Tuesday

23rd Jan 2018

Agenda

Riga and red tape on EU agenda this WEEK

  • One year after the Maidan, EU leaders will meet in Riga to see where to go next (Photo: Christopher Bobyn)

The EU will examine approaches to its southern and eastern neighborhood this week in attempts to address the urgent and strategic challenges on its doorstep.

The top issue is the situation in the Mediterranean, where thousands of migrants continue to cross the sea to Europe on a risky journey.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini will continue to work with member states and the United Nations on plans to "disrupt" migrant trafficking from Africa, especially off the the coast of Libya.

A vote from the UN Security Council will be sought this week, but talks with some council members such as Russia and China to secure a resolution could take longer.

A key element will be whether the EU will be authorised to destroy smugglers’s boats before or after they are used to transport migrants in Libyan waters.

EU foreign affairs and defence ministers will be in Brussels on Monday for two separate EU council meetings, but they will meet in a so-called "jumbo" format to discuss the issue.

EU foreign affairs ministers are expected to give the green light to the mission before a final decision by EU leaders in June.

The ministers will also prepare the June EU summit on plans to increase EU military capabilities and strengthening of the bloc’s defence industry.

They will be joined by Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg over lunch to discuss security challenges in the EU’s neighbourhood. Russia’s involvement in eastern Ukraine and military incursions in EU countries’ airspace will be top of the menu.

These security and defence issues will be debated at the European Parliament on Tuesday by MEPs and Federica Mogherini.

The EU eastern partnership policy (EaP) will be the subject of this week’s main event - a summit in Riga (Latvia) between the EU and the EaP six partner countries.

Select EU leaders and representatives from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine will try to keep the momentum for deeper ties despite the situation in Ukraine and broader tensions with Russia.

Efforts aiming at de-escalation and a political solution to the crisis in Ukraine, and the peaceful settlement of other unresolved conflicts in the region, as in Moldova or between Armenia and Azerbaijan, will be high on the summit’s agenda.

Three countries so far have signed association agreements with the EU: Georgia, Moldova and Ukraine. The summit will assess the progress made by these countries in reforming their economies and administration and will look at the possibilities of strengthening ties with the three others.

The creation of a common European economic area will also be discussed with the EaP partners.

Visa facilitation for EaP partners’ citizens, and energy, especially with the gas an oil producing Azerbaijan, and Ukraine, a key transit country, will be an important part of the talks.

The EU will try urge Belarus, the most authoritarian regime in the region, to better respect human rights and democratic standards ahead of a presidential election at the end of the year.

Despite promises of more engagement from the EU, the first drafts of the final declaration of the summit indicate that the EU is tempted to step back from previous declarations on enlargement perspectives or even "incentive-based approach".

Turkey will also be on the EU agenda this week.

On Monday, EU foreign affairs ministers will hold a EU-Turkey Association Council. On Wednesday, the European Parliament will vote on a resolution to assess Turkey’s 2014 reform progress.

MEPs are expected to stress that Turkey must step up the fight against corruption, guarantee the freedom of media and of expression and respect the independence of the judiciary.

The European Parliament, which will be in Strasbourg for its plenary session will have a busy schedule.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the parliament will debate with the European Commission the two most recent legislative proposals presented by the EU executive: the digital single market and the agenda on migration.

On Tuesday, MEPs will debate with commission cice-president Frans Timmermans about Hungary’s plans to reintroduce death penalty and a controversial government consultation on immigration.

On Wednesday, they will vote on the “conflict minerals” legislation aimed at stemming the flow of revenue to armed groups from sales of metal widely used in industry such as tin, tantalum and tungsten, as well as gold.

They will also vote to set up register of company owners in all EU countries to fight money laundering and terrorism financing. The registers ill be open to authorities and people with a "legitimate interest", including journalists.

Also in Strasbourg, the commission will adopt on Wednesday its much awaited better regulation package to simplify EU law and increase transparency in decision-making.

The proposal will be presented by the Timmermans. It is expected to include measures to better evaluate the impact of policies imposed at EU level and extend public consultation.

This week citizens will be called to the voting booths in two countries.

In Ireland, on Thursday (22 May), they will be asked to decide over the legalisation of same-sex marriage.

If the Yes wins, gay people will be entitled to marry with the same constitutional status as straight couples.

That would be a social watershed in a country where the legislation on abortion is one of the most restrictive in Europe and divorce was legalised only 18 years ago.

According to the latest polls, a majority of voters should vote Yes, but the high number of undecided voters makes the result still uncertain.

In Poland, on Sunday (24 May), they will elect their president for a five-year mandate between outgoing Bronislaw Komorowski, form the center-right Civic Plateform) and Andrzej Duda from the more conservative Law and Justice party (PiS). 


Duda created a sensation when came first at the first round on 10 May with 34.7 percent, against 33.7 percent for Komorowski. He is also leading in the first polls published between the two rounds.

