The reopening of the only two land borders of the European Union on the African continent will be done gradually and will initially concern the nationals of countries belonging to the Schengen area, according to the Spanish Minister of the Interior Fernando Grande-Marlaska. Workers from border regions  will then be able to cross the border freely from 31 May 2022.
Editor's choice
News
Von der Leyen says Russia is the most  direct threat to the international order

Von der Leyen says Russia is the most direct threat to the international order

Russia “is today the most direct threat to the world order with the barbaric war against Ukraine, and its worrying pact with China”, European Commission President, Urusula von der Leyen, said in Tokyo on Thursday (12 May) after meeting Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida along with European Council President Charles Michel. The two are in Tokyo for an annual EU-Japan summit that comes with much of the international community rallying to pressure Moscow over the Ukraine war, with concern also growing about China’s role. “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is not just a matter for Europe, but it shakes the core of the international order including Asia. This must not be tolerated,” said Kishida, whose government has joined tough sanctions on Moscow, including on energy. “Our cooperation in Ukraine is critical in Europe, but it’s also important in the Indo-Pacific and we also want to deepen our consultation on a more assertive China,” said Michel.
Editor's choice
Analysis
Macron gets a second chance to push for a new type of French partnership with Africa

Macron gets a second chance to push for a new type of French partnership with Africa

The re-election of Emmanuel Macron as President of the French Republic was the occasion for many congratulations from African heads of state with most leaders hailing the French president's "brilliant" election. Yet on the continent, not everyone is so enthusiastic, and speculation is high how France’s Africa policy will play out during Macron’s second term. The silence of Bamako, Conakry and Ouagadougou reflects the challenges of Emmanuel Macron's African policy in the years to come. Macron has put a great deal of energy into opening a new chapter in the relationship between France and Africa, but the results have been below expectations. A sustainable and mutually beneficial relationship is very important in these new, uncertain times. Whether it is through the gas alternative proposed by some North African countries, or the emergence of new partnerships in the Sahel and in English-speaking Africa, France will have to play a prominent role and has much to gain from being close with Africa.