European Union Geopolitical Watch Team – From October 8 to October 14, 2022

European Union Geopolitical Watch Team: Audrey Moisan, Léo Caget, Yanis Kourrad, Antoine Bézier, Etienne Mathieu

10/10/2022: The ecologist incumbent president, favorite of the election re-elected in Austria. -Audrey Moisan-

This Sunday, October 9, 2022, were held in Austria the federal presidential elections. These elections allowed the re-election of the outgoing Green president Van der Bellen, who obtained 56.2% of the votes, that is to say an absolute majority (French embassy in Vienna, die Wiener Zeitung).

According to data from the Wiener Zeitung, the turnout in the elections was 65.2%, a result that was down from the previous elections in 2016. The Austrian daily, quoted by the French Embassy and Euronews, also highlights the 17.9% score of Walter Rosenkranz, candidate of the Austrian far right, and the opposition force that could be set up against the coalition re-elected on October 10. 

Der Standard corroborates this analysis by adding that there was some dissatisfaction with the actions of the newly re-elected president during his previous term. 

Another candidate, Domini Wlazny, who came third in the polls and is particularly popular with Austrian youth, according to the Wiener Zeitung, is being heavily scrutinized by the media because of this popularity and the prospect of an opposition force to the coalition. Dominik Wlazny represents the “Beer Party”.

10/12/2022: Announcements from French President Emmanuel Macron on the war in Ukraine, the tense situation between Armenia and Azerbaijan, protests in Iran and fuel delivery disruptions in France. -Léo Caget-

During a political program broadcast on the French television channel France 2, French President Emmanuel Macron spoke about major political issues that are shaking up international news.

A large part of his speech was focused on the war in Ukraine. He confirmed the delivery of six additional Caesar cannons, initially dedicated to Danish forces, which would be added to the eighteen cannons already delivered to Ukraine in recent months. He added that these deliveries would be accompanied by radars and anti-aircraft batteries, also confiding that France was providing intelligence to Ukraine, without adding any details on this sensitive subject. He also recalled the role of French forces in the training of the Ukrainian army, and in the deployment of strategic forces in the border states of Ukraine members of NATO, France being the framework nation of a mission of the organization in Romania. Questioned by the journalist who interviewed him on the risk of nuclear threat, he indicated that France was also a nuclear power, insisting however on the importance of maintaining a doctrine of dissuasion regarding these weapons of mass destruction. He also denounced the destabilizing role that Belarus has played since the beginning of the conflict for Ukraine and the European Union, which recently announced a joint military grouping with Russia. Referring to the tense political situation in Belarus since the last elections in 2020, he said: “There are fragilities. And so, every time President Lukashenko decides to engage further in this war, he will do so against the opinion of a large part of his people.” Finally, he condemned the Russian actions in this war, inviting the protagonists to return to the negotiating table as soon as possible.

In this program was also discussed the resumption of violence on the border of Armenia and Azerbaijan. Questioned by the journalist on this subject, Emmanuel Macron recalled his support for Armenia in the conflict between it and its neighbor: “Armenia is a country with which we have a unique bond.” However, he added that he wanted to play a mediation role, citing the first meeting organized a few days earlier in Prague between an Armenian President and a Turkish President. During this first summit of the European political community, he had also allowed, accompanied by the president of the European Council Charles Michel, the presidents of Azerbaijan and Armenia, to exchange about the borders between the two countries, while inviting them to accept a mission of the European Union to inform the infringements committed in this zone of tension. He also denounced the destabilizing role played by Turkey and Russia in this conflict.

Regarding the recent demonstrations in Iran and the violent repression of the country’s authorities, he declared: “France condemns the repressions carried out by the Iranian regime.” The French President announced his full support for the demonstrators, describing their struggle as “universal“, for “women’s rights“.

The only subject of domestic politics in this program, he addressed the disruption of oil deliveries in gas stations of TotalEnergies and ExxonMobil groups saying he was ready to “requisition” if the social dialogue did not unblock the situation.

