A warm welcome and a belated happy new year to all of you!
This is the inaugural edition of EU in Malaysia’s newsletter, a platform through which we hope to keep you informed you on interesting and relevant news about the EU in Malaysia and the multitude of EU initiatives and projects in Malaysia, the region and further afield. Through this bi-monthly newsletter, we will share with you updates on international and multilateral movements relevant to Malaysia and the EU’s common goals, the new strategic partnership between ASEAN and the EU, and new avenues and opportunities for bilateral cooperation.
We also hope to inspire you with some stories of innovation and culture, and bring to the Malaysian audience some European perspective and flavour to interesting international developments.
Wishing all of you a safe and successful year ahead. Semoga selamat dan berjaya pada tahun ini.
Ambassador of the European Union to Malaysia
The new Ambassador of the European Union to Malaysia, H.E Michalis Rokas presented his credentials to His Majesty The Yang di-Pertuan Agong XVI, Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin on 8 December 2020 in Kuala Lumpur.
His Excellency is delighted to begin his mandate in Malaysia. He is looking forward to working together with the EU’s Malaysian partners on important actions in Malaysia such as pandemic recovery, gender equality and sustainable development, as well as deepening our bilarteral ties and forging strong parternships.
The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the European Union (EU) elevated the ASEAN-EU Dialogue Parternship to a Strategic Partnership at the 23rd ASEAN-EU Ministerial Meeting (AEMM) on 1 December 2020.
This will lead to greater cooperation in strengthening both regions' preparedness for, and capacity to respond to, current and future public health crises in line with Sustainable Development Goal 3 on health and well-being.
#WeEmpowerAsia Activator for gender equality launches in Malaysia
The #WeEmpowerAsia Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs) Activator Malaysia campaign launch took place on 14 January, with more than 150 participants, including business, government and civil society representation, taking part the virtual session. The event was co-hosted by LeadWomen and the EU-funded programme #WeEmpowerAsia run by UNWomen.
Highlights of the event included an interactive ‘Xperience’ discussion on unconscious biases and gender-inclusive workplaces, and the presentation of awards to the #WEPsAwards winners from Malaysia. At the event, H.E. Ambassador Michalis Rokas also introduced the EU’s Gender Action Plan that will promote gender equality and women's empowerment through all the EU’s external actions.
In response to severe flooding that submerged large parts of eastern Malaysia, the European Union is providing €60,000 (nearly RM300,000) in humanitarian aid funding to assist the most affected communities. The aid will benefit 5,000 people in some of the hardest-hit areas in the states of Johor and Pahang.
The funding is part of the EU’s overall contribution to the Disaster Relief Emergency Fund (DREF) of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
On 30 December, the Euroepan Union and the United Kingdom signed the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), the result of months of intense negotiation for a Brexit deal. The TCA goes beyond traditional free trade agreements and provides a comprehensive framework for the future EU-UK relationship.
It consists of four main pillars:
On 2 December, the European Commission and the High Representative forwarded a proposal for a new, forward-looking EU-US agenda for global change. The inauguration of President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris present, combined with a more assertive and capable European Union and a new geopolitical and economic reality presents a once-in-a-generation opportunity to design a new transatlantic agenda for global cooperation based on common values, interests and global influence.
The EU’s proposal for a new, forward-looking transatlantic agenda for global cooperation centres on overarching principles: stronger multilateral action and institutions, pursuit of common interests, leveraging collective strength, and finding solutions that respect common values.
The US has re-joined the Paris Agreement after the previous administration withdrew from it last November. President Biden signed an executive order at the White house on 20 January just hours after being sworn in, to reverse the withdrawal from the 2015 accord, which seeks to limit global warming and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
The European Union welcomed the decision by President Biden, with the Executive Vice-President Frans Timmermans and High Representative/Vice-President Josep Borrell saying in a joint statement that they are looking forward to having the United States again at the EU’s side in leading global efforts to combat the climate crisis.
The One Planet Summit on Biodiversity was held in Paris on 11 January, organised by France and backed by the EU, the United Nations and the World Bank. It gathered (mostly virtually) a large number of political leaders and CEOs, who pledged to reverse the destruction of nature. President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen spoke about the EU approach on biodiversity and highlighted the European Green Deal and the new EU Biodiversity Strategy. She underlined the importance of funding research on biodiversity to prevent diseases.
The summit highlighted that the destruction of nature increases the risk of future pandemics and that protecting biodiversity and fighting climate change are two sides of the same coin. It launched the “High Ambition Coalition for nature and people”. Key developments of the Summit include: the participating states’ plan to protect 30% of lands and oceans; the commitment of more than US$ 14 Billion for Africa’s Great Green Wall, the announcement by France and UK to earmark 30% of their overseas public funding to nature based solutions and the launch of the PREZODE initiative, a global network of researchers to prevent the next pandemic due to zoonotic diseases.
Imagine a world where space technology is used to rescue people at sea; satellite systems to identify major climate changes; and Earth observation technologies help farmers to monitor crops, reduce water waste and avoid poor fertilisation.
The 13th European Space Conference organised by the European Parliament, the European Commission, the European Space Agency and Business Bridge Europe, was held virtually on 12 and 13 January.
The conference took stock of new technology and Europe’s future space policy, it’s programmes and missions.
Under the EU-UNICEF programme Protecting Children Affected by Migration in Southeast, South and Central Asia, UNICEF Malaysia in partnership with the EU is working with the government and other stakeholders to ensure that children affected by migration in Malaysia are protected and their rights promoted. This project to strengthen child protection services and provide these children an enabling environment is funded by the EU and Denmark’s ministry of foreign affairs.
Read the policy brief Avoiding a Child Welfare Crisis: Mitigating the Impact of COVID-19 through Social Service Workforce Strengthening produced with support of this programme.
On 26 January, the National Union of Journalists of Malaysia (NUJM) together with the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) organised this webinar on Collective Agreements for Media Workers in Malaysia. Experts from the Industrial Relations Department and the Malaysian Trade Union Congress shared their knowledge on collective agreements – employer agreements with employees’ representatives (such as trade unions) that allows negotiations of terms and conditions.
This webinar was part of an EU-funded programme, Strengthening Malaysia’s Media for Change, which is designed to strengthen the capacity of media civil society organisations to instigate and lead sustainable change development in Malaysia.