1st Apr 2020


Key budget votes in Strasbourg this WEEK

  • Key budget votes will take place in the European Parliament this week (Photo:

MEPs gathering in Strasbourg this week are set to give their final blessing to the EU budget for 2014-2020 and top up the current one to cover compensation for floods and drought.

After months of tough bargaining with member states, the European Parliament on Tuesday (19 November) is set to give the green light to the €908 billion budget for the next seven years. Votes on the specific programmes - ranging from agriculture to research and environment - are scheduled throughout the week.

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MEPs will also approve a deal struck with member states last week allowing for outstanding bills in 2013 to be covered next year - over €400 million in compensation to regions in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany and Romania who were severely affected by floods and drought. Over a third of this money will be drawn from next year's budget.

The parliament is also set to adopt a new law on Wednesday obliging publicly-listed companies in the EU to increase their female non-executive directors to at least 40 percent by 2020. The current share of women in middle management positions is 17 percent, with women holding 14 percent of senior management positions.

Meanwhile, the monthly shuttling between Brussels and Strasbourg is again on the parliament's agenda, with a non-binding vote on Tuesday demanding self-determination on the matter. But the Strasbourg sessions are written into the EU treaty and negotiations on treaty change can take years.

Foreign ministers are meeting Monday to discuss whether Ukraine will get to sign the long-awaited association agreement with the EU at a summit with eastern European countries later this month in Vilnius. The deal is currently jeopardised by a deadlock over the jailed opposition leader Yulia Tymoshenko. EU envoys will have another attempt next week to convince Ukrainian authorities to let Tymoshenko go to Germany for medical treatment.

The 16-year old Pakistan Malala Yousafzai, who campaigns for girls' education rights and survived a killing attempt by the Taliban, will receive the Sakharov prize on Wednesday. The prize is awarded by the European Parliament every year to dissidents and human rights campaigners.

On Friday, eurozone finance ministers are meeting for a special Eurogroup to discuss last week's reports issued by the European Commission after reviewing their respective draft budgets for 2014. Just two euro states - Estonia and Germany - were give the all clear, while Italy, Spain, Finland, Luxembourg and Malta were told they are at risk of breaching the rules underpinning the single currency.

Also on Friday, EU chiefs - Jose Manuel Barroso and Herman Van Rompuy - are travelling to Beijing for a EU-China summit where they are expected to launch talks on a first investment agreement with the Chinese government. The deal seeks increased access for European businesses to Chinese markets in a bid to reduce China's trade surplus with the EU, worth €146 billion.

Elsewhere in the EU, Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras is visiting German Chancellor Angela Merkel. His trip comes as the troika of international lenders is pressing the Greek government to agree to more spending cuts in return for the next bailout tranche.

EU struggles to remain united This WEEK

EU countries continue to wrestle with economic shock of pandemic and with sharing of medical resources, posing deep questions on solidarity in the bloc.

EU goes fully online in lockdown This WEEK

EU leaders will discuss the coronavirus reponse online, while MEPs will vote on urgent measures by email. Starting accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia will also be high on the agenda.

EU-Africa strategy and circular economy plan This WEEK

The European Commission is set to unveil the EU-Africa and the circular economy strategy this week. Additionally, MEPs will hold the plenary session in Brussels after the president David Sassoli cancelled the plenary in Strasbourg due to the coronavirus outbreak.

EU climate law and Thunberg visit This WEEK

The European Commission will on Wednesday unveil the first-ever EU climate law, while environmental activist Greta Thunberg is in Brussels to meet with the college of commissioners and MEPs. Environmental ministers will also gather to discuss future climate developments.

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