Daily Archives: October 9, 2015

Remarks by High Representative/Vice-President Federica Mogherini at the EUISS Annual Conference

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It is a pleasure to be here and thank you very much for arranging this. I know that over the past two days you have been discussing “why strategy matters”. In a world that is more connected, conflictual and more complex, strategy matters to provide us with a sense of direction; to help us navigate choppy waters; to be proactive in the protection and in the pursuits of our interests.

And, I know already what you are going to ask. This is normally the first question I get. It is about interests and values. I know you. So let me be clear: I believe that our interests and our values can only go hand in hand. We have an interest in promoting our values around the globe. And the way we articulate our interests has to embed our fundamental values. So, we need a strategy to protect proactively our interests, keeping in mind that promoting our values is an integral part of our interests. I hope this clarifies (this point) from the very beginning.

Many of you have been advocates of a new strategy for the European Union – for months now, and probably for years for some of you. So I do not need to convince you why this is an important project. Still, I would like to take a few minutes today to outline what we want to achieve with the European Union Global Strategy and why now it is such a crucial moment for doing this.

We live in very un-strategic times. Policy issues get under the spotlight following emotional waves: a YouTube video, or a tragic picture… Sometimes emotions push in the right direction – we have seen it recently – sometimes they don’t. But emotions are never enough. As policy makers, we need to move beyond emotions and think strategically. Reacting to crises is essential. But reaction alone is not enough. This is a basic rule of politics and of foreign policy, since the ancient times. I never quote anyone, but in this case I think I can make an exception quoting Demosthenes, who warned his fellow Athenians: do not behave like the boxer who gets struck and “always clutches the place. He gets hit on the other side, and there go his hands. He neither knows nor cares how to parry a blow, or how to watch his adversary”. We must think about our next move, and the following one. This means being strategic.

Unless we cast our response in a clear framework, unless we make plans to stay engaged even after the eyes of the international media have turned away, we will forever be chasing one crisis after the next. And the list is very long. We cannot let sensationalism dictate our agenda. We need a sense of direction, and a common one; we need conflict prevention and post-crisis management, we need a strong narrative to underpin our day-to-day work. And at the same time, in a world – and in a Union – of limited resources, we need to prioritise. We need to define where we can, where we must, and where we want to make a difference.

Do not get me wrong: I do not believe that more attention from the media on foreign policy is a bad thing, or that emotions on foreign policy are a bad thing – on the contrary. As the link between internal and external security tightens, and the world becomes more connected, more people are beginning to care about what happens elsewhere. And actually “elsewhere” is becoming quite an indefinite criterion. Think of the events of recent months and weeks: it is perfectly clear to everybody that the “out there” often has a direct impact on “right here”. Foreign policy is no longer the exclusive domain of diplomats, or of policy makers, or even of the foreign policy community – that, I see, is very well represented in this room. Foreign policy concerns all of us, European citizens and not only Europeans. And this opens important chances for us.

It opens a chance to show that Europe matters to its citizens. That our foreign policy is connected to our citizens’ needs, to their own priorities. Think of our response to migration. You might be surprised that I give you this example, because this is one of the most difficult issues that we have tackled in these recent months. But think of our naval operation in the Mediterranean, this sends a message, a powerful one, to our Europeans citizens that faced with a tragedy right off our shores: Europe got together, and in less than two months our ships where ready to sail, to chase smugglers of migrants and to save lives. So, in this case our foreign policy helped – I believe – reconnect our citizens to the European project. It is a small part of the puzzle but if you multiply that small part of the puzzle, you might have a good picture in the end.

This is the sense of our strategy, a strategy that is not only about foreign policy, it is not only about our role in the World, but it can be and must be very much about us, about Europe, about who we are, how we work together, what as Europeans we share in terms on common foreign and security policy. It is about making a European public opinion on foreign policy and security policy emerge.

That is why we all have a role to play in shaping it. This is the reason why an EU Global Strategy cannot be drawn up behind closed doors. We are gathering as many voices as possible to feed into the debates on an EU Global Strategy for foreign and security policy. Your ideas, the ideas of the European community on foreign and security policy are a crucial input to this debate and to the strategy that will spring from our exchanges over the coming months. I am here today because I believe that when it comes to strategy-making in the European Union, the process is as crucial as the document that will come out of it.

This is the moment to open up beyond the circles of the foreign policy community and get everybody involved. If we get the process right, it will bode well for the future of the strategy. I want a strategy that responds to the ideas, the fears, and even the dreams of the European citizens, the young and the older generations. The North, the South, the East and the West of our continent, the capital cities and the small villages – not only Europe as we normally think of it, but the Europeans.

The document we are working on will have to be a living document. We will need to have it constantly updated trough time. In these months, we are also putting together a community. A community that will help us review and adapt the Strategy to future challenges. What makes our Union so special is its diversity, the way it brings together different histories, perspectives, and interests, and forges a common vision of the world. We can and we must use this diversity as our main point of strength. The diversity of our backgrounds and of our instruments is our natural resource. It is the European natural resource – provided that we put it in the service of our common purpose, of our common strategy. Let us not forget what we are good at as Europeans. The European Union has many strings in its bow. From diplomacy to development, from trade to energy, from migration to cyber policies. We are still exploring the full potential of the Lisbon Treaty. My task as High Representative, and at the same time Vice President of the European Commission, is to bring these tools together in a coherent way, to form a whole, a European Union policy.

This is the reason why I was determined to work not just on a narrow security strategy, but on a “global strategy”. And by “global” I am not referring only to geography, but also to the whole range of instruments at our disposal. The threats we face are changing in nature. Think of Da’esh. Conflicts for the control of land and resources have made an unexpected comeback in recent years. But at the same time, and in the very same conflicts, we need to cope with new kinds of propaganda and information war. Hybrid threats are the new normal. To stabilise places like Iraq, or Libya, we will need to train their security forces as much as we will need to strengthen their other institutions, or to foster development. Security and defence will no doubt occupy an important place in the strategy. But the value of our work on what we commonly traditionally define security and defence will be enhanced – and not diluted – by being discussed together with other instruments we have and can be complemented.

