Saturday

21st Jan 2017

Agenda

Obama back in Brussels this WEEK

  • Obama was in Brussels in March in his first-ever trip to the EU capital (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

US President Barack Obama is back in the EU capital this week for a summit of G7 wealthy nations to be dominated by Ukraine.

The event was originally due to take place in Sochi, Russia, in a G8 format including Russian leader Vladimir Putin, but Russia's membership in the prestigious club was suspended when it annexed Crimea.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The G7 leaders, also including Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and top EU officials will take place in the EU's Justus Lipsius building on Wednesday (4 June) and Thursday.

The US is looking for the EU to take a strong and more united stance on potential Russia sanctions, amid escalating clashes in east Ukraine and reports of a new wave of Chechen fighters crossing from Russia into the conflict zone.

The official agenda also includes the global economy, trade, energy security, climate change, and development.

Obama was last in Brussels for an EU-US summit in March – his first ever visit to the EU capital.

He will stay in Europe on Thursday and Friday to attend a D-Day commemoration ceremony in France, where Putin, as well as Ukraine's president-elect Petro Poroshenko, are also due to attend.

Obama and Putin are to hold separate, bilateral meetings with French President Francois Hollande on Thursday.

For his part, Poroshenko will fly back to Kiev for his inauguration on Saturday. He has said he wants to sign an EU free trade agreement, locking Ukraine out of Russia's Eurasian Union, shortly afterwards in Kiev. But co-ordination of the precise time and place for the event is still ongoing with the 28 EU leaders.

Ukraine will also feature on this week's agenda in energy and defence terms.

Russia has threatened to stop Ukraine's gas supply on Monday – risking shortages in EU states that get Russian gas via Ukraine – but there is a deal in the making for Ukraine to pay €570 million of old Russia gas debts to avoid the cut-off.

Meanwhile, Nato defence ministers will on Tuesday and Wednesday discuss sending more military assets to eastern European countries as a deterrent to Russian aggression.

Ideas include: reinforcing Nato's Multinational Corps Northeast in Szczecin, Poland; more air patrols; more military drills; and a bigger naval presence in the Baltic and the Black Seas.

In day-to-day business, the European Commission will on Monday publish its latest "country-specific recommendations" – a to-do list for 26 EU countries, excluding bailout states Cyprus and Greece – on issues ranging from budgets, to education, and climate.

It will also put out its "convergence reports" on Wednesday – an economic state-of-the-nation for the eight countries in line to join the euro. The list covers Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Lithuania, Hungary, Poland, Romania and Sweden, with Lithuania hoping to be the next to join in 2015.

From Tuesday to Thursday, EU officials will give a series of briefings on environmental issues at various events during "Green Week". This year's edition of the annual forum is to focus on waste and recycling.

The commission will on Friday also unveil a new strategy on health and safety at work, looking at new work-related diseases and how to help ageing people stay in their jobs longer.

The European Parliament will, on the surface, have a quiet week.

But behind the scenes, newly-elected MEPs will be busy trying to negotiate the formation of the next legislature's political groups.

MEPs who went to observe the recent elections in Egypt and Ukraine will give a briefing at the foreign affairs committee on Wednesday.

The Egypt mission caused controversy in Cairo by publicly criticising standards, with the leaders of one state-sponsored symposium, organised by the Egyptian National Council for Women last weekend, throwing mission members out of the event due to their remarks.

GMO opt-out plan remains in waiting room

The commission wants to give the power to member states to reject EU-approved genetically modified organisms, but the Maltese presidency is unlikely to approach the issue any time soon.

New EU parliament coalitions get in shape

Social-democrats and their allies scored a major win on Thursday with the adoption of a report on social rights. But questions remain on the parliament's power balance after the end of the left-right grand coalition.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey