Tag Archives: EU

JCPOA talks resume in Vienna

Brussels 20.06.2021 The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) will resume on Sunday 20 June in Vienna. (Image: archive)

The Joint Commission will be chaired, on behalf of EU High Representative Josep Borrell, by the Deputy Secretary General/Political Director of the European External Action Service, Enrique Mora.

It will be attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran.

Participants will continue their discussions in view of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and on how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA.

Russia’s permanent representative to the international organisations in Vienna said a consensus on the revival of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal is “within reach” as the parties to the agreement prepare to meet in the framework of the Joint Commission.

“The Joint Commission of JCPOA will meet on Sunday, June 20. It will decide on the way ahead at the Vienna Talks. An agreement on restoration of the nuclear deal is within reach but is not finalized yet,” Mikhail Ulyanov tweeted on Saturday, using an acronym for the official name of the nuclear accord, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

Also, Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif, who has travelled to Turkey to take part in Antalya Diplomacy Forum in his Twitter micro blog, highlighting the responsibility of the United States, as the party that exited the nuclear deal and broke the agreement, to fix it.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) said in a press release that the JCPOA Joint Commission will resume in the Austrian capital on Sunday, with representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran in attendance.

The meeting will be chaired, on behalf of EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, by EEAS Deputy Secretary General/Political Director Enrique Mora said.

“Participants will continue their discussions in view of a possible return of the United States to the JCPOA and on how to ensure the full and effective implementation of the JCPOA,” according to the press release.

Iran, P4+1 likely to reach agreement on JCPOA revival before Rouhani’s administration leaves office, Foreign Minister Zarif said. Zarif has suggested that Iran and the P4+1 group of countries are very likely to agree on ways to revive the JCPOA before the end of President Rouhani’s office in mid-August.
In recent months, envoys from Iran and the P4+1 group of countries have been engaged in the Vienna talks aimed at returning the US to compliance, according to the Iranian Press TV reports.

A US delegation is also in the Austrian capital, but it is not attending the discussions because the United States is not a party to the nuclear accord.

President Donald Trump abandoned the deal in May 2018 and reimposed sanctions that the JCPOA had previously lifted. He also placed additional sanctions on Iran in relation to the other issues next to the nuclear case as part of the “maximum pressure” campaign.

Following a year of strategic patience, Iran resorted to its legal rights stipulated in Article 26 of the JCPOA, which grants a party the right to suspend its contractual commitments in case of non-compliance by other signatories, and let go of some of the restrictions imposed on its nuclear energy program.

Now, the new US administration, under President Joe Biden, indicates that it wishes to compensate for 45th President Donald Trump’s decision to abandon the deal and make an effort to rejoin it, nevertheless it is demonstrating its intention for maintaining some of the sanctions as a tool of pressure.

Tehran insists that all sanctions should first be removed in a “verifiable manner” before the Islamic Republic reverses its remedial measures.

EU welcomes American tourists

Brussels 20.06.2021 Americans are admitted to visit the European Union again, vaccinated or not. The European Council has updated its list of countries whose citizens and residents should be allowed to travel freely to the bloc’s of 27 states, and the United States is finally on it.

But before you purchase ticket, be aware there may be catches. In fact, there could be 27 different combinations of them. While the updated list published Friday is a recommendation on who may be granted entry based on their home country’s health situation, each EU government makes its own border decisions.

This includes what nationalities to admit, whether to require PCR test or rapid antigen coronavirus test upon arrival, and whether quarantine is mandatory. And while the European Commission, the EU executive branch, emphatically urges countries to coordinate such rules with their neighbours to ensure mobility, that plea has often fallen on deaf administrative ears.

The European Council has officially recommended European Union member states to lift restrictions on non-essential travel from the U.S. That’s welcome news for the many Americans that have been holding out hope of taking a post-pandemic European vacation this summer.

