Global Europe Brief: US votes, Europe hopes

Global Europe Brief.

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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EDITOR’S TAKE

Next Wednesday, Europe will be able to mind its own business again. Or will it?

Election Day in the United States is in four days. President Donald Trump hopes to be re-elected and former Vice President Joe Biden hopes to end Trump’s time in the White House after a turbulent term.

More than 76.5 million Americans have already cast their ballots either by mail or during in-person early voting, which means the stormy election debates might have not had much impact.

Polls have consistently given Biden an average nine point-lead nationally.

But don’t expect election night to be without surprises.

Looking into different groups, surveys show support for Trump coming from a startling place – the Latino community – and this could have implications for key swing states.

Will it be a blue shift? A red mirage? And what if Trump refuses to concede?

Trailing Biden in polls, he has already raised eyebrows, asserting that mail-in balloting leads to fraud, even though experts say such fraud is rare. He has also refused to say if he would accept to step down if he loses.

In the meantime, European diplomats will seize the weekend to run US election scenarios for the morning after, as the past four years have been defined by growing distrust in the transatlantic relationship.

Regardless of the outcome, Germany and Europe would have to prepare themselves for “less American involvement in the world, Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas stated recently.

But the new relations also include the fact that the Europeans “if need be, can manage the crises on their own doorstep”.

The end is near – at least the one of the US Presidential election campaign. After that, many in Europe will be happy to mind their own business again.

The question is whether there will be fallout to face (Trump) or not (Biden).


EU IN THE WORLD

FRANCE-TURKEY ROW. After France’s foreign ministry decided to recall its ambassador to Turkey following the “hateful and slanderous propaganda (…) and direct insults” against President Emmanuel Macron, Ankara called for a boycott of French goods which is a further setback to Turkey’s already stalled bid to join the EU. Paris, meanwhile, said it will remember those who did not condemn the murder of history teacher Samuel Paty.

Athens, facing a renewed Turkish exploration push in the Eastern Mediterranean, was quick to express its full support to Macron in his new clash with his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

MOSCOW RELATIONS. Some “Russophobe” EU member states directed by Washington are hindering the strengthening of the relations between Russia and Croatia, Russian Foreign Affairs Minister Sergey Lavrov has been quoted as saying ahead of his tour of the Balkans, which excluded Croatia and was eventually cut short as he had to self-isolate.

EU-AU RELATIONS. The EU-African Union summit aimed at finalising a new ‘strategic partnership’ between the two continents has been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but the Socialist and Democrat group in the European Parliament hosted its own three day Africa Week between 13-15 October. Read EURACTIV’s Special Report here.

The EU will need to significantly improve its offer to the African continent if it wants to succeed in maintaining its position as its “first partner”, the EU’s chief diplomat Josep Borrell said a few days later, in a barely concealed nod to China.

WTO BOOST. Nigerian finance minister Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala picked up crucial backing from the EU, giving her bid to become the first African head of the WTO a major boost.

DEFENCE CORNER

PESCO DEAL. After two years, EU member states agreed on conditions to allow countries outside the bloc to participate in joint defence projects, according to a draft agreement document obtained by EURACTIV.

The deal comes after US officials have been lobbying for months for an inclusive policy providing the greatest possible access of third countries to the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) covering defence contractors, which besides the US would also include post-Brexit Britain and Norway.

#SHEcurity INDEX. Although women make up roughly half of the world’s population, they remain largely underrepresented in the traditionally male-dominated domain of foreign and defence policy, a newly launched index has found. A first of its kind, it examines the proportion of women in foreign and security policy, the military, police, as well as in diplomacy and the armaments industry in EU member states and G20 countries.

NATO SPENDING. In the past year, NATO member has been spending more money on defence again, after several rebukes from Washington. But not enough to please the current occupant of the White House.

NUCLEAR BAN. The United Nations announced this week that 50 countries have ratified a UN treaty to ban nuclear weapons triggering its entry into force in 90 days, a move hailed by anti-nuclear activists but strongly opposed by the US and the other major nuclear powers.

