Tuesday

20th Feb 2018

Agenda

Italy and visa-free travel on EU agenda This WEEK

  • The Ukraine visa-free deal cannot go ahead until the suspension mechanism is in place (Photo: European Parliament)

EU finance ministers will give their first reaction to the bloc’s latest crisis - the Italian referendum - this week, while MEPs and member states will try to clinch a deal on visa-free travel for Georgian and Ukrainian nationals.

Eurozone finance ministers arriving for their regular monthly meeting in Brussels on Monday (5 December) will try to reassure markets and the general public that Sunday’s referendum result in Italy will not destabilise the single currency.

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  • The 5 Star Movement in Italy, which just got a big boost, wants to exit the euro (Photo: Giampaolo Macorig)

Italian leader Matteo Renzi lost the vote, on constitutional reform, and promptly tendered his resignation, opening the door to snap elections in which the 5 Star Movement, which has called for Italy to quit the euro, could take power.

The fresh uncertainty over the future of the euro’s third largest economy comes amid prior concern over the stability of some of Italy’s main banks.

The euro ministers were already due to discuss plans by eight member states, including Italy, which are at risk of non-compliance with EU fiscal targets, to rein in their budgets.

They were also due to discuss progress on bailout-linked reforms in Greece and the prospect of writing off some of its huge debt.

The EU’s full panoply of 28 finance ministers will, on Tuesday, debate plans to create an EU-wide bank deposit guarantee scheme and an EU mechanism for winding up failing lenders.

They plan to inject a further €10 billion of capital into the EU’s investment fund, known as the "Juncker fund" after the European Commission president who launched it, in a bid to leverage investments worth €500 billion from the private sector.

They will also discuss a project by 10 EU states, including France, Germany, Italy, and Spain, to levy a new micro-tax on financial transactions.

Elsewhere in the EU capital, MEPs and EU diplomats will try to clinch a deal on a new visa-free travel suspension law, with a vote due in the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee on Wednesday and Thursday.

The suspension clause would see EU states quickly freeze visa waivers in the event of mass overstays or other glitches.

It is needed in order to give the green light for visa-free travel for Georgian and Ukrainian nationals, but France is driving a hard bargain on the suspension terms, prompting doubt o a successful outcome.

The civil liberties committee will, on Monday, vote on a new law requiring member states to criminalise people who travel abroad to fight with terrorist groups, such as Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.

The transport committee will, on Monday, vote on a bill to liberalise EU rail passenger travel. MEPs in a special tax evasion committee will, on Wednesday, hear from EU finance commissioner Pierre Moscovici, on the EU’s attempts to crack down on money laundering.

The constitutional affairs committee will on Thursday vote on new ideas to win back public trust in the EU institutions, including by the direct election of the next Commission president in the 2019 EU elections.

The environment committee will, the same day, vote on how to make the EU’s emission trading system better able to help meet global warming targets agreed under the Paris accord.

The commission itself has a quiet week.

Juncker will on Wednesday meet with Mustafa Akinci, the head of the Turkish community in northern Cyprus, amid efforts to move toward a refunification deal.

He will also meet the UN high commissioner for refugees on Monday, amid UN criticism of the EU’s handling of the migration crisis.

His migration chief, Dimitris Avramopoulos, will the same day in the US meet with American homeland security officials as part of the bloc’s annual get-together with the US on immigration and security-related cooperation.

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.

ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK

EU leaders will gather to begin talking about the 2019 election process and the post-2020 budget, while eurozone finance ministers will ponder choosing the next European Central Bank deputy chief.

Western Balkans and Brexit restart This Week

The EU Commission will unveil its strategy for the Western Balkans in an effort to keep the strategically important region close. It will be a busy week at the EP with geo-blocking – almost – coming to an end.

Rule of law and Catalonia on the agenda THIS WEEK

EU Commission president Juncker will meet Czech PM Babis to discuss migration quotas. He will also receive the Romanian president - just after Juncker warned Bucharest not to backtrack on fighting corruption.

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