Global Europe Brief: EU-China stalemate, Kosovo indictment & summer talks

Welcome to EURACTIV’s Global Europe Brief, your weekly update on the EU in the global perspective from our foreign affairs news team: Georgi Gotev and Alexandra Brzozowski.

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EU IN THE WORLD

EU-CHINA. No tangible progress was made on several key issues as leaders from the EU and China met for a tense virtual summit on Monday (22 June), amid tensions over tariffs targeting Chinese firms and Europe’s fears over Beijing’s growing global authority. The two sides also could not untangle the stalemate to grant greater access to European companies to the Chinese market.

Meanwhile, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has suggested that China may have been behind a spate of cyberattacks against hospitals in Europe during the coronavirus outbreak, stressing that the EU will not “tolerate” such malicious activity. China replied that the accusations are misplaced and the country itself feels victim to cybersecurity threats.

CALL FOR COMPROMISE. UK lawmakers have urged Boris Johnson and Michel Barnier to broker a compromise to avoid an economically damaging ‘no deal’ Brexit scenario. In a report, lawmakers on the UK parliament’s Future Relations committee called for both sides to compromise after three months of negotiating rounds which have delivered little progress on fisheries, governance and the so-called ‘level playing field’ on regulatory standards.

DEFENCE CORNER

SUMMER TALKS. Russia and the US hope to meet for a second round of nuclear disarmament talks as soon as possible, perhaps already in late July or early August, a US special envoy said after the first negotiating round on the future of the world’s two largest nuclear powers concluded in Vienna this week. The talks are meant to replace New START, a landmark nuclear arms reduction treaty between the US and Russia which is set to expire next February.

NAVAL INCIDENT. NATO is investigating an incident in the Eastern Mediterranean in which France says Turkish frigates were “extremely aggressive” towards a French navy vessel participating in a NATO mission in the area, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said last week. The move came after French defence minister Florence Parly denounced Turkey’s behaviour twice during the two days of the alliance’s defence ministers’ meeting, were eight of the NATO’s 30 members backed her intervention.

OOPS, HE DID IT AGAIN. French President Emmanuel Macron appears to have an idée fixe concerning the medical condition of NATO. In late 2019, Macron’s comments on the “brain death” of the alliance came as a shock, and possibly a welcome wake-up call. But this week, he repeated his claim, following the latest incident, involving NATO members France and Turkey.

ILLEGAL WITHDRAWAL. Senior US Senate Democrats accused President Donald Trump’s administration of violating the law when it declared his intention last month to withdraw the country from the Open Skies Treaty. The announcement of yet another major global landmark accord in jeopardy took European allies by surprise.

ENLARGEMENT LATEST

INDICTMENT & POSTPONEMENT. A ten-count indictment has been filed against Kosovo’s President Hashim Thaci and nine other former separatist fighters, on a range of crimes against humanity and war crimes charges, including murder and torture, by an international court investigating their actions against ethnic Serbs and others during and after Kosovo’s 1998-99 independence war with Serbia. Because of the indictment, US envoy for the Serbia-Kosovo Dialogue, Richard Grenell has announced that Thaci has postponed his trip to the White House in Washington scheduled for 27 June, where he was to meet Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic.

FINAL CHAPTER. The EU will give Montenegro a green light to open the last chapter, competition, of its accession negotiations to join the bloc, according to the Western Balkan country’s Prime Minister Duško Marković. The formal decision by the member states is expected in the Council on Friday (26 June).

EURASIA DIGEST

SPRING SUMMIT. Talks between EU and Eastern Partnership (EaP) leaders produced few tangible outcomes beyond the announcement that the next physical summit will take in Brussel in March 2021. Council President Charles Michel told reporters following the videoconference that the summit will be an opportunity to consolidate and reinforce the partnership, which is essential for geopolitical reasons.

WAITING FOR PERSPECTIVES. Georgia hopes it will “quite soon formally get a statement about the so-called European perspective”, the executive secretary of the ruling Georgian Dream party and former chairman of the Eastern European country’s parliament told EURACTIV in an interview.

US ELECTION WATCH

It’s 131 days until the US Presidential election and dozens of Republican former US national security officials are forming a group that will back Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, sources familiar with the effort told Reuters, in a further sign that President Donald Trump has alienated some members of his own party.

What to watch and why it matters: The group will publicly endorse Biden in the coming weeks and its members plan to campaign for the former vice president who is challenging Trump in the 3 November election, the sources said. They will argue that another four years of a Trump presidency would endanger US national security and that Republican voters should view Biden as the better choice despite policy differences.

WHAT ELSE WE’RE READING 

ON OUR RADAR FOR THE NEXT DAYS…

The regular institutional cycle has temporarily ground to a halt. But we’ll continue to keep you updated on all relevant EU foreign affairs news, as operations moved exclusively online.
  • Donor conference on virus vaccine
    | Saturday, 27 June 2020 | videoconference
  • Fourth EU summit on support to Syria
    | Wednesday, 1 July 2020 | videoconference
  • Germany takes over rotating EU presidency
    | Wednesday, 1 July 2020 | Berlin, Germany
  • Partial reopening of external EU borders expected
    | Wednesday, 1 July 2020 | Europe-wide

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