European solidarity has proven strong in the past couple of weeks. Thousands of Europeans were stranded in New Zealand and indicated that they would like to return to their home countries. Last week the last few European repatriation flights left the country homebound. We are glad to have played our part in bringing back 13 000 Europeans over the past weeks.
The last Dutch repatriation flight left on Saturday 18 April, bringing back hundreds of Dutch and an additional 70 Europeans. France’s last repatriation flight left Christchurch for France on 21 April. The French government managed to get 400 people on the flight back to France. It was a bittersweet goodbye to New Zealand for many on the flights, as they wished to have seen more of this beautiful country before they left. Despite their disappointment we are glad to have them home safe.
All thanks to strong coordination between the European embassies and the EU Delegation. #WeTakeYouHome. #ThisIstheEU!
The European Union and New Zealand, together with 20 other Members of the World Trade Organization, on 22 April committed to open and predictable trade in agricultural and food products during the current global health crisis with a joint statement.
The statement calls for any emergency measures related to agriculture and agri-food products to be targeted, proportionate, transparent, temporary and consistent with WTO rules. Measures should not distort international trade in these products or result in unjustified trade barriers. Rather, WTO Members are encouraged to put in place temporary working solutions to facilitate trade. Signatories also commit to engage in a dialogue to improve preparedness and responsiveness to pandemics, including through multilateral coordination.
WTO Members, other than the EU and NZ, who have signed the initiative are Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Hong Kong-China, Japan, Republic of Korea, Malawi, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Qatar, Singapore, Switzerland, the Separate Customs Territory of Taiwan, Penghu, Kinmen and Matsu, Ukraine, United States and Uruguay.
Read the statement here.
The European Union is joining forces with global partners to kick-start a pledging effort – the Coronavirus Global Response – starting on 4 May 2020. A global pledging effort to raise 7.5 billion euro to develop diagnostics, treatments and vaccine and deploy them to every corner of the world at an affordable price.
The Coronavirus Global Response is the EU’s response to a world-wide call to action from global health institutions – such as the World Health Organisation – to speed up the development, production, and equitable distribution of tests, therapies, and vaccines. The EU together with several countries are hosting a pledging event to collect the 75 billion euro estimated to be necessary to test, treat, and protect the world’s population from the Coronavirus. The response aims to rally support and raise funds, while also securing a high-level political commitment to give everyone equal access to medicine and vaccines.
European Commission President von der Leyen said on 24 April: “We need to bring the world, its leaders and people together against coronavirus. In just 10 days, we will launch a global pledging effort. A real marathon. Because beating coronavirus requires a global response and sustained actions on many fronts. We need to develop a vaccine, to produce it and deploy it to every corner of the world. And we need to make it available at affordable prices.”
For more information about the Coronavirus Global Response look here for the EU’s Q&A. Find out more about how to get involved on the Coronavirus Global Response website or updates on the event look here.
As the increase in cases is continuously slowing down in Europe and elsewhere it is time to think about the future of the post-Corona world. In his blog post HR/VP Josep Borrell shows that the post-Corona world was already there, the crisis merely amplified existing trends.
The Coronavirus outbreak has shown states the limits of the current neoliberal paradigm of globalisation; open markets, shrinking states and privatisation. Europe has learned that it must go beyond merely protecting its citizens from physical harm, Europe has to be able to protect its most critical sectors from disruption by external forces. That means that European states will have to make a balance between its current open markets and the security of their citizens, governments will have to take on a more proactive role in defending their strategic autonomy, and sometimes they will have to interfere in the market to protect their most critical sectors.
To combat the Coronavirus and mitigate the economic fallout of the pandemic the EU also needs to act at the global stage to restore global governance, as currently global institutions and cooperation have cracked under pressure. The WTO has been criticised in the past years and now the WHO has come under fire, meanwhile the US and China are raising tensions between themselves rather than lead a global solidarity effort. As such, the EU’s role to promote global solidarity has only become more important. However, for the EU to play its role it must first establish its credibility by showing that same solidarity in Europe. At this moment that is not happening, north-south divides are opening up once again and measures to support national economies vary wildly.
Finally, the crisis has intensified the pressure on European democracies. A battle of narratives has broken about between the populist, authoritarian, and democratic narratives. Despite their fact-free simplicity, the populist and authoritarian narratives do not offer us solutions, they only threaten our freedom. Only the democratic narrative that comes together through doubt, deliberation, and debate of Europe’s citizens will retain our freedoms. The EU should show itself to European citizens as a player that made a difference, built on the work of its Member States, promoted solidarity amongst them, and thereby protect the European model. And on this issue, the EU still has much to do.
Read HR/VP Borrell’s blog post with his thoughts on the post-Coronavirus world here.
To further the fight against the Coronavirus the EU launched the COVID-19 Data Portal on 20 April. One of the biggest challenges to research into the coronavirus is quickly sharing data between scientists in a fast moving situation. The EU COVID-19 Data Portal will bring together datasets on COVID-19 submitted to the European Biometrics Institute and other major centres for biometrical data. By allowing scientists to rapidly upload and share their findings in one central point, one of the biggest challenges that COVID-19 researchers have faced will be solved and coronavirus research will accelerate.
