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tv   HAR Dtalk  BBC News  March 2, 2021 4:30am-5:01am GMT

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if they continue their violent crackdown on demonstrators opposed to last month's coup. it has already sanctioned ten individuals, including the acting president. on sunday at least 18 protesters were killed by security forces. senior united nations officials are saying they are �*disappointed' by the aid pledged by international doners to yemen. secretary general antonio guterres warned that cutting aid was a death sentence. $4 billion was asked for, to help prevent famine. $1.7 billion has been promised. the queen's husband prince philip has been moved to a specialist heart hospital in london for further treatment. he is 99 years old. he was said to be comfortable on arrival at bart's hospital. he's being treated for an infection and a pre—existing heart condition. now on bbc news, it's
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time for hardtalk. welcome to hardtalk, i'm stephen sackur. all those who dreamed of a global economy characterised by free trade, open borders and shared liberal values have surely woken up by now. the world today is a very different place. the us—china economic relationship is mistrustful and hostile, and the eu — the biggest trading bloc in the world — is increasingly talking of asserting its own economic power. but how? well, my guest is valdis dombrovskis, european commission vice president, with responsibility for economy and trade. is the eu about to become the economic tough guy?
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valdis dombrovskis, in brussels, welcome to hardtalk. good afternoon. here, let me quote to you something you said when you were given the trade portfolio in september of last year. you said, "we are currently in turbulent waters as regards "global trade, relations with the us, and "relations with china." i would put it to you that when you're in turbulent waters, you need to be a strong swimmer. do you think the eu is a strong swimmer right now? well, indeed. first of all, eu is the largest trading bloc in the world, not only in terms of trade volumes, but we also have most comprehensive set of free—trade agreements than any other economy has.
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and we just recently put out a new direction for eu trade policy, focusing on three key words — open, sustainable, assertive. yes. and we'll go through all of those — open, sustainable and assertive — in the next few minutes. but let me just continue with this idea of the eu's strength right now. would you perhaps acknowledge that the covid pandemic has really knocked back the european economy, in a way that perhaps is more true of europe than china, for sure, and even the united states? it's weakened europe in quite a fundamental way, hasn't it? well, it's true that the whole world is affected by covid—19 pandemic, and the whole world economy is affected, and eu is not an exception. indeed, we had a sizeable
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recession last year, but we are already expecting to bounce back this year. so we're expecting around 3.7% growth in eu this year. and by the middle of the next year, we expect to be back at pre—crisis level. and what is important is that in face of... if i may, commissioner, and, indeed, vice president of the commission, i know it's not your portfolio, but you must be concerned, as one of the most senior voices in the commission, that the roll—out of the vaccines in europe has been fairly disastrous thus far. as we speak today, only 6 or 7% of the eu population has received a first dose. compare that with neighbouring united kingdom, where the figure is now beyond 30%. and that matters because it means europe is going to be much slower at easing lockdown restrictions and getting back to normal. well, first of all, vaccination campaign in the eu is gathering pace as we speak, and so eu is going to catch up,
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actually, quite quickly. and as regards our economic response, eu managed to act boldly and in a spirit of european solidarity. so we put a substantial fiscal policy support to the economy, substantial monetary support to the economy. and, actually, we are seeing that all this fiscal and monetary support which was put to the economy is working, and european economy is rebounding. and what we want to do with the support of this money, which we are currently putting on table, is not only to get to sort of say, "business as usual," just to get the economy going, but we also want to facilitate green and digital transformation of our economy. well, yeah, we'll get to your recovery and resilience rescue package injust
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a moment, but before we do, i don't want to leave vaccinations quite so quickly because it is fundamentally important to the overall european economic recovery, and the collective procurement process by which you decided in europe to roll out the vaccination programme, it hasn't worked. and that's not my view, that's the view of many people inside the european union. we've seen the german newspapers comparing the eu with britain and saying, you know, "dear brits, "we envy you." and we've also had one of your leaders, the hungarian prime minister, viktor orban, saying, "it is now quite clear the collective procurement "effort was a bad decision. "the us, britain, israel, even serbia, are far ahead "of us as eu member states." so it is fundamentally undermining the notion of the eu as a coherent, effective, collective effort, is it not? well, first of all, indeed, it was a collective effort, and eu put quite a sizable amount of money for vaccine research and development —
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some 2.7 billion euros. and what is important is that we ensure the roll—out of vaccination across the eu simultaneously in a spirit of european solidarity. so we made sure that at the end of december, when the vaccination campaign started, it started simultaneously in all eu memberstates, because a counterfactual would be if each of 27 member states was to be left to its own devices. yes, so to say bigger and stronger member states probably would have advanced quite well, but there would be many member states which would be left behind... sure. ..and that definitely would not be good for european solidarity. if i may, the solidarity you've ended up with is the solidarity of vulnerability and weakness, because, as i say, 93, 94% of your entire eu population is as yet
