Tag Archives: EU

Welsh Secretary Continues Engagement On EU Exit In Wales

Alun Cairns to chair fourth meeting of Expert Panel in Cardiff

Office of the Secretary of State for Wales

Office of the Secretary of State for Wales

The UK Government will continue its unprecedented level of engagement on EU Exit in Wales, when the Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns convenes the fourth meeting of his Expert Panel in Cardiff today (Thursday 14 Dec).

Alun Cairns will gather representatives from the business, agriculture and third sectors in Wales at Caspian Point to discuss their priorities for Brexit and to update them on negotiations and the progress of the Withdrawal Bill.

Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said:

It is vital that we have open and honest conversations about what Wales – and the UK as a whole – should look like after our exit from the European Union. This includes discussing the challenges that we may face along the way, and the opportunities that await us at the finish line.

That is why I am working with an Expert Panel of stakeholders to examine the implications of EU exit for Wales across all sectors.

As we proceed through the negotiations we will go on hearing from these important partners, to ensure that our discussions are informed by the views of every region of the UK, and each sector of our economy.

The Withdrawal Bill is a key piece of legislation in the national interest which will convert EU law to UK law on exit day, ensuring we leave the EU with certainty, continuity and control. The Bill is expected to complete Commons committee stage before Christmas.

The Secretary of State for Wales established the Expert Panel to work with him to deliver a smooth and orderly exit from the EU in Wales. The fourth meeting today builds on the constructive conversations they have already had, helping to contribute to the UK’s negotiating position.

UK, US And Norway Statement On South Sudan

The Troika calls on all parties to participate in the upcoming South Sudan peace talks

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

On Monday 18 December the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) will convene the High-Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) for the Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (the Agreement). The members of the Troika (Norway, the United Kingdom, and the United States) have made clear that the HLRF is a unique and critical opportunity to make progress towards peace. The humanitarian, economic, security, human rights and political situation continues to deteriorate with devastating consequences for the people of South Sudan. Over half the population now lack enough food to feed themselves and a third of the population have fled their homes, causing the largest refugee crisis in Africa. This situation is intolerable to the region and the international community. It cannot continue.

The region and the international community have repeatedly called for all parties to the conflict to participate in the HLRF constructively and in a spirit of compromise and inclusion. The members of the Troika fully expect the Government of South Sudan to adhere to its repeated public and private commitments to participate in the HLRF in good faith, and with the immediate goal of stopping the fighting. Although it is a member of IGAD, the Government is also a party to the conflict. To achieve a sustainable peace, no party to the conflict can have undue influence or a veto on the process, including the Government. The opposition also bears responsibility for coming to the table without preconditions. All parties must engage sincerely and make concessions in the national interest; otherwise, the conflict and suffering will continue.

The Troika fully supports IGAD’s continuing effort to build peace and, in particular, the tireless work undertaken by IGAD Special Envoy Ismail Wais to bring the parties together. The Troika views the HLRF as the essential, inclusive forum to advance peace; other efforts and fora must support the HLRF or risk diverting attention and focus, and delaying progress. IGAD’s ability to solve this crisis depends on unity of purpose amongst its members, and we urge the IGAD countries to speak with one voice. As the Troika has previously stated, the HLRF and its outcome must be genuinely inclusive and reflect the political reality of South Sudan today. The Troika reiterates its intent to stand with IGAD in its efforts to make progress toward peace and effective implementation of the Agreement, and its readiness to take action against those who obstruct the process.

EU Delegation To China Statement On International Human Rights Day 2017

The UK fully supports the local statement by the Delegation of the European Union on International Human Rights Day

European Union Flag

European Union Flag

On 10 December the international community marks the anniversary of the proclamation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This Declaration, which all UN members including China have agreed to uphold, states that each and every one of us has the right to freedom of thought, freedom of religion and belief, freedom of expression and freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Here in Beijing, each of us continues to witness first-hand China’s success in improving the lives of its citizens. We witness, for example, the significant improvements in the Chinese people’s standard of living and in access to social services such as health and education. We also witness improvements in the sphere of some civil rights, such as a continuing effort to combat and prevent domestic violence. We welcome the commitment by the Chinese authorities to ensure legal representation for greater numbers of criminal defendants, and we hope that the new system that will replace the shuanggui system will ensure basic rights for all civil servants, including the right to legal representation.

However, we remain extremely concerned about China’s ongoing denial to its citizens of other fundamental human rights under the Declaration. During the past year, we have been deeply troubled by the deterioration of the situation with respect to freedom of information and freedom of expression and association, including with respect to online activity. The arrest, detention and conviction of human rights defenders, lawyers and other citizens exercising fundamental human rights, such as freedom of religion and belief, including in Xinjiang and Tibet, have continued. We regret the death in detention of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo, and are also concerned about the recent conviction of human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong and the detention of human rights defenders Ilham Tohti, Wang Quanzhang, Wu Gan, Tashi Wangchuk, Li Yuhan and Huang Qi, each of whom was detained in connection with their promotion of fundamental human rights. We call for China to immediately end the detention and harassment of these and other Chinese citizens and human rights defenders and their family members. All criminal defendants should have access to lawyers of their own choosing and to their family members, and should not be subjected to forced and public confessions, torture or other mistreatment. While recognising the progress made in registering foreign NGOs during 2017, we also call on China to make additional efforts to allow foreign and domestic NGOs to register and operate freely and effectively. Finally, we continue to be concerned about the lack of effective implementation of China’s Criminal Procedure Law, as well as the adoption of laws which are incompatible with China’s other obligations and international commitments.

