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More features 2011

One year on from the Arab Spring - A Summary of the EU's Action


Since the first demonstrations in Tunisia in December 2010, a wave of popular discontent has shaken the Arab world, with people calling for dignity, democracy, and social justice. Despite the unexpected magnitude of these uprisings, the EU has been quick to recognise the challenges of the political and economic transition and the need to adopt a new approach to relations with its Southern neighbours.

EU leaders travel to Ukraine for Summit


Progress towards an Association Agreement between the EU and Ukraine and cooperation on key reforms will be top of the agenda during a bilateral summit in Ukraine on 19 December.

European Parliament honours five champions of the Arab struggle for freedom


Three collect Sakharov Prize in Strasbourg – while one remains in hiding; one is honoured posthumously

EU and Russia move Strategic Partnership forwards


The EU-Russia Summit taking place in Brussels on 14 and 15 December is expected to see significant results, notably in the areas of Russia’s WTO accession, visa facilitation and mobility issues, aviation, and the EU-Russia Partnership for Modernisation.

Durban Conference delivers Breakthrough for Climate


The European Union welcomes the agreement reached at the UN climate conference in Durban as a historic breakthrough in the fight against climate change.

Diplomatic relations established between EU and South Sudan


Today (09.12.2011), an Establishment Agreement between the European Union and the Republic of South Sudan was signed. 

Catherine Ashton in the EP


The foreign affairs session started with a debate on the main aspects and choices of the CFSP and Common Security and Defence Policy (CSDP). The European Parliament wished to mark a new departure with this report, in contributing to the forward looking approach to the EU's Foreign Policy.  In that respect Catherine Ashton welcomed the important role of Members of the European Parliament in ensuring that the EU has an effective and democratic EU foreign and security policy.

Celebrating human rights


The detention of newspaper correspondents, the dispersal of a peaceful demonstration, restricted access to the internet, impending executions and attacks on human rights defenders – these are just some of the real-life human rights abuses to which the EU has reacted during 2011.

Climate Change Video Competition amongst Vietnamese Students


The Delegation of the European Union to Vietnam, in collaboration with the Sinh Vien (student) Newspaper, organised a short video making competition in May on the impact of climate change in Vietnam.

The EU’s continuing commitment to Afghanistan, up to and beyond 2014 ‘Transition’


“We owe it to Afghanistan’s young people”, says HRVP Ashton on eve of Bonn conference.

Pushing for climate commitments in Durban


All eyes will be on Durban for the next two weeks, where countries are discussing how best to contain dangerous climate change.

The EU and the US: a special relationship


As the EU and US meet for their annual summit in Washington on 28 November, it is an opportunity to look at why the transatlantic relationship is so important.

EU Co-finances Workshop for Indigenous Peoples and Climate Change


The European Union co-financed a workshop for indigenous peoples and climate change in the State of Oaxaca, Mexico. The meeting was organised by Mexico in the run-up to COP 17 to mark the significant role that indigenous peoples play in the Climate Change debate.

HR Ashton on Southern Caucasus visit


EU High Representative Catherine Ashton is emphasising the EU’s commitment to strengthening relations with the countries of the South Caucasus with a three-day visit to the region.

A new and comprehensive EU approach to the Horn of Africa


Foreign Ministers agree Strategic Framework for supporting democracy, development – and security – in Somalia and the region.  A new Special Representative will focus first on regional conflict, and the threat of piracy.

EU brokers new consensus to beat stalemate on Zimbabwe diamonds


Commitments to compliance and transparency will ensure Zimbabwe's people benefit from‘conflict-free’ diamonds: EU’s good offices breaks deadlock over controversial Marange production.

A look at EU support to Libya


From the start of the Libyan crisis, the EU has stood by the people of Libya in their quest for freedom. Together with the international community, it will continue to help Libya's process of democratic transition and economic reconstruction. The broad, comprehensive and swift response of the EU covers a wide range of short- to long-term actions.

