Weekly WBE Monitor #2

By Dina Arakji

This Week’s Hotspots

Bombs Dropping in Bratislava. On September the 16th, 27 leaders of EU member states met in Bratislava, Slovakia. The meeting aimed at crafting a new narrative for the EU to face its Refugee Crisis as well as to restore a sense of safety for Europeans by discussing the issue of terrorism.

The conference ended with a stalemate as the leaders could not agree on a unified agenda to face the “existential crisis” of the EU. The result of the meeting was a bare deepened political cleavage between south/north and east/west.

The Italian prime minister channeled his disapproval on the economic and migration policies proposed by Merkel and Holland. The East and West divide was mostly based on the migrant policy. The Hungarian and Polish Prime Ministers bashed Brussels for its refusal to increase EU member state’s individual power to implement country-specific policies to preserve their borders.

On the other hand, France and Germany pushed for the establishment of EU military operations HQ as a leap forward to defense integration. Britain has previously vetoed the not-so-new proposal. But with Brexit, the two leading countries found an opportunity to push for their long aspired plan.

But a Couple of days Earlier, the Director of EU Counter-Terrorism Dr. Gilles de Kerchove expressed Europe’s inability to anticipate and deter terrorist attacks prior to their occurrence at the 16th annual summit for International Institute for Counter-Terrorism which took place in the Herzliya, Israel[2].

According to de Kerchove, European leaders need to think outside the box in order to effectively combat terrorism on the continent. The thought of using a cargo truck to attack civilians was inexistent. Yet, it did occur on Bastille day causing casualties and spreading fear between the European population.

Goodbye UK. Hello Bosnia. EU members have officially accepted Bosnia and Herzegovina’s membership in continuation of EU enlargement. The country’s application has faced a rough path due to the complexity of its government structure and its historical relations. However, the country’s full membership will not be reached before a year at least as it needs to meet certain conditions defined by the Commission.

What about the Russians? An EU-Russian-Bulgarian meeting is about to take place which aims to provide a clear legal framework to deliver  Russian Gas into Europe. Russia aims by 2019 to stop using the Ukrainian route to deliver gas. Thus It is looking for an alternative.

Selected Pieces

OBOR: Linking China and Europe

The One Belt One Road (OBOR) initiative is set to have a major impact on Asia and Europe. Though some perceive the investment in infrastructure as wasteful, China’s experience has shown positive returns on cities and villages located beside the developing infrastructural sites. But how does this effect EU market? What will it gain? The blog post presents some obstacles and important dynamics that will impact Europe by the construction of OBOR.

Leaks and Intelligence

The ex-director of signals intelligence (SIGINT) at the French foreign intelligence agency aka DGSE, Bernard Barbier, spoke at one of the engineering school in France. The speech was removed from YouTube as Barbier revealed sensitive information about the United States’ NSA responsibility in the Elysée’s hack, the French attack on the Canadian Communications Security Establishment (CSE), and the aspiration to create a French-German intelligence.

EUISS: Strategy Matters 2015-2016

The EUISS has previously published a strategy centered document covering key EU work between 2003 and 2014. However, a decision was taken by the 28 EU member state for Federica Mogherini to prepare a Global Strategy on Foreign and Security Policy. The document is to offer a clearer vision on the direction of the EU’s strategy including policy recommendation and response tools to confront the present and future inevitable threats.

The booklet includes two documents from 2015 and 2016. The first called “The European Union in a changing global environment” known as strategic assessment. It was drafted by HR/VP Mogherini’s Special Advisor Nathalie Tocci. However, it was not negotiated and approved by the member states which made it unofficial.  The European Council thus mandated the creation of a policy-centered document for EU’s global strategy which was presented on June of this year.

Arctic’s Scientific Diplomacy

For the first time, the Congress of the University of the Arctic (UArctic) was hosted by Saint Petersburg University from 12 to the 16th of September including various international institutions from countries around the world. The conference evolved around the underestimated importance of the Arctic and its effect on the international relations. It aimed “to enhance the collective understanding of the complexity of the Arctic and to resist the simplistic interpretation of this region as a potential theater for a new geopolitical confrontation.”


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