European Union Geopolitical Watch Team: Audrey Moisan, Antoine Bézier, Yanis Kourrad, Florent Guichard, Etienne Mathieu
23/11/2022: The European Parliament adopted a resolution recognizing Russia as a state supporting terrorism. -Florent Guichard-
European deputies recognized this Wednesday, 23 November, 2022, by 494 votes for and 58 against Russia as “a State supporting terrorism” and “which uses the means of terrorism” according to the official website of the European Parliament.
This motion for a resolution was first mentioned on 18 October, 2022, following a debate in the Plenary Assembly.
On this day, Parliament therefore considered that the acts committed by Russia in Ukraine, such as the bombing of essential civilian infrastructure (hospitals, schools, energy infrastructure) or the violation of international law and humanitarian law amount to acts of terror and constitute war crimes which qualify Russia as a state that “uses the means of terrorism”.
In the process, Euronews and Reuters informed us that the site of the European Parliament had been the victim of a cyberattack by denial of service (DDoS) by a group claiming to support the Kremlin.
It was only at the end of the day, after a few hours, that access to the site was normally restored.
23/11/2022 : The European Parliament adopts a resolution to facilitate the enlargement of the Union. -Etienne Mathieu-
The European Parliament adopted on 23 November a resolution stating: “a strengthened enlargement policy is the EU’s strongest geopolitical tool” (official website of the European Parliament).
The resolution, adopted with 502 votes in favor, 75 against and 61 abstentions, aims to facilitate the procedures for accession to the European Union. As reported by the Georgian media Civil, the European parliamentarians justify this ambition by the tense geopolitical context caused by the geopolitical threat posed by Russia. One of the major reforms recommended by the November 23 resolution would be to replace the unanimity rule with that of qualified majority: the approval of 15 of the 27 current member states would be necessary to validate a new membership.
In the same resolution, the MEPs insist on the need to make accession to the European Union conditional on strict respect for human rights and the rule of law. The European Parliament also recommends tightening restrictions on candidate countries and/or partners of the Union that are reluctant to make political reforms in this direction. The resolution not only refers to states close to the Russian Federation, but also explicitly mentions the Balkans; the reservations on the rule of law and human rights are particularly aimed at Serbia, which is also considered to be close to Moscow. Facilitating the rapprochement or even the accession of the Balkan countries to the European Union, while imposing strict requirements, is seen as a way to offer an alternative to Russian influence and to fight against it, by making the European Union “a more credible and efficient [geopolitical] player at the global level”.
24/11/2022: Budapest postpones ratification of Sweden and Finland’s NATO membership until early 2023. -Yanis Kourrad-
On 24 November, Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban said that the Hungarian parliament will ratify the accession of Sweden and Finland to NATO in the first session of 2023.
To explain the delay, Orban mentioned a legislative slowness in the Hungarian Parliament, which is experiencing a bottleneck of texts that it must adopt in the framework of its fight against corruption. Indeed, Brussels is still freezing nearly 7.5 billion euros of European funds pending these anti-corruption measures. Nevertheless, the Hungarian Prime Minister did not fail to show his support for the two Nordic countries during a press briefing on the sidelines of the Visegrad Group summit, assuring that “Hungary will certainly support their accession, after the government has done so, the Parliament will do so as well”.
Nevertheless, this postponement of ratification has caused the Hungarian opposition to cringe, especially the socialists who describe the decision as incomprehensible. The Hungarian liberal movement Momentum, for its part, pointed to blackmail of the European Union. While some Westerners are sorry for the delay, a handful consider the decision to be unsurprising, given Orban’s proximity to the Kremlin. Hungary is, in fact, the only NATO member country with close and cordial relations with Moscow, opposing sanctions against Russia in the context of the latter’s war in Ukraine.
This delayed decision has slowed the momentum of the NATO accession process, which was completed in only six months, compared to the usual two years. The EU is now only waiting for Hungary’s approval, as well as that of Turkey, which is demanding the return of the EU to its own country.
