8th Feb 2023


This WEEK in the European Union

  • The EU parliament will be busy with kitchen-sink affairs this week (Photo: Valentina Pop)

The EU circus will travel from Brussels to Strasbourg for the first plenary session of 2012 next week - a meeting to be dominated by the mid-term reshuffle of top jobs.

German left-winger Martin Schulz - known for his angry rhetoric - is a shoe-in to take over as parliament president from mild mannered centre right Pole Jerzy Buzek.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The other top posts - the chairs of high-visibility committees like foreign affairs and of power committees, which make laws, like industry, environment and internal market - are up for grabs.

The distribution is governed by the so-called 'd'Hondt' system. It awards choice of best job to the largest national delegation in the biggest political group. The second best job goes to the largest national delegation in the second biggest group and so on, down to junior posts in obscure committees.

D'Hondt punishes small groups, like the ECR, home of the British Conservative Party, and independent MEPs. It also leads to complex deals, because any swap-round of jobs between groups or delegations affects other appointments in the chain.

The shake-up will not leave much time for other business.

But MEPs on the economic and monetary affairs committee will on Monday (16 January) in a meeting with European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi vent ideas on where the EU is going on the crisis.

Member states' negotiators have agreed the outline of a new treaty on fiscal discipline. But MEPs observing the talks say the draft text is too weak.

Meanwhile, EU leaders will continue to hold top-level meetings ahead of their final decision on the fiscal pact at the end of the month.

France's Nicolas Sarkozy and Germany's Angela Merkel - who previously steered affairs on their own - have invited Italy's Mario Monti to join them, with three-way talks due in Rome on Friday.

For its part, the European Commission will lock horns with Hungarian leader Viktor Orban.

The commission will on Tuesday decide whether to launch legal action against Hungary over Orban's constitutional reforms, said to threaten the independence of judges and the central bank.

Brussels last year threatened Budapest on new media-gag laws. But it backed down after Budapest made a few small changes.

Hungary's finance minister will also meet EU economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn in the EU capital on Friday - his country has been downgraded to junk and is struggling to get International Monetary Fund aid as its political credibility drains away.

Behind the scenes, EU diplomats in Brussels will work out details of an oil embargo on Iran.

Foreign ministers are to agree the ban the following week. It might be phased-in with a six-month delay, however. Iran is also trying to stave off action with an agreement - announced on Friday - to hold international talks on its nuclear programme and to let in UN inspectors.

EU countries preparing oil ban on Iran

A Greek official has indicated that Athens would back an oil embargo on Iran, setting the stage for a positive decision by EU countries at the end of the month.

Softer draft of fiscal treaty opens door for UK

Less stringent constitutional demands, a weaker role for the EU commission and a provision allowing the UK to join at a later stage are among the most recent changes to the draft treaty on fiscal discipline.

Fears on migration plus Ukraine summit this WEEK

MEPs are expected to present their migration and asylum priorities on Wednesday (1 February), before EU leaders will focus on the issue at the 9-10 February special European Council.

New sanctions and democracy in focus This WEEK

On Monday, Brussels will see EU foreign affairs ministers focusing on a 10th sanctions package against Russia, a special tribunal, and preparing the EU-Ukraine summit on 3 February in Kyiv.


EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid

While every European diplomat knows that a return to the "status quo" means maintaining the daily oppression, humiliation and anguish that comes with living under apartheid, the EU continues to acquiesce to a situation that gets worse by the day.


Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'

The scars of Brexit have left their mark in communities across Wales. The Menai mussel industry has experienced a sharp decline having once been a staple in fish counters and restaurants across Europe; its business model wrecked by post-Brexit rules.

Latest News

  1. Eight EU states press for more Turkey-style migrant swap deals
  2. EU buries head deeper in sand over Israel's apartheid
  3. Polish MEP also went on freelance Azerbaijan trip
  4. Why Europe's interminable compromises are a virtue
  5. Wales' message to Europe: 'We'll be back'
  6. MEPs to vote on risky 'hydrogen for home heating' rule
  7. The man who won't stop filing info requests until every EU doc is public
  8. EU hands Libya coast guard boats ahead of migration summit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EFBWWEU Social Dialogue review – publication of the European Commission package and joint statement of ETUFs
  2. Oxfam InternationalPan Africa Program Progress Report 2022 - Post Covid and Beyond
  3. WWFWWF Living Planet Report
  4. EFBWWEFBWW Executive Committee report on major abuses, labour crime and subcontracting
  5. European Parliamentary Forum for Sexual & Reproductive Rights (EPF)Launch of the EPF Contraception Policy Atlas Europe 2023. 8th February. Register now.
  6. Europan Patent OfficeHydrogen patents for a clean energy future: A global trend analysis of innovation along hydrogen value chains

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us