Tag Archives: UK

UK Conservative MP stabbed in church

Brussels 16.10.2021 The president of the European Parliament David Sassoli expressed his sorrow, reacting upon the news of knife stabbing of the UK MP Sr David Amess, who has died from the wounds in his constituency in Essex.
“Deeply shocked and saddened by the news that British MP Sir David Amess has been murdered while doing his job this afternoon. All our thoughts are with his family and friends” Sassoli wrote on his Twitter micro blog.

Politicians have paid tribute to Conservative MP Sir David Amess, who has died after being stabbed in his constituency in Essex.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he was one of the “one of the kindest, nicest, most gentle people in politics”.

Commons Speaker Sir Lindsay Hoyle said the “much-loved” MP was a “bright light of Parliament”.

And Labour’s Sir Keir Starmer hailed his “profound sense of public duty”.

Sir David was stabbed whilst holding a constituency surgery, where voters can meet their local MP and discuss concerns.

Police said a 25-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder after the attack at a church in Leigh-on-Sea. A number of sources claim that the attacker was a Somali Islamist.

AUKUS: France geopolitical response

Brussels 14.10.2021 Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann OPINION: What is France and Europe response to AUKUS? Non-alignment and a pivot to Russia. Within the framework of the Indo-Pacific strategy, the alliance of the three Anglo-Saxon states, the United States (USA), Australia (AU) and the United Kingdom (UK) – AUKUS -has been implemented to the detriment of France and the European Union, which have been left out. What geopolitical response could be envisaged for France and its close European and Asian partners?

France, as a balancing power, should seek to avoid the hegemony of both China and the Anglo-Saxons and promote a policy of non-alignment with Germany, Italy, Hungary and Russia in Europe, and India, Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam and New Zealand in Asia, as well as all the states that do not wish to be dragged into a confrontation, in order to avoid an American-Chinese condominium. The principle of variable coalitions should be preferred to the illusory unity of the European Union or NATO on this issue.

The question of the inadequacy of the priorities of NATO and the EU, organisations created in the context of the Cold War, in the new European and global geopolitical configuration is clearly posed for France. A reform of the European Union is therefore necessary for its adaptation to the emerging multi-polar world and its role should above all accompany the objective of strategic autonomy of the most ambitious member states. The reinforcement of cooperation programmes in the field of defence is necessary, above all at the bilateral level, within restricted coalitions and when possible at the EU level to promote more strategic independence for France and its European partners, in parallel with a rapprochement on the perceptions of security and the geopolitical aims of the European project, which are currently too divergent.

Russia has already announced its intention to adopt a non-alignment posture in an event of a strengthening of the American-Chinese confrontation. In Europe and in the world, it is therefore also with a pivot from France to Russia that France could widen its margin of manoeuvre, preferably with Germany. A Franco-Russian rapprochement would re-establish a relative balance with the Anglo-Saxons and Germany, and reduce the risk of too close a tactical understanding between Russia and China, with the more distant goal of promoting a new European security architecture.

Pierre-Emmanuel Thomann – Doctor in geopolitics, and expert on European and global issues.

New Northern Ireland Protocol

Brussels 13.10.2021 The UK Brexit Minister Lord Frost has proposed plans for an entirely new protocol to replace the existing Northern Ireland Protocol. In a speech to diplomats in Portugal on Tuesday, October 12, he described his new legal text as “a better way forward”.

The protocol is the special Brexit deal agreed for Northern Ireland to prevent a hard border on the island of Ireland. Unionists argue it undermines Northern Ireland’s constitutional position in the UK and creates a trade barrier.

In a plea to the European Union to allow for “significant change” to post-Brexit rules governing trade with Northern Ireland, Lord Frost said his proposed text would support the Good Friday Agreement.

The speaker added it was forward-looking, improved on the current “excessively rigid” protocol, and would allow the EU and UK to “get back to normal” by removing “the poison” from their relationship.

UK-Ireland: EU red lines

Brussels 10.10.2021 Ireland’s foreign minister has warned that the UK demands risk a “further breakdown in relations” with the European Union ahead of talks this week aimed at resolving the impasse over the Brexit agreement.(Image above: illustration, skyline).

