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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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Gorbachev has died, EU states want to increase offshore capacities in the Baltic Sea, EU split on visa ban for Russians
European Circle in week 35, 2022
curated by Nina von Schweinitz

EUROPE

Gorbachev has died: Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, who played a central role in ending the Cold War, died Tuesday at the age of 91. Gorbachev’s trademark policies of glasnost and perestroika helped open up the Soviet economy and liberalise society in the late 1980s, confront its past and engage with Western leaders on arms control. In the past, he had spoken in support of Putin’s decision to annex Crimea in 2014, saying he would have done the same if he had been in the Russian leader’s place. He was banned from the country for five years for his remarks. npr.org, theguardian.com

  • EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen: „Mikhail Gorbachev was a trusted and respected leader. He played a crucial role to end the Cold War and bring down the Iron Curtain. It opened the way for a free Europe. This legacy is one we will not forget.“ twitter.com
  • United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres: „He did more than any other individual to bring about the peaceful end of the cold war.“ press.un.org
  • French President Emmanuel Macron: „His commitment to peace in Europe changed our common history.“ twitter.com
  • British Prime Minister Boris Johnson: „In a time of Putin’s aggression in Ukraine, his tireless commitment to opening up Soviet society remains an example to us all.“ twitter.com

EU states want to increase offshore capacities in the Baltic Sea: Eight European Union countries bordering the Baltic Sea have agreed to increase offshore wind power generation capacity sevenfold by 2030 to decrease dependency on Russian energy. The pledges come after Russia has either reduced or halted gas supplies to some countries since its invasion of Ukraine. reuters.com

  • EU plans to intervene in energy market as winter crisis looms. bloomberg.com
  • Spain’s Sanchez and Germany’s Scholz to defend Midcat pipeline. euractiv.com
  • France could examine gas pipeline to link Spain to Germany. dw.com
  • Less Russian gas for France. reuters.com
  • French PM tells firms to draft energy savings plans to avoid rationing. reuters.com
  • Nearly one in four Britons plan to forego heating this winter. bloomberg.com
  • Germany, Denmark sign deal to ramp up renewable energy. dw.com
  • China throws Europe an energy lifeline with LNG resales. ft.com

EU split on visa ban for Russians: Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s call for Russian citizens to be banned from entering the EU ignited a major debate in Europe. Finland, Poland, the Czech Republic and the Baltic states have stopped issuing short-term visas to Russians. Germany, Greece, Cyprus and the European Commission on the other hand, have been more reserved and oppose a strict travel ban against Russians. Last week German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that it was Russian President Vladimir Putin’s war, and for that reason it was difficult for him to support a blanket travel ban that would also impact innocent people. dw.com

EU agrees to pursue work on Ukraine military training mission: The EU’s defence ministers agreed on launching the work necessary to define the parameters for an EU military assistance mission for Ukraine, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told reporters after a meeting in Prague. Preparatory work will include contacts with Kyiv and defining legal and operational parameters. bloomberg.com

  • Berlin to trade tanks with Prague in latest Ukraine swap deal. euractiv.com
  • Estonia calls on Germany to supply more weapons to Ukraine. rnd.de
  • Swedish PM sets out further military aid package to Ukraine. reuters.com
  • Poles, Czechs vow to protect Slovak airspace as MiGs retired. washingtonpost.com

Chemical Agents for Russia? Raid on German companies: Customs investigators searched a number of companies in northern and southern Germany. They are looking into suspicions that company executives have been exporting highly toxic substances for several years without a permit. According to newspaper reports, investigators believe the exports involve important raw materials that can be used for the production of chemical and biological weapons, such as mustard gas. tagesschau.de

Leading MEPs tackle obligations for high-risk AI systems in new compromise. euractiv.com
Monkeypox outbreak can be eliminated in Europe, WHO says. reuters.com
EU Commission ‘regrets’ Serbian EuroPride ban, tries to blame Kosovo. euractiv.com

QUOTE OF THE WEEK

„The centre of Europe is moving eastwards.“

The European Union must undergo major reforms now to be ready to cope with having 30-36 members in the future, Germany’s chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Monday. euronews.com

