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Stories in this section cover the EU-27 countries plus the UK, Norway, Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Andorra and the Balkan Countries (Albania, Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia).

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EU imposes import tariffs of billions of euros on Chinese electric cars

EU imposes import tariffs of billions of euros on Chinese electric cars

The European Union is poised to impose significant new tariffs on Chinese electric vehicles (EVs), a move expected to raise more than €2 billion a year despite warnings from Germany about the potential economic impact. Brussels is determined to impose additional tariffs of up to 25% on these imports from next month, arguing that subsidies given to Chinese EV manufacturers allow them to unfairly undercut European competitors. The decision has sparked controversy, particularly in Germany, where there are fears of sparking a trade war with China, the EU's biggest trading partner.
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European countries accused of complicity after 11 bodies were recovered from the Mediterranean off Libya

European countries accused of complicity after 11 bodies were recovered from the Mediterranean off Libya

Doctors Without Borders, known by its French initials MSF, has reported the recovery of 11 bodies and the rescue of dozens of people off the coast of Libya. The organisation criticised the migration policies of Libya and European countries. In a statement on Friday (7 June), MSF said its Geo Barents rescue ship had recovered the bodies after a search lasting more than nine hours. The operation was launched after an alert from the German NGO Sea-Watch, which also assists refugees and migrants. "Although the cause of this tragedy remains unknown, it is clear that people will continue to undertake dangerous journeys in their desperate search for safety. Europe must create safe and legal routes for them," MSF said in a post on X. "This catastrophe must end!" 

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EU and GCC countries hold first joint ministerial meeting in eight years amidst deepening crisis in the Middle East

EU and GCC countries hold first joint ministerial meeting in eight years amidst deepening crisis in the Middle East

It has been planned for many months, and it took place for the first time after a gap of eight years, but the meeting of the foreign ministers of the six GCC countries and the 27 EU member states when it eventually took place yesterday in Muscat, capital of Oman, was inevitably overshadowed by the deepening crisis in the Middle  East triggered by Saturday's attack by Hamas on Southern Israel. Addressing the issue, whilst speaking to the media at the end of the meeting, EU High Representative Josep Borrell stated that in the meeting, the two sides agreed that "the priority is to cease violence and to prevent further regional escalation. It is of utmost importance to ensure the release of hostages, as well as the protection of civilians at all times and by all parties."  commonspace.eu political editor said in a comment that it is good that after years of neglect, the EU is finally giving relations with the Gulf Co-operation Council countries the importance that they deserve. The final declaration from the Muscat meeting is ambitious and wide ranging. It needs to be seen how the EU proposes to take it forward, and what is the mechanism it will put in place to ensure that it does not remain merely a piece of paper. The final declaration announces the holding of an EU-GCC summit of Heads of State and Government but gives no details. Whilst this summit will need to be well prepared, the aim should be to have it as soon as possible. But in the meantime the crisis in Middle East will remain the topic of the day for a while, and it is good that, even if by co-incidence of timing, the EU and the GCC countries could co-ordinate their positions in such a sensitive time.
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They were supposed to be five; they ended up four, but they still had a lot to say

They were supposed to be five; they ended up four, but they still had a lot to say

The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, and the Chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz met in Granada with Nikol Pashinyan, Prime Minister of Armenia. The President of the European Council, Charles Michel, the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, and the Chancellor of Germany, Olaf Scholz underlined their unwavering support to the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and inviolability of the borders of Armenia. They also expressed their support to the strengthening of EU-Armenia relations, in all its dimensions, based on the needs of the Republic of Armenia. They agreed on the need to provide additional humanitarian assistance to Armenia as it faces the consequences of the recent mass displacement of Karabakh Armenians. They stressed that these refugees must be free to exercise their right to return to their homes and their places of living, without any conditions, with international monitoring, and with due respect for their history, culture and for human rights. They remain committed to all efforts directed towards the normalization of relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan, based on mutual recognition of sovereignty, inviolability of borders and territorial integrity of Armenia (29.800 km2) and Azerbaijan (86.600 km2), as mentioned in President Michel’s statements of 14 May and 15 July 2023. They called for the strict adherence to the principle of non-use of force and threat of use of force. They stressed the urgent need to work towards border delimitation based on the most recent USSR General Staff maps that have been provided to the sides, which should also be a basis for distancing of forces, and for finalizing the peace treaty and addressing all humanitarian issues. They called for greater regional cooperation and for the re-opening of all borders, including the border between Armenia and Türkiye, as well as for the opening of regional connectivity links based on full respect of countries’ sovereignty and jurisdiction, as well as on the principles of equality and reciprocity. The European leaders called on Armenia and Azerbaijan to release all detainees, and to cooperate to address the fate of missing persons and to facilitate demining work.
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What could have been signed today in Granada?

What could have been signed today in Granada?

For weeks, expectations were built up that a summit between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan, hosted by European Council president, Charles Michel, French President Emanuel Macron and German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, scheduled on the margins of the meeting of the European Political Community in Granada, Spain on 5 October, will give a stimulus to the Armenia-Azerbaijan peace process. Just a day before, however, Azerbaijan announced that President Ilham Aliyev will not attend. What could have been agreed in Granada? Speaking in the Armenian parliament on 4 October, Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan outlined the points of a document that he said he had hoped could have been signed in Granada the next day had the Azerbaijani leader not cancelled his visit, but which he still felt could be signed at an opportune moment. Pashinyan outlined the three principles as: 1. Armenia and Azerbaijan recognize each other’s territorial integrity, based on the understanding that Armenia territory is 29800 square km while Azerbaijan territory is 86600 square km; 2. The Alma Ata declaration should be the political basis for border delimitation and later demarcation. It is important that before delimitation is made, agreement is reached on which maps delimitation and demarcation will be based on. This should be implemented based on the maps of 1975, but in principle, we may be flexible on this;   3. Restoration of communications of the region should take place based on the principles of sovereignty, laws, equality, and reciprocity of the countries.  
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Commentary: Is this the EU’s last chance to bring peace and reconciliation to Armenia and Azerbaijan?

Commentary: Is this the EU’s last chance to bring peace and reconciliation to Armenia and Azerbaijan?

On the eve of the expected meeting between the leaders of Armenia and Azerbaijan in Granada on Thursday (5 October), on the margins of the gathering of the European Political Community, Brussels' leading think tank, the European Policy Centre, has published a commentary by commonspace.eu Managing Editor and Director of LINKS Europe, Dr Dennis Sammut on the prospects of the EU's initiative to bring lasting peace between Armenia and Azerbaijan. He argues that "the exodus of 100,000 Armenians from Karabakh following the recent Azerbaijani military operation has focused minds. However, as it pursues its peace initiative with Armenia and Azerbaijan, the EU’s primary objective is to get both sides to sign a peace agreement. Going forward, the EU needs to adopt a regional approach as the core of its engagement with the South Caucasus." Given the speed of changes on the ground, there is a risk that the EU peace initiative may run out of steam or become irrelevant since, at this point, Armenia-Azerbaijan relations can take different trajectories. Granada offers the last opportunity for a substantial peace agreement that would, at last, turn the page on an ugly chapter of modern South Caucasus history. It is unlikely that a substantial deal can be signed yet. Still, in Granada, it should become quite clear whether the conditions exist to overcome the final obstacles, with the sides formally recognising each other’s territorial integrity based on the borders stated in the 1991 Almati Declaration, and, eventually, by establishing full diplomatic relations. The EU needs to be strategic in its vision and focused on its approach. Getting an Armenia-Azerbaijan peace deal agreed and signed by the end of the year must now be the priority.