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Asian leaders to meet in #Dushanbe for major summit

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The Dushanbe Summit, to be held in the Tajikistan capital on June 15th, is a continuation of the efforts of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence-Building Measures in Asia (CICA), which numbers 27 members states. The summit will bring together high-level delegations who are expected to adopt an ambitious document, Dushanbe Declaration, which will cover all issues of cooperation within CICA.

The Member States, whilst affirming their commitment to the UN Charter, believe that peace and security in Asia can only be achieved through dialogue and cooperation leading to a common indivisible area of security in Asia where all states co-exist peacefully and their peoples live in peace, freedom and prosperity.

Prior to the main event, on the 14th the summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation is to take place, also involving CICA member states. This will be the 5th summit of CICA heads of state, the organisation of which is credited to the first president of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev who announced the initiative in 1992.

“(The aspect) on which I would like to dwell is the problem of peace and security on our continent - Asia, or even wider - Eurasia. We are talking about the initiative of the Republic of Kazakhstan to hold the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia. The idea of creating on the continent structures of security and co- operation in Asia in the style of the same structures in Europe has long been in the air, but has not yet received wide support," - Nursultan Nazarbayev, speaking at the 47th session of the UN General Assembly, October 1992.

Amongst the delegates at the summit will be His Excellency Xi Jinping, President of the People’s Republic of China, who will discuss the situation regarding the developing trade war with the United States. The Chinese leader, who is already in Dushanbe, yesterday (June 12th), unveiled his book ‘The Governance of China’ which outlines his political thoughts.

Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, the newly elected President of Kazakhstan, will speak about the situation in Afghanistan, where fears are currently being voiced about the redeployment of Islamic State militants from Iraq and Syria. He will also repeat Kazakhstan’s call for the EU, USA, Russia and China to sit down together at the negotiating table.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, and Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey will also be present.

Heads of delegations will set out their respective approaches to ensuring regional and global security, attention will also be paid to issues of strategic security and stability, issues of dealing with various challenges and threats. The Palestinian leadership will be present, and so it is possible that the United States’ much vaunted “deal of the century” will also be discussed, along with the situation on the Korean Peninsula

Other current and pressing issues on the agenda will be the combating of money laundering, cybercrime, information technology, energy efficiency, infrastructure development, agriculture, SMEs, health and education in order to strengthen the resilience of the states.

From its inception, CICA has been credited with providing a forum in which India and Pakistan are able to air their differences and to debate in a friendly and neutral environment. Since the last summit there has been increased tension and air and ground conflict between the two nuclear armed nations over Kashmir, which has involved loss of military and civilian lives, and it is hoped that CICA will play a part in reducing the risk of further conflict.

In addition to the CICA member states, 13 observers, including representatives of international organisations - the United Nations, the League of Arab States, the International Organisation for Migration, the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), and the Parliamentary Assembly of Turkic-speaking countries will participate.

Whilst CICA is not as yet a powerful organisation capable of resolving all the emerging problems or frozen conflicts at once, it is however an effective platform for mediation and co-operation.

Many Asian leaders understand and acknowledge the need to reformat CICA’s activities, which has already successfully functioned as an international forum and dialogue platform, and to transform it now into an organisation that will be able to deal with urgent intergovernmental problems, primarily economic cooperation and the resolution of existing conflicts.

That is, for what should become the Asian counterpart of the OSCE should become, a wide field of activity is already in place. All previous work on the development of the CICA gives grounds to consider the new project to be both realistic and sustainable.

Given the size and scope of this project, which embraces states in which around half of the world's population live, we should not forget how this process began.

Over 650 international journalists are expected in Dushanbe to cover the event.

 

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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coronavirus

Commission approves €32 million Polish aid scheme to compensate airports for damage suffered due to coronavirus outbreak

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The European Commission has approved, under EU State aid rules, a PLN 142 million (approximately €32m) Polish aid scheme to compensate airports for the damage suffered due to the coronavirus outbreak. In order to limit the spread of the coronavirus, on 15 March 2020, Poland banned all international and domestic air passenger services at Polish airports. The flight restrictions were progressively lifted as of 1 June 2020, but certain travel warnings, travel bans and restrictive measures remained in place until the end of June 2020.

This resulted in high operating losses for the operators of Polish airports. Under the scheme, the Polish authorities will be able to compensate airports for the revenue losses suffered during the period between 15 March and 30 June 2020, as a result of the restrictive measures on international and domestic air passenger services implemented by Poland. The support will take the form of direct grants.

The scheme includes a claw-back mechanism, whereby any possible public support in excess of the actual damage received by the beneficiaries will have to be paid back to the Polish State. The risk of the state aid exceeding the damage is therefore excluded. The Commission assessed the measure under Article 107(2)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, which enables the Commission to approve state aid measures granted by member states to compensate specific companies or specific sectors (in the form of schemes) for the damage directly caused by restrictive measures taken in exceptional occurrences, such as the coronavirus outbreak.

The Commission found that the  scheme notified by Poland will provide compensation for damage that is directly linked to the coronavirus outbreak. It also found that the measure is proportionate, as the compensation does not exceed what is necessary to make good the damage. On this basis, the Commission concluded that the aid is in line with EU state aid rules. More information will be available on the Commission's competition website, in the public case register under the case number SA.58212 once confidentiality issues have been resolved.

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