So, we need first of all to agree on some core principles. The Strategy cannot just list the current crises and explain our relevant policies. This would not be a strategy, this would be a state of play, this would be a collection of Council conclusions. Strategy needs to provide a direction for the future, to tackle future crises and to prevent new ones. As we begin our common conversation of what this should entail, I would like to outline some of the key ideas I would like to see reflected in the strategy.

The first is engagement. In a more connected world we need to engage. We face seemingly innumerable crises – let alone stronger financial constraints. Our instinct can be – and in same case is, in parts of Europe – to turn inwards. But closure is not an option for our Union. Building walls, physical or psychological ones, will not protect us. They cannot keep the messy world outside, while we wrap ourselves in cotton wool. Just think about the phenomenon of foreign fighters: the reality is that our continent exports more than imports terrorism; it is European citizens that go off to wage violent jihad in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere; not the reverse. They have European Union passports. Walls are of little use when there is no fine line separating the inside from the outside. In a world where the traditional boundaries between internal and external policies no longer hold, turning inwards will only make us more vulnerable, not protected.

Or look at it at from a different angle. Closure also means that we will miss out on the opportunities that our global links present. Be it in terms of trade, human mobility or technology – a more connected world offers us, Europeans, unprecedented opportunities. Engaging is a choice, it is up to us. We can make the most of the opportunities which a more connected world presents. Let us not stick our heads in the sand. We must embrace change. Europe has been able to do that is past centuries. We must seek to shape a world order, in which cooperation thrives over confrontation.

The second main principle I would like to see reflected in this strategy, is responsibility. Because we must engage, but we need to rethink how we do so. In a world that is more conflictual and chaotic we need to be guided by a clear sense of responsibility. Now, what do we mean by responsibility? Responsibility to me does not mean that we should carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. And here, let me say that sometimes I have the impression that we move from one opposite to the other. Sometimes we move from a sense of being completely irrelevant and frustrated about not being able to do anything at all, to the opposite, the need to take care of all that is happening in the world. Now, we need to find a balance. A realistic, pragmatic one that, to me, means also an ambitious one. To me, our pragmatic approach means also being very ambitious. But let me be clear on one thing: the illusion of a “global policeman” is long gone. There is no “one size fits all” solution to conflicts. Less still solutions that can be imposed from outside, be it by the European Union or by other global actors. In a world where power is more fractured, global security can only be the result of a collective effort.

We therefore need to pioneer the way towards a new form of engagement in conflicts. In responsibility, in sharing responsibility. A way that works from the bottom up. That supports local and regional initiatives aimed at reconciliation and resilience. We need to work on creating the broader international conditions and partnerships – I will come back to that – to support local and regional peace efforts, so as to embed them into a broader international framework. Be it in Syria, Libya, Yemen or elsewhere, and together with our international partners, we need to think long, act local and broker regional. There is no magic wand solution to put things right overnight, from above. And even if we really wanted to believe in this sort of Cinderella approach, we should remember the magic lasts only until midnight. Then the carriage turns into a pumpkin again. So we would live an illusion.

This brings me to a third key principle: no magic solutions but hard work and partnership. Partnership, I think, is embedded in the European DNA. The notion of partnership. In the face of current challenges no one can go it alone, it is clear to everyone. Nor, in a world that is so much more connected and complex, should we have to. As Europeans we have practiced building common grounds over decades, after centuries of making war. Remaining united as Europeans now is more important than ever. In this regard I am always a little bit surprised – but in the end of the day it is only rational – to see the importance that all of our partners give – for good or for bad – to our internal unity. Ever since the conflict over Ukraine erupted, this is the one demand that Ukrainians have always consistently made to us. Maintaining our internal unity is our strength, this is the one thing that President Poroshenko tirelessly insists on. And I am proud we managed to respond always positively. And let me say, I believe (unity) is also the one thing that President Putin was most probably surprised about.

Forging internal unity within the EU is essential. But in a complex world in which new powers rise and power diffuses, we need to rethink partnerships at the regional and global level too. This means promoting our principles and interest, but also listening to our partners’ views and priorities. A true partnership can never be built on one party determining the rules of the game or the content of the story you want to tell together. Partners are equal, have to be. And the partnership is as strong as each of the partners is. We need strong powers, not to be the strongest part of the partnership.

Time and again, we are learning that the best way to promote our values and interests is through cooperation on a global scale. The deal with Iran shows the way. It shows that multilateralism is still the most powerful tool that we have in our hands, if and when we manage to make it work. We need to keep on that path. Cooperation can benefit everyone and we can pivot a global network of regional and international networks towards a rules-based and cooperative world order. The essence of the European Union, together with the idea of partnerships – I believe – is the win-win concept. Never as today, the world needs it; the peoples of the world need it.

Because when we rethink partnerships we need to reach out much beyond governments. Depending on the challenge at hand, our partnerships can involve states, regional and international organizations, but they can also include civil society and the private sector, all of which are necessary to build stable and prosperous and resilient societies. And let me mention in this respect that the Nobel Peace Prize that was awarded today is, I believe, a very clear reminder of the role that the civil society and the private sector can have in making societies and countries resilient and peaceful.

To conclude, a Global strategy for the Union’s foreign and security policy will help us prioritise and focus our actions, deal with events effectively and shape some of the events of the future. Our strategy will strengthen a common European vision. Today more than ever, we need a common project rather than just a list of things to do together. We need a document that can respond to the challenges of our day and still stand the test of time.

A strategy will not only help us be more effective in facing new and persistent challenges. By agreeing on a joint path ahead, we also have an opportunity to forge a stronger and more effective European Union. Cooperation among the 28 does not mean that national policies should be thrown to the winds. The strength of a Member State can be the strength of the whole Union. Our different histories, geographies and diplomatic services can and should live side by side. They can complement each other, on one condition: that they do not compete with each other. And we have a chance to help our Union somehow to come out of an identity crisis on its own nature.

European citizens believe now that global challenges call for a European response. You see it every day. When we confront all different kinds of difficulties, our citizens tend to turn to Brussels and ask what Brussels is doing. This is positive. This is a demand of Europe we had been missing for many years. We have to respond to that. It is now clear to everybody that we must act together when faced with challenges on a global scale. In times of Euroscepticism, of populist approach or even isolationist narratives, this is not a minor issue. It is about our role in the world, but it is also – and maybe first and foremost – about us. About shaping a common European sense of direction and purpose. Not about us, European institutions, but about us, Europeans.

