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The Diplomatic Dispatch

The British Ambassador to Sweden blogs on The Local

Archive for January, 2013

The development of development

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

The British government, like Sweden, is a strong supporter of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals.

Our Prime Minister is honoured to be co-chairing the UN High Level Panel on the future of international development, which will make recommendations later this year on what the new international agenda should be after 2015, when the MDGs are due to have been met.

There has been impressive progress against the MDGs:

• Halving poverty (one of the key targets) has already been reached

• Nearly half a billion people escaped poverty, as defined by living on less than $1.25-a-day, in just 5 years

• In the 20 years to 2010:

– 2 billion people gained access to improved drinking water
– There were 5 million fewer deaths of children under 5 every year
– Maternal deaths fell 33%

• Malaria deaths decreased by 26% between 2000 and 2010

• 400,000 fewer people are dying from AIDS despite more living with HIV

But challenges remain:

• 1.3 billion continue to have to live on less than $1.25 a day

• 2.4 billion live on less than $2 per day

• Around 270,000 women die in pregnancy/childbirth each year

• Almost 7 million children under 5 die each year

• There are 655,000 Malaria deaths each year– 90% of them taking the lives of young children in Africa

• 34 million people live with HIV

So continuing to tackle poverty, its causes such as conflict and its consequences such as disease, remains a fundamental international interest.

In the UK’s view, the key to this is helping create the stepping stones that people need to escape from poverty – tackling conflict, building effective institutions, encouraging effective and fair rule of law, transparency and accountability in public and private sectors and creating an environment where growth, through trade and investment, flourish.

We’re using our Presidency of the G8 as well as the Prime Minister’s role on the High Level Panel to work for these outcomes.

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Five Principles for Europe’s Future

Friday, January 25th, 2013

As you will have seen, the British Prime Minister made an important speech on the future of the EU in London on 23 January.

The PM’s speech reiterates his commitment to keeping the UK in the EU, at the heart of the Single Market, but also leading EU action on energy, climate change, development, foreign policy and other global challenges.

The speech also assesses the challenges that all of us in Europe face. Specifically, the challenges of the Eurozone crisis and the changes it is driving in Europe, Competitiveness in the face of a transformed global economy, and the gap between Europe and its peoples.

The PM proposes five principles for reform to overcome these challenges:

• Competitiveness: a serious effort to deepen the Single Market, cut red tape, open up trade and reform the EU’s institutions

• Flexibility: embracing the diversity of the EU, rather than insisting on one size fits all. He has offered some initial ideas on what that means. But we recognise that we are at the beginning of that debate, not the end.

• Power must be able to flow back to Member States, as EU leaders have previously promised: we should examine what the EU should do and should stop doing

• Democratic accountability: there has to be a bigger role for national parliaments

• Fairness: the changes brought by the Eurozone crisis must not undermine the integrity of the Single Market

These are far-reaching and complex issues for Britain and the EU. Britain wants to work these through with our EU partners. We want to work with Sweden and others to help shape the future of an open, flexible and adaptable European Union, to achieve not just a better deal for Britain, but a better deal for Europe too.

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The Virtues of Sin…

Tuesday, January 15th, 2013

The SIN (Science and Innovation Network) is a UK government venture, which builds opportunities for the UK scientific community to enter into partnerships with policy, business and academic counterparts around the world.  Located in about 30 countries around the world, the network is made up of about 90 staff.

Their goal is to highlight innovation by bringing the ‘best of the best’ scientific brains of the host nation together with those in the UK to help create jobs and thus promote prosperity in addition to encouraging collaborative working, so that global challenges such as food and water shortages, cures for cancer and new and exciting technology can be explored and developed to be delivered to all peoples around the world.

As you’ll see from the new SIN Report we are not averse to ‘SINning’ in northern Europe either!

In 2011 SIN Sweden ran a workshop for small companies, UK researchers and large companies from Denmark, Finland and Sweden to boost collaboration in ICT. Nordic countries are particularly recognised for their expertise in this area and the result of this meeting was that the Heads of Research and Development in BT and Ericsson are now working much closer with one another, bringing the two countries closer in terms of both technology and business.

Also, as part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, the Embassy in Stockholm ran a biomass investors meeting attended by HRH Prince Charles. Several existing and potential Swedish investors to the UK and hi tech companies pioneering biofuels for companies like Virgin Atlantic attended.

SIN Finland organised a UK–Finland partnering event for 50 UK participants from the Helsinki Sustainable Buildings 2011 event with Finnish green buildings contacts. Issues such as the sustainable buildings’ effort behind the London Olympic park were discussed. As a result, the Technology Strategy Board and the Finnish innovation agency TEKES, are discussing potential ways to work together more closely. So in this respect at least SIN has its virtues! My colleague Susan Stradling-Day is head of the Nordic SIN network if you’re interested in following up.

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Europe in 2013

Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

First and foremost, happy New Year. I hope 2013 is a great year for all of you.

Late 2012 marked the mid-point of the UK Coalition government’s five year term and this week the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister published the Government’s own mid-term review.

Given the interest in Sweden on the UK’s approach to the EU, I thought I would summarise here some of the key points on Europe:

-    The Government is committed to membership of the European Union. The future of our economy is deeply connected to the stability and prosperity of the EU.
-    It is therefore in our interests that the immediate crisis in the Eurozone should be resolved as speedily and effectively as possible.
-    In the long run, European Union prosperity depends on free and open markets. We are committed to working for the completion of the single market.

-    At the same time, we will oppose any new burdensome and costly regulatory proposals which threaten our competitiveness, and, alongside like-minded allies, insist on discipline in European Union spending.

The review sets out some of the Government’s key priorities for the year ahead, including:

- We will insist on a tough, fiscally responsible outcome of the negotiations on the next EU seven-year budget framework, continue to make the case for Common Agricultural Policy reform and prevent any changes to the British rebate.
- We will continue vigorously to defend Britain’s interests in the negotiations on a banking union and protect the competitiveness of the City of London and UK financial services. The safeguards that we have achieved in the initial banking union negotiations set a crucial precedent, and will protect countries such as the UK which are not part of the single supervisory mechanism.
- We will continue to lead the EU growth agenda – with the aim of removing unnecessary regulations particularly for small and innovative companies, deepening and widening the single market and liberalising trade, notably by negotiating a free trade deal with the US.

Those three areas – ensuring a realistic budget for the EU, ensuring that the rights of all member states are respected, in particular with regard to the Single Market, as the Eurozone integrates, and a focus on growth and trade -  are all areas where the UK and Sweden will, I am sure, continue to work closely together in 2013 and beyond.

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Blog updates

25 August

Hit och dit, här och där (The Swedish Teacher) »

" Hej igen! A common challenge for Swedish language students are the location adverbs hit/här, dit/där, hem/hemma etc. Some of the location adverbs come in two versions. We should use one type of location adverb when we use a verb describes where we are, and we should use the other type of location adverb when we the verb..." READ »

 

25 August

The Dollar Store (Blogweiser) »

"A dollar store in Sweden. Blog post: http://t.co/tNuuvcP1q0 #USD #greenbacks #sweden #sverige pic.twitter.com/RHFAYf7U1k — Joel Sherwood (@joeldsherwood) August 23, 2014 There’s a chain here in Sweden called The DollarStore. This name always stood out to me in a country where they don’t use dollars. I went there for the first time this weekend. They actually accepted greenbacks..." READ »

 
 
 
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