Author Archives: Europe correspondent

EU-UN to enhance counterterrorist cooperation

Federica Mogherini the EU top diplomat, and UN Under-Secretary-General for Counter-Terrorism Vladimir Voronkov met in Brussels to discuss the cooperation between the European Union and United Nations in countering terrorism and preventing violent extremism, as well as UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres’ efforts to reform and strengthen the UN’s counter-terrorism work.

Federica Mogherini and Vladimir Voronkov spoke of possible steps the United Nations Office of Counter Terrorism (UNOCT) could take in further developing global counterterrorism policy, and in coordinating capacity-building efforts undertaken by the various UN entities in support of UN Member States. The EU top diplomat Mogherini confirmed the European Union’s commitment to the fight against terrorism both internally and globally, with full respect for fundamental rights and the rule of law. She underlined the European Union´s resolve to continue to work closely together with UNOCT and the wider UN system in strengthening multilateralism and global governance. Mr. Voronkov confirmed UNOCT´s commitment to play a central role in strengthening the partnership between the EU and the UN system based on shared values, common objectives and priorities.

Their encounter took place on the occasion of the first high-level EU-UN Leadership Dialogue on Counter-Terrorism. The Dialogue initiated a new spirit of practical collaboration aimed at strengthening multilateral coordination efforts in counter-terrorism and the prevention of violent extremism.

Discussions centered on collaboration between the UN and the EU in areas of common concern such as addressing the challenges of retuning/relocating foreign terrorist fighters, counter-terrorism capacity building efforts in Central Asia, South and South-East Asia, the Sahel region and Lake Chad Basin as well as promoting a whole-of-UN approach in preventing and countering terrorism. Both sides agreed on the need to adopt an “all of society” approach to preventing violent extremism and to include civil society organizations, the private sector, think tanks, as well as with governments at national and local levels in the process.

The dialogue was co-convened by UN Under-Secretary-General Mr. Vladimir Voronkov and Mr. Pedro Serrano, the Deputy Secretary General for Common Security and Defence Policy at the European External Action Service (EEAS) with the participation of Sir Julian King, the European Commissioner for Security Union, Mr. Gilles de Kerchove the European Union Counter-Terrorism Coordinator. Accompanied by Mr. Jürgen Stock the Secretary-General of INTERPOL, Mr. Voronkov led a delegation of representatives of 6 UN agencies including CTED, UNDP, UNESCO, UNICRI, and UNLOPS.

Europe attempts to save nuclear deal

A meeting of the Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action #JCPOA took place in Vienna on 25 May 2018 upon the request of the Islamic Republic of Iran in order to review the implications of the withdrawal of the United States from the JCPOA and discuss the way forward to ensure the continued implementation of the deal in all its aspects. The EEAS Secretary General Helga Schmid who chaired the EEAS meeting on behalf of EU High Representative Federica Mogherini has issued a statement:

Under the terms of the JCPOA, the Joint Commission is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the nuclear deal.

The Joint Commission was chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, by EEAS Secretary General Helga Schmid and, following the withdrawal of the United States of America from the JCPOA, was attended by the E3+2 (China, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom) and Iran at the level of Political Directors/Deputy Foreign Ministers.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)’s Director General Yukiya Amano was present at the beginning of the Joint Commission against the background of the 11th report by the IAEA which had just been issued. The participants welcomed the fact that the IAEA has again confirmed the continued adherence by Iran to its nuclear-related commitments. They also commended the professional and impartial role played by the IAEA, the only body charged with the monitoring and verification of the implementation by Iran of its nuclear-related commitments under the JCPOA and UN Security Council Resolution 2231 (2015).

Participants regretted the withdrawal of the United States from the nuclear deal and the announced re-imposition of US sanctions lifted under the JCPOA. The JCPOA is a key element of the global non-proliferation architecture and a significant diplomatic achievement endorsed unanimously by the UN Security Council in its Resolution 2231.

The Joint Commission meeting provided the opportunity to address the unilateral withdrawal of the United States and its consequences, to discuss the way forward, and the continued implementation of the JCPOA with regard to nuclear and sanctions lifting-related commitments, as well as Procurement Channel matters and civil nuclear cooperation.

Participants recalled their commitment to the continued, full and effective implementation of the JCPOA, in good faith and in a constructive atmosphere, and recognised that the lifting of nuclear-related sanctions allowing for the normalisation of trade and economic relations with Iran constitute essential parts of the JCPOA.

Participants reviewed the potential impact of the re-imposition of US sanctions following a meeting of the Working Group on the Implementation of Sanctions-Lifting, which was convened the day before.

