Saturday

16th Feb 2019

Agenda

Climate and borders are back This WEEK

  • The activities of border agency Frontex and the setting up of hotspots to register migrants will be reviewed by MEPs (Photo: ec.europa.eu)

The effects of the Paris attacks still linger in Europe. French regional elections will leave their mark on the beginning of the week, as Europe finds out to what extent the attacks have contributed to the expectedly strong results of Marine Le Pen’s far-right National Front.

After a vote in Denmark on 3 December against more cooperation with the EU in police and justice issues, polls suggest French voters will be siding with eurosceptic forces over the weekend, which will be another sign that constituencies are turning away from Europe, as it struggles to tackle the terror threat and the refugee crisis.

Climate deal

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The week however will be dominated by the 21st UN climate change conference in Paris, where around 80 world leaders are trying to come to an agreement.

A deal to limit carbon emissions is supposed to be struck by Friday (11 December), but discussions might continue into the weekend.

The EU’s position is to demand a legally binding and comprehensive agreement, and to reduce emissions by at least 50 percent by 2050 compared to 1990 and near zero or below by 2100 in order to keep global warming under 2°C.

Poland, which recently elected a right wing government, refuses any binding agreement, as it says it is harmful to its economy, which heavily relies on coal.

Borders are back

Borders will be back on the EU’s agenda, as the European Parliament on Monday (7 December) will hear from the EU’s border agency, Frontex, the asylum support agency Easo, and the EU Commission on the planned hotspots - registration centers for migrants in Greece and Italy.

As setting up the five planned spots in Greece and six in Italy has been slower than expected, the officials will give a feedback on progress to MEPs.

MEPs are expected to vote on Thursday (10 December) on sharing the personal data of European airline passengers, after EU interior ministers backed the deal on Friday (4 December). It would give the green light to an EU plan to sweep up personal data of airline passengers. Socialists and the center-right EPP group are in support of the legislation. Liberals might still oppose the deal.

Monday and Tuesday will see an EU-Western Balkans Ministerial Forum on justice and home affairs in Sarajevo, where ministers from the region will follow up on the mini-summit organized in October in Brussels for the region’s leaders to better coordinate migration flows.

Money still talks

The Eurogroup will meet on Monday (7 December).

Besides the usual suspect, Greece, the group of finance ministers for the eurozone will focus on Portugal, which has so far failed to submit a budget plan to the commission due to a domestic political standoff. It is expected to do so by the end of the year.

Eurogroup members will impatiently wait to see what kind of measures the new left-wing government will propose, as some fear it will roll back the austerity introduced by the €78 billion bailout program.

Ukraine checking in

The EU-Ukraine Association Council, a body managing relationships with candidate countries, will meet on Monday (7 December), as the EU-Ukraine free trade agreement is to come into effect in January. Russia has objected to the deal, and the three have failed to come to an agreement in Brussels.

The trade deal is to go ahead, but complicating matters, the Dutch are holding a non-binding referendum in April on whether to reject the association agreement.

Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will receive Ukraine’s prime minister Arsenij Yatsenyuk on Monday.

The week will also see the first Association Council with Bosnia and Herzegovina (11 December), chaired by the EU’s foreign affairs chief, Federica Mogherini, after the Stabilisation and Association Agreement (SAA), a stepping stone to membership, entered into force over the summer.

EU ministers back air passenger data sweep

After years of talks, EU interior ministers backed a proposal to set up an EU PNR system but it still needs the backing of the European Parliament.

Switzerland threatens EU immigration quota

The Swiss government announced it would limit immigration from EU countries with a unilateral quota by March 2016 if it is unable to strike a deal with the EU.

Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Brexit talks will continue in Brussels, as UK PM Theresa May's government is trying to find a way out of the political impasse at home. Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee will speak at the European Parliament next week.

News in Brief

  1. Spain's Sanchez calls snap election on 28 April
  2. 15,000 Belgian school kids march against climate change
  3. May suffers fresh Brexit defeat in parliament
  4. Warning for British banks over Brexit staff relocation
  5. Former Italian PM wants Merkel for top EU post
  6. Antisemitic incidents up 10% in Germany
  7. Italy's asylum rejection rate at record high
  8. Hungary will not claim EU funds for fraudulent project

Brexit and trip to Egypt for Arab League This WEEK

Brexit talks will continue in Brussels, as UK PM Theresa May's government is trying to find a way out of the political impasse at home. Murdered Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi's fiancee will speak at the European Parliament next week.

Saudis paying College of Europe to lobby MEPs

The Bruges-based College of Europe is setting up private meetings with the EU institutions for seven ambassadors plus seven high-level officials from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

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