Delegation of the European Union to New Zealand



30/08/2020 - 23:18
EU Delegation to New Zealand - Newsletter

No. 232, 31 August 2020

Historic Accord to Rebuild Europe

In July 2020, EU leaders agreed to both a Covid recovery package and the 2021-2027 budget, amounting to a total of €1,824.3 billion. This is a remarkable deal for several reasons.

Next Generation EU (NGEU) is an historic recovery package for the EU. For the first time, the European Commission will be able to borrow up to €750 billion on the financial markets. These funds will be used on loans and grants as well as to support to the longer EU budget programmes, including ReactEU, Horizon Europe. Most of it (€672.5 billion) has an allocation time, with 70% of the grants to be committed in 2021 and 2020 and the remaining 30% in 2023.

30% of the total expenditure is targeted to climate-related projects. The EU's longer-term priorities of green and digital transitions are held strong despite the turmoil of Covid-19.

There is no denying the sheer scale of the combined and complementary agreements. Leaders agreed on the next seven year budget cycle (known as the Multiannual Financial Framework, MFF). The MFF, with a budget of €1,074.3 billion, will fulfil the long-term objectives of the EU, through areas such as the single market, the environment, security and defence, and border management.

"We have reached a deal on the recovery package and the European budget. These were, of course, difficult negotiations in very difficult times for all Europeans. A marathon which ended in success for all 27 member states, but especially for the people. This is a good deal. This is a strong deal. And most importantly, this is the right deal for Europe, right now," said European Council President Charles Michel at the conclusion of the leaders' summit. More detail on the outcomes of this Special European Council is here.

Find out more here.

EU rejects Belarus election result

On 9 August, presidential elections took place in the Republic of Belarus. Credible reports from domestic observers show that the process did not meet the international standards expected of a participating state of the OSCE (Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe). Following protests, state authorities deployed disproportionate violence causing at least two deaths and many injuries. Consequently, EU heads of state and government affirm that the EU does not recognise the election results presented by the Belarus authorities. EU leaders condemned the violence against peaceful protesters and expressed solidarity with the people of Belarus. President von der Leyen sent three messages in support of the people of Belarus:

  • The EU will support those people of Belarus who are fighting for fundamental freedoms and democracy. The EU already supports Belarus extensively though the Eastern Partnership but will now mobilise €53 million to aid people in Belarus throughout the difficult times the country is facing, plus another €50 million in Covid-19 support.
  • The Union will sanction those responsible for violence, repression, and the falsification of the election results. These sanctions will be targeted to specific persons as to not hurt the people of Belarus.
  • Finally, the EU is ready to accompany peaceful democratic transition of power in Belarus. 

Find out more here.

EU Acts: Imposition of Cyber Sanctions

At the end of July, the European Union imposed the first ever sanctions against cyber-attacks. Six individuals and three entities had restrictive measures imposed against them for involvement or responsibility for various cyber-attacks. These restrictions include an asset freeze, travel ban, as well as a prohibition for any EU entity or person to make funds available for those responsible. The ability for the EU to act against cyber-attacks, for which sanctions is one tool, has been in place since May 2019 and this occurrence marks the first time the EU has used it.

The European Union strongly promotes global, open, peaceful and secure cyberspace where human rights and the rule of law is applied, and High Representative Josep Borrell states that any breach is unacceptable as it "…undermines international security and stability and the benefit provided by the internet." It is the hope of leaders of the EU and Member States that these sanctions will deter and discourage other malicious behavior in cyberspace and promote the rules-based order in this area.

Find out more here.

EU response to Lebanon's disaster

On behalf of the EU, Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has expressed condolences and support to the people of Lebanon, for the "devastating catastrophe that has hit the city of Beirut and the country as a whole." In response to the incident, the EU has deployed 100 highly trained search-and-rescue firefighters, provided a military vessel with helicopter capacity, and activated the Copernicus Satellite mapping system to aid in assessing the extent of the damage. The EU has also offered additional teams to help the detection of chemicals, biological and nuclear material. Atop this, the European Commission had mobilized €33 million for medical support and equipment, protection of critical infrastructure, and first emergency needs. Further support is under consideration.

Find out more here.

EU-Vietnam Trade Agreement goes live

On 1 August, the most comprehensive trade agreement the EU has concluded with a developing country came into force. Vietnam is the EU's second largest trading partner in ASEAN, with goods trade worth €45.5 billion in 2019. This agreement will immediately reduce tariffs, and ultimately will remove duties from 99% of all goods traded between the EU and Vietnam. The agreement allows Vietnam a 10-year period to eliminate duties on EU export products, with the EU recognizing the development needs of the country. On top of the economic benefits, there will also be several guarantees including respect of labour rights and environmental protection. This agreement highlights that the EU remains open for business and will continue to promote rules-based trading globally. The EU now has trade agreements in 77 countries.

Find out more here.

#EUBeachCleanup - Coming Soon

Globally, the #EUBeachCleanup goes digital! Every September, the EU organizes this ocean-activism and awareness-raising campaign, and in 2020, the EU is calling for a more localised engagement. Under the headline "our ocean starts with you" the EU invites you to take up the challenge to reduce your water consumption, shop for less packaging, sort your rubbish, and clean up your neighbourhood – you can 'clean the beach from home'. Follow the hashtag #EUBeachCleanup and our social media accounts to follow along.

Here in New Zealand, the EU Delegation and Member State Embassies will join in Wellington’s South Coast Cleanup on Saturday 19 September. Find more details about the event here. Look out for us in our Smurfs tee-shirts!

Find out more here.

Study in Europe - PhD or Postdoc opportunities in Europe open

EURAXESS Australia & New Zealand hosted two webinars on study in Europe. In collaboration with respective embassies, the first webinar presented information for studying in Finland, Germany, or Spain, and the second webinar focused on studying in France, Italy, or Poland. Recordings of the webinars can be found on the respective links. These webinars provided detailed information about doing a PhD or Postdoc at a reputed university in the listed European countries.

Studying in Europe can have a huge range of benefits, including attending prestigious and highly ranked universities to conduct meaningful research and often with no tuition costs. EURAXESS Australia & New Zealand are also hosting webinars in collaboration with Taylor & Francis Group:

  • The first was on 20 August focusing on Publishing in Academic Journals and a recording on the webinar can be found here. Alternatively, you can download the presentation.

  • Upcoming: A webinar on the essentials of how to be an effective peer reviewer is being hosted 3 September at 7:00pm NZST. This is open to all nationalities and disciplines. To register, simply click here.


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