Simon Coveney posted the remarks on Twitter after the UK’s Brexit minister reiterated his insistence that the European Court of Justice must not be allowed to oversee implementation of the deal. Coveney described this as a new “red line” that will impede progress in the negotiations.

The European Commission is expected this week to publish its proposals for breaking the deadlock over trade arrangements for Northern Ireland, the only part of the U.K. that has a land border with the 27-nation bloc. The British government has sought to renegotiate part of its divorce deal with the EU that requires customs and border checks on some goods moving between Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.

The regulations are intended to ensure goods entering the EU’s single market meet European standards while keeping an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland — a key pillar of Northern Ireland’s peace process. But the checks have cause discontent of Northern Ireland’s unionists, who say they weaken the region’s ties with the rest of the UK and make it harder for businesses to operate.

Afghanistan: Statement by Global Coalition

Brussels 31.08.2021 “The Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh/ISIS strongly condemns the attacks that occurred in Kabul, Afghanistan on August 26, 2021. We grieve for the loss of Afghan and British civilians, and American service members at the hands of Daesh/ISIS terrorists. The tragic loss of life is only compounded by the fact that those killed were endeavoring to evacuate or working to conduct that humanitarian mission” reads the Statement by the Global Coalition to defeat Daesh/ISIS.

“The Coalition and its partners continue to stand shoulder to shoulder, as we did when we fought to achieve the territorial defeat of Daesh/ISIS in Iraq and Syria. Daesh/ISIS remains a determined enemy and we will continue to take necessary action to ensure its enduring defeat. To that end, we are focused on leveraging the Coalition’s expertise and the efforts of its working groups to counter Daesh/ISIS’ global branches, including Daesh/ISIS-Khorasan, and to identify and bring their members to justice”.

“We will continue working closely together under the auspices of the Global Coalition to Defeat Daesh/ISIS to effectively counter this dangerous threat. In that effort, we will draw on all elements of national power—military, intelligence, diplomatic, economic, law enforcement—to ensure the defeat of this brutal terrorist organization. We will continue to apply robust counterterrorism pressure against Daesh/ISIS wherever it operates”.

Gibraltar: EU-UK agreement

Brussels 21.07.2021 Today the European Commission has adopted a Recommendation for a Council decision authorising the opening of negotiations for an EU-UK agreement on Gibraltar. The Commission also presented its proposal for negotiating guidelines.

It is now for the Council to adopt this draft mandate, after which the Commission can begin formal negotiations with the United Kingdom.

Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, the EU’s co-chair of the Joint Committee and Partnership Council, said: “By putting forward this draft mandate, we are honouring the political commitment we made to Spain to start the negotiations of a separate agreement between the EU and the UK on Gibraltar. This is a detailed mandate, which aims to have a positive impact for those living and working on either side of the border between Spain and Gibraltar, while protecting the integrity of the Schengen Area and the Single Market.”

Gibraltar was not included in the scope of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement agreed between the EU and UK at the end of 2020. The Commission committed to begin the negotiation of a separate agreement on Gibraltar, should Spain request so. That is why the Commission is now recommending that the Council authorises the launch of specific negotiations on Gibraltar.

Today’s Recommendation builds upon the political understanding reached between Spain and the UK on 31 December last year. It is without prejudice to the issues of sovereignty and jurisdiction, and focuses on cooperation in the region.

The proposed negotiating directives put forward solutions to remove physical checks and controls on persons and goods at the land border between Spain and Gibraltar, while ensuring the integrity of the Schengen area and the Single Market. The proposals include rules establishing responsibility for asylum, returns, visas, residence permits, and operational police cooperation and information exchange.

Other measures are included in different areas, such as land and air transport, the rights of cross border workers, the environment, financial support, and establishing a level playing field. It envisages a robust governance mechanism, including a review of the implementation of the agreement after four years, the possibility for both parties to terminate the agreement at any time and the possibility of unilateral suspension of the application of the agreement under certain circumstances.

Spain, as the neighbouring Schengen Member State and as the Member State to be entrusted with the application and implementation of certain provisions of the future agreement, will be particularly affected by the agreement. The Commission will therefore maintain close contacts with the Spanish authorities throughout the negotiations and afterwards, taking their views duly into account.

