MAREK KUCHCIŃSKI

MEMBER OF THE PARLIAMENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF RP - DISTRICT 22

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News from Europe and the World, 22 January 2021


Budapest (Photo: Julie Ricard from Unsplash.com)

Visegrad Group

V4: On 12 January, the Heads of Parliaments of the Visegrad Group countries held a remote conversation with the participation of the Marshals of the Polish Sejm Elżbieta Witek and the Polish Senate Tomasz Grodzki. They discussed, among others, the epidemic situation, foreign policy, the situation in Belarus and the United States, and the issue of EU enlargement to include the Western Balkan countries. 1 July 2020. Poland assumed the one-year presidency of the Visegrad Group (V4).

Key Presidency Objectives:

1) Coordination of V4 countries in the EU

2) Recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and combating its effects

3) Strengthening integration and cohesion within V4

4) Development of V4 cooperation in the digital sector

V4 focuses not only on areas related to counteracting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but also on issues important for the Central European region and the EU as a whole, such as Brexit, the Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF), cohesion policy, the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), cooperation with the Western Balkan countries and the EU enlargement process, development of the Eastern Partnership and cooperation with the EU's eastern neighbors, especially Belarus. A key challenge for the EU and its member states will continue to be climate policy, including problems of drought and limited water resources, bioeconomy and circular economy, digital agenda, innovation, energy and communications, health, science, culture, defence and security. Additional information on the objectives of the Polish Presidency of the V4 can be found here.

V4: As part of the Polish Presidency of the Visegrad Group (V4), a videoconference of deputy foreign ministers of Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary and the United Kingdom was organized on January 14. The main topics of discussion were: Eastern policy, relations with Western Balkan states, counteracting disinformation, V4 relations with Great Britain after Brexit and transatlantic relations.

Hungary / Poland: A shipment of 7,000 doses of vaccine intended to vaccinate 3,500 people against COVID-19 has arrived in Hungary. 29 thousand Moderna vaccines were delivered to Poland. In both Poland and Hungary, vaccination is voluntary and free of charge. According to official data as of January 13, 309,620 vaccinations were performed in Poland, and 1,051,830 doses were delivered to the country.

Hungary: The construction of Europe's largest rail intermodal terminal has started. The Hungarian media reported that the facility located on the New Silk Road will be the most modern on the Old Continent. The East-West Gate (being built in the village of Fényeslitke, located on the Hungarian-Ukrainian border) will be the first terminal of this kind in Europe, using renewable energy sources and having its own 5G network. The investment is estimated at €61 million, of which the Hungarian government will provide €8.2 million in support of job creation.

Western Europe

The Netherlands: Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte has resigned from his government over the scandal surrounding the unauthorized actions of the Dutch tax authority. The tax office wrongly accused thousands of families receiving child benefits of fraud. As recently as December, Mark Rutte encouraged in his parliament an international complaint against Poland to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) for alleged violations of the rule of law by the Polish government.

Germany: Germany's ruling Christian Democrats (CDU) elected Armin Laschet, prime minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, as their new leader on Saturday, signaling that the center-right party intends to "maintain Angela Merkel's moderate course." Germany's CDU is widely considered the largest political party in the EU.

Baltic countries

Lithuania: In mid-December, the US Army deployed a contingent of approx. 500 soldiers who will remain in Lithuania until mid-2021. This is the third rotation of an American force the size of an armored battalion in the country. The arrival once again in December 2020 of a U.S. Army armored subdivision in Lithuania solidifies the rotational U.S. military presence in the country.

Balkans

Croatia: Croatia's floating LNG port began operations on January 1. Jakub Wiech, energy expert: This is a step to increase the energy security of Central Europe and a blow to Gazprom, which is a monopolist in the region. Central European countries are strongly dependent on Russian gas. This dependence is on average 50-60%, although in some countries (e.g. Estonia or Bulgaria) it is 100%.

World

USA: Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States.In his first speech as head of state, he asserted that he would ensure that the nation was united and that divisions between citizens were overcome.

Russia: European companies are pulling out of the Nord Stream 2 project, which has received the green light from German authorities to resume construction work. Zurich Insurance Group AG announced its withdrawal from the project and will stop providing insurance services for the offshore pipeline linking Russia and Germany, Bloomberg News reported on Saturday. Earlier, Danish engineering firm Ramboll and Norwegian certification body Det Norske Veritas Holding AS also withdrew from the project.

SM

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