5th Mar 2021


Another 'make-or-break' EU summit next WEEK

  • The EU summit on Thursday and Friday will seek greater economic and monetary integration. (Photo: Images Money)

The EU's pre-summer-break summit looms large on next week's agenda, as the crisis, which wrecked Greece, threatens to engulf Italy and Spain.

The centerpiece of the event will be proposals drafted by the EU commission, the EU Council, the central bank and eurozone leaders on a future banking union and political Union.

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Several previous summits were already billed as make-or-break events for the single currency and the world economy.

In the run-up to this one, Moody's cut the rating of 15 major European lenders, including bulwarks of stability, such as Deutsche Bank.

Italy's Mario Monti warned that if EU leaders do not get it right, markets will wreak havoc on Madrid and Rome.

A recent €100 billion pledge to help Spanish banks did nothing to improve Spanish or Italian bond yields, which still trade at close to 7 percent.

But Germany, the EU's paymaster, refuses to budge on proposals such as eurobonds, European Central Bank intervention or a speedy banking Union - considered by many experts as the only way to stop the rot.

On Monday, EU foreign ministers will debate the situation in Bosnia, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan and Syria.

They will endorse a new action plan for how the European External Action Service can better protect human rights around the world.

Belarus is also on the agenda. The EU is considering more sanctions against regime-linked oligarchs and wants Minsk to agree on softer EU visa rules for Belarusian citizens.

On Tuesday, European Commission vice president Antonio Tajani will present plans on how to help European scientists create more high-tech products in the fields of nano-technology, electric cars and satellites.

On Wednesday, taxation commissioner Algirdas Semeta will unveil a report on how to fight tax fraud and tax evasion.

Trillions of euros - dwarfing the EU's bail-out programmes to date - are said to be hidden by Europe's rich in tax havens around the world. But Austria and Luxembourg have said No to a new EU law to clamp down on cheats.

Later in the week, the secretary general of the Paris-based economic club, the OECD, along with home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and employment commissioner Laszlo Andor, will present findings on recent developments in migration movements and policy.

The European Parliament, for its part, will be meeting the Danish EU presidency on Wednesday to seek agreement on new legislation on detention conditions for asylum seekers.

The new law would also cover access to the labour market, free legal assistance and the identification of vulnerable asylum seekers.

Parliament chief Martin Schulz is to meet Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili on Wednesday.

Once a darling of EU efforts to bring democracy to post-Soviet countries, Saakashvili has struggled to get top-level meetings in EU capitals after starting a war against Russia in 2008 and clamping down on opposition.

Greek election aftermath to dominate this WEEK

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

Women fighting Covid-19 in focus This WEEK

To help bridge the stubborn gender pay gap, the EU Commission will present pay transparency measures so that differences in wages and salaries do not remain hidden from employees.

EU summit on vaccine problems This WEEK

EU foreign affairs ministers will meet in Brussels and are expected to agree to visa-bans and asset-freezes on Russian officials involved in the jailing of opposition figurehead Alexei Navalny.

Recovery goals and Visegrad in focus This WEEK

Outside of Brussels, Visegrad prime ministers will come together to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the central European cooperation within the V4 group. European Council president Charles Michel will join them.

Von der Leyen to defend EU vaccine policy This WEEK

After the damaging performance by EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell in Moscow last week, MEPs will grill the EU foreign affairs chief on his visit to the Russian capital following the jailing of opposition activist Alexei Navalny.

EU leaders seek to speed up vaccinations This WEEK

EU leaders talk vaccines, while the Portugues EU presidency introduces itself to MEPs. Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president of the United States, and the EU hopes this will mark a new beginning for EU-US relations.

Unblocking Brexit and budget in focus This WEEK

With only five weeks to go before the UK severs all ties with the EU, chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned that the "same significant divergences persist" between the two sides in post-Brexit talks.

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