25th Oct 2016


Eastern Europe on this WEEK's agenda

Eastern Europe dominates this week's agenda (25 February - 3 March) as EU leaders hope to pave the way for a “historic breakthrough” with Ukraine, while Latvia lays out its plans to join the euro.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is in Brussels on Monday for a summit with European Commission chief Jose Manuel and European Council head Herman Van Rompuy.

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  • The three leaders meet this week at the EU-Ukraine summit in Brussels. (Photo: president.gov.ua)

Under fire for jailing opposition leaders, rigging elections and bullying journalists, Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is in Brussels on Monday for a summit with European Commission chief Jose Manuel and European Council head Herman Van Rompuy.

Van Rompuy on Friday said the Union is still ready to make a "historic … breakthrough" in Ukraine relations by signing an association treaty and trade pact with it later this year if Yanukovych mends his ways

Meanwhile, another former Soviet vassal, Latvia, is to lay out its plans for greater economic ties with the eurozone.

The Baltic state plans a formal application in March to join the single currency.

Its prospects will be discussed on Tuesday with MEPs in the economic and monetary affairs committee along with Latvia’s finance minister Andris Vilks and central bank governor Ilmars Rimsevics.

The future of the single currency is also an issue in Italian and Cypriot elections, due to be decided over the weekend.

If Italy's former leader and convicted fraudster Silvio Berlusconi regains power, banks say it could spook the markets and force the country into a bailout.

In Cyprus, the departure of its anti-austerity President is expected to pave the way for an EU rescue package for the small island state.

EU agriculture ministers will on Monday in Brussels convene to discuss the horsemeat fraud scandal which has dominated headlines in recent days. New data in the US indicates that the flesh of escolar and snapper fish is also routinely being routinely mislabelled as tuna.

The European Parliament's environment committee will on Tuesday vote on whether to suspend the inclusion of aviation in EU trading of pollution allowances.

The global airline industry says the tax is unfair and could create a patchwork of similar schemes elsewhere. The United States, China, India, Russia and other countries have all threatened to boycott it.

On Wednesday, the European Commission will present its so-called ‘smart borders’ package, with EU home affairs commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom to discuss how technology can “speed up and facilitate” border checks for foreigners travelling to the Union.

The commission says its system will simplify the lives of frequent travellers.

But some pro-privacy advocates say it would compromise rights because it collects personal data for security profiling purposes.

Thursday is dedicated to the impact if the economic crisis on urbanites.

Mayors from 20 EU capitals will travel to Brussels and meet with EU commissioners for regional development, the digital agenda and the environment.

Discussions will focus on how to solve an economic crisis that has thrown millions into unemployment and poverty. Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, the commission will also put out ideas on how to eradicate "extreme poverty" in the EU by 2030.

On the international agenda, Barroso and EU parliament head Martin Schultz go to Dublin on Thursday. Barroso will discuss policy priorities with the EU Irish presidency and talk to students at Trinity College.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel is in Turkey on Sunday and Monday.

Turkey plans to seek assurances on protection of the nearly 3 million Turkish-origin people who live in Germany, while Merkel plans to say Ankara must become more friendly toward Cyprus in order to unfreeze EU accession talks.

The recently appointed US secretary of state, John Kerry, is also due for a peregrination of European capitals.

He aims to visit London, Paris, Berlin, Rome and Ankara before going to the Middle East. The EU capital, Brussels, is not on his list.

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