Tag Archives: Europe

David Lidington In Wales And Scotland For Talks On Business And Brexit

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster David Lidington MP will meet business leaders and politicians in Cardiff and Edinburgh

Office of the Secretary of State for Wales

Office of the Secretary of State for Wales

The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster David Lidington MP will visit Wales and Scotland this week, where he will meet with business leaders and politicians to discuss the economy and the UK’s preparations for leaving the EU.

Mr Lidington will attend roundtable discussions with different sectors of business in Cardiff (Thursday, February 1st) and Edinburgh (Friday, February 2nd). The newly appointed Minister will also hold bilateral discussions on the EU Withdrawal Bill with both the Welsh First Minister and the Scottish Deputy First Minister on Thursday.

Speaking ahead of the visits to Cardiff and Edinburgh, David Lidington said:

I am very much looking forward to visiting Scotland and Wales. The UK Government is committed to building a Britain where our strong economy benefits all parts of the UK.

i know that businesses in Wales are excited by the opportunities that come from our plans to remove the tolls from the Severn Bridge. Our investment in broadband and UK City Deals are making a real difference in Wales and Scotland. I want to hear from businesses in Cardiff and Edinburgh about what else we can do to help drive economic growth.

I am also looking forward to continuing my discussions with Carwyn Jones and John Swinney on how we can make progress with the EU Withdrawal Bill in our face-to-face talks today. We need to work together to find an agreed way forward.

In Cardiff, David Lidington will co-host, with the Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns MP, a meeting of the regular Expert Panel group of representatives of the businesses, agriculture, fisheries and third sector in Wales that advises on the arrangements for leaving the EU.

The Secretary of State for Wales has established the group to work with him to deliver a smooth and orderly exit from the EU in Wales.

Speaking ahead of the meeting, Secretary of State for Wales Alun Cairns said:

The UK Government is resolute in its commitment to delivering an EU exit that works for every part of the country, and to taking every opportunity along the way to further strengthen our precious union.

We have ensured that the Welsh Government and every sector in Wales have been fully and constructively engaged with the Brexit process, so we can together deliver the best possible deal for the people of Wales.

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said:

I look forward to meeting the Scottish Government later today. The return of powers from the EU will lead to a significant increase in the decision-making powers of Holyrood. We have made good progress in our discussions with the Scottish Government on common frameworks and will continue those discussions today. We want to agree an amendment to the EU (Withdrawal) Bill which we can then bring forward in the Lords.

The Minister will also chair a roundtable of Scottish business representatives in Edinburgh on Friday morning.

UK And France To Strengthen Links In Tech Sector And Artificial Intelligence

Britain and France’s leading tech sectors will be brought closer together with plans for a digital conference - or digital colloque - to promote deeper integration in the digital economy, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Matt Hancock has announced

Department for Culture, Media & Sport

Department for Culture, Media & Sport

The UK tops the list in Europe for global tech investors, with its tech firms attracting more venture capital funding than any other European country in 2017. In December it was named by Oxford Insights as the best prepared country in the world for artificial intelligence (AI) implementation.

France has made big strides in creating new tech businesses and encouraging entrepreneurs, with Paris’s newly built Station F, a former railway station hosting startups, multinationals and investors, symbolising the country’s ambition

Mr Hancock met his French counterpart, Françoise Nyssen, at the UK France Summit hosted by the Prime Minister and the French President, Emmanuel Macron, at Royal Military Academy in Sandhurst. He said the digital conference will take place this year and foster cross-Channel collaboration between academics, industry and government.

Its aim is to help both countries seize the economic and social benefits of fast-developing tech such as AI, and the conference will bring together experts on data, cyber security, digital government and digital skills to share their knowledge.

The countries also reaffirmed their commitment and support for the principle of net neutrality, which promotes a free and open internet. They agreed a joint statement to make sure users can access websites without internet service providers favouring or blocking particular sites.

This follows the launch this week of an Anglo-French alliance linking Imperial College London and the French National Centre for Scientific Research to strengthen relations in academic subjects underpinning AI, and the Franco-British AI Conference at the Alan Turing Institute on Tuesday.

Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary Matt Hancock said:

The UK and France are strengthening ties in technology and innovation. I’m looking forward to leading a cutting-edge digital conference this year which will see our world-leading experts in cyber security, digital skills, artificial intelligence, data and digital government share their talent and knowledge.

