24th Apr 2019


Greece and eurozone recovery top the bill this WEEK

  • Back in Brussels. Yanis Varoufakis will present his government's reform programme on Monday. (Photo: Council of European Union)

The future of Greece's bailout and ways to inject energy into the eurozone economy will again dominate the agenda of EU politicians this week.

Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis will set out his government’s economic reform plan at Monday’s (9 March) Eurogroup meeting, warning that rejection could prompt fresh elections, less than two months after his left-wing Syriza party took power.

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Ministers agreed to give Greece four months to renegotiate its bailout programme provided that the new government sticks to pre-existing economic targets and does not change its overall budget position.

Syriza’s new proposal includes new curbs on tax avoidance and levies on wealthy Greeks alongside an increased minimum wage.

Prime minister Alexis Tsipras and Varoufakis have come under pressure from factions within their party, amid criticism that they agreed to keep most of the austerity measures in the €240 billion bailout deal, despite having been elected to free Greece from bailouts and a crippling debt burden.

On Tuesday, the EU’s 28 finance ministers will gather for their monthly meeting with the European Commission’s €315 billion investment programme set to be the main item of discussion.

In Frankfurt, meanwhile, the European Central Bank begins a €1.14 trillion bond-buying programme on Monday as it seeks to speed up the eurozone’s stalling economic recovery.

The Frankfurt-based bank announced in January that it would purchase €60 billion of bonds per month, with the programme set to run at least until September 2016, in a bid to increase demand in the economy and drag the eurozone away from deflation.

For their part, MEPs will journey to Strasbourg for their monthly plenary session with a relatively quiet agenda.

On Monday evening the Parliament’s committee of inquiry into the Lux-leaks corporate tax scandal will hold its first hearing.

The main legislative activity will be a vote on laws capping the credit card fees that banks charge retailers for processing shoppers' payments.

Fees will capped at 0.2 percent of the transaction value for debit cards and 0.3 percent for credit cards. The cap will lead to estimated savings of €6 billion for retailers and consumers.

On Wednesday, deputies are expected to endorse the commission’s plans for the Economic Semester and the progress towards EU accession made by the bloc’s candidate countries in the Balkans.

Merkel downplays speculation on third Greek bailout

German chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday downplayed talk of a third bailout package for Greece and said that an EU-US trade deal can still be completed this year if there is enough political will.

EU parliament meets last time This WEEK

MEPs will gather for the last time this week in Strasbourg before the European elections in May to finalise several bills. Lawmakers will have a Brexit debate and hear from Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Brexit and China top EU affairs This WEEK

Brexit and China will dominate EU affairs this week, as leaders meet for two summits - including emergency talks two days before the UK is due to crash out of the EU with no deal in place.

Brexit no-deal and chief prosecutor top This WEEK

No-deal Brexit has become more likely than ever before, and EU leaders will start preparations for it as the drama continues in London. Negotiations also continue over the candidates for the EU's new top prosecutor.

Copyright and (another) new Brexit vote This WEEK

The UK parliament will likely hold a third vote on the Brexit withdrawal deal next week, determining the UK's departure from the bloc. In the meantime, the controversial copyright reform will be on the EU parliament's agenda.

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