24th Oct 2016


This WEEK in the European Union

  • Jose Manuel Barroso will begin a trip to South East Asia - including Burma - on Friday (Photo: Burma Democratic Concern (BDC))

After a week of relatively high activity, the EU changes down a gear, with a holiday in Belgium on Thursday (1 November) and many EU commissioners and MEPs "working from home."

Some EU business will take place, however.

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And it is Greece that once again tops the agenda. Eurozone finance ministers will on Wednesday (31 October) have a teleconference on the state of affairs in Athens.

At stake is a €31.5 billion tranche of aid which Greece's creditors have for months delayed giving to the country because they want more domestic savings worth €13.5 billion.

Experts from the European Commission, the European Central Bank (ECB) and the International Monetary Fund - the troika - have in recent weeks been assessing progress towards the budget-cutting target, which comes on the back of four years of recession and hardship for ordinary Greeks.

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton will meet with her US counterpart Hillary Clinton for a joint appearance in Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo.

Last week, a group of member states said they wanted to revoke visa liberalisation for Western Balkan countries due to a large number of bogus asylum claims. Experts suggest pulling back on the popular measure would spark unnecessary bad feeling in the Balkan countries when the claims could likely be reduced by changing national immigration policy in the member states.

Transport ministers will gather in Luxembourg on Monday to discuss improving the use of the EU's airspace.

The European Commission is pressing to change the rules on allocating landing and take-off slots in a bid to reduce air congestion. Ministers are also to sign an agreement on co-operation with Eurocontrol, the European air traffic control body.

The discussions take place against the backdrop of extreme national reticence in this area. EU transport commissioner Siim Kallas recently threatened to take member states to court for failing to make progress in the last 10 years towards creating a single European airspace.

Meanwhile on Friday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso will start a tour of South East Asia beginning in Thailand. He will also visit Burma and Indonesia, as well as attending the ninth Asia Europe meeting (ASEM) in Laos at the beginning of the following week.

Spain's Socialists ease Rajoy's path to power

The Socialists agree to abstain in a confidence vote later this week, meaning conservative leader Mariano Rajoy should be able to form a minority government after 10 months of deadlock.

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