Delegation of the European Union to New Zealand



16/07/2021 - 02:24
EU Delegation to New Zealand - Newsletter

No. 241, 16 July 2021

The Decisive Decade: the EU's roadmap to carbon neutral 2050

On 14 July, the European Commission published a suite of proposals to ensure its climate, transport, taxation, forestry and energy laws can deliver a 55% cut in emissions by 2030, compared with 1990 levels. This series of 13 cross-cutting legislative proposals include 8 revisions of existing legislation and 5 brand new proposals. From phasing out the internal combustion engine to forest protection, no sector of the EU economy will go untouched.

The main proposals include tightening the ETS cap on emissions and the phasing out of free allowances, and implementing a carbon border adjustment mechanism on foreign companies importing carbon-intensive products. The package will also set up a new emissions trading system for fuel producers supplying buildings and road transport, and overhaul energy taxation law to phase out tax breaks for fossil fuels in EU aviation and shipping. The EU as a whole will aim to get 40% of its energy from renewable sources by the end of the decade.

By being the first to lay out an ambitious blueprint to deliver on its pledge to become carbon neutral by 2050, the EU hopes to challenge other countries to follow suit. “Europe was the first continent to declare to be climate neutral in 2050, and now we are the very first ones to put a concrete roadmap on the table” said President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. In the lead up to COP26 in Glasgow, the EU’s proposals send a powerful message in global leadership in what must be a multilateral effort to reduce global emissions sufficiently to avert the worst effects of climate change.

EU Indo Pacific Strategy

What the EU can do in and with the Indo-Pacific

High Representative of the European Union Josep Borrell has written on the potential for Europe to step up its strategic engagement in the Indo-Pacific region. This follows the EU Strategy for Cooperation in the Indo-Pacific, which was adopted in April in recognition of the growing importance of the region and the EU’s own interests across it.

Borrell emphasises that economic growth in the Indo-Pacific is dependent on openness, shared security, and stable and shared rules, and that these factors are in the EU’s interest as well. “We will promote multilateral cooperation, working on global challenges, from the pandemic to climate change, from biodiversity to ocean governance to the digital economy. And we will deepen our security engagement, seeking to make that cooperation as concrete as possible” he said.

The EU’s Indo-Pacific Strategy is open to all partners in the region who wish to cooperate with the EU, with a particular commitment to the shared values of democracy and fundamental freedoms. To hear more from Borrell on the Strategy, you can read his full op-ed here.

Trade talks continue in person and online

Damien O’Connor’s June trip to Europe marked the first international travel by a New Zealand Minister since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. The multi-leg trip saw O’Connor meet with an array of senior officials in Brussels, Paris and London to push forward an agenda focusing on both the EU and UK free trade agreements.

While in Brussels, Minister O’Connor met with his counterparts in the European Commission - Trade Commissioner and Executive Vice President Valdis Dombrovskis and Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski. After their meeting, EVP Valdis Dombrovskis emphasised the shared values of the EU and New Zealand, in particular their shared support of a rules based trading system and reform of the WTO. Dombrovskis also spoke to the continued work by both parties towards an ambitious EU-NZ FTA with sustainability at its core. Both the EU and New Zealand agree that they value quality over speed when concluding an FTA.

In Brussels, O’Connor also conducted meetings with key Members of the European Parliament, industry representatives, as well as the Belgian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sophie Wilmès.

In Paris, Minister O’Connor met with his counterpart Frank Riester, Minister for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness. In London, Minister O’Connor met with the UK’s International Trade Secretary Liz Truss.

EU participates at the largest agricultural show of the Southern Hemisphere

Excitement was in the air as New Zealanders from across the country flocked to Mystery Creek in Hamilton this month for the Southern Hemisphere's largest agricultural show. After not being able to go ahead last year due to COVID-19 restrictions, Fieldays was back in full force seeing over 120,000 people over the four days.

To showcase European Geographical Indications, the EU Delegation ran its own stand, “Enjoy it’s from Europe”, where the public tasted GI products such as Bleu d’Auvergne, Gouda Hollande, Feta, Prosciutto di San Daniele and heard how the scheme benefits high quality regional food and drink products. Team Europe received strong expressions of interest from the public in the new business opportunities that would be opened up by a potential EU/NZ FTA. EU Ambassador Nina Obermaier held meetings with the main agricultural lobby groups in New Zealand and spoke at a dedicated EU/NZ FTA event organised by MFAT with open Q&A with the public.

Fieldays is a cross-industry event that provides a platform for cutting edge technology and innovation to answer to sustainability and profitability challenges. Areas such as these align well with the mission of the EU and complements the already well established EU/NZ cooperation on innovation, on which we would like to build further through Horizon Europe.

Watch the full highlights video of the event here.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern speaks to Brussels Economic Forum

The Brussels Economic Forum is the flagship annual economic event of the European Commission. Each year it gathers high-level European and international policymakers, academics, civil society and business leaders to identify key upcoming challenges and debate policy priorities for the European economy. This year's Forum hosted leaders such as Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, Angela Merkel, Chancellor of Germany, and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Director-General of the World Trade Organisation. New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was also asked to speak.

She emphasised the importance of the relationship between the EU and New Zealand in upholding shared values such as multilateralism and upholding human rights. Prime Minister Ardern also pointed to the need to work together to combat key shared issues such as climate change, trade and sustainability, and strengthening and expanding the multilateral trading system.

