16th May 2021


Italian mess dominates this WEEK

Politicians and investors in the EU will this week continue to focus on Italy, where recent inconclusive elections are making it difficult to form a government and raise concerns that the euro-crisis may pick up again.

President Giorgio Napolitano and outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti have given assurances that a government will emerge in the coming weeks.

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But the three main forces that could cobble together a coalition remain at odds.

The anti-establishement Beppe Grillo has rejected an alliance either with the centre-left Democratic Party, which won the lower house, or the centre-right People of Freedom party, which got the most seats in the Senate.

Social-Democrat leader Pier Luigi Bersani has ruled out a grand coalition with former PM Silvio Berlusconi (seen as the main reason for Italy's economic mess). Bersani is instead hoping for a minority government that would gather support from Grillo's senators, but such a government is likely to be short-lived.

Meanwhile, Berlusconi is keeping his options open.

But any involvement of his party in a coalition is expected to include a trade-off on amnesty in his ongoing trials for corruption and sex abuse.

The European Central Bank's (ECB) take on the Italian situation will be closely watched on Thursday (7 March) when the ECB governing council holds its monthly meeting.

European Parliament chief Martin Schulz will also take the pulse in Rome on Monday, when he meets with Napolitano, whose mandate ends mid-May, further complicating the coalition talks.

Eurozone finance ministers are likely to discuss Italy when they meet in the Eurogroup on Monday evening.

The topic is not formally on the agenda, which is dominated by the Cypriot bailout request. Nicosia's bid is likely to gather momentum after its new President signalled more willingness to abide by foreign creditors' demands.

Ministers will also discuss the situation in Greece, where tax collection is behind schedule and tax inspectors themselves keep dodgy foreign bank accounts. No decisions are expected, however.

On Tuesday, the British finance minister is joining his EU colleagues for a vote on bankers' bonuses and rules on how much capital banks must hold.

Prime Minister David Cameron has said Britain will oppose the new scheme, but the decision is taken by majority, not unanimity.

If the UK, the home of Europe's biggest financial centre, does not get its way, it would be the first time it has been outvoted on EU finance legislation.

On the foreign affairs front, EU institutions will host Burmese VIPs on Tuesday and Israeli head of state, Shimon Perez, on Wednesday.

Perez is expected to urge EU countries to designate Lebanese militant group Hezbollah as a terrorist entity.

The leader of the Liberal group in the EU parliament Guy Verhofstadt will also host the commander-in-chief of the Free Syrian Army, Salim Idriss, on his first visit to the EU capital.

On Thursday, members of the civil liberties committee will hear from the head of the EU border agency Frontex.

They will also discuss developments in Hungary, where the Conservative government has clamped down on media and limited the rights of judges.

The President of Bulgaria, Rosen Plevneliev, is in Brussels on Wednesday for talks with top EU officials.

The government of Bulgaria resigned on 20 February after austerity protests turned violent, with early elections due in coming months.

Early elections are also taking in place in Malta on Saturday, after the government of Conservative PM Lawrence Gonzi lost a confidence vote over the country's budget.

Brexit is back, and vaccine certificates in focus This WEEK

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel will give their versions of events that took place at their visit to Ankara earlier this month, in a plenary debate at the European Parliament.

Travel certificates back on the agenda This WEEK

On Thursday, MEPs in the Democracy, Rule of Law, and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group meeting will hear from Polish judges, prosecutors, and government representatives on the situation of the judiciary in Poland.

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Travel certificates back on the agenda This WEEK

On Thursday, MEPs in the Democracy, Rule of Law, and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group meeting will hear from Polish judges, prosecutors, and government representatives on the situation of the judiciary in Poland.

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