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Remarks by President Barroso following the bilateral talks with Prime Minister Dung of Vietnam

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5471675Hanoi, Vietnam, 25 August 2014

"Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen. I am particularly glad to be in Hanoi today – seven years after my first visit to Vietnam as President of the European Commission.

"And it is a pleasure to meet again Prime Minister Dung giving sequence to our intense contacts over these recent years.

"Europe values its special partnership with Vietnam. Vietnam is not just an emerging economy and a promising market, it is also a close partner with strong historical bounds uniting us and a trusted supporter of EU presence in this part of the world.

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"Today we have extremely dynamic relations grounded in these commonalities and in strong mutual interests.

"And I am particularly proud for having contributed for such a close and dynamic relationship over these last years.

"In 2007 when I first visited Vietnam, Prime Minister Dung and I opened a new chapter in our partnership as we launched together the negotiations for a Partnership and Co-operation Agreement. Three years later, in 2010, we initialled this Agreement together in Brussels and it was signed in 2012.

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"As expected, this Partnership and Cooperation Agreement represents a qualitative leap in our bilateral partnership.

"It now allows the broadening and deepening of relations beyond the traditional areas of trade and development.

"It includes areas such as human rights, environment and climate change, science and technology, transport, tourism, energy, education and culture, peace and security relationship. The list is long, but by no means complete.

"The strengthening of our relations is also visible in the deepening of economic ties and the rapid development of two-way trade and investment.

"Today the EU is Vietnam's largest export market and second largest trade partner. Our trade relations come today to €27 billion ($36bn) a year. And Europe's foreign direct investment in Vietnam amounted to €656 million in 2013 (around USD 880 million).

"But we can and must do more.

"This is why in 2012 we have launched talks for a Free Trade Agreement. This will be the second pillar in which our Partnership will stand.

"This Free Trade Agreement will offer important new business opportunities and promote growth and employment in Vietnam and in Europe.

"It will benefit our companies and our citizens. And it will also help the process of reform and modernisation of Vietnam. There has been a good progress in negotiations and I look at this Agreement with great optimism.

"Let it be no doubts. The EU stands firmly on Vietnam's side on its path towards an industrialised country by 2020. We will continue to support Vietnam in its reform process including through our development assistance.

"The EU is today Vietnam's largest grant donor and I can confirm that we decided this month to significantly increase our assistance to Vietnam for the period 2014-2020 to 400 million euro.

"This assistance will target in particular the areas of governance and rule of law and sustainable energy, in line with the Government's development priorities.

"Because as we discussed today, good governance, human rights, the rule of law and adherence to the international rules based system are driving forces for development. I have also stressed to PM Dung that free media and free internet have an important role to play in a thriving civil society.

"Last but not least, today we also exchanged views on the situation in the South China Sea/East Sea. We shared our concerns about developments in the area.

"In fact, the EU has high stakes in the region: trade and strategic interests, as well as energy and security dimensions. I have assured to Prime Minister Dung that the EU is following developments in the South China Sea with particular attention.

"We do not take a position on individual territorial claims, but we strongly encourage all parties to seek peaceful solutions in accordance with international law, in particular with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea. All sides should refrain from unilateral actions which could cause tension or unintended accidents.

"Regional co-operation and international cooperation is essential to address the challenges with which we are faced with.

"This is why ASEAN integration is very important and we strongly support it. It is time to set up a Strategic Partnership between the EU and ASEAN.

"Prime Minister Dung,

"I believe in the great potential of our bilateral relations. We have much to gain from working more closely with each other on bilateral and international issues such as the fight against climate change, stimulating global growth and securing peace and stability.

"I have to thank you for your enthusiasm and support in bringing our bilateral relationship to a higher level.

"I look back with great satisfaction on what we have achieved together in the last years.

"And I look forward with great expectation for what will come next. Thank you for your attention."

