On 16 September, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gave her first ever State of the European Union address. Her vision is of a Europe that drives its own destiny and she offered a realistic and positive plan for that future. A few of the key points of the impressive plan are:
On 22 September, Josep Borrell visited Ukraine for the first time in his role as High Representative. The frontline in eastern Ukraine has been calm for almost two months, marking the longest period of calm since the war started. The EU has been the strongest partner of Ukraine since 2014, in terms of economic integration, support for the reform process, and defence of Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. The EU-Ukraine Association Agreement, which concluded in 2014, is the most comprehensive agreement that the EU has had with any other third country. Since that time, Ukraine has received an unprecedented €14 billion from the EU.
The EU will continue to support Ukraine, but the support provided is linked to the urgent need to enhance the rule of law and develop the fight against corruption. Borrell, in his recent meeting with President Zelenskyy, stated that the EU is not a charity or cash machine, and that the best way for the EU to support Ukraine is to help reform the country. However, it is only the Ukrainians themselves who can implement the reforms - with a stable, prosperous, and democratic Ukraine being the best way to stablise the EU's neighbourhood.
President Zelenskyy's election in April 2019 was a positive sign of willingness from Ukrainians to fight corruption and loosen the oligarch's grip on the country, with the parliament quickly adopting long-stalled reforms in the first few months of his Presidency. However, the pace of reforms has recently slowed down, including a reshuffle in March that dismissed reformist figures.
You can read more here.
On 8 September, the 20th anniversary of the Brussels Economic Forum (BEF) took place. The BEF is the flagship annual economic event of the European Commission for the past twenty years, it has brought forward new perspectives and stimulated the debate around Europe's economic challenges and policy priorities for the past 20 years.
This year was the first time the BEF has been hosted entirely in a digital format and reached a record number of viewers. The 2020 BEF focus was restarting the EU economy after Coronavirus. High-level European and international policymakers, opinion leaders, influential academics, and civil society and business leaders all virtually came together from across Europe to reflect on the economic and social challenges facing the EU.
The main three topics of discussions were:
You can read more, or watch the full event here.
Covid-19 has inflicted huge challenges on all aspects of societies and economies, and academic research is no exception. Pandemic restrictions influence not only the way researchers work, but also create new barriers for interacting with peers, for ensuring continuity in funding of research work, setting-up and pursuing international research collaborations and for disseminating research results – with conferences, meetings, and workshops being cancelled.
EURAXESS has released a survey to gather information on the impact of Covid-19 on researchers' work and mobility. The purpose of the survey is to gather information so that a rational and fact-based dataset can be prepared. The information gathered will be analysed to produce transferrable lessons learnt for researchers to help them cope and thrive despite today's and tomorrow's challenges.
To participate in the survey, please follow the link here.
The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission recently published a report explaining how human mobility explains the initial spread of COVID-19. Countries in Europe all took different mobility containment measures to curb the spread of COVID-19. However, a reliable and consistent method to measure the evolution of contagion at an international level was missing, with a systematic analysis of the relationship between human mobility and virus spread never being conducted. The European Commission asked for this data to help understand the dynamics of the pandemic and potentially limit the impact of future waves.
Using a variety of information factors together with anonymised and aggregated mobile data, the study indicated that mobility alone can explain up to 92% of the initial spread in France and Italy. This means that the mobility restrictions introduced effectively contributed to saving lives. The report also highlighted that internal mobility is more important than mobility across provinces, and with the typically lagged positive effect of reduced human mobility on reducing excess deaths is around 14-20 days.
The full report and findings can be found here.
On 19 September, the EU Delegation to New Zealand participated in World Coastal Cleanup day, marking the end of the online #EUBeachCleanup Challenge. Alongside several Member States, we helped to clean up Lyall Bay in conjunction with the South Coast Cleanup.
It was a great effort by everyone, with over 50 participants turning out to make the most of the beautiful Wellington weather. Remember, the ocean starts with you, and it's not too late to take up the challenge to reduce your water consumption, shop for less packaging, sort your rubbish, and clean up your neighbourhood.
Photos from the event can be found here.
On October 21 and 22, the National Centre for Research on Europe hosts a Model EU at the University of Canterbury. This event will allow high school students from around New Zealand to simulate the European Parliament as they discuss and debate the topic: United for Climate Action! Is the EU on track?
There will also be a Professional Teacher Development Workshop which will provide secondary teachers with EU Studies resources that link to the New Zealand context and curriculum. Registrations are now open. To be a part of this great event or for further information click here.
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