Saturday

21st Jan 2017

Agenda

Socialists open political season this WEEK

  • Belgium's PM Elio di Rupo is the key speaker at the Socialist congress (Photo: fotospresidencia5)

The EU's political season ahead of the 2014 elections will kick off this week with a Socialist Party congress, setting the ground for a centre-left candidate to run for the head of the European Commission.

The congress, which takes place every two and half years, is expected to change the inner rulings of the party allowing them to table a proposal when the current top commissioner, Jose Manuel Barroso, ends his second mandate, in 2014.

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Barroso himself earlier this month said all political parties should choose candidates for the post. The Portuguese politician has already served two mandates but could, in theory, stand for another term.

But centre-right leaders within the European People's Party would need to endorse him one more time. Speculation is already rife about his successor, with names such Poland's PM Donald Tusk, Latvian premier Valdis Dombrovskis or Denmark's Anders Fogh Rasmussen, currently head of Nato.

With centre-left parties having come back to power in France, Belgium and Denmark, the balance of power favouring the EPP in the EU institutions may shift if the trend is confirmed in the 2014 elections for the EU Parliament. Currently, the Socialists only have the post of EU foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, and the head of the European Parliament, Martin Schulz.

The EPP will also hold its own party congress next month in Bucharest, Romania. The Socialists were initially also supposed to meet in Bucharest, but they moved it to Brussels after political infighting between the centre-right president and the Socialist premier.

Ministers for EU affairs meanwhile will meet in Brussels on Monday are set to have a first serious discussion on EU taxes as part of the efforts made by the Cypriot EU presidency to reach a deal on the EU budget for 2014-2020.

EU regulation for the financial sector is also going through the legislative machinery, with a vote in the responsible parliament committee on Wednesday and a debate the next day about the proposals for a single supervisor for banks in the eurozone.

Eight MEPs dealing with civil liberties are off on Monday on a fact-finding mission to Hungary to check whether Budapest is sticking to commitments to restore the independence of the media, judges and the central bank.

The conduct of EU agencies will be in the spotlight on Wednesday when MEPs are expected to give the green light to signing off their accounts after having delayed the decision in spring. Romanian MEP Monica Macovei, who is drafting the Parliament's position, will ask that the accounts of one agency, the European Environment Agency in Copenhagen, are not signed off. The agency's director is being scrutinised by Olaf for alleged mismanagement of funds.

GMO opt-out plan remains in waiting room

The commission wants to give the power to member states to reject EU-approved genetically modified organisms, but the Maltese presidency is unlikely to approach the issue any time soon.

New EU parliament coalitions get in shape

Social-democrats and their allies scored a major win on Thursday with the adoption of a report on social rights. But questions remain on the parliament's power balance after the end of the left-right grand coalition.

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