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The #EUChina 'relationship is strategically important as well as one of the most challenging' #SOTEU

EU Reporter Correspondent

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In today’s (16 September) ‘State of the European Union’ address to the European Parliament, President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen said the relationship between the European Union and China is simultaneously one of the most strategically important for the EU as well as being one of the most challenging.

Von der Leyen gave the example of climate change, where there is a strong dialogue between the EU and China. In the economic field, there are still many challenges in market access for European companies, reciprocity, and overcapacity.

Von der Leyen also pointed to the differences in values, where the EU believes in the universal value of democracy and the rights of the individual. She said that while Europe certainly wasn’t perfect, it dealt with criticism and was open to debate. The EU will continue to criticize human rights abuses whenever and wherever they occur, be it on Hong Kong, or the treatment of the Uyghurs.

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Video round table: Debate on the proposed new Belgian 5G law

EU Reporter Correspondent

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The Belgian National Security Council has proposed a new law which includes a series of additional security measures regarding the rollout of 5G mobile networks. The capability of 5G is immense and will affect every area of the economy, and every government has a duty to ensure that any deployed 5G technology is safe to use as a communication medium by its citizens and the government.

At an online roundtable debate organized today, (17 December), by EU Reporter, interested experts and commentators debated the issue.

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Ambassador's Corner

Ambassador's corner: H.E. Aigul Kuspan of Kazakhstan

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The first in a series of conversations with various countries' ambassadors to the EU.

EU Reporter's Tori Macdonald speaks with Kazakhstan's Chief Representative to Belgium, Luxembourg, the EU and NATO, Aigul Kuspan.

The discussion begins with a reflection how the relations between Kazakhstan and their partners have evolved over the course of this year. Kuspan talks about the progress and many new beginnings that have formed despite the disruptive nature of 2020. The focus then turns towards Kazakhstan and how they have been managing the COVID-19 outbreak nationally as well as their participation in the global collective effort.

Looking towards the future, Kazakh eyes are firmly fixed towards the upcoming parliamentary elections in January 2021. Kuspan sheds some light on the motives of President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev regarding key areas such as political reform and climate change. Furthermore, reflecting on the current challenges faced by the country and formulating an action plan to tackle these issues.

Lastly, Kuspan addresses her Brussels' based Embassy's aims for the new year as well as highlighting their diplomatic efforts in the last few months.

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US: ‘It is no secret that in the past four years, things have been complicated’ Borrell

EU Reporter Correspondent

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In a debate (11 November) in the European Parliament on the recent US elections, The EU’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Josep Borrell, congratulated President-elect, Joe Biden, and Vice-President-elect, Kamala Harris, for their historic victory.

Borrell applauded the largest participation in the United States electoral history, saying that it clearly showed that American citizens were very much aware of the importance of this election.

Reboot of EU/US relations

Borrell said that the EU will now look at opportunities to advance its strategic partnership with the United States, a commitment that the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen had already made in her ‘State of the EU’ address to the European Parliament in September.

The High Representative did not hide that the EU/US relations had become more strained under the Trump administration, “It is no secret either that in the past four years, things have become complicated in our relations. I am looking forward to getting back to a frank dialogue.”

Borrell welcomed the clear commitment of President-elect Biden to restoring unity and respect for democratic norms and institutions and to working with allies based on partnership. While recognising that the EU needs to work together with the United States in many frameworks – defense frameworks and others - he said that the EU still needed to reinforce its strategic autonomy to become a stronger partner.

“I do not have to explain that we have had a very significant bilateral relationship globally [with the United States],” said Borrell, adding “We have a common history, shared values and we adhere to democratic principles. This partnership reflects how we go across all economic fields, underpinned by wide cooperation.”

The High Representative outlined a long list of common strategic goals: to reenergize the cooperation in the multilateral fora, in particular in the United Nations; to continue working in promoting the full respect of human rights; to address the difficulties in the World Trade Organization, especially the dispute settlement mechanism; to cooperate in fighting the COVID-19, including strengthening the working of the World Health Organization and the capacity of the global health system, starting with preparedness and response to emergencies; to accelerate ambitious global climate action and to invest in harnessing the technological transformation; to look at China, Iran and our Neighbourhood.

He added a note of caution that he was ready to engage with the new actors, but added that there was quite a long transition ahead, “let us hope it is not going to be a bumping transition.”

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