Delegation of the European Union 
to the United States


16/06/2020 - 06:31
EU Delegation to New Zealand - Newsletter

No 229, 16 June 2020.

EU grant available for extracurricular programme in New Zealand - send your projects!

Do you want to work with New Zealand students? Know a little about Europe? Are you ready to build people-to-people links between Europe and New Zealand? The EU has just opened a call for projects that do just that and more!

The call seeks to foster:

  • Civil society and people-to-people dialogues and exchanges between the EU and New Zealand;
  • Youth and Student political, cultural, academic, and social engagement;
  • Inter-cultural exchanges with the EU.

Activities must take place in New Zealand. They may include:

  • Development and consolidation of interactive EU teaching and learning modules for extracurricular activities and/or summer schools for students at high school and/or university level;
  • Organisation of Model EU simulation events and conferences with university and/or high school students;
  • Study trips, workshops, or conferences to foment exchanges between European and New Zealand youth.

The size of the grant is €300 000 and its timeframe is 24-36 months. To find out more, including the call for proposals, instructions and application forms, read here. 

Re-open EU: EU launches website to safely resume travelling and tourism in the EU

In time for the opening of borders within Europe, yesterday the Commission launched Re-open EU, a new web platform designed to support the safe restart of travel and tourism across Europe.  

After weeks of confinement, EU internal borders are reopening. The Re-open EU website we are launching today will provide travellers with easy access to information to help them confidently make their travel plans and stay safe during their trip. It will also help small restaurant and hotel owners, as well as towns across Europe, draw inspiration from innovative solutions developed by others,” Commissioner for the Internal Market Thierry Breton said. 

There is a special parallelism as exactly 35 years after the Schengen Treaty was signed, borders across Europe are reopening.  Freedom of movement is a vital principle within the EU and we are pleased to welcome its return. 

The website will provide practical information on travel restrictions, public health and safety measures such as on physical distancing or wearing of facemasks, across the member states. 

To help the European hospitality industry Re-open EU will also include information on voucher schemes through which you can buy vouchers for a future stay or meal once a hotel or restaurant reopens. To help you find the best of Europe’s cultural heritage, the EU’s digital culture platform, Europeana, is launching Discovering Europe; a collection of art works and photographs of Europe’s most iconic landmarks. Additionally, a tourism hub will be made on the Europeana platform to help cultural heritage professionals find initiatives that support cultural tourism throughout Europe. 

Visit Re-open EU here. Discovering Europe, look here.

Recovery Plan for Europe

The European Commission is proposing a major recovery plan for Europe, to kick-start its recovery, protect and create jobs, stay on track of the Green Deal, and ensure that no part of Europe is left behind in the Corona recovery.  

Next Generation EU and a strengthened EU budget 2021-2027 are the primary EU tools for recovery. Next Generation EU is one-time €750b boost that will help Member States’ recovery plans, stimulate private businesses to invest, make health sectors more robust and increase the EU’s international solidarity. The EU budget will become more flexible as well, to allow a faster response to emergencies. The funds will go to areas where they can make the greatest difference, complementing and amplifying the essential work underway in the Member States. The EU remains committed to delivering on its flagship initiatives – the twin green and digital transitions – as the keys to relaunching the European economy. 

The European Commission also adjusted its Work Programme in response to the new coronavirus reality. This is oriented around four principles: 

  • The European Green Deal is our growth strategy for the future;
  • We will promote further digitalisation of European economies and intensify cooperation on data governance and cybersecurity at the EU-level;
  • We will work towards a fair and inclusive recovery, to ensure everyone contributes and that the most vulnerable are not forgotten;
  • We will use the lessons from the COVID-19 crisis to make Europe more resilient. We will secure the supply of our most critical goods and improve our crisis response mechanisms.

For more details about the Recovery Plan for Europe and the key dates going forward look here.

EU Trade during the COVID-19 Pandemic - the good and the bad

As we all know, the spread of COVID-19 has led to the closure of borders, the hibernation of business and heavily restricted movement of people. The European Commission has published its second report on the impact of COVID-19 on EU trade, showing the effect of these measures on EU trade.  

