EU embarrassing itself after Israel attack as nobody cares what bloc thinks

Ursula von der Leyen has been warned the European Union is essentially irrelevant on the world stage, with the Hamas attack on Israel underlining the fact that “nobody cares what Europe thinks”.

The scathing analysis further suggested the bloc had been “relegated to the role of a well-meaning NGO” whose “humanitarian contributions” were welcomed, but which was “otherwise ignored”.

Brussels’ response to the attack, in which more than 1,000 Israelis are known to have been killed so far, has been under the microscope this week.

Confusion reigned earlier this week after European Commissioner Oliver Varhelyi unilaterally announced funding to Palestine was being cut off – only for the European Commission, of which Ms von der Leyen is President, issuing a statement denying this afterwards.

Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, also raised eyebrows by claiming Israel’s actions since Saturday’s attacks – for example cutting water and electricity supplies to Gaza – were “against international law”.

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Matthew Karnitschnig, Politico’s chief European correspondent, in an op-ed published on the site yesterday, said: “No one cares what Europe thinks.

“Across an array of global flashpoints, from Nagorno-Karabakh to Kosovo to Israel, Europe has been relegated to the role of a well-meaning NGO, whose humanitarian contributions are welcomed, but is otherwise ignored.”

Given its very nature – made up of 27 individual member states – the bloc had “always struggled to articulate a coherent foreign policy”, Mr Karnitschnig pointed out.

He continued: “Instead of the “geopolitical” powerhouse Commission President Ursula von der Leyen promised when she took office in 2019, the EU has devolved into a pan-European minnow, offering a degree of bemusement to the real players at the top table, while mostly just embarrassing itself amid its cacophony of contradictions.”

Specifically, he pointed to the confusion resulting from Mr Varhelyi’s announcement that the EU was suspending £600 million in aid to the Palestinian Authority “immediately”, with fellow commissioner Janez Lenarcic directly contradicting him a few hours later.

Borrell himself went further, insisting: “We will have to support more, not less.”

Mr Karnitshnig said: “To sum up: Over the course of just 24 hours, the Commission went from announcing it would suspend all aid to the Palestinians to signalling it would increase the flow of funds.”

The EU’s response to what was unfolding on the ground in Israel was also disjointed, he claimed.

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Mr Borrell condemned what he called Hamas’ “barbaric and terrorist attack”.

However, he also criticised Israel and lamenting the suffering of the Palestinians.

In contrast, Ms von der Leyen roundly condemned the attacks on social media and had Israeli flag projected onto the side of her office.

Later on in the week, Israel had declined to participate in an emergency meeting in Oman to discuss the crisis, called by Mr Borrell.

Mr Karnitshnig commented: “That’s not too surprising, considering Europe’s record on Iran, which has supported Hamas for decades and whose leadership celebrated the weekend attacks.

“Though Iran denies direct involvement, many analysts say Hamas’ carefully planned assault would not have been possible without training and logistical support from Tehran.”

Mr Borrell also travelled to Iran in a bid to restart talks aimed at rebooting Iran’s controversial nuclear deal with the West, despite Israeli objections, Mr Karnitshnig said.

He concluded: “Now Europe has to live with the consequences of that misguided policy and its loss of credibility in Israel, the region’s only democracy.“

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