Russia’s full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine, which began on 24 February, has caused the greatest security and humanitarian crisis in Europe for almost a century. In response, the European Union has demonstrated its solidarity with and support for Ukraine, and its determination to isolate Russia internationally and weaken its capacity to wage war.
In this edition of Europe Calling, we look at the war waged by Russia against Ukraine, and how the EU is responding with unprecedented decisions. Our guests from the EU institutions are Matti Maasikas, EU ambassador to Ukraine, and Maciej Popowski, Director-General for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Negotiations in the Commission. They present to us the EU’s work consisting in supporting Ukraine and managing the consequences of the war.
We also speak to three Ukrainians for their perspectives on the war: Vsevolod Chenstov, Ukraine’s ambassador to the EU; Gennadiy Chyzhykov, president of the Ukrainian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Olena Alekseyenko, a refugee who managed to flee Ukraine with her two teenage sons and is now in Belgium.
More information on the EU support to Ukraine: https://ec.europa.eu/info/strategy/priorities-2019-2024/stronger-europe-world/eu-solidarity-ukraine_en
5. Security and Schengen‘s open borders: a picture of increasing threat with matching drive for reform
In early 2022 Europeans woke to three potentially dire security threats to them and their way of life: more conflict in insecurity in Ukraine, increasing hybrid warfare and cyber attacks, and the possibility of new arrivals of refugees and migrants following the military withdrawal in Afghanistan and the resumption of power by the Taliban.
These threats may have their origin hundreds or thousands of kilometres away. But their impact may be felt far closer to home. Reform of Schengen and management of the EU’s external borders takes on a fresh urgency.
The fifth episode the European Commission’s podcast Europe Calling series tackles these and wider security issues with Vice-President Margaritis Schinas, responsible for Promoting the European Way of Life. Internal and external border management are very much part of his brief.
Speaking with first-hand experience as a Greek national, Vice-President Schinas addresses what he calls a “desperately” needed agreement among the 27 Member States on burden-sharing arrangements for refugees and migrants.
The podcast also features an interview with an Afghan illegal migrant, now a photographer legally resident in Belgium. What were his experiences on the perilous journey from Pakistan to Europe with the help of people smugglers?
And there’s an interview with a leading security expert from the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on how the threats to Europe’s security have evolved significantly in recent years. “We are facing a totally different type of threat…with attacks that do not need major financing structures and are perpetrated by lone wolves,” she says.
4. Front and centre: people with disabilities must be enabled to achieve their aspirations, with Commissioner Helena Dalli
Changing perceptions of people with disabilities, helping to integrate them into employment that matches their ambitions and enabling them to exercise their full rights in a diverse, inclusive society are the cornerstones of the EU’s approach – and a personal commitment by Commissioner for Equalities, Helena Dalli.
In this fourth episode of the European Commission’s podcast Europe Calling, Commissioner Dalli uses the occasion of the International Day of People with Disabilities (3 December) to reaffirm the Commission’s resolute determination to build a union of equality for all individuals, regardless of how ‘different’ others might consider them to be.
The podcast also features interviews with two people with disabilities, who explain the challenges they have observed in the workplace and outline their suggestions for practical and political measures to enhance their lives. The episode is also available as vodcast with subtitles and Sign Language Interpretation.
3. Opportunity amid challenge: Europe’s commitment to young people’s future through social policy, with Commissioner Nicolas Schmit
The European Union’s commitment to its social model remains stronger than ever as the continent emerges into a post-pandemic world.
The recent Porto Social Summit called for faster progress towards achieving the EU’s Pillar of Social Rights, which forms the backbone of the EU’s approach to social policy.
Restoring and creating new opportunities for employment is a key priority for the European Commission, especially in the context of the green and digital transitions at the heart of the EU’s ambitions for economic transformation.
The third episode of the European Commission’s podcast Europe Calling features Commissioner for Jobs and Social Rights, Nicolas Schmit.
In a wide-ranging interview focusing in particular on the challenges of youth unemployment in a post-pandemic age, Commissioner Schmit outlines the EU’s approach to making the Union’s commitment to stronger social rights a reality in people’s lives and livelihoods.
Commissioner Schmit will also be responding to concerns raised by a leading youth NGO about young people’s inclusion in the labour market, and by a priest in Sardinia working at the sharp end of young people’s welfare in the highly seasonal and vulnerable tourist economy.
2. Building back better: post-COVID recovery, resilience and resurgence in Europe, with Commissioner Thierry Breton
The European Union’s focus is shifting from crisis management to promoting a strong, sustainable recovery.
With vaccination gathering pace, the Commission is putting the European Green Deal and digital transformation at the heart of its strategy to future-proof Europe’s economy.
The EU’s internal market – the largest in the world, covering 450 million people – will also be integral to boosting competitiveness, driving growth and creating jobs.
And NextGenerationEU, the Union’s €750 billion recovery plan unlocked just two weeks ago, offers a unique opportunity to confront the continent’s long-term economic and social challenges.
The second episode of Europe Calling features Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, whose portfolio covers everything from cybersecurity to intellectual property, SMEs to space. In this podcast, he responds to questions from entrepreneurs big and small, and outlines his approach to the tasks he faces.
Over a year ago, Europe implemented lockdown measures to control the spread of COVID-19. After a year of uncertainty and abrupt changes in all aspects of our lives, the situation now looks much brighter. The vaccination roll-out is promising, while a new therapeutics strategy presented today foresees measures for speedier emergency EU-wide responses. However, the battle with COVID-19 is still not over. How can Europe improve its responses to health crises and what will it take to create a new normal with the virus still among us?
Tune in to the first episode of the Europe Calling and listen to Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides addressing the most debated questions of today.