Friday

3rd Apr 2020

Agenda

Poland steals EU spotlight This WEEK

  • PiS, among other plans, is to sack all state TV and Radio journalists, then rehire just the ones it likes (Photo: ECR group)

Poland will steal the headlines this week, with Polish president Andrzej Duda in Brussels on Monday (18 January) and prime minister Beata Szydlo in Strasbourg on Tuesday, amid a storm on rule of law.

Duda will meet EU Council president Donald Tusk, who’s keeping quiet because, as a former Polish PM, he’s too close to the issue.

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But Szydlo will face down her party’s, Law and Justice’s (PiS), biggest critics in plenary.

The parliament president, Martin Schulz, has said PiS reforms, which extend the party’s control on judges and state TV and radio, amount to a “coup.”

The Strasbourg chamber will, on Wednedsay, also hear from Dutch PM Mark Rutte, in his maiden speech as holder of the rotating EU presidency.

The Netherlands will, over the next six months, try to implement faltering EU projects on refugee-sharing and border control.

But some of Rutte’s own ministers have said a “mini-Schengen,” a drastic restriction of EU travel freedoms, might be the solution to the crisis.

In other business, MEPs will, on Wednesday with EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini, discuss the meaning of the EU treaty’s mutual defence clause.

French president Francois Hollande invoked it after the November Paris attacks, but his invocation changed little.

MEPs will, on Thursday, also select the 45 deputies to sit on a new inquiry committee into the Volkswagen emissions scandal.

Member states and multinationals fobbed off a previous inquest, on tax avoidance. But the VW committee will have the power to demand sensitive documents.

Foreign ministers

Back in Brussels, foreign affairs ministers meet on Monday to discuss the conflicts in Iraq, Libya, and Syria - the main causes of the migrant crisis.

They will also issue a statement of support for Ukraine’s internal reform process and restate their commitment to the Arab-Israeli peace process, following a row, last year, over an EU code for retail labels of settler exports.

Most EU commissioners will spend Wednesday to Friday in Davos, Switzerland, at its annual World Economic Forum.

But this year’s Davos will be marked by the German leader’s absence, after Angela Merkel opted to stay home to tackle migration issues.

With the clock ticking until the UK's In/Out referendum, the British foreign minister, Philip Hammond, will meet the commission vice-president, Frans Timmermans, in Brussels on Monday.

Jeremy Heywood, the head of the British civil service, will meet another vice-president, Kristalina Georgieva, on Friday.

EP debate on Poland could turn into 'carnage'

Polish PM Szydlo to confront EU critics on the state of Polish democracy. The EPP might try to defuse tension. The UK's likely to back her. But sources predict "carnage."

EU and Poland aim to calm tensions

EU Council president Donald Tusk and Polish president Andrzej Duda tried to calm tensions ahead of an EP debate on recent reforms in Poland that critics say threaten the rule of law.

EU struggles to remain united This WEEK

EU countries continue to wrestle with economic shock of pandemic and with sharing of medical resources, posing deep questions on solidarity in the bloc.

EU goes fully online in lockdown This WEEK

EU leaders will discuss the coronavirus reponse online, while MEPs will vote on urgent measures by email. Starting accession talks with Albania and North Macedonia will also be high on the agenda.

Coronavirus

Journalism hit hard by corona crisis

An already fragile business model for journalism might be dealt a lethal blow in the corona crisis. And the freedom of the press itself is coming under extreme pressure, as governments take swift and debilitating measures fighting the pandemic.

Analysis

Italy and Spain: worst - or just first?

Italy and Spain, the most-affected countries in the EU, have tightened their response to the coronavirus outbreak - as the pair together now account for more than half of the world's death toll.

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