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Security Council further tightens sanctions against DPR Korea

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The United Nations Security Council today imposed new sanctions on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), increasing the depth of measures imposed on the country in the wake of its continued nuclear and ballistic weapons programme, including the ballistic missile launch on 28 November.

In a unanimously adopted resolution, the 15-member Council also decided that all UN Member States shall “prohibit” the direct or indirect supply, sale or transfer to the DPRK of crude oil, refined petroleum products, and various types of equipment and raw materials.

The restrictions also applied with respect to the Member States’ territories, nationals, flagged vessels, aircraft, pipelines, rail lines, or vehicles and whether or not originating in their territories.

The Security Council also decided that Member States shall repatriate all DPRK nationals earning income in that Member State’s jurisdiction and all DPRK government safety oversight attachés monitoring DPRK workers abroad “immediately but no later than 24 months,” unless the Member State determined that the national’s repatriation is prohibited under applicable national and international law, or if that national is a national of that Member State.

Further, in relation to maritime interdiction of cargo vessels, the Council decided that Member States shall seize, inspect, and impound any vessel in their ports if the Member State has reasonable grounds to believe that the vessel was involved in activities, or the transport of items, prohibited by relevant UN resolutions.

On the political side, the Security Council expressed its “deep concern” at the grave hardship that the people in the DPRK are subjected to and condemns the country for pursuing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles instead of the welfare of its people.

Also in the resolution, the Council affirmed that it shall keep the country’s actions under “continuous review” and that it is determined to take further “significant measures” in the event of a further nuclear test or launch.

UN chief welcomes unity in the Security Council

Following the adoption of the resolution, Secretary-General António Guterres welcomed the continued unity of the Security Council and noted that it is essential to achieve the goal of denuclearisation and create the space for diplomatic initiatives aimed at achieving it in a peaceful manner.

In a statement attributable to his spokesperson, Mr. Guterres supported the Council’s desire for a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation, as well as its urging of further work to reduce tensions.

“The only way forward for a comprehensive peaceful and political solution requires de-escalation and open communication channels, now,” read the statement.

“[The Secretary-General] reaffirms his commitment to working with all parties to this end [and] calls upon all Member States to ensure the full implementation of the relevant resolutions and to redouble efforts to make 2018 a pivotal year for the achievement of sustainable peace on the Korean Peninsula,” it added.

EU Politics

PES Europe Ministers call for a European Budget that rises to the challenge

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President of FEPS Maria João Rodrigues MEP, First Vice President of the European Commission Frans Timmermans, and Germans Minister of State for Europe Michael Roth photo: PES

Europe needs ambitious short- and long-term planning, the Ministers of European Affairs from the PES agreed today during their discussion of the European budget for 2021-2027.

The chair of the network, German Minister for Europe Michael Roth, called for a European budget that promotes social wellbeing, innovation and sustainability across Europe.

Roth said:“The fundamental role of the European budget is to ensure cohesion, convergence and growth. It is the main tool Europe has to invest in the future, to bring countries closer together, and to make sure our children and grandchildren have a good life. When negotiating the European Budget both the short and long term must be kept in mind. Our ambition today, shapes the Europe of tomorrow. I want a bright Europe for tomorrow.”

The Ministers continued their discussion on the state of the rule of law in Europe.

Roth added:“Democracy and the rule of law cannot be interpreted freely. All Member States have to abide to the same clear set of rules. We will continue keeping a close eye on the issue. And we will continue supporting the great work that the EU Commission’s First Vice President Frans Timmermans is carrying out.”

The meeting was attended by:

  • Michael Roth, Minister of State for Europe, Chair, Germany
  • Helena Dalli, Minister for European Affairs and Equality, Malta
  • Ana Paula Zacarias, Secretary of State for European Affairs, Portugal
  • Hans Dahlgren, Minister for EU Affairs, Sweden
  • Frans Timmermans, First Vice President of the European Commission, European Commission
  • George Katrougalos, Foreign Affairs Ministers, Greece (observer)
  • Maria Joao Rodrigues, Vice President of the S&D Group, chair of the PES FEN Network, European Parliament
  • Javier Moreno, Secretary General of the S&D Group, European Parliament
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EU Politics

Migration and asylum: EU funds to promote integration and protect borders

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MEPs backed on Tuesday increasing the EU budget for migration and asylum policies and to reinforce borders.

The Civil Liberties Committee endorsed the renewed Asylum, Migration and Integration Fund (AMIF), the 2021-2027 budget of which will increase up to €9.2 billion (€10.41 billion in current prices, 51% more than in the previous financial framework). It also backed the creation of a new Integrated Border Management Fund (IBMF) and agreed to allocate €7.1 billion (€8 billion in current prices) to it.

The AMIF should contribute to strengthen the common asylum policy, develop legal migration, in line with the member states’ economic and social needs, contribute to countering irregular migration and ensure effective, safe and dignified return, readmission and reintegration in non-EU countries.

But it should also ensure “solidarity and fair sharing of responsibility between the member states, in particular towards those most affected by migration challenges, including through practical cooperation”, MEPs state.

MEPs also want to make sure that funds can be allocated to local and regional authorities, and to international and non‑governmental organisations, working in the field of asylum and migration.

Integrated Border Management Fund to secure EU’s external borders

IBMF will provide funding to build and enhance member states’ capacities in border management and visa policy. The funding dedicated to member states (60 % of the total envelope) will reflect their needs and take into account additional pressures. Furthermore, a new EU thematic facility (40% of the total envelope) will ensure flexibility to channel emergency funding to member states and EU-level projects when urgent action is needed.

MEPs also added safeguards to ensure that actions and measures funded through the Instrument comply with the EU’s fundamental rights obligations, in particular with the principles of non-discrimination and non-refoulement.

Both funds will operate in full synergy. They will also work closely with the reinforced Internal Security Fund (ISF) focusing on tackling terrorism, organised crime and cybercrime.

Next steps

The draft proposal on the renewed AMIF passed with 31 votes to 23 and 1 abstention. The new IBMF was backed by 41 MEPs, 9 voted against and 2 abstained. The full House will have to confirm its position in the first March plenary, ahead of the negotiations with the Council of the EU.

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EU Politics

Trade negotiations with US can start under certain conditions

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The Trade Committee on Tuesday endorsed the mandate to start limited EU-US trade talks, but set conditions on the conclusion of a deal.

Starting talks is in the interest of European citizens and companies, as it would ease current tensions in EU-US trade relations, brought about by the US administration’s actions, said International Trade Committee MEPs in the report adopted by 21 votes to 17, with one abstention.

They nevertheless note that the conclusion of a trade agreement based on the current negotiating mandate can only be successful if the following conditions are met:

  • the US must lift tariffs on aluminium and steel;
  • a comprehensive consultation process with civil society and a sustainability impact assessment are carried out;
  • the EU insists on including cars and car tariffs in the talks, and on excluding agriculture;
  • talks will be suspended if the US levies another tariff;
  • more clarity on how rules of origin (which lock in how much of the value of a product must be created locally for trade preferences) are handled during the talks.

Background

The European Commission submitted its draft negotiating mandates to the Council for approval on 18 January. The mandates will authorise the Commission to negotiate with the US on eliminating tariffs on industrial goods and on harmonising conformity assessment.

Next steps

Parliament will vote on its stance on the mandates in March. EU Council of Ministers is expected to adopt the draft negotiating mandates in the same month. The Commission will start negotiations on the basis of the final mandate.

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