The European Union (EU) must learn to use the language of power, the bloc’s designated top diplomat Josep Borrell told EU lawmakers on Monday.
He Warned that the bloc must act as one or risk being squashed by the superpowers of the U.S. and China.
Borrell, who is Spain’s foreign minister, has been picked to succeed Federica Mogherini as the EU’s next foreign policy chief, due to take office on November 1.
However, he must be approved by the European Parliament as part of the team assembled by European Commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen.
Borrell will have a double role as a commission vice president and direct envoy of all EU member states.
In the last 30 years, the world has changed dramatically for the worse.
Borrell said, noting that the international order is being challenged by the logic of power politics, which is much more unfair, unpredictable and conflict-prone.
Trade, technology and finance are being used as political weapons, he added, noting that Europe is faced with no certainty about the international role of the US, new threats from the East and a fragile neighbourhood, among other things.
“This is not the world the EU wanted, but I am convinced we have what it takes to face this challenging environment,” he said.
Describing the EU as a financial superpower whose diplomatic capacities are among the strongest in the world.
However, Borrell urged the EU to pool national sovereignties and act as one on the global stage.
“To sum up in a single sentence: The European Union has to learn to use the language of power, the 72-year-old said.
Edited by Halima Sheji
Suarez language exam for Italian citizenship rigged, prosecutors insist
Italian prosecutors said on Tuesday they had evidence that the language exam taken by FC Barcelona’s Uruguay striker Luis Suarez was rigged.
The exam was to enable him obtain Italian citizenship ahead of a possible move to Juventus.
Suarez, whose wife is of Italian descent, passed the exam last Thursday at the University for Foreigners in Perugia.
It cleared the way for a fast-track citizenship approval which would mean Juventus could sign him without exceeding its permitted quota of non-EU players.
But suspicions were quickly raised in the media that he was given preferential treatment.
Perugia chief prosecutor Raffaele Cantone said his investigations showed the questions had been agreed with Suarez ahead of the exam.
He added that it had already been decided what mark to give him, in spite of his scarce knowledge of Italian.
The university denied any wrongdoing, saying in a statement it had acted with “correctness and transparency” and was confident this would emerge at the end of the probe.
Police searched the university on Tuesday looking for further evidence, Cantone said in a statement.
Italian newspaper la Repubblica reported that five university employees had been put under investigation, including the rector.
Suarez himself is not cited among those under investigation.
La Repubblica published alleged conversations tapped by police during their probe, in which a tutor preparing Suarez for the exam told a colleague “he can’t speak a word”.
The tutor had described him as an absolute beginner in Italian.
Suarez obtained the intermediate B1 qualification required for citizenship in just 15 minutes, his examiner said after the test.
The 33-year-old was only required to do the oral part of the exam.
Other citizenship applicants taking the B1 exam on the same day in Rome had to also complete a written paper lasting two-and-a-half hours.
Suarez’s mooted transfer to Juve now looks unlikely, as the Serie A champions have moved to sign striker Alvaro Morata from Atletico Madrid.
The Uruguayan international seems set to take Morata’s place at Atletico Madrid.
Suarez has had a controversial career, including being banned for four months for biting Italy defender Georgio Chiellini at the 2014 FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil.
He also bit an opponent while playing for his former clubs Ajax Amsterdam in 2010 and Liverpool in 2013, which were punished with seven-match and 10-match bans respectively.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
Commercial disputes: Stakeholders canvass for virtual Court hearings for speedy resolution
Stakeholders on Tuesday called for the amendment of relevant rules and regulations to allow virtual Court hearings for speedy resolution of commercial disputes in Nigeria.
They made the call during a virtual dialogue organised by the Nigeria Competitiveness Project (NICOP).
Participants also said that it would boost ease of doing business in Nigeria.
NICOP is an European Union (EU) co-financed initiative under the West African Competitiveness Programme, aimed at strengthening the competitiveness of Nigeria and to enhance it’s integration into the regional and International trading system.
Ms Katrine Thomsen, Head of Economic Section, EU delegate, said Nigeria is a leading trading partner with the EU.
She said that Nigeria’s partnership with the EU is highly cherished and had continued to improve daily.
“To support that improvement and trading partnership with Nigeria and West Africa in general, the EU has committed 125 million Euros to improving the competitiveness of West African economies,”she said
Thomsen said that the objective of NICOP is to stimulate and improve competitiveness of Nigeria in some selected value chains and to support the business climate in the country.
She said that a proactive legal system is critical to improving investment and business climate.
According to her, if we must diversify the economy and improve the country’s ranking in the ease of doing business, reforming the court system especially for contract enforcement and commercial dispute settlement is critical.
