Tuesday

5th Mar 2024

Agenda

EU looks to Dutch vote This WEEK

Dutch voters go to the polls on Wednesday (15 March) in an EU bellwether election after Brexit and Trump.

Geert Wilders, the far-right candidate, could win up to 30 seats, making the man who called Moroccan people “scum” and who says the Netherlands should exit the EU the most popular politician in the country.

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The result would further rattle EU confidence, following Britain’s vote to leave and the election of Donald Trump, a populist, in the US.

It would also indicate that far-right parties might do well in upcoming elections in France and Germany later this year.

Dutch voting ends at 9PM on Wednesday. Pollster Ipsos is due to publish exit figures shortly afterward, but big cities, such as Amsterdam, are to report results after midnight.

Thirty seats would still leave Wilders, a pariah for mainstream parties, far short of the 76-seat majority needed in parliament.

The next government is more likely to formed by the centre-right Liberals of prime minister Mark Rutte, the centre-left Labor party, Christian Democrats, and the centrist D66 party, leading back to business as usual.

The Dutch election comes after a parliamentary vote to elect Hungary’s next president on Monday.

The incumbent, Janos Ader, who is prime minister Viktor Orban’s man, is likely to stay in the post.

But the treatment of an alternative candidate, Laszlo Majtenyi, a liberal jurist who has been vilified as a foreign agent of US philanthropist George Soros, highlights the rise of authoritarian politics in other parts of Europe.

Poland, another increasingly illiberal EU state, will be centre of attention when MEPs speak with European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker in Strasbourg on Wednesday about last week’s summit.

Poland tried and failed to veto Donald Tusk from staying on as European Council chief, causing a fiasco and triggering an anti-EU hate campaign in Polish state media.

The EU lawmakers will, in day-to-day business, vote on tightening up EU firearms laws on Tuesday.

They will vote on how to stop firms from fuelling war by buying rare minerals from conflict zones on Thursday and they will discuss how the EU should react to Trump’s decision to cut US aid for NGOs dealing with women’s health issues on Wednesday.

A law on company shareholders’ rights (Tuesday), a food standards bill (Wednesday), waste reduction legislation (Wednesday), and a non-binding resolution on how to protect the Arctic from oil firms (Thursday) also feature on the MEPs’ agenda.

EU foreign relations chief Federica Mogherini will meet with Algeria’s foreign minister in Brussels on Monday to discuss migration and the security situation in the Sahel region.

Algeria’s lawless southern border and the war-torn Sahel area have become part of the transit route for migrants trying to reach the EU in greater numbers via Libya and Italy

Meanwhile, this week's most followed meeting will take place in Washington on Tuesday, when US president Donald Trump meets German chancellor Angela Merkel for the first time.

Turkish-Dutch row takes over election campaign

Over the weekend, in the context of Dutch elections and a Turkish referendum, the Netherlands denied entry to one Turkish minister and escorted another out of the country.

Dutch anti-Trump protesters turn on Wilders

Some 2,000 people protested in The Hague against the US travel ban for people from seven Muslim-majority countries, but also threw in some anti-Wilders slogans.

Poland vows anti-EU campaign after Tusk fiasco

Polish foreign minister plans to "work" with EU but to "block" some initiatives in retaliation for Tusk re-election, as Le Pen eyes new allies in eastern Europe.

Defence, von der Leyen, women's rights, in focus This WEEK

Ursula von der Leyen is expected to be confirmed as the EPP candidate for president of the next EU Commission. A new defence strategy will be unveiled this week, while the ECB is expected to maintain interest rates.

More farmers, Ukraine aid, Yulia Navalnaya in focus This WEEK

EU agriculture ministers meet in Brussels amid new farmers' protests. MEPs will hear from Alexei Navalny's widow and give the final green light to the €50bn Ukraine facility, while the CBAM proposal faces a formal challenge at a WTO meeting.

New Red Sea mission and more Russia sanctions This WEEK

EU foreign affairs ministers launch the bloc's new Red Sea naval mission, plus hold talks on new sanctions against Russia — amid Hungarian objections — on Monday. Plus a home for the EU's new anti-money laundering authority will be picked.

Feature

Hungary's Ukrainian refugees in two minds as relations sour

Ukrainians struggle to match the kindness of individual Hungarians with the nationalist government's pro-Russia rhetoric. "Ukraine's primary enemies are Russians and Putin, obviously. But the number two is Viktor Orbán," Viktoria Petrovszka, a Ukrainian woman living in Hungary, says.

Opinion

The six-hour U-turn that saw the EU vote for austerity

The EU's own analysis has made it clear this is economic self-sabotage, and it's politically foolish three months from European elections where the far-right are predicted to increase support, writes the general secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation.

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