Global Europe Brief: Bowing to the Chinese pressure?

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Welcome to EURACTIV’s Global Europe Brief, your weekly update on the EU in the global perspective from our foreign affairs news team: Georgi Gotev and Alexandra Brzozowski.

EURACTIV

EU IN THE WORLD

DELAYED MISSION. The EU’s delayed naval mission to enforce an arms embargo on Libya, Operation IRINI, will be ready to begin work in the coming days, EU officials confirmed on Wednesday, two days after Libyan militia commander Khalifa Haftar terminated a 2015 UN agreement, reducing the chances of a political solution to the conflict.

MIGRANTS SEA RESCUES. The EU should stop channelling funds to Libya to manage migration and train its coastguard as it is not a “safe country” for disembarkation of people rescued at sea, MEPs in the European Parliament’s LIBE Committee heard from officials and experts. Some of them were calling for a code of conduct on migrant sea rescues. The call comes just ahead of the anticipated European Commission Pact on Asylum and Migration, which according to the European Commission’s work programme was meant to be adopted in the first quarter of 2020 but was delayed due to the pandemic.

Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, health and financial policies, in particular, have increasingly become the focus of the EU’s solidarity debate. But what about EU asylum and refugee policy?

COVID-19 PASSPORT. Nine southern member states – Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, France, Malta, Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania – have called on the EU to come up with a “homogenous” plan to help tourism mitigate the catastrophic financial impact of the COVID-19 crisis. EURACTIV’s Karla Junicic and Sarantis Michalopoulos have more details here.

The call comes after Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton promised to prioritise support to Europe’s tourism industry and called for fast action to recover and build a resilient and sustainable tourism industry.

SAHEL SUPPORT. EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell, along with Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, announced an additional €194 support package to the Sahel region, in a bid to safeguard the region’s security, stability and resilience. “The situation in the Sahel keeps deteriorating and the coronavirus pandemic cannot make us forget how serious the situation is in a region whose challenges are our challenges as well, ” Borrell said in a Twitter post. EU countries discussed a request for debt relief from five Sahel countries as part of efforts to help them cope with the pandemic.

DEFENCE CORNER

MILITARY SPENDING. Global military expenditure saw its biggest uptick in a decade in 2019, rising to $1.9 trillion, according to the latest survey by the Swedish Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).
Two things to watch:

  • 1) It was the first year two Asian countries, China and India, were among the top three spenders, mainly due to the recent “return to a competition of the great powers” perceived by the Americans.
  • 2) Europe’s expenditure rose more rapidly than in any other region, with Germany having the highest growth and being the country with the highest expenditure in the EU.

PRESIDENCY TAKE-OVER. Estonia is set to take over the presidency of the UN Security Council for a month from 1 May. According to foreign minister Urmas Reinsalu, one of the priorities will be the connections between the COVID-19 pandemic and the security environment, cybersecurity, and the fundamental principles of international law, including the protection of civilians.

MFF REVISION. While Europe is currently facing an unprecedented sanitary crisis, which will have gigantic economic consequences and could turn into a severe depression, a group of experts argues that defence should be included in the critical sectors as the EU renegotiates its next long-term budget that will seek to boost recovery.

ENLARGEMENT LATEST

PANDEMIC AID. EU and Western Balkans leaders will gather via videoconference on 6 May 2020 for a meeting initially foreseen as a physical summit in Zagreb. Ahead of the summit next week, the European Commission announced over €3.3 billion of EU financial support mobilised jointly with the European Investment Bank to the benefit of the Western Balkans, which aims to address the immediate health and humanitarian needs of the COVID-19 pandemic and help with the social and economic recovery in the region.

SERBIAN CHOICES. Although EU membership is Serbia’s official foreign policy goal, Russia and China – and perhaps the US in the future – are providing something that is much more valuable for the Serbian leaders: a hope that the drawing of the national borders will be possible again, Filip Milacic, advisor at the OSCE Mission in Montenegro, writes in an op-ed for EURACTIV.

EURASIA DIGEST

‘FLEXIBLE’ SANCTIONS. The current European stance is that sanctions related to the conflict in Donbas can only be lifted once the 2015 ceasefire deal, signed in Minsk, is fully implemented. But voices are getting louder that the EU should reconsider its ‘all or nothing’ approach to sanctions imposed on Russia for its role in the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, as well as its annexation of Crimea, a new report suggests. A Brussels-based think tank has now called for the easing of certain sanctions in exchange for Russian progress towards peace in Ukraine.

