Tuesday

24th Jan 2017

Agenda

This WEEK: EU top jobs, Ukraine treaty, Iraq

  • Ypres: Bad place for a Merkel-Cameron row (Photo: UK Ministry of Defence)

European leaders will next week try to agree who should fill top EU posts and will sign free trade treaties with Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

The leaders will first meet in Ypres, north-west Belgium, on Thursday (26 June) to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the outbreak of WW1.

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 top jobs debate will take centre stage at an informal dinner, where Germany may clash with Britain on who should take over the European Commission - a potential embarrassment given the symbolism of the Ypres venue.

Germany has publicly backed Luxembourg’s Jean-Claude Juncker for the post, while Britain has publicly opposed him.

The top jobs deal is a package in which everybody gets something: the centre-right and centre-left blocs; large and small, east and west, and north and south EU countries; men and women.

EU leaders will on Friday move to Brussels to sign the trade agreements with the PMs and Presidents of the three former Soviet republics.

The Ukraine treaty is the most important.

Ukraine shocked Europe in February when a revolution ousted the former regime because it refused to sign the EU pact, amid scenes of protesters dying under the EU flag. Russia then shocked Europe in March by annexing Crimea and attacking east Ukraine to undermine Ukraine's pro-Western aspirations.

EU diplomats, on Monday, are due to finalise legal preparations to sign the treaty.

But with Nato reporting that Russian troops are again massing on Ukraine’s border, some EU diplomats do not rule out an 11th-hour escalation designed to derail the Friday signature.

For their part, EU foreign ministers will in Luxembourg on Monday discuss sending an EU mission to Ukraine to train its police force.

They will also discuss how the EU should treat exports from Crimea without punishing local producers and without de facto accepting Russia’s annexation of the territory.

Iraq crisis

The ministers’ meeting will be dominated by Iraq, however.

Sunni Muslim rebels led by Isis, an Islamic extremist group, risk seizing control of oil assets and overthrowing the Shia Muslim-led government in Baghdad.

US leader Barack Obama has said he is ready to launch air strikes against Isis, but does not want the US to become the air-force of the Shia side in a sectarian war.

Britain has said EU states should get involved because if Isis wins it will pose a terrorist threat. France has said it might join the US air strikes if the Iraqi government asks for its help.

In a sign of how big an impact Iraq is having on international relations, two former British defence chiefs, Jock Stirrup and David Richards, told the British parliament this week that Iraq is a bigger problem than Ukraine.

Richards added the West should make a deal with Russia on Ukraine in return for help in Iraq.

The EU ministers will also discuss Libya and Thailand.

French and US air strikes in Libya in 2011 led to regime change, but the country is now in chaos as rival tribes and militias try to carve up its oil wealth. In Thailand, the military coup in May is to see the EU put off the signature of a new partnership treaty until constitutional order is restored.

In other events, leaders of EU centre-left governments will meet in Paris on Saturday to plot tactics ahead of the top jobs talks.

EU parliament

The European Parliament will on Tuesday seal the formation of its new groups.

The latest tallies indicate the EPP will retain its place as the largest faction, followed by the centre-left S&D, the anti-federalist ECR, the liberal Alde group, the Greens, the far-left Gue, and the eurosceptic EFD, with the far-right struggling to cobble together an alliance.

The group formation will trigger the parliament's own top-jobs haggling - discussions on who should chair the most powerful committees based on rules which give the biggest groups the best choice.

The leaders of the groups will also travel to Rome on Monday to meet the Italian government, as Italy prepares to take over the EU chairmanship on 1 July.

News in Brief

  1. VW's internal Dieselgate probe not yet done
  2. Israel defies EU policy with huge settlement expansion
  3. Martin Schulz to be candidate for German chancellor
  4. EU commission gives MEPs Dieselgate paper at last moment
  5. EU parliament committee backs EU-Canada deal
  6. UK MPs must vote on Brexit trigger, court rules
  7. Greek island mayors plead for the transfer of migrants
  8. Tzipi Livni cancels Brussels trip amid war crimes probe

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsKyrgyzstan: no Justice for Human Rights Defender Azimjan Askarov
  2. Dialogue PlatformThe Influence of Turkish Politics in Europe After the Coup Attempt
  3. World VisionEU Urged to do Better Ahead of Helsinki Conference on Syria
  4. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  5. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  6. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  7. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  8. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  9. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  10. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  11. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  12. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism

Latest News

  1. No Turkey-type migrant deal with Libya, says EU commission
  2. EU to Trump: Protectionism is 'doomed to fail'
  3. The French town that swung from socialist to far-right
  4. UK parliament must give Brexit approval, judges rule
  5. 'No indication' VW used EU loans to cheat
  6. Fillon promotes pro-Russia views in Berlin
  7. Dutch PM tells people to 'act normal, or go away'
  8. EU to step up effort against Russian and Islamist propaganda