This Week’s Hotspots
France, Italy and Germany’s ministers of the economy and the industry urged the EU to tighten rules for foreign investors. They voiced their concern over non-EU investors leaking the technological know-how of the Union to foreign countries. In a letter to EU Trade Commissioner Cecelia Malmstrom, EU investors stated: “What is needed is additional protection based on economic criteria taking into account, and with reference to, the Commission’s expertise.” They further complained about the barriers they confront to investing in non-EU countries.
Turkish authorities captured two EU citizens of Lebanese and Iraqi origin who allegedly planned to carry out terrorist attacks in Europe. The men are said to have joined the Islamic State (IS) in 2014 and undergone explosive and arms training in Syria.
The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Training (CEPOL) held a conference in Budapest, Hungary to assess its major accomplishments for 2016. During the past year, the organisation has trained more than 18,000 participants from various countries and collaborated with different international organisations.
The EU is trying to persuade Russia to establish a peace agreement with General Haftar and avoid further destabilisation of Libya. The EU finds it important to deal with the internationally recognised Libyan government, the government of national accord (GNA), moreover as they see the government as a partner in combatting terrorism. Hence, it aims to motivate the General, who is controlling the Eastern province of Libya, to collaborate with the government.
French police captured three French citizens suspected of plotting a terror attack. La Tour Eiffel was said to be the group’s target. Already before the arrest, Paris authorities revealed a plan to construct a glass wall around the monument.
The European Parliament has passed the free trade agreement with Canada. The bilateral deal promoting international free trade contrast with the Trump’s administration’s protectionist statements. Jean-Claude Juncker, President of the EU Commission, said that the deal is “an important milestone” and that “EU companies and citizens will start to reap the benefits the agreement offers as soon as possible”.
Brussels issued a final warning to Britain, France, Italy, Spain, and Germany to reduce their nitrogen dioxide emissions, which they should have met since 2010. The countries have exceeded air pollution limits and have gotten two months to resolve the problem. If failing to deliver a concrete solution the countries risk facing the European court.
Amnesty: EU vs. US
In an article for Politico, Iverna McGowan, the director of Amnesty International’s European Institutions Office, pointed out the double standards of the EU’s refugee policy. The Trump administration’s refugee policy and the ‘Muslim ban’ have faced an aggressive backlash from the international community. EU leaders have criticised Trump for his decisions while EU deals with Turkey and Libya remain problematic. For instance, European member states such as Greece cannot guarantee the fundamental rights and safety of refugees upon their arrival in the EU. Thus, Amnesty states; as long as the EU continues its ill-thought out solutions to migration, criticism of Trump does not have the weight it should.
NATO needs more from Europe
Jim Mattis, the US Secretary of Defence, has strongly pressured European countries to increase their defence spending and reach NATO’s requirement of 2% of GDP in contributions. European member states have progressively increased defence spending prior to Trump’s elections but now face greater pressure to do so fast. Nevertheless, while many European governments are increasing defence spending, they are facing growing unemployment, slow economic growth, and upcoming elections. Trump’s election has however triggered a crucial question that European countries were able to put aside for a long time: Can Europe expect American support when facing a security threat too big for it to handle?