Several others were also added today to the E.U.’s so-called “white list” of nations, territories and special administrative regions from which leisure travel is allowed: Albania, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Macau, North Macedonia, Serbia and Taiwan.

This latest move by the EU institutions have a long way toward restoring Transatlantic travel in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, something which airlines have been pressing U.S. and E.U. officials to actively support as vaccination rates improve on both sides of the Atlantic.

Still, it’s important to note that the Council’s recommendations aren’t legally binding and that each member state is responsible for implementing these guidelines.

Bloc members can also choose to impose added regulations as they see appropriate, including quarantine, testing or vaccination requirements.

Russia exits OPEN SKIES TREATY

Brussels 18.06.2021 “The announcement by the Russian Federation of its withdrawal from the Open Skies Treaty is regrettable and will have a detrimental effect on the global arms-control architecture” read the statement by the High Representative Josep Borrell on the announcement by the Russian Federation on its withdrawal from the Treaty.

“The next Conference of the State Parties will be an important moment to reflect on the way forward following this latest withdrawal. The European Union will be examining the implications this decision may have for its own security and for that of our partners”.

“By providing transparency and predictability, the Open Skies Treaty has contributed to vital confidence building. A return by all to their obligations under this Treaty would strengthen European and global security and stability”.

Russia has notified all the member states about its decision to withdraw from the Open Skies Treaty six months after sending a notice. Therefore, this will occur on December 18, 2021,” the statement says.

Following the federal law “On the Denunciation of the Treaty on Open Skies by the Russian Federation” that has entered into force and in compliance with the established procedure, Moscow has sent notices to Hungary and Canada as the document’s depository states and to the other member states through the embassies in the corresponding capitals, the Foreign Ministry said.

“A request has been sent to the depository states of the Treaty on Open Skies to immediately inform all the member states of the corresponding notice and convene within the shortest time possible stipulated in the Treaty (i.e. in 30 days) a conference of the member states to examine the consequences of Russia’s exit,” the document reads.

EU: concerns about sexual violence

Brussels 18.06.2021 “One year ago, the UN Secretary-General called for a cessation of violence both on battlefields and in homes. Yet his latest report shows that conflict-related sexual violence has continued unabated during the COVID-19 pandemic and remains a cruel and widespread tactic of war, torture, terror and political repression,

reads the Joint Statement by EU High Representative, Josep Borrell and UN Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Conflict, Pramila Patten. The statement is issued on June 18, referring to the International Day for the Elimination of Sexual Violence in Conflict.

(Image: illustration).

“The report records cases of sexual violence against women detained for alleged violations of curfews and quarantines, as well as violations by armed groups that have taken advantage of the pandemic to intensify their operations and gain ground. The pandemic has also laid bare the intersecting inequalities that plague our societies, as compounded by conflict, displacement, and institutional fragility.

“We are deeply concerned about the impact on women and girls of recent events, including the use of sexual violence in the Tigray region of Ethiopia and the persistent threat and occurrence of sexual violence in many countries affected by conflict, including Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Central African Republic, Colombia, Iraq, Libya, Mali, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, as documented in the UN Secretary-General’s report.

“The level of compliance by all parties to conflict with international obligations, including relevant Security Council resolutions, remains low. Yet this does not deter us. We continue our work to implement the Women, Peace and Security agenda, to prevent conflict, and to uphold women’s rights, agency and safety.

“We urge all state and non-state parties to conflict to adopt specific commitments to address conflict-related sexual violence, which must include peacekeeping missions receiving the necessary budgetary allocations to properly implement their Women, Peace and Security mandates. The protection of survivors and a survivor-centred approach, including in terms of justice and reparations, is essential, particularly in fragile conflict-affected settings, and when survivors face multiple forms of stigma and discrimination.

“We are committed to keep strengthening our partnerships with civil society, women’s rights organisations, human rights defenders, peace builders and local and religious leaders. We look forward to the high-level meeting of the Generation Equality Forum in Paris on 30 June to 2 July, which provides an opportunity to accelerate the work to end sexual violence in peacetime, as well as during conflict by mobilising states and other stakeholders.

