Daily News Briefing – EU Affairs (23 June 2020)
Washington warns EU on making friends with China’s ‘dictator’, EU Observer
As the relationship between the EU and US President Donald Trump continues to deteriorate, the EU Observer (Brussels) reports that the US envoy to the EU, Ronald Gidwitz, warns the block on warming up to China. The EU would be abandoning its values if it opted for a deeper partnership with China’s “dictatorship”, just because it did not get along with US president Donald Trump, the American ambassador to the EU has said. “The people of China are a wonderful people and I have nothing but respect for them, but general secretary Xi is a dictator,” Gidwitz told press in Brussels on Monday (22 June), referring to Chinese president Xi Jinping.
Macron: ‘Turkey is playing a dangerous game in Libya’, Euro News
As the air support and weapons from Turkey over recent months have helped change the tide in Libya’s civil war, Euro News (France) French President warned that Turkey is playing “a dangerous game” with its military intervention in Libya that will not be tolerated by France. The UN-recognised government pushed back a year-long siege on the capital Tripoli at the beginning of June and has secured much of the west of the country against Khalifa Haftar’s Libyan National Army (LNA). Turkey’s military support — and the allied fighters it has transported from Syria — contributed to the Tripoli government’s gains over the LNA, which is backed by Egypt, Russia and the United Arab Emirates. But Macron said Turkey’s actions went against commitments it made during Berlin peace talks in January.
Syria crisis: #SyriaConf2020 – Brussels IV Conference ‘Supporting the future of Syria and the region’ begins, EU Reporter
The EU Reporter (Brussels) published that from yesterday (22 June), the European Union is virtually hosting the fourth Brussels Conference on Supporting the Future of Syria and the Region (#SyriaConf2020), co-chaired with the United Nations. The aim of the Conference is to further rally the international community behind UN-led efforts to achieve a lasting political solution to the Syria crisis in line with UN Security Council resolution 2254 and to mobilize the necessary financial assistance for Syria and neighbouring countries hosting Syrian refugees. It will be the main pledging event for Syrians and Syria’s neighbouring countries in 2020 and will provide a unique platform for dialogue with civil society organizations from the region
INTELLIGENCE & SECURITY
EU welcomes UK move to share criminal suspects’ DNA data, Financial Times
After tensions rose because of Britain’s policy of sharing of DNA data of convicted criminals but not of criminal suspects which conflict with EU’s policy that shares both, the Financial Times (Brussels) reported that Britain’s chances of remaining part of European data-sharing arrangements to fight serious crime have improved. The announcement comes after the UK government accepted EU demands to share more information, European diplomats said.
The UK government confirmed last week that it was willing to start sharing criminal suspects’ DNA data with other European countries, responding to complaints that Britain has benefited from EU cross-border data sharing while failing to show full reciprocity.
EU talks on Kosovo and Serbia to restart in July, Euro Observer
The EU Observer (Brussels) reports that the EU-brokered Kosovo-Serbia peace talks will resume July, after having stalled in 2018, Europe’s special envoy, Miroslav Lajčák, has said after meeting Serbian president Aleksandar Vučić in Belgrade on Monday. “Serbia is a part of Europe, your problems are our problems,” Lajčák said. He spoke after Vučić’s political party won recent elections amid accusations of fraud by the opposition. He also spoke amid rival US efforts to broker a Kosovo-Serbia deal.
E.U.-China Talks, Sweden, Working From Home: Your Tuesday Briefing, The New York Times
The summit between the EU and China produced little results, reports The New York Times (USA), failing to produce even a joint statement. The meeting, postponed from March, was a first for new European leaders. The talks were intended to break the impasse on issues from state subsidies and technology transfer to climate change and equal opportunities for European companies. The European Union is China’s largest trading partner, and China is the second-largest for the bloc. China promised last year to create a more “level playing field” with Europe but “implementation has been lagging,” one senior European official said.
Europe could face oil shortage in a decade, study warns, The Shift Project – 23 June
The Shift Project (France), a climate Think Tank, published an analytical report that Europe could face shortage of oil within the next decade. This makes the move to increase the use of low carbon energy even more urgent, according to the report. The study warns that oil production may fall faster than the EU’s reliance on fossil fuels, raising the risk of a looming supply crisis and sever market price shocks. The report said that the risk of reaching “peak oil supply” before major economies have transitioned to cleaner energy sources is “an additional compelling reason for designing a world without oil”.
EU leaders to meet July 17-18 to seek deal on budget, recovery fund, Politico
After, spokesman Barend Leyts tweeted that “On 17 and 18 July @eucopresident will call an extraordinary #EUCO on the Recovery Package and the MFF. The physical meeting will start on the 17th at 10am in the Europa building,” Politco (Brussels) reports that the EU leaders will gather in person for a summit on July 17 and 18 in Brussels to try to reach a deal on the bloc’s long-term budget and coronavirus recovery package. The summit will seek to reach agreement on a range of issues that remain unresolved, including how recovery money should be allocated, and any conditions to be set on accessing the funds. Many other disagreements are also outstanding, including the overall size of the package and the proportion of grants and loans within it.
Commission approves €40 million Portuguese scheme to support companies affected by the #Coronavirus outbreak in autonomous region of Madeira, EU Reporter
As coronavirus causes serious disturbances of the Madeiran economy relevant to Portugal, The EU Reporter (Brussels) confirmed that The European Commission has approved a €40 million Portuguese scheme to support companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak in the autonomous region of Madeira. The scheme was approved under the state aid Temporary Framework. The support will take the form of direct grants and state guarantees on loans and will be open to all companies that are active in the autonomous region of Madeira. The scheme aims at providing liquidity to companies affected by the coronavirus outbreak, thus enabling them to continue their activities, start investments and maintain employment.
State aid: Commission opens in-depth investigation into the financing of Czech Post’s universal service obligation, EU Commission Press Release
The official press release (Brussels) reports that the commission has opened an in-depth investigation to assess whether the compensation granted by Czechia to Czech Post to fulfil its public service mission is in line with EU State aid rules. Czech Post is the main postal operator in Czechia and is wholly owned by the State. In January 2020, Czechia notified the Commission of its plan to compensate Czech Post for a maximum amount of CZK 7.5 billion (approximately €282.1 million) for carrying out its universal postal service obligation during the 2018-2022 period. This includes the provision of basic postal services throughout the country at affordable prices and at certain minimum quality requirements. In November 2019, the Commission received two complaints from competitors of Czech Post alleging that the compensation to be granted to Czech Post for its universal service obligation for the period 2018-2022 constitutes incompatible State aid.