12/10/2022 : MEPs call for a coherent framework for low-carbon hydrogen at EU level. -Yanis Kourrad-

On Wednesday 12 October, a letter signed by several MEPs called on the European Commission to include low-carbon hydrogen in the decarbonised hydrogen production targets and to accelerate domestic production. Believing that the European Commission’s RePowerEU plan does not sufficiently integrate low-carbon hydrogen, 19 socialist, centrist and right-wing MEPs are calling for a real statute for this type of hydrogen. This position, shared by many EU Member States, is supported in particular by France, whose Minister for Energy Transition, Agnès Pannier-Runacher, recalls, in a letter to the European Commission, that given “the absolute priority of the next decade for hydrogen, only the carbon content of the hydrogen produced counts and not the production vector”

Furthermore, the letter calls for the further development of low-carbon energy production within the EU rather than importing it. Indeed, the letter recalls that “the EU should first focus on developing the necessary domestic production capacity for clean hydrogen, whether from renewable or low-carbon sources, before importing any additional molecules“. 

14/10/2022 : Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly calls Russia a “terrorist” regime -Etienne Mathieu-

On October 13, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe adopted a resolution calling the Russian government a “terrorist” regime. The international organization, from which Russia was expelled in March 2022, thus condemned the recent escalation of the Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine – including the annexation of four oblasts and the massive missile bombardment of Ukrainian cities.

The resolution was adopted unanimously, with 99 votes in favor and one abstention – that of the representative of Turkey. The text also recalls that the member states of the Council do not recognize the annexation referendums in the oblasts partly occupied by the Russian army.

The Parliamentary Assembly also states that the Duma, the lower house of the Russian federal parliament, is no longer a reliable partner as a parliamentary institution, having repeatedly validated President Vladimir Putin’s policies in violation of international law.

10/14/2022 : Sweden: Agreement for a new government supported by the far right. -Antoine Bézier-

Sweden’s three right-wing parties (Ulf Kristersson’s Moderate Party, Ebba Busch’s Christian Democrats and Johan Pehrson’s Liberal People’s Party) agreed on 14th October to form a new government, with the unprecedented support of the far right (Jimmie Åkesson’s Sweden Democrats).  A vote to appoint the new Prime Minister is due to take place on Monday, and the new team would take office the following day.

After an unprecedented rapprochement with the far right, which won the elections on 11th September with 20.5% of the vote and is now the country’s second largest party with 73 seats in the Swedish parliament (the Riksdag), the right-wing is back in power in Sweden after eight years of social-democratic governance (France 24). Adding the Moderate Party (68 seats), the Christian Democrats (19 seats) and the Liberals (16 seats), the right has a narrow absolute majority of 176 seats (Euronews). With the Liberals strongly opposed, the Sweden Democrats are not part of the government, but will have an office in the Rosenbad (the Prime Minister’s and government building in Stockholm) – with privileged access to a number of files (RFI). “We would have liked to see a majority government in which we would have participated. So it is very important for us that we have a comprehensive agreement on political issues,” said Jimmie Åkesson (France 24). 

The new government presented a 62-page coalition agreement, the most detailed in Swedish political history (RFI). The most talked about proposal is the construction of new nuclear reactors to cope with the current energy crisis and the country’s growing need for electricity. Six of Sweden’s twelve reactors have been shut down in recent years, and those still in operation produce about 30% of the electricity used in the Scandinavian kingdom today. Many of the measures presented by the far right during the campaign are also present: extension of police powers in neighbourhoods considered sensitive, tougher sentences, deportation of foreigners suspected of being gang members, etc. On immigration, the new government wants to restrict access to the right of residence and citizenship, as well as drastically reduce the number of asylum seekers admitted to Sweden (limited to 900, compared to 6400 in 2021).

The opposition, led by the country’s largest parliamentary force, the Social Democrats of outgoing Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson (107 seats), has 173 seats. Magdalena Andersson hopes to return to power if the right-wing coalition implodes (France 24).

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