- NATO Leaders Summit Started
- Free Trade Agreement Between Australia and England
- E.U. Prepares to Lift U.S. Travel Restriction
NATO Leaders Summit Started
The leaders of NATO’s 30 member countries arrived at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on Monday (14 June 2021) to participate in the NATO Summit.
The main agenda items of the alliance are relations with the People’s Republic of China, which is on its way to becoming a military superpower, measures to be taken against the Russian threat, and “NATO 2030”, the reform initiative within NATO.
The summit also has the distinction of being the first NATO meeting attended by U.S. President Joe Biden. In NATO, which had a difficult time with Donald Trump, the election of Biden as the U.S. President has created a relief within the alliance.
“This summit with Biden should be a signal to the world that NATO is back,” said a senior European NATO diplomat who was also at the alliance during the Trump years.
“There was so much noise, and it was a difficult time. But now we can talk about the things that matter, the defining security challenges of our time,” the envoy said.
In his statement before the summit, NATO Secretary-General Stoltenberg emphasized that “China is not an enemy or a competitor.” Diplomats also stated that the final declaration would not characterize China as an enemy but would include statements showing that they were concerned about China’s joint military exercises with Russia, cyber-attacks, and the rapid expansion of its navy.
While the US Biden administration urged its Western allies to take a tougher stance against China, China warned that they would not stand by NATO if any measures were taken.
Free Trade Agreement Between Australia and England
Australian Trade Minister Dan Tehan announced that they had signed a trade agreement with the U.K. This was the first agreement made after the U.K. left the European Union.
Tehan announced that British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his Australian counterpart, Scott Morrison, had reached a free trade agreement after negotiations in London.
Morrison and Johnson thrashed out some of the final barriers to the new economic pact during a three-hour dinner at the British Prime Minister’s official London residence on Monday evening.
“The two Prime Ministers had a positive discussion in London on the free trade agreement,” Tehan said. The agreement is essential for business and free trade. The agreement also demonstrates what two liberal democracies can achieve when they work together.”
In a speech to the Australia-UK Chamber of Commerce on Monday night, Mr. Morrison said the hesitancy in Britain towards the deal, especially over agriculture, was understandable, and it was incumbent on governments to sell the ultimate message of job creation.
“We either are passionate about growing the markets in which we operate … or we will stay in a situation of being unable to take up those opportunities,” he said.
He said Britain joining the European Common Market in 1973 had “a devastating blow on Australian producers,” and Brexit “was an opportunity for us to pick up where we left off all those years ago.”
While the terms of the Australian deal have not been released, it is expected to include a substantial revamp of visa requirements to make it easier for professionals and young travelers to live and work in Britain and vice-versa.
The agreement will also mean a raft of professional qualifications gained in one country will be recognized in the other.
The two Prime Ministers are expected to make a statement and give information on the issue.
E.U. Prepares to Lift U.S. Travel Restriction
The European Union is set to lift travel restrictions for U.S. residents as soon as this week, in the latest step toward a return to normal despite concerns over the spread of potentially dangerous coronavirus variants.
According to Bloomberg’s report, a diplomat with knowledge of the subject said that Portugal, which holds the rotating E.U. presidency, has “whitelisted” countries such as the USA, Albania, Hong Kong, Lebanon, Macau, the Republic of North Macedonia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, and Taiwan for travel permits.
The diplomat, who asked not to be named, said there was no objection to the proposal across the E.U. and that E.U. government officials in Brussels would approve the expanded “white list” on Wednesday.
Adopting the proposal will be of great advantage for E.U. airlines, which are deeply affected by the restrictions imposed by the pandemic. The move will boost major EU airlines such as Air France-KLM and Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which along with their American counterparts, rely on the profitable trans-Atlantic corridors.
While some E.U. member states already allow vaccinated American citizens to visit their countries, tourism activity is predicted to revive all countries across the bloc, with the U.S. being included in the “white list.”
Despite the progress, trans-Atlantic travel won’t be fully open until the U.S. reciprocates and lifts a ban on most E.U. residents from entering the country.