24th Mar 2018


EU-27 to back integration This WEEK

  • Will Rome give a new momentum to Europe? (Photo: Mark & Becs)

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker said over the weekend that no country after Britain would want to leave the EU and that "the remaining member states will fall in love with each other again and renew their vows with the European Union".

What better place to fall in love again than in Rome, where the EU-27 leaders will meet on Saturday (25 March) for the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome, which gave momentum to European integration.

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In a ceremonial summit, EU leaders are expected to recommit their vows to European integration in a short political declaration.

The election win last week for Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte's centre-right party over far-right leader Geert Wilders' anti-EU, anti-immigration party is seen as a boost for the mainstream, pro-EU forces against the nationalist populism in the EU, and could uplift morale in Rome.

Older member states would like to use the opportunity to engage in deeper integration, even if other countries don't want to, and to be allowed to move ahead with a multi-speed Europe.

Mostly eastern member states fear however that it could lead to them being left behind and eventually to the disintegration of the bloc.

Before the Rome meeting, EU and North African interior ministers are to meet on Monday (20 March) in the Italian capital to discuss curbing the number of migrants coming to Europe.

The interior ministers of Libya, Tunisia and Algeria are to meet with their German, Italian, French, Austrian, Maltese, Slovenian and Swiss counterparts, along with EU migration commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos.

The aim is to form a permanent "contact group" that addresses migration after crossings over the Mediterranean Sea have surged following the closure of the Western Balkan route into Europe.

Greek troubles

Greece is in for another difficult start to the week as it meets its unhappy creditors on Monday (20 March) during a Eurogroup meeting, where euro-area finance ministers come together.

Ministers will reiterate that Alexis Tsipras' government has yet to comply with the terms attached to the bailout loan, while the latest bailout review drags on and will not be completed by Monday.

Creditors and Athens are at loggerheads over Greece's overhaul of the energy market and additional pension cuts, which are being refused by Tsipras' government.

Monday is going to be Jeroen Dijsselbloem's first appearence as head of the eurogroup since his centre-left party in the Netherlands, PvdA, lost badly at the ballot boxes last week.

Japanese connection

Japan's Shinzo Abe will travel to the Brussels to meet with European leaders for EU-Japan talks on Tuesday (21 March).

The EU is keen to accelerate free trade negotiations with Japan, as the new US administration is taking an increasingly protectionist line and EU-USA trade talks have stalled.

EU leaders pointed out in their conclusions in early March that talks with Japan are the closest to an early conclusion.

Poland problem

EU commission vice-president Frans Timmermans is expected to brief lawmakers in the European Parliament's civil liberties committee about the latest in the ongoing probe into concerns over the rule of law in Poland.

The EU executive has launched a rule of law mechanism under which it has made recommendations to Poland last December. This followed concerns that the ruling Law and Justice (PiS) party is abusing its majority in parliament by overruling the constitution and threatening the rule of law in the country.

Some MEPs are demanding that the EU begins formal proceedings and sanctions against Poland, which could eventually lead to it being stripped of its voting rights.

Remembering the Brussels attacks

The Brussels attacks, which happened a year ago, will be commemorated on Wednesday morning (22 March) at the sites of the atrocities - where 32 people were killed - at Brussels Airport and the Maalbeek metro station near the European Commission's headquarters.

A memorial for the victims of terrorism will also be unveiled close to the Schuman roundabout, next to the EU’s external action service.


Lenders seek to undermine Greek workers' rights

As focus turns to negotiations between Greece and lenders over a new loan package, both the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund seem determined to press for further reforms, undermining trade unions, workers' rights, and collective bargaining agreements.


Japan is back: Is Europe ready?

The expected free trade agreement between the EU and Japan will help the historic partners to forge a solid and mutually advantageous anchor in the troubled waters of current international politics.


EU must tackle Poland's bad behaviour

Developments in Washington only serve to highlight the need for positive action in the face of an overtly nationalistic and anti-rights form of populism.

EU struggles with multi-speed idea

EU leaders meeting in Brussels insisted on staying united after Brexit but are still divided over fears of creating new 'elite clubs' within the bloc.

Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK

The EU will maintain pressure on the US to resolve a tariff dispute. On Monday, European Commission president Juncker, along council president Tusk, will discuss relations with Turkey's president Erdogan. Additional national measures against Russia are also expected.

Brexit and trade will top This WEEK

A crucial EU summit will decide whether to give a green light to the Brexit transition period, while the EU is also fighting to get exemptions from the new US steel and aluminium tariffs.

EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'

EU leaders demanded a permanent exemption from US tariffs on steel and aluminium - and ruled out any bilateral trade talks within the 1 May deadline set by Donald Trump.

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