Europe & EU September 2022-

Written by  //  December 7, 2022  //  Europe & EU  //  No comments

Official website of the European Union
The European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR)
About the Visegrad Group
The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA)
Politico EU
The Digital Services Act package
The EU as a global actor in the Indo-Pacific

German police raids target group accused of far-right plot to overthrow state
Minor aristocrat, an ex-paratrooper and a former AfD MP among those detained in operation
(The Guardian) An alleged far-right plot led by a German aristocrat to overthrow the state that sought the backing of the Russian government has been thwarted in Germany, after a series of dawn raids across the country.
Twenty-five people including a 71-year-old prince, a retired military commander, and an acting judge and former MP for the far-right Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) were planning a violent overthrow of the state, including an armed attack on the parliament, inspired by the storming of the US Capitol, according to prosecutors.
The group was apparently driven in ideology by the deep-state conspiracy theories of QAnon and the Reichsbürger (“empire citizens”) movement, which denies the right of modern Germany to exist. It was planning to renegotiate the country’s post-second world war settlement, insisting the “Deutsche Reich” still had legitimacy despite having ended with the Nazis’ defeat in 1945.

6 December
Hungary vetoes EU aid for Ukraine, bloc delays decision on funds for Budapest
Hungary against 18 bln euro EU loan to Kyiv, OECD minimum tax
Other 26 EU countries to finance Ukraine in a different way
Ministers delay decision on funds worth nearly 9% of Hungary GDP

28 November
What is a recession? Is Europe already in one? It’s not that easy to tell
The threat of an imminent and profound recession is casting a dark shadow over the entire continent, with Russia’s war in Ukraine and the global energy crisis merging in a perfect storm.

27 November
Europe’s real energy crisis will come next winter – but it also won’t last forever
Despite apprehension around Europe’s energy supply for the coming winter, government leaders and energy experts warn the continent’s real challenge will come next year.
It has been a fierce race against time for European nations looking to fill up their gas storage ahead of winter.
(CNBC) New deals were brokered, old gas facilities reopened, and measures to control consumption imposed — all in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Their efforts and a mild start to the winter have paid off: more than 95% of the EU’s gas storage was filled by mid-November. That’s above the 80% target the European Commission set back in March.

24 November
Europe faces an enduring crisis of energy and geopolitics
This will weaken it and threaten its global position
(The Economist) If you ask Europe’s friends around the world what they think of the old continent’s prospects they often respond with two emotions. One is admiration. In the struggle to help Ukraine and resist Russian aggression, Europe has displayed unity, grit and a principled willingness to bear enormous costs. But the second is alarm. A brutal economic squeeze will pose a test of Europe’s resilience in 2023 and beyond. There is a growing fear that the recasting of the global energy system, American economic populism and geopolitical rifts threaten the long-run competitiveness of the European Union and non-members, including Britain. It is not just the continent’s prosperity that is at risk, the health of the transatlantic alliance is, too. (paywall)
(The Economist newsletter) Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, is using energy as a weapon. Our data journalists set themselves a difficult question: how many people is this weapon likely to kill outside Ukraine? The answer they came up with was alarming. Although heatwaves get more press, cold temperatures are usually deadlier than hot ones. To estimate the relationship between energy costs and deaths, we built a statistical model that predicts how many people die per winter week in each of 226 European regions. This model found that a 10% rise in electricity prices is associated with a 0.6% increase in deaths, concentrated among the elderly and infirm. If the historical relationships between mortality, weather and energy costs continue to apply—which they may not, given how high current prices are—the death toll from the energy weapon could exceed the number of soldiers who have died so far in direct combat from bullets, shells, missiles and drones. It is one more reason why Ukraine’s fight against Russia is Europe’s, too.

14 November
Europe’s tough decisions: Russia, China, and EU unity (video)
Winter is coming and for Europe, a bleak winter it may be.
The escalating Russia/Ukraine war has united European support to Kyiv’s cause, but it’s also brought a plethora of economic, political, and social challenges. Inflation, a sinking Euro, and the possibility of an energy crisis brings to question just how long Europe’s support for Ukraine will last?
On GZERO World, Ian Bremmer speaks with German diplomat Christoph Heusgen, who served as his country’s ambassador to the United Nations and is now chairman of the Munich Security Conference.
His take on the war in Ukraine? Vladimir Putin grossly miscalculated Ukrainian resolve and the war is going badly for the Russians. Even so, Putin is determined to see the war through, committing crimes against humanity along the way.
On Germany’s relationship with China, Heusgen questions Olaf Scholz’s meeting with Xi Jinping, voicing concerns about the danger of entering a relationship with a country known to use economic leverage for political gain.

