Friday

18th Jan 2019

Agenda

Catalonia and Brexit on EU agenda This Week

  • Johnson's potential leadership challenge in the air at Manchester party conference. (Photo: Parsons_Boris_whitehall-1069)

As the EU digests events in Catalonia, Brexit also features high on the agenda this week.

The Green group in the European Parliament is preparing to call for an emergency debate on the Catalan independence referendum on Monday (2 October) in Strasbourg.

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  • Will Catalonia declare independence this week? (Photo: Helena Spongenberg)

That would force senior figures from the EU Council and European Commission to break their silence so far on a Spanish police crackdown that tried to block the vote on Sunday.

But as EU institutions and capitals prepare for Catalonia's next step, Brexit talks also dominate the agenda in both Strasbourg and in Manchester, UK, where the ruling Conservative party holds its annual conference, starting Monday.

The Tory event will begin with a speech by chancellor Philip Hammond, an advocate of maintaining close ties with Europe.

But the conference is already buzzing with gossip on whether foreign minister Boris Johnson, who has called for a harsh break with the EU, will try to seize the party leadership from prime minister Theresa May.

MEPs will discuss the state of play in Brexit talks with Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker and Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier on Tuesday.

They will vote later the same day on recommendations whether EU leaders should, at next month's summit, start trade talks with the UK or whether they should seek more clarity on issues such as citizens' rights and the Irish border first.

On Monday, the political groups will argue the cases for their nominees for this year's EU human rights award - the Sakharov prize.

Two of the candidates - Selahattin Demirtas and Figen Yuksekdag - are jailed Turkish opposition politicians.

Turkey's abuse of Interpol, the international police body, will also feature in an MEPs' debate on Wednesday after Ankara tried to chase down a journalist and a dissident writer in Spain.

On Wednesday, MEPs will debate Commission ideas to reform EU asylum laws with deputy head Frans Timmermans.

They will also vote, on Thursday, on creating a new EU public prosecutor to fight misuse of EU funds in the 20 member states who opted into the scheme.

Earlier in the week, on Tuesday, the euro-deputies will debate how to protect air passengers' rights.

The debate was tabled in view of mass flight cancellations by Ryanair, but news that a British carrier, Monarch, collapsed over the weekend, leaving thousands of people stranded, will give the talks added importance.

Juncker and Council head Donald Tusk will round off the week at a summit in New Delhi on Thursday and Friday.

The India summit will update efforts to deepen economic partnership and to fight radicalisation.

Catalonia's separatists claim victory after violent day

"The citizens of Catalonia have won the right to an independent state," the region's leader, Carles Puigdemont, said at the end of a day marked by Spanish police violence inside and outside polling stations.

Progress made in Brexit talks, but not enough

Fourth round of Brexit talks saw cooperative tone in a shift after May's speech, but there serious differences on financial commitments and EU court remained.

'I thought I was safe in Europe'

Arrest of Turkish dissident has again highlighted the way rogue regimes use Interpol to hunt their enemies inside the EU.

Romania takes over the EU This WEEK

Romania will officially take over the EU's presidency this week, with commissioners and senior EU officials kicking off the testing next six-month period with meetings in Bucharest.

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