2nd Dec 2023


G20 and Syria top the bill THIS WEEK

  • The crisis in Syria will be uppermost in leader's minds at the St Petersburg G20 summit (Photo: Downing Street)

EU politicians will return from summer holidays to a week dominated by the G20 summit in St Petersburg, where European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European head Herman van Rompuy will represent the EU on Thursday and Friday (5-6 September).

While the G20's remit primarily covers economic and trade policy, the ongoing crisis in Syria is set to be uppermost in leaders' minds.

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Despite this, the talks should "come out with a very strong confidence-boosting message on economic growth," a commission official said Friday.

EU leaders are increasingly confident about the state of the bloc's economy following encouraging figures in August, showing a 0.3 percent expansion of the EU economy in the second quarter of 2013.

"The eurozone has been delivering … and this is being rewarded by market behaviour," the commission source noted.

He added that second quarter data "demonstrates that the recession is over."

That said, economic policy talks are likely to centre on the difficulties faced by emerging market economies in recent weeks after the US Federal Reserve indicated it is preparing to scale down its bond-buying programmes.

Meanwhile, EU officials are also expected to raise the issue of EU-Ukraine relations with their Russian counterparts.

Earlier this week, President Vladimir Putin hinted that the Russian-dominated Customs Union would take "protective measures" against Ukraine if it signs an association and trade agreement with the EU this autumn.

With France saying it is ready to strike the Syrian regime together with the US in a bid to stop chemical weapons attacks, the Syria crisis will also dominate an informal meeting of EU foreign and defence ministers on Friday in Vilnius.

In Brussels, the commission will publish a paper aimed at regulating the shadow banking system on Wednesday (4 September). Around 50 percent of the global shadow banking system is based in the EU, worth an estimated €23 trillion.

The commission is also considering whether to apply the bloc's recently upgraded mandatory capital requirements for banks to a wider set of institutions in order to cover risks in "dark corners" of the financial system.

The new rules are part of a co-ordinated international effort to regulate the sector, which sees firms offering similar financial products to those offered by commercial banks but without regulation.

The EU executive will also propose a regulation on "money market funds," which provide short-term financing for financial institutions.

In the European Parliament, Eurogroup chairman Jeroen Dijsselbloem will appear before MEPs on the economic and monetary affairs committee on Tuesday.

Dijsselbloem can expect to be quizzed on the possibility of further changes to Greece's bailout programme, amid recent speculation that Greece will require an additional €10 billion to avoid a funding shortfall.

The issue has become a feature in the upcoming elections in Germany after finance minister Wolfgang Schaueble conceded that Athens could require further assistance.

Last month a leaked internal report by the German Bundesbank asserted that a third Greek bailout would be needed by early 2014 at the latest.

Deputies on the EU assembly's civil liberties committee will also begin their own inquiry into the surveillance programmes used by the US national security authority to snoop on EU citizens and institutions.

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