Wednesday

23rd Oct 2019

Agenda

Security paper and Ukraine top EU agenda this WEEK

  • EU foreign policy chief Mogherini - she has to sell the EU's idea to destroy smugglers' boats to the UN (Photo: European External Action Service)

The European Commission will this week (28 April) unveil a "security agenda" for the EU including how to tackle terrorism, organised crime, and cyber crime.

The EU's internal security has become a much higher political priority as member states grapple with the phenonomen of thousands of European citizens going to Syria and elsewhere to take part in Jihadi fighting.

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The Paris attacks in January, and, a month later, in Copenhagen, have highlighted the problem of 'home-grown' terrorists, while cybercrime is increasingly on the EU's radar amid warnings from experts that countries are ill-prepared to deal with sophisticated attacks.

Strengthening the EU's internal security is part of European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker's 10 priorities for his five-year term.

However, it is one of the trickiest areas to tackle, as security issues are largely in the hands of national governments who are often reluctant to share intelligence with one another.

Another aspect is the balance between individual rights and privacy and the wider security agenda. This has resulted in the ongoing tussle between the European Parliament and member states over passenger name records rules - legislation that would see all member states gather detailed information about air passengers flying to and from the EU.

The week kicks off with a EU-Ukraine summit in Kiev, attended by the EU's top brass - Jean-Claude Juncker of the commission and Donald Tusk, president of the European Council.

The summit is the first such meeting since Russia annexed Crimea last year and will discuss, amongst other things, the implementation of a trade agreement between the two sides.

The discussions follow a recent letter by German foreign minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier urging the European Commission to "use the considerable flexibility that the agreement offers" with Russia opposing it as it seeks to create its own sphere of influence in its immediate neighbourhood.

"The economic stability of Ukraine can hardly succeed without the participation of Russia”, said Steinmeier, who also called for "pragmatic, interest-based and political approach without preconditions".

The EU's focus will also be south-facing on Monday as UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon, Italian PM Matteo Renzi and EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini, will board a navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea to show "solidarity" with the hundreds of migrants who recently drowned trying to reached EU shores from northern Africa.

Migration was the focus of an emergency summit last week, which saw Mogherini tasked with looking into the feasibility of the EU setting up a mission to target and destroy boats that could potentially be used by people smugglers.

However, the issue is fraught with political and legal difficulties, not least the fact that the idea needs the UN's green light.

Mogherini will be in the UN headquarters in New York on Tuesday and will meet US secretary of state John Kerry in Washington a day later.

MEPs will also have their say on the issue when they hold a migration debate on Wednesday, with last week's summit showing that member states have a greater focus on security and preventing migration rather than on more contentious aspects, such as reforming asylum rules.

As Juncker and Tusk will be present at the debate, MEPs are also likely to ask them about the ongoing stalemate between Greece and its creditors.

The weeks-long impasse over what reforms Athens needs to undertake to release much-needed bailout money resulted in an ill-tempered euro-ministers’ meeting in Latvia last week.

It prompted a flood of newspaper headlines about a “plan B” if Greece leaves the eurozone.

MEPs are also set to debate the new security strategy on Tuesday and on the same day vote on a recent deal between parliament and governments to accelerate the move to alternative biofuels, derived from waste or residues.

EU to 'capture and destroy' migrant traffickers' boats

EU leaders are to ask foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini to look into setting up a defence mission that would "identify, capture and destroy vessels" potentially used by human traffickers.

Commissioner hearings start This WEEK

MEPs will grill the commissioner-designates for the next two weeks, while the fate of the Romanian and Hungarian candidates remain uncertain. And the Brexit chaos continues with the Conservative party conference.

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.

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