How the European Union is coping with new challenges

On a powder keg

– The situation in the Middle East is heating up. Iran attacked Israeli territory, Israel announced planned retaliatory strikes. How does this affect Europe as a whole, Latvia?

– In Europe, the hottest place is Ukraine, but if we look more broadly at the world map, we will see several points where tension is growing, and the Middle East today is one of the most explosive territories. In Christianity there are several branches – Catholicism, Lutheranism, Orthodoxy, and in Islam there are two main movements – Sunnis and Shiites, which usually do not get along very well with each other. But now we see that they have largely united and are ready to act as a united front, which could blow up the entire region.

America and Europe today are doing everything possible to prevent the escalation of the conflict in the Middle East, but, of course, no one can guarantee that this will not happen. It is also unclear how relations between China and Taiwan will develop, and whether another conflict will flare up there.

Of course, geopolitical instability greatly affects us all. We see that airBaltic and a number of other airlines are canceling flights to the region, and oil prices are rising. But the most important thing is that people’s mood changes. If just a few years ago positive expectations prevailed among Europeans, their thoughts were busy planning education, careers, purchasing housing, vacations, but now, probably, 90 percent of Europeans, first of all, are worried about the safety of themselves and their loved ones.

It feels like being on a powder keg that could explode at any moment. This is the main emotion that has replaced the former confidence in the future and influences people’s actions, personal and business decisions. Anxiety never promotes development because it prevents you from making long-term plans. Just to preserve what we have…

Therefore, now the EU member states are paying the greatest attention to security – increasing defense spending, reviving the military industry, and developing cooperation models.

We need practical politicians

– The International Monetary Fund recently lowered its economic development forecast for Latvia for this year, and foreign investors gave our country the lowest rating. Is the geopolitical situation to blame?

– There are also subjective reasons for this. The peculiarity of Latvian politics today is indecision. It is customary for us to talk a lot, discuss, create working groups, and write plans. But decisions take too long to be made, they are often incompetent and do not contribute to development. The reason for this problem is that many of those who are in power today have no previous practical experience.

And when former picket participants and authors of loud statements on Twitter, who could not or did not even try to implement at least one project, undertake to solve problems of a larger scale, to help others, then it ends sadly. We do not have enough practical politicians who know how to act and take responsibility. Often this is what leads to Latvia falling behind, including its neighbors.

– Despite the Russian invasion, Ukraine continues to ensure the transit of Russian gas to Europe. But Ukraine does not intend to renew the agreement concluded in 2019. What consequences will this lead to?

– This means that the European Union will lose approximately 5% of total gas imports. This will mainly affect Central and South-Eastern Europe – Austria, Hungary, Slovakia and certain regions of their neighboring countries. So if an alternative to the gas supplied through Ukraine is not found soon, then in the winter Europe may face a threat to the security of supply and rising prices, especially if the weather is cold. The European Commission has already warned member countries about such a scenario.

Theoretically, it is possible to arrange gas supplies through Germany, Italy and Turkey, but everything is complicated by Berlin’s recent unilateral decision to tax gas exports. This factor could further increase the price of gas.

The goal has been set – by 2027, EU states intend to stop importing Russian fossil fuels. Now the bloc, compared to 2021, has reduced its dependence on Russian gas by about two-thirds, increasing supplies from Norway and the United States.

Recently, the European Parliament adopted a package of legal acts to create a European hydrogen market. The new regulation provides that European energy will be based on two sources – green energy and green gas. A ten-year plan for the development of hydrogen infrastructure in Europe will be presented in 2026. So in the near future the problem will be solved.

“I agree with Trump”…

– The European Parliament recently adopted a pact on migration and asylum, which was discussed for a long time. How do you assess its significance for Latvia?

– The purpose of this document is to prevent crises with an uncontrolled influx of refugees and improve cooperation between countries so that this burden is distributed more or less evenly between countries. This document unifies the system of treatment of migrants within the entire European Union.

States will have a choice – to accept refugees or pay those who accept them. A clear formula has been developed for how much and for what you will need to pay. According to the new document, it will be necessary to speed up verification of the identity of asylum seekers and their compliance with admission criteria. Refugees and asylum seekers will need to be provided with the same conditions in the areas of healthcare, housing, and education.

Of course, this is a very important issue for the European Union. If the conflict in the Middle East develops, a new wave of refugees is predicted – at least two to four million people.

The migration pact has not yet entered into force. Let me remind you of the procedure for making decisions in the EU: the European Commission prepares a document, the European Parliament discusses, makes amendments and votes or does not vote for it. The final word belongs to the European Council, which includes the heads of EU member states.

I think that the upcoming discussions in the European Council will be heated. Let’s see what position Latvia will take on this issue. But, as I feel, Latvia is not very keen on accepting refugees. Our country is not the most attractive for refugees, and this, in my opinion, is not bad.

I did not vote for this document. I believe that it is necessary to strengthen the borders of the European Union and strictly limit the number of those whom we allow to live with us. On this I agree with Trump, who is advocating for a wall on the border with Mexico. Europe cannot accommodate everyone. We ourselves have a lot of social and other problems that need to be solved urgently.

Ksenia Zagorovskaya

Prepared with the support of the Progressive Alliance of Democrats and Socialists of the European Parliament.

About MEP Andris Ameriks and direct contact with him

#European #Union #coping #challenges
2024-04-23 23:37:15

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