30th Mar 2020


Greece and TTIP shape EU agenda this WEEK

  • MEPs are to set out their views on the EU-US trade agreement this week (Photo: david.nikonvscanon)

The EU's week will kick off in Bavaria, southern Germany, over the weekend where the bloc's key leaders will gather for a meeting of the world's richest nations (G7).

The forum is due to discuss the global economy, trade, and progress toward an international deal on reducing the effects of climate change.

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The meeting - attend by the leaders of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US as well as EU Council and commission presidents - is set to defined by off-the-main-agenda issues such as Greece and Russia.

Greece's struggle to water down the reforms demanded by its creditors in return for a €7.2bn bailout payment has been a permanent fixture on the EU's agenda since early February - and is being keenly watched by other members of the G7.

Returning from an EU-Japan summit last week, EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker noted in an interview that prime minister Shinzo Abe is "keenly interested" in the situation in Greece and pointed out that Japanese investment in Europe depends on trust in the euro.

Washington, too, has made some pointed statements about the situation, amid underlying fears that Greece exiting the eurozone could have geopolitical consequences - through Russia gaining influence in the country.

The G7 meeting, beginning Sunday, also comes one year after those leaders ousted Russia from their ranks because it annexed Crimea and sent troops into eastern Ukraine.

Germany and France brokered a peace deal with Russia earlier this year, but it is barely holding together and recent days have seen an escalation in fighting.

US president Barack Obama is set to urge his counterparts to extend economic sanctions on Russia - a decision due at a an EU summit later this month.

While the Greek situation will form the backdrop to the G7 summit, it will also continue to shape the coming week. Greek PM Alexis Tsipras set the scene in a key parliamentary address on Friday in which he rejected creditors' latest offer to secure a deal.

Meanwhile, EU energy ministers will have a discussion on energy security with the EU keen to make itself less dependent on Russia. One part of the discussion is to focus on Liquified Natural Gas (LGN).

Energy commissioner Miguel Arias Canete in a recent speech noted that European LNG imports has almost halved between 2011 and 2014. He said the commission wants to work with member states on "how to increase the competitiveness of LNG and make Europe an attractive market for key suppliers such as Algeria, Nigeria and Qatar".

The European Parliament will have a plenary session in Strasbourg where the key issue will be a vote on a resolution on the US-EU free trade agreement, TTIP.

MEPs are split on the controversial issue of investor protection rights. A compromise text urges the EU commission to continue its negotiations with the US and calls for reform investor/state dispute settlement (ISDS) amid fears that the mechanism gives corporations too much power.

But the final wording of the text is set to hinge on the Socialists.

“We want no ISDS. We say no to private arbitration and corporate lawyers deciding behind closed doors”, socialist spokesperson Utta Tuttlies told said Friday, even though centre-left MEPs' supported the resolution passed in the trade committee at the end of May.

Mid-week will also see 61 leaders attended an EU-Latin America summit, where the main focus will be strengthening economic and political ties. A separate EU-Mexico summit will round off the week on Friday.

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