24/11/2022 : European Council: agreement on new measures for joint gas purchases and a solidarity mechanism. -Antoine Bézier-
On 24 November, as reported in a European Council press release, energy ministers reached agreement on new temporary emergency measures to contain high energy prices and improve security of supply. The new measures aim to strengthen solidarity in the event of a real emergency and gas supply shortage, improve the coordination of joint gas purchases, limit the volatility of gas and electricity prices, and allow for the establishment of reliable benchmarks for gas prices. Czech Minister of Industry and Trade Jozef Síkela welcomed the news: “The EU has already managed to fill up the gas storages to secure supplies for this winter. Today we have made an important step to secure supplies for next winter as well. The emergency measures will help us use the power and benefits of our common market and jointly secure enough gas supplies for next year. This sends the right signal to the market and fortifies our solidarity mechanisms in case of a genuine emergency.” (Consilium.europa.eu)
However, the EU-27 remain divided on the gas issue and could only agree on a partial price cap with multiple conditions (RFI). This mechanism for capping gas prices is highly criticized, particularly by France and Spain, which consider it insufficient. Germany, the largest importer of gas in Europe, remains fiercely opposed to such a mechanism and fears over-consumption of gas due to low prices.
24/11/2022: As Qatar kicks off World Cup month, the European Union seeks to rule on the deaths of its workers. -Audrey Moisan-
On 24 November, the European Union adopted a resolution on human rights in Qatar. As Qatar set about launching its 2022 football World Cup on the 20th of November, the debate in the European Union centered on the qualification of deaths caused by the construction of stadiums in preparation for the World Cup.
Six resolutions were proposed. Their aim was to “send a clear message to the world” (Greens, Renew Europe and some EPP, ECR and S&D members, as reported by Euractiv). Each resolution was presented by one of the political parties.
The resolution of the Greens (European Parliament) calls on Qatar to initiate redress procedures for the families of the victimized migrant workers, and condemns the anti-LGBTQI+ acts carried out by the Qatari authorities; another subject of debate around the organization of this World Cup. The resolution is based on reports from the International Labour Organisation, Amnesty International and a large number of Qatari legal texts and international decisions. The other five proposals followed the same guidelines, with the difference that the EPP proposal does not mention deaths at all (according to Euractiv).
The resolution finally adopted by a show of hands on Thursday also follows these lines, and specifically calls on certain European states whose teams are among the favorites for the competition to lobby the European and international football federations (UEFA and FIFA) to take action (Parliament’s press service).
MEPs also stress the need to carry out further investigations, particularly into women’s rights, abuses committed against the LGBTQI+ community, and the deaths of workers, in order to compensate their families, in accordance with human rights principles.
24/11/2022: European Council President Charles Michel to visit China on December 1st to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping. -Antoine Bézier-
On 24 November, the European Council issued a press release announcing the upcoming visit of European Council President Charles Michel to China. He will meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing on December 1st. This meeting takes place in a tense geopolitical and economic context, in which Europeans are hesitating about the position to adopt towards China. As TV5 Monde points out, European countries are very divided on the issue: on the one hand Germany has important economic interests in China and Olaf Scholz was the first G7 head of state to visit China after the Covid 19 pandemic, on the other hand a country like Lithuania has drawn the ire of Beijing after establishing ties with Taiwan, which the Chinese leaders consider a part of their territory.
According to the expression adopted in 2019, the European Union considers China a “partner, economic competitor and systemic rival” (French senate).
The recent tensions between Brussels and Beijing are in the context of the Russian-Ukrainian war, as China adopts a complacent stance towards Russian initiatives, and Charles Michel said at the annual ASEAN summit on November 12-13th in Phnom Penh: “We encourage the Chinese authorities to use all the means at their disposal to convince Russia to respect internationally recognized borders, to respect the sovereignty of Ukraine.” The deterioration of relations between the European Union and China is also linked to the issue of Uyghurs, and Brussels adopted sanctions followed by counter-sanctions after accusations of human rights violations in the Chinese region of Xinjiang (TV5 Monde).