Saturday

22nd Jan 2022

Agenda

Key talks with Russia over European security This WEEK

  • EU foreign affairs chief Josep Borrell in Ukraine last week, in a show of support for the eastern European country (Photo: European Commission)
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As the 'Brussels Bubble' comes back to life, the EU and the council's new French presidency are facing several crucial issues right from the start.

In Geneva, US and Russian officials began talks over Europe's security, in an effort to de-escalate the situation on Ukraine's eastern border - where Russian troops have amassed for weeks.

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Moscow has demanded security guarantees that Nato will not expand eastwards and that it will get a say in the alliance's military presence in eastern Europe.

Talks in Geneva are without Europeans - which several European leaders have warned against, arguing that talks about Europe's security cannot happen without Europeans.

US deputy state secretary Wendy R. Sherman said after the talks with Russian officials that the US will not discuss European security without its allies.

French president Emmanuel Macron last Friday said that the EU should come up with its own proposals on a new security architecture.

In Brussels, Nato foreign ministers are meeting on Monday (10 January), and Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg will receive Ukraine's deputy prime minister Olga Stefanishyna.

The Nato-Russia council in Brussels will take place on Wednesday (12 January) and separate talks under the framework of the Organization for Cooperation and Security in Europe (OSCE) will go on in Vienna on Thursday (13 January).

The week will be key on how Western allies can manage the Russian security and political challenge.

French connection

France in the meantime has begun its EU council presidency.

Among other things, France is aiming to get EU governments to agree on a 15-percent global minimum tax rate, the Fit-for-55 climate package, migration and new digital rules.

Paris will also push ahead with a stronger common EU defence, and work on a proposal to allow the EU secure its own revenue streams, the so-called "own-resources" which are intended to back up the EU's Covid-19 recovery fund.

EU budget commissioner Johannes Hahn on Thursday will be in the parliament's budget committee to discuss the own-resources package with MEPs.

On the same day, the development committee in the parliament will hear from the commission on the Global Gateway plans, an EU investment initiative that aims to counter China's massive global investments.

MEPs on the development committee will also discuss access to Covid-19 vaccines in developing countries.

Still on Thursday in the civil liberties committee, MEPs will hear from commission vice-president Margaritis Schinas and commissioner Ylva Johansson on plans to provisionally ease migration rules over the Belarus crisis.

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The German foreign minister Annalena Baerbock warned in Washington that "it is out of the question, and let me make this very clear - there cannot be a decision on the security in Europe without Europe."

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