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CNN news 2019-05-23

Almost two years and two months after the United Kingdom started the process of formally separating from the European Union, the Brexit continues to see challenges. In CNN’s Freedom Project series, a Fijian woman describes a life of forced labor in another free country. And in the capital of South Korea, a group of pyrotechnics experts uniquely illuminates the Lotte World Tower.

CARL AZUZ, CNN 10 ANCHOR: Get your passports ready because we`re globetrotting today on CNN 10. I`m your tour guide, Carl Azuz. Happy to be travelling with you.

We`re going to start across the pond, meaning across the Atlantic.

It`s been almost two years and two months since the United Kingdom officially started the process of breaking off from the European Union. It was supposed to be done within two years, but there have been hang-ups and extensions along the way. And it`s still not clear what`s going to happen regarding the Brexit, the British exit from the E.U.

Here`s why it`s complicated. No member of the European Union has left the group since it was established in 1993. But in June of 2016, Britons voted 51.9 percent to 48.1 percent to leave the union. Their disagreements with the E.U. over economics, immigration and laws were some reasons why.

Before Britain can officially leave, though, both its government and the European Union want to agree on the terms, the new rules concerning trade, immigration and borders between Britain and the E.U. Separating without an agreement would create a lot of uncertainty across Europe and possibly impact international economies, at least for a while.

A deal has been reached between British Prime Minister Theresa May and the leaders of the European Union. But it has not gotten the approval of Britain`s parliament. Lawmakers have held three votes on it so far, and the deal has failed to pass. Some lawmakers want significant changes to the agreement before they support it. Others want Britain to hold a new vote on Brexit altogether. Prime Minister May plans to seek a fourth parliamentary vote on the latest version of the deal in early June, but no one knows yet if it will pass.

On the E.U. side, European Commission President Jean Claude Juncker says he`s a little fed up because there have been multiple extensions to the Brexit and people are losing patients.

So far, though, there hasn`t been any solution that enough officials agree on for Britain to leave the union.

REPORTER: The European Union is a group of countries that among other things work together to create a single market. This allows goods, services and people to move between the member states, as long as they follow the rules and pay the membership fee.

Broadly speaking, it works like this: The E.U. Council sets the agenda, led by a president, head of states from all member countries decide on the E.U.`s political direction, to discuss sensitive issues, as well as foreign policy. After that, three main law-making institutions run the union, the European Commission, the Council of the European Union and the European Parliament.

The commission, which manages the day to day running of the E.U., proposes new laws and ensures they`re implemented once passed. It`s composed of a president and commissioners from all member states, each heading departments with different policy priorities.

Then, the council and parliament vote on the proposed laws in the process in a process known as co-decision. In other words, they vote have to agree to pass any legislation proposed by the commission. The council is made up of ministers from each member state`s governments. It will also help to coordinate each nation`s policies.

The parliament has 751 MEPs elected every five years by European citizens from all member states. Its main role is to supervise the work of the commission, debating and approving laws and also voting on candidates for the E.U.`s top job, president of the European Commission.

Founded in 1957, the European Union now represents more than half a billion people across 28 countries and generates an estimated 15 trillion in GDP per year.

The premise: countries that are economically linked are less likely to have conflicts. Now, E.U. citizens can live, work and do business in any of the member states. Nearly all of whom can travel and trade without passports or taxes.

But despite a shared flag, anthem, institutions and currency, the E.U. isn`t a totally happy marriage for many countries. Some have been affected differently by world events. There have been arguments over financial regulations, bailouts and different approaches to migration. Anti-E.U. parties have sprouted across Europe, with some are calling for their counties to withdraw from the union. Many of them fear the E.U. is taking away their national sovereignty and individual identity.

But more than 60 years after it was founded, so far, only the United Kingdom has voted to leave one of the world`s powerful unions.

AZUZ (voice-over): Ten-second trivia:

What is the driest inhabited continent on Earth?

Asia, Antarctica, Australia or Africa?

This is a little tricky. Antarctica is the driest overall, but Australia holds the title for driest inhabited continent.

AZUZ: It might seem shocking that new laws concerning the issue of slavery are taking effect now in countries like Australia.

But there are an estimated 40 million people who live in slavery today, and part of the mission of CNN`s Freedom Project is to get the word out that slavery is not just a thing of the past, exposing the criminals who train in human lives, encouraging businesses to make sure their supply chains don`t involve forced labor, urging governments to root out and prevent slavery and helping people who`ve survived slavery to get their stories out into the world. These are all Freedom Project goals.

And the account of a woman who reportedly emerge from slavery in Australia, as well as the efforts of those who helped former slaves, are the subjects of our next report on CNN 10.

REPORTER: Sandra came to Australia from Fiji in 2006 to work as a housekeeper. A week after she arrived, she says the family she was working for took her passport.

Despite their initial promises of a wage, and help obtaining permanent residency, Sandra says she was forced to work for them unpaid for three years.

The issue of forced labor is at the forefront of Australia`s fight to end modern day slavery.

SANDRA, SURVIVOR: I was doing all the housework like washing, cooking (INAUDIBLE) looking after the two dogs, and a little bit of gardening, and even massaging the lady of the house. When I asked for money, they would shout at me.

REPORTER: Years later, after suspected tipoff from someone who knew the family, she says the Department of Immigration arrived at her door and were able to get her out.

Once freed, she changed her name to Sandra for her safety. Soon after, she met this Sally Irwin who started the Freedom Hub. For the norm side cafe to raise funds and awareness, the Freedom Hub primarily runs a survivor school for people affected by slavery in Australia.

SALLY IRWIN, FOUNDER, THE FREEDOM HUB: It`s a long wait, four to five-year wait for a court case to come around and what I was seeing was that these women are being in bedrooms, too scared to go out, there was no out here.

All right. So this is the class that we did.

It`s got a lot of courses, everything from personal care right to the language skills, right through the computer classes, the Australian culture.

I mean, you know, the really basic ones, might even be just how to get a bus to the beach and, you know, buy an ice cream. And bit by bit, they start to build their own confidence so that they feel that they can go out themselves, they start doing it together as a little group.

REPORTER: In 2019, Australia`s first modern slavery act has come into effect. Australian businesses with a revenue more than $100 million are required to report annually on the risks of modern slavery in their operations and supply chains and how they`ve addressed those risks.

IRWIN: What I love about it in Australia is that it will actually raise awareness. So I think the main impact will be that people will have more identification of victims.

REPORTER: Today, Sandra stands as a beacon of hope. What can be achieved in Australia`s mission to end slavery.

SANDRA: Well, I`m a (INAUDIBLE). I have a full-time job, I have my own life, I have freedom, I can drive. And I`m living on my own, I have so many family and friends, and I`m happy.

AZUZ: Rising more than 1,800 feet above the capital of Seoul, Lotte World Tower is the tallest building in South Korea, and this is what it looks like all lit up — 30,000 firecrackers, launched from 370 different locations made this giant candle burn.

It took dozens of experts climbers about a month to set it all up, and it`s the latest in the series of projects from Group F, a company that specializes in pyrotechnic displays. The theme of the project was peace, to reflect recent peace talks on the Korean peninsula. Over the course of the 11-minute light show, $6 million worth of fireworks went up in smoke.

So, they literally have money to burn, and even if they don`t want to be pyrotechnical about it, it was a towering achievement, a delightful accomplishment, they gave the fire the works, they had a blast, it was lit and if you wanted to shine a spotlight on the event, you could say it took a Lotte lights, camera and action!

I`m Carl Azuz for CNN 10.

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