Agenda

Money issues to dominate THIS WEEK

12.11.12 @ 07:57

  1. By Honor Mahony
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BRUSSELS - Negotiations on next year's EU budget and how to pay around €9 billion in bills from 2012 will take centre-stage this week after discussions on the issue collapsed on Friday evening.

  • Money disputes are set to dominate in Brussels this week and next (Photo: bundesbank.de)

Member states and MEPs are due to revisit the issue once more on Tuesday. At midnight a special conciliation period for the talks expires.

The European Parliament wants an increase of 6.9 percent for the 2013 budget. Member states, busily cutting public spending at home, have baulked and say they will only agree a 2.79 percent increase. If no agreement is reached, the commission could be forced to table a new budget proposal for 2013.

The bad feeling created by the dispute is set to further blacken the atmosphere of the 22-23 November summit, where EU leaders are supposed to agree longterm EU spending (2014-2021).

A series of member states - including the UK, Denmark, the Netherlands, France, and, lately, Austria - have said they will veto the agreement if the budget does not reflect their individual wishes.

EU commissioners will on Wednesday once again discuss the controversial issue of legislating in order to ensure there are more women on the boards of top companies.

The debate - pushed by justice commissioner Viviane Reding - comes weeks after the initiative was pulled from the decision table amid disagreement among the commissioners.

Among those not in favour of the idea of a mandatory quota of 40 percent women on corporate boards were her female colleagues Neelie Kroes (Dutch) and Cecilia Malmstrom (Swedish).

Reding, known for her determined style and affection for citizen-friendly legislation, immediately promised to revisit the issue saying that she is not a fan of quotas but likes what they do.

Eurozone finance ministers will gather in Brussels on Monday evening but, Germany - the continent's paymaster - has made it clear that the meeting is not expected to result in a decision to release the next tranche of bailout money to Greece.

Athens, for its part, has been saying that it needs the €31.5 billion by mid November to be able to pay its bills. Anticipating that it will not get the money in time, Greece plans on Tuesday to issue bonds to cover debt repayments due on Friday.

The following day, during a meeting of all EU finance ministers, the European Commission will present plans to allow 11 member states to push ahead with introducing a financial transactions tax.

The substance of the proposal is to come later in the year.

Ministers will also have a discussion on plans for a single European banking supervisor, with an end-of-year deadline for a proposal set by EU leaders during their October summit.

On Tuesday, Maltese would-be EU health commissioner Tonio Borg is to be grilled by MEPs. He is meant to replace his compatriot John Dalli, who last month lost his job following a tobacco industry-related scandal.

The European Commission, which has been embarrassed by the continued lack of clarity surrounding Dalli's resignation, is hoping Borg - until now Malta's foreign minister - will quickly be able to take up the post.

However, some MEPs and NGOs have already been criticising Borg's social views and health policy experience. The question of when he is appointed will have a crucial bearing on whether a piece of tobacco legislation will make it through the current legislative period.

Georgian Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishvili will come to Brussels Monday, on his first foreign trip.

The move is designed to show the EU capital that Tbilisi is still looking Westwards, rather than towards Russia. It also comes as the EU - riven with its own problems - is seen to be losing its political grip on its eastern neighbours.