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EU supports Central America in fight against #OrganizedCrime

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The Commission has announced €20 million to improve co-operation on criminal investigations and the prosecution of cases of transnational crime and drug trafficking across Central America.

The regional programme – known as ICRIME – aims to strengthen efforts to fight against cross-border organized crime and will support El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Belize, Costa Rica, and the Dominican Republic.

International Cooperation and Development Commissioner Neven Mimica said: "Cross-border criminal activities are a major challenge for the economic development of Central America. The fight against organized crime concerns us all, as criminal activities do not stop at borders. With this new regional action, the EU supports the Central American countries in their efforts to clamp down on transnational organized crime and strengthening regional integration."

Commissioner Mimica signed the financing agreement with the Secretary-General of the Central American Integration System, Vinicio Cerezo, on 4 December. The EU will contribute €20 million, while Spain and the Secretariat General of the Central American Integration System (SICA) will contribute €1m and €500,000, respectively.

The programme will help the countries involved in the programme to increase information sharing, use each other's evidence, and co-ordinate operations on the ground. Therefore it will support criminal investigations and prosecution chains at different levels, focusing on transnational co-operation between the police, forensic institutes, prosecutors and the judiciary. More information is available here.

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Report available - Madrid hosted EAPM round table on Tumour Agnostics, innovation, RWE and Molecular Diagnostics which took place at ESMO Congress, 2020

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The Brussels-based European Alliance for Personalised Medicine (EAPM) has held a key round table at the ESMO Congress in Madrid. The report is available by clicking here, writes EAPM Executive Director Denis Horgan.

The high-level discussions under the banner ‘EAPM seeks innovative solutions at ESMO for cancer patients’ held virtually in the Spanish capital, represented the eight such roundtables conducted by the Alliance at the Congress.   This type of interaction is one key aspect of EAPM’s stated goals - to engage with the medical community whenever possible, and at every level.

The round table comes at a crucial time as Europe deploys new efforts to bring innovation into healthcare systems and to establish strategic co-operation. EAPM is actively engaged in discussions with stakeholders and with policymakers on the emerging Beating Cancer Plan and the CancerMission, the promised EU health Data Space, the review of research incentives in its orphan drug rules, the overarching Pharmaceutical Strategy scheduled to appear before the end of 2020, and the new determination– announced in mid-September - to go beyond the draft EU4 Health programme and create a genuine European Health Union.

Attendees at the round table included patients, European Parliament politicians, European Medicine Agency, public health experts, economists, industry representatives from ICT and pharma-ceutical companies, and other specialists from across multiple disciplines.

EDUCATION: EAPM’s multi-stakeholder, high-diversity meeting took into account the fact that new discoveries - generated from a deeper understanding of the human genome.  This shift is rapidly progressing in oncology but is slower in other areas. And, while there are many barriers to innova-tion in clinical practice - including market access, scientific, and/or regulatory challenges - the big-gest challenge across the healthcare system is continuing medical education for healthcare professionals. The report is available by clicking here

MOLECULAR DIAGNOSTICS, INCENTIVES AND MORE:  Topics discussed in depth were incentives and molecular diagnostics which were underpinned by our recent academic publication entitled: Bringing Greater Accuracy to Europe’s Health -care Systems: The Unexploited Potential of Biomarker Testing in Oncology, is already winning plaudits, and it can be read here.   This took into account the ongoing developments in the field of personalised medicine, such as DNA profiling, concepts of ‘va-lue’ and biomarkers and, because of the diversity of the disciplines of the delegates attending, the meeting constituted a bridge between new developments and those that will implement them, as well as the patients who will eventually benefit.

A CHANGING SOCIETY, WITH CHANGING NEEDS: As we all know, a key difference between personalised medicine and conventional methods of treating patients is the setting aside of a ‘one-size-fits-all’ philosophy in favour of a much more targeted process.   A major reason for this is the fact that patients respond differently to the same medicine being used to treat the ‘same’ disease.

