1st Dec 2021


Brussels to unveil national budget proposals this WEEK

  • Olli Rehn - the EU's economic affairs commissioner will be in the spotlight Wednesday (Photo:

The European Commission will on Wednesday (29 May) outline the economic and budgetary tasks it expects individual member states to carry out in order for the European economy to get back on track.

The far-reaching exercise tackles all aspects of national economic policy and is part of the recently-introduced "European semester" designed to keep governments on track so that no one country can derail the over all economy.

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Sensitive areas such as tax policy are also part of the commission's remit, with extra public focus in recent weeks on low-tax countries which have been exploited by major corporates.

The EU executive will "highlight the scope for member states to improve their own tax systems," said commission president Jose Manuel Barroso last week.

Other areas such as creaking pension systems or structural reforms are also likely to be raised.

The commission is expected to recommend that France, Spain and the Netherlands get extra time to bring their budget deficits under control, with the EU executive in recent months easing up on its fiscal hawkishness.

The economic policy recommendations - for all countries except Greece, Ireland and Portugal, which are currently in bailout programmes - have to be endorsed by by EU leaders in June and formally adopted in July.

They are then expected to feed into national budgets, presented in autumn.

Meanwhile, Syria and the Middle East Peace Process will dominate the discussion at Monday's meeting of foreign affairs ministers in Brussels.

The UK is pushing for EU countries to relax their arms embargo on Syria, which lapses on 1 June unless there is a consensus to renew it.

Britain wants to tweak the text to open the door to sending anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons to the Free Syrian Army, the main rebel force.

Some countries - notably Austria and the Czech republic - are opposed to the idea amid worries the arms could get into the hands of anti-Western groups.

But Germany is open to it in order to prevent the sanctions regime from lapsing - a development that could see a free for all in terms of arms deliveries and which would permit Syrian regime members to get their money out of EU banks.

Ministers will also discuss US secretary of state John Kerry's bid to revive Arab-Israeli peace talks.

There will be no formal conclusions on the subject.

But ministers are expected to endorse Kerry's plan in press remarks, while refraining from criticism of Israel in order to expedite his initiative. The next set of formal EU conclusions on Palestine/Israel are due in June.

The European Parliament will on Tuesday discuss the results of tax summit held by leaders last week.

Several MEPs have already expressed disappointment at the outcome, which saw several deadlines for tackling tax evasion but little concrete action.

The foreign affairs committee will host discussions with Serb Prime Minister Ivica Dacic (Wednesday) on the recent deal with Kosovo and with Prime Minister Ali Zeidan on the situation in Libya (Monday).

MEPs focus on Belarus, digital rules This WEEK

The debate over a successor for David Sassoli, the centre-left Italian president of the European Parliament will heat up, and Belarusian democratic opposition figure Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya will address the plenary.

Facebook scandal and COP26 climax in focus This WEEK

Facebook whistleblower is expected to meet with MEPs and representatives of the French senate this week. Meanwhile, eyes turn again to the Glasgow UN climate summit as pressure is mounting for negotiators to finish the 2015 Paris Agreement rulebook.

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