Friday

24th May 2019

Agenda

Refugees, Spain and diesel on the agenda This WEEK

  • Spanish socialist leader Pedro Sanchez will try to get the parliament's vote to become prime minister. (Photo: Pedro Sanchez Facebook page)

After the Brexit summit drama, the refugee crisis will continue to unfold before two crucial summits in March.


In order to try to defuse tensions betweens EU countries and prepare the EU-Turkey summit on 7 March and the EU summit on 17-18 March, the European Council president, Donald Tusk, will visit Austria, Slovenia, Croatia, Macedonia and Greece between Tuesday and Thursday (1-3 March).

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Meanwhile the agenda will be busy in the European Parliament.

On Monday (29 February), the EP's civil liberties committee will debate the EU Commission's proposed package for an EU border and coast guard.

The idea, pushed by countries like Germany and France, was endorsed by EU leaders in December. The commission, the parliament and the Dutch rotating EU presidency aim at agreeing on a final proposal before the end of June so that a guard corp can start being operational during the summer.

At the same committee meeting, MEPs will also discuss draft legislation to step up checks at the EU's external borders, as well as travel documents for the return of illegal migrants.

All these measures are part of tentative EU efforts to face the refugee crisis and reduce the number of migrants coming to Europe.

Refugees will also be on the EP agenda with an interparliamentary committee meeting on women refugees and asylum seekers in the EU.

The meeting, organised by the EP committee on women’s rights and gender equality with national parliaments, will focus on violence against women refugees and asylum seekers, gender and healthcare, and integration of women refugees.

This week in the parliament will see the emission measurements in the automotive sector inquiry committee, also known as the dieselgate committee, finally begin its work.

After a political tussle to decide who would become the chair, the committee charged with shedding light on the Volkswagen emissions test cheating scandal will elect its chair and vice-chair on Wednesday (2 March), when it should be ready to start working.

On Tuesday (1 March), the EU Court of Justice will publish its judgment on a case involving two Syrians against the German state over residence requirements for refugees.

 The two Syrians disputed the obligation to reside in a fixed place when they were granted subsidiary protection.

This week, the situation in Ukraine will be under the spotlight in Brussels, as the European Parliament organises a three-day high level conference with the Ukrainian parliament, the Verkhovna Rada (Supreme Council).

The topic of the conference will be capacity building. Discussions will address issues like the role of the parliament, transparency and accountability, the culture of political dialogue and reforms.

Outside Brussels, all eyes will be on Madrid, where socialist leader Pedro Sanchez has until Wednesday (2 March) to try to form a government, more than two months after the 20 December election. Spain's parliament will organise a vote of confidence on Thursday.


Sanchez's PSOE party came second behind outgoing prime minister Mariano Rajoy's PP and was tasked by king Felipe VI with finding a coalition after Rajoy failed to gather a majority.

Last Wednesday (24 February), Sanchez signed a government pact with the leader of the centre-right Ciudadanos (Citizens) party, Albert Rivera. But the their two parties need additional support to reach a majority in parliament.

After the deal between the socialists and Ciudadanos, the Podemos (We Can) radical-left party broke off negotiations with PSOE.

For Sanchez and Rivera to be able to govern with a minority government, they will need the PP to abstain in the vote of confidence. If they fail to get MPs' support, new elections will be organised, probably on 26 June. Rajoy's party therefore has little interest in helping its competitors.

The week will end with elections in Slovakia on Saturday (5 March). Outgoing prime minister Robert Fico expects his term in office to be renewed.

Fico, a social democrat, has been one the main critics of EU refugee policies, going as far as refusing to take Muslim migrants and putting the refugee relocation scheme to the EU Court of Justice.

Slovakia's election is also significant because on 1 July the country will succeed the Netherlands as rotating chair of the Council of the EU.

EU at breaking point over migration crisis

EU divisions over the migrant crisis reached a new low on Thursday, with Greece saying that it won’t become “Europe’s Lebanon” and accusing Austria of “19th century attitudes.”

EU votes on future leaders This WEEK

The political spotlight switches from Brussels to national capitals and regions this week as Europe gears up for the start of European Parliament elections on Thursday

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