Joint press statement between the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and the European Union

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Belgium

Clashes break out in Brussels in protests over coronavirus restrictions

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Police and protesters clashed in the streets of Brussels on Sunday (21 November) in demonstrations over government-imposed COVID-19 restrictions, with police firing water cannon and tear gas at demonstrators throwing rocks and smoke bombs, witnesses said, write Christian Levaux, Johnny Cotton and Sabine Siebold, Reuters.

About 35,000 people took part in demonstrations, police said, which began peacefully before violence broke out.

Protesters wearing black hoods threw stones at police as they advanced with water cannon at the main junction in front of the European Union Commission headquarters, Reuters journalists said.

Facing up to the police lines, the protesters held hands and chanted "freedom". One protester was carrying a placard reading "when tyranny becomes law, rebellion becomes duty".

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Police forces stand guard as people protest against coronavirus disease (COVID-19) measures near the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium November 21, 2021. REUTERS/Johanna Geron

Protesters also threw smoke bombs and fireworks, the newspaper Le Soir reported. The situation calmed down later, police said.

Belgium tightened its coronavirus restrictions on Wednesday (17 November), mandating wider use of masks and enforcing work from home, as cases rose in the country's fourth COVID-19 wave. Read more.

There have been 1,581,500 infections and 26,568 coronavirus-related deaths reported in the country of 11.7 million people since the pandemic began. Infections are increasing again, with 13,826 new cases reported on average each day.

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Violence has also broken out in anti-restriction protests in Belgium's neighbour the Netherlands in recent days. On Friday, police in Rotterdam opened fire on a crowd.

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European Commission

NextGenerationEU: Commission receives payment request from Spain for €10 billion under the Recovery and Resilience Facility

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The Commission has received the first payment request from Spain under the Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF) for a disbursement of €10 billion in financial support (net of pre-financing). Spain's overall recovery and resilience plan will be financed by €69.5 billion in grants. Payments under the RRF are performance-based and contingent on Spain implementing the investments and reforms outlined in its recovery and resilience plan. This first payment request relates to 52 milestones covering several reforms in the areas of sustainable mobility, energy efficiency, decarbonisation, connectivity, public administration, skills, education and social, labour and fiscal policy.

The Commission now has two months to assess the request. It will then send its preliminary assessment of Spain's fulfilment of the milestones and targets required for this payment to the Council's Economic and Financial Committee. More information on the process of the payment requests under the RRF is available in this Q&A. More information on the Spanish recovery and resilience plan is available here.

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Belgium

'When the Smurfs meet Monkey King'

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'When the Smurfs meet Monkey King' is a children's art exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium.

The successful art exhibition celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium in La Louvière, the birthplace of Surrealism in Belgium that ended on 24 October gave the opportunity to nearly 300 local primary and middle school students in just one week to depict their vision of friendship between China and Belgium.

On 17 October, during the opening ceremony, Françoise Ghiot, Laurent Wimlot, aldermen of La Louvière, and their guests from China and Belgium attended the event. Counsellor Yang Qing, wife of the Chinese Ambassador to Belgium, also recorded a video for the inauguration of the event.

Counsellor Yang Qing said in her speech that she admired the exhibition held in La Louvière. Using pure and innocent artistic perspective, extraordinary creativity and imagination, the children have well defined the cultural elements of both countries. Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium with children’s eyes, sincere feelings, those future ambassadors of friendship have expressed their visions of a better collaborative future between the two nations.

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Ghiot said in her speech that she was very happy on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Belgium to see children’s paintings from China. The art exhibition opened a skylight of artistic exchange for local children.

This children's art exhibition was jointly curated by the city of La Louvière, the Nardone Gallery, and Yellow Vitamines. Through the LPGA (Little Painter Global International Art Exhibition), covering 40 cities and 500 aesthetic education training institutions in China, 5000 children’s work were collected and 200 were finally selected to focus on Belgium. With the innocent help of children's brushes, imagination and understanding, art and culture provided an ideal medium to understanding differences and strengthening the bond between China and Belgium.

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