29th Sep 2023


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.

China trade tension and migration deal This WEEK

An EU-China high-level economic is scheduled on Monday amid renewed tensions. Later this week, EU home affairs ministers will discuss the EU-Tunisia deal and the state of play of the EU pact on asylum and migration.

Spain's EU-language bid and UN summit This WEEK

While the heads of EU institutions are in New York for the UN high level meeting, Spain's EU presidency will try to convince ministers to make Catalan, Basque, and Galician official EU languages.

Von der Leyen's State of the Union address This WEEK

The EU's political season is back in full swing after the summer break, with the EU Commission president's State of the Union address on Wednesday. Meanwhile, exiled Belarusian opposition leader Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will also address the European Parliament.

La Rentrée and MEPs anti-corruption reform This WEEK

The European Parliament's committee on constitutional affairs will vote on a 14-point anti-corruption reform, after the Qatargate allegations. Meanwhile, EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen will participate in the first Africa Climate Summit.


Time for a reset: EU regional funding needs overhauling

Vasco Alves Cordeiro, president of the European Committee of the Regions, is advocating a revamp of the EU's regional policy so that it better supports all regions in addressing major challenges such as the green and digital transitions.

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