Thursday

18th Jan 2018

Agenda

EU court to rule on migrant quotas This Week

  • "We cannot be blackmailed" on Muslim migrants, Poland said (Photo: PES)

A court ruling on migrant relocations will spotlight one of the bloc's most divisive issues this week. The North Korea crisis will also pose a test for EU foreign policy.

The EU court in Luxembourg will rule on Wednesday (6 September) whether Hungary and Slovakia were right to boycott a deal for member states to take in 160,000 asylum seekers from Greece and Italy.

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  • US said it coud use nuclear weapons to stop North Korea (Photo: jonkeegan)

The EU Council outvoted them on the scheme in 2015, but they contended it did not have the right to do so on a matter of national sovereignty.

The ruling will have a wider political impact after Austria, the Czech Republic, and Poland also boycotted the relocations.

The European Commission has launched separate legal action against the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland that could end in fines.

But Polish leader Beata Szydlo said on Sunday: "We cannot be blackmailed … because we don't agree to the forced relocation of migrants from north Africa and the Middle East".

The Commission will publish a series of reports on migration the same day.

The one on migrant relocations is likely to make sad reading. The quota rebels aside, most countries - including Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden - had fallen tens of thousands of places short of their commitments as of 31 August.

A second report will mark the state of play on an EU-Turkey deal for Turkey to keep Syrian refugees from going to Greece.

The survey comes amid fraying EU-Turkey relations and increasing numbers of people once again arriving on Greek islands.

A third report will review progress on the creation of an EU border guard force that can be deployed to frontline member states even if they do not want it.

North Korea, cyber

Foreign and defence ministers will meet in EU presidency capital Tallinn also on Wednesday.

North Korea's nuclear bomb test over the weekend will feature high on the agenda amid the new threat of a military confrontation with the US.

The French and German leaders said on Sunday that the "provocation" by Pyongyang had "reached a new dimension".

The EU has already blacklisted 103 North Koreans and 57 North Korean entities, but France and Germany called for "a tightening of EU sanctions".

The ministers' three-day talks were meant to focus on cyber defence, EU military integration, the security situation in the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, the Middle East Peace Process, and EU relations with former Soviet states.

The meeting will kick off with a cyber war game together with Nato chief Jens Stoltenberg.

Edgars Rinkevics, Latvia's foreign minister, said on Sunday that a Russian military drill - Zapad 2017, starting 14 September - will probe Nato's electronic defences.

Estonia was already the target of a suspected Russian cyber assault in 2007 that shut down banks and government services.

But Rinkevics said future attacks could target hospitals or other life-or-death facilities.

Intel fine

In more mundane matters, the EU court in Luxembourg will rule on a landmark anti-trust case on Wednesday.

The EU fined US chip maker Intel €1 billion in 2009 for alleged sweetheart deals with loyal clients.

An EU court jurist said last year Intel's appeal should be upheld.

If the verdict follows his opinion, it could help other US tech firms - Apple, Facebook, Google, and Qualcomm - in their own EU competition cases.

The Intel fine was the biggest ever in EU history at the time, but the Commission has since fined Google €2.4 billion for fiddling online shopping searches and has threatened to fine it €5 billion over the way it sells its Android operating system.

Bienkowska in Israel

In other events, EU farming ministers will on Monday and Tuesday in Tallinn discuss the bloc's handling of a scandal that saw eggs contaminated with a toxic pesticide sold out of the Netherlands to over 20 member states and outside Europe.

EU industry commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska will also visit Israel on Monday to discuss cooperation on space technology.

Israel's settlement expansion has seen the EU tighten grant money to Israeli firms, but prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to defy Europe on the issue.

"We are here to stay, forever … There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel," he said last week on the more than half a million Jews who have taken Palestinian land in the West Bank since the 1967 war.

EU fines Google €2.4 bn over online shopping

Brussels says Google has abused a near-monopoly position in online searches to favour its shopping service, but the US company said Brussels cannot prove the charges.

Bulgaria takes over, Germany's SPD votes This WEEK

While Bulgaria and Ireland present themselves at next week's plenary at the European Parliament, Germany's Social Democrats will decide if the preliminary coalition deal with Merkel is good enough.

EU 'hypocrisy' condemns people to Libya, says NGO

Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, says the EU's key policy on returning migrants to Libya is condemning them to "nightmarish conditions", and is a hypocritical use of the Libyan coastguard to avoid direct responsibility.

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