The Mediterranean region and the European continent are inextricably linked from a geographical, historical, and strategic point of view. For this simple reason, it is impossible for the countries that lie on the two shores of this almost-closed sea to ignore each other for a long time. Consequently, international cooperation between them has always been intense, being reinforced by strong cultural and economic ties. Nevertheless, due to the high degree of instability that traditionally affects this area, the EU’s foreign policy towards many of its southern neighbours has usually been dominated by the theme of the security–development nexus. Lebanon is no exception. Having its modern history characterized by recurring social unrest, economic crises and civil wars, this small country has often drawn the attention of European policymakers. In 2019 the nation that was once called “the Switzerland of Middle East” has fallen again into a severe political paralysis and started to experience a deep economic downturn, which undermines inter alia the normal implementation of cooperation programmes with the EU (World Bank, 2021) The general election held in May 2022 was intended to put an end to this situation, but it didn’t. For as long as the crisis perseveres, risk Lebanon risks falling into another devastating civil war is becoming feasible. Therefore, stronger European engagement to maintain the country’s stability seems to be a matter of necessity, and it could be one of the last opportunities to save Lebanon from sinking.
Consensus on the regulation of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in defence has hardly been achieved throughout the European Union (EU). Indeed, many EU states are strictly opposed to AI in defence, whereas others have mildly advocated for and promoted research and development (R&D) in AI (Stauffer, 2020). The European Defence Agency (EDA) held a workshop on ‘Defence Applications of Artificial Intelligence’ in the last week of June 2021 (European Defence Agency, 2021), during which experts from all member states (MS) came to discuss R&D of AI in defence. Indeed, this is a prominent topic this year, as R&D of AI is considered the future. Many third countries such as China and the US have already dedicated significant time and resources into R&D of autonomous weapons and are even said to produce this technology (Chan, 2019).
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a global infrastructure development strategy launched by the Chinese government in 2013 to invest in 70 countries (World Bank, 2018) to promote economic development and enhance connectivity between China and Central-East Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and Africa. Around 150 countries have joined BRI so far, including 18 EU members (BRI Center, 2021). What recently happened in Montenegro raised several concerns within the EU about Beijing’s approach, labelled by some observers as a sinocentric international trade network potentially harmful to the independence of some countries at the EU’s doorsteps. What then is the standpoint of both BRI and EU members? Can different attitudes towards the Chinese projects cause a fracture within an already diverse EU in terms of policies, paces to reach goals, and economic indicators? To what extent is BRI a tool in the hands of Beijing to leverage European countries by proposing offers of development that, at first glance, cannot be declined?
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a strong impact on most of the world, and Europe is no exception. The European economy was deeply affected in several sectors. Business-related to defence, security, and European defence cooperation was one of the hardest-hit sectors.
In the era of the information revolution and the dominance of big data, ensuring full communication security is not an easy task. The major world powers have therefore begun to invest more resources in the field of quantum physics, exploiting its enormous potential to make unprecedented progress in several strategic areas, including cybersecurity, logistics, communication, healthcare, and others. The European Union also decided to row in the same direction. Indeed, on 31 May 2021, the European Commission finally selected a consortium led by Airbus and composed of several companies and research institutes, including Leonardo, PwC France and Maghreb, Orange, Telespazio, the Istituto Nazionale di Ricerca Metrologica (Inrim) and the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) to study and design the future EU quantum communication network (Airbus, 2021). Through the new European Quantum Communication Infrastructure (EuroQCI), the EU aims to ensure ultra-secure communication between government institutions and critical infrastructures across the Union.