EU leaders in Brussels this WEEK
18.10.13 @ 17:31
BRUSSELS - EU heads of state will gather for a two-day summit in Brussels to discuss growth as MEPs in Strasbourg defer a scheduled vote on the seven-year EU budget until November.
High on both agendas is the recent tragedy off the Italian island of Lampedusa where over 350 migrants perished.
But while the EU leaders are set to make statements of condolences, decision-making on migration policy will not be formally on the leaders' table until next June's summit.
The parliament, for its part, is expected on Wednesday to adopt a resolution on how to help prevent future tragedies.
The issue, they say, needs to be a priority at the discussions between the heads of state on Thursday and Friday.
Meanwhile, the assembly decided to postpone a scheduled vote on the longterm (2014-2020) budget until November following a dispute over a €11.2 billion shortfall on outstanding bills for 2012 and 2013.
An additional €7.3 billion was found but this still leaves a €3.9 billion gap until the end of the year with looming implications for the EU's regional aid policy.
“We are used to this pressure at the end of the year where we might lack money,” European commission spokesperson Olivier Bailly told reporters in Brussels.
He noted that the EU is not allowed, under the treaties, to have a deficit budget.
The draft budget for 2014, for its part, will be debated on Tuesday with a vote on Wednesday.
MEPs have a heavy legislative agenda.
On Monday, deputies steering the EU data protection regulation are set for an orientation vote in a special committee meeting.
The vote will continue on Thursday if no agreement is reached by late Monday evening. Last minute lobbying is expected.
Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi will make an appearance at the plenary on Tuesday to personally accept her Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Her husband and son had accepted the award on her behalf in 1990 when she was under house arrest.
Deputies, on the same day, will vote on rules to strengthen the safety standards on implants, prosthesis and in vitro testing devices such as pregnancy, HIV or DNA tests.
On Wednesday, parliament president Martin Schulz will sign off on the EU border surveillance system, Eurosur. The system is meant to better detect migrant boats that attempt the perilous Mediterranean crossing.
He is also set to sign off legislation on the Schengen package, banking union, and new EU staff regulations.
Crime and the US foreign intelligence spy scandal on the Swift banking system are also up for vote on Wednesday.
MEPs will vote on a report that recommends setting up a strategy to target financial assets and sources of revenue of organised crime. The report notes that Europe has some 800,000 slaves.
They will also vote on a resolution to scrap the terrorist financial tracking programme (TFTP) with the Americans following press reports that the US intelligence agency has direct access to Swift, the global interbank transfer network database.
The European Commission, for its part, will present ideas on Monday on how to reduce gun violence in Europe.
The Brussels-executive, on Tuesday, will put forward its work programme for 2014, outlying all priority items it wants adopted before the European elections next May.