Thursday, June 13, 2024

The Brief – Remembering D-Day and its legacy to Europe

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Today’s 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings is an opportunity to remember a great military victory against the Nazis but also – on the day European elections start – an important reminder to voters of the values that were fought for, which become the basis of the EU.

D-Day, codenamed Operation Overlord, was the biggest invasion by sea in history. The sheer scale was unprecedented, involving over 100,000 soldiers, tens of thousands of aircraft, and thousands of ships.

The majority of troops landing at the five beaches in Normandy were from the US, UK, and Canada. But military personnel from over 30 allied countries were also involved, including many from Nazi-occupied countries.

Many came from further afield, like Gilbert Clarke from Jamaica, Karun Krishna ‘Jumbo’ Majumdar from India, and Lam Ping-yu from China, making the liberation of  Europe a truly global effort.

Thousands of women also played vital roles in intelligence analysis, operational support, code-breaking, medical assistance, and combat as part of the French resistance.

Of course, D-Day wasn’t the only major military operation in Europe in 1944: Russians paid a terrible price fighting on the Eastern front. And thousands of Allied troops had already landed in Italy, fighting to liberate the country from Benito Mussolini’s fascists and German troops.

But the importance of D-Day was that it marked the beginning of the end of Nazi tyranny across Europe.

Today, leaders from across Europe and the world will be attending ceremonies in France, including US President Joe Biden and Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky.

However, a notable exception will be Russian President Vladimir Putin: Given his country’s invasion of Ukraine, it was hardly surprising that he was not invited. But he still casts a shadow over the proceedings.

French President Emmanuel Macron, Biden, and Zelensky are all expected to make high-level speeches on the need to show similar unity as the Allies showed on D-Day to counter Putin.

Biden may remind his fellow countrymen of the dangers of following an isolationist policy regarding Europe. Europeans are already bracing for another round of Donald Trump, Biden’s Republican presidential rival, and his ‘America first’ policies, should he win November’s elections.

Zelensky will try to remind allies of the legacy of international cooperation and sacrifice to fight oppression, to rally guarantees of more support for Ukraine to push out occupying Russian troops.

With voters heading to the polls in the European elections, the commemorations will highlight how solidarity and collaboration can be harnessed to tackle the myriad of current challenges Europe currently faces.

Thanks to the victories that followed that momentous day, democratic institutions including the EU emerged from the ruins of a devastated Europe.

Therefore today is also an important reminder of the need to uphold democracy, freedom, justice, and human rights, particularly as fundamental values in Europe are being challenged or undermined by parties on the right, such as PiS in Poland and Viktor Orban’s Fidesz party in Hungary.

Of course, the most important people attending today’s events are the small group of veterans, all in their late 90’s and early 100s. They are the last of the generation who witnessed the events firsthand.

As Europeans enjoy the freedoms we take for granted today, like the freedom to vote, they must remember the people involved in D-Day.

And they should also remember the words of the memorial to soldiers who fought in Asia during WW2 against another tyrannical force, the Japanese Imperial Army:

For your tomorrow, we gave our today.


The Roundup

Voting has started in EU elections! Stay on top of all the latest developments with our election live blog. Also, make sure to check out our weekly EU Elections Decoded: D’Hondt worry, there’s much more political game after the vote!

On the eve of the EU elections, Euractiv takes a look at those who are expected to be ‘out’ – and the possible ‘ins’ – of the next European Parliament Agriculture Committee (AGRI).

The top national delegations will reshape the Parliament’s balance of powers while feeding new priorities into the legislative work, and with voting set to start on Thursday, Europe Elects’ final projections for Euractiv lay out what could lie ahead.

A more right-wing European Parliament could mean fewer regulatory initiatives in the area of tech, and a weakened push for market integration, but more support for defence tech, according to party manifestos and expert interviews.

Germany wants to start deporting migrants who commit crimes on its territory to their home countries, including Afghanistan, following a suspected Islamist knife attack in late May, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said on Thursday as parties rush to quash security concerns ahead of the EU elections.

US President Joe Biden gave a heartfelt speech at Thursday’s commemorations of the Normandy landings, comparing the “dark forces” of 80 years ago to those threatening Ukraine and the West today.

Digital rights NGO Noyb has filed 11 complaints across Europe over changes in Meta’s privacy policy that will allow the owner of Facebook and Instagram to use posts and images, among other things, to train its artificial intelligence (AI) model, according to a Thursday press release.

Reforms of the telecom sector are expected to be at the top of the policy agenda for the next EU mandate and a battle is already heating up over the need to deregulate it.

Pro-European Union parties are ceding political space to the Eurosceptic far-right in their election campaigns by failing to showcase the bloc’s positive impact on citizens’ lives, analysts said at an event on Wednesday.

As electric vehicle continue their rollout, Euractiv spoke with several French industry players looking at battery recycling to capture and re-use critical raw materials.

Asked about Vladmir Putin’s non-invitation to the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings, several French far-right National Rally (ID) leaders expressed divergent positions on Wednesday evening, and National Rally’s long-standing leader Marine Le Pen could not make up her mind, fueling the confusion.

Look out for…

  • European Parliament elections from 6 – June.

Views are the author’s

[Edited by Zoran Radosavljevic]

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