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Every Wednesday, the European Circle delivers an overview of the most important topics from the European Union and the European nations.


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Criticism of EU-Tunisia migration agreement, EU-Latin America summit exposes rift over condemnation of Russia war in Ukraine, China urges EU to clarify its position on partnership
European Circle in week 29, 2023
curated by Nina von Schweinitz


Criticism of EU-Tunisia migration agreement: The European Union has struck a deal with Tunisia to try to stem the number of migrants crossing the Mediterranean. Under the agreement, the Tunisian government committed itself to tightening its sea borders and combating people-smuggling networks, as well as expediting the return of Tunisians who reside illegally in Europe. The EU will provide a broad package of support for the North African country’s embattled economy. On the same day that the migrant deal was finalised, Libyan border guards rescued dozens of migrants they said had been left in the desert by Tunisian authorities without water, food or shelter. Amnesty International condemned the migration agreement, saying that it makes the EU “complicit in the suffering that will inevitably result” in what represents a “dangerous expansion” of failed migration policies.,,

EU-Latin America summit exposes rift over condemnation of Russia war in Ukraine: A summit between European, Latin American and Caribbean leaders on Tuesday highlighted a rift over how to condemn Russia’s war in Ukraine as, until the last minute, they haggled over the final wording of the summit communiqué. Some Latin American leaders had in the weeks prior expressed frustration with Europe’s insistence on the importance of the war in Ukraine and were seeking to remove any reference to the war from the summit declaration. Subsequent versions of the draft communiqué showed that language on Ukraine had been watered down, going from “strongly” condemning Russia “violating” Ukraine’s sovereignty, to a version that “expressed concern” about the war in Ukraine.

  • EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen celebrated an „excellent summit“ and said „it feels like a new beginning among old friends.“

EU and Chile strengthen cooperation on sustainable critical raw materials supply chains: In line with the EU’s Global Gateway strategy and with the Critical Raw Materials Act, the partnership aims to deepen cooperation in the field of sustainable raw materials value chains that are necessary for the clean energy and digital transition of both partners. It also aims to develop a competitive and sustainable industry for processing raw materials and local value added in the mining sector, creating quality employment and sustainable and inclusive economic growth, to the mutual benefit of both sides.

China urges EU to clarify its position on partnership: The European Union must further clarify its position on its strategic partnership with Beijing, China’s top diplomat Wang Yi told European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell, as EU leaders called for reduced dependence on China. The launch of an EU-China comprehensive strategic partnership in 2003 had promised to elevate ties beyond trade and investment. But since 2019, the 27-nation bloc has called China an „economic competitor“ and a „systemic rival“, with Beijing’s close relations with Moscow after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine increasing the caution.

Russia stops Ukraine grain deal: Russia said on Monday it was withdrawing from a wartime agreement to allow grain exports from Ukraine through the Black Sea until its demands to loosen sanctions on its own agricultural exports were met, upending a deal that has helped stabilise global food prices and alleviate shortages in parts of Africa and the Middle East. The United Nations’ secretary general, António Guterres, said he was “deeply disappointed” by Moscow’s decision, and that millions of people facing hunger, as well as consumers confronting a cost-of-living crisis, would “pay a price.”,

  • EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen called Russia’s decision a „cynical move“, adding that the EU would continue to work towards ensuring food security for poor countries.
  • EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell said Moscow’s decision was unjustified and was using food as a weapon in the conflict with Ukraine.
  • US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Russia’s decision was “unconscionable” and called for the pact to be restored as quickly as possible.
  • Wheat prices rose by just under 2% in Europe and by just under 3% in the US.

EU finance ministers in favour of additional funding for Ukraine: European Union finance ministers on Friday unanimously backed extra funds for Ukraine through a top-up of its long-term budget, although differences persisted over other spending that threaten to delay or block proposed aid to Kyiv. Spanish Finance Minister Nadia Calvino told a news conference that EU finance ministers meeting on Friday had backed continued financial support for Ukraine.

EU set to probe Microsoft over bundling Teams with Office: The EU is set to open a formal investigation into whether Microsoft bundling its Teams collaboration app with its Office 365 productivity suite is unfair to rival software companies. The EU’s interest in Microsoft’s productivity tools stems from a complaint from another platform, Slack, made back in 2020, which said that Teams was being “force installed” for Office customers.

EU Parliament to vote on multi-million euro building: EU lawmakers are set to vote on a plan to lease and potentially buy a building next to the European Parliament in Strasbourg following a lengthy – and increasingly bitter – battle between the Parliament’s leaders. Ahead of the vote, political group officials warned that the contract presented to the committee, which has oversight of EU spending, states that the French government can sell the building at any time without consulting the Parliament. They added that it was also unclear what the future purchase price would be, should the Parliament decide to acquire it.