12 November

Europe home alone: Gaming out the future of transatlantic relations
(Atlantic Council) What impact have transatlantic tensions over the last few years had on Europe’s view of its relationship with the United States? What capabilities can Europe draw on if the Biden administration’s efforts to improve transatlantic cooperation turn out to be merely an “interregnum” in transatlantic relations?
To answer these questions, the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center partnered with Körber-Stiftung on the 2022 Körber Policy Game. Full Report (31 August 2022)

L’Europe sur un pied de guerre
La fin de l’abondance, de l’insouciance et de l’évidence
Sentant l’appel du terrain, l’ancienne journaliste et députée Paule Robitaille vient d’entreprendre un voyage en Europe. De Paris à Vienne, de Varsovie à Rome, de la Lituanie à la Géorgie, elle dépeindra les impacts concrets de l’invasion de l’Ukraine sur les Européens et fera ressortir les enjeux qui nous concernent tous : crise énergétique, flux migratoires, démocratie mise à mal
(La Presse) L’économie d’énergie est sur toutes les lèvres. La campagne du gouvernement qui craint des coupures de gaz et d’électricité est partout. « Je baisse, j’éteins, je décale », lit-on sur le site du ministère de la Transition énergétique. On recommande aux Français de régler le chauffage à 19 °C au maximum, de prendre des douches moins chaudes et moins longues, de décaler l’utilisation des appareils électriques en dehors des heures de pointe.
Vladimir Poutine veut faire craquer la solidarité européenne en faisant grelotter les Européens cet hiver. Parce que ce sont eux qui paient la guerre en Ukraine.

3 November
Italy’s Meloni plays eager Europhile for a day — but bitter battles lie ahead
(Politico Eu) It was all smiles and chit-chat Thursday in Brussels for the Italian leader’s first foreign trip — a friendliness that may not last.
In 2014, Giorgia Meloni called for Italy to leave the euro. Two months ago, on the cusp of gaining power, she warned Europe “the good times are over.”
But in Brussels on Thursday, Italy’s new, far-right prime minister played nice — chatting amiably and smiling her way through a day of meetings with the leaders of a European Union she demonized on her way to victory.
She claimed to have found “ears that were willing to listen,” calling the talks “frank and positive.” Her goal, she said, was to meet in person and dispel preconceptions about her.
Turkey says Sweden, Finland not yet done enough under NATO deal
Sweden and Finland signed a memorandum in June, resulting in NATO member Turkey lifting a veto of their applications to join the trans-Atlantic security alliance. The two asked to join in response to Russia’s war in Ukraine, but Turkey sought extra guarantees, including that they not shelter Kurdish militants.

1 November
Denmark PM to try to form new government after election win
(AP) — Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen was in a strong position to remain in power after her Social Democrats won the most votes Tuesday in Denmark’s election and a center-left bloc in Parliament that backs her appeared set to retain a majority by just one seat.
The result was preliminary and based on the assumption that a vote count in Greenland expected early Wednesday would give the autonomous Danish territory’s two seats to the center-left bloc.
Despite the success, Frederiksen, who heads a Social Democratic minority government, said she would resign as prime minister and try to form a new government with broader support across the political divide, something she had said suggested before the election.

28 October
The cult of Putin in Serbia reflects a nation that has still not dealt with its past
Tomislav Marković
(The Guardian) If President Aleksandar Vučić’s allies in the Serb media appear sanguine about death and destruction in Ukraine, he claims that the country is politically neutral. Serbia has grudgingly voted in favour of the UN general assembly’s resolutions condemning Russia’s use of forceand illegal annexation of Ukrainian territory. But the Vučić government has repeatedly refused to back western sanctions against Russia. European officials, US senators and various envoys have flocked to Vučić, telling him that it was time to choose: would Serbia be part of Europe or an ally of Russia? Despite all the pressure, Vučić keeps Serbia in limbo.

