Wednesday

19th Dec 2018

Agenda

Migration tops EU agenda THIS WEEK

  • Migrants in Italy. The Commission and member states will discuss the refugee crisis in Europe. (Photo: Ben Philabaum)

As the EU machine restarts after the summer recess, migration will be the top issue in the coming week.

Migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos and the executive's vice-president Frans Timmermans will visit some of the countries most affected by the current refugee crisis.

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On Monday (31 August), they will be in Calais, France, where around 3,000 migrants live trying to cross the Channel to Britain. They will meet French prime minister Manuel Valls and interior minister Bernard Cazeneuve.

On Friday, they'll visit the Greek island of Kos, where 29,551 people arrived between 1 January and 21 August, according to the latest UNHCR figures.

The following week Avramopoulos and Timmermans will also go to Austria and Germany.

On Wednesday and Thursday (2 and 3 September), commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will gather his college for a working seminar.

They will "discuss the current challenges and the state of the European Union", a commission spokesman said, and "migration will be on top of the agenda".

Indications of the commission's position or new proposals could come on Tuesday, when Juncker and the head of EU diplomacy Federica Mogherini address an EU ambassadors conference in Brussels.

Informal meetings

The situation in the Mediterranean and the Balkans will also be discussed by member states.

 On Wednesday and Thursday, EU defence ministers will be in Luxembourg for an informal meeting.

Among other things they will discuss the EUnavfor Med operation aimed at disrupting smugglers' networks off the Libyan coast.

Nato support is on the table, and the alliance's secretary general Jens Stoltenberg will attend the ministers' dinner on Tuesday.

EU foreign affairs ministers will also be in Luxembourg for an informal meeting on Friday and Sunday, where the migrant situation will be discussed as well.

Member states chief diplomats will also discuss the situation in Ukraine, relations with Russia, the Middle East peace process and the Iran nuclear deal.

European Parliament

In the meantime, the European Parliament committee on foreign affairs will discuss the external dimension of the migration crisis on Monday.

On Thursday, the civil liberties committee will hear Fabrice Leggeri, the director of Frontex, the EU border control agency.

Coming back form a month-long holiday, MEPs will hold parliamentary committee meetings all week, before heading for the first plenary session in Strasbourg the following week.

On Monday and Thursday, several committees will vote their positions on the draft proposal for next year's EU budget.

On Thursday, the agriculture committee will define its position on a commission proposal to allow individual member states ban GMO products on their territory.

Economy

Also on Thursday, the parliament's conference of the presidents will discuss a request from Greek PM Alexis Tsipras that the EU assembly enters the group of creditor institutions overseeing the bailout agreed earlier this month.

This request came after a session in parliament in July, when Tsipras gave a speech and had a long and heated debate with MEPs, which many saw as the first EU-level democratic debate on the Greek crisis.

Ahead of the 20 September Greek snap election, the situation of the country's finances and banking sector might be addressed at the press conference the European Central Bank (ECB) president Mario Draghi will give on Thursday.

The ECB chief is also expected to react to the Chinese financial troubles which hit world markets on 25 August.

Tsipras launches risky election campaign

Faced with deep divisions in his party, the Greek PM gave a TV interview on Wednesday to defend the bailout agreed with Greece's lenders.

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.

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