G20 Summit to discuss post-COVID world: EU leaders

The summit “could mark a new beginning for global cooperation,” said Ursula von der Leyen. (AFP)
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Updated 21 November 2020

G20 Summit to discuss post-COVID world: EU leaders

  • The EU leaders recognized the urgency of addressing COVID-19 as well as climate change

DUBAI: The G20 Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 21-22 will discuss what a post-COVID-19 world will look like, EU leaders said in a briefing on Friday.

The summit “could mark a new beginning for global cooperation,” said Ursula von der Leyen, head of the EU Commission.

EU Council President Charles Michel said the summit will chart “what we want (the world) to look like” after the pandemic.

Both leaders recognized the urgency of addressing COVID-19 as well as climate change, and Von der Leyen called for continuous investment in developing and distributing vaccines against the virus.

She discussed updates on COVAX, a global initiative to ensure swift and equitable distribution.

“Pledges of $1.8 billion have recently been made for vaccine procurement through COVAX, for low- and middle-income countries, but more will be needed. The estimates are around $5 billion,” she said, adding that funds are also needed for testing and treatment.

“The total needs are estimated to be $38 billion, of which $4 billion have been made available so far,” she said.

Von der Leyen said she and other international figures have written to the G20 leaders asking for support to mobilize the necessary funds.

She discussed future preparedness and the importance for countries to draw lessons from the pandemic.

Michel said an international treaty on pandemics “would help prevent” future ones “and help us respond more quickly and in a more coordinated manner.”

The World Health Organization “must remain the cornerstone of global coordination against health emergencies, and a treaty on pandemics could implement its efforts,” he added.

Although public health seemed to be of prime importance, both EU leaders agreed that there are other issues the G20 leaders need to discuss at the summit.

Von der Leyen said it is important to “maintain economic support measures” as the world recovers from the pandemic. “Our collective recovery must be sustainable and inclusive,” she added.

Climate change will also be a major topic, both leaders said. “At the summit, I’ll urge G20 partners to commit to the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement,” Von der Leyen said.

Michel said: “Our focus this year is clearly on fighting the pandemic, but the threats of climate change are no less urgent today than yesterday.”

Both leaders expressed hope that the summit will bear actionable plans to address COVID-19 and other global issues.


Scotland leader ‘never been more certain’ of independence

Updated 28 November 2020

Scotland leader ‘never been more certain’ of independence

  • The head of Scotland’s devolved government and the leader of the pro-independence SNP told supporters at the party’s virtual conference

GLASGOW: Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon on Saturday said she had “never been more certain” of achieving independence, with Britain’s final departure from EU trading arrangements set to precede key Scottish elections in the months ahead.

The head of Scotland’s devolved government and the leader of the pro-independence SNP told supporters at the party’s virtual conference that the prospect of a break between Scotland and the rest of the UK has never been closer.

“Independence is in clear sight — and with unity of purpose, humility and hard work I have never been so certain that we will deliver it,” she said.

Sturgeon and the SNP have argued for a second referendum on Scottish independence since the party’s overwhelming victory among Scottish seats in Britain’s 2019 general election.

Now she hopes that a further resounding win in May elections to the Edinburgh parliament will hand her party a mandate for a second bid to quit the UK.

Opinion polls in recent months have shown that a majority of public opinion in Scotland now supports independence.

The country chose to remain part of the four-nation United Kingdom in a 2014 referendum on the issue.

But Scots later voted by a thumping majority in 2016 to remain in the European Union, a referendum the Leave side won by a narrow margin when taking the rest of Britain into account.

Since then, “we have won a landslide victory in a UK general election and support for independence has risen, it has become the sustained and majority view in public opinion this year,” said Sturgeon.

“Who should be taking the decisions that shape our futures? We know that it is the people who live here, wherever they come from, who can best harness Scotland’s immense human and natural resources.

“Let us reach out to all Scotland like never before,” she added.

Sturgeon urged her party to “demonstrate ... that Scotland is ready to take our place in the global family of independent nations,” saying it was “now a nation on the brink of making history.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly rebuffed calls from for a another referendum, saying that the 2014 vote settled the question for a generation.

Earlier this month, Scottish independence campaigners seized on comments by the prime minister in which he said the creation of a devolved parliament in Edinburgh had been “a disaster.”

In response Sturgeon said the only way to protect the parliament was “with independence.”

On Thursday, she said a referendum could be held “in the earlier part” of the next parliamentary session.

“The people of Scotland have the right to choose their future. Let’s now focus all our efforts on making sure we bring about that better country they and future generations deserve,” Sturgeon said on Saturday.