Why Daylight Saving Could Exacerbate Europe’s Energy Crisis
Ending the practice of turning back the clocks one hour would generate financial and environmental savings for Europe just when the continent needs it most, according to new research.
(Bloomberg) Linked to productivity slumps and increases in heart attacks, car crashes and even crime, this relic of attempts to maximize working hours during World War I has somehow hung on despite expert doubts of its value and widespread unpopularity. …
Now, however, a new, topical argument has emerged in Europe for dispensing with bi-annual clock changes. Getting rid of daylight saving could ease the continent’s energy crisis. With the war in Ukraine sending fuel prices soaring, campaigners and politicians in several countries have noticed that daylight saving could be making demand for fuel more acute. In Italy, the Italian Society of Environmental Medicine has called for the time shift to end, noting that even simply postponing the clock change from the end of October to the end of November would save the country 70 million euros in fuel bills. In Ireland, a senator has also called to scrap the change on energy-saving grounds — a move the Minister of State for Health has said the government might consider if Ireland remained in alignment with the rest of the EU and the UK.

20 October
Germany’s Continued Illusions About China and Russia
By Judy Dempsey, nonresident senior fellow at Carnegie Europe and editor in chief of the Strategic Europe blog.
Berlin’s pursuit of economic and political ties with Beijing and Moscow has created dangerous dependencies. A change in strategy would benefit both Germany and the EU.
(Carnegie) Over the decades, regardless of whether the Social Democrats or the Christian Democrats were in government, both parties consistently pursued economic and political relationships with Russia and China. This pursuit was based on national, not European interests. It was motivated by profit, not values or principles. These policies were also naively based on the idea that closer trade and economic ties would lead to stability, even trust.
The big question is whether Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine that began in February 2022 and China’s relentless authoritarian drive under Xi Jinping, expected to be confirmed this week at the Communist Party’s congress, will fundamentally change the view from Berlin.

18 October
Five Takeaways From the European Political Community Summit
Getting forty-four leaders from across Europe to meet in Prague was an achievement in itself. But it involved substituting values and principles for realpolitik and left fundamental questions open.
(Carnegie Europe) When the idea of a European Political Community was floated on May 9 by France’s President Emmanuel Macron, the concept was wide in scope, …it was received with a measure of skepticism by many, some hesitations by others, and serious opposition on key points by a few. But in the end, the leaders of forty-four countries, from Armenia to Iceland, and from Malta to Norway, were in attendance, including Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky by video link.
With the European continent going through its darkest moments in a very long time, the steadfast resistance to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was a strong message to the Kremlin.
Among many asides to the summit, a quadrilateral meeting took place between the presidents of Azerbaijan, France, and the European Council, and the prime minister of Armenia. This resulted in some progress between the two South Caucasus countries.
The second notable piece of news is that Prague witnessed a modest return of the United Kingdom to a continental forum, thereby eliminating the vexing feelings of post-Brexit alienation from Europe-wide geopolitical discussions.
The third takeaway is that the Prague Summit was definitely not a democratic nations’ gathering. It is no secret that the French insistence on discussing democracy and the rule of law was clashing with the presence of Azerbaijan, Serbia, and Turkey in the room.
The fourth lesson is that Prague was “not an EU construct,” in Liz Truss’ words, although the European Council President Charles Michel gave the summit some publicity.
Given the diversity of situations among the non-EU countries, ending the summit in some misgivings on EU enlargement was unavoidable. … This being said, the summit ended with open questions: What is the future of the EU’s enlargement policy? Does it still exist? Does it need reforming? Will some of the seventeen non-EU countries be allocated different categories regarding accession? A long debate is looming.
Finally, the fifth takeaway is that the summit was not a continent-wide security forum—far from it. Despite being triggered by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the political urge to show a common resolve against Moscow, the summit’s meaning in terms of collective security was limited for two main reasons.

