Friday

21st Jul 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.

Trump, Ukraine and NGO sea rescues This WEEK

The US president will be back in Europe for France's Bastille Day, while the EU and Ukraine will hold a summit in Kiev, and MEPs will discuss migrant rescue operations in the Mediterranean.

Brits and French go to polls This WEEK

The British election will determine who will lead the UK out of the EU, while French leader Macron hopes to secure his base for more eurozone integration.

EU urges UK to clarify its Brexit positions

EU and UK negotiators presented their Brexit positions to identify common grounds this week, but that was made difficult by the scarcity of UK position papers.

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