16th Oct 2021


This WEEK in the European Union

  • Socialist PM Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has said he will not run again (Photo: Inma Mesa-PSOE)

The European Commission will this week set out new legislative proposals on credit ratings agencies, seen by many in Brussels as a thorn in the side of the eurozone crisis.

Financial services commissioner Michel Barnier will on Tuesday unveil proposals designed to inject more diversity into the world of credit ratings agencies, with global markets most attuned to the analyses of three international agencies, Standard and Poor's, Moody's and Fitch.

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The measures, deemed a "relatively fundamental overhaul" by a spokesperson, also seek to eliminate possible conflicts of interest in agencies, reduce reliance on them and force institutions to do more of their own homework when it comes to looking at a country's economic footing.

However, the commission's original idea to create a European credit rating agency has been shelved after critics suggested it would be perceived to be in the pockets of European politicians.

The commission has had ratings agencies - who in the past have downgraded countries at what politicians see as sensitive junctures - in its sights for months, part of an overall battle between the force of markets and political power.

EU foreign ministers Monday gather in Brussels where they are expected to agree further sanctions on Syria, potentially adding up to 20 people to its sanctions list. The sanctions target those linked to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad, which has been killing protesters. UN estimates put the number dead this year at around 3,500.

Following the publication last week of the International Atomic Energy Agency's report suggesting Iran is still working on its nuclear programme, Tehran will also be on the foreign ministers' agenda. France and the UK promised tougher sanctions in the wake of the report, but these are unlikely to be agreed at Monday's meeting. Agreement might be possible at the next such meeting on 1 December.

Some foreign ministers will also meet up with Moldova's Prime Minister Vlad Filat on Monday, ahead of a crucial vote on 18 November when the ruling coalition will try to muster up enough votes in the parliament to have their candidate elected as the country's president.

If the vote fails, as happened last year, new elections have to be held and there is a chance that the pro-Russian Communist opposition will return to power, dealing a blow to the country's revived EU aspirations.

Meanwhile the commission will unveil its 2012 work programme before parliament on Tuesday, with the EU executive recently having stepped up its productivity, particularly in the area of economic governance.

Economic governance will also be the topic of a debate between MEPs, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and EU Council President Herman Van Rompuy on Wednesday morning. The commission is currently looking into ways it can further tighten rules in the area using current treaty rules, with proposals to be published in the coming weeks. Across the busy road that separates the two institutions, Van Rompuy is looking into changes that would involve adjusting the treaty, with Berlin pushing to make it easier to punish fiscal miscreants - something not possible under current rules.

Spaniards will wrap up the week by heading to the urns for a general election that polls suggest is likely to oust the socialists and return the centre-right to power.

The elections, called in June, are four months earlier than expected. Socialist Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, who is not running for a third time, called the early ballot amid popular discontent over austerity measures introduced to try to prevent the country does not from being sucked into the eurozone crisis.

According to recent opinion polls, Mariano Rajoy, head of Spain’s opposition Popular Party, is set to lead his party to an absolute majority in the country's lower house of parliament.

This WEEK in the European Union

Finance ministers are meeting at the beginning of the week in an attempt to save whatever can still be implemented from the deal agreed last month by EU leaders, before Greece and Italy started spinning out of control.

This WEEK in the European Union

With EU institutions on reduced activities amid the traditional end-of-October break next week, all eyes and most of the action will be focussed on the G20 meeting in Cannes.

This WEEK in the European Union

Billed by the G20 last week as the summit to save the euro, EU leaders will in Brussels on Sunday try to bridge divisions between Germany and France on how to stop Greece and Italy from sinking the single currency.

This WEEK in the European Union

EU leaders on Sunday will again scramble for a solution to the eurozone crisis. During the week, agricultural policy is up for debate at a ministers' meeting and the first two Galileo satellites will take off from French Guyana.

This WEEK in the European Union

A summit of EU and US leaders on Monday will likely put more pressure on Europe to get its act together on the euro-crisis risking to bring down the world economy.

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