10 October
Bosnian Serb pro-Russian leader renews secession threat
(Reuters) – Bosnian Serb separatist leader Milorad Dodik renewed his secession threat on Monday, a week after the general election in the ethnically-divided country showed his party remained dominant among the Serbs.
At a news conference in Belgrade, the capital of Serbia which is key ally of the Bosnian Serbs, Dodik renewed his criticism of Bosnia’s present setup, saying it was a non-viable state created by foreigners. … “Bosnia needs to be redefined, and returned to (original) constitution. If that is not possible, and it’s not possible, it must dissolve,” Dodik said.

7 October
What Did The First Meeting Of The European Political Community Actually Achieve?
Leaders from nearly all European countries gathered in the Czech capital, Prague, on October 6 for the inaugural meeting of the European Political Community (EPC). Just another talking shop? Or a good forum for getting things done?
(RFERL) So what is the EPC then? There was no final declaration; it still has no real structure, nor budget, or a secretariat, flag, or logo for that matter. “An informal platform” is how the host, Czech Prime Minister Petr Fiala, described it and noted that it offered a space to discuss all sorts of pressing issues among countries that rarely meet.
… In terms of what was actually decided, it was all pretty vague. For the next summit in Moldova [May 2023], the leaders will work on “common projects.” While there was nothing concrete, Macron noted several spheres where he thought more cooperation is possible: securing key infrastructure such as pipelines, cables, and satellites; stepping up the fight against cyberattacks; creating a support fund for Ukraine; working out a common, pan-European energy policy; and looking into the possibility of having more university and student exchanges.

6 October
Is Russia preparing to target vital Norwegian energy exports to Europe?
By Thomas S. Warrick
(Atlantic Council) Russia may have already begun hybrid warfare against Norway and northern Europe, especially Germany, to exploit Europe’s energy needs over the coming winter.
This seems the most probable explanation for an unlikely combination of two recent events: sabotage on September 26 against undersea gas pipelines from Russia to Germany, which received widespread publicity, and drones buzzing Norwegian offshore oil and gas platforms a week earlier, which got little publicity but was potentially far more threatening. The West, including the United States, now needs to begin immediate countermeasures focused on defending Norwegian and northern European energy infrastructure against a possible hybrid “Winter War.”
Hybrid warfare” is particularly dangerous and effective because it combines conventional, economic, and political warfare, using cyber-attacks, information operations, attacks on critical infrastructure, diplomacy, and interference in elections. This winter, hybrid warfare has the potential to break the transatlantic alliance’s support for Ukraine and set the stage for a Russian victory in 2023.
NATO Struggles With How to Protect Vital Undersea Links After Nord Stream Blasts
Alliance has warned of risks to undersea infrastructure
Russia has capabilities to sabotage systems, officials say

Europe’s new 44-nation club underlines Russia’s isolation
43 European leaders gather in Prague for symbolic summit
Energy and security high on everyone’s minds
Truss’s presence gives hope for better EU-UK ties
Doubts about viability of wide European format
EU 27 to follow with own summit, gas cap on menu
(Reuters) – Leaders of the European Union and neighbours from Britain to Turkey met on Thursday to discuss security and energy emergencies plaguing them all since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, a symbolic summit that underlined Moscow’s isolation.
The gathering in Prague was the inaugural meeting of the European Political Community (EPC), a brainchild of French President Emmanuel Macron, bringing together on an equal footing the EU’s 27 member states and 17 other European countries.
Truss’s ‘yes’ boosts Macron’s new European forum initiative
(Reuters) – The summit in Prague of the European Political Community (EPC) will bring together the 27 leaders of the European Union with 17 leaders from the continent currently outside the club, including Britain, Turkey, Norway and Ukraine.(3 October)

5 October
Euro zone likely to endure recession as downturn deepens
Euro zone composite PMI survey falls to 20-mth low
Price measures show inflation pressure remains strong
Winter recession looking likely-analysts
ECB set to keep raising interest rates