Both countries benefit when our digital economies are strong and the event will deepen our bonds and foster cross-Channel collaboration between those at the forefront of modern technology.

Julian David, CEO of techUK, said:

This event is a significant step towards greater collaboration between the British and French tech sectors. Both countries share similar opportunities and challenges as we build our leading digital economies through technologies like artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and cyber security.

International platforms for collaboration, such as the one announced by Matt Hancock today, provide valuable cross-border perspectives on many of the social, legal and ethical questions that will be raised as we continue to innovate.

Adrian Gregory, CEO of Atos UK&I said:

As a company that is proud of its European heritage, Atos welcomes the closer collaboration of British and French technologists.

And as a global digital leader with a long and rich association with the UK and with ten thousand UK-based people focused on transforming our customers’ business through the best use of digital technology across the private and public sectors, we strongly believe in the mutual benefits that a closer working relationship will bring, particularly in the areas of AI, cyber security and data analytics, to forward-thinking organisations in both countries together with consumers. This will only serve to also strengthen the economies of both countries.

Stephen Kelly, CEO, Sage, said:

We welcome this deeper collaboration between two leading tech nations, France and the UK. For today’s digital entrepreneurs the world has no borders, only opportunities to grow their business.

We have much to learn from each other as we bring advanced technologies like AI and collective intelligence into the everyday lives of small and growing businesses to improve productivity and growth.

International Trade Secretary Travels To Turkey To Promote Trade Ties

Dr Liam Fox travels to Turkey today (Friday 12 January), to emphasise the UK’s commitment to build a stronger trade and investment relationship after the UK leaves the EU

Flight Paths

Flight Paths

The UK is already the second largest investor into the country and the Trade Secretary’s visit will promote further opportunities for British companies in Turkey whilst also encouraging inward investment.

The visit will build on the strong foundations laid by the Prime Minister and President Erdoğan in January 2017 when they established the UK-Turkey Trade Working Group.

During Dr Fox’s visit he is scheduled to meet President Erdoğan to discuss how to ensure the strong trade relationship continues to thrive post Brexit. Dr Fox will also attend a number of high level meetings with key members of the Turkish government including the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Ministers as well as Ministers for Economy and Defence.

Turkey is a key market for the UK with total trade in goods and services accounting for £14.5 billion in 2016. The UK is Turkey’s second largest export market, receiving 5% of all Turkish exports, whilst some of the UK’s biggest businesses including Vodafone, Rolls Royce and Diageo are all present in the country.

International Trade Secretary, Dr Liam Fox said:

The UK and Turkey enjoy a strong trading relationship, but we must seek to build on this, deepening our partnership to boost prosperity and increase security throughout the region.

As an international economic department, we will continue to promote British companies all around the world, strengthening our trade and investment relationships and providing continuity and certainty for businesses and consumers alike as we leave the EU.

During the visit Dr Fox will also see how the partnership between BAE Systems and Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) is helping to deliver Turkey’s TF-X indigenous fighter programme. The contract for the initial design phase of the fifth generation fighter aircraft was concluded in August 2017 and is worth around £100 million.

This partnership with TAI will involve significant technology and skills transfer, and is the first phase in a long term relationship between the UK and Turkish defence industries.

Foreign Secretary Discussions On Iran Nuclear Deal With Iranian And European Counterparts

Boris Johnson met with Iranian and European counterparts in Brussels today

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign & Commonwealth Office

Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson travelled to Brussels today (11th January) for high-level meetings focused on the Iran nuclear deal. He was joined in his discussions by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Zarif, French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel and EU High Representative for Foreign Affairs Federica Mogherini.

Speaking ahead of the meetings, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said:

The UK has always been clear: the Iran nuclear deal is a crucial agreement that makes the world safer. It is vital that we continue to work with our European partners to preserve the Iran deal, and with it the security and prosperity it is bringing to the people of Iran and the world. It is those shared interests which will drive our discussions in Brussels.

Of course there are areas where we disagree with Iran, not least on its destabilising regional activity and its ballistic missile programme. This will be an important part of our conversation.

I will be making it clear to Foreign Minister Zarif, on the subject of the recent protests in Iran, that the right to peaceful demonstration within the law is central to any truly thriving society. I will also raise all of our Iranian dual-national consular cases.

