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Good morning from Hiroshima, where the leaders of the EU, France, Germany and Italy are headed to join their G7 colleagues for a summit in the Japanese port city.
Today, I explain what to expect from what is set to be a geopolitically-charged gathering and my colleagues in Brussels try to wrap their heads around the mountain of legislation the EU has to get through before the 2024 elections.
You know who
To mention China, or to not mention China? For the coming three days, that is the question.
Context: The G7 summit, which runs from tomorrow to Sunday, is set to be dominated by Russia’s war in Ukraine, tensions in the Indo-Pacific, and efforts to repel “economic coercion” and instead promote free market policies on trade.
You don’t need a PhD in international relations to spot that China is the thread that links all three of these issues. Beijing — which will not be attending the summit — has dominated discussions around the drafting of a joint communiqué to be agreed in Hiroshima.
But behind the scenes, the seven main industrial economies and the EU are wrangling over just how much China should feature in their official statements.
European officials are wary about directly anti-Chinese language, arguing that engagement with Beijing is a smarter way to change its behaviour and wary of anything that will create more of a “west vs rest” global picture.
“You can make clear what actions you disagree with without naming those you accuse of doing them,” said one senior European official who participated in the communiqué drafting process. “Do we really need to point the finger at China directly?”
“[The US] want to get us more aligned on tougher language on Taiwan and we have doubts,” the official added. “Strategic autonomy is a real thing for us.”
Much rests on Fumio Kishida, the Japanese prime minister and host. He’s keen to ensure both Indo-Pacific security and nuclear non-proliferation are prominent. The choice of Hiroshima, and planned visits by the G7 leaders to the city’s atomic bomb memorial, will make the latter poignant (it’s also Kishida’s hometown).
But perhaps the main message for the leaders will be that there are more than seven countries — plus China — that matter in the world.
“Developing and emerging countries have expressed concerns that the G7 is focusing too much on Ukraine and not paying enough attention to their needs and priorities. We have heard their concerns,” Charles Michel, the EU council president and Brussels’ G7 lead, said this week. “We want to build strong partnerships with developing and emerging countries in ways that are mutually beneficial.”
Chart du jour: Startling data
Calculations by the World Meteorological Organization show that temperatures will rise to record highs in the next few years and likely cross 1.5C degrees of warming for the first time in human history. One consequence is unusually heavy rains in northern Europe.
Brussels lawmakers should brace for long hours from now on: Just over a year before the EU elections, there are still hundreds of laws to get through, write Laura Dubois and Alice Hancock.
Context: Europeans vote for a new EU parliament on June 6-9 2024. Until then, the sitting MEPs and member states have to approve the remaining pieces of legislature that were proposed by the European Commission.
According to sources in the EU parliament, about 200 files are still open for approval by the parliamentarians. This also includes proposals still to come, such as rules on a digital euro or transparency requirements for NGOs.
Once MEPs and member states sign off on those, both parties need to negotiate a final deal in so-called trilogues.
The forthcoming Spanish presidency of the EU, which will be leading those talks from July, said it was expecting more than 100 trilogues to get through everything before the elections.
That could, for instance, include an overhaul of the EU’s asylum and migration rules and several key environmental laws.
But it’s by no means certain everything will get done: On the asylum rules, negotiations can only start if the member states first agree on a joint position, ideally at a meeting in June.
So, something’s got to give. And amid a backlash by industry, farmers and some politicians, it seems environmental legislation is coming under the hatchet.
New rules on healthy soils and new genomic techniques for plants have been delayed or dropped from the commission agenda, as Ursula von der Leyen, the commission president, recently warned the EU would struggle to absorb any more green laws.
Meanwhile, France and other countries held up a vote yesterday to sign off new renewable energy targets that had already been agreed on, in an effort to get nuclear energy a more favourable treatment.
What to watch today
G7 leaders arrive in Japan ahead of summit.
Nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg visits Portugal and meets premier António Costa.
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