In this regard, participants discussed common efforts with a view to practical solutions concerning the following issues within the next few weeks: maintaining and deepening economic relations with Iran; the continued sale of Iran’s oil and gas condensate petroleum products and petrochemicals and related transfers; effective banking transactions with Iran; continued sea, land, air and rail transportation relations with Iran; the further provision of export credit and development of special purpose vehicles in financial banking, insurance and trade areas, with the aim of facilitating economic and financial cooperation, including by offering practical support for trade and investment; the further development and implementation of Memoranda of Understanding and contracts between third-countries companies and Iranian counterparts; further investments in Iran; the protection of economic operators and ensuring legal certainty; the further development of a transparent, rules-based business environment in Iran.

These efforts are aimed at preserving the interests of businesses and investors engaged with Iran. Participants noted that economic operators pursuing legitimate business with Iran were acting in good faith based on commitments contained in the JCPOA and endorsed at the highest level, unanimously by a UN Security Council Resolution.

Participants stressed their commitment to work to ensure that these benefits would continue to be delivered and agreed to this end to deepen their dialogue at all levels, including at the level of experts with a view to finding practical solutions to these problems.

Participants agreed to intensify their ongoing work in the Joint Commission and all its bodies in the format of E3/EU+2 and Iran, in particular the Working Group on the Implementation of Sanctions-Lifting.

As a next step, Iran proposed a Ministerial meeting of the Joint Commission.

#EBS2018: EU preserving multilateralism

The EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini participated in a #EBS2018 debate on the changing role of the European Union at global stage, and challenges to bloc’s defence of a multilateral rules based international order. Mogerini took floor at the European Business Summit in Brussels #EBS2018 together with her Belgium counterpart Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs of Belgium Didier Reynders. “The EU awareness of its own role has changed… in the past couple of years”, – Mogherini said. The EU crucial influence on maintaining multilateralism, liberal democracies, and open societies are the challenges the bloc faces today, she continued.

Mogherini gave special attention to the European values as a binding element for the member-states, describing the organisation as a “family” of nations, which came to “rule together”. “The EU is not only about budget but it is a community of citizens”, the diplomat added.

Pacta servanda sunt. It’s a test on EU, that we can take our own decisions, exercise sovereignty, protect our interests. And show strength. We have challenges, but we can preserve the deal if the Iranians stay in and respect it as they are doing” – Mogherini said,  reflecting upon the situation with the nuclear deal #JCPOA.

Belgium Minister Didier Reynders confirmed that his country will continue contributing in finding multilateral solutions to the big challenges of our times alongside and in support of the European Union, namely in the issues of foreign policy, defence and migration.  He also put forward his proposals on strengthening the rule of law mechanism in the EU – “internal credibility enhances EUs external credibility”, the diplomat said, underlining that the internal strength of the bloc inevitably translates into its foreign policy potential.

 

 

Iranian nuclear deal in focus of EU foreign ministers

The Foreign Affairs Council (28/05/2018) will start with a discussion on current affairs, allowing ministers to review pressing issues on the international agenda.

The High Representative Federica Mogherini and ministers may refer to the Sofia Summit (17 May), recent developments related to North Korea and the situation in Yemen.

Iran

Foreign ministers will continue to discuss Iran and the nuclear deal (#JCPOA) in light of the latest developments, in particular after the US decision to withdraw from the agreement.

This follows the discussion by EU leaders at their meeting in Sofia on 16 May. At this meeting, they agreed unanimously that the EU will stay in the agreement as long as Iran remains fully committed to it.

Venezuela

Foreign ministers will exchange views on the political situation in Venezuela, after the presidential election of 20 May. The Council is expected to adopt conclusions on Venezuela.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The Council will discuss the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo, following up on the Council conclusions of 11 December 2017 and in view of the foreseen elections at the end of the year.

Gaza

Over lunch, foreign ministers will discuss the situation in Gaza following recent developments, including in relation to the move of the US Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem.

African, Caribbean and Pacific countries

The Council is expected to discuss the negotiating mandate for the future agreement between the EU and the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) countries. The current ACP-EU Partnership Agreement, also known as the Cotonou Agreement, will expire in February 2020.

Foreign ministers had an initial discussion during January’s Foreign Affairs Council. Development ministers had a discussion on 22 May 2018.

EU aims at free trade with Australia and New Zealand

The Council authorised the Commission to open trade negotiations with Australia and New Zealand and adopted negotiating directives for each of the negotiations.

Trade agreements with both countries would aim primarily at further reducing existing barriers to trade, removing custom duties on goods, and giving better access for services and public procurement in Australia and New Zealand. The sectors likely to benefit the most from the FTAs are motor equipment, machinery, chemicals, processed foods and services.

The mandates are particularly concerned to protect vulnerable sectors such as agriculture by maximising the benefits of market opening without harming local producers. The mandates do not envisage full liberalisation of trade in agricultural products, which are foreseen as benefiting from specific treatment.

The mandates provide for a comprehensive and modern framework, based on the highest standards of labour, safety, environment, climate and consumer protection.

The Commission presented the draft mandates in September 2017, following successful preparatory discussions which served to define the scope of the future agreements.

