Tuesday

13th Apr 2021

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.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

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.

Travel certificates back on the agenda This WEEK

On Thursday, MEPs in the Democracy, Rule of Law, and Fundamental Rights Monitoring Group meeting will hear from Polish judges, prosecutors, and government representatives on the situation of the judiciary in Poland.

Turkey on EU leaders' plate This WEEK

Ahead of the EU summit, on Monday foreign affairs ministers are set to approve a new package of sanctions on individuals in several countries, including China and Russia, over human rights abuses.

EU 'Future' Conference plus Covid recovery talks This WEEK

MEPs will give the green light for a more united EU health policy, a new investment plan, and debate the Covid recovery fund, which is yet to be unleashed. Lawmakers will also debate media freedom in Hungary, Poland, and Slovenia.

Women fighting Covid-19 in focus This WEEK

To help bridge the stubborn gender pay gap, the EU Commission will present pay transparency measures so that differences in wages and salaries do not remain hidden from employees.

News in Brief

  1. US officials call for J&J vaccine pause over blood clots
  2. Putin refuses to talk about military build-up, Ukraine says
  3. EU bank to help Greece manage corona-recovery funds
  4. Johnson & Johnson vaccine deliveries to EU begin
  5. EU sanctions commander of Iran's Revolutionary Guard
  6. UK opens investigation into ex-PM Cameron lobbying
  7. 'Significant differences' in EU-UK talks on Northern Ireland
  8. Bulgarian PM reveals price rise in new EU-BioNTech deal

EU leaders seek to speed up vaccinations This WEEK

EU leaders talk vaccines, while the Portugues EU presidency introduces itself to MEPs. Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president of the United States, and the EU hopes this will mark a new beginning for EU-US relations.

Unblocking Brexit and budget in focus This WEEK

With only five weeks to go before the UK severs all ties with the EU, chief negotiator Michel Barnier warned that the "same significant divergences persist" between the two sides in post-Brexit talks.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. How the pandemic became an EU goldmine for crime
  2. China responds to 'low-efficacy' vaccine fears
  3. Merkel party chiefs support Laschet's chancellor bid
  4. EU refuses to bail out Montenegro's China loan
  5. Industry lobby to 'co-decide' on nearly €10bn EU public money
  6. Why Ursula von der Leyen won't go
  7. Incorporating gender in trade policy to benefit all
  8. Does Italian regionalism actually work?

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us