5. The Policy Watch
We are happy to present the first edition of The Policy Watch, a new weekly update on the most important policy news from the previous week.
“The Policy Watch” aims to provide concise insights into the current policy landscape. Tailored for our members and individuals interested in international affairs, this update offers a brief yet comprehensive summary of key developments affecting policy decisions and political trends in the UK, Sweden, and the EU.
The UK Watch
NEW LAWS TO INTRODUCE DIGITAL IMPORT LABELS
On 24 January, the UK Department for Business and Trade (UK DBT) announced that new laws will enable digital import labels for British businesses. This approach aims to save both time and money for UK importers by allowing them to put important regulatory and manufacturing information online instead of requiring such information to be physically printed on their products.
FRANCE: UK TO PAY BILLIONS TO COVER SPIKING NUCLEAR PROJECT COSTS
According to the Financial Times, France is pushing the UK to cover the French state-owned EDF’s spiralling costs in constructing Hinkley Point C and Sizwell C nuclear plants.
LEAKED MINUTES: COVID CAN BOOST SUPPORT FOR SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE
In leaked minutes from the Scottish Cabinet in June 2020 to the Telegraph, Nicola Sturgeon’s Cabinet decided to evaluate how the Covid-pandemic could be politicised to boost support for Scottish independence. According to the Telegraph, the minutes said that the Leave campaign’s communication strategy should be updated “with the arguments reflecting the experience of the coronavirus crisis and developments on EU exit.”
The Sweden Watch
TÜRKIYE GIVES SWEDEN THE GREEN LIGHT FOR NATO ACCESSION
On Tuesday, the Turkish Parliament ratified Sweden’s membership application to NATO, with 287 MPs in favour and 55 MPs against. On Thursday, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan signed and approved this bill. The only thing left standing between Sweden and NATO is Hungary.
STOCKHOLM PUBLIC TRANSPORT BANS FOSSIL FUELS AND GAMBLING ADS
The Stockholm Public Transport company, SL (Storstockholms Lokaltrafik), has decided to ban advertisements for fossil fuels and online casinos in public transport. The Traffic Regional Councillor, Anton Fendert (MP), said that: “public transportation should be a sustainable mode of transportation. Therefore, advertising should not contradict the region’s sustainability goals.”. These new rules will come into force after the current advertising agreements expire in two years.
SWEDEN IS NOT UP TO EU RECOMMENDATION ON EV CHARGING NODES
A new survey made by Klimatkollen states that Sweden is not up to the EU’s minimum recommendation of 1 public charging node per every 10 EVs, as reported by Sveriges Natur. In Sweden, the average EV per public charging node is 28 and 216 out of 290 municipalities have insufficient charging stations.
The EU Watch
EU ELECTION: THE POPULIST RIGHT ON THE RISE
According to a poll made for the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR), the populist right parties are gaining ground in the upcoming EU elections. The so-called “super grand coalition” composed of the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP), the social-democratic Socialists & Democrats (S&D), and the liberal Renew Europe (RE) is likely to lose seats but remain in the majority. However, The EFCR also concludes that, even though the centre coalition still is expected to be the biggest bloc in the European Parliament, “a populist right coalition of Christian democrats, conservatives, and radical right MEPs could emerge with a majority for the first time.”.
MEMBER STATES TO CHECK FOR FOREIGN TAKEOVERS IN KEY SECTORS
To ensure the EU’s economic security, the Commission will propose new legislation forcing EU Member States to monitor foreign takeovers in sensitive sectors such as robotics, biotech, and aerospace technology. The aim is to combat malicious foreign powers to take control over critical sectors for the EU’s economic security. Brussels also aim to harmonise EU members’ export controls, which today is up to the EU countries to decide for themselves.
NO MORE RUSSIAN ALUMINIUM
Brussels is set to include aluminium in the EU’s next sanction package on Russia, according to Politico. Other elements are also expected to be added to the next sanction package. The EU countries hope to agree on the package before the two-year mark of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on 24 February.
GERMANY AND FRANCE RAISE DOUBTS OVER PROPOSED AI ACT AND SUPPLY CHAIN ACT
The two EU superpowers, Germany and France, are sceptical of two landmark pieces of European legislation, the AI Act and the European Supply Chain Act. On the AI Act, after having been agreed upon in the so-called trilouge (negotiations between the Parliament, the Commission, and the Council), Paris and Berlin are dissatisfied with the finalised drafts (see leaked version here). Having Germany and France added to the list of sceptical Member States, where Italy and reports of a fourth country already are, the AI Act may not be adopted as hoped on 2 February.
Politico also reports that The European Supply Chain Act, which aims to ensure sufficient labour and environmental standards in third countries, may not be adopted as planned on 9 February. Due to internal disagreements and failed mediation attempts within the German ruling coalition, where the liberal Free Democratic Party (FDP) thinks that the current draft will lead to an administrative overburden for companies, Germany might have to abstain from voting on 9 February (which is equal to voting against).
EU TO BECOME A NUCLEAR POWER?
In an interview with Politico, the Center-right political group European People’s Party’s (EPP) leader, Manfred Weber, said that Europe needs to prepare for a war without the United States’ aid. Thus, Weber is calling for the Member States to build a European nuclear umbrella. This statement comes after Trump’s primary election wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, which shook Europe as Trump is a known NATO sceptic and has threatened Europe about the US not coming to its defence if attacked when he held the presidency. According to Weber, the EU should deepen its cooperation with London, as the UK already has a nuclear arsenal.