Saturday

22nd Jan 2022

Agenda

Greek election aftermath to dominate this WEEK

  • Rome hosts a mini summit of Germany, France, Spain and Italy on Friday (Photo: Giampaolo Macorig)

With Greek voters having given a majority to pro-bailout parties on Sunday (17 June), the EU's immediate agenda is likely to centre on offering some sort of sweetner to any future coalition government.

The feverish run-up to the Greek election saw the campaign focus on one theme - whether Greece should continue with austerity measures in return for EU and IMF cash.

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The centre-right New Democracy took the most votes. It is seeking a coalition with the Socialist Pasok party. Prior to the election ND leader Antonis Samaras said he will pursue the austerity path but wants to negotiate the terms attached to the latest €130bn bailout. Greece's euro partners were quick to indicate after Sunday's result that they open to giving Athens more time to fulfil the bailout conditions.

EU leaders will give their first official reaction to the Greek vote on Monday when the president of the European Commission and the European Council are to hold a joint press conference. The venue for the reaction will be Mexico where G20 leaders are meeting. The eurozone crisis will take centre-stage at the discussions.

Although the EU is breathing a sigh of relief that the anti-bailout, anti-austerity far-left Syriza party did not win the polls in Greece, the wider eurozone crisis remains essentially unchanged. Top of the immediate list of concerns is how quickly Greece will be able to form a government. A close second is Spain with its troubled banks. It has been offered a bailout for it banks. But markets have reacted with scepticism, largely because they believe the loans will increase the debt problems of the Madrid administration.

The eurozone crisis as a whole will be discussed at a mini summit of Germany, France, Spain and Italy on Friday. Their talks will shape the full EU summit exactly one week later - an event that is feeling the increasing weight of expectations as politicians talk about the need to complete the political and economic integration of the eurozone in order to save it.

Eurozone and EU finance ministers will meet on Thursday and Friday. They are meant to sign off the European Commission's recent economic recommendation for member states, making them legally binding.

In the European Parliament, meanwhile, the high-profile spat between MEPs and member states on how rules in the EU's borderless area should be implemented will come to the fore again this week. Euro deputies in the legal affairs committee will on Tuesday hold a debate, and possibly a vote, on the matter. This follows a pledge by parliament last week not to negotiate with member states on five laws concerning interior affairs after governments decided that MEPs should have only observer status when it comes to how border rules are put in place.

Danish justice minister Morten Bodskov will brave MEPs' ire - it is the first time they have carried out a boycott action - both in the legal affairs committee and the following day in the civil liberties committee.

Later in the week, deputies in the trade committee may deal a potentially fatal blow to the international anti-counterfeit treaty, ACTA. The committee - taking the lead on the issue - will decide Thursday whether to recommend that plenary in July supports the document. Supporters of the treaty say it protects intellectual property rights. Critics say that this is to the detriment of internet freedom and privacy rights.

The EU's tortured relations with credit ratings agencies will feature once more on Tuesday when MEPs in the economic and monetary affairs committee vote on rules that aim to tighten up how the agencies are governed. The proposals seek to curb the dominance of the three major agencies and regulate how they rate sovereign debt. Credit ratings agencies, which were accused of sleeping through the run-up to the financial crisis in 2008, are now viewed by exasperated eurozone politicians as being overzealous in their approach to the single currency crisis.

On Monday, member states are due to be told by the European Commission that they are largely failing to implement the 101 goals that are part of the EU's digital agenda - aimed at making the most of the union's potential digital economy. Lack of investment is one of the main problems.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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