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In this week’s edition: Central Asia focus, AUKUS fallout and dissecting SOTEU on defence.
As Afghanistan faces a looming humanitarian crisis following the Taliban’s takeover, the country’s neighbours are worried about security threats and increased refugee waves coming across their borders.
Over the past two days, leaders from the region held talks in the Tajik capital Dushanbe – most notably at the Russia and China-led Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit – with the main focus on the regional repercussions from the Afghanistan crisis.
Europeans, meanwhile, since the start of the crisis have expressed fears that a fragile Afghanistan could have the potential to destabilise the region.
EU IN THE WORLD
AUKUS FALLOUT | The EU this week outlined a new strategy for raising its presence in the Indo-Pacific and counter China’s increasing influence in the region, which has become the latest arena of the international geopolitical race.
The new strategy coincided with an agreement between the United States, Australia, and Britain to establish a security partnership for the Indo-Pacific, but also to scrap a French-designed nuclear-powered submarine agreement that left Paris fuming about being cut out of the deal.
At the same time, media reports of a possible security agreement between the EU and UK to be offered by Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte are untrue, the European Commission said on Friday.
“These are not true. When it comes to any proposal for a framework for cooperation on foreign security or defence issues between the EU and the UK it would first need to be discussed among member states,” European Commission spokesman, Peter Stano, told reporters in Brussels.
MIGRATION PACT | Rejecting the idea of ‘deportation centres’ that would host Afghan refugees in Central Asia, Luxembourgish Foreign Minister Jean Asselborn told EURACTIV in an interview the EU holds enormous responsibility towards those who “helped us build an embryo of rule of law” in Afghanistan.
He also said EU-wide efforts to draft a European migration policy are clearly “stuck” and warned that the EU’s borderless Schengen area is being seriously jeopardised by the restrictions 10 member states have imposed on their borders.
ENERGY INVESTMENTS | Having published its blueprint for a ‘strategic partnership with Africa’ in March last year, the EU executive saw its plans derailed when the pandemic was declared just days later. Investment in green energy and new promises on vaccine supply were the only offers to Africa made by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen this week, as the EU’s plans to boost relations with its southern neighbour continent continue to sit on the back burner.
DISSECTING SOTEU | European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen made a pitch for stronger European defence, saying the bloc needs to boost its own military capacity, but fell short of setting out clear proposals.
DRONE USE | French members of parliament will start examining a bill on criminal responsibility and internal security, intended to provide a long-awaited legal framework for the use of drones by law enforcement agencies.
MALI MISSION | Germany warned Mali that a deal with Russian private security group Wagner would “call into question” its deployment in the West African country as part of United Nations and EU missions.
POLICY BRIEF | The message of US President Joe Biden’s first overseas Europe tour has been clear: America is back, and Western alliances are not broken. But for Europeans, the realisation has come that after four acrimonious years under the Trump administration, Biden’s arrival will not make the challenges go away overnight.
SENSE OF URGENCY | Washington hopes EU countries “understand” that the Western Balkans should be part of Europe “full stop” and is worried about the weak message coming from European capitals, the newly appointed State Department official responsible for the region said.
At the same time, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said that EU membership of the Western Balkans region, a theatre of competition between the West, China and Russia, is of absolute geostrategic interest for the bloc.
DASHED HOPES | The ongoing political crisis in Bulgaria, which will have to hold its third parliamentary election in less than a year, leaves few chances that Sofia will lift its veto on the European integration of North Macedonia before the end of this year, politicians and analysts said.
WHAT ELSE WE’RE READING
- The UN’s Own Humanitarian Crisis [The Cut]
- Europe’s Reputation as a Cosmopolitan Haven Has Been Exposed as a Mirage [Guardian]
ON OUR RADAR FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS…
We’ll keep you updated on all relevant EU foreign affairs news, as Europe’s everyday business is back from summer break.
- Latin American, Caribbean states (CELAC) hold summit
| Saturday, 18 September 2021 | Mexico City, Mexico
- UN General Assembly holds high-level general debate
| Mo-Fri, 20-24 September 2021 | New York, United States
- General Affairs Council on Brexit, COVID, EUCO
| Tuesday, 21 September 2021 | Brussels, Belgium
- European Commission’s strategy on supporting disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration of ex-combatants
| Wednesday, 22 September 2021 | Brussels, Belgium
- First-ever Quad leaders summit
| Friday, 24 September 2021 | Washington, United States
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