The data portal accepts a large variety of different data on the virus. It has already brought together COVID-19 datasets that have been submitted through the European Biometrics Institute’s public databases, giving researchers convenient access to information on genes, protein structures, electron microscopy data and scientific publications.
The Data Portal is an important step in building Europe’s open science cloud that gives scientists from all over Europe a trusted space to store their data and access data from researchers of all disciplines.
If you are interested in collaborating with the European Data Platform send an email to email@example.com. Together we will find ways to defeat this virus. Visit the website of the COVID-19 DATA Portal here.
Nearly 300 Europeans - including citizens from the European Union, Norway, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom - left from Fiji to their homes on a flight chartered by Germany and two commercial flights on 7 April. A big thank you to the European Union Delegation in the Pacific and all other parties involved in organising these miraculous flights!
Following the first cases of COVID-19 in Fiji on 19 March 2020, the Nadi International Airport was closed and all regular flights were suspended. This created a challenging environment for the EU Delegation and the European embassies to help the 1000 Europeans, scattered across 13 Pacific Island countries, that wanted to return home.
The EU Delegation created a repatriation task-force and made contact with the Europeans. The Delegation worked together with Pacific governments, airlines, and Member State Embassies in the Pacific and New Zealand, to organise special flights for those Europeans that wished to fly back home.
The British High Commission also participated by providing consular protection for unrepresented Europeans in Fiji. It will continue to do so until the end of the Brexit transition period.
The repatriation flights flew nearly 300 Europeans from Nadi International Airport to Brisbane, Los Angeles, and Sydney. From there, all passengers caught flights back to Europe.
Flights bringing back European citizens have continued throughout the month, most recently 88 European and British citizens were repatriated from Fiji on a United Kingdom chartered, Fiji Airways operated flight on April 29. In total 574 passengers have been repatriated from the Pacific back to Europe with help from the EU.
Some 10,000 people in the hardest-hit areas of Fiji will have their most pressing needs relieved thanks to the European Union. In the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Harold, the European Union will provide essential household items for affected people: clothing packages, blankets, kitchen sets, water containers, mosquito nets, jerrycans, shelter tool kits, solar lamps, tarpaulins and hygiene and dignity kits.
This humanitarian assistance will be sent to families affected in Southern Lau, Kadavu & parts of the Western & Central divisions and delivered by the Fiji Red Cross Society.
H.E. Sujiro Seam, EU Ambassador to the Pacific announced the package – worth EUR 180 000 – on 24 April.
The Copernicus Emergency Monitoring Service (EMS) has been activated to help assess the damage caused by cyclone HAROLD on Vanuatu. Many countries have already offered assistance, but caretaker PM Salwai of Vanuatu stressed the need for proper post-cyclone damage assessments. Here Copernicus’ satellite imagery can help, as its high quality satellite imaging enables more accurate damage assessments. Accurate damage assessments allow the government of Vanuatu to request specific and coordinated aid, allowing the country to recover as quickly as possible.
Copernicus is the EU’s earth observation programme. The programme uses satellite and non-satellite data to monitor the atmosphere, land and marine environment, and it offers services on climate change, emergency management, and security. All data gathered by the Copernicus programme is publicly available here.
The European Commission’s global programme connecting researchers and encouraging scientific collaboration between Europe and the rest of the world has now reached Australia and New Zealand. The newly established Australasian hub provides practical advice and information about European research and career opportunities as well as international collaboration and networking opportunities in Europe.
EURAXESS Australia and New Zealand were excited to present a webinar on their European Postdoctoral Fellowship (MSCA-IF) for Researchers on 30 April (2-3 PM AEST). If you are a postdoc who wants to stay in Europe AND get funding for your project make sure you follow EURAXESS Australia and New Zealand on the EURAXESS Website, via the Flashnote/ Newsletter and through social media: Facebook and LinkedIn.
See what's new in the Pacific.
Unfortunately, due to current circumstances many of us had to cancel our planned holidays and activities. But the EU platform ‘Creative Europe At Home’ is here to help you to occupy your days and stay entertained online.
Music lovers have many options. Theatre La Monnaie/De Munt in Brussels is hosting ‘The Virtual Season’ displaying their operas online! The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra came together virtually from their own homes, to perform Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy” for you to enjoy within the four walls of your own home – it’s guaranteed to give you goosebumps! The #TogetherAtHome campaign also offers a series of free concerts performed by award-winning artists on their Instagram Live feeds.
For those that prefer a moment of quiet can take a cyber trip to European cities like Paris, Rome, Madrid, and Amsterdam and satisfy your artistic senses through virtual tours of art galleries and museums from the comfort of your sofa. A number of open sources for ebooks are available. Audible books are also available freely.
There are several games parents can play with children online. You can also find a series of EU games and quizzes that are good fun. There are games for different age groups and at different levels.
Other pass-time options available online include 360-degree tour of vacation havens, zoo-streaming, plunging virtually into an aquarium, and many more…
Stay safe, stay home, sit back and enjoy!