Wednesday

22nd Mar 2017

Agenda

Kerry in Brussels this WEEK

  • Prospects of an EU-US trade pact will feature prominently in the meeting (Photo: Vince Alongi)

US Secretary of State John Kerry will be in Brussels on Monday (22 April) for his first visit to the EU capital since taking up his post earlier this year.

He will meet EU commission president Jose Manuel Barroso to discuss EU-US trade relations, Iran, North Korea and Syria, before he attends a Nato ministerial meeting on Tuesday.

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EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday are set to lift most sanctions against Burma as well as ease the EU's oil embargo on Syria in order to boost the forces fighting against President Bashar Assad's regime.

With the political tide appearing to turn against tax evasion, the European Commission will Tuesday announce the setting up of a 'good governance' platform of experts to advise on what measures the Brussels executive needs to take to fight tax havens. The move comes after a recent journalistic investigation exposing thousands of off-shores accounts and amid a tax-evasion scandal in France.

The following day the commission will propose measures to reduce the hassle of getting official documents authenticated in other member states, a process that is often slow and costly. The move will be spear-headed by Viviane Reding, a commissioner with a track-record of crowd-pleasing initiatives and who reportedly has her eye on the commission presidency when the post comes up for grabs next year.

At the end of the week (27 April) Icelanders will go to the polls. They are expected to kick the pro-European governing Social Democrats party out of office in favour of the centre-right Progressive Party.

Whether the Progressive Party wins outright or forms a coalition party with the Independence Party, the ultimate result in terms of the EU could be a referendum on halting the country's membership talks.

The country has been deeply ambivalent about joining the EU since Prime Minister Johanna Sigurdardottir submitted the country's membership application in July 2009 and promised to hold a referendum on the completion of negotiations.

A recent poll Icelandic TV station (Stod2) and Frettabladid newspaper showed that 55 percent of Icelanders want the country to finish EU negotiations and then have a referendum on whether to join the bloc, while 34 percent want to quit negotiations completely. Eleven percent want to hold a referendum on whether to continue negotiations or not.

Talks to align Iceland laws with the EU have been uncomplicated except in one area - fisheries. Iceland wants to retain sovereignty over its rich fishing waters - the EU is keen to apply common rules.

EU-27 to back integration This WEEK

EU leaders meet in Rome to recommit to European integration after Brexit, but Greece and Poland serve as reminders of economic and political divisions.

EU tackles CO2 threat This WEEK

EU states will haggle over the reform of a carbon trade system, while MEPs vote on overhauling EU car emissions oversight.

Pence, Greece and Brexit This WEEK

The US vice-president becomes the first senior Trump administration official to visit EU institutions. Greece's creditors try to break deadlock in talks, and British Lords will debate Brexit.

News in Brief

  1. Russia invites EU diplomats to occupied Crimea
  2. UK parliament in lockdown after reported attack
  3. Brussels attacks remembered with minute of silence and noise
  4. Magnitsky's lawyer injured near Moscow
  5. Trump to travel to Brussels on 25 May for Nato summit
  6. Polish defence minister accuses Tusk of treason
  7. Fillon slips in polls as new allegations emerge
  8. Brexit summit for EU-27 will be on 29 April

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