Friday

13th Dec 2019

Agenda

Tricky EU visit for Erdogan this WEEK

  • The Turkish leader's trip to Brussels was meant to celebrate the recent restart of accession talks (Photo: svenwerk)

Turkey, Ukraine, Serbia, and global warming will dominate this week’s agenda in Brussels.

The increasingly authoritarian Turkish PM, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will on Tuesday (21 January) visit the EU capital for the first time in five years.

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His trip was meant to celebrate the recent restart of accession talks. But instead, EU chiefs are likely to criticise his purge on Turkish policemen who tried to investigate corruption in his inner circle.

EU officials expect a brief, but lively, press conference. “Erdogan will have prepared his rebuttals well in advance,” one contact said.

The equally authoritarian Ukrainian leader, Viktor Yanukovych, will on Monday be discussed by EU foreign ministers.

Germany has said Europe should freeze co-operation with Ukraine unless he rolls back new laws which criminalise pro-EU protests.

In other business, ministers are to suspend sanctions on some Iranian oil sales and on shipping insurance in return for a freeze on uranium enrichment.

They are also set to give the green light for an EU military operation in the Central African Republic.

The following day, Serb PM Ivica Dacic and EU ministers will hold the first ever round of accession talks with Serbia.

“It will be mostly ceremonial,” the Greek EU presidency says, but it crowns years’ worth of EU and US diplomacy in the Western Balkans.

Meanwhile, the European Commission will on Wednesday unveil new targets for cutting CO2 emissions by 2030.

Original proposals spoke of a 40 percent cut on 1990 levels. But leaked papers indicate it will go for 35 percent, while dropping renewable energy targets from 27.7 percent to 24.7 percent.

The change is reportedly due to industry lobbying. A commission spokeswoman on Friday underlined the need for EU industry to remain “competitive.”

The commission will the same day publish new ”fracking” guidelines.

The technique, used to extract shale gas, could generate wealth and improve energy security in France, Germany, Poland and the UK. But toxic chemicals pose a risk for groundwater reserves.

For their part, MEPs will interview the Greek foreign minister (Monday), justice minister (Tuesday) and finance minister (Wednesday) in light of Greece’s current EU chairmanship.

They will on Monday start three-day talks with 140 national MPs on how to improve democratic oversight of EU economic governance.

They will on Tuesday also vote on an EU law about returning stolen art treasures to their home countries.

Outside Brussels, EU foreign relations chief Catherine Ashton will on Wednesday go to the so-called Geneva II peace talks on Syria in Montreux, Switzerland.

But there is little hope of a breakthough amid violent division in the rebel camp.

EU justice ministers will on Thursday and Friday also flock to an informal meeting in Athens.

They will discuss how to improve legal aid for vulnerable people and recent commission ideas on how to curb radicalisation of Muslims and far-left or far-right activists.

Senior EU officials will on Wednesday also go to the annual meeting of politicians, intellectuals and billionaires in Davos, Switzerland.

Top guests this year include British PM David Cameron, the Queen of Jordan, UN chief Ban Ki-moon, as well as arch enemies Hassan Rohani of Iran and Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu.

UK election plus EU summit in focus This WEEK

EU leaders will try to agree on the 2050 emission-free target - but they will deeply disagree on EU spending over the next seven years. Meanwhile the UK will elect its new political leadership.

New commission and Malta in focus This Week

Ursula von der Leyen and her new team of commissioners will have their first meeting on Wednesday. In the meantime, Malta descends into political turmoil over the death of an investigative journalist.

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