Thursday

22nd Feb 2024

Agenda

EU summit at risk of Belgian police strike This WEEK

  • Will the Brussels summit also have to deal with a striking police force? (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Will they reach an agreement on time?

When this question is asked with the coming week in Brussels in mind, it doesn't only refer to the climate and energy package which government leaders are discussing on Thursday and Friday (23 and 24 October).

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The clock is also ticking for negotiations on pension reform between police unions and the newly approved Belgian government.

Belgian minister for home affairs Jan Jambon will meet with the unions on Tuesday.

If no agreement is reached, the four police unions will repeat their call on all police personnel involved in organising security during the EU summit, to go on strike. That would include those responsible for security outside of the Council building, police escorts and “VIP protection”.

And there will be quite a number of VIPs in Brussels.

The Council, consisting of the 28 EU government leaders and heads of state, will, according to the official draft agenda, focus on the so-called climate and energy policy framework.

The package of measures is designed to fight climate change and increase the EU's energy security.

However, a week before the meeting, there are still substantial differences of agreement on the climate and energy targets.

The Council will also “address the economic situation in the European Union”.

However, the summit is also the perfect place to discuss things that are not on the agenda.

British prime minister Cameron for example is expected to use the gathering to increase other European countries' support for Ebola-stricken countries in west Africa.

He will also ask EU leaders to follow the UK in screening air passengers coming from the outbreak zone.

On Friday, the second day of the summit, the 18 government leaders and heads of state whose countries comprise the eurozone will discuss their common currency during a lunch.

The summit also marks the last European Council meeting chaired by Herman Van Rompuy.

From 1 December onwards, former prime minister of Poland Donald Tusk will take over from the Belgian haiku writer.

The week ahead could also see the final episode of the approval process of Jean-Claude Juncker's team of commissioners.

On Monday (20 October), Slovenian commissioner-designate Violeta Bulc will be tested by the European Parliament, which has its week in Strasbourg.

Will Bulc, a political novice, impress MEPs more than her compatriot Alenka Bratusek did?

Some say that the parliament is “not out for blood”, with Bulc to receive a less weighty portfolio than Bratusek: transport.

The post of vice-president on energy union will shift to Slovak commissioner Maros Sefcovic, who will also be questioned by MEPs on Monday.

If the hearings satisfy the two largest political groups in the parliament, the centre-right EPP and the socialist group, parliament will approve the Juncker commission in a vote on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, EU foreign ministers will meet in Luxembourg on Monday to discuss Ebola, Libya, Islamic State, Gaza, and Ukraine.

EU leaders meeting with their Russian and Ukrainian counterparts in Milan on Friday voiced hope the crisis is moving toward a peaceful solution.

They also said Russia and Ukraine are likely to reach a deal on winter gas prices at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday, with the new momentum set to prompt some EU foreign ministers to call for a roll-back on Russia sanctions.

The week ends on Sunday with two parliamentary elections in EU neighbours: Ukraine and Tunisia.

Belgium paralysed by general strike

Flights, trains, and buses all but grind to a halt in Belgium on Monday, as trade unions stage a general strike against public sector cuts linked to EU budget rules.

New Red Sea mission and more Russia sanctions This WEEK

EU foreign affairs ministers launch the bloc's new Red Sea naval mission, plus hold talks on new sanctions against Russia — amid Hungarian objections — on Monday. Plus a home for the EU's new anti-money laundering authority will be picked.

Nato, defence summit, and UNRWA in focus This WEEK

Nato defence ministers will meet this week ahead of the Munich Security Conference. ECB chief Christine Lagarde will address MEPs in the committee on economic affairs and MEPs will hold a debate about the defunding of the UNRWA agency.

EU's 2040 climate target and farmers in focus This WEEK

This week, the EU commission will present a proposal to cut net emissions by 90 percent by 2040, while MEPs discuss the demands of farmers' protests across Europe. Romanian president Klaus Iohannis will also address the EU parliament in Strasbourg.

Aid for Kyiv EU summit and Nato defence in focus This WEEK

EU leaders will gather in Brussels for an extraordinary council on Thursday (1 February) to try to agree on the €50bn four-year aid package to Ukraine, after Hungarian prime minister Viktor Orbán blocked all compromises in December.

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