2 October
Bosnia Elections: One Loser, no Clear Winners – Uncertain Prospects
(Balkan Insight) The humiliating defeat of Bakir Izetbegovic, leader of the main Bosniak political party, the Party of Democratic Action, SDA, in his race for a seat on the state presidency, was the one of the biggest surprises of Bosnia’s elections on Sunday.
It was also one of the few certain and unchallenged election results known almost full a day after the vote.
Denis Becirevic, joint candidate of 11 opposition – mainly Bosniak – parties, had a lead of almost 100,000 votes over Izetbegovic, who publicly conceded defeat on Sunday night.
Another clear victor was Zeljka Cvijanovic, from the leading Bosnian Serb party, the Alliance of Independent Social Democrats, SNSD. She defeated Bosnian Serb opposition leader Mirko Sarovic in the race to become the next president of Bosnia’s Serb-dominated entity, Republika Srpska.
Meanwhile, Zeljko Komsic from the Democratic Front had a safe lead over Borjana Kristo, from the Croat Democratic Union, HDZ, in the race for the Croat post on the state presidency.
In the race to be next president of Republika Srpska, SNSD boss Milorad Dodik had a lead over the candidate of the opposition Party of Democratic Party, PDP, Jelena Trivic.
Bosnia Elects New Leaders as OHR Imposes New Election Rules
In Sunday’s elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to unofficial exit polls, moderate Bosniak and Croat leaders were set to win seats on the three-member Bosnian presidency, while Bosnian Serb strong-man Milorad Dodik’s right hand and planned successor for the post of Serbian member of the presidency, Zeljka Cvijanovic, will likely become a first woman member of the presidency.
(The World) Preliminary results have come in from Sunday’s election in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Voters chose representatives for multiple levels of government, including parliament and leaders for the tripartite presidency — which is shared among three people representing the country’s main ethnic groups: Muslims, Serbs and Croats. According to unofficial exit polls, incumbent Zeljko Komsic looks set to win for the Croats and Denis Becirovic for the Bosniaks, both moderate candidates. Zeljka Cvijanovic, however, a close ally of Bosnian Serb strongman Milorad Dodik looks set to win the Serb seat of the presidency.

Latvian premier’s center-right party wins national election
(AP) — Latvia’s ruling center-right party won the most votes in the country’s general election, centrist parties were the runners-up and pro-Moscow parties crashed in a vote that was shaped by Russia’s war in Ukraine, according to results published Sunday.
None of the parties catering to Latvia’s ethnic Russian minority, which makes up more than 25% of the country’s 1.9 million people, managed to secure a seat in Parliament.
Valdis Dombrovskis, the executive vice president of the European Commission and a former Latvian prime minister, said the Baltic country was currently “facing a very complicated geopolitical situation in a context of Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.”
Latvia joined the European Union and NATO in 2004.

27 September
Baltic brinksmanship: Pipeline blasts signal potential new front in Ukraine war
If undersea energy and communications infrastructure are now a Russian target, Western navies will have to take rapid action.
Europe’s energy crisis appears to be entering a dangerous new phase.
Should suspicions be confirmed — or simply grow — that Russia was behind explosions that caused three leaks on the two Nord Stream gas pipelines under the Baltic Sea on Monday, the security implications for the Continent would be far-reaching. The idea that the EU’s undersea energy and communications infrastructure were now a Russian target would force European militaries to prepare for a largely unexpected new front in the Ukraine war that could bring them into a direct showdown with Russia’s navy.
Sweden and Denmark say Nord Stream pipeline blasts were deliberate attacks
Although suspicion is falling on Russia, neither Copenhagen or Stockholm identified a culprit.
Gas leaks from Russian pipelines to Europe raise sabotage fears
Polish PM blames sabotage, without citing evidence
Russia say leaks threaten Europe’s energy security
Footage shows gas bubbles churning sea surface
Operator says damage to Nord Stream 1 ‘unprecedented’
Crisis over Russian gas has sent prices soaring
Nord Stream operator says three offshore gas pipelines damaged in one day
(Reuters) – Three offshore lines of the Nord Stream gas pipeline system on the bed of the Baltic Sea sustained “unprecedented” damage in one day, Nord Stream AG, the operator of the network, said on Tuesday.

The Italian job: Inside the backroom deal to put Giorgia Meloni in office
When Meloni met with Silvio Berlusconi and Matteo Salvini ahead of the election, the stakes were high — especially for her.
(Politico Eu) …a few days after Prime Minister Mario Draghi’s government fell apart, Italy’s right-wing political leaders gathered. … around a long conference table, they set about plotting a joint election strategy as a right-wing bloc. It was an objective that would require them to put aside personal agendas and political differences for the sake of uniting the right in a shared bid for power.
The group included some of Europe’s most colorful, outspoken, and unpredictable political mavericks: Silvio Berlusconi, the 85-year-old billionaire lothario and former prime minister; Matteo Salvini, 49, the firebrand ex-interior minister and leader of the anti-immigration League party; and Giorgia Meloni, a proud and pugnacious 45-year-old in charge of the far-right Brothers of Italy.