US ELECTION WATCH

It’s 187 days until the US presidential elections and President Donald Trump’s handling of the pandemic health crisis has started to produce some political emergency as well. His rival Joe Biden, meanwhile, deals with a different kind of pressure.

What to watch and why it matters: According to the latest Gallup poll, Trump’s favorability rating, mostly stable throughout his presidency, has ticked down from 49% in mid-March to 43%. And Trump seems to notice: He lashed out at his top political advisers last week when they presented him with worrisome polling data that showed his support eroding in a series of battleground states as his handling of the coronavirus comes under criticism because of the high death toll and a huge economic impact.

Meanwhile, activists and women’s rights advocates have grown increasingly frustrated over the past few weeks as Joe Biden has held back on addressing the sexual assault allegation made against him by a woman who worked in his Senate office in the 1990s.

ON OUR RADAR FOR THE NEXT DAYS…

The regular institutional cycle has temporarily ground to a halt. But we’ll continue to keep you updated on all relevant EU foreign affairs news, as operations moved exclusively online.

  • Borrell in European Parliament’s AFET Committee
    | Thursday, 30 April 2020 | webstream
    EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell will appear in front of MEPs to discuss the latest EEAS report about disinformation on COVID19, allegedly watered down by pressure from China.
  • World Press Freedom Day
    | Sunday, 3 May 2020 | worldwide
  • EU hosts vaccine donors conference
    | Monday, 4 May 2020 | videoconference
  • EU-Western Balkans Summit
    | Wednesday, 6 May 2020 | videoconference

