Weekly News Review - European Union Security Watch spot

22.02.2021 – 28.02.2021

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg stressed the need to strengthen the transatlantic cooperation in his doorstep statement ahead of the European Council meeting. He welcomed the new U.S. administration’s intention to work together with Europe and rebuild alliances. He referred to the ΄΄NATO 2030΄΄ project  and indicated the importance of NATO – E.U. partnership in order to face current crises effectively. In practice, however, over the last 20 years, NATO and the European Union have largely failed to design an effective division of labor amongst them. Hence, NATO allies and E.U. member states must agree on a new bargain that would clarify the division of tasks, set more realistic objectives, and better ensure the two organizations’ relevance and credibility.

The European Commission adopted a new E.U. Strategy on Adaptation to Climate Change, setting out the pathway to prepare for climate change’s unavoidable impacts. It aims to shift the focus from understanding the problem to developing solutions and move from planning to implementation.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas expressed the E.U’s position concerning Alexei Navalny’s persecution, planning sanctions against Russia while keeping dialogue channels open. In its statement, Russia’s Foreign Ministry characterized the E.U. sanctions as “interference in the internal affairs of a sovereign state”. According to some analysts, the E.U. should be in no hurry to engage with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime or force a diplomatic crisis. Rather than vacillating between resets and crackdowns, the E.U. should pursue a “principled indifference” strategy.

The European Union is poised to impose sanctions against the military leaders in Myanmar, targeting those directly responsible for the military coup and their economic interests. On the other side of the world, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza announced the expulsion of the head of the European Union’s delegation in Caracas in response to the new sanctions imposed by the E.U., as a response to the undermining of the oppositions’ electoral rights as well as the violation of human rights by the government in Venezuela. The E.U. stated that the move undermines the bloc’s efforts to support negotiations and dialogue in the crisis-gripped nation.

As regards environmental security, Ditte Juul Jorgensen, Director General of Energy of the European Commission, argued that the construction of the Nord Stream-2 gas pipeline is in the national governments’ power, and the E.U. will not stop the operation as long as it is consistent with the E.U. energy law. She further pointed out that the E.U. budget will not support the project since it is not one of shared European interest.