The election is a nationwide test before the general election in the Autumn.

Military action underpins EU migration plan

The EU commission has unveiled its migrant quota system, as ministers get set for talks on military operations to destroy migrant smuggler boats in Libya.

Bulgaria takes over, Germany's SPD votes This WEEK

While Bulgaria and Ireland present themselves at next week's plenary at the European Parliament, Germany's Social Democrats will decide if the preliminary coalition deal with Merkel is good enough.

Visual Data

Europe's social democrats are having a hard time

All across Europe, social democratic parties are struggling to stay relevant, leading to a crisis in one of the continent's oldest political ideologies. An overview of the data behind the current situation.

News in Brief

  1. Belgium lowers terror alert level
  2. France, Spain set to gain seats in post-Brexit EU parliament
  3. Orban family probed over 'fraudulent' EU projects
  4. Spanish judge rejects Puigdemont arrest warrant
  5. Austria plans to sue Commission over Hungary's nuclear plant
  6. Puigdemont proposed as sole candidate for Catalan leadership
  7. Abbas in Brussels to discuss Palestinian state recognition
  8. Exiled Catalan leader leaves Belgium for first time

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Solutions for Sustainable Cities: New Grants Awarded for Branding Projects
  2. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersOresund Inspires Other EU Border Regions to Work Together to Generate Growth
  4. Mission of China to the EUTrade Between China, Belt and Road Countries up 15%
  5. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Calls on EU to Sanction Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Expel Ambassadors
  6. Dialogue PlatformRoundtable on "Political Islam, Civil Islam and The West" 31 January
  7. ILGA EuropeFreedom of Movement and Same-Sex Couples in Romania – Case Update!
  8. EU2017EEEstonia Completes First EU Presidency, Introduced New Topics to the Agenda
  9. Bio-Based IndustriesLeading the Transition Towards a Post-Petroleum Society
  10. ACCAWelcomes the Start of the New Bulgarian Presidency
  11. Mission of China to the EUPremier Li and President Tusk Stress Importance of Ties at ASEM Summit
  12. EU2017EEVAT on Electronic Commerce: New Rules Adopted

Latest News

  1. EU stands by Palestine on Jerusalem
  2. MEPs may bar killer robots and drones from EU research cash
  3. Europe's social democrats are having a hard time
  4. How Oettinger's CO2 permit sale could fill Brexit blackhole
  5. New Polish foreign minister tries to charm EU commission
  6. Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on agenda This WEEK
  7. Instagram and Google Plus join EU anti-hate speech drive
  8. EU wants 'entrepreneurship' in education systems

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressChair of EU Parliament Working Group on Antisemitism Condemns Wave of Attacks
  2. Counter BalanceA New Study Challenges the Infrastructure Mega Corridors Agenda
  3. Dialogue PlatformThe Gülen Community: Who to Believe - Politicians or Actions?" by Thomas Michel
  4. Plastics Recyclers Europe65% Plastics Recycling Rate Attainable by 2025 New Study Shows
  5. European Heart NetworkCommissioner Andriukaitis' Address to EHN on the Occasion of Its 25th Anniversary
  6. ACCACFOs Risk Losing Relevance If They Do Not Embrace Technology
  7. UNICEFMake the Digital World Safer for Children & Increase Access for the Most Disadvantaged
  8. European Jewish CongressWelcomes Recognition of Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel and Calls on EU States to Follow Suit
  9. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Boost Innovation Cooperation Under Horizon 2020
  10. European Gaming & Betting AssociationJuncker’s "Political" Commission Leaves Gambling Reforms to the Court
  11. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Applauds U.S. Recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital City
  12. EU2017EEEU Telecom Ministers Reached an Agreement on the 5G Roadmap

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Friends of ArmeniaEU-Armenia Relations in the CEPA Era: What's Next?
  2. Mission of China to the EU16+1 Cooperation Injects New Vigour Into China-EU Ties
  3. EPSUEU Blacklist of Tax Havens Is a Sham
  4. EU2017EERole of Culture in Building Cohesive Societies in Europe
  5. ILGA EuropeCongratulations to Austria - Court Overturns Barriers to Equal Marriage
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersCelebrating Diversity, Citizenship and the European Project With Fundació Josep Irla
  7. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceUnderstanding the Social Consequences of Obesity
  8. Union for the MediterraneanMediterranean Countries Commit to Strengthening Women's Role in Region
  9. European Heart NetworkThe Time Is Ripe for Simplified Front-Of-Pack Nutrition Labelling
  10. Counter BalanceNew EU External Investment Plan Risks Sidelining Development Objectives
  11. Dialogue PlatformThe Turkey I No Longer Know
  12. World Vision7 Million Children at Risk in the DRC: Donor Meeting to Focus on Saving More Lives