Cancer patients overall have a non-response rate of a massive 75 percent. This is for a disease that is the biggest healthcare cost burden of all, as well as being the biggest killer.  Meanwhile, sickness and disability costs form a large portion of GDP and government social spending while overall healthcare costs are rising all the time with Europe’s ageing population. Indeed, the average lifespan has increased by around 25 years in the space of a century.  Better adoption of molecular Diagnostic and early diagnosis can ensure a better rational allocation of resources in society to tackle this societal burden.

INNOVATION IS KEY: Tumour Agnostics and RWE

A major pillar in bringing new, targeted medicines to patients is, of course, innovation. This, in the realm of health, means the translation of knowledge and insight into what we can call ‘value’. And that value covers the value to patients but also has to take into account value to healthcare systems, society and, of course, the manufacturers. 

In the context of tumour agnostics, fittingly described by many speakers as a paradigm shift in cancer care,  tumour agnostic therapies present a new promise of precision medicine – and accordingly, as was frequently argued during the discussion, they require a new way of thinking about cancer care. They offer new opportunities for patients with rare mutations, and the pipeline of potential tumour agnostic therapies/ indications is growing rapidly.  

For the RWE evidence session, the discussion made clear that the simplicity of the concept of using RWE in healthcare belies the many complexities underlying its exploitation. Harnessing health data from many sources in real time should help faster and better medical decision-making. But it will not happen automatically, as the roundtable made clear

For each of the three round tables, the report includes recommendations.  Here is that link to the report again by clicking here

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Huawei chief: The world needs an open approach to scientific research

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At the webinar for Beijing-based research and science attaches from Europe and from the EU, I made the following comment on the subject of research collaboration in Europe: “The nationalization of scientific activity – country by country – is not what the world needs at this time,” writes Abraham Liu.

Here’s why

The events surrounding COVID-19 have given us all some time to reflect upon many different issues – some are of a micro or personal scale – others have a larger macro-economic dimension.

But as the world is embarking on finding a vaccine for COVID-19, there is one clear dawning realization for us all to reflect upon.

Research, educational, private, and public bodies from all over the world must collaborate on basic and applied research. Without intensive international engagement and co-operation, society will not be able to benefit from new innovative products and services. Governments and the private sector alike must substantially invest in basic scientific research if the new products of tomorrow are going to be delivered into the global marketplace.

The process of innovation must not be confined to any one company or any one country. Scientific excellence working together across borders can create new products that address key socioeconomic challenges in the world today. That is why so many multi-jurisdictional research teams across the globe are working on a vaccine for COVID-19.

The same principle – namely the need for international engagement and co-operation – applies to the ICT sector and to the capability to bring new technological innovations into the marketplace.

Huawei is one of the most innovative companies in the world.

Under the EU industrial scoreboard for research and development 2019 Huawei ranks fifth in the world in terms of the levels of financial investment that the company makes in the fields of R&D. This a  finding of the European Commission having surveyed 2,500 companies in the world that invest a minimum of €30 million in R&D per annum. We:

  • Run 23 research centres in 12 countries in Europe.
  • Hold 240+ technology partnership agreements with research institutes in Europe.
  • Collaborate with over 150 European Universities on research.
  • Employ 2,400 researchers and scientists in Europe.
  • Invest 15% of our global revenues into research each year and this level of investment is going to increase.

International collaboration is at the heart of the Huawei business model when it comes to our research activities.

Europe is home to 25% of all global R&D investment. A third of all scientific publications that are reviewed in the world today emanate from European researchers. Europe is home to the best scientists in the world. And this is why so much of Huawei investment on the research side is based in Europe.

Huawei has participated in 44 collaborative research projects under both FP7 and under Horizon 2020. We have engaged in research covering, for example, 5Gcloud and device technologies and the building of ICT platforms that will deliver the smart cities of the future. So Huawei has a strong embedded imprint on research in Europe, and this remain the case for many years to come. In fact, Huawei’s first research facility opened in Sweden in 2000.

