On the night of 15 August, the Taliban entered the presidential palace in Afghanistan’s capital Kabul after Western countries withdrew their military presence and President Ashraf Ghani fled the country, leaving Afghans in despair. With the Taliban taking over Kabul and seizing control over virtually all of the country, Western powers have been evacuating their citizens and staff from Afghanistan. The only countries willing to remain in Afghanistan are non-Western nations, such as Russia and China. What does this mean practically for the European Union (EU) and its member states? And where does the EU stand? Those are the questions that have been arising in the last couple of days, but before answering them, let’s first understand why Western forces were engaged in Afghanistan.
With the new Delta variant and others spreading around the world, European countries have adopted different approaches to limiting the proliferation of the Coronavirus. While France and Italy have undertaken strict policies by making the vaccination almost mandatory (not formally, but informally), other countries like Germany or the Netherlands are still reluctant.
In response to Hungary’s recently introduced anti-LGTBTQ+ law which prohibits the representation of LGBTQ+ content in education and TV shows for under-18s, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte on Thursday asked Hungary to leave the EU, or start respecting LGBTQ+ rights. Standing up for the rights of the LGBTQ+ community which is discriminated and increasingly suppressed by Hungary’s homophobic policies, Rutte made a bold statement declaring his aim was “to bring Hungary to its knees on this issue”. Hungary has been the EU’s black sheep for quite a while now, most prominently because of its democratic backsliding which has resulted in concerns about the country’s rule of law.
You may not have noticed, but the EU and its foreign policy have received rather a lot of attention lately. Why? Well, mainly because it doesn’t really have a foreign policy. Instead, it has twenty-seven different foreign policies that all need to be coordinated. Exactly that has been pretty problematic lately, leading some to argue for reform.
The long-awaited and much-debated conference on the future of Europe finally seems to be gaining some traction now that the European Parliament has signed a joint declaration by the Parliament, Commission and Council. The project was set to launch in May 2020 already but hit a brick wall due to the outbreak of COVID-19.