This is why I am convinced that we need to reach out in this process. Reach out also beyond the “usual suspects” that might be in this room. We do not want to simply receive input or papers – they are welcome, they are more than welcome. But we want to work together on a common vision for our common European role in the world. This is a chance that we cannot miss. To make this common sense of being a community emerge in our continent and in our Union. That is why I am looking forward to engaging with all of you in the months ahead to shape together this common vision. Thank you.

Watch the video:


Another peace deal unravels in South Sudan

NYAL, 9 October 2015 (IRIN) – South Sudan’s latest peace deal is unravelling as fighting picks up and a new declaration by President Salva Kiir threatens the most delicately struck parts of the agreement.

Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and rebel leader Riek Machar, a Nuer, signed a peace deal last month meant to end 21 months of fighting when a power struggle between the two degenerated into violence marked by army massacres of Nuer in the capital, Juba.

Tens of thousands have been killed in the fighting, which has displaced over two million people, according to UN figures.

But the latest deal, backed by the international community, including the UN and the African Union, may be going the way of at least seven previous agreements which fell apart within days.

Over the last two weeks, fighting has broken out in at least three of South Sudan’s states. 

In the northern Unity State, rebel forces, whom analysts say have been recently resupplied with ammunition, stormed the headquarters of Leer and Koch counties last Friday, briefly taking both counties’ main towns. Rebel fighters who have since come to Nyal, a rebel stronghold in the southern tip of Unity state, told IRIN they saw between 30 and 50 dead soldiers from both sides in Leer town following the fighting.

The fighting forced aid groups Médecins Sans Frontières and the International Committee of the Red Cross to evacuate staff from Leer for at least the third time during this war. “Dozens of well-organized armed men” entered the medical charity’s compound where aid workers and patients were sheltering on 2 October, the group said, stealing vehicles, medical equipment, and other supplies after threatening the humanitarian staff. MSF said soldiers also entered the compound the next day.

The rebel fighters in Nyal denied responsibility, saying they had tried to enter in order to look for government officials they suspected of sheltering inside but that they were denied access by the aid workers. The rebels said the government pushed them out of Leer town by the evening.

New displacement

In response to the rebels’ short-lived gains, the government army, reinforced by troops from state capital Bentiu, has swept through Leer county, sending 150 more displaced people to Nyal so far, adding to the tens of thousands already there, according to the local relief commissioner.

They come looking for rebels but in the process they are killing civilians.

Sources in Leer, including the rebel’s county commissioner Kuong Kuony, said the government army attacked Din Din, Thonyoor, Pilinj, and Adok Port this week. These sources said shelling continued yesterday in Adok. Rebel spokesperson William Gajiath further reported clashes this morning in Koch county.

Government officials in Leer were unavailable for comment on the fighting. SPLA spokesperson Col. Philip Aguer did not respond to repeated emailed questions.

One of the newly displaced in Nyal, William Chuol, who previously owned a video hall in Leer town, said government forces burned Thonyoor and shot at civilians. He said he hid in papyrus swamps during the violence for four hours before returning to the town after the soldiers left, where he found eleven dead bodies, including a man and his three daughters and seven members of another family. 

“They come looking for rebels but in the process they are killing civilians,” Chuol told IRIN. 

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), which is mandated to protect civilians, has been absent from southern Unity during this latest fighting. During previous clashes in the same area this year UNMISS patrols were turned back by government troops.

More fighting

There were reports of fighting in the increasingly embattled Western Equatoria State, which has seen rising tension and violence between local armed groups and government forces. UNMISS also reported shelling in Malakal on Tuesday in Upper Nile State coming from the rebel-held west bank of the river.

I’m not trusting this peace. I’m hearing that the government forces are still chasing civilians in Leer so how is there peace?

Amid the influx of displaced civilians, Nyal, a sleepy swamp town full of shady palms and mango trees, is now a buzzing hub for relief activities. Huge Ilyushin jets roar overhead dropping World Food Programme grain while aid workers distribute tarps, dishes, and buckets to the displaced.

Many of the people here are like Elizabeth Nyawich, a mother who arrived two months ago to escape a blistering government offensive which began in May and displaced over 100,000 people. Human rights groups have accused government forces of targeting civilians, raping and abducting hundreds of women and girls, and burning scores of villages.

Nyawich said she tried to survive in the swamps where it was safer, but fled to Nyal once two other children sheltering on their small marsh island died of hunger. She said her own children, ribs showing with distended bellies, were still recovering.

“Look at them, are they healthy?” she asked, adding that she would not return home despite last month’s peace deal.

“I’m not trusting this peace. I’m hearing that the government forces are still chasing civilians in Leer so how is there peace?”

As the military situation deteriorates, the political implementation of the peace deal is also showing signs of weakness. Machar did not sign on to a security arrangement last month, and Ugandan forces who have been supporting Kiir show no signs of leaving by Saturday, as stipulated in the latest peace deal.

New states

In a further threat to the deal, Kiir has unilaterally announced the division of the country’s 10 states into 28, upsetting the accord’s delicately struck power sharing provisions. These gave Machar’s side the governorships of oil-producing Unity and Upper Nile states. But Kiir’s new edict, which carves the country largely along ethnic lines, would split those two states into seven and leaves the Nuer cut off from oil producing regions.

Kiir said the move is meant to “devolve power and resource closer to the rural people,” but it has been roundly criticised. Three top donors, the US, UK, and Norway, said it “directly contradicts the Government of South Sudan’s commitment to implement the peace agreement.”

A group of fifteen South Sudanese civil society organizations urged Kiir to suspend the order, saying the establishment of the new states is unconstitutional and risks further splitting the country by tribe.


Counterterrorism: Preventing the Next ISIL: An Evolving Global Approach to Terrorism

Thank you Dean Najam and to the Pardee School of Global Studies for inviting me with speak with you all.

Today, I would like to describe how the U.S. and our partners are addressing the global threat of violent extremism.

