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#Kazakhstan - Judicial reforms, more local control among issues addressed in state-of-the-nation address

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Kazakh President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev reaffirmed his commitment during his 2 September state-of-the-nation address to create a more inclusive government and continue the reforms begun by Kazakhstan’s First President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, writes Aidana Yergaliyeva.

Photo credit: akorda.kz

“Our work should proceed from the need for the full implementation of the Five Institutional Reforms and the Plan of the Nation developed by Elbasy (Leader of the Nation, the constitutional title accorded to Nazarbayev). The work of the National Modernization Commission that he created should be resumed,” Tokayev said.

The presidential address included five main parts: creating a modern effective state, ensuring citizens’ rights and security, developing a strong and inclusive economy, continuing social modernisation, and strengthening regions.

Modern, effective state

Kazakhstan must create a multiparty system to build a modern, effective state, he said, noting the ruling Nur Otan party should collaborate more with other parties.

“This is important for the stability of the political system in the long run,” he added.

The President also urged more public involvement in the formation of policy and the allowance of more peaceful protests.

To keep the nation united, Tokayev directed the government to continue creating conditions for all ethnic groups to develop their languages ​​and cultures.

“Our position: ‘The unity of the nation is in its diversity!’” he said.

National celebrations of major events are also among the President’s nation-building strategies. Preparations have started for celebrations in 2020, such as the 1,150th anniversary of Al Farabi, the 175th anniversary of Abai Kunanbayev and the 30 years of independence, to be celebrated in 2021.

“I am convinced that such significant events will contribute to the education of the younger generation in the spirit of genuine patriotism,” he added.

Citizens’ rights and security

Tokayev further suggested judicial and law enforcement reforms to improve the protection of citizens’ rights and security.

He stressed the need for analysis of court decisions to improve their quality.

Citizens are often left in unequal conditions in public law disputes against decisions and actions of authorities. To level the difference, the President said, “It is necessary to introduce administrative justice as a special dispute resolution mechanism.”

“Henceforth, when resolving disputes, the court will have the right to initiate additional evidence collection, the responsibility for the collection of which lies with a state body and not with a citizen or a business,” he added.

Along with toughening penalties for sexual and domestic violence, Tokayev instructed the government to take measures within two months to better protect wildlife from poachers.

“Recent tragic events have revealed the problem of poaching, as a most dangerous form of organised crime,” he said. “Poachers are equipped, armed, feel their impunity. This year alone, two wildlife inspectors died at their hands.”

Stopping corruption is also a presidential priority. Tokayev said expert opinion and public participation are needed to draft more effective central and local anticorruption laws.

Developed and inclusive economy

“If we carry out the necessary structural changes, then by 2025 we will be able to ensure annual sustainable growth of gross domestic product of 5 percent and higher,” he said.

Tokayev also would like to diversify the economy and see labour productivity increase at least 1.7 times, he said.

He will also introduce a moratorium on the creation of quasi-state-owned companies “to reduce the unjustified presence of the state in the economy.”

The Kazakh Government and the Accounts Committee have also been instructed to conduct an analysis of the effectiveness of state holdings and national companies within three months.

Another factor in developing the economy is to support small- and medium- sized businesses (SMEs).

“The system of state financial support for SMEs needs to be ‘rebooted,’ giving priority to new projects,” said Tokayev.

He instructed the government to allocate an additional 250 billion tenge (US$645.34 million) over the next three years as a part of a new Business Roadmap programme.

“It is necessary to actively introduce new forms of business support with an emphasis on social aspects – the creation of family businesses, primarily for large and low-income families,” he said. “Particular attention should be paid to tourism development, especially eco- and ethno-tourism, as an important area of ​​the economy.”

The government should also support national business in international markets.

Tokayev instructed the government to create measures, including tax, financial and administrative incentives, to support high-performing medium-sized businesses.

The government should “seriously intensify efforts” to attract foreign direct investment.

In addition to this, national legislation should be adapted to the latest technology, such as 5G, Smart Cities, Big Data, blockchain, digital assets and new digital financial instruments.

“Kazakhstan should become a brand as an open jurisdiction for technological partnership, data centres’ construction and placement, data transit development, participation in the global digital services market,” he said.

Another factor in economic development is developing the agro-industrial complex. More than 3,000 rural settlements have to be maintained.

He instructed the government to allocate 90 billion tenge (US$232.32 million) in the next three years to develop Auyl – El Besіgі state programme.

