Tuesday

18th Dec 2018

Agenda

Greece, trade secrecy on EU agenda this WEEK

  • London smog: environment ministers will discuss air pollution (Photo: stu mayhew)

This week sees the return of yet another deadline in the ongoing Greek bailout saga in the form of a meeting of euro finance ministers on Thursday.

The 18 June eurogroup meeting comes less than two weeks before the current bailout runs out, the date by which Greece also needs to find €1.6 billion to repay the IMF.

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Both Athens and its creditors have been touting this week as the time for a breakthrough on unlocking the €7.2bn bailout out money.

However, relations between the two sides, never particularly good, appeared to sour further when the IMF, one of the three creditors along with the EU and the ECB, last week left the negotiations table citing major differences. And Reuters reports that senior eurozone officials, at a meeting in Slovakia, for the first time discussed the possibility of Greece defaulting.

Meanwhile, the drawn-out talks appear to be affecting public opinion. Fifty-one percent of Germans, in a ZDF poll, said they are against Greece having the euro - up from 33 percent six months earlier.

Migration

EU interior ministers will gather in Brussels on Tuesday for a first discussion on the controversial migration proposals tabled by the European Commission last month.

The proposals were prompted by the situation in the Mediterranean, where hundreds of migrants each week attempt to reach European shores from north Africa.

But actual decisions will be in short supply, as member states are baulking at the idea of letting the commission - based on a key that takes into account factors such as GDP - determine how many migrants each country should take.

The same ministerial meeting should see a breakthrough on data legislation on Monday.

After over a year of discussions at the member state level, ministers are set to agree on a data protection bill first proposed in early 2012.

Negotiations can then start with the European Parliament. The plan is to have the bill agreed by the end of the year. The data protection regulation is set to replace a twenty-year old directive with a single set of rules.

EU parliament

In the European Parliament, the week will start with economic and financial affairs.

ECB chief Mario Draghi will appear before the economic and monetary affairs committee on Monday to discuss the eurozone bank's quantitative easing programme. Greece will also likely to feature heavily in MEPs' questions. The same committee will the following day agree its ideas on reforming the economic governance of the eurozone.

Two other key committee votes will also take place this week. The legal affairs committee will vote on a draft law aiming to better protect EU businesses against the theft or misuse of trade secrets - but critics say it will allow companies to prevent journalists from writing about them by citing the right to trade secrecy.

MEPs in the same committee will give their opinion on EU copyright reform, a package of legislation set to be unveiled by the commission by the end of this year.

The report, by German pirate MEP Julia Reda, is set to cover geoblocking, harmonising copyright rules and authors' remuneration and has already received 100s of amendments.

Economic governance will be a major issue during a meeting of employment ministers later in the week. They will discuss annual policy recommendations for national governments amid a recent promise by key EU commissioners to give more weight to social issues.

Clean air

Environment ministers, for their part, will discuss new caps to put on the emission of several air pollutants. In March, EUobserver reported that France and the UK have been trying to water down the pollution caps, targeting especially the ceilings for pollutants which result from agriculture.

Air pollution, which prematurely kills about 400,000 Europeans every year, will also be debated by MEPs on Tuesday afternoon.

Danes go to the ballot box on Thursday with the latest polls showing the ruling coaltion under centre-left PM Helle Thorning-Schmidt is narrowly in the lead.

IMF puts Greece in tough spot

The IMF has withdrawn its negotiation team form the Greek bailout talks over "major differences in most key areas".

Brexit vote and Merkel's successor top This Week

Europe heads into uncertain territory with France in turmoil, the UK voting on the Brexit deal, and Germany will have a new leader of its largest ruling party. EU leaders will also discuss the eurozone and migration at their summit.

Brexit climax and Soros in Brussels This WEEK

Brexit talks are set to climax at a special summit in Brussels on Sunday, while George Soros, the US philanthropist demonised by populists, will meet EU officials on Monday.

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Opinion

Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating

New rules are needed that do not place the heaviest burdens on a few countries, but ensure that all countries benefit from the euro. Avoiding imbalances in trade between countries can do this.

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