The Huawei Research Center in Gothenburg

Horizon Europe – the next EU research, innovation and science instrument 2021-2027 will play a central role in delivering upon the policy agenda of the EU institutions. This includes strengthening the industrial strategies of the EU, delivering upon the EU Green deal and tackling the UN sustainability goals.

Huawei can positively support the implementation of this exciting new EU policy agenda.

The ‘nationalization’ or ‘de-compartmentalization’ of scientific and research activity – country by country – is not what the world needs today. The public, private, educational and governmental sectors  need to take an open approach to scientific engagement. This will ensure that the key global challenges facing the world today can be positively addressed for all of mankind.

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Thoughts on post-Abe Japan in foreign policy

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After more than seven years of steady rule, Shinzo Abe’s (pictured) resignation as Japan’s prime minister has once again put the country’s foreign policy into the world’s spotlight. With the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) racing for the selection of new party leader and later on, the nation’s prime minister, several possible candidates have come to the fore. Apart from the ambitious Shigeru Ishiba who attempted to challenge Abe for the party’s leadership in the past, others such as Yoshihide Suga (current Cabinet Secretary) and Fumio Kishida, are expected to stand as contenders for the top post within the LDP as well as the government.

First, the perception of China within the Japanese public and LDP, has been at a low level even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck Japan. According to Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes survey in late 2019, as much as 85% of Japanese public viewed China negatively ⸺ a figure that put Japan as the country which had the most negative view of China among the 32 countries polled that year. More importantly, such survey was conducted months before the three events: the spread of COVID-19 pandemic, the passing of the Hong Kong security law and the continuing dispute of the Senkaku (or Diaoyu) Islands. With all these three issues involving China converging at the same time, it will be challenging to expect the Japanese public will have a more positive view of Beijing this year.

The US-China rivalry today has also entered uncharted waters in which military conflict is no longer a distant dream for many. Given its vested relationships with both US and China, such challenge remains to be the most difficult for Abe’s successor to grapple with. On one hand, Tokyo has to safeguard its close trade ties with China while on the other, the former has to depend on its security alliance with the US to safeguard both national and regional security against hypothetical threats (including China). As reported by Kyodo News in last July, Suga himself was aware of such dilemma as a middle power and even recognised that the balance of power strategy might not be suitable anymore given the current freefall relationship between Washington and Beijing. Instead, Suga alerted of the possibility in siding with one of the two powers as the eventual option for Japan in the near future. While he did not mention which country to side in case such scenario becomes a reality, political observers should not be too conclusive in that he will choose China as opposed to the US if he becomes the new Japanese prime minister.

Last, Abe’s successor inherits his legacy of Japan as a proactive leader in the Southeast Asia region. As a person without much experience in foreign policy, it is challenging for Suga (more than Kishida and Ishiba) to preserve Japan’s leadership status in Asia without heavy reliance on the foreign policy establishment. That said, the current Abe administration’s policy of encouraging its manufacturers to shift production from China into either Japan’s own shores or Southeast Asian countries, will likely to be continued in consideration of the urgency compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic and the freefalling US-China relations.

With Japan’s collective pursuit with the US, India and Australia for the Free and Open Indo-Pacific (FOIP) vision as a security counter against Beijing in Southeast Asia, on top of Tokyo’s national economic interest to reduce its overdependence on China, the country fits well into the sort of external power needed by the ASEAN member states.

ANBOUND Research Center (Malaysia) is an independent think tank situated in Kuala Lumpur, registered (1006190-U) with laws and regulations of Malaysia. The think tank also provides advisory service related to regional economic development and policy solution. For any feedback, please contact: [email protected].  

The opinions expressed in the above article are those of the author alone, and do not reflect any opinions on the part of EU Reporter.

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