“Building back better in the wake of this pandemic requires political resolve and resources equal to the scale of the challenge. A gender-responsive and inclusive global recovery from COVID-19 should promote a new social contract in which no one in power is above the law, and no one rendered powerless is beneath its protection. Responses must be comprehensive, multisectoral, age-appropriate and survivor-centred, Survivors’ rights, needs and voices should inform national COVID-19 response and recovery plans.

“On this day, we call on all parties involved in armed conflicts to heed the Secretary-General’s call for a global ceasefire and immediately end all acts of conflict-related sexual violence. We call on the international community to put the safety of women and girls first in the response to COVID-19. The goal of achieving safer, fairer, more secure and more peaceful societies will require the international community to demonstrate sustained vigilance and dedication”.

EU-US: transatlantic partnership renewed

Brussels 15.06.2021 The EU-US summit on 15 June 2021 marked the beginning of a renewed transatlantic partnership and set a joint agenda for EU-US cooperation in the post-pandemic era. The leaders committed to regular dialogue to take stock of progress.

Key summit deliverables include three major new trade initiatives. The leaders agreed to:
– create a Cooperative Framework for Large Civil Aircraft;
– engage in discussions to resolve differences on measures regarding steel and aluminium by the end of the year;
– establish an EU-US Trade and Technology Council;
Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, represented the EU. President Joe Biden represented the United States. It was the first EU-US summit since 2014 and the first visit by a US President to the EU institutions since 2017.
At the end of the summit, the leaders adopted a joint statement.

The European Union and the United States represent 780 million people who share democratic values and the largest economic relationship in the world. We have a chance and a responsibility to help people make a living and keep them safe and secure, fight climate change, and stand up for democracy and human rights. We laid the foundations of the world economy and the rules-based international order after World War II based on openness, fair competition, transparency and accountability. Some of the rules need an update: to protect our health, our climate and planet, to ensure democracy delivers and technology improves our lives.

“We, the leaders of the European Union and the United States, met today to renew our Transatlantic partnership, set a Joint Transatlantic Agenda for the post-pandemic era, and commit to regular dialogue to take stock of progress.

“Together, we intend to: (i) end the COVID-19 pandemic, prepare for future global health challenges, and drive forward a sustainable global recovery; (ii) protect our planet and foster green growth; (iii) strengthen trade, investment and technological cooperation; and (iv) build a more democratic, peaceful and secure world. We are committed to uphold the rules-based international order with the United Nations at its core, reinvigorate and reform multilateral institutions where needed, and cooperate with all those who share these objectives”.

Cornwall G7: tempering ambitions

Brussels 11.06.2021 The G7 summit is being held in these often tranquil, and picturesque coastal communities less than 20 miles/32km from Land’s End in Cornwall. Although 5,500 extra police officers have been sent on errand there are not many around the harbour, and delivery vans are passing through without problems.

Preparations have been ongoing since the shock announcement in January 2021, and now the reality has arrived.

Following the unsuccessful UK-EU talks to resolve differences in implementing the Northern Ireland Protocol, French president Emmanuel Macron has repeated his insistence that the Protocol is not negotiable, according Bloomberg reports.

Macron is set to discuss the issue and the access of French fishermen to UK waters during a meeting with prime minister Boris Johnson on Saturday, June 12, on the sideline of the G7 Cornwall.

The UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson and U.S. President Joe Biden appeared to put their differences behind them for the limelight in Cornwall. Johnson assessed the meeting with the American president as a “breath of fresh air”, reports the Telegraph newspaper.

Despite the previous reports Joe Biden was preparing to play down the differences with his British counterpart over the Northern Ireland Protocol, and the leaders traded compliments, and gallantries to underline the everlasting strength of the Atlantic ties.