Violent extremists attack in theaters of war and where they control territory, but they also strike in peaceful places, far from areas under their control. Boston, of course, knows this threat firsthand. I was teaching at Harvard two years ago when terrorists targeted our cherished marathon. So many other cities have shared similar horror: Madrid, Aleppo, Oslo, Nairobi, Baghdad, Timbuktu to name just a few.

Like these other communities around the world, Boston has grappled with how best to counter the persistent threat of violent extremism emerging locally. The American approach has largely been to integrate traditional law enforcement approaches with new partnerships with at-risk communities.

These efforts face challenges and some controversy. It is difficult to balance security and freedom, to avoid the appearance of profiling while prioritizing effort, and to anticipate a threat that we know from empirical evidence can take root in individuals from any socio-economic, religious, ethnic, or national background.

Efforts to prevent violent extremism from emerging within the United States are the responsibility of domestic government agencies. But US foreign policy has come to appreciate the need for analogous efforts abroad. I’d like to talk a bit today about how the United States has evolved to define and embrace policies and programs that go beyond killing and capturing terrorists, to preventing the spread of violent extremism – to prevent the next ISIL.

During my tenure as Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights, supporting this evolution has been one of my top priorities.

I’ll begin by explaining why the evolution of violent extremism since 9/11 necessitated a broader approach – what we call Countering Violent Extremism, or CVE. I’ll then clarify what CVE entails in our efforts abroad and describe our successes and challenges in translating this approach into our foreign policy.

After 9/11, the U.S. arrayed a range of counterterrorism tools to keep Americans safe: from airport security and intelligence collection, to military operations, and security assistance. These efforts prevented a catastrophic attack on the homeland and degraded core al-Qa’ida leadership.

Yet as the U.S. targeted al-Qa’ida, its remnants exploited local grievances about insecurity, unemployment, sectarianism, or marginalization — and the general upheaval of the Arab Uprising — to merge with militias, criminal networks, and insurgencies. In doing so, they created affiliates and inspired savage new groups like ISIL and Boko Haram.

The rise of these groups revealed that while traditional, “hard” approaches to counterterrorism remained critical for protecting us from immediate threats, they were ill-equipped at preventing future ones from emerging.

To do that, we needed a broader approach to better prevent people from turning to terror in the first place.

That begins with understanding what motivates individuals and communities to align with violent extremist groups. And here, as my colleague the terrorism expert Jessica Stern has written, there is no simple answer.

Their motives are complex, overlapping, and context-specific. To untangle them, I’ve found it useful to think about psychologist Abraham Maslow’s famous hierarchy of needs. At the bottom are needs critical to physical survival, like food, shelter, and safety. Higher up are more abstract needs for love, belonging, and purpose.

This hierarchy helps explain why individuals with such varied backgrounds have aligned with violent extremist groups.

At the bottom, unmet needs like physical or economic security can act like “push” factors that make individuals or communities vulnerable to violent extremist recruitment. Even when lower-level needs are met, other conditions like socioeconomic and political marginalization can impact higher-order needs like identity and purpose. Further complicating the equation, these grievances can be either real or perceived, experienced directly, or witnessed from afar.

Violent extremist groups can also “pull” individuals and communities to their cause with radical ideologies that often exploit unmet, higher-levels needs concerning purpose or identity.

Each case of personal or community radicalization to violence results from a complex and context-specific interaction between these “push” and “pull” factors. This complexity necessitates a longer-term approach that is at once broader and more creative, but also more targeted and contextual.

CVE attempts to strike that balance in three important ways by expanding the “who, what, and where” of our counterterrorism approach.

Concerning “the what” – CVE is about addressing the “push” and “pull” dynamics that can fuel Violent Extremism. In doing so, CVE seeks to both reverse the growth of active violent extremist groups and better prevent the next generation of threat.

The United States had long recognized the need to address the “pull” factors of ideology and recruitment methods. We had been working to counter the lies and propaganda violent extremists use to lure vulnerable individuals and forge alliances with local communities. That can mean monitoring web traffic or engaging proactively on social media to promote credible alternatives to violence.

In 2010, the U.S. created a consolidated Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications to contest extremist propaganda and misinformation across a range of digital environments. It helps empower credible voices outside government to counter terrorist lies and propaganda online. For example, the CSCC finds vulnerable individuals being targeted by violent extremist groups, trains them to use new communications and social media platforms, and equips them with effective counter-messages.

But addressing “push” factors was a different proposition. Essentially, it meant addressing the underlying grievances that terrorists exploit. President Obama explained that when “people – especially young people – feel entirely trapped in impoverished communities, where there is no order and no path for advancement, where there are no educational opportunities, where there are no ways to support families, and no escape from injustice and the humiliations of corruption – that feeds instability and disorder, and makes those communities ripe for extremist recruitment.” This work often requires filling unmet human needs as described by Maslow’s hierarchy, and these can range from providing security, to expanding economic options, to giving marginalized communities a greater stake in determining their political future.

The Department of State increasingly mobilizes its diverse resources and expertise to advance CVE goals. These range from human rights and democracy programs to strengthening civil society and advocating for marginalized communities, to law enforcement and criminal justice initiatives to promote community-oriented policing and reduce radicalization to violence in prisons, to international exchange activities that convene youth and women leaders from around the world to exchange CVE best practices. Programs that contribute to CVE goals include politically reintegrating communities in northern Mali, strengthening relations between youth and police in Zanzibar, and providing youth in Burkina Faso greater opportunities for civic engagement.

But obviously there are huge human needs that create fertile soil for extremist roots, and we have limited resources to address these potential drivers. Getting the “what” right therefore means investing in analysis. Empirical research can identify the most salient “push” and “pull” factors to effectively target our efforts. This is an area where the academy, as well as NGOs, can help. Evaluation can facilitate course corrections and improve program design. We need to better understand what interventions work – and therefore increase efforts to monitor, evaluate, and experiment.

State’s Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations recently established a new unit to analyze the underlying drivers of violent extremism in different global contexts. This analysis feeds into a new initiative to design and implement CVE programming through an integrated and holistic process. Now, State is launching CVE pilot programs in Africa focused on the most at-risk communities and key drivers of radicalization to violence with carefully tailored, evidence-based approaches. This is where our new thinking on prevention is taking us.