For the 27 EU Member States, the report projects a decrease in exports by between 9% and 15%, and a decrease in imports from non-EU countries by between 11% and 14%, including both goods and services. This means a setback in exports of €282 and €470 billion and a decrease in imports from outside the EU of between €313 and €398 billion. 

Despite such setbacks, the EU’s trade work keeps moving as seen with the ratification of the EU-Vietnam trade agreement by Vietnam on 8 June. This deal will increase opportunities & cooperation between us, create jobs, drive investment & improve standards. As EU Commissioner for Trade Phil Hogan puts it: “With the right rules, trade can benefit everyone.” 

The EU will also continue its work at the WTO to eliminate tariffs in the health and pharmacy sectors, and push for rules that limit non-tariff barriers. This will promote the unfettered flow of healthcare products across the world and in doing so strengthen the world’s resilience against global health crises such as COVID-19. Tariff elimination will be reciprocal for nations that represent a critical share of world trade, free-riding major partners will not be tolerated. 

To view the Commission’s two reports on EU trade look here. For more information on the EU-Vietnam trade agreement look here. For the EU trade and health at the WTO initiative look here near the bottom of the statement. 

EU acts to tackle disinformation

On 10 June the Commission and HR/VP Borrell announced more measures to fight disinformation around the Coronavirus. “In today's technology-driven world, where warriors wield keyboards rather than swords and targeted influence operations and disinformation campaigns are a recognised weapon of state and non-state actors, the European Union is increasing its activities and capacities in this fight,” said HR/VP Borrell. 

Disinformation is causing serious harm to citizens and their property, both in the EU and elsewhere. False claims that drinking bleach or pure alcohol could cure you from coronavirus infections have led to a 15% increase in the number of bleach-related incidents in Belgium. Despite the absence of indications that 5G is harmful to human health, theories that 5G was spreading the virus has led to the burning of telecom masts across the world, including the burning of several telecom towers in New Zealand. 

The EU has the following goals:

  • To better understand disinformation and distinguish between illegal and legal harmful content;
  • To support civil society and independent media in third countries;
  • To protect customers being misled by advertisements for ineffective or dangerous products;
  • To improve transparency of and lessen disinformation on online platforms;
  • To monitor the impact of emergency measures on democracy; To empower citizens to participate further in the debate.

These will be part of the future EU action on disinformation, most notably the European Democracy Action Plan and the Digital Services Act.  

For more information on this announcement read here. For everything on the EU’s fight against disinformation look here.

International affairs with HR/VP Borrell

Several major international events occurred in the past few weeks. Here is how HR/VP Borrell reacted to the China’s new national security law on Hong Kong, the US’ withdrawal from the WHO, and the death of George Floyd. 

On Hong Kong’s new national security law, on 28 May, Borrell expressed the EU’s grave concerns. “The steps taken on 28 May are not in conformity with its international commitments (Sino-British Joint Declaration of 1984) and the Hong Kong Basic Law. This risks to seriously undermine the 'One Country Two Systems' principle and the high degree of autonomy of the Special Administrative Region of Hong Kong.” He further mentioned that the move calls into question China’s will to uphold its international commitments and that the issue will be raised in the EU’s dialogue with China. 

On the US’ withdrawal from the WHO, Borrell and President Ursula von der Leyen in a joint statement said that “as the world continues to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, the main task for everyone is to save lives and contain and mitigate this pandemic. The European Union continues to support the WHO in this regard and has already provided additional funding.”  

On the death of George Floyd and the situation in the US, Borrell stated: “We, here in Europe, like the people of the United States, we are shocked and appalled by the death of George Floyd. I think that all societies must remain vigilant against the excess use of force and ensure that all such incidents are addressed swiftly, effectively, and in full respect for the rule of law and human rights. We support the right to peaceful protest, and we also condemn violence and racism of any kind and for sure we call for a de-escalation of tensions.” 

