Weekly News Review - European Union Security Watch spot

21.12.2020 – 27.12.2020

The European Union and the United Kingdom have reached a new trade agreement,  avoiding the possibility of a “tough divorce.” Both sides agreed on a clause of minimum standards in social, environmental and labor legislation, duty-free and quota-free trade, and decrease of E.U. fishing quotas in U.K. waters by 25%. Thus, the United Kingdom is now called upon to decide on the extent of its involvement in the intensification of European defence efforts, in light of the European Union’s strategic sovereignty (or autonomy) ambitions. The ? UK is likely to reduce its influence and impact on all E.U. initiatives and decisions on foreign and security policy. In the aftermath of the agreement, the Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoglu was quick to claim that new opportunities for the Turkish and European relations have now been offered/arisen, as Turkey remains a country that is both a candidate country for E.U. membership and the E.U. Customs Union.

The European Union is also called upon to address the increasing Chinese influence in the Western Balkans, which takes the form of high investment activity and its consequent financial dependence, in order to safeguard its wider European security. In the context of promoting peace and stability in the neighbouring countries, including the Eastern Partnership, the E.U. High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/Vice-President of the Commission (HR/VP) Josep Borrell, expressed the view that the European Union will continue to stand by the efforts of Belarus to strengthen democracy and defend human rights. At the same time, the E.U.-Russian diplomatic relations remain strained since the attempted poisoning of the Russian opposition leader and activist Alexei Navalny and the resulting sanctions that each side imposed on the other.

At the long-awaited meeting of the Joint Commission on the International Agreement on the Iranian Nuclear Program JCPOA chaired by the E.U. HR/VP Borrell, it was agreed that its full and effective implementation by all members remains vital. In addition, it is considered important to address the continuing challenges of its performance, including non-proliferation. On the issue of North Korea and the “Sunshine Policy”, the E.U. stated its institutional and political capability to defend the interests of the entire international community in order to avoid a high-risk nuclear conflict.