We were slow to fund such efforts, and our investments in preventive work remains modest compared to US investments in hard security – so vital to respond to existing terrorist threats. But as we have watched violent extremism continue to spread globally, infecting new areas and shaping new generations of youth, we recognized the need to simultaneously engage in preventive work. Prevention is vital for helping our hard power tools become more successful. A key issue, which I’ll discuss shortly, is where to target these efforts.

But first, let’s turn to “the who.”

CVE calls for an integrated and holistic approach to address the “push” and “pull” factors that can fuel violent extremism. While governments have a critical role in this work by ensuring security, respect for human rights, and the rule of law, they cannot effectively address these complex factors on their own.

A holistic CVE approach is only possible by empowering a broader set of actors, including civil society, business, religious leaders, women, youth, international bodies and former violent extremists. This is what we are calling a “whole of society” approach.

At the same time, an integrated CVE approach depends on coordination among these various stakeholders. That often requires building trust and repairing fraught relationships between the government and actors in civil society or marginalized communities, as well as safeguarding space for these actors to operate and peacefully express their views.

Additionally, to better facilitate access to and collaboration between these various actors in society, governments need to coordinate better within themselves by breaking down the silos of bureaucracy. Thus, CVE also requires a “whole of government” approach.

It also calls for a network of global partners, including regional and multilateral institutions like the Arab League, United Nations, World Bank, African Union, and World Economic Forum to reinforce the civilian-led components of this approach. Even with our considerable resources, the U.S. cannot and should not do this alone. Violent extremism is a collective threat to global security and requires a collective global response.

And finally, concerning “the where” – CVE calls for broadening our focus to upstream risks by supporting communities actively targeted by terrorist groups. These places are often on the periphery of conflict and terrorist operations and individuals there are highly vulnerable to large-scale radicalization and recruitment.

We’ve seen, for example, how al-Shabaab tries to exploit the socioeconomic marginalization of Somali youth living in Kenya. From its base of operations in Iraq and Syria, ISIL has targeted communities in surrounding countries like Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon for recruitment.

By broadening the focus to these at-risk but largely peaceful communities, CVE seeks to prevent the expansion of terrorist networks by proactively addressing the grievances they try and exploit.

CVE seeks to keep these most vulnerable communities on a path of stability and resilience by empowering partners to help them address unmet needs that violent extremists seek to exploit.

These elements came into global focus at the White House Summit on Countering Violent Extremism last February, where President Obama convened over 60 countries, 12 multilateral bodies, and representatives from civil society, business, and the faith community to emphasize a preventive global approach to violent extremism.

The Summit elevated CVE as an international priority and produced an ambitious action agenda with nine distinct pillars, from expanding research on the drivers of violent extremism, to developing inclusive national CVE strategies, empowering civil society, expanding economic and political opportunities for at-risk populations, and promoting human rights. Eight countries had regional summits to further develop CVE efforts, states, civil society networks, and international organizations rolled up their sleeves on implementation.

Through this process, a new global consensus and architecture to support prevention is emerging. I encourage you to learn more at cvesummit.org

For example, participants gathered again in September in New York to report progress and chart a way forward. By then, the global CVE movement had grown to 100 countries, 20 multilateral bodies, and over 120 civil society groups with much to report.

More than 70 Young leaders from around the world gathered at the first-ever Global Youth CVE Summit to issue their own agenda for engaging youth in the global CVE movement and showcase innovative tools for countering the appeal of violent extremism among their peers.

Local researchers from around the world launched a new learning platform to better share findings and deepen our understanding about the local drivers of violent extremism along with the best evidence-based approach to address them.

Mayors across the globe launched a new Strong Cities Network to identify and share community-level best practices for building social cohesion and resilience against violent extremism.

Just days ago, the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution emphasizing the importance of human rights and good governance for countering violent extremism. In the coming months, Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon is expected to present his plan of action to outline the U.N.’s role in preventing and countering violent extremism.

The World Bank has begun focusing the development community on how to address the social and economic marginalization that can drive violent extremism.

Within countries, a new CVE conversation has helped forge partnerships of mutual interest between civil society and governments, often for the first time. Many countries have developed or broadened national action plans for CVE.

While all of these developments are encouraging, we remain sober about the challenges ahead.

Terrorists take innocent lives every day. Governments face real challenges that require the use of military, intelligence and law enforcement tools. President Obama has been resolute in the fight against al-Qa’ida, and more recently in building a global coalition to fight Daesh or the Islamic State.

Yet at the same time, governments face challenges in avoiding counterproductive second-order effects of their counterterrorism actions. Failing to respect human rights and the rule of law in the name of security can backfire and fuel the lifecycle of terrorism. Examples include racial discrimination in law enforcement, killing civilians in the name of counterterrorism operations, or imposing excessive restrictions on civil society, political participation, and religious freedom in the name of security. At the White House Summit last February, Secretary-General Moon warned how “governments should not use the fight against terrorism and extremism as a pretext to attack one’s critics. Extremists deliberately seek to incite such over-reactions, and we must not fall into those traps.”

Counterproductive practices may not change quickly, and they will be most intractable where states feel most under siege. But the U.S. approach to CVE widens the aperture of what was once narrowly deemed counterterrorism, forging a broader set of partners and tools to help contain current violent extremists and prevent new extremist threats from emerging. By emphasizing the long term security benefits of holistic policies that address push factors, including governing with accountability under the rule of law, the preventive approach has fundamentally altered the framework for evaluating and addressing violent extremism.

The morphing infection of violent extremism over this decade shows that we must embrace a long-term and holistic approach — one that, if we return to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs — better aligns our counterterrorism response with promoting human rights and human needs.

In this sense, CVE is fundamentally positive and proactive: it empowers new states and actors, emphasizes preventive action, and advances our collective security while championing universal values. It seeks to build credible and compelling alternatives to terror for our most vulnerable communities.

As Secretary Kerry has said, “the rise of violent extremism is a challenge to the nation sate and the global rule of law. And the forces that contribute to it and the dangers that flow from it compel us to prepare and plan, to unite and insist that our collective future will be uncompromised by the primitive and paranoid ideas of terrorists, but instead it will be built by the universal values of decency and civility, and knowledge and reason and law. That is what we stand for. That is where we will stand.”

Thank you and I look forward to the discussion.

