This Week’s Hotspots
In the aftermath of the Berlin terrorist attack, German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged EU member states to strengthen collaboration on information sharing as an integral component of the EU counterterrorism strategy.
The Czech interior minister is working to legalise the purchase of guns by citizens so that they may protect themselves from Islamic terrorists. The former president of the country, Milos Zeman, has previously campaigned for this step.
The UNHCR’s spokeswomen Cecile Pouilly called on EU member states to open up their countries to refugees. The statement came in reaction to the immigrants that died entering Europe due to severe weather conditions.
EU financial sanctions with regard to Terrorism and Terrorist Financing now target the Australian Meliad Farah, who allegedly organised the attack on a bus with Israeli tourists in Bulgaria.
Donald Trump, in an interview with the Times of London and Germany’s Bild, stated that he anticipates the disintegration of the EU with more Brexit like attempts, and also expressed his disdain for NATO.
Meanwhile, 3,500 American soldiers have arrived in Poland as part of the European Reassurance Initiative that establishes a rotational land, sea, and air military presence in Central and Eastern Europe. Under the Operation Atlantic Resolve, the US is still aiming to prove its commitment to NATO countries.
The Austrian Foreign Minister, Sebastian Kurz, pointed out that the EU could take advantage of the closer US-Russian relationship under Trump’s presidency for cooperation on issues such as combating terrorism.
The Cypriot government, however, expressed its concern over the potential damage Russia could cause to the deal being discussed on the unification of Cyprus.
Britain refused to sign the concluding statement that was reached during the Paris Peace Summit on a Palestinian-Israeli negotiated two-state solution.
In Brussels this week High Representative Federica Mogherini expressed the EU’s continued commitment to the Iran nuclear deal. She also announced the EU’s plan to host a conference on the future of Syria coming spring.
European legislators have been unable to reach consensus as to whether industrial firms operating in the Arctic should meet EU mandatory environmental standards.
Finally, conservative Italian candidate Antonio Tajani has become the new President of the European Parliament.
The election of US President Donald Trump should be a wake-up call to revisit EU foreign and security policy. Trump signals a turnaround in transatlantic politics and the traditional alliances established post-WW2. The EU now has a responsibility to ‘save the liberal world’ and preserve the global system. Trump’s presidency offers an opportunity for the Europeans to decrease their reliance on the US and take the lead. EU leaders need to upgrade the Union’s global strategy and capitalise on the EU’s comparative advantage derived from experience and history.
From a Dark Horse to a White Knight
French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron addressed German and French students at the Humboldt University in Berlin. In a well-worded English speech Macaron aimed to convince the audience of the importance of maintaining a cohesive EU, as well as a solid German-French relationship. Some have noted that this contradicted his previous position on the Maastricht Treaty of 1992, on which he stated France must “remain sovereign in a Europe that respects nations”. Macron currently lacks the support of a political party. However, according to Eric Dupin, columnist of the Huffington Post, “Macron is not going to occupy a centrist position but a central position. This is the proper place for a president of the Republic, one who is not the incarnation of a party but the president of all the French.”