Armida van Rij

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Romania's President Klaus Werner Iohannis shakes hands with Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban next to Germany's Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Portugal's Prime Minister Antonio Costa in Brussels, 1 February 2024. Photo LUDOVIC MARIN/AFP via Getty Images.

During an extraordinary summit in Brussels on 1 February, all 27 EU heads of state finally agreed a €50 billion (£43bn) support package for Ukraine through the Ukraine Facility, a new funding instrument. This is good news for Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and his administration who desperately need this money to keep the Ukrainian state running and pay wages to staff. The show of unity is also good news for the EU.

To be distributed over the next four years, the support package will consist of grants (€17 billion) and guaranteed loans (€33 billion). The financial grants will come from the revised 2021-27 European multiannual financial framework and should be approved by the European Parliament later this month.…  Seguir leyendo »

A Frontex official and a Finnish border guard stand near the closed Vaalimaa border station between Finland and Russia, on December 7, 2023 (Photo by Alessandro RAMPAZZO / AFP via Getty Images)

Last week, Russia unilaterally terminated a Finnish-Russian border agreement dating back to 2012. While this move is largely symbolic as the agreement was suspended following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, it nonetheless demonstrates Russia’s willingness to escalate tensions with its neighbour along its northernmost boundary with the EU and NATO.

It is the culmination of a period of instability on the border. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 led to an exodus of Russian nationals seeking to avoid conscription into the war effort – leaving via the Finnish border and other crossing points. Moscow responded by tightening its border controls to stem the flow.…  Seguir leyendo »

A solid bloc of Eurosceptic parties in power is cause for concern.

The Netherlands is yet another European state to have swung to the right after the far-right Freedom Party (PVV) won the largest number of seats in the national elections on Wednesday.

After Victor Orban’s long-standing reign in Hungary, far-right Giorgia Meloni took the lead in Italy, and Robert Fico’s pro-Putin party won Slovakia’s election, there is now a solid bloc of Eurosceptic leaning parties in power in Europe.

While each party has their agenda and they certainly do not hold monolithic views, the resurgence of the democratically-elected far-right in Europe is reason for concern.

Contentious issue of migration

To understand what drove Dutch voters to the Freedom Party, one only has to look at what brought the last Rutte-led government down.…  Seguir leyendo »

US soldiers from the 6th Marine Regiment participate in the international military exercise Cold Response 22, at Sandstrand, North of in Norway, a Norwegian-led exercise for NATO and partner countries. Photo by JONATHAN NACKSTRAND/AFP via Getty Images.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine and ongoing debates about how to strengthen defence and deterrence on NATO’s eastern flank will rightly dominate discussions and drive the Strategic Concept at the NATO summit in Madrid.

But it is also imperative the summit and the new Strategic Concept lay the groundwork for NATO’s sustained and long-term role in tackling climate change-induced security challenges. In 2021, NATO presented an ambition to become the leading organization in understanding and adapting to the impact of climate change on security.

It is expected to issue its first Climate Change and Security Progress Report in Madrid and it is crucial this maintains the same level of determination to prepare the alliance for climate-related instability.…  Seguir leyendo »

Protests against the reduction of the food basket provided by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine refugees at Khan Yunis in the Southern Gaza Strip. Photo by SAID KHATIB/AFP via Getty Images.

An all-time peak in people needing humanitarian assistance was reached in 2020 – 243.8 million spread across 75 countries – and yet at the same time global humanitarian funding decreased to an unparalleled 52 per cent gap. COVID-19 has exacerbated pre-existing crisis situations, and advanced economies are not meeting their targets, in part due to the demands of the pandemic.

So while the needs are greater than ever before, so is the lack of funding. The UK recently cut aid spending temporarily from 0.7 to 0.5 per cent and other G20 countries such as Australia and Italy have also failed to meet their aid targets – in fact Australia has been pursuing a policy of decreasing aid spending.…  Seguir leyendo »