25 September
(Economist Adam Roberts newsletter) This week could be historic, on various scores. In Italy, after voting on Sunday, it may take a while before a new prime minister is officially named. Most likely, however, the largest party in a new three-party ruling coalition will turn out to be the Brothers of Italy (FdI). Then expect in turn its leader, Giorgia Meloni, to become prime minister.
If so, she will make history as Italy’s first female prime minister, but also remake it by leading a party into office that has its roots in neo-fascism. How much to worry about the return of the hard right to rule in Italy? As we noted in our most recent cover story, Ms Meloni is not alone in Europe. Look at Viktor Orban in Hungary, the rise of the Sweden Democrats, or the persistent strength of Marine Le Pen in France. A powerful shift in the European balance towards nationalists is under way and unwelcome.
Powerful, yes, but recall that Ms Meloni will be constrained. The president retains significant clout there. And the European Union retains influence. As Italy must cope with tough economic times, and requires support from its European allies, there will be both internal and external checks.

23 September
A Meloni election win could shift Europe’s balance of power
(Reuters) – The European Union’s powerhouses will have to tread carefully around Giorgia Meloni if the nationalist candidate’s coalition wins Italy’s election on Sunday, or risk pushing Rome towards Hungary and Poland, European officials said.
Italian far-right leader Meloni likely to win on Sunday
EU leaders worried of possibility of new alliance with Hungary
Macron, Scholz to discuss response, Rome advises caution
White House says don’t buy ‘sky is falling narrative’
Italy’s lurch to the right triggers diplomatic storm on eve of election
Silvio Berlusconi said Vladimir Putin was only trying to replace the Kyiv government with ‘decent people.’
Meloni has been trying to reassure everyone that she is a safe pair of hands and expressed full alignment with the U.S. and NATO since the invasion of Ukraine, but she has been undermined by her allies in the right-wing alliance. Berlusconi’s comments about Putin followed remarks from Salvini, in which he questioned the use of sanctions against Moscow.

Finland is considering barring most Russians from entering, amid heavy traffic into the country across its southeastern border with Russia, while the Czech Republic said it will not issue humanitarian visas to Russian citizens fleeing the mobilization orders. Kazakhstan, the former Soviet republic in Central Asia, has also seen an increased number of arrivals from Russia.

21 September
Italy’s Election Paradox
Why America and the EU Should Root for a Far-Right Populist
(Foreign Affairs) If polling numbers are correct, a right-wing coalition will win a convincing majority and the far-right Brothers of Italy Party (Fratelli d’Italia) will put forward its leader, Giorgia Meloni, as the country’s first far-right prime minister since Benito Mussolini. Meloni rejects any connection to fascism, but her party retains many of the symbols and values of Italy’s fascist past.
Yet despite international worry over her ascent to power, a strong Meloni may be preferable to a weak one. She is now shedding her formerly populist public image, instead presenting herself as something more like a traditional conservative. Her policy preferences broadly fit within both EU and NATO directives. It is thus not Meloni who poses the biggest risk to Italy’s stability and its place in the West. It is her likely coalition allies, particularly the Russia-friendly Lega Party and its often disruptive leader, Matteo Salvini
In the long term, Meloni may harm Italy’s democracy. She has clear ambitions to strengthen the power of the executive over parliament and to solidify her own position. Her conservativism and her constitutional reform agenda will spark controversy within Italy and across Europe. But in the short and medium term, a strong Meloni will prove more stabilizing than disruptive, whereas a weak Meloni may have to compromise with Salvini in ways that Italy’s allies will find unpalatable.

