19th Nov 2018


Tsipras to meet Merkel in Berlin this WEEK

  • Merkel will receive Tsipras in Berlin (Photo: Bundesregierung)

After several weeks of increasing tension between Germany and Greece, the two countries’ leaders are meeting in Berlin on Monday (23 March).

Greek PM Alexis Tsipras told Greek daily Kathimerini that the talks “will not be pressurised by negotiations” on the Greek bailout, so that “we can both discuss the important issues that are burdening Europe, as well as improving bilateral relations between the two countries”.

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German chancellor Angela Merkel also said Monday's visit is “a bilateral visit, just as prime minister Tsipras has made it to other European capitals”.

She spoke at a press conference in Brussels last Friday, after an EU summit in which Greece was urged to put forward a “full list” of reforms in the next few days in order to keep getting aid money.

Merkel said she didn’t expect Tsipras to bring the list of reforms to Berlin, however.

“This is not the time and place for anyone to receive a list of reforms. … These have to be given to the institutions, not to Germany”, Merkel said, referring to Greece's international creditors - the International Monetary Fund, the European Central Bank and European Commission.

However, in Germany, one prominent member of Merkel's coalition partner said in an interview over the weekend that his patience is running out.

“I expect that [Tsipras] will submit this list at his meeting with chancellor Merkel on Monday”, Thomas Opperman, the leader of the centre-left social-democrat party, told Der Spiegel.

“I finally want to know if Greece is really preparing for real reforms or not.”

Monday's meeting will begin at 5pm local time.

Also this week, EU diplomats will continue their nuclear negotiations with Iran in the Swiss city of Lausanne

US secretary of state John Kerry has said “substantial progress” was made in the last round of talks, as the deadline - 31 March - for a final agreement approaches.

Iranian president Hassan Rouhani has also expressed cautious optimism, saying “there is nothing that cannot be resolved … shared points of view emerged in some of the areas where there had been a difference of opinion”.

EU ministers will this week meet in Riga, the capital of the EU's current 6-month president, Latvia.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, trade ministers will look at progress in EU-US free trade talks, including the controversial subject of “ISDS” - an arbitration mechanism that allows private firms to force governments to change legislation.

On Thursday and Friday, competetiveness ministers will discuss the EU digital economy, including the role of the EU's single market.

The commission's digital vice-president, Andrus Ansip, will on Wednesday in Brussels give a presentation to his fellow commissioners, and discuss the obstacles the EU's digital market and its consumers are facing. He is expected to present a digital strategy for the EU in May.

Also on Wednesday in Brussels, the European Parliament will meet for a one-day plenary session.

MEPs will discuss financial assistance to Ukraine, the results of last week's summit of EU government leaders, the future of the EU's neighbourhood policy, and tax transparency.

EU offers €2bn in unspent aid to Greece

The EU is to send Greece €2bn this year to be used to combat the country's social crisis, while a mini-meeting to discuss the country's problems is being hailed as having cleared the air after a fractious few weeks.

Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK

All eyes on London this week, where May struggles to hold onto power against Brexit rebels, while EU leaders meet in Brussels on Sunday to try to clinch agreement.

Merkel and Brexit in spotlight This WEEK

The now-outgoing German chancellor will outline her vision for Europe in the EU parliament, as political parties gear up for the election next May. Brexit will also dominate, even though talks have yet to yield a breakthrough.

EU elections and Italy's finances are in focus This WEEK

A debate among would-be EPP 'Spizenkandidat' candidates next week in Helsinki will be the first of many clashes of ideas ahead of European elections next May. The liberals are also holding their own congress.

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