The list of EU member states withdrawing support for the United Nations global pact on migration is growing, with so far Hungary, Austria, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Poland, Italy and lastly Slovakia having announced they will not sign the pact.
Europe Gears up for contentious EU parliamentary elections in 2019; coming in for a rough landing from a fairly unusual number of political shake ups in 2018. Currently, The centre-left parties of EU countries are on course to win less than 20 per cent of the vote in the upcoming European Parliament elections, a record low for the EU’s social democrats.
EU parliament votes to punish Hungary, Called for Sanctions against Italy, and more…
Rather large Yellow Vest protest spread from France to Belgium. Though not reaching the size and tenacity of the French protest, several thousand people still took to the street. Demonstrations began as public backlash against the UN migration pact in central Brussels. The protests descended into scuffles, with police forced to use tear gas and water cannon to restore order. Protests resulted in Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel resignation. It comes less than two weeks after his main coalition partner quit in a row over migration, leaving him leading a minority government. The Belgian government had lost its majority in Parliament after its biggest coalition partner, the right-wing Flemish party, left in opposition to the planned signing this month of an international agreement on migration.
Yellow Vest Protests continued for 7 weeks; resulting in 10 civilian death, 2841+ civilians injured, 1,000+ police officers injured, and 4,000+ arrests. At the peak of the protests 287,710 protesters were in the street and the protest enjoyed 72% approval from public. Protests began after government planned projected new fuel taxes. Macron approval rating dropped to records lows; close to 20%. Several notable cabinet ministers resigned; including Gerard Collomb, Nicolas Hulot, and Laura Flassel.
As of November 4th 2018, France's far-Right National Rally is now more popular than Emmanuel Macron's governing party as the country becomes more anti-EU and opposed to immigration, according to a new Ifop poll examining voting intentions for upcoming European Parliament elections show the National Rally (NR) at 21 per cent, with Mr Macron's Republic on the Move (LREM) at 19 per cent.
Macron has set himself the challenge of reforming Islam. His initiative coincides with the run-up to campaigns for the European Parliament election, when the president faces his strongest challenge from conservative and hard-right groups urging stronger oversight of Muslim clerics, mosques and schools. A 617-page report delivered to Macron, "The Fabric of Islam," presents a comprehensive plan for reform of Islamic institutions in France following a call from Macron to bring them under the aegis of the state. During a July address to lawmakers at the Palace of Versailles, Macron committed to giving Islam "a framework and rules" by the fall. His goals: discouraging insular Muslim communities and combating extremist strands of the religion.
Merkel steps down from chairmanship of the CDU, and confirms she will not run for Chancellor in 2021. Afd , conservative anti-immigration party, gains close to 30% approval ratings; driven by the debate on unrestrained immigration and public backlash from the immigration influx of 2015. Afd won 10% of the seats in the State election of Landtag of Bavaria. This is the first time in history Afd won state seats in Landtag of Bavaria. A significant increase in the Green Party and Afd delivered noticeable drop in seats in Landtag of Bavaria for the CDU and SPD parties.
Hans-Georg Maassen domestic intelligence chief was retired from all government offices after reiterating his denial of reports of anti-migrant "hunts" in the country. This happened after the Chemnitz Street protests; though marred in controversy, the protests resulted from uneasy public feelings about mass immigration.
Matteo Salvini, Eurosceptic, makes headlines throughout 2018; as Italy refused more immigrants, battled with the EU on budget demands. Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini took office in Italy in June 2018, to lead a populist government that is shaking up established politics in Europe.
The, Nationalist anti-immigration, Sweden Democrats party won 17.5 Percent of the parliamentary elections. Though still a minority, the elected Sweden Democrats has caused a deadlock in forming a new government in Sweden and several attempts have failed. This has increased the probability of another election.
More than 50,000 immigrants crossed into Spain from Morocco in 2018. This influx is over twice as many as 2017. Though Europe saw an overall total reduction in migration of immigrants through Greece, Italy, and Spain. The migration has essentially shifted from Greece/Italy to Spain. Currently, Spain is one of the more friendly countries in Europe for immigration; though strain and tensions have developed. The starkest illustration of this came on 2 December, when Andalusia – the nation’s most populous region – elected to its parliament 12 candidates fielded by the anti-Muslim, anti-feminist party Vox. All told, Vox secured 400,000 votes – 10 per cent of the total cast in Andalusia. By way of comparison, it secured just 18,000 votes and no seats in an election held just four years before.