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News list


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12:30 Number of hotels in Amsterdam region skyrocketing: report
12:05 [Ticker] Von der Leyen: 'Influential' EU means talk and trade
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11:18 Croatian Presidency of EU Council: press conference opening remarks by President von der Leyen
10:50 Girl, 10, dies after falling from asylum center's window
10:43 Compilatie 24H ‘Ontdek je stad’ 2019
09:35 President von der Leyen meets with Andrej Plenkovic, Croatian Prime Minister
09:28 [Ticker] Johnson suggests Iran crash was 'unintentional' missile
07:45 Iranian missile caused crash of Ukrainian Boeing 737: Officials
07:37 Gay, bisexual young people over twice as likely to be harassed, stalked online
06:24 [Ticker] EU blasts Israeli settlements on 'occupied' land
04:14 Poisonous caterpillar to strike earlier than usual this year
14:10 Boy, 10, randomly assaulted by woman on Haarlem street
13:51 2nd EU Clean Air Forum (Bratislava, 28-29 November 2019) - Part 2/3
13:20 Dutch car rolls in Belgium; deceased victims discovered hours later
11:40 More than 9,300 incidents over New Year's: police
11:20 2nd EU Clean Air Forum (Bratislava, 28-29 November 2019) - Part 1/3
10:32 Ontdek Amerfoort #Citytrip
09:40 Viktor Orbán threatens new Europe grouping to rival 'weaker' EPP
09:16 Trudeau: Canadians deserve answers on plane crash
09:10 Man, 68, arrested for taping jerry can to Leeuwarden train
09:09 Iran denies that it brought down Ukrainian plane with a missile
07:01 Canadian PM called PM Rutte about MH17 after Tehran plane crash
06:37 Only let specialized clubs light fireworks, coalition party says
06:15 Croatian PM Optimistic About EU Talks For North Macedonia, Albania
06:01 [Ticker] President of European Court of Justice lambasts Poland
06:01 [Ticker] Ukraine investigators want to search Iran plane crash site
15:50 Home prices in NL to increase 4% this year: ABN Amro
15:43 ‘Artefact detectives’ in Iraq aim to end the theft of their history
15:39 Archaeologists & filmmakers dig up the past of UAE’s Shamash temple
15:30 Moderation
15:05 [Ticker] Sweden halts Iran Air flights after crash
15:01 Middle East crisis: EU's delicate balancing act between Washington and Tehran
15:00 Dutch soldiers in Iraq safe, together, Defense Min. says
14:59 Outrage over reports EU-funding linked to forced labour in Eritrea
14:45 Meeting between the College of Commissioners and the Members of the Parliamentary Groups
14:33 [Ticker] Spanish court: EP must end Catalan MEP immunity
14:01 Dutch cabinet now in favor of new fireworks limits and regulations
14:00 Girls more likely to be harassed, stalked online
13:49 [Ticker] Orban to offer free IVF in anti-immigrant move
13:27 Hate speech has 'no place' in Austria, says Kurz, after Bosnian-born minister receives abuse
13:00 Trump proposes 'NATOME': NATO expanded to MidEast
12:35 Lack of career prospects leaves care workers to quit, says report
12:35 Singer songwriter Jeangu Macrooy is Dutch Eurovision entry- AD
12:35 Defrosted kingfisher rejoins museum collection of dead animals
12:35 Saba again present at Holiday Fair - Saba News
12:35 Politicians should take responsibility for their own laws, says legal chief
12:35 ChristenUnie calls for firework clubs, backs ban on consumer sales
12:35 Good weather will bring clear views of partial lunar eclipse
12:35 'Explosive' growth in Amsterdam hotels despite stricter limits
12:35 More violent incidents at New Year, but fewer people are arrested
12:30 Number of hotels in Amsterdam region skyrocketing: report
12:05 [Ticker] Von der Leyen: 'Influential' EU means talk and trade
12:00 Pope Francis: "US-Iran tensions threaten rebuilding of Iraq"
11:30 Friends of plane crash victims mourn loss
11:21 EC Midday press briefing of 10/01/2020
11:15 Croatian Presidency of EU Council: opening remarks by Croatian Prime Minister and President of EC
11:00 DUTCH RAILROAD CROSSING - Geldermalsen - Voetakkerweg
11:00 DUTCH RAILROAD CROSSING - Prinsenbeek - Spoorstraat
10:26 UK accused of 'behaving like cowboys' over EU database copying
10:26 Men in west London have highest male life expectancy in EU - Life expectancy
10:24 Ursula Von Der Leyen and Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic talk to the press | LIVE
10:00 Car with possible explosives found in Gelderland town; link with ATM bombing investigated
09:39 Stockpiling for the New Year
09:37 European ministers meet to salvage Iran nuclear deal
09:30 Dutch Listening Practice - Talking About a School Trip in the Netherlands
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06:27 [Ticker] Swiss afraid of EU wage dumping
06:25 [Ticker] Orban to start new EU movement if kicked out of EPP
06:10 ABN Amro names PwC's former Dutch chairman as new CEO
06:07 South Mississippi Strong- Mag Holland is an angel devoted to helping others
06:04 MEPs slam UK for violating EU police database
06:03 EU regions: don’t touch cohesion funds for Green Deal
06:02 [Opinion] Europe, Scotland and Brexit - what next?
06:02 [Ticker] Brexit back on EU presidency agenda next week
06:01 [Ticker] Athens asks for US help in east Mediterranean
04:32 How polluted is the air where you live?

