28th Nov 2020


Trade and finance dominate Brussels this WEEK

  • US and EU officials will resume talks on a free trade deal on Monday (Photo:

Trade and finance will dominate life in the Brussels bubble this week, with officials resuming the second round of talks on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with the US on Monday (11 November).

The meeting is to cover services, investment, energy and raw materials, as well as regulatory issues.

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It had been scheduled for October, but was delayed by the US government "shutdown."

Negotiations have also been complicated by the US surveillance scandal.

But EU leaders have resisted suggestions, led by European Parliament President Martin Schulz, to "pause" the process until EU negotiators are confident their secrets are safe.

EU finance ministers will also meet on Monday in the EU capital.

They are expected to agree an additional €3.9 billion to cover outstanding bills for the 2013 EU budget.

The extra money comes after a previous top-up of €7.3 billion, meaning that EU spending this year has grown by 8 percent compared to original expectations of €140 billion.

MEPs and ministers will resume negotiations on Monday on 2014 spending plans.

If all goes well, the 2013 and 2014 deals should pave the way for agreement on the bloc's 2014-2020 budget in the next Strasbourg plenary.

Finance ministers will return to Brussels on Friday for Eurogroup and Ecofin meetings.

Progress on bank resolution legislation and the status of the EU's four bail-out programmes will be the main items of discussion, following visits by bail-out supervisors, the so-called "troika," to Ireland and Greece.

For their part, MEPs on the civil liberties committee will on Monday and Thursday continue their enquiry into US snooping.

This week, they are due to question James Sensenbrenner, a US congressman in charge of intelligence oversight, and executives from Google and Microsoft.

The European Commission will on Wednesday publish its annual economic growth survey and a report on EU employment. It will also publish ideas on EU countries' state aid for cinema.

Wider world

On the foreign policy front, the week could start with news that UN powers have struck a deal on Iran's nuclear programme in Geneva on Saturday or Sunday.

The breakthrough, if it comes, would be a coup for EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, who is chairing the talks.

It could also transform Middle East politics for decades to come.

Meanwhile, climate change commissioner Connie Hedegaard will lead the EU team at a 10-day UN climate change conference starting in Warsaw on Monday.

EU governments will be under pressure to increase financial commitments to the Green Climate Fund, designed to help developing countries meet climate change targets.

Politicians will also use the talks to begin preparations for a 2015 UN conference on a post-2020 international climate agreement.

Top EU officials and French and German leaders will meet in Paris on Tuesday to discuss youth unemployment.

European federalists, such as former Belgian PM Guy Verhofstadt, will also meet at an event hosted by outgoing German foreign minister Guido Westerwelle in his ministry in Berlin on Friday.

MEPs prepare for another virtual plenary This WEEK

Ahead of the next European summit in mid-December, MEPs will address the EU's long-term budget and rule-of-law conditionality in another virtual plenary session. Discussions will also focus on consumer rights, pharmaceutical strategy and the pandemic.

Brexit and EU online summit in focus This WEEK

Talks between the EU and the UK have moved little, with only seven weeks left until the UK breaks ties with the EU. Negotiations are expected to resume on Monday in Brussels.

News in Brief

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Gruelling Brexit and budget talks continue This WEEK

After almost a week of arm-wrestling and ten days before the UK severs all of its EU ties, negotiators are back working hard on a deal on the future EU-UK relations. Budget and rule of law talks will also continue.

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