Former Prime Minister Theresa May has criticised the “incomprehensible” travel rules that mean the UK is “shut for business”, the Telegraph newspaper reports.

While praising the UK’s advancing vaccine programme, May said that if ministers blocked travel every time there was a new COVID-19 variant, “we will never be able to travel abroad ever again”.

The Prime Minister Boris Johnson is set to make a milestone decision next week on whether to go ahead with lifting the final Covid-19 restrictions on 21 June.

EU: concerns of peace in N.Ireland

Brussels 10.06.2021 Britain should respect its post-Brexit commitments, especially on Northern Ireland and fishing, and the EU is entitled to take action if that should not be the case, said French European Affairs Minister Clement Beaune, who added he was “very worried” by Britain’s behaviour.

“I’m very concerned by the British behaviour so far,” Beaune told the Public Senat TV channel on Thursday, June 10.

Beaune’s comments came as U.S. President Joe Biden brought a grave Brexit warning to his first meeting with British Prime Minister Boris Johnson: prevent a row with the European Union from imperilling the delicate peace in Northern Ireland.

Spain welcomes vaccinated tourists

Brussels 07.06.2021 The Spanish government has published the new requisites for travellers arriving in the country from outside the European Union and countries associated with the Schengen free-travel area. (Image: Valencia, Spain).

As was expected, the text released in the Official State Gazette (BOE) on Saturday states that from today, passengers from risk zones will be permitted to enter Spain if they have been administered the full doses of a Covid-19 vaccine approved by either the World Health Organisation (WHO) or the European Medicines Agency (EMA), more than 14 days prior to arrival.

No proof of vaccination, recovery or diagnostic test will be required from tourists from low-risk zones, said the government in a release, although everyone will still have to fill out the travel form available on Spain Travel Health (SpTH).

Once the European Union’s Digital Covid-19 pass goes into effect on July 1, this will also enable travellers to prove their immunity to the coronavirus if they are required to.

“At ports and airports there will be two control points. Whoever comes from countries or zones not included on the list of risk zones will have access to a quick control with the QR code obtained from SpTH. And once the EU Digital Covid-19 certificate goes into effect, whoever has this document will also have access to this quick control,” says the government statement.

EU-US Summit on 15 June

Brussels 06.06.2021 The EU and US leaders are expected to address a wide range of issues of common concern, including COVID-19, climate, trade and investment, foreign affairs, and common values. The EU will be represented by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel, and the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. The US will be represented by President Joe Biden.

Representatives from Washington and Brussels met in the Belgian capital on Wednesday,June 2, to reaffirm the strength of the EU-US partnership on foreign policy and security issues.

US Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Stefano Sannino, secretary general of the European External Action Service, met as the Biden administration seeks to reassure European allies after the transatlantic relationship took a battering under former president Donald Trump.

Sannino and Sharman called the upcoming summit “as an important step in the revitalized transatlantic partnership.”

Presidents of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen and European Council Charles Michel will host US President Joe Biden in Brussels, however Biden will participate at a NATO leaders’ summit in Brussels a day earlier.

The leaders are expected to hold talks on the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, trade and regulatory policies, as well as various foreign policy questions at the summit.

President Joseph R. Biden, Jr. will travel to the United Kingdom and Belgium in June 2021. This will be the first overseas travel by President Biden. This trip will highlight his commitment to restoring our alliances, revitalizing the Transatlantic relationship, and working in close cooperation with our allies and multilateral partners to address global challenges and better secure America’s interests.

President Biden will attend the G7 Summit in Cornwall, U.K., which is happening from June 11-13, where he will reinforce our commitment to multilateralism, work to advance key U.S. policy priorities on public health, economic recovery, and climate change, and demonstrate solidarity and shared values among major democracies. He will also hold bilateral meetings with fellow G7 leaders, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

From the United Kingdom the President will travel to Brussels, Belgium, where he will participate in the NATO Summit on June 14. President Biden will affirm the United States’ commitment to NATO, Transatlantic security, and collective defense. NATO leaders will discuss how to orient the Alliance to future threats and ensure effective burden sharing. The President will also hold bilateral meetings with fellow NATO leaders.

