This Week’s Hotspots
In his speech at the economic forum in Berlin, French Prime Minister Manuel Valls emphasised the importance of maintaining a healthy relationship with Germany in the aftermath of Brexit and cooperating to provide a new foundation for the EU.
Meanwhile, the EU prepares to tighten security checks on its internal borders. New measures aim to enhance the tracking of terrorists helping the Union to combat terrorism.
In Chios, a Greek island, the Soda refugee camp was attacked two nights in a row. The mayor of Chios accused the Greek far-right movement, Golden Dawn, of the assaults which led to more than 100 occupants fleeing the camp.
In one of Turkey’s deportation centres, refugees started a fire in protest over living conditions and escaped the camp.
The European Parliament’s Civil Liberties Committee passed a resolution addressing fundamental rights in the EU. This includes the rights of refugees, human rights, and child protection. In a joint statement, the committee urged the 28 member states to monitor the mainstream refugee rhetoric and “refrain from inciting fear and hatred in their citizens towards migrants and asylum-seekers for political gains”.
Another joint statement was released by EU commissioners and the High representatives on the Universal Day of the Child. The report addressed the fate of children among the waves of refugees, and reaffirmed the importance of investing in the new generation.
Furthermore, EU leaders and Obama renewed the sanctions against Russia over its violation of Ukrainian sovereignty. During last Friday’s meeting, all parties agreed that the sanctions should remain in place until Russia fully withdraws from Ukraine.
In Germany, Chancellor Angela Merkel announced her candidacy for a fourth term as German Chancellor.
France saw a high voter turnout for the primary elections of the conservatives. Votes cast exceeded 2.5 million. The results came out in favour of ex-prime minister François Fillon and knocked down former president Nicholas Sarkozy.
And lastly, EU ambassadors reached an agreement to support visa free access for Ukrainians to the European Union. Even though The Netherlands has had difficulties handling Ukraine policy since its population rejected the EU’s Association Agreement with Ukraine in an April referendum, the Dutch did not stand in the way of the deal. The agreement is still pending approval by MEPs and national ministers.
The meaning of the word ‘populism’ has lately often been taken for granted and has been utilised to cover the full spectrum of political changes witnessed by Europe and the US. Carnegie Europe’s Richard Young elaborates on the need to deconstruct the political changes that have been taking place case by case, to provide better understanding and avoid fallacies:
“As analysts, we surely have to move beyond simply bemoaning the ‘ignorant’ and ‘disastrous’ choices of the people who voted for Brexit, for Trump or various European populists. Rather, the imperative must be to unpack the different dynamics – some pernicious, others perfectly benign – that are at work in today’s anti-establishment surge.”
Forgetting the Arctic?
The European Parliament is working on its fourth Arctic resolution under the name “an integrated European Union policy for the Arctic.” A draft was released on October 12 which is being debated by the affiliated committees before the first hearing in March 2017. The document has however been described as a repetition of 8-year-old rhetoric on the Arctic’s sovereignty.
Yet, the draft also pointed to the need to establish the Arctic Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) which is to assess projects implemented in most countries surrounding the Arctic. It also highlights Russia’s military position in the area, which so far has not been discussed by other European institutions. The policy is clearly a work in progress, still to be debated amongst the different stakeholders involved.
An Interview with Thomas Schmid on his new book “Europe is dead! Long live Europe”.
In an interview with EuroActiv Schmid explains his view on the crisis currently facing the European Union. According to Schmid, the world is constantly changing due to globalisation, and it is that change, impacting differently on different layers of society, that inspires today’s hate rhetoric, populism and xenophobia. Schmid states, however, that the EU possesses the ability to overcome the obstacles posed by globalisation. Schmid concludes that in the current environment Europe needs to explain and justify every decision it undertakes, so as to not fall out of touch with its citizens.