“We welcome NICOP and other stakeholders, joining voices with the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osibanjo who recently advocated for new set of directives to enable virtual Court proceeding in the country.
”I am sure that the Supreme Court of Nigeria had ruled and confirm the legality of virtual Court hearing.
“To this end, Nigeria is demonstrating leadership in the new normal,”she said.
Also, the Head of Programmes, NICOP, Mr Markus Wauschkuhn, said that virtual Court hearing would strengthen Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and address key issues in business areas.
Wauschkuhn said that the idea is to improve the business environment and investment climate in the country.
According to him, NICOP had supported capacity development for commercial dispute resolution in focal states of Kano, Plateau, Ogun, Kaduna.
The Managing Partner, Law Future Partners (LFP), Mr Elvis Asia, said that the COVID-19 experience had presented an opportunity for Nigeria to fix the state of commercial dispute resolution which take almost forever.
In a paper titled “Opportunity for Contract Enforcement and Commercial Disputes Settlement Reform”, Asia said that it has serious negative effects on investors.
He said that transfer of Judges and calling off of hearing which contribute to the delay in serving justice would taken care off by virtual hearing.
Asia said virtual hearing would make recording easier, eliminate time wastage and corruption and fast-track quick delivery of judgment.
According to him, more members of the public can participate in any case of their interest from anywhere in the world.
He, however said that though there is no express provision for virtual Court hearing in the Constitution, it empowers Heads of Courts to make regulation for effective proceedings.
The legal practitioner said that there was need to amend the Evidence Act to clearly give credence to electronic copies of documents in the court.
He also called for the creation of a commercial Court division with requisite technology and skill acquisition for legal and paralegal practitioners.
In her contribution, Justice Olutoyin Ipaye of the Lagos State Judiciary, said that virtual court hearing had come to stay.
She recommended that virtual Court hearing should not be limited time-bound cases but should be expanded to cover all disputes.
Ipaye said that virtual hearing has tremendous advantages that will further enhance the justice system in the country.
Also, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), Mrs A. J Offiah, said that life is becoming more virtual than physical, saying that there is the need to address disputes virtually.
Offiah, who is the founder and principal partner of OBRA Legal, said that many heads of courts were already tilting towards virtual hearing.
She said there was need to create link between the database of all relevant government agencies with the Judiciary to enable easy access to authoritative documents.
Edited By: Remi Koleoso/Sadiya Hamza
Italian police probe alleged fixing of citizenship exam for Suarez
Italian police are investigating possible irregularities in the Italian citizenship exam taken by Uruguayan striker Luis Suarez at the University for Foreigners in Perugia in order to obtain an Italian passport.
“Investigations have shown the topics of the exam had been agreed with the candidate and the relative score had been assigned before the test,” a statement from the Perugia investigative office said on Tuesday.
Suarez took the exam last Wednesday, when he seemed close to a move from FC Barcelona to Juventus.
The transfer, which Juve have since abandoned, required the footballer to hold the citizenship of a European Union country.
This was because the Bianconeri have already reached the limit of two non-EU signings in the current transfer window.
If he passes the exam, Suarez will be entitled to apply for Italian citizenship since his wife is the daughter of an Italian who emigrated to Uruguay.
As an Italian passport-holder, Suarez could sign with any European club that has exceeded the limit of non-EU new signings.
He appears now close to joining Atletico Madrid as a possible replacement for Alvaro Morata, who is set to join Juventus.
Police said they confiscated several documents from the University for Foreigners.
The investigations will be carried out against the head teacher and the general director of the university under charges of fraud and disclosure of secret documents, but not against Suarez.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
British lawmakers to vote on bill to override part of Brexit deal
British lawmakers are set to hold key votes on a bill that will override part of the country’s EU withdrawal agreement on Tuesday, in spite of strong opposition in Brussels, Belfast and Dublin.
The government is expected to win votes on the bill after Prime Minister Boris Johnson compromised with rebel lawmakers in his Conservative party.
Johnson would, however, table an amendment that would require parliament to approve any implementation of the power to override the withdrawal agreement.
The prime minister wanted to create a legal “safety net” that would give him the power to override a provision that would impose different post-Brexit customs rules on Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK.
The provision seeks to prevent the creation of border checks between Northern Ireland, which is leaving the EU as part of the UK and EU-member the Republic of Ireland.
Critics, including five former British prime ministers and several senior Conservatives, warned that superseding part of the Brexit agreement could break international law and erode trust with the EU and other partners.
In a debate in the British parliament on Monday, Theresa May, Johnson’s predecessor as prime minister, said the UK Internal Markets Bill was “putting the integrity of the UK at risk.”
Edited By: Abiodun Oluleye/Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu