European Union Current Affairs - 2019
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Germany’s Ursula von der Leyen was appointed by European Union (EU) leaders as bloc’s next Chief Executive i.e. European Commission president. She will be replacing Jean-Claude Juncker.
About Ursula von der Leyen
The 60 year old, is the only minister who has been in Merkel’s government since German leader took office in 2005.
She is Chancellor Angela Merkel’s defense minister and fellow conservative party member.
She was backed by Angela Merkel but there was resistance to her nomination within the German coalition ending in her appointment as a compromise.
This would be 1st time a German holds top EU job since Walter Hallstein was head of Commission of European Economic Community more than 50 years ago.
Challenge Ahead: To navigate world full of bruising trade wars, renewed geopolitical tension around Iran, and calling for increased transparency and representation within EU itself.
About European Commission
It is an institution of European Union (EU) that was founded on 1 January 1958.
Headquarters: Brussels, Belgium
It is responsible for implementing decisions, proposing legislation, upholding EU treaties and managing day-to-day business of European Union.
Role of EU Commission President: heads executive branch, sets policy agenda and controls a cabinet of commissioners.
International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United Nations’ atomic watchdog has confirmed that Iran has exceeded limit on amount of enriched uranium in its stockpile set out in 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.
This marks the 1st major departure by Iran from unraveling agreement a year after U.S. unilaterally withdrew from Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) accord.
The initial announcement about Iran had broken limit set on its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by 2015 nuclear deal were made by Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif.
Limit Breached: Later IAEA inspectors verified and confirmed that the country has exceeded 300-kilogramme limit on its enriched uranium reserves.
Threat: Iran has threatened that country is planning to increase its enrichment of uranium closer to weapons-grade levels by July 7 and to suspend its other commitments under JCPOA deal in 10 days unless European powers took steps to implement their new mechanism called INSTEX for facilitating trade.
Iran also announced that it is planning to suspend other commitments also.
What is INSTEX?
INSTEX stands for Instrument in Support of Trade Exchanges.
It is a special-purpose vehicle established in January 2019 by E3 i.e. France, Germany and United Kingdom to facilitate non-dollar trade with Iran amid US unilateral withdrawal from JCPOA.
This new trading system is designed to circumvent sanctions on Iran. As of May 2019 use of SPV is limited to humanitarian purposes such as purchase of otherwise embargoed foods or medicines.
Issue: On 28 June 2019, EU stated that INSTEX has been made operational and that 1st transactions are being processed, but according to Iran, it did not meet countries needs.
About Iran Nuclear Deal
Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) also known Iran nuclear deal or Iran deal was an agreement on Iranian nuclear program reached.
Participants: It was signed between Iran, P5+1 (refers to UN Security Council’s 5 permanent members (P5); namely France, United Kingdom, China, Russia, and US; plus Germany.), and European Union in Vienna on July 14, 2015.
Under the 2015 Nuclear Deal, Iran had agreed to limit its sensitive nuclear activities and allow in IAEA inspectors in return for lifting of sanctions.
Limit: As per the deal Iran can stockpile no more than 300kg of low-enriched uranium. Iran is permitted to produce low-enriched uranium, which has a 3.67% concentration of U-235, and can fuel a power plant only until 2031.
Uses: Enriched uranium used for peaceful purposes, including medical research and producing electricity but, if it is highly purified it can also be used to make a nuclear bomb.