No 153 - 6th July 2017
EU and New Zealand sign customs cooperation agreement
The EU and New Zealand signed an Agreement on Cooperation and Mutual Administrative Assistance in Customs Matters on 3 July 2017. The agreement facilitates trade between New Zealand and the EU by creating a cooperation framework in the area of customs. It will promote modern procedures to make it easier to get goods through customs while helping stop harmful or illegal goods reaching the European market. The agreement will also allow for closer cooperation in the delivery of technical assistance provided to other countries, especially those in the Pacific. The EU and New Zealand will work together to stop customs violations, and ensure that customs legislation is being properly applied.
New joint report compares European and New Zealand qualifications frameworks
A new joint report published by the New Zealand Qualifications Authority (NZQA) and the European Commission establishes a relationship between the levels of the European Qualifications Framework (EQF) and the New Zealand Qualifications Framework (NZQF). The report compares the two qualifications frameworks in order to support more transparent and consistent recognition of qualifications between EU member states and New Zealand. The Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility of the European Commission, Marianne Thyssen says: "The improved understanding of the two frameworks may result in better informed decisions on the recognition of qualifications, and contribute to improved student and labour mobility between European Union Member States and New Zealand."
Big data is a big deal
Collaboration on “Big Data” advances with the presence of two statisticians from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) in Wellington. The pair, Gianluca Mazzarella and Stefano Verzillo (pictured above), will use their time with Statistics NZ and agencies like the Ministry of Education in two ways. Firstly, to demonstrate to European countries how administrative data can drive policy-making. Secondly, the JRC will work in NZ counterparts and will use data to find good results for policy-making. “Big data” refers to the collection of statistics across different areas to analyse social outcomes and potentially improve them. EU-NZ collaboration on big data was highlighted by PM English in his speech on international relations recently.
Political agreement reached on EU-Japan FTA
The EU and Japan have reached an agreement on an FTA at the Ministerial level. Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida met to iron out remaining differences in the trade negotiations. They will recommend that political agreement be confirmed at the EU-Japan Summit in Brussels on Thursday. Japan is the EU's second biggest trading partner in Asia after China and EU exports to Japan are worth over €80 billion each year. The FTA is expected to reduce barriers to trade while upholding safeguards over the EU's right to regulate and set standards. The FTA will also improve access for investors and will include a commitment to fighting climate change.
Europe pays tribute to Helmut Kohl
The European Parliament hosted a memorial service to Helmut Kohl on 1 July. As Chancellor of Germany, Kohl oversaw the reunification of Germany, brought Germany into NATO and worked towards closer European integration. In 1998 the European Council awarded him the title of "Honorary Citizen of Europe" for his work towards closer economic and political union and the introduction of the Euro. At the ceremony leaders from across Europe, as well as the United States and Russia, praised and remembered Kohl for his legacy. European Council President Donald Tusk implored leaders to continue that legacy: "[T]he question about the future of a united Europe must be given a resounding answer: yes. Yes to the Union, yes to freedom, yes to human rights"
Estonian Presidency of the EU Council begins
Estonia began its Presidency of the Council of the European Union on 1 July for the second semester of 2017. This is the first time Estonia has held the Presidency. The beginning of the Presidency was marked by a concert in Tallinn, the Estonian capital, followed by speeches by Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, Council President Donald Tusk and Prime Minister of Estonia Jüri Ratas. In a speech to the European Parliament on Tuesday, Prime Minister Ratas outlined the four priorities of the Estonian Presidency: an open economy, inclusivity and sustainability, security and the creation of a digital Europe and the free movement of data.
EU hosts ASEM meetings
The EU hosted the ASEM Senior Officials' Meeting (SOM) and the first ever ASEM Pathfinder Group on Connectivity (AGPC) in Brussels on 22 and 23 June. Senior officials discussed how to seize opportunities for ASEM and boost Asia-Europe connectivity as global trends make cooperation between Asia and Europe increasingly important, as well as planned for the Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM) in Myanmar this November. They agreed that ASEM should be an important part of the rules-based international order and thus it should improve its processes and focus on challenges where it can make a difference. It was also agreed that ASEM should avoid duplicating efforts and renegotiating issues dealt with in other fora. The 13th ASEM FMM in Myanmar will cover global challenges, common security and regional issues.
EU and NATO cooperation stronger than ever
NATO defence ministers met on 29 June to discuss a joint report on cooperation between NATO and the EU, as well as future cooperation. The report looks at the implementation of 42 operation actions across seven different fields undertaken jointly by the EU and NATO last year. Some of the actions worth highlighting include countering hybrid threats, increased cooperation to defend against coordinated cyber-attacks, coordinating exercises and improving maritime cooperation. Upon arriving at the meeting, HR/VP Federica Mogherini said "cooperation between the EU and NATO has never been so strong, so deep, and so expanded in all fields."
Read HRVP Federica Mogherini's full remarks here.
Trade Policy Officer Vacancy
The British High Commission in Wellington currently has a vacancy for a Trade Policy Officer, B3 (L). More details can be accessed here.
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