Tag Archives: UK

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.

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.

Portugal: tourists leave for UK

Many upset British travellers were heading home on Sunday, June 6, from a shorter-than-expected holiday in the Algarve, Portugal, before a 10-day quarantine comes into force early next week due to rising coronavirus infections.

Britain said last week it was removing Portugal from its “green list” of countries that do not require quarantine on return because of rising COVID-19 case numbers and the risk posed by coronavirus variants detected in Portugal.

Portugal had been placed on the green list just weeks earlier, but from 0400 GMT on Tuesday 8 Juin it will shift to the “amber list”, meaning returning Britons will need to quarantine for 10 days and take two COVID-19 tests.

In the Algarve, the favourite Portuguese destination of British holidaymakers, Faro airport had long queues on Sunday afternoon as more travellers decided to shorten their holiday to avoid quarantine.

Faro airport had 55 flights scheduled to the UK on Sunday, with a capacity to transport more than 10,000 people, compared to fewer than 20 flights from Lisbon airport, according to information on the website of Portugal’s airports operator ANA.

The president of Portugal’s hotel association AHP, Rui Martins, said the UK’s decision “will seriously compromise the entire summer”.

“Hotels, particularly in the Algarve and Madeira Island, have started to see massive cancellations,” he said.

JCPOA continues work in Vienna

Brusssels 02.06.2021 The Joint Commission of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) resumes today Wednesday 2 June, in Vienna (pictured).

The Joint Commission is 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 is attended by representatives of China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom and Iran.

Participants 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.

EU Delegation to UK

Brussels 05.05.2021 EU High Representative/Vice-President of the European Commission, Josep Borrell, and the UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs, Dominic Raab, met in the margins of the G7 Foreign Ministers’ Meeting in London, on 5 May 2021.

In a joint statement, High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell, and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said:

“We are pleased to have reached an agreement together, based on goodwill and pragmatism, on an Establishment Agreement for the EU Delegation to the UK. The EU Ambassador will have a status consistent with heads of missions of states, including agrément and presentation of the credentials to the Head of State. EU Delegation staff will have the privileges and immunities needed to function effectively, while allowing for effective administration of justice, and we look forward to moving ahead and tackling global challenges together.”

They also discussed future EU – UK cooperation on foreign and security policy and avenues for stepping up joint work on climate change and climate diplomacy, including ahead of the Glasgow COP26. The Foreign Secretary and the High Representative also exchanged on the Cyprus settlement talks. They stressed the need to build the momentum for a next meeting of the two sides and underlined their full support to the UN efforts in the process.

Provisional EU-UK Agreement

Brussels 26.12.2020 The European Union and the United Kingdom reached an agreement in principle on the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement on December 24, 2020.

The entry into application of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement is a matter of special urgency.

The United Kingdom, as a former Member State, has extensive links with the Union in a wide range of economic and other areas. If there is no applicable framework regulating the relations between the Union and the United Kingdom after 31 December 2020, those relations will be significantly disrupted, to the detriment of individuals, businesses and other stakeholders.

The negotiations could only be finalised at a very late stage before the expiry of the transition period. Such late timing should not jeopardise the European Parliament’s right of democratic scrutiny, in accordance with the Treaties.
In light of these exceptional circumstances, the Commission proposes to apply the Agreement on a provisional basis, for a limited period of time until 28 February 2021.
The Council, acting by the unanimity of all 27 Member States, will then need to adopt a decision authorising the signature of the Agreement and its provisional application as of 1 January 2021. Once this process is concluded, the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the EU and the UK can be formally signed.

The European Parliament will then be asked to give its consent to the Agreement.

As a last step on the EU side, the Council must adopt the decision on the conclusion of the Agreement.

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