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26 May, 2024
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The Queen is naked

The European Union's foreign policy and leadership critiqued in recent events

Pavlos Xanthoulis

Pavlos Xanthoulis

The fairy tale of Hans Christian Andersen about the king who believed he was wearing splendid clothes while, in reality, he was naked, seems to be a fitting analogy for the situation of the European Union and its external policy. It appears to exist, but in reality, it goes unnoticed. Recent events in the Middle East over the past 2-3 weeks have exposed the EU's amateurism. It's left standing on the sidelines while its officials do as they please.

Immediately after the Hamas terrorist attack in Israel, EU Enlargement Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi unilaterally decided to halt European funds to Gaza. Later, the European Commission granted him permission, clarifying that humanitarian aid would continue. Meanwhile, High Representative Josep Borrell suggested that greater support was needed for the Palestinians to prevent them from falling into Hamas's grasp.

Subsequently, the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, went to Israel without informing anyone, creating the impression that she was representing the EU. She expressed support for Tel Aviv and its right to defend itself, forgetting the EU's agreed-upon stance that Israel's reaction should comply with international law.

In the unprecedented events in Brussels, about 850 EU officials signed a protest letter, denouncing the President of the Commission for her pro-Israel stance.

According to information, Ursula von der Leyen's selective stance irritated at least two major EU countries and did not receive a positive response from the United States. They were simultaneously attempting to influence Israel by separating its right to self-defense from humanitarian aid.

The White House emphasized that "the lives of civilians must be protected, and humanitarian aid must urgently reach those in need." These positions were not conveyed by Ms. von der Leyen, who limited her actions to issuing a white check to Tel Aviv without proper authorization.

Josep Borrell, who is also a Vice-President of the European Commission, openly criticized the President of the Commission, suggesting that Ms. von der Leyen had no right to represent EU views on external policy, which are typically coordinated among member states. Subsequently, the President of the Commission was forced to make corrections.

In the unprecedented events in Brussels, about 850 EU officials signed a protest letter, denouncing the President of the Commission for her pro-Israel stance. All these events once again highlight the ongoing criticism of Ms. von der Leyen, emphasizing her political incompetence and inadequacy in dealing with major issues.

This "naked queen" of the Commission, as it becomes evident day by day, reflects her general inadequacy and impotence in handling major issues. This is evident not only in the situation regarding Ukraine and sanctions against Moscow but also in the matter of the pandemic. Unanswered questions remain regarding the telephone messages she was reportedly exchanging with the CEO of a pharmaceutical company.

The European Union indeed has the leaders of institutions it deserves, and the "naked queen" of the Commission merely reflects the overall shortcomings of the EU, which has achieved nothing significant in the Middle East except making pleas for "humanitarian ceasefires." The word "ceasefire" is absent from the EU's vocabulary, just as the EU is absent from the forefront of peace processes.

Note 1: In this EU, unfortunately, some still invest in the belief that it will solve the Cyprus issue.
Note 2: If Ms. von der Leyen seeks a second term as the head of the Commission – and if she doesn't choose a position like the Secretary-General of NATO, which would suit her better – will President Christodoulides vote in favor of renewing her term? Will he forget that, in her first act as the head of the Commission in December 2019, she lifted sanctions against Turkey?

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