There was talk of Ukraine war fatigue this week in Brussels, as NATO’s foreign affairs minister met to discuss the nearly two-year-long conflict.
A change of tone in the statements of NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg, on the war could be an indication that conversations are happening behind closed doors among allies about what a possible end to the conflict could look like.
Some analysts, including Judy Dempsey from Carnegie Europe, think that Stoltenberg was, in a press conference on Monday, a little bit removed from how he has been in the past, where he has spoken about defending Kyiv come what may.
“I was left wondering, why did he say that Ukraine had already recaptured 50% of its territory?” Dempsey told Euronews.
“And I was thinking to myself, now, is this a sign that maybe ΝΑΤΟ is thinking about the future of Ukraine?”
Despite all the official reassurances of continued support for Ukraine, the EU is struggling to keep its word, amid disappointment over its summer counteroffensive and leaders’ attention shifting to the Israel-Hamas war.
Although no European leader would say it officially, there is a growing feeling that the war in Ukraine will not end soon, somewhat adding pressure on possible negotiations.
But at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday both the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Josep Borrell, and the Ukrainian Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dmytro Kuleba, denied any pressure.
“I don’t see any sign of members having what you call fatigue. Everybody is concerned, everybody recognises the success of the Ukrainians,” Borrell said.
“And I am sure that member states will continue supporting Ukraine because it is an existential issue for us. We cannot afford to get tired.”
Standard luggage sizes
The European Commission also asked airlines this week to standardise their luggage sizes to make things simpler for travellers.
A lack of common measures often causes confusion among airlines’ customers and leads to hidden extra costs.
Many people find it difficult to understand what size items are allowed on board for free, prompting the Commission on Wednesday to issue the request to airlines.
Earlier this year, the European Parliament asked for a standardisation of airlines’ carry-on luggage rules. But instead of proposing measures, the Commission said it prefers to let the industry come up with rules itself.
“This information should be provided to the travellers from the very beginning to know exactly when you buy a ticket what you are actually buying and what kind of luggage you can bring either on board or in the haul?” Adina Vălean, the European Commissioner for Transport told reporters in Brussels.
“That being said, we reserve our right that, if nothing happens in a reasonable amount of time, we will step in.”
An agreement was reached on Thursday between the European Parliament and member states on an anti-SLAPP law designed to increase protection for people and organisations targeted by “strategic lawsuits against public participation”.
The victims of these lawsuits are usually journalists, employees of civil organisations, and activists, with large companies and politicians typically initiating them.
“Democracy cannot work without free and independent media,” Anitta Hipper, Commission spokesperson, told reporters on Thursday.
“This is why the Commission welcomes the political agreement reached by the European Parliament and the Council early this morning at 2.30 a.m. on the new EU rules protect those targeted with strategic lawsuits, against public participations.”
The purpose of such lawsuits is to dissuade the sued person or entity from revealing connections and cases of suspected corruption in lengthy proceedings.
Last year, 160 such cases were identified in the EU. Tiemo Wölken, the German socialist MEP who was in charge of the file, said he is satisfied with the result.
“Cross-border cases are covered by this new law, and we offer a high level of protection for journalists,” Wölken told Euronews in an interview.
“They can claim also damages, for example, and there is an accelerated procedure in cases of manifestly unfounded cases.
“So, the court proceeding can stop very quickly. This will save a lot of money, a lot of resources, and will help journalists in defending against SLAPP cases.”
One important part of the deal is that member states will not recognise unfounded or abusive judgments made outside the EU.
The new law must come into force within the next two years.
Source: Euro News