A New Framework for European Relations with Africa


It is only nine months since the creation of the European External Action Service, and only eight since I took up the job of Managing Director for Africa.  So a little background on the EEAS and the MD’s role might be useful.  The core of my message today, however, is how the implementation of the Lisbon Treaty has helped bring a new coherence, focus and impetus to European relations with Africa – at a time when Africa has never been more important to Europe and, at the same time, some people are beginning to question the continued importance of Europe to Africa.

EU speaks out against the death penalty


‘We consider capital punishment to be inhumane, and a violation of human dignity,’ reads a joint declaration from EU High Representative Catherine Ashton and Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjørn Jagland.

Setting up the European External Action Service (EEAS)


Events in the first decade of the millennium have shaken the foundations of the global order: the tragedy of September 11th 2001, and perhaps more importantly the legacy of September 15th 2008, among others, has triggered a tectonic shift in world politics. The pre-eminence of America is no longer assured, but nor can we say that China or another rising power will take its place. The Euro crisis has also created a sense of fragility about Europe’s place in the world.

Brazil comes to Brussels: the fifth EU-Brazil Summit


The EU-Brazil Strategic Partnership will be consolidated at a joint summit in Brussels on 3 and 4 October. Leaders will discuss global, regional and bilateral issues, including climate change and the Rio+20 UN Conference on Sustainable Development.

EU Annual Report on Human Rights and Democracy in the World in 2010


Human rights constitute a journey and a work-in-progress, as much for the Union itself, as for its partners around the world.

'A privileged partnership' – the EU and Tunisia


EU offers financial support, trade openings and improved mobility, in support of Tunisia's 'Jasmin Plan'.

Renewing commitment to values on agenda at Eastern Partnership Summit


Partner countries will re-state their commitment to the values and principles of the Eastern Partnership at the 29-30 September meeting, while sideline events will address the importance of civil society and cooperation between businesses.

Piracy – a shared EU-UN priority


The theme of this year’s World Maritime Day, ‘piracy’, is also the subject of a new UN action plan and the reason behind the EU’s first maritime military operation.

EU makes UN debate debut


President of the European Council Herman Van Rompuy will make a statement on behalf of the EU on economic growth and sustainable development at the United Nations’ General Debate on 22 September.

EU helps to close financing gap for Chernobyl Shelter


Twenty-five years after the Chernobyl disaster, the international community, lead by the G8 and the EU, has secured full funding for an unprecedented and crucial initiative: building a new permanent shelter and decommissioning facilities at Chernobyl. The European Union’s diplomacy helped to mobilize the global community, bringing in 13 new donor countries to secure a final solution to the Chernobyl legacy.

EU-South Africa Summit: an opportunity to prepare for G20 and climate talks


Climate change and global economic governance will be two of the main issues on the table when leaders from the EU and South Africa meet in Kruger National Park on 15 September. 

11 September: Europe remembers


As the world looks back on the terrible events of 11 September 2001, the EU remembers the victims of terrorism everywhere, and reflects on what has been done to combat the risks of terrorism at home and abroad.

Emerging from the shadows, Libya takes its future in its own hands


‘This is our country, and we will rebuild it’: this was the message relayed, again and again, to Agostino Miozzo, Managing Director for Crisis Response at the European External Action Service, as he visited Libya from 31 August to 5 September.

Promoting climate action in the Pacific region


Climate Action Commissioner Connie Hedegaard is visiting the Pacific region, promoting collaboration to tackle climate change.

EU's participation in the electoral process in Benin: a dynamic role in setting up a transparent ballot


On 13 March and 30 April 2011, Benin organised its fifth presidential election and its sixth legislative election since democratic renewal as a result of the national conference held in 1990. Hailed as a pioneer state for democratisation in sub-Saharan Africa, the country has already organised, on time and peacefully, four presidential, five legislative, and in 2002 and 2008 its first communal and municipal elections.

