Monday

20th May 2019

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.

Spanish vote and EU court's Airbnb ruling in focus This WEEK

Spanish voters are heading to the polls, while in other EU member states campaigning for the European elections is picking up after Easter. The EU's top court will issue important rulings on both the EU-Canada free trade agreement and Airbnb.

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Timmermans calls for left-wing coalition at debate

The centre-right's Manfred Weber got most of the heat at the EU Commission presidential candidates' final debate before the European elections, while Frans Timmermans reached out to a possible coalition partners - piling more pressure on Weber's EPP.

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