The EU already cooperates closely with Australia and New Zealand on economic and trade policy issues in the framework of partnership agreements which were concluded respectively in 2008 and 2017. The EU also has bilateral agreements with both countries on mutual recognition of some technical certificates which, by reducing the costs of testing and certifying of exports and imports, facilitate trade in industrial products. Although generally limited, trade barriers for some sectors, such as agriculture or textile products, remain quite substantial.

Key facts on trade with Australia: The EU is Australia’s third largest trading partner. Annual bilateral trade amounted to more than €47.7 billion in 2017, with a positive trade balance of more than €21 billion on the EU side. EU’s exports to Australia are predominantly manufactured goods while Australia’s exports to the EU are dominated by mineral commodities and agricultural products. EU companies supply commercial services worth nearly €20 billion to Australia and hold investments in the country worth more than €160 billion (in 2016).

Key facts on trade with New Zealand: With annual bilateral trade amounting to more than €8.7 billion in 2017, the EU is New Zealand’s second largest trading partner after Australia. New Zealand’s exports to the EU are largely dominated by agricultural products while EU’s exports to New Zealand are focused on manufactured and industrial goods. For the EU, trade with New Zealand results in a positive trade balance of €1.9 billion (in 2017), and EU companies hold more than €10 billion in foreign direct investment in New Zealand.

UK and Ireland face similar Brexit trade challenges

he United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland face similar trade-related exposures to Brexit a new report by academic think tank The UK in a Changing Europe finds.

The report – Brexit and the island of Ireland – finds Brexit trade-related exposure of the UK varies between 9.8% to 16.3%; in the Republic of Ireland it is 10.12-10.13%. UK is 4.6 times more exposed to Brexit than the rest of the EU; the Republic of Ireland is 3.8 times more exposed to Brexit than the EU; and Northern Ireland is 4.4 times more exposed than the rest of the EU.

 The 10 chapter report is being launched on the day of The UK in a Changing Europe’s Brexit and the island of Ireland conference in which keynote speakers are Rt Hon Owen Paterson MP and The Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP. Other speakers include the former prime minster of Ireland John Bruton, Lord Bew, Gerald Angley from the Embassy of Ireland, Great Britain, Catherine Moroney, head of business banking at AIB and Lord Paddy Ashdown.

The report finds the peace process and Good Friday Agreement are absolutely critical in the Brexit negotiations. Brexit will unsettle many of the assumptions of the peace process around British and Irish identity and may exacerbate divisions. National identity may become a signifier not only of national difference but also of those who are EU citizens and those who are not.

 One of the report’s authors argues that the UK can deliver on the promise of no hard border in Ireland without remaining in the EU customs union or inventing new and complex schemes involving the tracking of individual consignments to their final destination.

 Using a combination of quantitative and qualitative research, the report finds the proportion of people in Northern Ireland wanting to Remain has risen since the 2016 referendum. 69% would vote Remain if there was another referendum compared to the 56% who voted Remain at the time of the referendum.

 Professor Anand Menon (pictured), director The UK in a Changing Europe, said: “This report shows that, whatever the outcome of Brexit, it will impact significantly, and in a number of different ways, on the island of Ireland. It is therefore incumbent upon all parties in the negotiations to deal with the issues with the due care, attention, sensitivity, respect and honesty.”

EU sees “no alternative” to Iranian deal

“We have listened attentively to today’s speech by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, addressed not only to the audiences in Iran, but also to all those in support of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)” – says EU top diplomat Federica Mogherini in her response to US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo speech on application the unprecedented sanctions on Iran.

“The Iran Nuclear Deal and continuing support for it are major achievements of international diplomacy, ensuring that Iran’s nuclear capacities remain exclusively for peaceful purposes.” – Mogherini continues.

“The IAEA has confirmed already 10 times that Iran implemented and continues to implement all its nuclear related commitments, and has inter alia stated that it was granted all the access requests needed to fulfil its mandate.”

“The JCPOA is the result of more than a decade of complex and delicate negotiations, based on dual track approach and therefore the best possible outcome, striking the right balance.”

The European Union is and will remain committed to the continued full and effective implementation of the JCPOA as long as Iran abides by all its nuclear-related commitments, as it is doing so far.”

“This deal belongs to the international community, having been endorsed by the United Nations Security Council. The international community expects all sides to keep the commitments they made more than two years ago.”

“The normalisation of trade and economic relations with Iran constitutes an essential part of the agreement, which should be upheld by the international community.”

“The JCPOA was never designed to address all issues in the relationship with Iran. Concerns regarding Iran’s regional role, terrorism and non-respect for human rights are regularly raised by the EU with Tehran and indeed the EU has in place sanctions seeking to pressure Iran to change its behaviour.”

“Secretary Pompeo’s speech has not demonstrated how walking away from the JCPOA has made or will make the region safer from the threat of nuclear proliferation or how it puts us in a better position to influence Iran’s conduct in areas outside the scope of JCPOA. There is no alternative to the JCPOA.”

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