Tuesday

19th Jun 2018

Agenda

Obama in Brussels this WEEK

  • German-US relations took a hit amid revelations that Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone had been tapped (Photo: Bundesregierung)

EU capital Brussels will be pulling out all the diplomatic stops this week as it plays host to US President Barack Obama.

The President will attend the EU-US summit in Brussels on Wednesday (26 March) in what will be his first visit to the EU capital since he took office in 2009.

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The trip will be an opportunity to smooth over the cracks that appeared in bilateral ties after revelations about the extent of US intelligence snooping on EU citizens and some of their leaders.

The meeting is set to include discussions on a bilateral free-trade deal. Talks on the agreement started last year and both sides have been touting its potential benefits. However, there are many sticking points including EU worries that its environmental and safety standards risk being eroded. And law-makers on both sides of the Atlantic could strike down the end result.

Meanwhile Obama’s EU trip comes amid the continued tense political stand-off with Russia, which recently annexed Crimea following an independence referendum deemed illegal by the EU. The US, followed by the EU, imposed sanctions on key Russian figures.

Obama will arrive in Brussels on Tuesday evening.

Before attending the summit on Wednesday, he will visit the American cemetry commemorating the First World War in Waregem, north west Belgium. De Standaard newspaper reports that 20 platoons, each with 40 police, will be deployed during the president's visit.

Prior to Brussels, Obama will be in The Hague for the Nuclear Security Summit which will also be attended by Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and German leader Angela Merkel.

Xi will also have a state visit in France from Tuesday to Friday. He will travel from there on to Berlin which in the past has proved to be a strong trade ally. Last year Chancellor Merkel backed Beijing’s position in a bilateral trade dispute with the EU over solar panel imports.

On Tuesday, the European Commission is set to unveil new legislation on organic farming. A recent commission report on the issue noted that between 2000 and 2011 the organic area in EU member states has more than doubled to over 9.5 million hectares of agricultural land.

The same report noted that the current rules on what makes a product organic need to be clarified for non-food products, such as cometics. It also noted that the organic sector suffers from the same "intensification" problems as the non-organic sector, such as when it comes to overcrowded conditions for poultry.

The European Parliament has a quiet week with the main event being a debriefing of what happened at the EU summit by EU council president Herman Van Rompuy on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, there will be several external trips by groups of MEPs including to Washington, Poland and Qatar.

Greece and Merkel's fate top This WEEK

Eurozone ministers are expected to give the green light to the final disbursement of aid to Greece and agree on measures to help with its debt burden. Meanwhile, the government in Berlin is shaken by Bavarian rebels over migration.

Dutch debate on EU agenda This WEEK

Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte will debate the future of the EU with MEPs and with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasburg on Wednesday.

New governments in Spain and Italy This Week

MIgration will be back in the EU limelight as interior ministers discuss the latest proposals on asylum. Italy's new minister is a fan of Orban and has vowed mass deportations.

Budget and Bettel on the EU's agenda This Week

MEPs will have their first chance to discuss the EU Commission's plans for the next long-term EU budget in Strasbourg. At the same time, a court case in Luxembourg may shake up the 'rule of law' debate.

Zuckerberg and Trump top the EU's agenda This WEEK

The Facebook CEO will brief MEPs on data protection - but only behind closed doors. Meanwhile EU leaders are scratching their heads on how to deal with US president Trump's erratic decisions on trade and the Iran deal.

Opinion

The Baltic 'Big Sea' strategy

The Baltic Sea is almost an inland European lake - it borders Norway, Denmark, Germany, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Kaliningrad and Russia. It also has an EU strategy - and an action plan.

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