While in Brussels President Biden will participate in a U.S.–EU Summit, which will underscore our commitment to a strong Transatlantic partnership based on shared interests and values. The leaders will discuss a common agenda to ensure global health security, stimulate global economic recovery, tackle climate change, enhance digital and trade cooperation, strengthen democracy, and address mutual foreign policy concerns.

We look forward to having further details to share about this trip soon, including potential additional elements.

EIB: €10bn AI investment gap

Brussels 01.05.2021 New EIB report: €10 billion investment gap in artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies is holding back the European Union.
Annual shortfall of up to €10 billion in investments to keep the European Union in the global artificial intelligence and blockchain. The European Union only accounts for 7% of annual equity investments in both technologies, while the United States and China together account for 80%. However, the European Union excels in research related to both technologies and has a large pool of digital talent to build on.

Today, the European Investment Bank (EIB) and European Commission published a new study on the state of play in artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies in the European Union: “Artificial intelligence, blockchain and the future of Europe: How disruptive technologies create opportunities for a green and digital economy.” The study was produced by the EIB’s Innovation Finance Advisory team in close collaboration with DG CONNECT under the InnovFin programme – a joint EIB and European Commission initiative to support Europe’s innovators.
Artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies have the potential to revolutionise the way we work, travel, relax, and organise our societies and day-to-day lives. Already today, they are improving our world: artificial intelligence was crucial in speeding up the development and production of COVID-19 vaccines, while blockchain has the potential to not only disrupt the financial system, but also help us track and report greenhouse gas emissions better, optimise commercial transport and create genuine data privacy protection. The further development of both technologies – guided by ethical and sustainability principles – has the potential to create new pathways for our growth, driving technological solutions to make our societies truly digital and greener, and ultimately keep the planet habitable.

The report launched today shows that in comparison to major global competitors, the European Union is falling behind in developing and deploying artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies. To catch up, however, the European Union can build on its leading role in high-quality research and its vast pool of digital talent.

“The real added-value of artificial intelligence and blockchain still lies ahead of us – in industrial, business and public applications. This is where Europe can catch up and even take the lead,” said EIB Vice-President Teresa Czerwińska, who is responsible for the EIB’s innovation investments. ”At the same time, we need to make sure that the development of these technologies is focused and respects our European values. We need to increase our joint efforts. To make this happen, our study shows that amongst other things, we need to invest more and faster, especially in later-stage startups. With the EIB Group, EU countries have the ideal instrument at hand to boost and scale up the development of data-driven solutions, bring excellence in research to the market and help build a greener, smarter society and thus a stronger Europe.

“AI and blockchain technologies are critical for fostering innovations, competitiveness, and sustainable economic growth. They offer unprecedented opportunities as key enablers of the digital and green transformation. It is thus essential to boost investments in both the development and adoption of these breakthrough technologies in Europe,” said Roberto Viola, Director General of DG CONNECT ,Directorate General of Communication, Networks, Content and Technology, at the European Commission.

Is the European Union keeping up in the global artificial intelligence and blockchain race?

The study shows that the highest number of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) involved in artificial intelligence and blockchain can be found in the United States (2 995), followed by China (1 418) and the EU27 (1 232). The United Kingdom is another notable player (495). Within the EU27, the highest number of companies is located in Germany and Austria, followed by southern Europe, France and central, eastern and south-eastern Europe (EU13).
For available financing, it already seems to be a two-horse race between the United States and China: together they account for over 80% of the €25 billion in annual equity invested in artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies, while the EU27 only accounts for 7% of this total, investing around €1.75 billion per year. Overall, according to the study, the estimated investment gap in artificial intelligence and blockchain technologies in Europe could be as much as €10 billion annually.

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