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unvaccinated — that's the solidarity — and it's a very unfortunate form of solidarity. well, that brings me back to the point that the vaccine roll—out is accelerating as we speak, and, as i said, europe will be catching up, actually, quite fast. well, you have to convince the european public of that. right now they don't appear to be convinced. and, to be honest, many of them also don't appear to be convinced that the promises you've made of this ambitious rescue and recovery plan are actually going to be delivered, because, as i understand it, there is conditionality — as you decide exactly how the money is going to be disbursed to the member states, you want to see evidence that they are going to do it in a way which meets your structural reform requirements. and for countries like italy, that's going to be very, very difficult, isn't it? well, first of all, recovery
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and resilience facility is not first eu—level support instrument which we are putting on table. we started with giving member states all the necessary fiscal and state aid flexibility, with activating general escape clause, with temporary state aid framework, so that member states could support their economies, could support their economic recovery, and also finance all necessary crisis response. then we put on table several eu—level packages to support member states, to support companies, to support workers in the eu. so 540 billion euro package, which was indeed more like emergency response package. people watching around the world won't necessarily want to get too deep into the weeds of the different forms of eu money. but what matters is that for this long—term resilience and recovery package, you are raising money collectively
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on the bond markets. and that's a very interesting new form of raising collective money across the eu to then disburse to nation states. but the deal is that you only give the money when you're satisfied that the nation states are meeting the criteria when it comes to spending the money wisely and being responsible in their economic management. and i repeat to you that, in countries like italy, which are currently undergoing political crisis, it is going to be very difficult for them to persuade you lot in brussels that they're going to spend the money wisely, responsibly and with reform in mind, isn't it? well, that's just to wrap up what i wanted to say. that's why we are emphasising that to provide immediate crisis relief, there are a number of eu—level packages which are already available, which are already disbursed to eu member states.
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so here we are taking more forward—looking way and, indeed, to strengthen economic resilience, it's important that countries also address the long—standing structural weaknesses in their economies, and to facilitate green and digital transformation of their economy. there are green and digital mainstreaming targets — 37% and 20%, correspondingly — for the recovery and resilience facility. those turbulent waters we talked about at the beginning included a very difficult relationship with the trump administration. do you have any real confidence that the trade relationship between the eu and the us is going to be much easier under presidentjoe biden? well, certainly we are very much willing to engage with us because we are like—minded countries, we are strategic partners, and if eu and us works together, we can be a force for the good globally.
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as regards trade relationships, there are two work strands which we need to follow. indeed, first, to resolve our bilateral trade disputes left from trump era. and we are ready to engage with us very intensively and actually already put forward some proposals how to address them. and we also expect to engage much more intensively and constructively on multilateral. for example, on the reform of the world trade organization. all right. well, let's start with the bilateral. i'm looking atjoe biden�*s early commitments in office as president. he has emphasised the concept of buying american. he's going to put buy american provisions into federal procurement. so it seems to me that, on that basis alone, the notion that things are going to be easier in the eu—us trade relationship under biden, that doesn't appear to be the case at all. if anything, he's ratcheting up the...the protectionism.
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well, as regards the executive order on buy american, we are currently examining this executive order and its potential impact on european companies. also how it reflects the commitments the us had taken in a context of the world trade organization's government procurement agreement. are you... hang on, commissioner. are you worried about it? are you worried about a president who comes into office talking about putting provisions into federal procurement, which are all about buying american? does that worry you? well, that's why we need to assess what exactly the implications are and, as i said, there are also certain commitments usa have taken in a context
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of government procurement agreement. so, for us, it's important to see how these commitments are followed through and what is the potential impact on eu companies. but i would say, on the general tone of the biden administration, we see much more openness also to deal with our bilateral trade disputes. yeah, well, that... that interests me. why...why do you say that? you've got all sorts of disputes, from steel and aluminium to the very bitter dispute over subsidies that the europeans give to airbus, the plane manufacturer. i've been looking very closely at all of this, i can't see any signal at all that the biden administration is going to be any easier for you to deal with than donald trump. well, first of all, if we look at, specifically, steel and aluminium, and airbus boeing dispute, so what we are proposing from our side is to mutually
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withdraw, or at least suspend, tariffs and to concentrate on the root causes of those issues. in the case of steel, it's global steel overcapacity, which stems primarily from countries like china. in terms of airbus boeing, we need to concentrate on future disciplines in area of civil aviation. yeah, but to be clear, you've thus far had no specific message from the americans saying that they're going to change tack. they're still basically in dispute with you and have given you no signal that they're going to somehow reverse course and meet you halfway. well, first of all, the negotiations will start in earnest indeed with the appointment of the new us trade representative, mrs tai. yes, i know that, but...
