Sunday

3rd Mar 2024

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.

More farmers, Ukraine aid, Yulia Navalnaya in focus This WEEK

EU agriculture ministers meet in Brussels amid new farmers' protests. MEPs will hear from Alexei Navalny's widow and give the final green light to the €50bn Ukraine facility, while the CBAM proposal faces a formal challenge at a WTO meeting.

New Red Sea mission and more Russia sanctions This WEEK

EU foreign affairs ministers launch the bloc's new Red Sea naval mission, plus hold talks on new sanctions against Russia — amid Hungarian objections — on Monday. Plus a home for the EU's new anti-money laundering authority will be picked.

'Outdated' rules bar MEP from entering plenary with child

During a plenary session in Strasbourg, an MEP was denied access to the chamber because he was carrying his young child, due to unforeseen circumstances. The episode shows parliament's rules need to be updated, several MEPs told EUobserver.

Opinion

Why are the banking lobby afraid of a digital euro?

Europeans deserve a digital euro that transcends the narrow interests of the banking lobby and embodies the promise of a fairer and more competitive monetary and financial landscape.

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