Syria army in 'vast offensive' backed by Russian strikes

NNA – Regime troops backed by Lebanon’s Hezbollah and Russian air strikes advanced Thursday in western Syria in a “vast offensive” against rebels, as NATO voiced alarm at Moscow’s escalating military activity in the country.

Russia has dramatically stepped up its nine-day-old air war against foes of President Bashar al-Assad, with heavy bombing by warplanes and cruise missile strikes from the Caspian Sea.

A US official said four Russian missiles launched at Syria from warships Wednesday had crashed in Iran, but that was denied by Moscow.

A Syrian military source told AFP that regime forces had advanced in a key mountain range.

“They have seized most of the hilly region of Jeb al-Ahmar,” which overlooks the strategic Sahl al-Ghab plain to the east and Assad’s coastal stronghold of Latakia to the west, the source said.

The plain has been the focus of a months-long offensive by a rebel alliance including Al-Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, Al-Nusra Front.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a British-based monitoring group, confirmed that regime forces had advanced in the area.

Moscow says it is striking the Islamic State (IS) jihadist organisation and “other terrorists”.

But Washington has accused Russia of targeting groups other than IS or Al-Nusra in more than 90 percent of its raids.

In Moscow, the defence ministry said Russia’s air force hit 27 “terrorist” targets in central and northern Syria Wednesday night.

The ministry said it had destroyed eight IS strongholds near populated areas in Homs province, and hit 11 training camps linked to the group in Hama and Raqa provinces.

An anonymous US official said four of the missiles Russia launched on Syria from warships Wednesday instead crashed into in Iran, but did not provide an exact location.

But defence ministry spokesman General Igor Konashenkov said in Moscow that “any professional knows that during these operations we always fix the target before and after impact. All our cruise missiles hit their target.”

There was no immediate reaction from Tehran.

– ‘Consequences for Russia’ –

Meanwhile, US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter forecast Thursday Russia would soon begin to suffer casualties of its own.

“This will have consequences for Russia itself which is rightly fearful of attacks… In coming days, the Russians will begin to suffer from casualties,” Carter said at a NATO defence ministers meeting in Brussels.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said there had been a “troubling escalation” in Moscow’s air campaign.

“We will assess the latest developments and their implications for the security of the alliance,” he added.

“This is particularly relevant in view of the recent violations of NATO’s airspace by Russian aircraft,” Stoltenberg said.

Tensions between Russia and NATO member Turkey shot up this week after Russian aircraft infringed on Turkish airspace at least twice.

The Russian air war has provided cover for Assad’s ground troops, who have lost swathes of the north, east and south of the country to jihadists and rebel groups since the conflict erupted in 2011.

The army appeared to regain ground Thursday, after chief of staff General Ali Abdullah Ayoub announced “a vast offensive to defeat the terrorist groups” and restore control over opposition-held areas.

Although Ayoub did not specify where the operation would take place, state TV said the army had targeted “terrorist positions” in the central province of Hama, killing 32 militants and destroying four armoured vehicles.

Russian and Syrian warplanes also conducted “precise strikes” on Al-Nusra positions in Latakia province, it said.

A military source in the Sahl al-Ghab plain told AFP Russian air strikes had targeted at least three villages there Thursday morning.

– Helicopter downed –

Backed by allied militia and Russian air cover, regime troops have retaken around a dozen villages in Hama, according to Syrian daily Al-Watan, which is close to the government.

At least 13 regime fighters and 11 rebels were killed, the Observatory said.

Rebel forces shot down a low-flying military helicopter, but it was unclear if it was Syrian or Russian, Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.

In Aleppo province, the monitor said a car bombing in the town of Hreitan killed 12 people and wounded a similar number.

Hreitan is controlled by a group of Islamist rebel factions including Al-Nusra.

Abdel Rahman said IS had been blamed for the bombing.

Since September 30, Russia has targeted areas it claims are controlled by IS and “other terrorists”.

But non-jihadist rebels and their international backers insist that most of the areas targeted are not held by IS.

“Greater than 90 percent of the strikes that we’ve seen them take to date have not been against ISIL or Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists,” said US State Department spokesman John Kirby, using an alternative acronym for IS.

One US-backed rebel faction has even accused Russian warplanes of destroying its arms depots and wounding several of its fighters.–AFP


Daily News 09/10/2015

Data protection package on track: Commission proposal on new data protection rules in law enforcement area backed by Justice Ministers

Today, Ministers in the Justice Council have sealed an overall agreement on the EU’s Data Protection Directive for the police and criminal justice sector. Following the agreement reached in June 2015 on the Regulation (see IP/15/5176), today’s agreement means the EU is fully on track to finalise its data protection reform by the end of this year, as called for by the European Council. Commissioner for Justice, Consumers and Gender Equality, Věra Jourová welcomed today’s agreement: “The right to personal data protection is a fundamental right in the EU. Victims and witnesses, but also suspects of crimes have the right to have their data duly protected in the context of a criminal investigation or a law enforcement action.  The common rules and principles agreed upon today will ensure that. At the same time more harmonised laws will also make it easier for police or prosecutors to work together in cross-border investigations and to combat crime and terrorism more effectively across Europe.” The Data Protection Police Directive is a key contribution to the objectives set out in the EU’s Agenda on Security. More information available in the press release and a press conference will be live streamed via EbS at 15:00. (For more information: Christian Wigand – Tel.: +32 229 62253;  Mélanie Voin – Tel.: +32 229 58659)

Employment and social situation in the EU: labour market shows positive signs of improvement for older workers and youth

Labour markets and social indicators in the EU continue to gradually improve, benefitting from the strengthening in economic activity, according to the September 2015 edition of the Quarterly Employment and Social Situation Review. GDP grew by 0.4% in the EU during the second quarter of 2015 compared to the first quarter and by 1.9% between the second quarter of 2014 and the second quarter of 2015. The number of people employed continues to increase overall, with employment rates increasing for all population groups, including notably for older and young workers. Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility commented: “The recent improvements observed in employment are encouraging, in particular for workers aged over 55 and long-term unemployed. These groups often encounter greater difficulties to come back to the labour market and need particular attention. Last month I proposed to strengthen the support given to the 12 million long-term unemployed in Europe. I am optimistic that the Council will agree on our proposal which can contribute to further improvements in employment rates of long-term unemployed before the end of the year”. A press release is available in EN, DE and FR. (For more information: Christian Wigand– Tel.: +32 229 62253; Tove Ernst – Tel.: +32 229 86764)

