26th Oct 2016


This WEEK in the European Union

  • It is Europe Day on Wednesday, 9 May (Photo: EU Commission)

Wednesday marks the 62nd anniversary since French Foreign Minister Robert Schuman called for a European federation that has led to today’s currently troubled European Union.

Amid the social and economic upheaval in several member states, the European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will attend, on the same day, a State of the Union conference in Italy. EU economics commissioner Olli Rehn and Internal market commissioner Michel Barnier will accompany the president.

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Back in Brussels, the Commission intends to announce its plans on Tuesday on how to make state aid more effective. Their proposal aims to kick-start a stagnating internal market and promote growth.

The Commission shift of focus from austerity to growth-driven policy comes when the eurozone is currently experiencing its highest unemployment rate since 1999. In Italy, which Barroso is visiting on Thursday, unemployment has reached a 12-year high of 9.8 percent.

Still on Tuesday, European commissioner in charge of consumer policy John Dalli will present the results of an annual report on the EU-wide rapid alert system for dangerous products.

A delegation representing Latin American countries will be in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday where they will meet with the Danish EU presidency and EU environment commissioner Connie Hedegaard. Together, they will discuss the 2011 Durban climate negotiations.

On Tuesday, the Commission is at the European Parliament where the debate on the controversial anti-counterfeit trade agreement known as Acta will continue. On Friday (4 May), digital agenda commissioner Neelie Kroes said it was unlikely Acta would see the light of day. The treaty requires Parliament approval before ratification.

Some 2.5 million people signed a petition against the treaty. And the Parliament intends to give a public platform for five petitioners to voice their opposition to the treaty.

Another Commission representative from the EU’s statistical office Eurostat, will also make an appearance at the Parliament on Monday. Walter Radeermacher, who heads the office, will discuss numbers with the Parliament’s committee on economic and monetary affairs.

Meanwhile, MEPs are set to vote on a deal that could reduce roaming rates within the EU. The vote will introduce caps on mobile internet charges, set to apply for the upcoming summer holiday.

The deputies will also on Thursday decide on whether or not to grant budget discharge for the EU's institutions and agencies.

The budgets for the European Environment Agency, the European Food Safety Authority and the European Medicines Agency, are unlikely to pass. Conflicts of interests and misuse of funds have raised concerns among all three.

And finally, Germany’s most populous state North Rhine-Westphalia will hold elections on Sunday. The results could boost the prominence of the Social Democrats (SPD) party, rivals to conservative German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Polls indicate the SPD candidate may win.

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