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27th Feb 2020

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Juncker to outline EU vision This WEEK

  • Juncker will address MEPs in Strasbourg. (Photo: European Parliament)

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will outline his vision for Europe in his state of the union speech this Wednesday (13 September) in Strasbourg.

The speech, which opens the political season in the EU, is the final one to come ahead of the Juncker commission's last full year before the spring 2019 European elections.

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The president is expected to reflect on the last year's political events, with Emmanuel Macron winning the French presidential election against far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, and populist Geert Wilders failing to win the biggest number of votes in the Dutch elections.

"We are at an important political juncture […] which offers a unique possibility for the president to remind us of things that have happened," a spokesperson said last week of the speech.

Juncker will also try to "crystallise" the debate on the future of Europe, a commission spokesperson said.

In March, the commission chief proposed five different scenarios, ranging from loose cooperation to a strong political union among EU countries.

One of the options gaining traction is multi-speed Europe, which is opposed mainly by central and eastern European member states, but has gathered the support of French president Macron.

The Luxembourger is also expected to set out several proposals, including one on trade - aiming to exclude bilateral investment deals in future trade agreements and push for the multilateral investment court, a planned permanent body.

Juncker's speech will take place in the first plenary week of the European Parliament after the summer break.

MEPs at work

MEPs will kick off the sitting on Tuesday (12 September) by discussing migration, North Korea and Turkey.

The parliament in July has already called for the accession talks with Turkey to be suspended, while member states have discussed it again last week after Germany's chancellor, Angela Merkel, said Turkey should not become an EU member.

MEPs in the constitutional affairs committee on Monday (11 September) will discuss a proposal to reduce the number of EU parliament members to 700 after the next election in spring 2019, aiming to keep the remaining 51 in reserve for a possible pan-EU list of candidates.

On Tuesday, MEPs will listen to the Council of the EU present its position paper on the 2018 draft budget.

Court rules

The European Court of Justice will rule on some key issues this week.

On Wednesday, the court will advise on new genetically modified organism (GMO) techniques, and the issue of how long migrants can be detained.

On Thursday, it will decide on a case involving budget airline Ryanair, determining whether Irish employment law should apply in labour issues involving its staff, or whether it should be Belgian law as some employees argue.

On Friday, eurozone and economy ministers will gather in Tallinn for an informal meeting. Greece's finance minister, Euclid Tsakalotos, the commission and the IMF will brief the Eurogroup on progress in Greece's ongoing bailout program.

Macron revives multi-speed Europe idea

"We have to think up a Europe with several formats," said the French president, who will make "concrete" proposals after the German elections.

Poland: Multi-speed EU could 'break apart'

Poland has warned that French idea of multi-speed Europe could "break apart" the EU, as Warsaw heads for confrontation with Brussels on rule of law.

Analysis

Juncker's unrealistic promise of free wifi

The commission president said "every European village and every city" will have public internet access in 2020, but the statement was not backed up by any legally binding target.

Africa visit and EU parliament missions This WEEK

The European Commission will visit the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa, for a joint meeting with the African Union, ahead of the EU-Africa strategy being unveiled. MEPs will carry out missions in the Czech Republic, Turkey and the US.

Budget, Zuckerberg, Pelosi and Cayman Islands This WEEK

EU leaders will put their heads together on Thursday night to look for a compromise on the next long-term EU budget. EU Council president Charles Michel's latest proposal has received a lukewarm welcome from member states.

Feature

Coronavirus: voices from a quarantined Italian town

Panic-buying, plus resentment at the media for fuelling the panic, are the paradoxical responses of residents of the Italian towns of Vicenza and Vo', where Italy's first victim of the coronavirus died last Friday.

Greek island riots require measured response, says EU

Residents on the Greek islands of Lesbos and Chios have been met with riot police, following protests against plans to erect new migrant detention camps. The European Commission says measures by Athens' authorities must be "necessary and proportionate."

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