Wednesday

25th May 2022

Agenda

Migration plans and UK top the bill this WEEK

  • The EU's plans to resettle migrants crossing the Mediterranean sea will be unveiled on Wednesday. (Photo: Amnesty International)

A week shortened by the Monday public holiday will, nevertheless, be a busy one for EU lawmakers, dominated by the ongoing migration crisis in the Mediterranean sea and the UK’s plans to renegotiate its EU status.

The European Commission will unveil new proposals on Wednesday (27 May) for EU governments to relocate thousands of asylum seekers who have arrived by boat in Italy and Greece in recent weeks. According to Reuters, the proposal will call for the relocation of 40,000 asylum seekers.

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  • Several EU governments have already spoken out against any form of formal distribution of migrants between member states (Photo: Migrant Offshore Aid Station)

The plan, which is based on an EU treaty article allowing the bloc to adopt emergency provisions if countries face a sudden increase in migration, will require the support of a majority of EU governments to become legally binding.

However, a number of governments appear unwilling to accept any formal burden sharing agreement, while the numbers involved are still tiny compared to the 600,000 asylum claims made in Europe in 2014.

The commission is also set to recommend that member states resettle 20,000 refugees from outside the EU in the next two years - the distribution will also be based on criteria such as a country's wealth.

Lawmakers also hope to strike a deal on the Commission’s flagship investment fund, with the bloc’s investment commissioner Jyrki Katainen leading negotiations with MEPs and the Latvian presidency.

The “European fund for strategic investments” was tabled by the Juncker commission last November and is meant to raise €315 billion from pension funds and other private sector investors to fund infrastructure projects across the bloc as the way to revitalise the EU's economy.

On Monday, UK prime minister David Cameron will begin a week-long charm offensive with EU leaders by hosting Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker at his country residence, as he begins his bid to renegotiate the UK’s membership of bloc.

Cameron will then journey to Paris and Berlin for meetings with French president Francois Hollande and his German counterpart Angela Merkel later in the week.

Cameron is poised to publish an EU referendum bill on Thursday, having indicated that he would like to hold a referendum in autumn 2016 if possible.

Commitments to reduce the number of EU migrants moving to the UK, and their access to welfare benefits, are expected to be the main aims of Cameron, alongside more cosmetic changes to references in the EU treaties to “ever close Union” and to the EU as a “single currency” bloc.

MEPs, meanwhile, will gather in Brussels for two days of committee meetings and then a ‘mini-plenary’ session. On Thursday deputies will adopt a set of recommendations based on the first two years of negotiations on the free trade agreement with the US.

G7 finance ministers, including ministers from Germany, France and the UK, will meet in Dresden at the end of the week. The ongoing Greek debt crisis will inevitably dominate discussions, as Athens edges closer to default on its debt repayments.

Analysis

Migration plan: Juncker's gamble

Juncker's migration proposal is the first clear sign that he's willing to challenge member states, but has he overplayed his hand?

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.

Economic worries and Hungary on the spot Next WEEK

Eurozone finance ministers will discuss the economic worries with the backdrop of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, agriculture ministers are set to talk food prices, and EU affairs ministers will put Hungary on the spot in the Article 7 procedure.

Russia sanctions and energy dominate Next WEEK

The EU Commission is expected to put forward the RePowerEU plan, which aims to help the diversification of fossil fuel imports in the bloc, as the EU aims to get rid of its dependence on Russian energy supplies.

Opinion

Orbán's overtures to Moscow are distasteful and detrimental

Some Western European politicians are reviving the chimera of a negotiated settlement. None of this makes the current, half-hearted approach towards sanctioning Russia look better — nor does it shed any favourable light on the cravenness of Hungary's current government.

Column

The Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth is back

Ukraine is finally understood — and hopefully Belarus will be soon too — as a self-standing society and state with close links to its EU neighbours, rather being relegated to Russia's backyard.

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