20 September
Russia in the Balkans After Ukraine: A Troubling Actor
Russia has proven that it knows how to be a master of distraction and how to take advantage of ethnic cleavages, bolster hardline nationalist politicians, and complicate the region’s lagging reform agendas.
(Carnegie) The Kremlin has demonstrated repeatedly that the Balkans are a conducive environment for punching back against the United States and the European Union (EU). The region’s ample ethnic, political, and social fractures, along with widespread disenchantment with the slow pace of Euro-Atlantic integration, create easy opportunities for Moscow to disrupt the post–Cold War European order.
Russia has several strategic goals in the region. It seeks to prevent the Western Balkan states of Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia, and, most importantly, Serbia from joining the EU. It also wants to stymie the NATO aspirations of the remaining Balkan countries that have not gained membership in the alliance and to disrupt NATO activities in the region. By bolstering grassroots anti-Western sentiment and corrupt vested interests across the Balkans, Moscow makes the region’s governance shortcomings more acute and damages the domestic reforms that are a prerequisite for further integration into Euro-Atlantic economic, political, and security structures.

The economic basis of democracy in Europe
Structural economic change, inequality and the depoliticization of economic policymaking
(Chatham House) Understanding contemporary challenges to democracy in Europe requires looking beyond the rise of ‘populism’. Instead, it requires acknowledging a multiplicity of threats to democracy, in particular those arising from the structure of European economies and economic policymaking.
A sharp increase in economic inequality – ranging from income inequality to discrepancies in wealth and economic security – over the past decades has translated into political inequality. Furthermore, democratic systems have become less responsive to electorates through the ‘depoliticization’ of policymaking, in particular economic policy, as a result of its insulation from national-level democratic scrutiny. (8 September 2022)

18-19 September
As a divided Italy heads to the polls, a sharp right turn is likely
Julian Campisi, Assistant Professor of Political Science, University of Toronto
(The Conversation) Italians will soon vote in national elections and the country will have its 70th government since the founding of the republic in 1946.
Recent polling on voting intentions point to a significant victory for the right-wing coalition with Giorgia Meloni’s party, Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy), at the helm. These results could usher in the country’s first female prime minister, but questions remain about how far right she will govern, how long support will last and how she’ll respond to European and international pressures.
… Like her populist predecessors across Europe, Meloni has honed in on soaring cost of living, demographic crises, pandemic fatigue, migration and economic malaise with typical promises about returning power to the people from the elites, securing the border and reviving the economy by lowering taxes and regulations.
Italian politics has been in trouble for decades. Now it’s heading for a new low
Jamie Mackay
If Giorgia Meloni comes to power at the head of a far-right coalition, the economic and social outcomes could be terrible
(The Guardian) If Meloni’s coalition wins more than 44% of the vote, it could obtain two-thirds of the seats in both the chamber of deputies and the senate. Not only would this give the far right a supermajority for the first time in the history of the republic, it could, as a result, make changes to the constitution without the need for confirmation by public referendum. This is particularly concerning, given her party’s close relationship with the Hungarian prime minister, Viktor Orbán; indeed, human rights groups have long been warning that she is hoping to impose a similar authoritarian regime in Italy.

14-15 September
What’s next for European energy security? Our experts decipher the State of the European Union Address.
By Atlantic Council experts
As the European Union (EU) confronts Russia’s war in Ukraine and spiraling energy prices, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen delivered her State of the European Union Address on Wednesday in Strasbourg, France, with a focus on how the bloc needs to respond to the crisis. Our experts from the Atlantic Council’s Europe Center and Global Energy Center break down the highlights of the speech and leave their notes in the margins of the text.
Key takeaways from the speech:
Energy security took top billing. Von der Leyen made news with an announcement on price caps and new rules on the electricity market. The European Green Deal, the search for reliable energy partners, and the climate transition were major focuses in the speech.
EU sanctions aren’t going anywhere. Von der Leyen made clear that sanctions against Russia are here to stay, a message to European member states and the rest of the world as much as to Vladimir Putin.
Europe’s strategic decoupling is accelerating. The days of an assertive EU markets-first, free-trade approach are coming to an end. Von der Leyen doubled down on reducing Europe’s strategic economic dependencies on both Russia and China. Her announcement of the European Critical Raw Materials Act builds on previous efforts to become more self-reliant in microchips and batteries.
Will the EU grow? Von der Leyen endorsed the European Political Community, a nascent if vague proposal from French President Emmanuel Macron to rewrite Europe’s engagement with its neighbors. Ukraine will get access to the internal market, von der Leyen said, but she only mentioned in passing EU enlargement for the Balkans, Moldova, and Georgia.
What was missing: a discussion of defense. With a recognition that war has again come to Europe, von der Leyen spent very little time on the future of Europe’s security and defense. Neither the EU’s Strategic Compass nor common security and defense policies made the cut for this year’s State of the European Union.
EU will propose windfall levies on energy firms, von der Leyen says
(Reuters) – The European Union will propose measures to cap revenues from low-cost electricity generators and force fossil fuel firms to share the profits they make from soaring energy prices, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Wednesday.