15:50 Home prices in NL to increase 4% this year: ABN Amro
15:43 ‘Artefact detectives’ in Iraq aim to end the theft of their history
15:39 Archaeologists & filmmakers dig up the past of UAE’s Shamash temple
15:30 Moderation
15:05 [Ticker] Sweden halts Iran Air flights after crash
15:01 Middle East crisis: EU's delicate balancing act between Washington and Tehran
15:00 Dutch soldiers in Iraq safe, together, Defense Min. says
14:59 Outrage over reports EU-funding linked to forced labour in Eritrea
14:45 Meeting between the College of Commissioners and the Members of the Parliamentary Groups
14:33 [Ticker] Spanish court: EP must end Catalan MEP immunity
14:10 Boy, 10, randomly assaulted by woman on Haarlem street
14:01 Dutch cabinet now in favor of new fireworks limits and regulations
14:00 Girls more likely to be harassed, stalked online
13:51 2nd EU Clean Air Forum (Bratislava, 28-29 November 2019) - Part 2/3
13:49 [Ticker] Orban to offer free IVF in anti-immigrant move
13:27 Hate speech has 'no place' in Austria, says Kurz, after Bosnian-born minister receives abuse
13:20 Dutch car rolls in Belgium; deceased victims discovered hours later
13:00 Trump proposes 'NATOME': NATO expanded to MidEast
12:35 Lack of career prospects leaves care workers to quit, says report
12:35 Singer songwriter Jeangu Macrooy is Dutch Eurovision entry- AD
12:35 Defrosted kingfisher rejoins museum collection of dead animals
12:35 Saba again present at Holiday Fair - Saba News
12:35 Politicians should take responsibility for their own laws, says legal chief
12:35 ChristenUnie calls for firework clubs, backs ban on consumer sales
12:35 Good weather will bring clear views of partial lunar eclipse
12:35 'Explosive' growth in Amsterdam hotels despite stricter limits
12:35 More violent incidents at New Year, but fewer people are arrested
12:30 Number of hotels in Amsterdam region skyrocketing: report
12:05 [Ticker] Von der Leyen: 'Influential' EU means talk and trade
12:00 Pope Francis: "US-Iran tensions threaten rebuilding of Iraq"
11:40 More than 9,300 incidents over New Year's: police
11:30 Friends of plane crash victims mourn loss
11:21 EC Midday press briefing of 10/01/2020
11:20 2nd EU Clean Air Forum (Bratislava, 28-29 November 2019) - Part 1/3
11:18 Croatian Presidency of EU Council: press conference opening remarks by President von der Leyen
11:15 Croatian Presidency of EU Council: opening remarks by Croatian Prime Minister and President of EC
11:00 DUTCH RAILROAD CROSSING - Geldermalsen - Voetakkerweg
11:00 DUTCH RAILROAD CROSSING - Prinsenbeek - Spoorstraat
10:50 Girl, 10, dies after falling from asylum center's window
10:43 Compilatie 24H ‘Ontdek je stad’ 2019
10:32 Ontdek Amerfoort #Citytrip
10:26 UK accused of 'behaving like cowboys' over EU database copying
10:26 Men in west London have highest male life expectancy in EU - Life expectancy
10:24 Ursula Von Der Leyen and Croatian PM Andrej Plenkovic talk to the press | LIVE
10:00 Car with possible explosives found in Gelderland town; link with ATM bombing investigated
09:40 Viktor Orbán threatens new Europe grouping to rival 'weaker' EPP
09:39 Stockpiling for the New Year
09:37 European ministers meet to salvage Iran nuclear deal
09:35 President von der Leyen meets with Andrej Plenkovic, Croatian Prime Minister
09:30 Dutch Listening Practice - Talking About a School Trip in the Netherlands
09:28 [Ticker] Johnson suggests Iran crash was 'unintentional' missile
09:22 In Myanmar Armys Corner, Aung San Suu Kyi Will Defend It in Rohingya Genocide Case
09:16 Trudeau: Canadians deserve answers on plane crash
09:10 Man, 68, arrested for taping jerry can to Leeuwarden train
09:09 Iran denies that it brought down Ukrainian plane with a missile
08:49 Ask Our Astronaut | What's next in space exploration?
08:18 8 teams who saw their seasons ruined by international breaks
08:17 Judiciary Council calls politicians to stop blaming judges for unpleasant rulings
07:45 Iranian missile caused crash of Ukrainian Boeing 737: Officials
07:39 House of Commons passes Brexit bill for UK departure from EU on January 31
07:37 Gay, bisexual young people over twice as likely to be harassed, stalked online
07:01 Canadian PM called PM Rutte about MH17 after Tehran plane crash
06:37 Only let specialized clubs light fireworks, coalition party says
06:27 [Ticker] Swiss afraid of EU wage dumping
06:25 [Ticker] Orban to start new EU movement if kicked out of EPP
06:24 [Ticker] EU blasts Israeli settlements on 'occupied' land
06:15 Croatian PM Optimistic About EU Talks For North Macedonia, Albania
06:10 ABN Amro names PwC's former Dutch chairman as new CEO
06:07 South Mississippi Strong- Mag Holland is an angel devoted to helping others
06:04 MEPs slam UK for violating EU police database
06:03 EU regions: don’t touch cohesion funds for Green Deal
06:02 [Opinion] Europe, Scotland and Brexit - what next?
06:02 [Ticker] Brexit back on EU presidency agenda next week
06:01 [Ticker] President of European Court of Justice lambasts Poland
06:01 [Ticker] Athens asks for US help in east Mediterranean
06:01 [Ticker] Ukraine investigators want to search Iran plane crash site
04:32 How polluted is the air where you live?
04:14 Poisonous caterpillar to strike earlier than usual this year
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