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The balls politicians have to juggle with in Brussels are not decreasing. The keywords Corona, Lebanon, Belarus, Libya, Mali, Brexit, Eastern Mediterranean, Alexei Navalny - and not least the resignation of Trade Commissioner Phil Hogan - underline this. With the burning refugee camp on Lesbos, the refugee and migration crisis is pushing back on the EU agenda. It had already indicated itself - it was not until the evening of September 12 that 27 refugees rescued from distress at sea by the tanker “Maersk Etienne” were finally able to leave the ship for Italy after 38 days. Now the asylum policy of the EU will experience a new attempt at harmonization.

Nach der Einigung über den EU-Haushalt herrscht nunmehr auch Klarheit über die Beträge für die europäischen Sicherheits- und Verteidigungsbemühungen. Der Europäische Verteidigungsfonds (EDF), mit dem gemeinsame Entwicklungs- und Forschungsprojekte im Bereich der Verteidigungsfähigkeit finanziert werden sollen, wird mit 7,014 Milliarden Euro ausgestattet. 1,5 Milliarden Euro sollen in militärische Mobilität fließen. Fünf Milliarden Euro werden der Europäischen Friedensfazilität (EPF) zur Verfügung gestellt, um EU-Operationen zu finanzieren.

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The Turkish efforts to explore gas deposits in the eastern Mediterranean are causing a lot of excitement. As long as the territorial claims are not settled (ES&T reported), Greece and Turkey cover each other with accusations and threats. The German government, which currently holds the EU Council Presidency, tried to mediate. In mid-September, the Turkish research ship “Oruç Reis” initially ceased its work. This has resulted in a slight relaxation. Ankara emphasizes, however, that this is not about giving in to the matter. The scene is on the move: The EU is massively criticizing Turkey. Doubts about their status as an EU candidate country are being voiced.

In addition, a new body was created with “Med7”. At a meeting of the heads of government from Greece, Italy, Malta, Portugal, Spain and Cyprus in Corsica initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron, the seven Mediterranean states agreed on sanctions against Turkey if the tensions in the east of the Mediterranean do not end. Meanwhile, Greece is following the armament route and buying 18 Rafale fighter jets in France. In addition, Athens intends to build four multi-purpose
frigates to buy. In this market sector, Italians and French compete (with the joint product of the “Fregata Multi-Missione” and “Belh @ rra”, the export version of the French “Frégate de Défense et d'Intervention”), the Americans with a version of their “Littoral Combat Ships ”and the British with the Type 23 frigate or the new Type 31e. The Netherlands is said to have already held talks about the transfer of two M frigates to the Royal Netherlands Navy. The recruitment of additional personnel (15,000) into the Greek armed forces is already in place.

It seems grotesque: while refugees are desperate in Moria, Greece is buying war equipment, for example in France, which is very reluctant to accept refugees. What morals could one call out - both in Athens and in Paris.

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Belarus and Lebanon, Libya and Syria, but also the reconciliation between the Arab states of Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates with Israel are examples that the EU is a long way from the goal of a geopolitical union, which its Commission President von der Leyen set out. The EU is indeed committed. But the influential successes bring in others.

This should be different. The strategy for the security union presented on July 24 is an attempt to outline the need for action in order to make external policy what it should be by name: a common foreign and security policy. In a next step, the Strategic Compass, a new basic security policy document is to be developed. It starts with a joint threat analysis that has not yet existed in this form in the EU. The EU foreign affairs representative Josep Borrell is expected to present them by the end of 2020. Based on this, the member states will then enter into a structured dialogue and exchange views on the strategic objectives on four main themes: crisis management, resilience, skills and partnerships. The Strategic Compass is to be finalized in the first half of 2022, then under the French Council Presidency. Perhaps then it will stop the fact that European foreign policy is more like putting out a fire than a long-term constructive design. The German Council Presidency has a responsibility to get this process started on German initiative back on its feet.

Hans-Uwe Mergener