23rd Mar 2018


EU and Ukraine elections dominate this WEEK

  • German Chancellor Angela Merkel's EU poster: EPP to increase lead, Liberals to shrink (Photo: Valentina Pop)

The European Parliament elections and the vote for a new president in Ukraine dominate the agenda this week.

Voters in The Netherlands and the UK begin the EP election process on Thursday (22 May), followed by the Czech Republic and Ireland on Friday, four more countries (Italy, Malta, Slovakia, and Lithuania) on Saturday and the rest on Sunday.

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The results are due at 11pm Brussels time on Sunday.

The latest poll, by TNS, indicates the centre-right EPP will slightly increase its lead over the centre-left S&D and that the Liberal group will shrink.

Polls also indicate that the number of populist, anti-EU MEPs of various stripes will grow, with the eurosceptic Ukip and the far-right National Front set to become the leading EU parties in the UK and France, respectively.

Also on Sunday, Ukrainians will vote for their new president under the eyes of more than 1,000 OSCE monitors, the largest ever election mission by the Vienna-based multilateral body.

The vote will take place despite the fact parts of eastern and southern Ukraine – Crimea, Donetsk, Luhansk – have fallen into the hands of Russia or pro-Russia separatists.

Presidential-hopeful Petro Poroshenko, a confectionary tycoon known as a pragmatist, is polling at 34 percent compared to his nearest rival, former PM Yulia Tymoshenko.

But even if his victory looks sure, there are fears Russia will disrupt the elections, seen as vital by the EU for stabilising Ukraine, in a development that would likely trigger a far-reaching economic confrontation between Brussels and Moscow.

There is little happening in the EU capital in the run-up to election weekend.

MEPs are mostly at home campaigning.

The European Commission is on Wednesday publishing proposals for new state aid rules, including breaks for innovative businesses to stimulate the high-tech sector.

It is also meeting with the members of the Georgian government the same day ahead of plans to sign a political association and free trade deal with Tbilisi in June.

The event, which follows a similar one with Moldova last week, comes as the Union continues to seek closer ties with Russia's former satellites despite the crisis in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, the bloc's outgoing foreign affairs chief, Catherine Ashton, will meet EU countries' ministers to discuss development aid priorities on Monday. They will also debate the situation in the Central African Republic and in South Sudan.

Brexit and trade will top This WEEK

A crucial EU summit will decide whether to give a green light to the Brexit transition period, while the EU is also fighting to get exemptions from the new US steel and aluminium tariffs.

'Selmayrgate' moves to the EU Parliament This WEEK

As a global trade war looms over the new US steel tariffs, the EU's attention will shift to Strasbourg - where MEPs are expected to debate the Martin Selmayr appointment, trade, Brexit, journalism and the budget.

Italy and migration will top This WEEK

Italy will have voted for a government, Germany's social democrats will have voted to confirm a government (or not): the dynamics in European politics may change, while Brussels will focus on Brexit again.

Germany casts doubt on Austrian intelligence sharing

An Austrian police unit headed by a far-right town councilor and tasked to tackle street crime was sent to raid the offices and homes of people working for Austria's domestic intelligence agency - prompting German counterparts to review cooperation.

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