Helping to shape the EU’s foreign policy is a core concern of my parliamentary work.
Through my membership of the Foreign Affairs Committee (AFET) between 2019 and 2021, I have been able to meet a variety of representatives such as ambassadors and ministers from other countries and gain a deep understanding of areas of opportunity and conflict. I have sustained engagement on the Nagorno-Karabakh, Kashmir, Syria and Israel-Palestine conflicts.
Due to recent events, I consider my position as deputy in the delegation for relations with Afghanistan to be particularly important. Here I am committed to helping particularly vulnerable people (e.g. so-called local forces and former diplomats) and their families.
In order to remain capable of action, the digital integrity of the EU and its member states must be ensured in addition to the territorial integrity.
The sustained support of member states at the EU’s borders and the strengthening of Frontex are an important step in defending the integrity of the Schengen area. This is particularly relevant where third countries – such as currently the government of Belarus – are building pressure on the EU by threatening to facilitate illegal migration. It also needs to be clarified to what extent, for example, the European Gendarmerie Force (EGF), the development of the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) and operations such as “IRINI” have a role in European defence policy.
Furthermore, there are numerous recent examples that illustrate the terrifying impact of cyberattacks on industry, consumers and public authorities in highly networked societies. Increasing the resilience of member states against such attacks – some of which are state-sponsored – is only conceivable through close cooperation among EU members. In the fast-moving digital age, however, these developments are still proceeding far too slowly. However, it is also necessary to find the right balance between security on the internet and the freedom of the net culture, as it is easy to restrict access to the internet in the name of security.
Protection against terrorism, radical extremism, international violence and crime is the basic discipline of every state.
Thus, this must also be and remain a concern for the supranational EU. Clan crime in particular is a growing phenomenon and a clear danger to democracy. Corruption is used to undermine citizens’ trust in the legitimate economy and public institutions.
Current threat analyses also confirm that members of the terrorist organisation “Islamic State” (IS) continue to attempt to enter EU member states and spread terror. The high level of danger posed by this group does not need to be further emphasised with regard to the fatalities caused by the attack of the so-called IS on the airport in Kabul in August 2021. People from member states continue to travel out to Syria and Iraq to join IS and other Islamist groups. The threat from other groups such as Salafists, the “Boko Haram” and the Muslim Brotherhood must be countered robustly and consistently.
Especially in Germany, brutal attacks on members of the police, ambulance service, fire brigade, etc. are constantly on the rise. The members of these blue-light organisations lack political backing.
For me, it is clear that the PRC is a systemic rival. At the same time, the People’s Republic is an important trading partner. The pressure exerted by China on members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) due to regional aspirations – especially in the South China Sea – is growing. The advancement of the “Silk Road Project” and the economic rivalry between India and the People’s Republic will assume an even greater role in the future.
The crisis resulting from the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has made the EU’s dependence on third countries more than clear. China in particular imports 80% of the active ingredients used in the pharmaceutical industry. This followed from relocation, social dumping promoted by the Chinese authorities. The medical-pharmaceutical production lines need to be promoted in terms of their strategic importance within the EU.
Current economic policy challenges, which increasingly affect my home region of Baden-Württemberg, are the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. I consider an ambitious economic partnership, which we are getting closer to with the Brexit trade agreement, to be desirable.