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Von der Leyen praises Ukraine’s determination, Russian jet intercepts Polish plane, EU to host Armenia-Azerbaijan peace talks
European Circle in week 19, 2023
curated by Nina von Schweinitz


Von der Leyen reveals details of new Russia sanctions: In the 11th package of sanctions against Russia, the EU Commission proposes to add new import restrictions and toughen liability for circumventing sanctions. According to EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, the new package of sanctions against Russia contains three main elements. „Firstly, we are refining the restrictions already in place, and we are adding more types of goods to the import ban, including the latest technology or aircraft parts that go to third countries and then to Russia,“ she said at a briefing in Kyiv. The second element is new tools to prevent the circumvention of sanctions. And thirdly, the Commission proposes to ban shadow organisations from Russia and third countries that deliberately violate sanctions.

  • China vows to retaliate against EU sanctions on its companies.
  • Britain would ‚welcome‘ intervention by China to bring peace in Ukraine, says James Cleverly.
  • Germany’s Baerbock says China can help end Ukraine war.
  • Lagarde: Power struggle between US and China is a risk for Europe.

Zelensky urges EU to speed up ammunition deliveries: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he and EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen had discussed a key issue, the speed of procurement and delivery of ammunition. The need for them on the battlefield is already present, Zelensky said. EU lawmakers on Tuesday voted to speed up consideration of a law to boost ammunition production in Europe to the tune of €500 million euros.

Von der Leyen praises Ukraine’s determination: EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has drawn a positive conclusion from her recent trip to Kyiv. She said on her return trip on Tuesday evening that there had been detailed discussions on the progress made and the work still to be done on the start of EU accession negotiations. She added it was important to have this discussion at this time. Von der Leyen said that she was more impressed than ever by the determination of the Ukrainians.,

  • French journalist killed in Russian rocket strike in Ukraine.
  • Norway wants to better protect pipelines against sabotage.

Ukraine switches World War II victory date to 8 May: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy on Monday said Ukraine would stop celebrating the defeat of Nazi Germany on 9 May, instead marking the event a day earlier. The announcement cements a break with Ukraine’s history as part of the Soviet Union. Russia celebrates the defeat of the Nazis on 9 May because the German surrender was intentionally signed at 11:01 p.m. on the evening of 8 May in Berlin, to ensure the clocks had ticked over to 9 May in Moscow and to give the Soviet Union a day all of its own.

Ukraine flags block Russian ambassador’s path on Victory Day: Protesters and a large installation representing Russian atrocities in Ukraine blocked the path of Russia’s ambassador to Poland as he sought Tuesday to place a wreath at a Warsaw memorial to Soviet soldiers on Russia’s Victory Day holiday. The Russian Foreign Ministry strongly criticised Poland over the incident, saying the Warsaw government was informed in advance of the ambassador’s plan to visit the Red Army cemetery and memorial site, and did not act to ensure that he could pay his respects at the memorial.

EU Parliament renews trade support measures for Ukraine: Parliament gave its green light to suspending EU import duties on Ukrainian exports of agricultural products for another year to support the country’s economy. The suspension of tariffs applies to fruits and vegetables subject to the entry price system, as well as agricultural products and processed agricultural products subject to tariff-rate quotas. Industrial products are subject to zero duties since 1 January 2023 under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, so they are not included in the new proposal.

Russian jet intercepts Polish plane: A Polish border guard aircraft on patrol for the European Union’s border agency Frontex over the Black Sea near Romania narrowly avoided a collision with a Russian fighter jet on Friday, Romania and Poland said. A Russian SU-35 jet carried out „aggressive and dangerous manoeuvres“ approaching the Polish aircraft without keeping a secure distance, leading to turbulence, loss of altitude and a temporary loss of control of the plane by the Polish crew, Anna Michalska, a border guard spokesperson, wrote on Twitter on Sunday.

EU cancels Israel event over far-right minister’s plan to attend: The EU has cancelled its diplomatic event for Europe Day in Israel because of the planned participation of Israel’s far-right minister Itamar Ben-Gvir. Organisers said they did not want to offer a platform to someone whose views contradicted its values. As the Israeli government’s designated representative, Ben-Gvir had insisted he would give the customary speech at a ceremony on Tuesday.

