Thursday

15th Nov 2018

Agenda

Migration, tax rulings, and Dalli this WEEK

  • Over 1,800 people have died this year alone trying to cross the Mediterreanean (Photo: Amnesty International Italy)

Top officials in Brussels over the weekend will praise the founding of the Union just as Britain’s election result throws into question its future relations with the EU.

The weekend events mark both the end of the Second World War and the 65th anniversary of the Schuman declaration on Saturday (9 May).

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But the celebrations come on the heels of an upsurge in fighting in Ukraine, a spiraling humanitarian crisis in the Mediterranean, and continued economic and social upheaval in Greece.

Some of these issues will be squeezed into a short three-day week before bank holidays empty the Brussels European quarter for an extended break.

European Agenda on Migration

At the top of the list is migration.

On Wednesday, the European Commission is set to adopt its long awaited European Agenda on Migration. The package is a five-year plan that will focus on asylum, trafficking, irregular migration, external borders, and legal migration.

Policy-makers have for months promised a more humane response to the tens of thousands seeking to disembark from the Libyan coast towards Europe.

According to the International Organisation for Migration, 1,829 have died in the sea crossings this year alone, compared to 207 by this time last year. The deaths have piled on the pressure for the EU to act.

But solutions such as legal migration tend to be highly politically sensitive and are likely to meet stiff resistance from national governments who want more emphasis on clamping down on people traffickers.

Part of the anti-trafficking task has fallen on the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini. On Monday, she will go to New York and brief the UN Security Council on the situation in the Mediterranean.

The EU wants to sink the boats used by traffickers to ferry over migrants but needs a UN resolution - something unlikely given Russia's opposition to the idea.

Instead, sources recently told the AFP the plan could change to allow member state navies to board and confiscate unflagged vessels in international waters.

MEPs on tax rulings and Russia

Meanwhile, a group of MEPs along with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists will hold a public hearing in Brussels on controversial tax rulings (beneficial tax rates for companies).

A handful of the MEPs will then launch their national tours to examine the schemes on Tuesday, starting with Belgium. They will also visit Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Ireland and the UK.

Monday is also a busy day on Russia and Ukraine with MEPs in the foreign affairs committee voting on a politically sensitive resolution.

The resolution will spell out ways to improve EU-Russia relations, the conditions Russia needs to meet following its illegal annexation of Crimea, and outline its involvement in the war in Ukraine.

The committee will also host Georgia’s President Giorgi Margvelashvili to debate the upcoming Eastern Partnership Summit in Riga.

John Dalli versus European Commission

On Tuesday, judges at the European court of Justice in Luxembourg are set to deliver a verdict on the legal dispute between former health commissioner John Dalli and former EU commission president Jose Manual Barroso.

The two are at odds over Dalli’s removal from office in October 2012 following allegations he attempted to lift an EU-wide ban on mouth tobacco snus in exchange for money.

Dalli, who maintains his innocence in the affair, says he was forced out of office. Barroso says he resigned voluntarily.

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.

News in Brief

  1. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May
  2. Denmark blocks Tanzania aid over homophobic crackdown
  3. Second UK cabinet minister resigns over Brexit deal
  4. UK Brexit secretary quits morning after deal agreed
  5. Romanian MPs call for national 'Magnitsky Act'
  6. Tusk: Brexit summit on Sunday 25 November
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  8. Greece to investigate former PM's bank accounts

Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM put Orban on spot

Authorities in Budapest confirmed the former prime minister of Macedonia, fleeing a jail sentence in his own country, has filed for asylum. Despite Hungary's strict asylum laws, the pro-Kremlin politician was not turned away.

Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army

Angela Merkel's much-anticipated speech to the European Parliament was brief and to the point. Her message: Europe is alone in the world, the EU should be more united on defence, but not on the economy.

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