With regard to external border control, in circumstances requiring increased technical and operational support, any Member State, including Spain, may request Frontex assistance in implementing its obligations. The Commission acknowledges that Spain has already expressed its full intention to ask Frontex for assistance.

EU-UK data flows

Brussels 28.06.2021 The Commission has today adopted two adequacy decisions for the United Kingdom – one under the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the other for the Law Enforcement Directive. Personal data can now flow freely from the European Union to the United Kingdom where it benefits from an essentially equivalent level of protection to that guaranteed under EU law. The adequacy decisions also facilitate the correct implementation of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, which foresees the exchange of personal information, for example for cooperation on judicial matters. Both adequacy decisions include strong safeguards in case of future divergence such as a ‘sunset clause’, which limits the duration of adequacy to four years. (Image: London, UK)

“The UK has left the EU but today its legal regime of protecting personal data is as it was. Because of this, we are adopting these adequacy decisions today”, Věra Jourová, Vice-President for Values and Transparency, said. “At the same time, we have listened very carefully to the concerns expressed by the Parliament, the Members States and the European Data Protection Board, in particular on the possibility of future divergence from our standards in the UK’s privacy framework. We are talking here about a fundamental right of EU citizens that we have a duty to protect. This is why we have significant safeguards and if anything changes on the UK side, we will intervene” she added.

“After months of careful assessments, today we can give EU citizens certainty that their personal data will be protected when it is transferred to the UK. This is an essential component of our new relationship with the UK. It is important for smooth trade and the effective fight against crime” Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said. “The Commission will be closely monitoring how the UK system evolves in the future and we have reinforced our decisions to allow for this and for an intervention if needed. The EU has the highest standards when it comes to personal data protection and these must not be compromised when personal data is transferred abroad.”

EU on Apple Daily’s Hong Kong operations

Brussels 23.06.2021 “The closure of Apple Daily’s Hong Kong (pictured) operations clearly shows how the National Security Law imposed by Beijing is being used to stifle freedom of the press and the free expression of opinions. Its closing seriously undermines media freedom and pluralism, which are essential for any open and free society. The erosion of press freedom is also counter to Hong Kong’s aspirations as an international business hub” reads the statement of Statement by the European External Action Service Spokesperson.

“The European Union recalls that these freedoms are enshrined in the Basic Law, and that China made international commitments under the Hong Kong Basic Law and the Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984 to respect Hong Kong’s high degree of autonomy and rights and freedoms, including freedom of the press. All rights enshrined in the Basic Law under the ‘One Country, Two Systems’ principle should be fully protected and restored”.

Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy paper Apple Daily has announced its closure, in a serious blow to the freedom of press.

The publication’s offices were raided last week over allegations that several reports published recently had breached a controversial national security law.

Company-linked assets worth HK$18m ($2.3m; £1.64m) were later frozen. Police also detained its chief editor and five other executives. The tabloid has been critical of the Hong Kong and Chinese leadership.
Its founder Jimmy Lai is already in jail on a number of charges.

The paper’s management said that “in view of staff members’ safety”, it had decided “to cease operation immediately after midnight” – making Thursday’s publication the final printed edition.

Canada-EU-UK-US statement on Belarus

Brussels 21.06.2021 “Today, we have taken coordinated sanctions action in response to the 23 May forced landing of a commercial Ryanair flight between two EU member states and the politically motivated arrest of journalist Raman Pratasevich and his companion Sofia Sapega, as well as to the continuing attack on human rights and fundamental freedoms. We are committed to support the long-suppressed democratic aspirations of the people of Belarus and we stand together to impose costs on the regime for its blatant disregard of international commitments” reads the Joint Statement by Canada, the European Union, United Kingdom, and United States on Belarus. (Image: archive, opposition leader Svetlana Tikhanovskaya).

“We are united in calling for the regime to end its repressive practices against its own people. We are disappointed the regime has opted to walk away from its human rights obligations, adherence to democratic principles, and engagement with the international community.

“We are further united in our call for the Lukashenko regime to cooperate fully with international investigations into the events of 23 May; immediately release all political prisoners; implement all the recommendations of the independent expert mission under the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe’s (OSCE) Moscow Mechanism; and, enter into a comprehensive and genuine political dialogue between the authorities and representatives of the democratic opposition and civil society, facilitated by the OSCE”.

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.

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