The government also needs to create fairer taxation and sounder financial regulation.

“Non-cash payments should be introduced everywhere, eliminating the constraining factor – a high commission of banks,” he said.

The Kazakh National Bank will assess second-tier banks’ assets quality by the end of 2019.

Tokayev also noted the importance of finding ways to increase salaries.

Social modernization

To continue Kazakhstan’s social modernization, he also focused on improving the quality of the country’s education system. The President said the country “must move on to a career guidance policy based on identifying student abilities,” fight the growing “gap in the quality of secondary education between urban and rural schools” and improve the quality of textbooks.

He also said it is important to support family institutes and create an inclusive society. He said priorities in this regard should include protecting children rights, combating domestic violence, reducing suicide rates among adolescents and encouraging participation in sports among all age groups.

He also instructed authorities to allocate at least 58 billion tenge (US$149.25 million) over three years to create equal opportunities for people with disabilities.

The President also noted the importance of access to medical care and the continued development of social supports and pension systems.

Strengthening regions

Tokayev also stressed the need to revise the budget process at all levels and said the public should play a major role in drafting local budgets.

“District, city and rural levels of government should become economically more independent in solving problems of local importance. Their rights, duties and responsibilities should be clearly regulated in legislative acts,” he said.

The President also called on the government to improve the management of urbanisation, pursue a unified housing policy and infrastructure development.

“In general, the government in the coming period should increase the efficiency of its activities. The people of Kazakhstan are waiting for concrete results,” he said.

EU

Horizon Europe given the go-ahead.

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"The Horizon Europe research, innovation and science programme will deliver economic recovery in Europe. But partnerships between public and private bodies must play a key part in rolling out the policy objectives of Horizon Europe". That is according to Abraham Liukang, the Huawei chief representative to the EU institutions.

Abraham Liukang, the Huawei chief representative to the EU institutions.

Abraham Liukang, the Huawei chief representative to the EU institutions.

Horizon Europe given the go-ahead.

EU Governments this week approved the legal texts that will give the formal go ahead to the new Horizon Europe programme. Negotiations will now shortly commence with the European Parliament to iron out any differences that exist between MEPS and EU governments. The bottom line is this:- legislators and key stakeholder groups alike are working towards ensuring that the Horizon Europe programme can and will commence in January 2021.

 

Partnerships – central element of Horizon Europe.

Partnerships between public and private bodies will be a key element of Horizon Europe. This is particularly the case when it comes to involving the ICT sector in Horizon Europe. There are going to be a number of hardcore ICT public private partnerships that will build the next generation of smart services and networks (SNS) in Europe. In reality, SNS will be the key vehicle that will be used to prepare Europe to introduce 6G later in this decade. There will also be a joint undertaking that will be devoted to improving the capability of Europe in the area of key digital technologies.

 

ICT – a driver for positive change.

It is impossible to de-compartmentalise or divorce the ICT sector from other parts of Horizon Europe. This is because, as a society we are now witnessing a digital transformation. Technology is now modernising the industrial, agriculture, health, education, smart city, energy and transport sectors. There is a whole ambit of research activity that is enshrined in Horizon Europe that contains a technological component. In other words, research and innovation actions weave through the whole of Horizon Europe from the sections of this programme that deal with basic science right through to the delivery of new ICT products into the marketplace.

 

International Co-operation.

Horizon Europe is an open programme. This means that research consortia are open to participation for private, public, research, educational and public bodies from all countries around the world. In fact, organisations from circa 185 countries took part in Horizon 2020 during the past seven years alone.

If one wants to develop the best products for the marketplace then one needs to co-operate with the best talent and expertise that exists within these specific fields. I welcome too the publication that was made by the European Commission today that will support the development of a common European research area (ERA). We certainly do need a higher level of mobility of researchers in an out of Europe, including from third countries. Reciprocity, transparency and openness must underpin the relationships that third countries from around the world have with the European Union on the research front.

 

ICT will deliver Economic Recovery.

International organisations such as the OECD, the European Commission, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank all point to the economic benefits that accrue to countries from investing in basic and applied research. The EU leaders have set a target of investment into research and science at 3% GDP. This target can be achieved by fully rolling out the Horizon Europe initiative. Research, innovation and science are economic instruments.

25% of all global research @ development is carried out in Europe. This is a very strong foundation for Europe to build upon – as the EU seeks to strengthen it’s industrial sector via the use of technology.

