Friday

22nd Mar 2019

Agenda

Turkey and Ukraine This WEEK

  • MEPs are in Strasbourg this week (Photo: European Parliament)

Souring relations with Turkey come to a head as MEPs vote on a motion proposing to end accession talks at the plenary session in Strasbourg this week.

The vote on Thursday (24 November) to stop Turkey's EU membership bid is not binding but sends a powerful political signal that the widening gap between Brussels and Ankara is unlikely to be bridged any time soon.

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

With EU lawmakers having cancelled a trip to Turkey last week and president Recep Tayyip Erdogan now pushing for closer ties with China and Russia, the drift could affect a key EU migrant swap deal signed off in March with Ankara.

EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will debate the issue with MEPs on Tuesday as Erdogan tightens his grip on power in the wake of the failed July military coup.

Mogherini will then return to Brussels to discuss Ukraine at a one-day summit on Thursday dedicated to the future of the troubled nation.

War in Ukraine and EU defence

Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko will attend as well in the hopes of getting visa waivers for Ukraine nationals who want to visit EU states.

Member states recently backed lifting the restrictions but only once a broader decision on allowing the EU to more easily suspend visa waivers is made.

Hosted by European Council chief Donald Tusk, the summit will also discuss government corruption and attempts to reinvigorate Ukraine's faltering 2015 Minsk peace agreement with Russia.

The violence and fighting appears to be intensifying in the rebel held regions of Donbas.

Last week, the UN's special monitoring mission in eastern Ukraine registered the highest number of ceasefire violations this year in Donbas.

"The number of ceasefire violations, seen by the OSCE mission, has risen by 160 percent comparing to the previous situation. This is the biggest number of shellings since the beginning of the year," said the mission's deputy head, Alexander Hug.

Most of the violations are from mortar, tank, anti-aircraft and artillery fire in areas that are densely populated, he said.

The deteriorating security surrounding Europe has also prompted EU lawmakers to pile on pressure for EU states to spend more on defence in an effort to create a so-called "common defence policy".

MEPs on Tuesday will vote to demand national governments dedicate at least 2 percent of their GDP to defence under Nato alliance terms. The move was also triggered, in part, by US-president elect Donald Trump's promise to not help an alliance member under attack if dues have not been paid.

French elections and Oettinger

French ex-prime minister Francois Fillon won the first round of a primary election to choose the centre-right Republicans' presidential nominee and will now face Alain Juppe in a run-off next Sunday (27 November).

The Sunday primary ousted Nicolas Sarkozy in next May's presidential election.

Their closest challenger in the presidential election is likely to be far-right party leader Marine Le Pen.

Many Brussels-watchers have been angered by a series of scandals emanating from the EU commission.

The most recent centres on German EU commissioner for digital affairs Guenther Oettinger.

Last week, EUobserver reported he took a ride on a private jet with a Kremlin-linked German businessman. The trip had followed earlier controversial statements on gay marriage and Chinese officials.

Oettinger will get a chance to further discuss the charges on Monday when he hosts a "citizen's dialogue" event in Cologne.

Obama visits EU This Week

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

Italy and visa-free travel on EU agenda This WEEK

Finance ministers will give their first reaction to the Italian referendum, while MEPs and member states try to clinch a deal on visa-free travel for Georgians and Ukrainians.

Brexit delay and Orban decision This WEEK

EU leaders will discuss whether to allow London to delay its exit from the bloc, as some are worried it would mean more of the same. Meantime, the European People's Party braces itself for a showdown with Hungary's Orban.

It's the big Brexit vote This WEEK

UK lawmakers will have to take the key decisions next week on Brexit - as the two-year saga finally reaches the boil. Meanwhile, the European Parliament is busy wrapping up legislation before the May elections.

Orban's EPP place and summertime back This WEEK

The EPP continues to struggle to deal with Orban's Fidesz party, while the Hungarian PM's favourite topic - migration - will be back on home affairs ministers' agenda. And the UK is set to leave the EU this month.

Brexit and Orban in spotlight This WEEK

As EU leaders gather in Egypt to discuss migration with Arab leaders, UK leader Theresa May will lobby them to agree to a revised Brexit deal.

Magazine

The changing of the guards in the EU in 2019

The four most powerful EU institutions - Commission, Parliament, Council and Central Bank will all have new leaders in the coming ten months. Here is an overview.

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. 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

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  2. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law
  3. UNESDASoft Drinks Europe welcomes Tim Brett as its new president
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers take the lead in combatting climate change
  5. Counter BalanceEuropean Parliament takes incoherent steps on climate in future EU investments
  6. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us