Monday

21st Jan 2019

Agenda

Brexit, Syria and Greece on the agenda This WEEK

  • Some 70 countries, NGOs and international bodies will meet in Brussels to discuss aid to Syrians and plans to try to find solution. (Photo: REUTERS/Abdalrhman Ismail)

Brexit, Syria and Greece on the agenda This WEEK.

The European Parliament will adopt its position on the UK's exit negotiations, and eurozone finance ministers will try to break a deadlock on the Greek bailout talks. Meanwhile in Brussels, the international community will discuss how to end the war in Syria.

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

A week after the UK took the first step towards leaving the EU, the European Parliament will adopt a resolution on Wednesday (5 April) outlining its positions for the upcoming negotiations.

MEPs will not participate directly in the Brexit negotiations, but their consent will be needed to conclude a deal.

In a draft version of the text, MEPs insist that the UK must not negotiate and conclude deals bilaterally with EU member states.

They also say that the three priorities for them are securing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, ensuring that the UK pays its financial commitments to the EU, and avoiding the return of a "hard border" between Ireland and Northern Ireland.

The parliament's position is consistent with the draft negotiating guidelines, which European Council president Donald Tusk sent to member states on Friday and which will be agreed by EU leaders on 29 April.

Diesel and data

MEPs, gathering in Starsbourg this week for the April plenary session, will also have cars and personal data on their agenda.

On Tuesday (4 April), they will debate and vote on recommendations to the European Commission and member states on car approval reform, to avoid car manufacturers cheating in emissions tests again.

The recommendations follow the work of an inquiry committee on Dieselgate - cheating by Germany's Volkswagen and other carmakers - that looked into how EU rules were not respected or were not strict enough.

On Wednesday and Thursday, MEPs will also debate the EU-US Privacy Shield on personal data transfers, which was signed a year ago to replace Safe Harbour, a previous agreement that was brought down by the European Court of Justice.

Last week, EU justice commissioner Vera Jourova met with US officials in Washington, as concerns are growing over the US' failure to respect the agreement, amid a wider policy of downgrading data protection rules.

Syria

Syria will be at the centre of talks in Brussels on Wednesday, five years after the start of the war, while president Bashar al-Assad, with Russia's support, is regaining ground against opposition rebels and radical Islamist groups.

A conference on "supporting the future of Syria and the region", which will be co-chaired by the EU, Germany, Kuwait, Norway, Qatar, the United Kingdom and the United Nations, will gather around 70 participants - countries, international organisations, and civil society.

Participants will assess where the international community stands a year after it pledged to raise about $10 billion for Syria at a conference in London last year. They are expected to commit to new financial help for Syrians inside and outside Syria.

The conference will also discuss plans for a "lasting political resolution" of the conflict and post-agreement assistance to the country.

Last month, EU chief diplomat Federica Mogherini presented the EU's strategy for a political solution.

Political momentum will be difficult to find however, as both Russian and US foreign ministers, Sergei Lavrov and Rex Tillerson, respectively, will skip the conference.

Greece

On Friday (6 April), eurozone finance ministers meeting on Malta will try to break the deadlock in talks on the Greek bailout programme.

After months of discussions, Greece and its creditors - the European Commission, the European Central Bank, the European Stability Mechanism and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) - are still attempting to reach an agreement on reforms that would allow the disbursement of a new tranche of loans.

The two main stumbling issues are a reform on pensions to reduce spending by €1 billion, and a reform of the labour market to facilitate lay offs.

Another issue to be discussed before an agreement is found, is the sustainability of Greek debt, with the IMF threatening to leave the bailout programme if no measures to reduce the cost of debts for Greece are taken. Some EU countries, mainly Germany, are opposed to such measures for now.

EU guidelines set out two-phase Brexit talks

According to the draft negotiating guidelines, the EU-27 would open negotiations on future EU-UK relations when "sufficient progress" has been made on citizens' rights, the British financial bill and the status of the border in Ireland.

Opinion

How the EU can make its Syria aid go further

The EU is spending hundreds of millions of euros to educate Syrian children in places such as Lebanon, but without proper auditing and benchmarks.

Investigation

Dieselgate report 'cannot be ignored'

“Dieselgate could have been avoided if member states and the Commission had followed European law. That is quite something,” rapporteur said.

EU trying to salvage US deal on data privacy

Privacy safeguards for EU citizens' personal data that is sent to the United States remains exposed to abuse, due to the lack of oversight and the shift towards increased surveillance under president Trump.

Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK

Germany and France are set to reinforce their alliance as the engine-house of European integration, while Britain continues to struggle to leave the EU.

News in Brief

  1. EU trade commissioner asks for green light for US talks
  2. Slovakia's commissioner takes unpaid leave to run for presidency
  3. Minority elects Lofven as prime minister of Sweden
  4. Putin opposes EU prospects of Serbia and Kosovo
  5. Tsipras launches campaign to ratify Macedonia deal
  6. US-EU meeting in doubt after Trump cancels plane
  7. Germany and China to sign pact on finance cooperation
  8. Labour divided on second Brexit vote plan

Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK

Germany and France are set to reinforce their alliance as the engine-house of European integration, while Britain continues to struggle to leave the EU.

Opinion

How to troll the European Parliament elections

The May 2019 European parliament elections will take place in a context which make a very promising ground for protest votes and extreme views, aided by bots and algorithms.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership For Human RightsKyrgyz authorities have to immediately release human rights defender Azimjon Askarov
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersSeminar on disability and user involvement
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersInternational appetite for Nordic food policies
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Nordic Innovation House in Hong Kong
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region has chance to become world leader when it comes to start-ups
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General

Latest News

  1. Aachen treaty and Brexit endgame This WEEK
  2. Germany led way on EU rights protection
  3. How to troll the European Parliament elections
  4. MEPs in Strasbourg: everywhere but the plenary
  5. Brexit delay 'reasonable', as May tries cross-party talks
  6. MEPs allow Draghi's membership of secretive bank group
  7. EU parliament backs Morocco deal despite row
  8. Barnier open to 'future relations' talks if UK red lines shift

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs
  2. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  3. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  5. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  6. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  8. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  10. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us