All of us know from first-hand experience the difficult and never-ending work of promoting and protecting the full spectrum of human rights. The Chinese authorities have made commitments to promote law-based governance and the creation of a modern and prosperous society. The respect and promotion of the full range of human rights is not only consistent with these aims, but in our view necessary for their full achievement. In the coming year, a core part of our engagement will include working with China to promote human rights under the Universal Declaration.

EU Transport Council: Agenda For 5 December 2017

Chris Grayling to attend the December 2017 EU Transport Council covering mobility, freight road tolls, safeguarding competitions plus other issues

The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

The Rt Hon Chris Grayling MP

I will attend the only formal Transport Council under the Estonian Presidency (the Presidency) taking place in Brussels on Tuesday 5 December (2017).

The first item on the agenda will be a progress report on phase one of the mobility package, focusing on proposals designed to improve the clarity and enforcement of the EU road transport market (the ‘market pillar’), and proposals on the application of social legislation in road transport (the ‘social pillar’).

Following this, the Presidency has proposed a policy debate on the ‘charging pillar’ of the package. The proposals to amend the existing directives on HGVroad tolls and user charges (‘Eurovignette’) and the interoperability of electronic road toll systems (EETS) set out rules for charging vehicles using the road (but do not mandate such charging) and promote better functioning of charging across national barriers.

Next, there will be a progress report on the proposed amendment to the regulation on safeguarding competition in air transport. The proposal aims to tackle discriminatory practices and address perceived deficiencies in the existing legislation by allowing complaints to be made to the European Commission by a wider range of interested parties who suspect, or have evidence that, one or more EU carriers are being harmed by the unfair practices of a third country.

The council will adopt conclusions on the progress on Trans-European Transport Network (TEN-T) and Connecting Europe Facility (CEF). The conclusions do not place any binding requirements on member states. They recognise the value that the TEN-T Policy and CEF (the associated funding programme) bring to EU transport infrastructure and look to strengthen transport investment in the next EU budgeting period. The UK can support these conclusions.

Conclusions will also be adopted on the digitalisation of transport. ‘Digital Europe ‘ has been a priority for the Estonian Presidency and the conclusions highlight the potential and challenges for the digitalisation of transport and, amongst other things, call on the commission to develop a comprehensive and multimodal digitalisation strategy for the transport sector during the first quarter of 2019. The UK can support their adoption.

Next, the council will adopt conclusions on mid-term evaluation of the Galileo, EGNOS and European GNSS Agency. We welcome these conclusions and, in particular, the need for new recommendations about the future evolution of the programme to be proportionate and costed before they are brought forward for decision.

Under any other business, the commission will first present phase 2 of the mobility package, which focuses on clean mobility and includes proposals on promotion of clean and energy-efficient vehicles, combined transport of goods, and access to the market for coach and bus services. The presidency will provide information on the state of play on the proposed rail passenger rights regulation. The delegations from Germany, the Commission, Poland, France and Finland will, respectively, provide information on automated cars, implementation of the aviation strategy, World Maritime Days, IMOgreenhouse gas emission reduction strategy, and summertime arrangements. The commission will also provide information on military mobility, and finally, the Bulgarian delegation will present the transport work programme of their forthcoming Presidency of the Council of the European Union.

The Council Of Europe Is To Investigate Human Rights Abuse And Fraud In Moldova

eureporter

eureporter

The decision to visit the land-locked country, wedged between Romania and Ukraine, came after a Moldovan delegation addressed the Council of Europe on Thursday (April 27th 2017) in Strasbourg.

After the meeting Mr Ilian Casu, a Moldovan Municipal Councillor, said: “The Council is keen to help after we presented a most convincing case.

“Moldova is blighted by pervasive, ubiquitous corruption at all levels and in all its institutions.

“Over the last six years the country has gone from being hailed as a ‘success story’ to a ‘captured state’.

“We are captive to Parliamentary vote buying, justice is for sale, and public money is mishandled – or simply stolen.

“And those who stand up to these iniquities are arrested on trumped up charges and thrown into prison.”

Moldova is said to be run by oligarch Vlad Plahotniuc; unelected, but with an iron grip on the country’s banks, justice system and political corruption.

He is the chairman of the ruling Democratic Party, but it’s a thin veil that masks his true influence. He is known as “the puppeteer”.

And, America has labelled him Moldova’s “most feared figure” with a politically “toxic” reputation.

It’s believed that Plahotniuc was behind the disappearance of a €1 billion loan paid into Moldovan banks.

The money “vanished” into off-shore havens, the United States, the EU and the UK.

Judges, politicians and lawyers are alleged to have been involved in helping to shift the vast sum.

But, it’s not just corruption that is preventing Moldova from progressing as a new modern country.

Any opposition to Plahotniuc is supressed swiftly.

Outspoken politician Renato Usatii, the Mayor of Balti – Moldova’s second city – is currently in exile in Russia.

Elena Gritco, a Municipal Councillor, said after the meeting: “If Renato returned he would be thrown into prison, and there is no doubt that he would be murdered.”

“Renato is helping overseas authorities to bring Plahotniuc to justice. He is a brave man who knows the dire consequences of talking.”

Detectives in London believe Mr Usatii can assist them with inquiries into the attempted murder of German Gorbuntsov four years ago at Canary Wharf.

The Russian tycoon was shot six times outside his apartment.

A Moldovan court has issued a warrant for Mr Usatii’s arrest for the assassination attempt.

Many other local politicians are also targeted by the authorities.

Victor Bogatico, the Mayor of Riscani, said: “I have been arrested now on seven made up charges. None of them has stuck. We are the victims of a corrupt state.”

Mr Casu added: “Hopefully the Council of Europe’s visit will expose the tyranny imposed upon the Moldovan people by these corrupt leaders.

“The Council’s fact finding mission is the beginning of our escape from these evil clutches, and Moldova can once again be a success story.”

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