The Brussels Brief

AUKUS

The news that Australia has agreed to purchase US nuclear powered submarines and a defence pact amongst the trio has send reverberations across the globe. Australia has ditched its agreement with France to buy submarines, choosing instead the US. The move has angered the French quite dramatically with the French Foreign Minister Yves Le Drian calling this “a stab in the back by the US”. The French Ambassador in Washington has labelled this move as treason. France has recalled its Ambassadors in Canberra and Washington DC in protest, while Australia is scrambling to salvage its relations with France.

China has also entered the fray calling it a ‘cold war’ tactic which will affect the balance of power in its backyard, the South China Sea.

French pride was hurt so much that French diplomats in Brussels want EU leaders to discuss EU-US relations at the next European Council meeting in October, calling on the EU to speed up the process for a European Defence Union.

More on this here.

All up for grabs in Germany!

Yesterday night, German candidates for the Chancellery Olaf Scholz, (Social Democrats), Armin Laschet (Conservatives) and Annalena Baerbock (Greens) faced each other in the third and final TV debate before the elections next week. Favourite Olaf Scholz, who currently serves as Deputy Chancellor was declared the debate winner, making it 3/3 after emerging victorious in the previous two debates too. A flash poll shortly after the debate showed that 42% ov viewers were convinced by the Socialist, while 27% opted for the Conservative, and 25% chose Baerbock for the Greens. A win for Scholz would end over 15 years of Conservative rule under Merkel, but also implies a shift in European politics slightly to the left. Yet, next week’s election is not expected to provide a clear winner, with Germany heading towards another coalition government. The Social Democrats are 5% ahead of their main rivals the CDU/CSU according to latest polls.

Protection of journalists

In her State of the Union speech, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has made the protection of journalists one of her Commission’s priorities. Meanwhile, Malta’s Prime Minister Robert Abela announced that Malta will be tabling a new law to protect journalists in the coming weeks. Read our story here and why such law is important here.

Afghanistan fallout

Dutch Defence Minister Ank Bijleveld resigned this week following a vote of censuring by the Dutch Parliament of the government’s handling of the evacuation from Kabul. She is the second Dutch Minister to resign following the resignation of the Foreign Minister Sigrid Kaag. Reports claimed that the Dutch Embassy repeatedly asked to initiate evacuation with the final decision taken shortly before the city fell to the Taliban.

More on this here.

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