Sunday

21st Jan 2018

Agenda

Tusk takes over from Van Rompuy this WEEK

  • Tusk (l) start his new job as EU council chief on Monday (Photo: consilium.europa.eu)

Former Polish PM Donald Tusk in a handover ceremony on Monday (1 December) officially takes over as EU Council chief, while his predecessor, Belgium’s Herman Van Rompuy steps down.

Rompuy is set to teach an EU "leadership and decision-making" course at the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium starting next year.

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The changing of the guard is the last element of the new EU team.

The European Parliament held elections in May, while the new European Commission began work on 1 November.

The arrival of Tusk is also a watershed moment for the EU - the Pole is the first ever VIP from a former Communist or Soviet state to take an EU top job since the 2004 wave of enlargement.

Meanwhile, EU lawmakers will on Tuesday start talks to get an agreement on the 2015 budget.

Negotiators from the three main EU institutions will discuss the European Commission’s new 2015 budget proposal.

Member states want to limit spending at €140 billion, while MEPs are demanding €146.4 billion, with the commission in between.

It’s also a busy week for MEPs as parliamentary committees hold numerous debates, policy discussions, and public hearings.

Some of the more noteworthy occur on Tuesday and Wednesday when special visitors and EU commissioners attend the various committees linked to their portfolios.

Fallen Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky will be discussing human rights with MEPs in the foreign affairs committee.

MEPs in the parliament’s economic affairs committee will be debating the “annual growth survey for 2015”, which sets out the commission’s broad outline on creating new jobs and ratcheting up economies.

EU commission vice-president Valdis Dombrovskis, EU commissioner for economy Pierre Moscovici, and EU commissioner for employment Marrianne Thyssen are attending.

The EU commissioner for trade Cecilia Malmstrom will also be at attending a session at the civil liberties committee on Wednesday.

But the commission has requested a closed-door presentation when its officials brief MEPs on an EU-US agreement which lays out rules on handing over EU citizens’ data among other issues.

Transparency International, on the same day, is also set to release its flagship global corruption report.

Meanwhile, EU ministers for justice and home affairs will be meeting at the end of the week.

Justice ministers will be discussing data and the reformed EU bill on the issue on Thursday. On Friday, home affairs ministers are discussing foreign fighters and a report by the European commission on the border-free Schengen zone.

With the EU celebrating the fifth anniversary of the charter of fundamental rights on Monday, the EU court in Luxembourg will the next day rule on a case with big implications.

It will say whether gay people can claim asylum in the EU on grounds they are persecuted over their sexuality in their home countries.

Who is Tusk and what does he mean for the EU?

Some compare Tusk, the new EU Council chief, to Merkel. But unlike her, he has “given up” on Moscow, with Russia relations set to make or break his EU tenure.

Bulgaria takes over, Germany's SPD votes This WEEK

While Bulgaria and Ireland present themselves at next week's plenary at the European Parliament, Germany's Social Democrats will decide if the preliminary coalition deal with Merkel is good enough.

Netanyahu, Panama Papers, and Brexit This WEEK

The run-up to the Christmas break sees a packed schedule, including the EU summit on Brexit, migration and other issues, a rare visit by Israeli PM Netanyahu, and issues such as fishing quotas and the Panama Papers.

May-Juncker meeting sets the tone This WEEK

As Brexit negotiations approach the (possibly) grand finale of their first phase, the EU's attention this week is turning to the eurozone - who is the new boss and how to deepen and expand it.

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