The Brussels Brief

EUCO Summit

The EUCO Summit held on Monday and Tuesday was quite a success by EU standards as all leaders were onboard to impose additional sanctions on Belarus over their forced landing of a Ryanair flight in Minsk to arrest Opposition activist Roman Protasevich and his travel companion. The sanctions are now being ironed out within the Council of the EU structures. It appears that these sanctions might be given a nod of approval even before the next Foreign Affairs Council meeting scheduled for the third week of June, as initially planned.

Meanwhile, brace yourselves for some summit drama in June as EUCO is expected to discuss the holy grail of the EU, migration. Agreement on this issue has eluded the EU for over seven years and despite the constant pressures on various migrant routes and continuous reoccurrence of migratory flows during summers, there is no light at the end of the tunnel and EU leaders are not expected to shift their positions anytime sooner.

Read our full EUCO Summit Round-up here.

Throwing its weight around

In a rather predictable move, Russia has thrown its weight behind its ally Belarus by primarily failing to approve new flight plans that would have bypassed Belarusian airspace. European airlines, Lufthansa, Austrian Airlines and Air France, constrained geographically to fly over Minsk, have had to cancel their Moscow flights after the Russian authorities did not give clearance to the new flight plans.

More on this here.

EU-SWISS divorce

In a surprising act, the Swiss Government has informed the EU that it no longer intends to negotiate a partnership agreement with the EU. Swiss President was quoted as saying that these talks with the EU “haven’t led to the necessary solutions”. Switzerland, with all its distinct systems and protective attitude has deemed it not sufficiently beneficial to meet EU demands on, for example freedom of movement and wages. The Swiss chose their sovereignty over a comprehensive partnership with the EU. Will the Swiss lose access to the EU’s market?

Over time, yes.

Read the EU Statement here.

EP back in Strasbourg

The European Parliament plenary is set to return to its Strasbourg headquarters after a break of over a year since the pandemic struck. The French have put their foot down as they are determined not to allow ideas to scrap the Strasbourg Parliamentary seat. Strasbourg is not forgotten and now MEPs and all Parliamentary staff, amounting to hundreds of individuals would have to undergo PCR tests before leaving and upon their return to Brussels.

Acknowledging their misdeeds

Both France and Germany have acknowledged their mistakes in Africa. France has acknowledged its failure to act in Rwanda in the 1990s to stop the genocides of the Tutsis by the Hutu guerrillas. This genocide which occurred in 1994, left 800,000 people dead. France was often accused of standing behind the Rwandan regime under the Presidency of Francois Mitterrand and failed to act to stop the massacre.

Germany meanwhile has acknowledged its responsibility in its former colony Namibia after admitting its responsibility in the massacres of the Herero and Nama people as has recognised these massacres as genocide. Berlin has set-up a fund of €1.1 million to assist these affected Namibian communities.

More on this here.

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