She explained New Zealand’s COVID-19 economic recovery plan and its focus on increasing the productivity of Kiwi businesses, upskilling workers and investing in infrastructure, with a particular focus on Mā ori and Pacific economies. Prime Minister Ardern emphasised that, while each country has its own unique recovery ahead of them, it is essential that we work together as a global community. “We can recover and we will recover. But we can do it together”. Watch her full speech here.

A roundup of the EU-Canada Summit

The 18th EU-Canada summit took place in Brussels on 14 June 2021. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, and Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission, represented the EU. Canada was represented by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. A sustainable COVID-19 recovery, climate action and democratic resilience were their priorities.

The EU and Canada aim to lead by example in becoming climate-neutral economies by 2050, both committing to fully and swiftly implementing their enhanced 2030 emissions reduction targets/Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs). The two sides will work closer together towards a just energy transition. They are committed to scaling up efforts to meet the climate finance goal of $100 billion per year through 2025, and to scaling up their financial contribution to climate adaptation action.

Shared values drive the EU and Canada to cooperate to address common concerns and challenges faced in relations with China and Russia, and discuss engaging with these countries where possible and in the EU’s and Canada’s respective interests. Read the full remarks by President Charles Michel following the EU-Canada summit in Brussels here.

The EU places increased sanctions on Belarus, international community follows suit

On 23 May, the Lukashenko regime in Belarus conducted a forced and unlawful landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk, Belarus, to illegally detain journalist Raman Pratasevich and his companion Sofia Sapega. Immediately, on 24 and 25 May, the European Council adopted conclusions in which it strongly condemned the forced landing and consequently banned the overflight of EU airspace and on access to EU airports by Belarusian carriers of all kinds. Restrictive measures were imposed on 78 Belarusian individuals and 8 entities, including asset freezes and travel restrictions. The EU imposed additional targeted economic sanctions on 24 June. You can read more about the EU’s response here, and a statement from High Representative Borrell here.

In a joint statement by the EU, Canada, the UK and the US in June, the states expressed their deep concern regarding the Lukashenko regime and its continuing attacks on human rights, fundamental freedoms, and international law. This condemnation was released alongside the implementation of coordinated sanctions against the regime in an attempt to persuade the regime to end its repressive tactics against its own people. In addition, on 12 July the EU Council extended its sanction on Russia, targeting specific economic sectors of the Russian Federation for a further six months, until 31 January 2022.

New Zealand has joined the global community in condemning Belarus by applying travel bans onto 50 individuals associated with Lukashenko’s regime. Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has classed the actions of Lukashenko’s regime “unacceptable” and welcomed an investigation into the forced plane landing.

EU imposes third round of sanctions over the military coup in Myanmar

In June, the European Council imposed new sanctions on 8 individuals, 3 economic entities and the War Veterans Association in relation to the military coup staged in Myanmar/Burma on 1 February 2021, and the ensuing repression against peaceful demonstrators.

The 43 individuals targeted by sanctions are those who are responsible for undermining democracy and serious human rights violations and include ministers and deputy ministers, and the attorney general. Listed persons are also prevented from entering or transiting through EU territory. The EU continues to provide humanitarian assistance, allocating €20.5 million in humanitarian aid this year alone to address the immediate needs of displaced and conflict-affected communities in the country.

New Zealand Foreign Minister Nanaia Mahuta has also condemned the coup and suspended all high-level political and military contact with Myanmar. Similarly, New Zealand’s aid programme continues, but not to benefit the military or government.

Slovenia takes the reins of the Council's Presidency

Every six months a different member state holds the six-month long Presidency of the Council of the European Union. On 1 July 2021, Slovenia took over the presidency of this important European legislative institution for the second time. The Slovenian government has four driving priorities, which will contribute to securing the European Union’s existence and development.

Slovenia seeks to build a stronger and more resilient European Union. This includes plans and mechanisms to reinforce the European Union’s resilience in the face of pandemics and large-scale cyber attacks, underpinned by enhanced autonomy in certain strategic areas. The Slovenian Presidency will also work to drive the recovery of the European economy based on the green transition and digital transformation of Europe, ensuring that the EU maintains its leading role in the field at a global level.

The Conference on the Future of Europe will take place during Slovenia’s Presidency. Slovenia will chair it as citizens share their views about the main issues of Europe’s future. The third priority promotes and raises awareness of the European way of life. Finally, the Slovenian Presidency will advance the EU’s interests and values in the world, in particular strengthening the EU’s strategic alliances and Indo-Pacific Strategy.

The EU Delegation is taking on Plastic Free July!

While the Delegation does its best to avoid single-use plastic at the best of times, this month the whole Delegation is going plastic free! Plastic Free July helps millions of people be part of the solution to plastic pollution – so we can have cleaner streets, oceans, and beautiful communities.

We’re excited to play a small part in this global movement, which has been reflected by myriad policies recently which look to phase out single use plastic. On July 1st, the EU’s ban on single-use plastics such as cutlery, food containers and cotton buds came into effect. The EU’s plastic phase out is part of a wider policy that aims to cut littering of single use plastics by over 50%.

Similarly, New Zealand has recently announced a policy that aims to ban most single-use plastics by 2025.

Auckland events: join our Head of Trade

On Thursday July 29, Caroline Lambert, the Head of Trade at the EU Delegation to New Zealand will be in Auckland for three separate events where she will be discussing climate policy, sustainable finance and the EU-NZ FTA. Details are yet to be finalised, however if you are interested in attending any of these talks please get in touch with the Delegation here and we will send you an invitation once we know more.

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