14 September
Sweden’s centre-left PM Andersson concedes defeat in elections
Magdalena Andersson announced that she would resign after a close-fought election saw right-wing bloc winning a wafer-thin parliamentary majority.
Swedish centre-left Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson has accepted defeat after the four-party right-wing opposition bloc got better of her Social Democrats, which has been in power since 2014.
Andersson, who became Sweden’s first female prime minister last year, announced on Wednesday that she would resign after an unprecedented right-wing and far-right bloc appeared on course to win the general election.
The election marked a watershed moment in Swedish politics with the anti-immigration Sweden Democrats, shunned by all the major parties when they first entered parliament in 2010, on the threshold of gaining influence over government policy.
Andersson said she understood that many Swedes were worried a party with roots in the white-supremacist fringe was now the country’s second-biggest party.
Swedish PM concedes election defeat to bloc including far-right Sweden Democrats
The prime minister, Magdalena Andersson, called a press conference at which she accepted defeat, while pointing out that the Social Democrats remained Sweden’s largest party with more than 30% of the vote – and that the majority in parliament for the right bloc was very slim.
When postal votes and those of citizens living abroad were counted on Wednesday, a loose coalition of the SD and the three centre-right parties edged ahead to win a majority of three in the parliament of 349 seats.
There is no formal agreement between the SD and the Moderates, Christian Democrats and Liberals about how they will govern together, although the centre-right parties have said they will not countenance ministerial positions for the far right.

9 September
Sweden’s neck-and-neck election race
With support growing for the right-wing Sweden Democrats, the Social Democrats’ strategy has shifted their focus away from their core voters
(IPS) The race in the upcoming Swedish election is close with a lot at stake in these turbulent times. The spring was dominated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the Swedish reconsideration of NATO-membership. Election campaigns didn’t take off until the end of the summer. This Sunday, 11 September Swedish voters are choosing between two new and pretty loosely coupled political blocs that have both formed since the last election four years ago.
Legitimising the Sweden Democcrats
Here it is important to address a historical shift that has taken place since the last election. The unison and long political isolation of the Sweden Democrats has collapsed. In the election of 2018 all established parties still promised loudly not to cooperate with the far-right Sweden Democrats, a party with roots in the racist Swedish neo-nazi movement. Back then Kristersson even promised Auschwitz-survivor Hédi Fried to never ever cooperate with them – a promise he often is reminded of by his political opponents.
Your guide to Sweden’s fringe-driven general election
By Aaron Korewa and Eric Adamson
(New Atlanticist) The eyes of the world have been on Sweden during its bid for NATO membership. But as voters in the Nordic nation head to the polls for a September 11 general election, domestic issues will be their primary concern.
With gang-related violence spiking in recent years, security, justice, and the failure of immigration policy are top election issues. Crime and migration are closely linked in voters’ minds, with lax migration policies often blamed for rising violence in Swedish suburbs. Many political leaders campaign on harsher criminal sentencing and an expansion of police powers as solutions to reduce crime.

7 September
German chancellor rejects calls to reverse nuclear power plant closures
Olaf Scholz says country has enough energy to get through winter after Russia cut gas supplies
The German chancellor, Olaf Scholz, has rejected calls for his government to commit to a longer-term extension of the life of the country’s nuclear power plants and insisted that Europe’s largest economy would have enough energy to get through the winter.
Scholz shut down criticism from the opposition conservative alliance and at least one leading economist, who have described his coalition’s decision to keep two remaining reactors in emergency reserve rather than letting them produce electricity, as “madness” while the government refuses to reverse its long-term plan to close down the last remaining plants.

Leave a Comment

comm comm comm