Tuesday

23rd Jan 2018

Agenda

Brexit talks inch forward in Brussels This WEEK

Brexit talks will resume next week on Thursday and Friday (9 and 10 November) after EU leaders last month said there has not been sufficient progress to move negotiations onto the second phase.

The sixth round of talks since June will once again focus from the EU side on the UK clarifying what financial commitments it is willing to pay, while the British government wants to keep the money talk out of the limelight.

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Progress will also need to be made on the other two key issues - citizens' rights and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland - for EU leaders to give the go-ahead to begin discussing trade and future relations when they meet in December.

Bulgaria in the house

On Wednesday (8 November) the European Commission will host the Bulgarian government in preparation for the upcoming Bulgarian presidency of the EU's council.

The commissioners will sit down for a plenary meeting with government members, and European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker will meet with prime minister Boyko Borrisov.

Bulgaria's presidency will kick off in January with a full cabinet of files – including the asylum system's reform, the next seven-year EU budget, the closer integration of the Western Balkans – to move forward.

New CO2 targets

On Monday (6 November) technical talks will being in Bonn at the annual UN climate change summit.

It is the second such gathering after the landmark Paris agreement, and will be a platform for countries and regions to promote what they are doing at home to limit climate change.

With this backdrop, the European Commission will present a legislative proposal on Wednesday (8 November) that will set new CO2 reduction targets for cars.

The same day negotiators from the Commission, the European Parliament and national governments will meet to discuss a reform of the Emissions Trading System (ETS), the EU's flagship climate tool.

A key sticking point in the ETS file revolves around a new Modernisation Fund, which would help poorer countries make the transition to cleaner energy.

Some however fear that coal-dependent countries like Poland will use it to prolong the life of the coal industry.

Troublemakers

The Catalan crisis will also remain in the spotlight.

On Wednesday (8 November) European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will receive an honorary doctorate by the University of Salamanca, north west Spain, where he will deliver a keynote speech and is nearly certain to have to address again the ongoing Catalonia crisis.

As eight ministers from Catalan government are now in jail in Spain, a Spanish court was widely expected to issue a European arrest warrant on Friday for the Catalan ex-leader Carles Puigdemont, who remains in Brussels.

Malta will continue to be in the eye of the storm next week both because of money laundering allegations, and the murder of Maltese investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

Directors of eight European and American media publications have called on the European Commission to use "all powers" to push for a full and independent investigation into the journalist's killing.

Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans in his reply said last Thursday (2 November) that the EU executive wanted the Maltese investigations to run their full course.

Justice commissioner Vera Jourova will receive Malta's finance minister Eduard Scicluna on Tuesday (7 November), Later in the week she will also meet with justice minister Owen Bonnici, and European affairs minister Helena Dalli.

Jourova said earlier that the commission had requested more information from Malta on alleged money laundering involving Keith Allen Schembri, chief of staff of Prime minister Joseph Muscat.

Poland will be on the European Parliament's agenda on Monday (6 November) as European Commission vice-president Frans Timmermans will brief the civil liberties committee on the latest developments.

The Commission has put Poland under a rule of law probe in concerns over the independence of the constitutional tribunal and the judiciary system.

During the summer Poland's president Andrzej Duda unexpectedly vetoed two of three controversial judicial overhaul bills drafted by his political allies in the ruling Justice and Law party (PiS).

In September, Duda unveiled his own proposals, which continue to put the judiciary under political control.

On Monday and Tuesday (6 and 7 November), the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will visit Washington to discuss EU-US bilateral relations as well as the latest developments the Iran nuclear deal.

Mogherini condemned US president Donald Trump for his decision to disavowal the Iran nuclear deal, saying it is "working and delivering."

In DC, she will meet with the vice president, Mike Pence, and leading members of Congress. It is up to the legislators now to decide if the the United States will reimpose sanctions on Iran.

Talking trade

Next week in Brasilia negotiators will sit down for a new round of trade talks between the EU and Mercosur countries (Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay, and Uruguay). Commission vice president Jyrki Katainen will join the high-level political meetings in the second half of the week.

On Friday (10 November) trade and foreign affair ministers will meet in Brussels.

On Monday (6 November) the Eurogroup meeting of finance ministers of eurozone countries will focus on the banking union, and preparing for the December euro summit.

EU to embrace CO2 recycling

The EU is getting ready to increase its support for the development of carbon capture and utilisation, a technology to recycle CO2 as a usable material. But some warn against CCU as a possible means for 'greenwashing'

Brexit talks to resume next week

UK and EU officials will get together next Thursday to try to achieve "sufficient progress" by December on key issues for unlocking the next phase of negotiations.

EU begins preparations for Brexit trade talks

The EU has launched internal preparations for phase two of Brexit talks, but a December breakthrough only possible if UK gives more detail on divorce issues first.

Africa and EU summit This WEEK

Billed as a new partnership, the EU and Africa summit in Abidjan will focus on youth and jobs. The gathering takes place against the backdrop of migratory flows towards Europe and reports of open slave auctions in Libya.

Berlusconi in Brussels on pre-election charm offensive

Berlusconi reassured EPP leaders about the reliability of his centre-right coalition with the eurosceptic Northern League against the rise of the populist Five Star movement, ahead of Italian political elections in March.

EU states loosen grip on tax havens

Finance ministers removed eight entities from the tax havens blacklist, while ruling out more transparency or sanctions - prompting criticism from tax-campaigning NGOs such as Oxfam.

News in Brief

  1. Auditors criticise EU economic governance implementation
  2. Dutch environment group appeals air quality ruling
  3. Commission opens case into Polish railways state aid
  4. EU remove eight places from tax havens blacklist
  5. UK to keep forces in Germany over Russia fears
  6. Finnish presidential vote could go to second round
  7. Report: EU might pay Brexit residency fees for EU citizens
  8. Puigdemont free to travel around EU

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