Sunday

23rd Sep 2018

Agenda

Bulgaria takes over, Germany's SPD votes This WEEK

  • Bulgarian PM Borisov (l) and EU commission president Juncker (r) will both talk at the European Parliament plenary next week (Photo: European Commission)

Bulgaria, which took over the rotating presidency of the EU Council at the start of the year, will formally introduce itself in the European Parliament.

Welcoming the presidency, European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker is expected to deliver two speeches, on Tuesday (16 January) and on Wednesday (17 January).

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Bulgaria is overseeing the Western Balkan countries' attempt to join the EU as one of its main priorities, and intends to give the six countries a "European perspective".

The European Balkan strategy will be discussed in May as part of that effort, at a summit in Sofia, where the countries of the region will participate.

Varadkar and the future

Ireland and its youthful prime minister, Leo Varadkar, is also on the parliament's agenda.

The taoiseach, who played a crucial role in Brexit talks last month before negotiators agreed on the outline of the withdrawal agreement, will present his ideas for the future of the EU on Wednesday (17 January).

This is the first of a series of debate where MEPs and EU leaders will reflect on the future of the Union and its priorities.

Varadkar is expected to focus on the key issue of the future of relations between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland after Brexit, and how he sees the future of Europe from the perpective of Dublin.

After months of uncertainty in German politics, German coalition talks will continue to dominate.

SPD decides

On Sunday (21 January) the German Social Democrat Party's (SPD) congress would decide on the deal chancellor Angela Merkel agreed with SPD on Friday (12 January) to open coalition talks.

Friday's deal eases months of political uncertainty for Germany and the EU, but the SPD's approval of the coalition is not a given as some members are worried what a renewed 'Grand Coalition' with Merkel would do to the party's grassroots.

Russia and elections

Russian propaganda will also be on the parliament's menu.

MEPs will discuss on Wednesday (17 January) the influence of Russian propaganda in some European countries, especially to influence elections via misinformation.

No resolutions will be adopted, but the issue is particularly relevant with several elections coming up in 2018, including in Hungary and Italy.

In April, Hungary will vote. Its prime minister, Viktor Orban is considered as a Kremlin-friendly black sheep among EU leaders.

On 4 March Italian citizens will head to the polls, with the possibility of the anti-establishment 5 Star movement and Northern League seizing power.

Russian propaganda has been a major source of worry within European institutions and the EU will dedicate this year €1.1 million to the battle against foreign propaganda.

Energy will also be on the cards. The parliament will vote on three reports, on energy efficiency, renewable energy and the energy union, while the committee on legal affairs will vote on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources.

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As Brexit negotiations approach the (possibly) grand finale of their first phase, the EU's attention this week is turning to the eurozone - who is the new boss and how to deepen and expand it.

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