Weekly WBE Monitor #4

By Dina Arakji

This Week’s Hotspots

The EU reemphasised its leadership as the world’s promoter of change by ratifying the Paris agreement. According to President Jean-Claude Juncker: “The European Union turned climate ambition into climate action.”

Brussels also hosted a two-day conference on Afghanistan.  The EU announced a pledge of $4 billion (around 3.5 billion euros) to Afghanistan over the next four years. The money will go to reconstruction and development projects. Other World leaders likewise renewed their aid to the country and the total aid pledged amounted to $15billion (around 13.5 billion euros) in total.

During the two days, Afghanistan accepted to take back migrants who have been refused asylum by EU member states.

… however, the Libyan prime minister urged member states to refrain from deporting Libyans back as the country is embroiled in a violent armed conflict.

Furthermore, on refugees, the new European Border and Coast Guard Agency (EBCG) was launched to tackle the refugee influx and avoid any repetition of last year’s crisis.

Concerning the future of the EU’s security, Germany’s Defence Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, warned the UK against any efforts to block EU attempts to build a common defence HQ.

Meanwhile, the German authorities arrested a 22-year old Syrian refugee who was allegedly planning terrorist attacks on Berlin airports after a two-day manhunt.

It has been reported that around 80% of EU citizens living in the UK will be allowed to stay by the time Britain leaves the union.

Up north, NATO’s Joint Warrior exercise, which takes place twice a year, has commenced in Scotland and will last until October 20th. The UK-led NATO training is for the first time testing the use of drones. Among the participating countries are the USA, Germany, Norway, and Sweden.

On the Eastern front, Lithuania’s ruling party lost the first round of parliamentary elections. While the Peasants and Green Union headed the elections with 22.3% of the votes, the Prime Minister’s Social Democrat Party finished third showing a significant loss in its platform since 2012.

Contrarily, Georgia’s governing party Georgian Dream won the parliamentary elections with 48.61%. The traditional US ally hopes to join the EU and NATO, yet still favours stable ties with Russia.

… and Poland says goodbye to the abortion ban proposal after massive protests hit the streets last Monday.

Finally, the next UN Secretary-General has been elected! Beginning of next year, Portugal’s ex-prime minister Antonio Guterres will head the United Nations as Ban Ki-moon’s successor.

Selected Pieces

The EU’s defence ambitions. Why it is not as simple as it sounds.

The announcement of the aim for a single European defence was met with criticism. Andrew A. Michta points to some issues facing the initiative, questioning the European defence capability and its prospects. The US, for instance, diminished its footprint in the continent and is redistributing its resources to Asia and the Middle East. Hence, the question is whether the European member states will be willing to develop the defence effort to make up for US repositioning.

Wrong Predictions. The Arctic did not melt!

Prominent Scientists had predicted the loss of Arctic’s ice by September 2016. Contrarily, there is far more ice now than in 2012, according to recent satellite images. Dramatic and incorrect predictions have been refuted as this year witnessed the fastest refreeze since daily records started in 1987. Nevertheless, these findings do not refute the fact that the world is seeing a decrease in the Arctic’s ice volumes.

Well, it is not only a Greek problem!

Should Athens get debt relief in the short and medium term? Big EU member states, such as Italy, Spain and France, are facing difficulties in paying their debts. Thus, the Greek debt only reflects the larger economic situation of the Union. The country has done its job by adopting tight fiscal policies which weakened the role of the state. While prominent EU representatives and core states support relief measures, Germany opposes them.

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