DESTINATION MOON. The European Space Agency signed an agreement with US counterpart NASA that confirms Europe’s involvement in building a space station in orbit around the Moon and clears the way for ‘Euronauts’ to set foot on the lunar surface for the first time.

TRANSPARENCY NEEDS. Establishing a comprehensive picture of Finland’s arms export policies is difficult because the system is too dispersed, according to a recently published security report.

The European External Action Service (EEAS) launched an online database on the EU’s arms exports on Monday in a bid to enhance transparency in this area. The database contains information on the value, destination and type of arms export licenses and actual exports from member states, covering the years 2013-2019.

The EEAS also recalled that the bloc had common assessment criteria with regard to issuing export licenses, and it was “essential to uphold European values when exporting arms.”

ENLARGEMENT LATEST

BLOCKED FROM THE BLOC? Bulgaria cannot approve the EU negotiating framework for North Macedonia in its current form, Foreign Minister Ekaterina Zaharieva said.

Earlier, North Macedonia’s Prime Minister Zoran Zaev had confirmed he was ready to sign an annex to the Friendship, Good Neighbourliness and Cooperation Treaty with Bulgaria. The comments come after the practical implementation of the agreements with Athens and Sofia faced several political difficulties in both Greece and Bulgaria due to some right-wing factions in the governments, which could once again block North Macedonia’s EU path.

BELGRADE-PRISTINA. Serbian Foreign Minister Ivica Dačić has accused Kosovo of not having implemented the Brussels Agreement from seven years ago due to its refusal to form the Community of Serb Municipalities. At the same time, global powers spoke out against the continuation of the UN Mission to Kosovo.

NEW TEAM. Presenting the new Serbian government’s platform, re-elected Prime Minister Ana Brnabić promised a pro-European cabinet that would support the political and economic continuity of the  previous government.

EURASIA DIGEST

ELECTION ROW. Kyiv summoned the Hungarian envoy after Ukraine warned Hungary last week against violating its electoral legislation and what it said were attempts to interfere in the country’s internal affairs.

The recent tensions over Hungary’s election interference in Ukraine, which have led Budapest to threaten to block Kyiv’s Euro-Atlantic integration efforts, should be resolved bilaterally, a Commissions spokesperson said.

International observers said that local elections in Ukraine were “well-organised and transparent”, but criticised a survey organised near polling stations at the initiative of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

BALTIC DIPLOMACY. When the conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh, a region disputed by Azerbaijan and Armenia, began in the late 1980s, Lithuania and the Baltic states helped bring the warring sides to the negotiating table in Riga. Despite sharing tea, jokes, and reaching an early breakthrough – the deal ultimately failed.

TRANSATLANTIC LINK

ANTI-RIGHTS. US Christian rights groups linked to US President Donald Trump’s administration have spent millions pushing ultra-conservative anti-rights agendas in Europe, a new investigation by openDemocracy, an independent UK-based global media platform, revealed this week. The findings come amid what activists say is a worrying rollback of women’s and LGBTQ rights in Eastern Europe.

WHAT ELSE WE’RE READING 

ON OUR RADAR FOR THE NEXT FEW DAYS…

Europe’s everyday business is stuck in the virtual void. We’ll keep you updated on all relevant EU foreign affairs news, as we face a busy finish of this troubled 2020.

  • Parliamentary elections in Georgia
    | Saturday, 31 October 2020 | Tbilisi, Georgia
  • SpaceX launches 4 astronauts to International Space Station
    | Saturday, 31 October 2020 | Florida, United States
  • US Presidential Election
    | Tuesday, 3 November 2020 | United States
  • Council of Europe foreign ministers meet
    | Wednesday, 4 November 2020 | Athens, Greece
  • 70th anniversary of European Convention on Human Rights
    | Wednesday, 4 November 2020 | Rome, Italy

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