Thursday

20th Jan 2022

Agenda

This WEEK in the European Union

  • European summit aims to end disputes over new treaty on fiscal discipline (Photo: Council of European Union)

Another European summit in Brussels kicks off on Monday (30 January) afternoon, with leaders aiming to finalise outstanding issues on the European stability mechanism and the fiscal compact treaties.

Employment will also be on the table, with ministers focusing on youth unemployment, the single market and small companies.

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The European Stability Mechanism is a €500 billion fund aimed at lowering borrowing costs of large EU member states like Spain and Italy. The fund should be operational in July.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is not keen on increasing its spending power. "Some say that it has to be double the size, then if that's not big enough, others will say it has to be three times as big," she said at the World Economic Forum on Wednesday (25 January). Merkel is resisting attempts to increase the fund and instead proposes transferring more powers of fiscal oversight to the EU institutions.

The new intergovernmental treaty on fiscal discipline announced at the last European summit in December has since caused some dissension between member states who use the euro and those who do not.

Non-eurozone member states complain of being sidelined and want full input and participation rights on all euro-related matters.

Poland's prime minster has threatened not to sign the treaty unless all member states can attend future euro-zone summits. A concession had already been made allowing non-euro leaders to attend the euro-zone summits but only as bystanders and from time-to-time.

Prime minsters from Denmark, Austria, Belgium, Slovenia and Cyprus along with European Parliament chief Martin Schulz and EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton will also meet for a pre-summit extravaganza at the Party of European Socialists HQ in central Brussels earlier the same day.

The week is not entirely dedicated to euro-zone matters, however.

Tuesday will mark the 25th anniversary of the Erasmus student exchange programme. The commissioner responsible for education, Androulla Vassiliou, will attend a celebratory event in Brussels along with a select number of students and teachers from 33 countries. Nearly 3 million students have participated in the exchange programme since its launch in 1987.

The United Nations high-level Global Sustainability Panel, which includes climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard, will publish a final report on global sustainability on Tuesday. The report presents proposals on how to develop a low-carbon economy while eradicating poverty.

In the meantime, Copenhagen will host a three-day discussion on the internal market, industry and research as EU ministers responsible for competitiveness arrive in the Danish capital on Wednesday.

Denmark's rotating EU presidency will also host a conference on how to better use technology to enhance border control among and between member states. The two-day conference starts Thursday, also in Copenhagen.

Eurobonds and sanctions on Iran will dominate discussions at the European parliament on Thursday, with MEPs expected to vote on resolutions on both issues. EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton will also be present to discuss Russia.

Finally, on Friday, commissioners Neelie Kroes, Michel Barnier, Kristalina Georgieva, and Gunther Oettinger along with EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton will attend a major security conference in Munich. The conference ends Saturday (5 February).

This WEEK in the European Union

Hungary will remain at the centre of EU news this week, while member states are set to agree sanctions for Iran on Monday and the commission will publish its long-awaited overhaul of data protection rules.

This WEEK in the European Union

Greece will dominate the headlines once more this week as it seeks to meet three conditions set by eurozone finance ministers by Wednesday.

New EU Parliament chief elected This WEEK

The lead candidate is the centre-right European People's Party's (EPP) Maltese MEP Roberta Metsola, who has been outspoke against corruption and rule-of-law issues - but some MEPs are concerned over her anti-abortion voting record.

Key talks with Russia over European security This WEEK

The Nato-Russia council will take place in Brussels on Wednesday, as western and Russian officials begin a series of meetings this week in an effort to de-escalate tensions over Ukraine's eastern border - where Russia has amassed troops.

Recovery and green financing plus Omicron This WEEK

Energy has emerged as a key dividing issue between EU countries, with leaders failing to agree on a common statement on the rise of energy prices (and how to tackle them) last week at their summit in Brussels.

News in Brief

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  2. Nato membership 'very unlikely' on her watch: Finland's PM
  3. Germany investigates Green leaders' Covid-bonuns
  4. Officials surprised by Macron's call for seperate EU-Russia talks
  5. Commission to withhold EU funds from Poland in mine row
  6. 'Patriotic millionaires' call for wealth tax at virtual Davos
  7. Borders must not be moved by force, Scholz warns
  8. MEPs demand public consultation on gas and nuclear

MEPs focus on Belarus, digital rules This WEEK

The debate over a successor for David Sassoli, the centre-left Italian president of the European Parliament will heat up, and Belarusian democratic opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will address the plenary.

Facebook scandal and COP26 climax in focus This WEEK

Facebook whistleblower is expected to meet with MEPs and representatives of the French senate this week. Meanwhile, eyes turn again to the Glasgow UN climate summit as pressure is mounting for negotiators to finish the 2015 Paris Agreement rulebook.

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