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Ambassador Calls For Sustained Progress On Corruption In Kosovo

Ruairí O’Connell speaks at the roundtable of the KLI report ´Fight, persecution or amnesty in the name of the fight against corruption. Vetting-the solution?´

British Embassy Pristina

British Embassy Pristina

[Original speech delivered in Albanian language]

Esteemed Mr. Tahiri, Esteemed Mrs. Haxhiu, Esteemed Mr. Isufaj, Esteemed Mr. Idrizi, Esteemed Mr. Musliu,

Esteemed President of the Courts, Chief Prosecutors, judges, prosecutors, representatives of public institutions, media and civil society, and all of you who are present here today.

We meet again around this table to talk about the challenges that put Kosovo’s future in danger. Kosovo has no greater challenge than fighting corruption – especially high-level corruption. There’s no need for me to explain how bad corruption is for Kosovo. You all know that this phenomenon erodes democracy, prevents any economic development and undermines the state for which many people gave sacrifices. And we care very much, not just because I love this place, but also because I know Britain needs a strong and developed Kosovo.

Corruption is not a phenomenon that occurs only in Kosovo. As a nation, Kosovans are no more corrupt than others. That is clear. As a matter of fact, I remember a British soldier who told me how impressed he was when in a busy market in Pristina, a citizen approached him to hand back the 5 Euros he had dropped. Kosovans are honest and fair people. The fight against corruption is a global issue. With the age of globalization, corruption cannot be viewed as an internal domestic phenomenon.

When criminals act with impunity, a culture of acceptance of corruption is established in the country. When one sees the many proven cases of corruption in which certain individuals have been convicted with very mild sentences, this creates an impression that there is no will to fight corruption. If the state allows corruption to capture the justice system, it will have the effect of turning this country into a shelter for organized crime. This organized crime hurt us just like it hurts you. None of our great societies can tolerate this. Therefore, we need Kosovo to be a genuine partner.

As your friends and partners, we have the right to ask: Where are the concrete results? Regretfully, I have to say it again, the results are missing! No high-profile person has been convicted for corruption with an effective prison sentence. There is a lot of noise at the beginning, but in the end all are released or they receive soft sentences. This year, two out of the three high-profile indictments failed. Where is the accountability? This is constantly reducing citizens’ confidence in the judiciary. This is both damaging and dangerous for the state of Kosovo. We are aware that there are brave, courageous, committed prosecutors and judges who work honestly and fight corruption, but it is obvious they are not enough.

Throughout this year, together with other international partners, we expressed our concerns about the recruitment of judges and appointments of Court Presidents. The Kosovo Judicial Council made several procedural changes, which is welcome, but our most important concerns regarding the transparency of the appointment of Court Presidents were ignored by the Kosovo Judicial Council. Similar problems were encountered in the Kosovo Prosecutorial Council, criticized for making appointments not based on merit. In such situations, it is difficult to argue that Kosovo is committed to the rule of law and the fight against corruption.

However, we do not want to give up. And that is why many British ministers and senior officials have recently visited Kosovo. The letter of British Prime Minister Theresa May to your Prime Minister Ramush Haradinaj, was clear. Since we are interested, Kosovo can rely on the commitment and engagement of the British state to supporting and strengthening the rule of law in Kosovo, but at the same time, it is a direct request for Kosovo to start strengthening its structures and mechanisms engaged in combating these negative phenomena.

Kosovo needs clean, meritorious, professional, independent and honest judges and prosecutors. You are aware of our project with the Government and Assembly of Kosovo, through which we aim to combat nepotism, corruption and clientelism. We are ready to do this with the Judicial and Prosecutorial Council in the recruitment process of prosecutors and judges; but also of Court Presidents and Chief Prosecutors. I am convinced that all the honest judges, prosecutors and police officers are ready for Kosovo to begin the process of detailed verification of their past, that is the vetting process, as soon as possible. I am curious to hear your views in this regard today.

On the other hand, we are supporting the Ministry of Justice with four local experts who are working on the package of judiciary laws, the functional review of the justice system, the civil code, and further functionalization of the Department for International Legal Cooperation and the State Advocacy. We are happy to cooperate with the Ministry, as we hope it has the political will to make real reforms. I shouldn’t forget to mention the readiness of the Government to increase the budget of the judiciary. This is a step to be praised, but I hope that the increased number of staff for both councils will serve to increase the efficiency of the work of judges and prosecutors.

I wish and hope that at our next meeting we will discuss the concrete efforts and results in the fight against corruption. I will repeat this at each meeting: fighting corruption and the rule of law are the number one priorities of the British Embassy in Kosovo.

Thank you.

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