The EU fights famine – and the causes of famine – in the Horn of Africa


The EU is providing nearly €1 billion of immediate humanitarian aid, and long-term development and capacity-building support. It calls on its African and international partners to do the same.

A helping hand for the world’s indigenous people


As countries mark the International Day of the World’s Indigenous People on 9 August, the EU is taking stock of its activities offering political and practical support, and raising awareness.

New funding instruments for EU external action


The European Commission has proposed allocating €70 billion to EU external action activities between 2014 and 2020. The proposal is now being discussed by EU Member States and the European Parliament.

The world at 7 billion – what is the EU doing?


By October 2011, the world’s population is expected to exceed 7 billion. With growth come many challenges – not least in ensuring an adequate food supply.

Côte d’Ivoire – the EU's challenge in helping to build democracy


Despite its economic prosperity during its first decades of independence, Côte d’Ivoire was one of the last countries in Africa to move towards democracy. Under a single party regime from 1960 to 1990, President Houphoët-Boigny and his Parti Démocratique de la Côte d'Ivoire (PDCI) won six presidential and six parliamentary elections, unopposed. In effect, nothing was at stake in these elections, in which even non national residents (an estimated 25% of the population) were allowed to vote.

EU stands shoulder-to-shoulder with South Sudan (updated 11/7/2011)


EU High Representative Catherine Ashton took part in the celebrations for the independence of South Sudan on 9 July, reiterating the intention of the EU to continue support and develop a regular dialogue with the new state.

Friends of Zimbabwe meet to discuss developments


On 28 June 2011, Nick Westcott, EEAS Managing Director for Africa hosted a meeting of the Friends of Zimbabwe, a group of countries and organisations among which the Africa Development Bank, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, EU, Finland, France, Italy, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, Norway, OCHA, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland , UN, UK, USA and the World Bank.

Officers of the Congolese judiciary police better prepared to investigate cases of sexual violence


A group of 50 officers from the Congolese judiciary police have followed an eight weeks course in Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, an initiative that contributes to improve the capacity of the Congolese National Police to investigate cases of sexual violence. These officers will now return to their home provinces, where they will have the responsibility to ensure the training of 600 men and women from the local judiciary police.

EU confirms commitment to southern neighbourhood, strengthens sanctions against Syria


EU leaders have today confirmed the commitment of the European Union to its southern neighbourhood.   The European Council welcomed the process of democratic reform already underway in some countries, while sending a tough message on Libya and especially Syria.  This followed the adoption of further sanctions against the Syrian regime yesterday.   EU Heads of State and Government also welcomed the new strategy for the European Neighbourhood Policy presented by HR/VP Ashton and the European Commission, and called for rapid progress on the plan.

EU and Russia move ahead in strategic partnership


Deepening economic ties, modernisation efforts in Russia, and developments in North Africa and the Middle East are on the agenda for the 2011 EU-Russia Summit, taking place on 9 and 10 June in Nizhny Novgorod, Russia.

A new response to a changing Neighbourhood


A new and ambitious European Neighbourhood Policy seeks to strengthen relationships between the EU and countries in its neighbourhood with more funds, but also greater accountability.

EU High Representative Catherine Ashton opens European Union office in Benghazi (updated)


Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Commission Vice-President, will open an EU office in Benghazi on Sunday. The office will be initially located in the Tibesti Hotel in central Benghazi which is home to UN and international agencies, the EU's Humanitarian Aid Agency ECHO and diplomats from national governments. The office will foster EU assistance in coordination with Member States and other international organisations.

Our voice at the United Nations


On 3rd of May 2011 there were lots of things happening around the world. For the European Union’s diplomatic representation it was a good day. The UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the EU’s participation in the work of the UN General Assembly.

EU-China Strategic Dialogue: HRVP Ashton hosts China's top foreign affairs official in Budapest - 12 May 2011


Catherine Ashton, EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Commission Vice-President, will host Chinese State Councillor Dai Bingguo -- China's highest-ranking foreign policy official -- in Budapest on Thursday (May 12) in the context of the EU-China Strategic Dialogue.

