22nd Oct 2016


This WEEK in the European Union

This week sees the EU start its long slide into summer recess - especially welcome after the flurry to bring the Convention on Europe's future to a successful close, and the diplomatic furore surrounding the beginning of the Italian Presidency.

However, there are still some things to watch out for.

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  • PARIS is hosting an international conference on Aids/HIV, tuberculosis and malaria (Photo: EUobserver)

On Tuesday and Wednesday, finance ministers will gather in Brussels for a ministerial meeting (ECOFIN). One of the points of the agenda will be confirming Jean-Claude Trichet as the next head of the European Central Bank (ECB). He is set to replace the incumbent Wim Duisenberg on 1 November after having been vetted by MEPs in September. EU leaders confirmed Mr Trichet's candidacy at the Thessaloniki summit on 20 June - this follows a backroom deal by French President Jaques Chirac in 1998.

The finance ministers are also set to discuss the recent statements by Germany calling on the ECB to intervene on the strong euro and controversial Italian presidency plans for an EU-wide treaty on taxation - part of ambitious proposals to kickstart growth in Europe's economy.

As usual, ECOFIN will be preceded on Monday evening by a meeting of the ministers from the 12 Eurozone countries.

Extraordinary Budgetary Control Committee meeting

Following extensive revelations by the Commission about fraud in its statistical arm, Eurostat, the European Parliament's Budgetary Control Committee will hold an extaordinary meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

MEPs will discuss whether the proposed measures, which include setting up a 20-person enquiry team to look into the scandal, are enough. Many have already indicated their concern that the team will be headed by the Commission's Secretary General and not an independent auditor.

Expected to attend are Jules Muis, the Commission's audit chief, Franz-Hermann Brüner, head of OLAF (the EU's anti-fraud office) and Michel Vanden Abeele, the newly-appointed head of Eurostat.

Handing over the new constitution

Member state ambassadors meeting this week are set to agree the mandate for the intergovernmental conference to tie up the loose ends of the freshly drafted EU constitution. This will then be discussed by foreign ministers at a meeting on July 22.

Convention president Valéry Giscard d'Estaing will on Friday (18 July) entrust the freshly agreed draft EU constitution to the Italian Presidency. The President will pass on a strong message to Rome that the finely worked out compromise not be re-opened by the member states during the IGC - he will also offer himself for consultation throughout the member states' negotiation on the treaty blueprint.

International Aids/HIV conference

Commission President Romano Prodi will attend the international conference on Aids/HIV, tuberculosis and Malaria in Paris on Wednesday. The conference follows hot on the heels of US president George W. Bush's trip to Africa which saw him pledge billions of dollars to help fight Aids.

False advertising

On Wednesday, the commission is set to approve a proposal for a new law on advertising by the Consumer affairs Commissioner, David Byrne. The new legislation would tackle any advertising that makes unfounded claims - such as providing dietary or weight loss benefits, when this is not proven.

Within a similar advertising ballpark, Enterprise Commissioner, Erkki Liikanen will give a press conference on Tuesday on how to address the problem of unsolicited emails - otherwise known as 'spam'.

Women shake Poland's pillars of power

Polish women are marching again this Sunday and Monday. They could succeed where the opposition, the European Commission and other protests failed, and redraw Poland's political map.

News in Brief

  1. Canada and Wallonia end talks without Ceta deal
  2. Juncker hopes for Canada accord in 'next few days'
  3. Romania drops opposition to Ceta
  4. Difficulties remain on Ceta deal, says Walloon leader
  5. Brexit could lead to 'some civil unrest' in Northern Ireland
  6. ECB holds rates and continues quantitive easing programme
  7. Support for Danish People's Party drops, poll
  8. Spain's highest court overturns Catalan ban on bullfighting

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