European Union Geopolitical Watch – From October 29 to November 4, 2022

European Union Geopolitical Watch Team: Florent Guichard, Audrey Moisan, Yanis Kourrad, Antoine Bézier, Etienne Mathieu

11/02/2022: Warsaw signs with Washington to build its first nuclear power plant at the expense of Paris. -Yanis Kourrad-

After being officially announced by a tweet from the Polish minister on 28 October, Poland has just officially signed an agreement with the American company Westinghouse for the construction of its first nuclear power plant, following its council of ministers on 2 November.

Indeed, the war in Ukraine has made it urgent for Poland to ensure its security and energy supply by developing the nuclear industry. The Polish government’s meetings this week have been animated by the choice of the company that will oversee the construction of this plant off the coast of Choczewo. Three companies were in the running: the French flagship EDF, the South Korean company KHNP and the American company Westinghouse. By favouring the American partner, Poland is reaffirming its privileged relations with Washington, which have been strengthened since the beginning of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, as shown by the increase in the American military presence in Poland.

Criticised, this decision proved all the more painful for the European Union when it learned that talks with the South Korean partner were underway, leaving out France and, more broadly, a European partner.

11/02/2022: Mette Frederiksen’s Left has a majority in the Danish Parliament -Audrey Moisan-

On the first of November, the Danes were called to the polls, following a request made by the Prime Minister last week. Following a highly critical report on the management of fur production during the pandemic under Mette Frederiksen’s government, the ruling party was forced to call early elections (BBC, Courrier International, Euronews)

These elections, following a close vote, resulted in a one-seat majority for the Prime Minister’s Social Democratic Party. She narrowly secured the 90 seats needed to form a government, according to the BBC. In particular, the party won the three seats in Greenland and the Faroe Islands, a traditionally left-wing voting territory, which helped it to tip the balance in its favor.

It should also be noted that the Danes are among the most democratically active citizens, with a turnout at elections ranging from 80 to 90% (press service of the Danish embassy in France), which allows for a more general representation of public opinion during elections.

Moreover, according to Euronews quoting Mette Frederiksen, this victory for the Social Democratic Party marks a return to strength for the party, which has not received such support for some twenty years. However, the left-wing coalition that has been put in place raises a question about how the Frederiksen government will deal with the future.

11/03/2022: Giorgia Meloni’s first visit to Brussels. -Antoine Bézier-

New Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni made her first visit to Brussels on 3rd November. She met successively with the President of the European Parliament Roberta Metsola, the President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen, and the President of the European Council Charles Michel. In a tweet, Ursula von der Leyen welcomed the “strong signal” of the visit: “It was a good opportunity to exchange on critical issues“. Giorgia Meloni was keen to reassure EU leaders of Italy’s support for its main policies and wants, as reported by the news agency Reuters, “to give the signal of an Italy that obviously wants to participate, collaborate and defend its national interest, doing so within the European dimension, seeking the best solutions together with other countries“. As highlighted by Euractiv, she welcomed the measures taken on energy policy at the October European Council, and said she was discussing the modalities of implementation of the Italian recovery plan, which she had promised to renegotiate during the election campaign. The Italian politician showed her support for EU action on the Russia-Ukraine war, which Roberta Metsola noted: “We are totally aligned on Ukraine. We will continue to stand firm on sanctions.” (Reuters). The Italian Prime Minister was also keen to address the subject of immigration, one of her favourite themes, and the following words were reported by RFI: “Of course we talked about migratory flows and the Italian request for a change (…) whereby the priority, already provided for in European standards, is the defence of external borders“.

11/04/2022: Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s trip to China divides the Union. -Florent Guichard-

Friday, November 4, the German Chancellor was the first leader of the European Union received in China since the start of the pandemic. As Reuters news agency pointed out, ahead of this trip, Olaf Scholz indicated that this trip would aim to address the topics of Sino-European relations, the fight against climate change and the development of economic ties between Germany and China. According to Mediapart, in the middle of the morning this Friday, Olaf Scholz would have asked his Chinese counterpart for fairer trade relations as well as to use his influence on Russia to calm the situation in Ukraine.

It should be noted, however, that as recalled by many European media (Euronews, Le Monde, Courrier international), this trip takes place even though on October 26 a lively controversy has already shaken the chancellery and the European Union following the authorization by the German cabinet for the sale of a 24.9% share of a terminal in the port of Hamburg to China. Instantly, the disclosure of this information caused an outcry against the project as well as widespread questioning within the Union about Germany’s dependence on China.

It would seem that the European Union, which was seeking to adopt a common position on energy; was trying to be more and more independent of China and was already upset about the Chinese position on Taiwan, was becoming increasingly tense in the face of the German attitude.

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