UK PM presents new Brexit negotiation terms with EU

Robie de Guzman   •   August 20, 2019   •   379

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday wrote to European Council President Donald Tusk to propose conditions on negotiating a new Brexit deal by seeking the removal of the Irish backstop.

In the letter, Johnson said the so-called “backstop” agreement designed to avoid border checks between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland undermines the sovereignty of Britain, which must be removed.

Johnson has proposed to find a “flexible and creative” border agreement to solve the potential problems regarding the Northern Ireland border.

According to the withdrawal agreement reached by the former British Prime Minister Theresa May and the EU, the “backstop” will serve as an insurance policy to maintain an open border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland in the event that the UK leaves the EU without securing an all-encompassing deal.

Some critics believe that this arrangement could trap Northern Ireland inside the EU and cause the split of Britain.

Johnson vowed to bring Britain out of the EU by Oct. 31, and this is his first attempt to reopen Brexit negotiations after becoming the prime minister in July. (Reuters)

UK to purge Huawei from 5G by 2027

UNTV News   •   July 15, 2020

Prime Minister Boris Johnson ordered Huawei equipment to be purged completely from Britain’s 5G network by 2027, risking the ire of China by signaling that the world’s biggest telecoms equipment maker is no longer welcome in the West.

The seven-year lag will please British telecoms operators such as BT, Vodafone and Three, which had feared they would be forced to spend billions of pounds to rip out Huawei equipment much faster. But it will delay the roll out of 5G.

The decision was announced in parliament on Tuesday (July 14) by Johnson’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Secretary, Oliver Dowden.

Dowden also confirmed Britain’s National Security Council (NSC), chaired by Johnson, has decided to ban the purchase 5G components from the end of this year.

The United States had long pushed Johnson to reverse a decision he made in January to grant Huawei a limited role in 5G.

London has also been dismayed by a crackdown in Hong Kong and the perception China did not tell the whole truth over the coronavirus.

The cyber arm of Britain’s GCHQ eavesdropping agency, the National Cyber Security Centre, told ministers it could no longer guarantee the stable supply of Huawei gear after the United States imposed new sanctions on chip technology.

Telecoms companies will also be told to stop using Huawei in fixed-line fibre broadband within the next two years.

Dowden said the UK would be on an “irreversible path” for the complete removal of Huawei equipment from its 5G networks by the time of the next general election, currently scheduled for 2024.

Chi Onwurah of the opposition Labour party told lawmakers the government had been “incomprehensibly negligent” with its approach to 5G, Huawei and national security until making the decision, describing the situation as an economic “car crash” that “could have been visible from outer space.”

With faster data and increased capacity, 5G will become the nervous system of the future economy – carrying data on everything from global financial flows to critical infrastructure such as energy, defence and transport.

After Australia first recognised the destructive power of 5G if hijacked by a hostile state, the West has become steadily more worried about Huawei.

(Production: Ben Dangerfield)

18 countries issue joint statement supporting WHO; criticize US withdrawal

UNTV News   •   July 13, 2020

A total of 18 countries in Europe, the Caribbean, and South America convened a video conference and issued a joint statement on July 10, stating their strong support for the United Nations, especially the World Health Organization (WHO), and criticizing U.S. withdrawal from WHO.

The meeting was initiated by the European Union, France, and Spain. The EU countries participating in the meeting include Germany, Croatia, Spain, France, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia, and Sweden, while the Latin American countries attending the conference are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and Dominica.

The 18 countries believed that WHO plays a key role in the global collaborative fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Cooperation and solidarity are at the core of responding to the pandemic.

The countries jointly support WHO in carrying out coordinated actions, conducting a fair, independent and comprehensive assessment and summarizing the experience of the international community in responding to the pandemic. (Reuters)

EU sets ‘safe’ travel list, excluding United States

UNTV News   •   July 1, 2020

The European Union has excluded the United States from its initial “safe list” of countries from which the bloc will allow non-essential travel from Wednesday (July 1).

The 27-member bloc gave approval on Tuesday (June 30) to leisure or business travel from 14 countries beyond its borders, the Council of the EU, which represents EU governments, said in a statement.

The countries are Algeria, Australia, Canada, Georgia, Japan, Montenegro, Morocco, New Zealand, Rwanda, Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Tunisia and Uruguay.

China has also been provisionally approved, although travel would only open up if Chinese authorities also allowed in EU visitors. Reciprocity is a condition of being on the list.

Russia, Brazil and Turkey, along with the United States, are among countries whose containment of the virus is considered worse than that of the EU average and so will have to wait at least two weeks. The bloc will carry out fortnightly reviews.

The move is aimed at supporting the EU travel industry and tourist destinations, particularly countries in southern Europe hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It acts as a recommendation to EU members, meaning they could potentially set restrictions on those entering from the 14 nations and will almost certainly not allow access to travelers from other countries. (Reuters)

(Production Hortense de Roffignac)

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