Celebrating Europe Day – at home and abroad


On Europe Day, the European Union takes the opportunity to remember where it came from. But above all, it can look at how far it has come,’   writes HR Catherine Ashton in an article published around the world on 9 May. 

Developments in Libya: an overview of the EU's response (updated: 14 April)


Foreign affairs ministers meeting on 12 April called for an immediate ceasefire and respect for human rights in Libya. Those working within the regime face a choice: to continue to associate themselves with the brutal repression of Colonel Gaddafi or to work for an orderly transition to democracy.

EU continues support for victims of landmines


Every year 10 000 people lose their lives due to landmines. Many more suffer  irreversible injuries or are affected by the loss of a loved one. A large proportion of those killed or injured are civilians, and include women and children.

Developments in Libya: an overview of the EU's response


The Council adopted a decision on 1 April 2011 concerning a European Union military operation in support of humanitarian assistance in Libya (Operation EUFOR Libya). If requested to do so by the United Nations, EUFOR Libya will contribute to the safe movement and evacuation of displaced persons and support humanitarian agencies in their activities in the region.

EU's efforts to help Japan


At the spring summit on 24-25 March, EU leaders repeated their sympathy for and solidarity with the Japanese people. The EU stands ready to support the country in overcoming the tragic consequences of the earthquake and the tsunami.In response to a request from the Japanese government, relief supplies are being mobilised. "As true friends of Japan, we restate the strategic importance of the EU-Japan relationship," said Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council.

Developments in Libya: an overview of the EU's response (updated 25 March)


The political objectives, set by the extraordinary European Council on 11 March, remain unchanged: Gaddafi must go and the European Union wants a political transition, led by Libyans themselves, and based on a broad political dialogue, said Herman Van Rompuy, President of the European Council, at the end of the first day of the spring EU summit (24 - 25 March).

Developments in Libya: an overview of the EU's response (updated 30 March)


The London Conference on Libya held on 29 March agreed to establish an international contact group with the participation of the EU and key organisations like the United Nations, the African Union and the Arab League as well as other relevant partners and EU member states.

Developments in Libya: an overview of the EU's response - (updated 21 March)


On 21 March, the Foreign Affairs Council adopted conclusions on Libya and a decision to extend restrictive measures (the travel ban and the freeze on assets) on further 11 people and 9 entities.

Help for Japan


EU responds quickly to Japan's call for help as the country struggles with the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami on 11 March, including the crisis at some of its nuclear plants.

Europe stands ready to help Japan


As Japan begins to tackle the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and tsunami of 11 March, the EU is preparing to deploy both experts and equipment.

Developments in Libya: an overview of the EU's response


As fighting goes on in Libya, the European Union has imposed sanctions against the Libyan leadership and will extend them this week. In a spirit of solidarity, the member states are coordinating repatriation of their nationals and are running a joint border-control operation in Italy. Humanitarian aid is being sent to the region.  On 11 March, EU leaders will meet to discuss the Union's response to events in Libya and in the wider region.

EU celebrates International Women’s Day at home and abroad


The first International Women’s Day was celebrated in 1911. Today it is celebrated the world over, and recognised by the United Nations as the Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

EU expresses support to the people of Egypt


‘I believe it is important that the European Union stands ready to assist Egypt now, and, of course, into the future,’ said EU High Representative Catherine Ashton on 31 January.

EU responds to election violence in Belarus


EU foreign ministers have agreed on restrictive measures against certain officials within Belarus following the violent aftermath of the presidential elections in December.

Haiti one year on


As images of the devastation and suffering were beamed around the globe in January 2010, the world watched in horror. One year on, in 2011, day-to-day life remains challenging for many Haitians, but support provided by the EU and others has made a huge difference.

Europe-China Year of Youth kicks off


The year is intended to promote contacts, dialogue, mutual understanding and cooperation.