Saturday

20th Apr 2019

Agenda

Obama visits EU This Week

  • The outgoing US leader's visit is designed to reassure the public on future relations after Trump's win (Photo: bundeskanzlerin.de)

The US election, wide-ranging security concerns, and the EU budget dominate the agenda this week.

Foreign ministers, at a special dinner on Sunday (13 November) in Brussels, discussed the implications of Donald Trump’s victory for Europe, with the bloc’s foreign policy chief, Federica Mogherini, saying afterward that “ties between Europe and America are much deeper than any political term”.

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

They plan to follow up, also with defence ministers, on Monday and Tuesday, with talks on how to implement German and French ideas on EU military integration amid concern that a Trump-led White House will take less interest in protecting Europe in future.

The outgoing US president, Barack Obama, will also visit Athens on Tuesday and Wednesday before going to Berlin to reassure the European public on transatlantic relations.

In the German capital he will hold a meeting with chancellor Angela Merkel, French president Hollande and British, Italian and Spanish prime ministers Theresa May, Matteo Renzi, and Mariano Rajoy.

Speaking to Greek newspaper Kathimerini prior to his trip, he voiced concern about “the rise of populist movements and questions about the future of European integration” following also the Brexit vote in June.

“European integration is one of the greatest political and economic achievements of modern times, with benefits for EU members, the United States and the entire world”, he said.

He said that he supported the EU-Turkey deal on migrant returns as being the “best hope for managing arrivals in Europe in a way that’s orderly and humane”.

He also indicated that he supports debt relief for Greece, which owes €330 billion to creditors, a sum worth 180 percent of its GDP.

“I will continue to urge Greece's creditors to take the steps needed to ensure the country is well placed to return to robust economic growth, including by providing meaningful debt relief”, Obama said.

Eastern partners

The US aside, Europe’s foreign ministers will on Monday also discuss the future of the EU’s “eastern partnership” policy of forging closer links with former Soviet states.

The debate comes amid concern that pro-Russia politicians are making gains even in countries, such as Moldova, which used to be at the forefront of the EU reform process.

The foreign ministers will touch upon developments in Libya, Iraq, and Syria, and discuss, together with the Nato chief, how their maritime mission in the Mediterranean can work with the Libyan coastguard to stem the flow of refugees.

Meeting later in the week, on Friday, justice and home affairs ministers will discuss an upcoming European Commission proposal on creating new travel checks designed to help keep out unwanted migrants - the EU Travel Information and Authorisation System.

They will also hear from the EU’s counter-terrorism coordinator, Gilles de Kerchove, as part of a review on whether EU states are properly implementing a deal to share data on air passengers - the so called PNR system, adopted in spring.

EU budget

On Wednesday and Thursday, EU finance ministers and MEPs will try to strike a deal on the EU’s budget for 2017.

MEPs want extra money in the pot to help tackle the migration crisis and youth unemployment.

They have called for spending commitments of up to €162.4 billion, but ministers say that €156 billion ought to be enough.

EU affairs ministers, on Tuesday, will hold informal talks on the bigger issue of whether the EU’s seven-year budget, covering 2014 to 2020, is being well spent.

They will also evaluate whether the EU Commission is properly implementing its “rule of law mechanism”, designed to monitor and sanction democratic backsliding in countries such as Poland.

On Monday and Wednesday, the EU parliament’s committee of enquiry into tax evasion, prompted by the Panama Papers leak, will meet with US economist Joseph Stiglitz, who briefly advised the Panamanian government on reform.

They will also meet with delegates from the EU’s joint police body, Europol, on how to combat tax cheats.

Malta presidncy

The Maltese government will, on Tuesday, come to Brussels en bloc to meet the EU commission, as Malta prepares to take over the EU presidency in January.

Outside the EU capital, two commissioners, Neven Mimica and Miguel Arias Canete, will visit Marrakesh, in Morocco, for a week-long international conference on the future of the Paris climate accord.

The Trump victory has also cast a shadow over the anti-global warming pact, which the president-elect promised to scrap during his campaign rallies.

Italy must back Renzi's reforms, Obama says

Barack Obama urges Italians to back their leader's proposed reforms in the forthcoming referendum, saying they will create a more vibrant economy and more responsive political system.

Turkey and Ukraine This WEEK

Future EU relations with Ankara and Kiev will be shaped this week as MEPs vote on Turkey's EU membership talks, and top officials discuss visa waivers and peace in Ukraine with Petro Poroshenko.

EU parliament meets last time This WEEK

MEPs will gather for the last time this week in Strasbourg before the European elections in May to finalise several bills. Lawmakers will have a Brexit debate and hear from Swedish climate activist Greta Thunberg.

Brexit and China top EU affairs This WEEK

Brexit and China will dominate EU affairs this week, as leaders meet for two summits - including emergency talks two days before the UK is due to crash out of the EU with no deal in place.

Magazine

All about the European Parliament elections 2019

EUobserver's new magazine is meant to help readers prepare for the European Parliament elections, no matter their level of knowledge. You can download and read the entire magazine now.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  2. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  3. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  4. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  5. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  9. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  10. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan

Latest News

  1. Romania drafts EU code on NGO migrant rescues
  2. Bulgaria, Hungary, and Malta shamed on press unfreedom
  3. EU drafts $20bn US sanctions list in aviation dispute
  4. Brunei defends stoning to death of gay men in EU letter
  5. US Democrats side with Ireland on Brexit
  6. Wifi or 5G to connect EU cars? MEPs weigh in
  7. How Brexit may harm the new EU parliament
  8. EU parliament backs whistleblower law

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  6. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  7. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  8. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  9. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  11. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  12. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us