Kosovo’s absence from EU-Western Balkan meeting raises eyebrows: Both Kosovo Prime Minister Albin Kurti and Deputy Prime Minister Besnik Bislimi were absent from an informal gathering of regional leaders in Tirana on Monday, with the latter denying claims they were not invited or even refused entry.

Ministerial meeting in Spain: EU fisheries to become more sustainable
EU-Morocco fisheries deal stuck pending court decision on self-determination claim
Cyber Resilience Act: EU ambassadors set to endorse new cybersecurity law for connected devices


“In the past, we didn’t pick up the phone when they had issues. So there is very serious irritation among a great many countries. That we get this back in our face now is also proof that we, as Europe, sometimes acted a bit arrogantly.”

The fact that not all states condemn Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine also has to do with the EU, according to Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte.


EU Commission provides emergency aid for reception centre in Lampedusa: In view of the high number of refugees on the Italian island, the Commission wants to provide 14 million euros in emergency aid. This is intended to improve conditions for refugees in the island’s often overcrowded reception centres. The money will be used, for example, to buy clothing, food and medicine. At the end of June, more than 3,250 people were staying at the island’s reception centre, which is designed for only 400 people.

UK government’s contested illegal immigration plan to become law: British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s highly contested plan to make it easier to send asylum seekers to Rwanda is set to become law after the government defeated attempts by parliament’s upper house to make changes to the legislation. The Illegal Migration Bill had been stuck in a battle between parliament’s House of Commons and the House of Lords, Britain’s unelected upper chamber, which had repeatedly made changes to the legislation to water it down. In the early hours of Tuesday, the last of those proposed changes was voted down. It can now go for Royal Assent, where it is formally approved by the King and becomes law.

  • EU realignment: Southern Europeans want more anti-migration deals with North Africa.
  • EU Parliament President Metsola wants to stop traffickers.

Inquiry Committee to look into Serbia’s latest mass shootings: Serbian Parliament President Vladimir Orlić scheduled the first session of the Inquiry Committee, which will determine the facts and circumstances that led to the mass murders at the Vladislav Ribnikar Elementary School and in the villages on the territory of Smederevo and Mladenovac. A 13-year-old pupil committed the first mass shooting, killing nine students and a guard on 3 May. The next day, a local 20-year-old shot at least 20 people in Mladenovac and Smederevo. Nine people died, and he has been arrested and charged.

Fires in Greece still not under control: As temperatures hit a high of 46.3C in Sicily, fire crews battled blazes in Greece and the Swiss Alps. Two wildfires swept uncontrolled through forestland and towns northwest of Athens for a second day on Tuesday, forcing more residents to flee their homes as authorities fought to stop the flames reaching an area with oil refineries. Scientists say climate change is making heatwaves longer, more intense and more frequent. Italy has already seen the extreme heat turning deadly with a 44-year-old worker collapsing while painting zebra crossing lines in the town of Lodi, near Milan. He died in hospital last week.,,

Meta’s behavioural ads banned in Norway on Facebook and Instagram: Meta has been temporarily banned from running behavioural advertising on Facebook and Instagram in Norway — unless it obtains users’ consent to the processing. The urgent order of provisional measures on Meta’s business, which has been made by Norway’s data protection authority, the Datatilsynet, applies for an initial three-month period.

Dutch Greens, Labour Party, agree on joint election programme: The Dutch Labour Party (PvdA/S&D) and GroenLinks (GL/Greens) will present a joint electoral list and programme for the national elections in November, the two parties announced on Monday after a referendum among party members showed overwhelming support for the idea.

Budapest intensifies fight against sexual minorities: In Hungary, the ruling coalition wants to tighten the law restricting the public visibility of LGBTQ content. The stated goal of this legislation, which goes by the name of „child protection,“ is to ensure that minors are not confronted with depictions or content of homosexuality or transsexuality in public.

No incidents at military parade on France’s national holiday: France celebrated its national holiday Friday with whizzing warplanes and a grand Bastille Day parade in Paris — and with more than 100,000 police deployed around the country to prevent a new outbreak of unrest in underprivileged neighbourhoods.

Poland: Court overturns decision to suspend permit for Turow mine
Ahead of Spain’s elections: Conservatives do not pledge allegiance to far-right Vox
Up to €30,000: Salvini wants ‘fiscal peace’ by scrapping citizens’ small debts


51% of Britons say that, were the EU referendum taking place now, seven years after the original date, they would vote to Remain.


DNA database to be used to crack down on dog faeces in French town: Dog owners in the southern French town of Béziers are to be required to carry their pet’s “genetic passport” in a trial scheme to reduce dog excrement on the streets. Local mayor Robert Ménard plans to introduce a two-year experiment to trace and fine those who fail to clear up after their pets.