EU Affairs Daily Briefing – 2 July 2020
Today we discuss further developments as the EU slowly emerges from the pandemic. Experts hope Germany’s presidency will promote stability as the Commission tried to secure the crucial remdesivir presumed to be effective against COVID-19. EU slowly reopens its border but Orban will keep his country closed. We also discuss issues in foreign affairs where the EU criticizes China’s move to limit Honk Kong’s autonomy. France pulls out of Libya. As a bonus, EU offers over 10 million Euro to boost its cybersecurity infrastructure.
France pulls out of Operation Sea Guardian amid Turkey row
Last week we were covering a heated exchange between French Macron and Turkey’s Erdogan due to clashes in delivering peace operations in Libya. Today, BBC (UK) reports that France has decided to suspend its activities meant to enforce the arms embargos in Libya. It comes weeks after Turkish ships allegedly targeted a French warship in the Mediterranean – something Ankara strongly denies. This key incident came on 10 June, when French frigate Courbet went to inspect a Tanzanian-flagged cargo ship, Cirkin, off the coast of Libya, to check if it was smuggling arms.
The EU condemns China’s move to limit Honk Kong’s autonomy
On the 30th of June, China adopted the National Security Law in Hong Kong in a move to effectively curb the city’s semi-autonomous status. The EU Council’s press corner (Brussels) released a statement by the bloc’s High Representative stating that the EU has a strong stake in promoting stability in the region. It voiced concern that the law is “seriously undermining the high degree of autonomy of Hong Kong, and having a detrimental effect on the independence of the judiciary and the rule of law.” The EU declared that it will closely monitor further developments and strongly urges China to avoid further acts that will undermine the “One Country, Two Systems” principle.
Berlin becomes a key player in the EU post-pandemic recovery
As the EU member states slowly wake their economies from the COVID-19-imposed hibernation, Germany just marched into the second day of its 6-month presidency. The Financial Times (UK) reports that Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Berlin’s presidency is likely to be defined by the success, or failure, of two big negotiations: an agreement with Brexit Britain; and a proposed €750bn recovery fund and new seven-year budget. While it’s still unclear how the Brexit deal will proceed, Germany will be crucial in delivering the financial aid package to the battered economies of the bloc. By lending fiscal firepower to the recovery, it takes pressure off the European Central Bank’s overburdened monetary policy. It will help to cushion the economic pain in member states that have less fiscal space to do so on their own. It is, therefore, not an overstatement that Germany will become crucial in maintaining the stability of the EU.
Brussels begin negotiations with Gilead, the US pharmaceutical company, to ensure doses of remdesivir for EU
As Washington announced that the US will buy most of the drug currently presumed to be effective against coronavirus, The Financial Times (UK) reports that the European Comission has begun talks with Gilead Sciences, the US pharmaceuticals company to secure a steady supply of the drug as well. Stella Kyriakides, health commissioner for the 27-country EU, has held a series of negotiations with the company, including over its production capacity, Brussels said. “Commissioner Kyriakides has been in multiple discussions with the manufacturer, Gilead, including on their production capacity,” the commission said.
Orban states that Hungary will keep border shut to non-EU citizens
As the EU finalised the list of countries allowed to enter the bloc, Politico (USA) reports that Orban will not allow any non-EU citizens to enter the country except those from Serbia. Hungary “for the time being” cannot comply with the EU’s request to allow people from some non-EU countries to enter “because that would be contrary to the Hungarian people’s health interest,” the prime minister said in a video posted on Facebook. It is unclear how countries will screen non-EU travellers from moving within the passport-free Schengen area without border checks.
The EU Commission launches new calls through the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF) programme worth €10.5 million
Amid the calls to step up global efforts to increase cybersecurity, The EU Reporter (Brussels) presented that the EU Commission, through the CEF has released new initiatives, worth €10.5 million, for projects that will promote Europe’s cybersecurity capabilities and cooperation across member states. The Commission in particular looks for projects that would enhance on co-ordinated response to cybersecurity incidents, cybersecurity certification, capacity building and institutional co-operation on cybersecurity matters, as well as co-operation between the public and the private sector. Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton said: “Supporting concrete projects in the area of cybersecurity helps advance innovative technologies and solutions in a targeted way. The call launched today will contribute to strengthening our resilience against cyber threats, in line with our digital ambitions in Europe and our overall strategy comprising the Cybersecurity Act, the NIS Directive and the Cyber Blueprint Recommendations.”