16th Jan 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.

Romania takes over the EU This WEEK

Romania will officially take over the EU's presidency this week, with commissioners and senior EU officials kicking off the testing next six-month period with meetings in Bucharest.

Brexit vote and Merkel's successor top This Week

Europe heads into uncertain territory with France in turmoil, the UK voting on the Brexit deal, and Germany will have a new leader of its largest ruling party. EU leaders will also discuss the eurozone and migration at their summit.

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