Tuesday

23rd Jul 2019

Agenda

Ceta, Poland and human rights on the agenda This WEEK

  • A protest against the EU-Canada trade deal Ceta. (Photo: Campact)

Talks aimed at saving an EU-Canada free trade deal ended with failure and tears last Friday, but the quest for a way out of the impasse continues this week.

Belgium’s prime minister Charles Michel meets the country’s regional leaders, including Wallonia’s Paul Magnette, on Monday afternoon.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

Afterwards, he will inform European Council president Donald Tusk whether Belgium will be in a position to sign the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (Ceta).

The 27 other EU countries have already given a green light to the deal. Belgium’s federal government supports it as well.

But Wallonia, a French-speaking region in the country’s south, is wary. International trade could hurt European farmers and grants too much power to international corporations, Walloon leaders say.

A failure to bring the region on board would block the EU from ratifying the pact, which has been seven years in the making.

Canada’s trade minister Chrystia Freeland fought against tears last Friday saying she walked out of negotiations with Magnette and that the Walloon leader was impossible to convince.

But Freeland said the next day Canada remained willing to sign the agreement. EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said on Sunday that she hoped Belgium would manage to bring the case to a successful close.

A failure to do so would be a huge embarrassment to the EU, whose capacity to negotiate international trade agreements has been put in doubt.

Canada's prime minister Justin Trudeau said he would not come to an EU-Canada summit scheduled for Thursday and Friday (27-28 October) unless Ceta can be signed at the occasion.

Rule of law in Poland

This week could also see a long-lasting conflict between Brussels and Warsaw flare up.

In January this year, the European Commission opened up a probe on the rule of law in Poland, using for the first time a framework created in 2014.

On 27 July, the EU executive presented its findings and declared that the Law and Justice (PiS) government had passed laws posing a “systemic threat” to rule of law. It gave Poland three months to comply with a list of recommendations aimed at restoring the independence of the judicial system.

That deadline expires this week without any of the recommended measures having been implemented.

Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans vowed last week to stand his ground. The EU executive could seek to waive Poland's council voting rights.

Last week, a coalition of more than 90 civil society organisations, including the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights and Amnesty International, wrote to Poland’s prime minister Beata Szydlo and president Andrzej Duda, urging them to fulfil the commission’s recommendations.

Poland’s prime minister Beata Szydlo said the commission should be patient when questioned by journalists at Friday’s EU summit in Brussels.

Plenary week

The European Parliament, which is meeting for a plenary session in Strasbourg this week, will discuss and vote on a pact for democracy, rule of law and fundamental rights.

Based on an initiative by Dutch liberal MEP Sophie in’t Veld, the pact - if implemented by the European Commission - would introduce an objective mechanism for monitoring democracy in all the member states and EU institutions.

In’t Veld told EUobserver earlier this year that the commission’s current framework is too arbitrary and comes in too late, that is, only after there is suspicion of serious threats to the rule of law.

The European Parliament will also vote to increase the 2017 EU budget and cap trans fats in food. They will discuss the outcome of last week's EU summit, the commission's 2017 work programme as well as the situation of journalists in Turkey.

On Thursday, the last day of the plenary session, parliamentary leaders will announce the winner of this year's Sakharov Prize, which is awarded to individuals championing freedom of thought.

The finalists to the prize are Can Dundar, the former editor in chief of leading Turkish opposition newspaper Cumhuriyet, who now lives in exile; Mustafa Dzhemilev, the leader of Tatars in Crimea; and Nadia Murad and Lamiya Aji Bashar, two advocates for the Yazidis, a Kurdish religious minority living in Iraq.

Ceta failure deepens EU trade crisis

Canada said on Friday that the free-trade agreement with the EU had failed and that the bloc was "not capable" of concluding agreements.

Analysis

EU still shy of 'nuclear option' on values

The EU commission has moved forward with its rule-of-law probe on Poland, but critics say that a better framework is needed to uphold values.

EU confrontation with Poland escalates

The EU commission said there is systemic threat to rule of law in Poland and gave new ultimatum. Poland said commission is "losing its authority".

EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK

Boris Johnson is almost certain to become the UK's next prime minister, and oversee Brexit until the 31 October deadline, as work in the EU bubble is winding down for the summer.

Von der Leyen vote the focus This WEEK

MEPs will vote to confirm - or not - on Tuesday the new commission president, Ursula von der Leyen - a candidate put forward at the last minute by the EU leaders, and grilled by lawmakers recently in Brussels.

News in Brief

  1. Johnson is next British prime minister
  2. Johnson set to be announced British PM on Tuesday
  3. UK-based owners of .eu domains could keep name
  4. Weyand: EU would respond to US tariffs on cars
  5. UK foreign office minister quits ahead of Johnson as PM
  6. AKK to boost Bundeswehr budget to Nato target
  7. Police arrest 25 after Polish LGBT-march attack
  8. Ukrainian president's party tops parliament election

EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK

Boris Johnson is almost certain to become the UK's next prime minister, and oversee Brexit until the 31 October deadline, as work in the EU bubble is winding down for the summer.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  5. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  7. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  8. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  9. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  10. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North

Latest News

  1. Macron: 14 EU states agree on a migration 'mechanism'
  2. As Johnson set to become PM, ministers pledge to resign
  3. Poland's PiS prepares 'failsafe' for October election
  4. Abortion Wars
  5. EU goes on holiday as new UK PM arrives This WEEK
  6. Survey: Half of EU staff 'don't know' ethics rules
  7. Von der Leyen signals soft touch on migrants, rule of law
  8. Timmermans: von der Leyen will be tough on rule of law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us