European Union Geopolitical Watch – From 18 March to 24 March, 2023

European Union Geopolitical Watch Team: Audrey Moisan, Emma Chlebowski, Marie Corcelle, Tristan Jarraud, Florent Guichard, Antoine Bézier, Etienne Mathieu

The files we follow: NATO/EU relations and neutral and ex-neutral countries; Energy policies and energy dependencies of the EU and Member States; EU/UK/Ireland relations; Environmental policies and issues of the EU and Member States; EU trade policies; Franco-German axis and intra-European relations with frugal countries, Germany/Eastern Europe relations, Nordic countries; Poland/Hungary/Romania foreign policies and relations with the EU; Various EU and Member States.

Consider subscribing for free access to the full content!

– NATO/EU relations and neutral and ex-neutral countries – Etienne Mathieu –

– On 22 March, the Swedish Parliament voted in favour of the country’s membership in NATO (Euractiv). However, this approval remains ineffective for now, as long as Hungary and Turkey have not lifted their vetoes. The vote received a large majority (269 votes in favour, 37 against), despite the opposition of the Greens and the Left Party (Miljöpartiet, generally classified on the extreme left). Euractiv recalls that the Swedish government rules out any deployment of nuclear weapons in Sweden in the event of membership, although this has never been discussed with the Alliance before; military nuclear power is a sensitive issue in Swedish public opinion, and one of the points raised by the opposition to membership. Foreign Minister Tobias Billström reiterated his assertion that Sweden would succeed in obtaining membership in the Alliance before the July summit in Vilnius.

On 23 March, Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson said he would hold talks with his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban (Le Figaro). For the head of the Swedish government, it is a question of clarifying the reasons for the absence of a vote in the Hungarian Parliament in favour of Sweden’s membership in NATO, as was the case for the vote in favour of Finland scheduled for 27 March (Le Journal du Dimanche). On 21 March, in a press conference, Ulf Kristersson acknowledged that the probability of Finland joining NATO without waiting for Sweden’s membership had increased (La Presse).

Finland has confirmed its membership process: President Sauli Niinistö has signed the law on NATO membership (Euronews).

NATO Secretary General Jens Stolenberg welcomed the validation of Finland’s membership, while reminding that Sweden’s membership was a necessity. So did Jake Sullivan, National Security Advisor to the President of the United States – a strategic and prestigious position held by Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brezinski and Colin Powell, among others. Unlike Turkey, which disagrees with Sweden on the subject of freedom of expression and blasphemy (NHK), Hungary does not officially specify why it still refuses to validate Sweden’s membership in the Atlantic Alliance. Le Figaro points out that the Hungarian government can use this membership as a bargaining chip in its dispute with the European Union, which is blocking several billion euros of funds pending political reforms.

– Jens Stolenberg met with Swiss Federal Councillor Viola Amherd on 22 March. She declared the willingness of the Swiss Confederation to strengthen its cooperation with NATO, notably through joint exercises (La Tribune de Genève). The corps commander (Swiss equivalent of a lieutenant general, the highest rank in peacetime) Thomas Süssli, head of the Swiss army, agreed with her on 23 March (RTS). But on the NATO side, this Swiss willingness to cooperate is met with scepticism by the Alliance, which demands in return that the Swiss Confederation authorize the re-export of arms to Ukraine (RTBF). In fact, as part of its policy of neutrality, Switzerland only sells arms on condition that they are not then re-exported to Ukraine – unlike, for example, Bulgaria. The Secretary General of NATO has stated that “neutral countries also have a duty to defend the UN Charter“.

 EU/UK/Ireland relations – Tristan Jarraud –

515 in favor and 29 against: this is the result of the vote on the Stromon Brake. The latter is one of the most important issues for making progress on the British and Irish border. The vote suggests that Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has won hands down. However, both former prime ministers Boris Johnson and Liz Truss voted against. And as Politico reports, “However, House of Commons records show that 48 other Conservatives abstained or were exempted from voting.” Some commentators suggest that there may be a groundswell of revolt in the Conservative camp. However, this victory must be put into perspective as the bulk of the text has not yet been considered by the House of Commons.

Vous devez souscrire à un abonnement EurasiaPeace pour avoir accès au contenu - Prendre votre abonnement
Previous Article

Humanitarian and security update in Karabakh and in the Lachin corridor – Update on 24/03/23

Next Article

Russia Geopolitical Watch – from 18 March to 24 March 2023