Commissioner Moedas promotes new EU “Science4Refugees” initiative at G7 Science Ministers’ meeting in Berlin

Today, Commissioner Carlos Moedas, responsible for Research, Science and Innovation is taking part in a high-level meeting of G7 countries’ Science Ministers in Berlin to discuss the contribution of science to solving pressing global challenges. Following the G7 Summit Declaration adopted this June, the topics discussed will address strengthening global research efforts on poverty related neglected diseases; improving global research and digital infrastructures; ocean-related research activities and developments in clean energy. Commissioner Moedas will also use this occasion to present to Ministers the new EU “Science4Refugees” initiative launched earlier this week to help asylum-seeking and refugee scientists and researchers in Europe. The initiative will allow universities and other scientific institutions to voluntarily declare themselves as “refugee-welcoming organisations” and promote potential positions, internships, training courses or other actions available to asylum-seekers and refugees through EU’s online EURAXESS – Researchers in Motion portal. More information about the “Science4Refugees” initiative is available here. (For more information Lucia Caudet – Tel.: +32 229 56182; Mirna Talko – Tel.: +32 229 87278)

Commission adopts specifications for health warnings on cigarette packages

An implementing act adopted today by the European Commission lays out specifications for the new combined health warnings on packages of tobacco products for smoking (in particular cigarettes and roll-your-own tobacco), which are required under the Tobacco Products Directive(2014/40/EU). As stipulated in the Directive, the new health warnings will comprise a colour photograph, a text warning on the harmful effects of smoking and smoking cessation information. These should collectively cover 65% of the front and back of packages, in accordance with the aforementioned Directive. The implementing decision adopted today provides for technical specifications for the layout, design and shape of the combined health warnings taking into account different packet shapes. See a mock-up on a standard cigarette package here. These new health warnings will appear on packages across the EU from May 2016. More information on EU tobacco policy can be found here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

Commission advocates smarter urban mobility to combat climate change and boost Europe’s economy

Today Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, responsible for the Energy Union,and Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, join Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulcin Ljubljana toparticipate in the forum of CIVITAS, a network of 240 European cities. Together they will reiterate the Commission’s commitment to smart and sustainable urban mobility, in line with President Juncker‘s remark that the fight against climate change will be won or lost in cities. Commissioner Bulc and Vice-President Šefčovičwill notably host an event on decarbonisation, focusing on electrification and digitalisation of urban transport. Vice-President Katainenwill present how the new European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Commission’s Investment Plan, can financially support innovative urban mobility projects. Commissioner Bulc said: “The EU will only reach its decarbonisation objectives by enabling a shift towards sustainable urban mobility. Yet smart and innovative solutions also have the potential of creating thousands of jobs and boosting growth. My presence today, along with two Vice-Presidents, illustrates the Commission’s willingness to work across the areas and to pool all efforts to reach this objective. I invite all cities to join us in this”. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Alexis Perier – Tel.: +32 229 69143)

Mergers: Commission approves acquisition of joint control over Koninklijke Ten Cate by equity funds Gilde Fund IV and Parcom Fund IV

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of joint control over Koninklijke Ten Cate by Gilde Fund IVand Parcom Fund IV, all of the Netherlands. Koninklijke Ten Cate is a supplier of advanced textiles and composites, geosynthethics and artificial grass. Both Gilde Fund IV and Parcom Fund IV are private equity funds investing mainly in medium-sized companies. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns, in particular because there are no overlaps between the activities of Gilde Fund IV and Parcom Fund IV and their portfolio companies, on the one hand, and those of Koninklijke Ten Cate N.V. on the other hand. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7769. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386) 

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of VTTI by Vitol

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of VTTI by Vitol, both of the Netherlands. VTTI owns and operates storage terminals for oil products worldwide and a bitumen processing facility in Antwerp (Belgium). Vitol trades commodities and financial instruments relating, in particular, to the oil and gas sector. The companies’ activities overlap in the provision of oil products storage terminals and the production of refined products, in particular bitumen. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns given the companies’ moderate combined market positions and the presence of a number of strong players providing storage terminal facilities for oil products and producing bitumen. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7770. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

Mergers: Commission clears acquisition of GE’s European vehicle fleet leasing business by BNP Paribas

The European Commission has approved under the EU Merger Regulation the acquisition of the European vehicle fleet leasing business of General Electric Capital Corporation (“GE”) of the United States by Arval Service Lease SA, a subsidiary of BNP Paribas SA of France. This transaction consists of the sale of several companies owned by GE which offer fleet leasing services in several European countries. Arval Service Lease also offers vehicle fleet leasing and management services in Europe. The Commission concluded that the proposed acquisition would raise no competition concerns because of its limited impact on the market structure. The transaction was examined under the simplified merger review procedure. More information is available on the Commission’s competition website, in the public case register under the case number M.7715. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: +32 229 80100; Carolina Luna Gordo – Tel.: +32 229 68386)

State aid: Commission approves UK pricing methodology for nuclear waste transfer contracts

The European Commission has found that the pricing methodology for waste transfer contracts to be concluded between the UK Government and operators of new nuclear power plants is compatible with EU state aid rules. This methodology establishes the price that operators of new nuclear plants in the UK will have to pay for the underground disposal of their spent fuel and intermediate level waste in a planned UK geological disposal site. It aims at ensuring that it will be the nuclear power operators – and not taxpayers – who bear the cost of disposing their nuclear waste and that they set aside sufficient funds to cover their future liabilities. Under the EU Treaty each Member State is free to determine its energy mix. The Commission’s role is to ensure that when public funds are used to support companies, this is done in line with EU state aid rules, which aim to preserve competition in the Single Market. A full press release is available online in EN, FR and DE. (For more information: Ricardo Cardoso – Tel.: + 32 229 80100; Yizhou Ren – Tel.: +32 229 94889)

Eurostat regional yearbook 2015: A statistical portrait of the EU across the regional spectrum