NATION

Lithuania completes Belarus border fence: A barrier four metres high and made up of barbed wire stretches across around 550 kilometres of the two countries‘ shared border. Illegal immigration has soared in Lithuania this year, with around 4,200 migrants mainly from the Middle East and Africa crossing the border from Belarus. The West has accused Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s regime of manipulating the migrant flows with its ally Russia as part of hybrid warfare, which Minsk denies. france24.com

Belarusian sprinter gets Polish citizenship: Krystsina Tsimanouskaya, who appealed for international help to avoid being forced home prematurely from the Tokyo Olympic Games, has obtained citizenship from Poland, the country where she defected with her husband last year as she fled Japan. Tsimanouskaya’s plight became a major story from the Tokyo Games and refocused international attention on repression in Belarus a year after protests erupted when authoritarian ruler Alyaksandr Lukashenka claimed victory in a disputed presidential election in August 2020. rferl.org

Austrian court overturns conviction of ex-vice chancellor: A Vienna court overturned the corruption conviction of former Austrian Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache for trying to change laws to favour a private hospital in exchange for donations to his political party. The Vienna Higher Regional Court said proceedings would have to be repeated because exculpatory chat messages had not been sufficiently appreciated during an earlier trial. abcnews.go.com

Slovak coalition partner threatens to withdraw from government: The junior coalition party Freedom and Solidarity issued an ultimatum to Finance Minister Igor Matovic at the start of the summer: either he steps down by the end of August, or Freedom and Solidarity leaves the coalition, and the fall of the government is looking more likely than ever as the summer comes to an end. The ultimatum expires this Wednesday. euractiv.com

Twelfth and final campaign appearance in the race to succeed Boris Johnson: Boris Johnson’s successor will be either Foreign Secretary Liz Truss or former finance minister Rishi Sunak. The two received the most votes in the last round of voting in the Conservative parliamentary group. Tory party members will decide in the next few weeks who will win on 5 September. At campaign appearances across the country, Truss and Sunak are canvassing for support. independent.co.uk

German diplomat charged with murdering Belgian husband in Brazil: Brazilian state prosecutors have charged a German diplomat on suspicion of murdering his husband earlier this month. Uwe Herbert Hahn was initially arrested after his Belgian husband was found dead on 5 August. He was released from police custody by a state court on Friday, just days before prosecutors filed charges for „aggravated murder“. Authorities say they are investigating reports that the consul fled the country and returned to Germany on a flight on Sunday. euronews.com

Greek parliament votes to investigate wiretapping scandal: The scandal has plunged Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis’ centre-right government into a political storm. Mitsotakis has denied any prior knowledge of the tapping by the country’s secret service of an opposition party leader’s phone. The commission — where government lawmakers will have a majority — will have at least a month to carry out the probe. apnews.com

Austria: Pirate sites ban took down Cloudflare CDNs by mistake bleepingcomputer.com
Netherlands: Amsterdam to house migrants on cruise ship moored in port apnews.com
Libya and Spain: Several dead after fleeing across Mediterranean. zdf.de
Sweden: Ferry stricken by fire back in Swedish port. reuters.com
Gibraltar: Cargo ship beached after collision in Bay of Gibraltar. abcnews.go.com
Italy: Protesters held after demonstration at Vatican calling for women’s inclusion in Church. independent.ie
Dutch commando dies after shooting outside US hotel. politico.eu

NUMERS

UK inflation could soar above 22% next year if energy prices continue their upward spiral, US investment bank Goldman Sachs warned. Meanwhile, Germany’s annual inflation rate rose to 7.9% in August. cnbc.com (UK), abcnews.go.com (Germany)

AT LEAST

Trump bragged he had intelligence on Macron’s sex life: Former US President Donald Trump for years bragged to close associates that he knew illicit details about French President Emmanuel Macron’s sex life, gleaned from “intelligence” briefings, Rolling Stone reported. The issue has surged back into the spotlight in the wake of the FBI raid on Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate, during which authorities seized sensitive documents, including one titled “info re: President of France.” rollingstone.com, politico.eu