Monday

23rd Sep 2019

Agenda

Greek debt talks to dominate this WEEK

  • Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis will be the centre of attention again in Brussels this week (Photo: Council of European Union)

Greece’s debt crisis will, once again, dominate proceedings in Brussels this week. Eurozone finance ministers will gather in the EU capital on Monday (16 February) in a concerted attempt to agree a new debt deal with Alexis Tsipras’ government.

Ministers failed to come close to an accord at an emergency meeting last week but Tsipras expressed confidence that agreement would be reached in an interview published Sunday in German magazine Stern.

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"I expect difficult negotiations; nevertheless I am full of confidence," he said, promising that Greece would be “a completely different country" within six months.

The Greek government wants a bridge programme to be put in place until the summer while a new deal is agreed to replace the remainder of the €240 billion bailout programme.

Failure to get close to a deal on Monday could prompt further emergency sessions later in the week.

On Wednesday, financial services commissioner Jonathan Hill will publish an ideas paper on forming a capital markets union (CMU), in a bid to make European businesses less reliant on banks to provide the funding to stimulate the bloc’s economy.

European firms currently rely on banks for around 80 percent of business finance. The commission wants to follow the example set in the US where companies get five times as much funding from capital markets as their EU counterparts.

The EU executive is expected to put together an “action plan” for possible legislation in the autumn.

The European Parliament has a quiet week ahead with MEPs returning to their constituencies for one of the institution’s ‘external activities’ weeks. A delegations of deputies led by former economic affairs commissioner Olli Rehn will take part in the World Trade Organisation’s parliamentary conference this week.

Meanwhile, representatives from the assembly’s justice and home affairs committee will visit the headquarters of EU border agency Frontex in Poland, a week after boats carrying more than 300 would-be migrants from North Africa sank in the Mediterranean sea.

In Frankfurt, meanwhile, the European Central Bank’s governing council will hold its monthly meeting. In January the council agreed to launch a €1.1 trillion government bond-buying programme in March to stave off a combination of weak economic demand and two consecutive months of deflation in the eurozone.

However, this time it is the ECB’s stance on Greece that will be watched most keenly.

The bank put immediate pressure on the Tsipras government by denying it the option of being able to use Greek government bonds to get finance from the ECB, forcing it to rely on getting emergency funding at higher interest rates from the country's own central bank.

Opinion

The new Greek crisis: Time for compromise

“Greece wants a lot but has very little money to do that. That’s really a problem," Eurogroup chief Djisselbloem said recently. But Brussels is not in a winning position either.

Greece digs in heels ahead of eurozone talks

The new Greek government is maintaining its stance on privatisations and the need for extra time to negotiate a 'bridge programme', ahead of crunch talks with eurozone finance ministers on Monday.

EU to unveil capital markets plan in 2015

The EU commission will unveil plans to harmonise the bloc's capital markets in 2015 and reduce the reliance of Europe's businesses on bank lending.

Europe goes to New York This WEEK

Iran and climate change likely to dominate as French president Emmanuel Macron speaks for Europe at the UN general assembly in New York this week.

Brexit and new commission in focus This WEEK

Jean-Claude Juncker will meet Boris Johnson for the first time, but no breakthrough is expected in Brexit talks. MEPs are preparing to hear from the commission-designates, while Hungary will be grilled at the EU affairs' ministers meeting.

New commission unveiled This WEEK

After weeks of consultations, Ursula von der Leyen will put forward her commission on Tuesday, as London's Brexit drama keeps rumbling on in the background in Brussels.

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Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

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