The regional yearbook, published every year by Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, provides an overview of European regional statistics covering a wide range of fields. It is thus a helpful tool to understand the regional diversity that exists within the EU. Commenting on the yearbook, Marianne Thyssen, responsible for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobilitysaid: “Despite economic recovery and signs of improvements in the EU labour market, the employment situation varies between the EU Member States. We can observe the same pattern at regional level with wide disparities in employment rates between regions at national level. Through the European Social fund we are supporting regional development, promoting employment and social cohesion.” Corina Crețu, responsible for Regional Policy said: “The annual regional yearbook is an essential tool to assess the impact of Cohesion policy on the ground and to tailor it further in order to better address the specific needs of territories and communities in the future.” A Eurostat press release is available here. (For more information:Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)


Investment Plan for Europe: Vice-President Katainen completes his 28-Member State investEU roadshow in Slovenia

Today, Vice-President Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness, is in Ljubljana today on the final stop of the 28-Member Stateroadshow to promote the Investment Plan for Europe. Vice-President Katainen will meet Prime Minister Miro Cerar, State Secretary at the Ministry of Finance Metod Dragonja and members of the national parliament. Vice-President Katainen will meet with start-ups and SMEs in the Technology Parc Ljubljana. He will also give a lecture at the University of Ljubljana’s Faculty of Economics entitled “Europe at crossroads – Economic, Social and Political Challenges”. The Vice-President will meet with the CEO of Slovenia’s national promotional bank SID. Vice-President Katainen said: “By visiting all 28 EU Member States we have helped raise awareness about the objective of Investment Plan and how it works in practice. Our biggest challenge is to counter the misconception that EFSI financing can only be accessed by governments. This is not the case: we want companies to go directly to the EIB. My advice to Slovenian companies and authorities is to set up investment platforms for specific sectors, like they have done in France for energy efficiency and in the Netherlands for innovative start-ups.” (For more information see the full press release or contact Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Siobhan Bright – Tel.: + 32 229 57361)

Commissioner Moscovici representing the Commission at a ministerial meeting on Climate Finance in Lima

Pierre Moscovici, Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, Taxation and Customs will attend a key ministerial meeting on Climate Finance in Lima today. The session will gather Ministers of Finance from around the world to discuss ongoing efforts to scale-up climate finance, i.e. funding to help developing countries to both limit and adapt to climate change. This is an important milestone on the road to the crucial UN conference on climate change starting in Paris on 30 November, which needs to reach a new, robust climate change agreement. The EU and its Member States are the biggest contributors of climate finance to developing countries, providing €9.5 billion in 2013 in grants and loans. In addition, the European Investment Bank is providing €2 billion in financing for climate projects in developing countries. The EU is firmly committed to contributing its fair share to the international commitment of $100 billion in climate finance annually by 2020. Furthermore, by 2020, at least 20% of the EU budget will be spent on climate action. Read a full memo on climate finance here. (For more information: Annika Breidthardt – Tel.: +32 229 56153; Annikky Lamp – Tel.: +32 229 56151)

Cohesion Policy Open Days 2015: Flagship event takes place in Brussels from 12 to 15 October

The Cohesion Policy Open Days, co-hosted by the European Commission and the Committee of the Regions, bring together 6,000 stakeholders involved in the implementation of Cohesion Policy. On Monday 12 October, Commissioner for Regional Policy Corina Creţu, Commissioner for Innovation and Research Carlos Moedas and President of the Committee of the Regions Markku Markkula will open this year’s edition. Building on the reformed Cohesion Policy for 2014-2020, the 2015 Open Days will focus on how the European Structural and Investment Funds can best contribute to delivering on the European goals of growth and jobs, which is the first priority for Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. The 13th edition of the Open Days features some 150 workshops and debates. Full details, including the Media Programme, are available here. (For more information: Jakub Adamowicz – Tel.: +32 229 50595; Sophie Dupin de Saint-Cyr – Tel.: +32 229 56169)

12-14 October: High-Level Conference draws lessons from Ebola

A conference co-hosted by the Commission and the Luxembourg EU Presidency aims to draw lessons for public health from the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, to improve preparedness and response in the EU for future outbreaks. Luxembourg Health Minister, Lydia Mutsch, will open the conference alongside, EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis. Other key-note speakers include EU Ebola Coordinator and Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides, and Director General of the World Health Organization Dr Margaret Chan. The EU Health Award for NGOs fighting Ebola will be presented after the opening speeches. Four parallel workshops on 13 and 14 October will analyse: (1) the Ebola outbreak as a complex crisis: the EU response and inter-sectoral cooperation; (2) best practices for treatment and prevention including protection of health care workers, medical evacuation, diagnostic methods and vaccines; (3) communication activities and strategies addressed to the public and health professionals; and (4) the Ebola epidemic from a local challenge to a global health security issue. The final output of the conference will inform discussion amongst the Council of Ministers in the EPSCO Council in December. More information can be found here. (For more information: Enrico Brivio – Tel.: + 32 229 56172; Aikaterini Apostola – Tel.: +32 229 87624)

EU Code Week starts tomorrow: bring your ideas to digital life

EU Code Week (10-18 October) kicks off on 10 October with thousands of events all over Europe where people, from children to seniors, can learn how the computer works behind the screen. They can try and create games, build a website or find out about hardware and robots. Vice-President Ansip, in charge of the Digital Single Market, said: “These days, you need digital skills as a basic requirement to get ahead in the modern workplace. It is not just about reading and writing anymore. Europeans need the right skills to get the full benefits from a Digital Single Market. Coding is a great way to start and I would like to thank all the volunteers across Europe who make the Code Week happen“. (See Vice-President Ansip’s blog post: Let’s get Europe coding – and train people for the future). The Digital Single Market Strategy, presented in May, supports an inclusive digital society where people have the right skills to embrace the opportunities offered by the Internet and raise their chances of getting a job.Early next year, the Commission will present an EU-wide skills agenda. On the one hand it will focus action to help more people to develop and upgrade their skills, including basic skills such as literacy, numeracy and digital competences. On the other hand, it will set out measures on how we can better anticipate skills needs and improve the recognition of qualifications. More information can be found here. (For more information: Nathalie Vandystadt – Tel.: +32 229 67083; Marie Frenay – Tel.: +32 229 64532)



Commissioner’s weekly activities