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but, in between.... if i may, miss katherine tai, who's about to be nominated as us trade representative, she just testified on capitol hill saying that she doesn't have a problem with tariffs. they are, quote, "a legitimate tool in the trade toolbox", and she clearly doesn't regard them as a moral problem. so, as i keep saying, there's no indication you're going to have an easier time underjoe biden. well, what i want to emphasise is that are already talks at various levels, so to say, preparatory talks with the us administration. i would say tone is, all in all, more constructive and one can expect more predictable, these, than from trump administration. we continue, so to say, to reject the notion that the eu would... ..or eu poses a national security threat to us.
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and that was the basis how trump was imposing his tariffs. so i think there is scope for a change and we are optimistic that we will be able to have a positive change also on our bilateral disputes. if you really wanted a much warmer and better relationship with the us on trade, you might have perhaps thought more carefully about the decision taken by you at the european commission to sign that significant investment deal with china at the end of 2020. because you did it knowing that the incoming biden team specifically didn't want you to sign that deal and asked you to delay signing it until biden and his team could get into office and discuss it with you. why was the eu so determined to do that deal with china against america's wishes? well, first of all, as regards comprehensive agreement on investment, it took seven years of negotiation and the deadline to finalise the negotiations by the end of 2020 was agreed in eu—china summit already in spring 2019.
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so more than one and a half years before. second, the main purpose of this agreement is to address this imbalance in eu—china economic relations, where eu is substantially more open to chinese investment and chinese companies than china is to the eu. and this deal helps to address this imbalance. and third, for example, us already has their phase one deal with china. and we are not saying that the fact that the us is having that phase one deal somehow prevents eu to engage with us concerning china. to the contrary, we think that it will help to engage very closely. and as us phase one deal is not resolving all the problems with china, also our comprehensive agreement on investment is not resolving all the problems with china.
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and we actually need to work very closely with the us on this. but i began this interview by asking, you know, the big question, is the eu prepared now to be a tough guy in the world trade arena? it seems to me that your deal with china isn't about the eu being tough, it's about eu weakness and chinese strength. because what the chinese have given you, frankly, isn't worth the paper it's written on. they've promised to work towards improving their labour standards, meeting new international... ..or meeting the international conventions on labour standards, but "working towards" is language that doesn't really tie them to anything at all. they've made all sorts of environmental and labour law promises in the past, which they haven't kept. and the truth is the eu now trades more in goods with china than it does with the united states. you need china, you need a warm relationship. and that isn't about your strength. it's about china's strength. well, first of all, since our economic relations
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are asymmetric with china, it is asymmetric agreement to address asymmetric situation. so there's substantial, much more new commitments in terms of market access, in terms of level playing field from the chinese side than there are from the eu side. but my point is they they've broken commitments in the past and you know that as well as i do. but you also know that, in the current context, with the oppression of the muslim uighur population in xinjiang province, with the repression, with new security laws of opponents of the chinese government in hong kong, you know that many europeans are thinking to themselves, "why on earth, at this "particular time, would we choose to cosy up to china "with a new investment deal against the wishes "of the united states? "why would we do that right now?" what's the answer? well, let me come back to the question you raised on fundamental ilo conventions.
