Thursday

27th Feb 2020

Agenda

Putin steals the show This WEEK

  • Putin recently created a potential staging post for an anti-IS offensive at Syria's Latakia airport (Photo: kremlin.ru)

Prospects of an EU-US-Russia alliance against Islamic State (IS) and a peace deal on Ukraine take centre stage this week.

Neither dossier involves the EU institutions or Brussels. But decisions made at the UN General Assembly in New York and at the Ukraine peace talks in Paris could reshape European affairs.

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Russian leader Vladimir Putin is expected to propose the anti-IS coalition in his UN speech on Monday (28 September).

He is also expected to criticise EU and US sanctions on Russia, imposed after he invaded Ukraine.

Putin's UN speech, his first in 10 years, might be preceded by a Russian military offensive in Syria.

He will also meet US leader Barack Obama for the first time since the Ukraine conflict.

Stopping the Syria war is key to stopping the EU refugee crisis. But the price of Putin’s help might be to keep his Syrian ally, president Bashar al-Assad in power, and for the West to drop Ukraine sanctions.

EU Council chair Donald Tusk will defend Europe’s actions on migration and Ukraine in a speech on Tuesday.

The UN assembly will also see top EU officials and EU state leaders attend a high-level conference on migration on Wednesday - a prelude to EU talks with African leaders in Malta in November.

For her part, top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini will, the same day, try to launch a new format for Arab-Israeli peace talks in a meeting with Russia, the US, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan.

European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans will, on Saturday, address a UN meeting on eradicating poverty.

The same day, France will take centre stage at climate change talks ahead of the Paris summit in December.

Moving from New York to Paris on Friday, the French, German, Russian, and Ukrainian leaders will discuss how to end the conflict in east Ukraine.

The talks come after a lull in fighting, but ahead of “elections” by Russian puppet governments in east Ukraine in October.

Back in Brussels, MEPs will, from Monday to Wednesday, hold talks on EU spending plans for 2016.

The EU Parliament's civil liberties committee will, on Thursday, debate US intelligence snooping on EU nationals, in a resolution which could cast further doubt on EU-US data sharing protocols.

With the refugee crisis prompting political gains by far-right groups, Timmermans will, in Brussels on Thursday, give a speech against Islamophobia.

Meanwhile, Europe will start the week by digesting the outcome of local elections in Catalonia.

If separatist parties win by a landslide, as expected, Catalan leaders might unilaterally declare independence, creating a crisis in Spain and posing questions on future Catalan-EU relations.

Africa visit and EU parliament missions This WEEK

The European Commission will visit the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for a joint meeting with the African Union, ahead of the EU-Africa strategy being unveiled. MEPs will carry out missions in the Czech Republic, Turkey and the US.

Budget, Zuckerberg, Pelosi and Cayman Islands This WEEK

EU leaders will put their heads together on Thursday night to look for a compromise on the next long-term EU budget. EU Council president Charles Michel's latest proposal has received a lukewarm welcome from member states.

EU budget battle gears up This WEEK

Member states get ready for their first real negotiations on the next seven-year EU budget, while MEPs discuss the next Brexit phase, enlargement, and vote on a highly-controversial trade deal with Vietnam.

Second phase of Brexit starts This WEEK

In its first week without the UK, the EU will reveal how it wants to negotiate future relations with London, will propose a new enlargement methodology to calm Paris, and MEPs will hear from EU chief prosecutor Laura Kovesi.

Feature

Coronavirus: voices from a quarantined Italian town

Panic-buying, plus resentment at the media for fuelling the panic, are the paradoxical responses of residents of the Italian towns of Vicenza and Vo', where Italy's first victim of the coronavirus died last Friday.

Greek island riots require measured response, says EU

Residents on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios have been met with riot police, following protests against plans to erect new migrant detention camps. The European Commission says measures by Athens' authorities must be "necessary and proportionate."

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