Friday

19th Jan 2018

Agenda

Greek bailout and EU border corps This WEEK

  • Greece is at the centre of both the eurozone and refugee crisis.

The week kicks off with a meeting of eurozone finance ministers in Luxembourg on Monday (10 October) where they are expected to unlock a tranche of international financial aid to Greece.

Athens could receive €2.8 billion if its international creditors - the European Union, the European Central Bank, the European Stability Mechanism and the International Monetary Fund - say it has fulfilled all 15 conditions, such as new welfare cuts and privatisations.

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Meanwhile, the IMF still hasn’t decided whether it would participate in the bailout programme agreed last year. According to two senior sources speaking to Reuters, the fund will likely go for a special advisory status instead.

The IMF has said it will stay on board only if it considers that Greek debt is sustainable. It has been arguing that Greece’s debt is already so massive that the country will never be able to pay its dues back. But major lender Germany is blocking all debt relief talks before German elections next year.

The issue of debt relief, pushed by the IMF, will not be formally discussed by ministers but will be in all heads on Monday. Discussions will take place before the end of the year.

Greece will stay centre-stage as EU ministers of interior meet next Thursday (13 October) in Luxembourg for a discussion on the shortfalls in implementation of EU migration measures. A particular hot button issue concerns the failure to relocate 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy to the rest of the EU.

The European Commission put forward relocation plans last year as a way to persuade so-called ’frontline’ countries to register and ’keep’ refugees, rather than letting them move on to other EU countries.

But less than 6,000 people have been moved from Greece and Italy one year after the scheme’s launch, making the attempt look increasingly like a farce.

Austria, Hungary and Poland haven’t been willing to shelter a single refugee, while Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia have only taken a dozen or so each.

Ministers will also set out the way forward for the bloc’s new European Border and Coast Guard, which was officially launched last week.

But despite the pomp accompanying its unveiling, marked by the presence of Bulgarian top politicians and high-ranking EU officials, the agency still needs to be staffed with a pool of 1,500 border guards by December.

EU states also need to prepare for a so-called ’stress test’, to take place early next year. Five member states are due to dry-run methods to protect the EU’s border, say in the instance of the arrival of refugees.

Climate change and EU cheerleading, This WEEK

The European Parliament will try this week to give the EU a good name, with votes and debates on issues where conventional wisdom says that citizens expect results.

EU leaders in Brussels This WEEK

Migrant deals with African states, a trade deal with Canada, and big questions over Russia's role in Syria will be discussed by EU leaders gathering in Brussels.

Bulgaria takes over, Germany's SPD votes This WEEK

While Bulgaria and Ireland present themselves at next week's plenary at the European Parliament, Germany's Social Democrats will decide if the preliminary coalition deal with Merkel is good enough.

Netanyahu, Panama Papers, and Brexit This WEEK

The run-up to the Christmas break sees a packed schedule, including the EU summit on Brexit, migration and other issues, a rare visit by Israeli PM Netanyahu, and issues such as fishing quotas and the Panama Papers.

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