Thursday

2nd Feb 2023

Agenda

UK, Turkey, and Greece on agenda This WEEK

  • Turkish PM Davutoglu is under EU pressure to implement the EU-Turkey action plan on migration (Photo: Consillium)

This will be a week of waiting and expectation as EU diplomats and officials prepare for a crucial EU summit on 18-19 February.

Talks will continue between Brussels, London, and the other EU capitals to finalise the text of the agreement on EU reforms requested by British prime minister David Cameron to secure Britain's future in the EU.


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EU ambassadors and the so-called sherpas, the advisers to EU leaders, will meet on Thursday (11 February) to mend differences and settle details over the first draft published by European Council president Donald Tusk last Tuesday (2 February).

A first meeting last Friday lasted several hours and demonstrated that no member state was “fully satisfied”, a source told EUobserver, adding that “difficult negotiations [were] ahead”.

The main points of discussion are an immigration "emergency brake" that would allow the UK, and consequently all member states, to limit benefits to EU workers coming to their country, and relations between the eurozone and non-euro countries such as Britain.

On Friday (12 February), the day after the diplomats' meeting, Cameron will be in Hamburg for a banquet hosted by German chancellor Angela Merkel and is expected to give speech giving an idea of where the talks stand.

Migration

The other major issue to be discussed by EU leaders at their summit is migration, with pressure on Greece to secure its borders and on Turkey to better control the flow of migrants into Europe.

On Wednesday (10 February), the European Commission will publish an assessment on the implementation of the EU-Turkey joint action plan agreed in October.

Over the weekend, neighbourhood commissioner Johannes Hahn said that "Turkey could do more" and complained that "this action plan was agreed more than two months ago and we are still not seeing a significant decline in the number of migrants".

The agreement between member states on how to finance a €3 billion fund for refugees in Turkey could incite Turkish authorities to do more. But the situation could deteriorate again with thousands of new refugees coming in the country after the offensive on Aleppo by the Syrian regime helped by Russia.

Two delegations of MEPs will go to Turkey this week to also assess the situation. Members of the budgets committee will discuss the use of European pre-accession funds with Turkish authorities and will visit a refugee camp. Members of the civil liberties committee will also visit a refugee camp as well as other refugee support projects.

The other country under pressure is Greece, after the commission sent member states an evaluation report in which it says that Greek authorities have "seriously neglected" border controls.

The Greek government has promised to set up all the requested hotspots to register migrants before 15 February and has tasked the army to help with the process.

Greece

Greece will also be under the Eurogroup scrutiny this week, with a meeting of eurozone finance ministers on Thursday (11 February).

The creditors mission chiefs arrived in Athens last week to start the first review of the third bailout programme.

The main issue in the review is the pension reform. The creditors - the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the European Stability Mechanism and the International Monetary Fund - want to see more radical reform so as to reduce the country's budgetary gap.

On Tuesday (9 February), a former participant of the Eurogroup will be back in the news. Former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis will launch in Berlin his political movement: DiEM25 (Democracy in Europe - Movement).

DiEM25 has published already its manifesto, in which it cites one "simple, radical idea": "Democratise Europe! For the EU will either be democratised or it will disintegrate!".

It demands "full transparency" of the EU institutions and decision-making processes and the establishment "within two years" of a constitutional assembly "consisting of representatives elected on trans-national tickets".

Cameron-EU deal is 'good enough'

Cameron gets heat at home for allowing his goals to be watered down in the proposals put forward by EU Council chief Tusk, but UK officials argue it is a good basis for a final deal.

Merkel to plead with Turkey on migrants

German leader is in Ankara to urge a limit on migrant numbers, as thousands of Syrians gather on Turkey's southern border after fleeing Russian bombs in Aleppo.

Fears on migration plus Ukraine summit this WEEK

MEPs are expected to present their migration and asylum priorities on Wednesday (1 February), before EU leaders will focus on the issue at the 9-10 February special European Council.

New sanctions and democracy in focus This WEEK

On Monday, Brussels will see EU foreign affairs ministers focusing on a 10th sanctions package against Russia, a special tribunal, and preparing the EU-Ukraine summit on 3 February in Kyiv.

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