There are many global challenges that we all must face together. Co-operation and collaboration between public and private bodies from different countries around the world is an imperative if we are to successfully and effectively tackle these grand societal challenges.

Abraham Liukang, is the chief Huawei representative to the EU institutions.

 

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Brexit

Brexit - EU starts infringement process for UK's failure to act in good faith

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As anticipated, the European Commission today (1 October) has sent the United Kingdom a letter of formal notice for breaching its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement. This marks the beginning of a formal infringement process against the United Kingdom. It has one month to reply to today's letter.

The Withdrawal Agreement states that the European Union and the United Kingdom must take all appropriate measures to ensure the fulfilment of the obligations under the Agreement (Article 5). Both parties are bound by the obligation to cooperate in good faith in carrying out the tasks stemming from the Withdrawal Agreement and must refrain from any measures which could jeopardise the attainment of those objectives.

The UK government tabled the UK Internal Market Bill on 9 September the Commission consider this a  flagrant violation of the Protocol on Ireland Northern Ireland, as it would allow the UK authorities to disregard the legal effect of the Protocol's substantive provisions. Representatives of the UK government have acknowledged this violation, stating that its purpose was to allow it to depart in a permanent way from the obligations stemming from the Protocol.

The UK government has failed to withdraw the contentious parts of the Bill, despite requests by the European Union. By doing so, the UK has breached its obligation to act in good faith, as set out in Article 5 of the Withdrawal Agreement.
Next steps

The UK has until the end of this month to submit its observations to the letter of formal notice. After examining these observations, or if no observations have been submitted, the Commission may, if appropriate, decide to issue a Reasoned Opinion.

Background

The Withdrawal Agreement was ratified by both the EU and the UK. It entered into force on 1 February 2020 and has legal effects under international law.

Following the publication by the UK government of the draft ‘United Kingdom Internal Market Bill' on 9 September 2020, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič called for an extraordinary meeting of the EU-UK Joint Committee to request the UK government to elaborate on its intentions and to respond to the EU's serious concerns. The meeting took place in London on 10 September between Michael Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, and Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič.

At the meeting, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič stated that if the Bill were to be adopted, it would constitute an extremely serious violation of the Withdrawal Agreement and of international law. He called on the UK government to withdraw these measures from the draft Bill in the shortest time possible and in any case by the end of the month of September.

At the third ordinary meeting of the Joint Committee on 28 September 2020, Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič again called on the UK government to withdraw the contentious measures from the bill. The UK government on this occasion confirmed its intention to go ahead with the draft legislation.

The Withdrawal Agreement provides that during the transition period, the Court of Justice of the European Union has jurisdiction and the Commission has the powers conferred upon it by Union law in relation to the United Kingdom, also as regards the interpretation and application of that Agreement.

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Cyber-espionage

EU countries test their ability to co-operate in the event of cyber attacks

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EU member states, the EU Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) and the European Commission have met to test and assess their co-operation capabilities and resilience in the event of a cybersecurity crisis. The exercise, organized by the Netherlands with the support of ENISA, is a key milestone towards the completion of  relevant operating procedures. The latter are developed in the framework of the NIS Co-operation Group, under the leadership of France and Italy, and aim for more coordinated information sharing and incident response among EU cybersecurity authorities.

Furthermore, member states, with the support of ENISA, launched today the Cyber Crisis Liaison Organization Network (CyCLONe) aimed at facilitating cooperation in case of disruptive cyber incidents.

Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: “The new Cyber Crisis Liaison Organization Network indicates once again an excellent cooperation between the member states and the EU institutions in ensuring that our networks and critical systems are cyber secure. Cybersecurity is a shared responsibility and we should work collectively in preparing and implementing rapid emergency response plans, for example in case of a large-scale cyber incident or crisis.”

ENISA Executive Director Juhan Lepassaar added: "Cyber crises have no borders. The EU Agency for Cybersecurity is committed to support the Union in its response to cyber incidents. It is important that the national cybersecurity agencies come together to coordinate decision-making at all levels. The CyCLONe group addresses this missing link.”

The CyCLONe Network will ensure that information flows more efficiently among different cybersecurity structures in the member states and will allow to better coordinate national response strategies and impact assessments. Moreover, the exercise organized follows up on the Commission's recommendation on a Coordinated Response to Large Scale Cybersecurity Incidents and Crises (Blueprint) that was adopted in 2017.

More information is available in this ENISA press release. More information on the EU cybersecurity strategy can be found in these Q&A and this brochure.

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