Weekly News Review - European Union Security Watch spot

09.11.2020 – 15.11.2020

With NATO’s role as the “protector of Europe” fading away in the eyes of its members, demonstrating the inability and weakness of its structures to deal with the spread of Covid-19, the European Commission has proposed a significant shift in power to EU health organizations to improve their responsiveness to cross-border health threats. Nevertheless, the EU seems to be adapting to the new situation and is now in a better position to deal with the second wave of the pandemic. There is now a fertile ground for a more strategic approach to health issues, to make it more prepared for the health crisis in order for the EU to become more prepared in the escalating health crisis.

Indeed, the pandemic has shown to the EU that a holistic approach based on its soft power is needed, with the terms “European sovereignty” and “European autonomy” coming to the fore, as strengthening EU security and defense seems to be more and more necessary. The EU has already suffered a severe blow to its credibility due to the failure of its otherwise advanced and organized member-states to tackle the pandemic effectively. This could be used as an opportunity for the EU to leave behind the superiority complex that characterizes it and to demonstrate the values and the rules it stands for.

The emergence of a new US administration closer to European values, offers enormous relief to the EU, that puts forward climate change as a top priority for international cooperation, which is seen as a significant threat to European and international security today. However, there is an urgent need for the EU to put forward its realistic expectations and not get too comfortable. The EU must use the time it is given to prove that it is a useful ally of the United States.

It is not the Biden Presidency that will fix the problems of the EU but the Union itself by taking initiatives on security and defence issues and through its more meaningful presence in the regions of its concern. For example, Africa, and in particular the Sahel region, in which many European states operate, is the region of origin of a large proportion of migrants arriving in Europe, including potential terrorists due to the terrorist cells that operate in those areas. In addition, in one of the successful examples of the EU’s democracy-building, Georgia, there has been a distortion of the electoral process in the last elections. This is a serious indication of the setbacks that may arise in the efforts of democratisation and capacity building in the region of the Eastern Neighbourhood Policy.

Given the new US administration that will take over the US Presidency in January, the US and the EU have to coordinate their policies to address Russia and China. As regards Russia, European governments are expecting an unwavering commitment coming from the United States for mutual security and deterrence in Europe, which would highlight their determination to tackle future threats collectively. It is also essential to create a coherent European strategy based on the orientations of the 2016 European Strategy, such as the “Strategic Compass”, which will clarify the EU’s priorities and its medium to long-term objectives. It is well-known that Europeans hold different positions on critical security issues, and the nature of their threats to an appropriate approach to dealing with rising China, whose Belt and Road Initiative raises concern within the EU.