Weekly News Review - European Union Security Watch spot

07.12.2020 – 13.12.2020

This week, the European Commission presented its first Progress Report on the “E.U. Security Union Strategy 2020-2025, highlighting the actions taken at the E.U. level, under its four main priorities. It also published its new counter-terrorism agenda for the Union, in order to step up the fight against terrorism and violent extremism and to strengthen E.U.’s resilience to terrorist threats. A well known think tank in Washington calls for a greater cooperation between the E.U. and the United States of America (U.S.A.) in the field of technology, and the need for the two global actors to establish a common framework of rules for digital surveillance and protection of personal data since the recent “Schrem II” decision by the European Court of Justice highlighted their different perspectives. 

EU leaders agreed to impose limited sanctions on Turkish individuals and companies involved in planning and carrying out gas drillings in the East Med amid continued tensions. At the same time, however, they are suspending larger sanctions, such as trade tariffs or arms embargoes, until they reach a mutual agreement with the upcoming U.S. government. With the international interest focused on the current Turkish aggression, E.U.-Turkey relations are at a dead-end, while the militarization of foreign policy is becoming more widespread in the E.U.’s southern neighborhood.

Angela Merkel and Joe Biden will simultaneously be the ruling leaders for approximately nine months before Merkel leaves office. This short period is considered vital for both the European Union and the United States to establish a common agenda and deal effectively with Russia and China. At the same time, Biden’s team plans to use a European regional cooperation structure as a potential response mechanism to China’s efforts to gain more influence in Europe. In particular, it is time for the E.U. to address China’s presence in the Balkan region, especially its increasing collaboration with the Balkan’s media.

A compromise was also reached between Germany, Hungary and Poland to unblock the EU budget package and the coveted recovery package from the pandemic, which will offer a tremendous economic boost to the E.U. Member States. The European Council agreed upon a deal for the cut of net greenhouse gas emissions up to 55%, a decision that puts the Union on a clear path towards climate neutrality in 2050. It also highlights its leadership in the fight against climate change. In contrast, at the summit of more than 70 world leaders on the climate crisis, it was noted that the world is not yet on its way to fulfilling the 2015 Paris Agreement.