Catalonia unrest continues via hunger protests by imprisoned leaders, and protests. Catalonia protests continue following their historical declaration of independence made in October 2017; signed by 72 of the 135 members of the Parliament of Catalonia. Virtually rejected by Spain, the leaders of Catalonia are on trial, exiled, or pushed into obscurity.
Brexit is still scheduled for March 29th 2019. It has been a contentious year for the UK parliament and EU parliament. As Theresa May hones on a Brexit deal, pundit critics are calling for a second referendum and EU fears a hard no-deal Brexit. The strains have been obvious on May as she faced a no confidence vote from the Tory party and she claims she will not lead the Conservatives into the next general election — scheduled to take place in 2022 — and there is chatter in Westminster that she could step down once Brexit divorce talks finish in March. As the Brexit continues to put heat on the UK political intuitions there have been numerous resignations such as; Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab, Brexit Secretary David Davis, MP Michael Gove, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Work and Pensions Secretary Esther McVey, Northern Ireland minister Shailesh Vara, Junior Brexit Minister Suella Braverman, ransport minister Jo Johnson, acob Rees-Mogg, and Boris Johnson.
Ukraine made headlines November 25th after the Kerch Strait incident when the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) coast guard fired upon and captured three Ukrainian Navy vessels attempting to pass from the Black Sea into the Sea of Azov through the Kerch Strait on their way to the port of Mariupol. In 2014, Russia had annexed the nearby Crimean Peninsula, which is dominantly internationally recognized as Ukrainian territory. It later constructed the Crimean Bridge across the strait. Under a 2003 treaty, the strait and the Azov Sea are intended to be the shared territorial waters of both countries, and freely accessible.
Though the incident is shocking to many people; a low intensity warfare has been taken place along the border with the Donbass (supported by Russia) and Ukraine since 2014. This conflict has claimed more than 10,000 lives, and hostilities continue spit cease fire agreements. In 2018 it was reported that Ukraine lost at least 134 soldiers in the war-torn Donbas region, with the deadliest months being May (at least 17 casualties), August (18 reported casualties) and October (12 casualties), according to military and media reports. Furthermore, An Officer of the 53rd Separate Mechanized Brigade of the Armed Forces of Ukraine Anatoliy Shtefan has disclosed the number of enemy losses in Donbas throughout the eight months of 2018. "January: 47 KIAs (killed in action), 74 WIAs (wounded in action); February: 66 KIAs, 71 WIAs; March: 42 KIAs, 79 WIAs; April: 117 KIAs, 190 WIAs; May: 110 KIAs, 149 WIAs; June: 86 KIAs, 47 WIAs; July: 31 KIAs, 68 WIAs; August: 68 KIAs, 116 WIAs. In total: 567 KIAs, 894 WIAs," Shtefan wrote on Facebook.
It is believed that Russia has several thousand Advisors, Volunteers, and Mercenaries supporting the Donbass military. Satellite photos and claims by President Petro Poroshenko reveal Russia may have deployed "more than 80,000 troops, 1,400 artillery and multiple rocket launch systems, 900 tanks, 2,300 armored combat vehicles, 500 aircraft and 300 helicopters" along their common border. Outside support for belligerents in the conflict is not unique to this region. Ukraine is actively seeking membership of NATO, has joined joint military exercises with NATO advisers, and has received military aid; including Anti-Tank Missiles such as the Javelin.
Spite warnings from Russia, NATO continues to pursue strategic relations with Ukraine and Georgia which both seek to join NATO. Georgia actively contributes to NATO-led operations and cooperates with the Allies and other partner countries in many other areas.
This year also coincided with one of the largest NATO exercises since the cold war. Trident Juncture 18, abbreviated TRJE18. This NATO-led military exercise was held in Norway in October and November 2018 with an Article 5 collective defense scenario. The exercise will be the largest of its kind in Norway since the 1980s. An estimated 50,000 participants from 31 nations took part, including 10,000 vehicles, 250 aircraft and 65 vessels.
This exercise coincided with one of Russia‘s largest military exercises since 1981 during the Cold War. The week-long exercise, known as Vostok-2018 (East-2018) took place in far-eastern Russia, Taking part in the drills were around 300,000 Russian soldiers, 36,000 military vehicles, 80 ships and 1,000 aircraft, helicopters and drones, as well as 3,500 Chinese troops.