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The EU and China have today concluded in principle the negotiations for a Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI). This deal follows a call between Chinese President Xi Jinping and European Commission President von der Leyen, European Council President Charles Michel and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on behalf of the Presidency of the EU Council, as well as French President Emmanuel Macron.

What are the benefits of the CAI for the EU, what has the EU committed to in the CAI, what about negotiating a trade agreement between the EU and China, are some of the questions answered about EU-China Comprehensive Agreement on Investment (CAI)

Saudi women human rights defender Loujain al-Hathloul has been sentenced by the Specialised Criminal Court, handling terrorism cases, to five years and eight months in prison, much of it spent in pre-trial detention. The EU regrets this, especially as she was prosecuted for advocating basic women’s rights, which are part of the very reforms the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been introducing.

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The Council has today adopted, by written procedure, the decision on the signing of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement and its provisional application as of 1 January 2021, pending the consent of the European Parliament and conclusion by the Council decision next year.

Ten out of the twelve individuals from Hong Kong, detained at sea by the Chinese authorities in August, went on trial in Shenzhen on 28 December.

The defendants were not permitted to appoint lawyers of their choice, and access to them in custody has been heavily restricted. The trial was not held in open court. Diplomatic representatives were unable to attend the court proceedings and the attendance of relatives of the detained was impeded.

The restrictions on freedom of expression, on access to information, and intimidation and surveillance of journalists, as well as detentions, trials and sentencing of human rights defenders, lawyers, and intellectuals in China, are growing and continue to be a source of great concern.

On 28 December 2020, Shanghai Pudong New Area People’s Court sentenced Ms Zhang Zhan to four years of imprisonment for ‘picking quarrels and stirring up trouble’. Prior to her detention, Ms Zhang Zhan had been reporting about the coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan.

Today, the European Commission adopted a package of €70 million under the Instrument for Pre-Accession (IPA II) to help fund the access of Western Balkans partners to COVID-19 vaccines procured by EU Member States.

28/12/2020 – HR/VP blog – Especially during the Covid-19 “infodemic”, we have seen how widespread and how damaging foreign interference and disinformation can be for our security, our democracy and our societies. Addressing disinformation is an urgent necessity.

The European Union is closely following the crisis in Ethiopia. The EU remains concerned by the humanitarian situation, as well as allegations of human rights violations and ethnic targeting. Ongoing reports of non-Ethiopian involvement raise additional worries.

The European Union has repeatedly conveyed its serious concerns about continued negative developments as regards the rule of law, fundamental rights and the judiciary in Turkey along with specific recommendations in the Commission’s annual reports on Turkey to address credibly all relevant shortcomings as a matter of priority.

The decision of a Turkish Court to sentence journalist Can Dündar for what is his fundamental right to freedom of expression and Osman Kavala’s continuous pre-trial detention go, regrettably, in the opposite direction.

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