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the commitment which china has taken in our agreement is the same type of commitments like other countries are taking in free trade agreements. but this is not free trade agreement. it's more narrow, a more focused investment agreement. and it's, for the first time, china is taking these kind of commitments with international partner. then we recently had a trade dispute with south korea, which has taken exactly the same kind of commitments. and the panel ruling was in eu's favour, stating that this commitment doesn't meanjust, you know, "effort towards". that this commitment means that it needs to end up with ratification of those relevant ilo conventions. dealing also with forced labour... commissioner, this isn't. .. and south korea, following this ruling, hasjust
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ratified those conventions. ..this isn't just about the details of labour law, though. it's about the look of the whole thing. let me quote to you the french socialist mep, raphael glucksmann. he says, "hong kong democracy is dying before our eyes "and the priority of our own dear european leaders "is to sell us an investment deal with beijing. "how can they be so out of touch with our times?" you know better than i that, right now, geopolitically, the us and china are at loggerheads. the european union has to decide strategically where to position itself. and it seems, with this deal, you've decided that, in the long term, you need to position yourself as friends with china. is that wise? well, first of all, eu acknowledges very complex relations with china. in some areas, we are cooperation partners. in some, we are
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economic competitors. in some, we are systemic rivals. and we are very much concerned about human rights violations in china. and, for this, there are also relevant tools how this can be addressed. we have recently introduced eu global human rights sanctions regime, allowing us to target companies and individuals involved in human rights violations. we are now preparing a much stricter due diligence regulation, which will make sure that european companies need to check that they are not sourcing goods or services with substantial environmental or human rights violations. and, indeed, we'll also need to very closely engage on those topics with our international partners, including the united states. we're out of time. just to be clear, one last simple question. in a world which increasingly is defined by hostility between the united states and china, the eu is going to have to decide where it stands. can you tell me, just in a very short sentence right now, where the eu stands?
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well, first of all, eu... we started this interview, eu is the largest trader in the world, which means that eu is in a position to have its own stance. so it doesn't have to be, you know, taking one side or another. it needs to advance our own goals, our own values. and that's what eu is determined to do. and, as we just discussed, indeed on china, there are some elements where we need to engage with china. and so there are issues and there are some elements where we need to cooperate very closely with us as like—minded partners. all right. well, commissioner dombrovskis, i thank you very much indeed forjoining me on hardtalk. thank you.
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hello there. today is shaping up to be a pretty similar day to how yesterday was, with many places starting chilly, grey, foggy with some low cloud, that will slowly burn back to the east coast, allowing for some sunshine to develop for many of us. so a largely dry day today, a chilly start with that low cloud and fog. many places though will turn brighter into the afternoon. now, it's all driven by this area of high pressure, most places will see light winds which is why we will start off rather grey with this fog around for many places. the exception, the west of scotland, parts of northern ireland, the far west of england and wales, which will start cold, frosty and sunny. but eventually the sun will get going on this cloud, thinning and breaking it. but it could linger again like on monday, through parts of eastern wales, the midlands,
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eastern england and also eastern scotland, where we will continue to see some threatened haar lapping against the coast. sunshine though will develop across southern areas. and winds generally light but still quite fresh to the channel and for the southwest of england. in the sunniest spots we could see temperatures reaching 10 to maybe 14 or 15 degrees, but really chilly where we hold onto the grey, foggy weather — only 3—5 celsius. as we head into tuesday night, it looks like that low cloud and fog will tend to return across much of the country. a few clearer spells out west. a few showers starting to push into the channel islands and the southwest. so here a bit more cloud, so not quite as cold, but chillier further north, particularly where we have any cloud breaks. so into wednesday then — we've got this little weather front which is going to bring some wetter weather to southern and southwestern areas. mainly the form of showery rains — some of the showers could be quite heavy for the channel islands — southwest england, then into south wales, and then spreading into parts of the midlands, southern and southeastern england into the afternoon.
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elsewhere it's generally cloudy particularly towards the east. best of the sunshine further west. but despite any sunshine, it's actually turning colder across the north. further south given some sunshine, and again quite mild — 10 to 15 degrees. the reason for it turning cold in the north is this new area of high pressure moving down from iceland. it's got some very cold air mixed in with it, and that is going to affect much of the country as we move through thursday and indeed friday. so a much colder feel to our weather to end the week. it will return to a more settled note though. thursday looks pretty cloudy across the board. friday, perhaps seeing a little bit of sunshine in places.
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hello. this is bbc news, with the latest headlines for viewers in the uk and around the world. i'm sally bundock. france reverses its stance on the use of the astrazeneca coronavirus vaccine, saying now it can be administered to people between the ages of 65 and 7a. the united states ups the ante and threatens myanmar�*s military with sanctions if they continue their violent crackdown on demonstrators opposed to last month's coup. could to last month's coup. football be coming home ain? 39 it's football's biggest prize, and britain's prime minister has lent his support for a joint bid by the uk
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and ireland to host the 2030 world cup.

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