Wednesday

20th Nov 2019

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.

Key moments for new commission This WEEK

MEPs will decide on Monday if they want the Hungarian commissioner-designate to come back for a second hearing, as commission president-elect Ursula von der Leyen hopes to finally take office on 1 December.

Magazine

Welcome to the EU engine room

Welcome to the EU engine room: the European Parliament (EP's) 22 committees, which churn out hundreds of new laws and non-binding reports each year and which keep an eye on other European institutions.

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