For the full statements of the HR/VP on these issues look for the statement on the national security law and Hong Kong, and for the reply on the death of George Floyd on Borrell's twitter. Look here for the statement on the US and WHO.

HR/VP Borrell: UNSC needs to act to protect the multilateral system

On 29 May, HR/VP Borrell addressed the UN Security Council on EU-UN cooperation and to express the EU’s strong support for the UN’s work. He furthermore spoke on many international issues where the EU is delivering on the ground for the UN. Borrell stressed that multilateralism has to deliver for the people that need it most now.  

On the Sahel, Borrell called on the UNSC – together with the G5 and the African Union – to do more and better to address the deteriorating situation there. On Iran, he hailed the JPCDA as the best and only way to ensure the peaceful nature of Iran’s nuclear programme. On Libya, Borrell briefed the Council on the success of the EU’s new military operation IRINI. Already a success at deterring oil smuggling, he called on the UNSC to renew its resolution authorising inspections on the high seas. On Syria, the HR/VP urged the Council to renew authorisation of cross-border humanitarian operations into north-west Syria. On China, Borrell reiterated his deep concern with the steps taken by China regarding National Security Legislation in Hong Kong.  

Borrell’s comments received both praise and sharp replies. On the one hand, the EU received much praise for its work on African peace building, on climate change, on sustainable development, on the work of our CSDP mission and operations and as a consistent champion for democracy, the rule of law and human rights. On the other, remarks on Syria, Libya, and also Hong Kong triggered exchanges along well-known lines. Such discussions are what the UNSC is there for. However, due to the European faith in multilateralism, we want the UNSC to act. The members of the UNSC must step up and find common ground and deliver for those that most need it.  

Read his speech here or watch it here. 


#TeamEurope response to the coronavirus in the Pacific

The coronavirus is a global pandemic, it does not discriminate on nationality or borders. As such, to beat it we need a truly global response. That is why #TeamEurope is strengthening its international solidarity effort. The EU will support partners in the Pacific and Timor Leste for a total of €119 million. 

The funds are divided into two batches. €24 million will be used to reduce COVID-19 spread and strengthen health systems. €95 million will be used to support the economic recovery, reflecting the Pacific's successful public health response to the crisis. Part of this money comes in the form of budget support, direct funds to the national treasury for maximum flexibility, country ownership, and continuance even during travel restrictions. 

Pacific Island Countries are very vulnerable to external shocks due to their remoteness, limited domestic health and social protection systems, and the global shortages of medical equipment and supplies. These challenges have meant that the stringent measures taken by the Pacific Island Countries and their neighbours – Australia and New Zealand – have depressed economic activity in the region significantly.  

For more detail on the initiatives that #TeamEurope is supporting see here. 

EURAXESS: Fully funded PhD opportunities in Europe webinar

Dreaming about doing a fully funded PhD in Europe? EURAXESS Australia and New Zealand is holding a free webinar on 18 June, 9PM NZST. This time it is about fully funded PhD opportunities in Europe through the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Innovative Training Networks (MSCA-ITN).  

Register for the event with the link here. Follow EURAXESS Australia and New Zealand’s Facebook for the latest updates on education opportunities in Europe for New Zealanders or check their website here. 

Europe Institute COVID-19 Blog: How did Czechs wear face masks when there weren't any available?

Did you know the Czech Republic was the first European country to require people to wear masks at all times in public? Residents were given 48 hours to comply with the new order. There was one problem, the Czech Republic was facing a severe shortage of masks. In her article Dr. Susanna Trnka looks at how the Czech people managed to put masks at the centre of their COVID-19 health response.  

Read the article here. The Europe Institute is hosting a blog series about Europe and its experience of the coronavirus. This is already the fifth article in the series. Previous articles can be found here. The blogs cover the experiences of countries such as Italy, the UK, and Turkey and topics ranging from public health responses to Beethoven. The Europe Institute also host events and announces new blog posts over on its Facebook channel here. 

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