Wednesday

16th Jan 2019

Agenda

Catalonia, Brexit, and Uber on EU agenda This WEEK

  • Turnout expected to reach over 80 percent on Thursday (Photo: Sasha Popovic)

Catalan elections are the crucial event next week, with the result to determine whether stability will be restored in Catalonia or not.

Thursday's (21 December) elections were called by the Spanish government after it suspended Catalonia's autonomy in the wake of the region's declaration of independence in October.

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Eleven parties are be running, including Junts per Catalunya (Together for Catalonia), led by the former president of the regional government Carles Puigdemont; its former ally, the left-wing ERC; liberal Ciutadans; the Catalan Socialist Pary; and the Popular Party of Spanish prime minister Mariano Rajoy.

Puigdemont is currently in Belgium with four former members of his cabinet, campaigning for elections and after a Belgian court ended an extradition procedure against him.

Four Catalan activist are in jail - including the former government's vice president Oriol Junqueras - waiting for a verdict and with a pending charge for rebellion, sedition and misuse of public funds.

Recent polls show that separatist parties will narrowly fail to secure a majority in the regional parliament, while the turnout could reach a record 82 percent

Brexit

Brexit will also be on the table again next week.

The European Commission will present its mandate for the next Brexit negotiations on Wednesday, after EU leaders agreed on Friday to open the second phase of the talks.

On the same day, British prime minister Theresa May will discuss with her cabinet about the trade deal that the United Kingdom is seeking to obtain from the EU after Brexit.

Energy and Transport

On Monday, EU transport ministers will discuss issues linked to renewables and energy union governance.

DIscussions are linked to the "clean energy for all Europeans package", a financial option that will shape European energy policy in the next years and concerns also financing renewable energy projects.

On Wednesday, the Court of Justice of the European Union will decide on how to classify the American transport company Uber, after its top lawyer said in an opinion to the court that Uber must be classified as a 'service in the field of transport'."

The app's features mean that "Uber cannot be regarded as a mere intermediary between drivers and passengers", and that it "is not governed by the principle of the freedom to provide services in the context of 'information society services'".

The final ruling will have repercussions for the so-called sharing economy.

Thousands march for Catalonia in Brussels

Around 45,000 people marched in support of Catalonia in Brussels to get the EU involved in mediating the conflict with Madrid. 'Europe must realise that it can still play a role in the Catalan crisis,' said self-exiled Catalan leader Puigdemont.

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.

Rule of law and Catalonia on the agenda THIS WEEK

EU Commission president Juncker will meet Czech PM Babis to discuss migration quotas. He will also receive the Romanian president - just after Juncker warned Bucharest not to backtrack on fighting corruption.

News in Brief

  1. Spanish PM calls for EU gender equality strategy
  2. Farage says bigger Brexit majority if second referendum
  3. Macron starts 'grand debate' tour after yellow vests protests
  4. Barnier: up to London to take Brexit forward
  5. Stimulus still needed, ECB's Draghi says in final report
  6. May's Brexit deal defeated by 230 votes
  7. German economy hit by global economic turbulence
  8. MEPs narrowly call for end to 'tampon tax'

Opinion

On Morocco, will the EU ignore its own court?

If the European parliament votes in favour of the new Morocco agreement without knowing that it complies with the European Court of Justice judgement, how can it demand that other countries respect international law and their own courts?

Centre-right MEPs want transparency vote to be secret

A number of centre-right MEPs are pushing for a secret ballot on a plenary vote that would make EU lawmakers more transparent and accountable to the public - in a move described as "absurd" by Transparency International.

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