EU Affairs Daily Briefing – 26 June 2020
Today’s briefing further highlights COVID-19 induced troubles and challenges. The EU council is pushing for a greener economy while also having to deal with the first spike in asylum seekers since 2015. We also consider UK’s bid to own a national satellite system and EU’s new cybersecurity framework.
The UK government plans to invest £500 million in new satellites that is meant to match the EU’s Galileo system
The the UK government is planning to purchase their own satellite navigation system for defence and critical national infrastructure purposes. Prime Minister Johnson and the chancellor Rishi Sunak have acquired a 20% stake in satellite operator OneWeb on Thursday night (25 June), once it was clear that the UK will not be able to access the EU’s Galileo satellite navigation system because of Brexit.
EU forms a new stakeholder group in a bid to improve EU cybersecurity certification framework
The EU Commission in cooperation with European Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) announced today the creation of creation of the Stakeholders Cybersecurity Certification Group (SCCG). The main purpose of the new group is to advise the Commission on the strategic issues regarding cybersecurity certification. It also aims to improve the single market integration by establishing market driven certification schemes that would help reduce fragmentation between various existing schemes in the EU member states.
EU’s Brexit negotiator states that: “The ball is in the UK’s court”
With the Brexit deadline fast approaching and the UK refusing to take another extension, Michael Barnier, EU’s Brexit negotiator states that the UK has so far failed to adequately engage with the options offered by the EU state aid and fisheries in the previous negotiating rounds, which have mostly been held on video calls due to coronavirus safety restrictions. “The ball is in the UK’s court,” Barnier told an online seminar on Wednesday. “I believe that the deal is still possible.” He said he was “disappointed” with Britain’s refusal to negotiate on foreign policy and defence but that he was open to finding a “margin of flexibility” on thus-far conflicting EU and UK positions on fishing and the state aid fair play guarantees.
The EU reports a rise in asylum applications for the first time since 2015, EASO report
The European Asylum Support Office (EASO) (Brussels) has published a report which concluded that asylum applications in the EU have increased by 11% in 2019. This is a first such reported surge since the migration crisis of the 2015. The EASO report shows that some countries, such as Cyprus, France, Greece, Malta and Spain, received more asylum applicants in 2019 than during the migration crisis of 2015. Urgent measures were put in place to address an influx of migrants, disembarkations and rising backlogs of pending cases, while endeavouring to protect the rights of asylum seekers and share responsibility amongst Member States.
The European Investment Bank (EIB) will finance Austrian wind farms of Windkraft Simonsfeld, EU Commission Press Corner
As the environmental crisis returns to EU’s top political agenda, the EU Commission (Brussels) released a press statement declaring their decision to invest €63 million through the European Investment Bank (EIB) to finance the construction and operation of two new wind farms in Austria (Prinzendorf III and Powi V) of Windkraft Simonsfeld with a total capacity of approximately 43.6 MW. This is the second time that the company benefits from the Investment Plan for Europe’s support. In January 2018, a €48 million investment was agreed on to build three new wind farms with Windkraft Simonsfeld in Austria. The announcement is accompanied by the decision to hold a series of parliamentary debates starting 2nd of July with the aim to further address the climate issue.
The EU Council commits to firmly support the EU energy sector thrown off balance due to COVID-19, EU Council Press Corner
COVID-19 has put many sectors of the economy in risk, including the energy sector. On 23 of June, we reported that the EU may run out of oil in 10 years making it a security risk, partly due to the ongoing pandemic. The report argued that the EU needs to push for a greener economy faster. The EU Council press release (Brussels) announced that the council meetings adopted a resolution committing the block to transitioning the European economy by making greener and more digital while remaining competitive globally. It also pledged to increase the decarbonisation efforts. This announcement highlights a possible emerging trend that the COVID pandemic may allow for an accelerated transition to a greener economy.