EU to host Armenia-Azerbaijan peace talks: Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders are set to hold talks in Brussels this weekend as speculation grows that the two sides could sign a peace agreement after decades of violent conflict. The meeting on 14 May between Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan and Azeri President Ilham Aliyev follows talks between their two foreign ministers that prompted US Secretary of State Antony Blinken to suggest a breakthrough was possible.,

AI Act: EU Parliament fine-tunes text ahead of key committee vote
EU Data Act puts trade secrets at risk, Siemens, SAP say
EU Commission: Hungary must go further to access EU funds
Child sexual abuse material: EU Council proposes survivors’ board


“We recently see a growth of highly unusual trade flows through the European Union and certain third countries. These goods then end up in Russia.“

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen urged EU nations to take trade measures against countries that help Moscow circumvent the EU’s sanctions against Russia.


Germany’s Scholz urges integrated EU defence industry, migration agreement: The EU must work harder to integrate its defence industries and reach agreement on how to tackle migration, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said in a keynote speech on Tuesday outlining his vision for the bloc’s future. He stressed that Europe has a global responsibility beyond its borders “because the well-being of Europe cannot be separated from the well-being of the rest of the world.” To secure Europe’s place in the world of tomorrow, the EU must change, the Chancellor said.,

French parliament designates Wagner a terrorist group: France’s National Assembly voted to designate Russia’s paramilitary Wagner group as a terrorist entity. All lawmakers present in parliament voted in favour of the resolution, which is non-binding. The resolution calls on the EU to register Wagner on the EU list of terrorist groups. The Russian mercenary group has already faced several rounds of sanctions from the European Union.

Met police regret arrest of anti-monarchy protesters at coronation: The Metropolitan Police expressed regret over the arrests of six anti-monarchy protesters on Coronation day and announced that no charges will be brought against them. It came as City Hall politicians joined the London mayor, Sadiq Khan, in seeking answers from Scotland Yard over the detention of Republic protesters and volunteers working for the local council to keep people safe.,

Serbians march in silent protest against gun violence after last week’s shootings: Tens of thousands of Serbians have rallied in the capital, Belgrade, with the protesters calling for the resignation of top officials and the curtailing of violence in the media, after back-to-back shootings stunned the Balkan country. The “Serbia against violence” demonstration saw members from across the country’s political divide come together after last week’s shootings in which 17 people were killed in less than 48 hours – including nine at an elementary school in the capital.

Slovakian president picks technocrat government: Slovak President Zuzana Caputova picked central bank Deputy Governor Ludovit Odor to lead a technocrat government after caretaker Prime Minister Eduard Heger quit on Sunday just months before early elections in September. Slovakia lurched into crisis in September last year when Heger’s ruling centre-right coalition lost its majority after the libertarian SaS party quit, unhappy with efforts to help people hit by soaring energy and food costs.

Strong EU rules needed to protect espionage victims, says Catalan minister: Tough EU rules to protect victims of spyware activities are essential, Catalan foreign and EU affairs Minister Meritxell Serret told „Euractiv“. Serret also criticised the Spanish government’s lack of collaboration with EU institutions in investigating spy activities which targeted Catalan leading figures between 2017 and 2020.

Iran executes Swedish-Iranian for alleged terrorism: Iran has executed a Swedish-Iranian man accused of being behind a deadly 2018 attack on a military parade. Habib Chaab was a founder of a separatist group calling for independence for ethnic Arabs in Iran’s south-western Khuzestan province. He had been living in exile in Sweden for a decade when he was abducted by Iranian agents in Turkey in 2020. Sweden’s Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom said his government had urged Iran not to execute Chaab.

Italian minister scraps trip over French official’s remarks: Italy’s Foreign Minister Antonio Tajani on Friday said there were no excuses for French Interior Minister Gérald Darmanin’s criticism of Italy’s migration policy. Tajani cancelled a planned visit to Paris over the remarks. Darmanin had blamed Italian Premier Giorgia Meloni for increasing numbers of migrants, notably minors, at the French-Italian border. He said that Meloni “is incapable of resolving the migration problems for which she was elected.” He also accused her of “lying to the population,” a “vice” he said that was shared by the far-right.,

High prices in Austria: Pressure on the government grows
France: Macron’s uphill battle to get the French to like their jobs
Luxembourg minister mulls 38-hour workweek
Italy: Head of broadcasting resigns after conflict with government
Finland: Government negotiations turn sour


Voting ended on Tuesday for millions of Turkish people living abroad: Germany is home to the largest Turkish diaspora of 1.5 million.


Orban calls liberalism a ‚virus‘: The Hungarian leader Viktor Orban has called for former US president Donald Trump’s return to office, claiming their shared brand of hard-right populism is on the rise around the world, in a speech to US Republicans and their European allies in Budapest. Orban noted that Washington and Brussels were still in the grip of liberalism, which he described as a “virus that will atomise and disintegrate our nations”.