Wednesday

22nd Nov 2017

Agenda

Estonia presidency and Google fine This WEEK

  • Estonia is set to take over the EU presidency (Photo: EC)

Estonia is preparing to take over the six-month rotating EU presidency as Google faces a massive fine from the European Commission this week.

Estonia's prime minister, Juri Ratas, has signalled the country's intention to make the digital single market and the development of a digital society a top priority for his country's term of presiding over the Council of the EU, where member states sit.

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The digital priorities have already been merged into agenda plans by the next two EU presidencies, in a so-called trio programme made up of Estonia, Bulgaria and Austria.

“If every presidency steered Europe in a different direction during their six months at the helm, it would be very difficult to keep Europe strong, decisive and united," said Ratas in a statement, last week.

Estonia, the digitally-minded EU member state, will be making its debut in the presidency, while the European Commission prepares to impose a €1 billion fine on Google.

The anti-trust case against the California-based internet search giant is likely to be unveiled this Wednesday (28 June), with the firm's Google Shopping online search service at the centre of the pending legal dispute.

The possible move by EU competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager risks triggering a transatlantic spat, similar to last year's when she launched a record €13 billion tax bill for Apple.

It also risks complicating broader policy areas, spearheaded by the Estonian presidency.

Those issues may resurface when EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker and his team of commissioners travel to Tallinn on Thursday and Friday to discuss Estonia's policy priorities.

The EU commission is also set to present a reflection paper on Wednesday about the future of EU finances. The paper is part of debate launched earlier this year on the future of Europe.

Money laundering and security

The paper also follows the entry into force of the EU's fourth anti-money laundering directive on Monday. The directive is among a group of legislative initiatives, which will crack down on tax scams and cheaters.

EU commission vice-president Frans Timmermans, in a statement on Monday, described the new law as "a big step forward" in undercutting laundered money.

The new directive aims to make it more difficult for criminals and terrorists to use laundered money.

Other aspects relating to terrorism will also be discussed this week when the EU commission publishes its monthly report on the so-called Security Union.

But the push at EU level to clean up dubious tax schemes also faces national challenges.

Malta, which is now leaving its six-month term in the EU presidency, has come under intense scrutiny over allegations that its prime minister and other senior officials were linked to offshore tax havens.

EU summit and Brexit This WEEK

Security and defence, along with Brexit and migration, are among the big issues to be discussed as leaders from all 28 EU states converge in Brussels for meetings and a summit.

EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK

EU ministers will vote on where to relocate two EU agencies from the UK, while later EU leaders will host six eastern European countries in Brussels. Former Bosnian Serb commander Ratko Mladic awaits his verdict in the Hague.

Catalonia and Nordic Council on agenda This Week

All eyes will be on Barcelona and Madrid as the Spanish government will try to stop Catalan separatists. Meanwhile Nordic countries will meet to discuss regional issues like the future of the Arctic.

Focus

EU bans 'geo-blocking' - but not (yet) for audiovisual

Online retailers will no longer be able to discriminate against potential customers based on their location in the EU, but the phrase 'this video is unavailable in your region' will remain a common sight in Europe.

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