Week 5 of 2021 has been dominated by foreign policy. Most notably, High Representative Borrell’s trip to Moscow has attracted much attention. The trip, which happened a few days after Navalny was arrested, ended up being a diplomatic ambush for Borrell. Lavrov attacked him personally, and the EU too. Three EU diplomats were expelled from the country while he was there.
Upon returning, Borrell has signalled that he does not exclude further sanctions on Russia. While some EPP MEPs have called for Borrell’s resignation, President von der Leyen has expressed her support for Borrell’s trip, calling it necessary despite its results. After last week’s blunder over the Northern Ireland protocol, Vice President Sefcovic and Michael Gove released a joint statement committing to the full respect of the peace process and the protocol.
High Representative Borrell and Commissioner Várhelyi signed a joint statement on the Day of Solidarity with Belarus. The EU also condemned the coup in Myanmar, expanded its trade agreement with Japan, and spoke out against the practice of female genital mutilation.
At the domestic level, Presidents von der Leyen and Michel took part in the Masters of Digital 2021 event. The Commission launched Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan, and the SAMIRA Action Plan for medical applications of radiological and nuclear technology. €14bn were disbursed under SURE. Finally, infringement procedures were opened against 24 member states for not transposing in time an EU telecom rules directive.