Weekly News Review - European Union Security Watch spot

08.02.2021 – 14.02.2021

The E.U. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission (HR/VP) Josep Borrell visited Russia to investigate recent developments related to Alexei Navalny and discuss the negative trends in the E.U.- Russian relations and the existing violations of human rights in Russia. Discussions with the Russian authorities regarding shared challenges led to the conclusion that the E.U. and Russia see things very differently and are drifting apart. Josep Borrell stressed that Russia’s government was evolving increasingly authoritarian and showed no tolerance of the democratic rule of law, warning that a new round of sanctions might be possible. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov responded to this statement, declaring that Russia is ready to sever ties with the E.U. if the bloc imposes new, economically painful sanctions. At the same time, Russia’s foreign ministry has expelled three European diplomats, claiming that they participated in “unauthorized rallies” supporting Alexei Navalny, causing dissatisfaction to the E.U.

The President of the European Council Charles Michel invited U.S. President Joe Biden to redefine American policy towards China and work together to reshape their relationship with Beijing. Concerns about future relations between the U.S. and the Central and Eastern European countries are generated given that human rights and the rule of law seem to have evolved as the necessary preconditions for the U.S. collaboration with other countries, according to a report from Warsaw. 

As regards U.S.-Iran relations, it seems that the longer it takes to get the U.S. and Iran back to the JCPOA, the more advanced Iran’s nuclear programme will likely become. Therefore, it is suggested that the E.U. should declare its clear support for a coherent approach towards preserving this critical agreement.

Before the pandemic, global health was not high on the European political agenda. However, COVID-19 has unveiled the essential role that the World Health Organization (WHO) plays at the global level. For this reason, it is advocated that the E.U. has an opportunity to become a key strategic actor on global health, if it upgrades its observer status within the WHO and makes significant financial contributions to the organization. 

According to the E.U. data protection supervisor (EDPS), the European Union should prohibit targeted advertising as part of the new rules against Big Tech platforms. In this respect, the E.U. will better protect sensitive data regarding its citizens and thus, prevent private companies from using this data at the expense of the Union’s internal security.

BREXIT has reinvigorated the debate over the enlargement of the E.U.  since Scotland might appear as another candidate for membership along with a number of western Balkan countries.