Weekly News Review - European Union Security Watch spot

16.11.2020 – 22.11.2020

The transatlantic relations remained at the forefront this week focusing on security issues. NATO highlighted its commitment to enhancing cybersecurity to all Member States while emphasizing its intention to play an instrumental role in establishing standards and norms as regards military application of artificial intelligence.  In effect, Allies can be facilitated in the adoption of a common approach to the use of AI in defense and security. At the same time, through NATO’s support, the European Union (EU) will be encouraged to significantly upgrade its technological capabilities in order to adjust to those of its transatlantic ally since serious disparities can be observed on digital taxation, general data protection regulations, artificial intelligence and 5G.

Following Biden’s triumph in the recent US elections, the challenge for the EU will concentrate on whether it will succeed in transforming the Euro-Atlantic relations into a more collaborative mode that could enable the EU to evolve as a reliable power, ready to provide solutions for its own problems. This can be achieved by working harder for a more active engagement in sectors such as the economy, global health, climate change and digital technology. For example, the EU is close to an agreement to extend the list of cyber-surveillance technology through which Member States are restrained from selling to authoritarian regimes. Similarly, as regards the military sector, more opportunities have been agreed for EU Member States to upgrade their air forces through collaborative methods in order to strengthen their collective strategic autonomy.  

The empowerment of the EU’s position in the world will be materialized more effectively through its cooperation with its allies and, in particular, the United States. President elect Biden announced the restoration of relations with the EU as one of his priorities, and added on the agenda the issue of Nord Stream 2 and the strengthening of the EU’s energy security. Both allies should also work together to tackle the growing security challenges posed by China. However, for some EU Member States countering climate change is cardinal while other see multilateralism as the key, or even economic growth with low carbon dioxide emissions, giving priority to renewable energy sources.

When it comes to tackling the pandemic, the EU faces the challenge of Poland and Hungary vetoing the Covid-19 budget-recovery package, which they allegedly find to involve provisions posing undesirable intervention to their home affairs. The EU has to demonstrate strong political will and agility in the decision-making process, as to avoid further delay.  In addition, Turkey’s open support for Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh conflict against Armenia has been the latest point of contention in a long list of differences between Turkey and many European allies. The High Representative of the EU Josep Borrell announced this week that Turkey’s behavior is driving the country away from the EU and that a fundamental change of Turkey’s attitude is needed. At the same time, Russia’s involvement in the conflict may temporarily provide the EU with a chance to form an enduring peace in the area.