Tuesday

5th Mar 2024

Agenda

Trade, Greece and MEPs on stage this WEEK

  • Parliament's committees will be in full swing ahead of a two-day plenary session starting on Wednesday (Photo: European Parliament)

After a two week Easter break, the EU’s institutions are back to work, with the European Parliament’s legislative committees taking centre stage before a ‘mini-plenary’ session in Brussels on Wednesday and Thursday (16-17 April).

On Monday, MEPs on the International Trade committee will debate the 898 amendments which have been tabled to a draft resolution taking stock of progress made in talks with the US on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

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The parliament, which is not involved in the negotiations but will have the power to veto a final agreement, will adopt its position on TTIP’s state-of-play in May.

The following day (14 April), the same committee will vote on a draft law seeking to make it harder for armed groups in conflict-affected areas to finance activities through the conflict mineral trade.

Greece

Meanwhile Greece’s cash-flow crisis will continue to be in the spotlight.

Having managed to settle a €450 million repayment to the IMF last week, Athens faces treasury bill repayments of €2.4 billion this week. Little progress has been made towards a compromise that will allow Greece to access the remaining €7.2 billion in its EU-IMF bailout that will allow it to stay afloat until the summer.

On Wednesday the European Central Bank will hold the monthly meeting of its governing council.

Although no fireworks are expected to come out of the meeting in terms of policy changes, the state of the Greek banking sector, which is increasingly dependent on the ECB’s Emergency Lending Assistance (ELA) facility, is likely to be one of the main topics of discussion at Mario Draghi’s press conference.

Finland

At the weekend, Finland’s voters go to the polls for parliamentary elections and look set to oust the government led by prime minister Alexander Stubb.

The Centre party, for whom former economics-commissioner-turned-MEP, Olli Rehn, is returning as a lead candidate, is poised to top the poll and claim over 50 of the 200 parliamentary seats.

This would leave it in position to form a coalition with Stubb’s centre-right National Coalition party, the Social Democrats, or with the eurosceptic True Finns party, all of which are forecast to win between 30 and 40 seats.

Led by Juha Sipilae, the Centre party is proposing a diet of spending cuts, wage curbs and labour market reforms to get Finland’s economy to return to growth after three years of stagnation, similar to the austerity measures proposed by Rehn in the wake of the eurozone crisis.

The European Commission, for its part, is beset by rumours that its competition chief Margrethe Vestager will this week announce formal anti-trust charges against search-engine giant Google.

Vestager will be in Washington DC this week to participate in two anti-trust conferences.

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