Sunday

26th Feb 2017

Agenda

This WEEK in the European Union

  • Greece: a euro exit could prompt ratings agencies to downgrade all eurozone countries (Photo: danoots)

Eurozone finance ministers will gather in Brussels on Monday (14 May) amid heightened speculation about Greece's future in the single currency.

The minimum-needed aid was recently transferred to the indebted country as Greek politicians struggled to form a government after the 6 May election. EU politicians are pressing Greece to stick to the tough conditions attached to its two bail-outs. But around two-thirds of the population voted for anti-austerity parties.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The other country set to be discussed is Spain. Forecasts released Friday by the European Commission showed that Spain would be in recession in 2012 and 2013. Much greater savings will be needed if it is to reach its deficit-cutting targets, but these increase the chances of a deficit spiral.

The big question is whether Brussels will allow Madrid to relax its fiscal targets. This is a political as well as economic question as Brussels seeks to maintain the credibility of its beefed-up budgetary surveillance rules.

All 27 finance ministers will meet the following day when they are set to revisit discussions on a new law on setting minimum capital for banks - the trigger for an ill-tempered debate with the UK at the ministers' last meeting. They are also expected to discuss a report prepared by the Danish EU presidency on the economic impact of Europe's ageing population.

Meanwhile finance ministers will meet Werner Hoyer, head of the European Investment Bank, with political consensus forming on the idea that the institution should get more money so it can support more growth projects.

Members of the parliament's economic and monetary affairs committee are Monday due to vote on two draft laws on further tightening Brussels' budgetary surveillance powers. The new laws would require that all national budgets are presented to the commission by mid autumn and would give the commission the power to ask for changes.

Foreign ministers will on Monday in Brussels tackle three of the biggest problems in the EU neighbourhood: the Middle East peace process; the civil war in Syria; and Afghanistan.

The Middle East discussion is set to cover Israeli demolitions of Palestinian homes on occupied land, a long-term trend making the EU-favoured two-state solution ever less viable. Ministers will add another handful of Syrian notables and companies to their blacklist in view of violations of the UN-brokered ceasefire.

The Afghanistan talks come ahead of a Nato summit in Chicago on 20 May, with EU states seeking to co-ordinate ideas on state-building efforts after International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) pull out from 2014 onward.

Ministers will also hold informal talks on Russia and Ukraine. The EU's political boycott of Ukraine over its crackdown on opposition leaders has

raised fears in Poland that Ukraine might abandon its EU integration plan in favour of closer ties with Russia.

Meanwhile, Francois Hollande will be sworn in as president of France on 15 May, paving the way to keenly anticipated meeting with centre-right German Chancellor Angela Merkel the following day.

Key to their meeting will be how much each side will give in the "growth" discussion. Hollande made reorientation towards economic growth the backbone of his election campaign. Merkel, conscious of her own electorate, has refused to consider growth underpinned by debt-enhancing spending.

On Tuesday, the focus in Brussels is set to briefly divert away from economic and monetary affairs issues to relations with its eastern neighbours.

The European Commission is set to release assessments on how 12 of them are implementing EU norms and rules - with ingredients and expectations varied according to the country.

But the news is scarcely brighter on this front. The European Neighbourhood policy is suffering from lack of political will on both sides, exacerbated in the EU's case by its current economic problems.

First coalition attempt fails in Greece

Greek Conservatives failed to cobble together a coalition on Monday, with leftist leader Alexis Tsipras set to try and form a government opposing the "barbaric" bail-out, a move that would put into question the country's future in the eurozone.

Hollande makes low-key debut on EU stage

France's president-elect has made a low-key debut on the EU stage in talks with EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy and Irish leader Enda Kenny.

Pence, Greece and Brexit This WEEK

The US vice-president becomes the first senior Trump administration official to visit EU institutions. Greece's creditors try to break deadlock in talks, and British Lords will debate Brexit.

MEPs vote on EU-Canada deal This WEEK

MEPs will have a final vote on the EU-Canada trade deal, while Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau will address the European Parliament in Strasbourg this week.

Column / Brexit Briefing

Searching for a voice and a standard bearer

As Britons come to terms with the reality of Brexit many Remainers are now listless, looking for someone to present a viable alternative to Theresa May's dominance

News in Brief

  1. Spanish court jails former IMF chief Rato
  2. Macron proposes Nordic-style economic model for France
  3. Germany posts record high budget surplus
  4. Labour ousts Ukip in Brexit homeland
  5. Dutch lower house approves EU-Ukraine treaty
  6. WTO says Russian pork ban was illegal
  7. Belgian nuclear plant made 'significant progress' on safety
  8. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  2. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  3. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  4. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  5. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  6. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  7. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  9. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  10. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations