25th May 2022


Mogherini to chair talks on Ukraine and Ebola this WEEK

European ministers of foreign affairs and defence will this week see how the European Union's new foreign policy chief's style differs from Catherine Ashton's.

While her predecessor Ashton is still representing the EU in nuclear talks with Iran, Federica Mogherini will make her debut as chairperson at the foreign affairs council on Monday (17 November).

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A Ukraine debate will dominate the meeting, amid Nato concerns that Russia is preparing for a new offensive in east Ukraine.

Ministers will discuss whether to expand the EU’s blacklist or its economic sanctions over Russia and pro-Russia fighters’ recent violations of peace accords.

EU sources told EUobserver that the UK, Poland, Romania, Nordic countries, and Baltic states want to take action. But France, Germany, and Italy prefer to wait with any big decisions for the EU summit next month.

Mogherini will also debrief ministers on her recent trip to the Middle East, which came amid escalating violence in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

The EU has time and again urged Israel to stop expanding settlements and to let more aid into Gaza, but its appeals keep falling on deaf ears.

Bosnia - which is mired in political infighting between ethnic factions - is the EU’s biggest headache in the Western Balkans. But Mogherini last week told MEPs she will also “touch upon” the corruption scandal in Eulex, the EU rule of law mission in Kosovo, during Monday’s Bosnia session.

On Ebola, the ministers will hear from two top EU officials - Christos Stylianides and Vytenis Andriukaitis - who recently visited the outbreak zone in West Africa, on what more Europe can do to help.

EU commissioner Stylianides, who is the bloc's ebola co-ordinator, will brief the European Parliament on Monday, a day after his return from Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leona.

The parliament on Monday will also receive the president of the European Central Bank (ECB) and the minister of foreign affairs of Ukraine.

ECB president Mario Draghi will speak to MEPs on the economic and monetary affairs committee, while Ukraine's Pavlo Klimkin is to meet with the committee on foreign affairs.

On Tuesday, Mogherini will continue her week by chairing a meeting with the EU's ministers of defence. They will discuss plans to jointly develop air-to-air refuelling capabilities, drones, satellite communications, and cyber defence.

They will also take stock of EU plans for joint procurement of military assets.

The joint capabilities and procurement schemes were agreed by EU leaders last December, but there has been little follow-up in practical terms.

EU ministers will also come together in another forum in Brussels, the general affairs council, on Tuesday and Wednesday. The meeting will cover a range of topics, from climate policy to improving the functioning of the EU.

One element seen as crucial to successful climate negotiations worldwide is the United Nations' Green Climate Fund.

The fund, which will help developing countries pay the costs of climate change and to reduce their carbon emissions, is in need of cash. On Thursday (20 November), Berlin will host a pledging conference to raise funds.

Elsewhere in Europe, the week begins with the results of the Romanian presidential elections.

Current prime minister Victor Ponta's chances to win on Sunday, are high. After exit polls on the evening of the vote, an official result can be expected on Monday.

The following Sunday voters in Tunisia will choose a new president.

Seven MEPs will travel to the north African country - the only one which came out of the Arab upheavals with a democracy - on Friday to monitor the electoral process.

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Italy's Federica Mogherini's will have to hit the ground running as EU's new foreign policy chief as the Russia conflict escalates.

Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK

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Russia sanctions and energy dominate Next WEEK

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Fallout from Russia's war in focus This WEEK

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