26th Oct 2016


Barroso in Palestine next WEEK

  • Jerusalem - Barroso does not often do EU foreign policy (Photo: Hadar)

European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso goes on his first official visit to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories next week, in a three-day-long peregrination from Sunday (8 July) to Tuesday.

His spokesman Olivier Bailly said he will urge both sides to return to peace talks.

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The trip takes place amid mounting EU criticism of Israel's support for settler land-gobbling. But a tough statement in May by European foreign ministers did not stop fresh demolitions of Palestinian homes.

Barroso does not do day-to-day EU foreign policy.

But he controls a massive aid budget for Palestinian state-building and has the means to crack down on Israeli exports of settler products mislabelled as "made in Israel" to get EU trade perks.

Humanitarian NGO Oxfam last week urged him "to move beyond statements." MEPs in a fresh resolution called for action against settler products.

The crisis still dominates events back in Europe.

Eurozone finance ministers are on Monday to iron out details of the Spanish bank bailout. A full-blown bailout of Cyprus - worth around €23 billion - is also on the agenda.

On the appointments front, the current Eurogroup chief, Jean-Claude Juncker, is angling for another mandate.

On Tuesday, the German Constitutional Court in Karlsruhe is to have its first say on complaints against the permanent bailout fund (the ESM) and the treaty on fiscal discipline.

The decision is not on substance, but only on whether the case is serious enough to warrant postponing ratification.

Judges are expected to ask the country's President to delay his signature. The President has already indicated he would do so, meaning that the ESM would not come into force on 9 July, as planned.

In other items, the Cypriot EU presidency is getting into stride.

Cabinet members will brief European Parliament committees in Brussels throughout the week. It will also host informal meetings of EU health and employment ministers in Nicosia.

The commission will on Wednesday put forward a new bill on how artists collect royalties from their work.

The rules are to target multi-country licences for online music - a huge market bedevilled by the mix of national rules on how to collect fees and protect copyright.

Research commissioner Maire Geoghegan-Quinn will on Monday set out priorities - such as clean energy and water - for €8 billion of EU science spending.

Barroso and EU Council chief Herman Van Rompuy will on Thursday meet religious leaders to talk about helping older people find a useful place in society.

Meanwhile, MEPs on the legal affairs committee will on Tuesday lock horns with EU officials and Cypriot diplomats over the single patent.

EU leaders last week clinched a deal on an EU-wide patent after 30 years of disagreement.

But parliament refused to give its imprimatur because the UK forced changes to weaken EU Court of Justice jurisdiction.

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