Saturday

24th Feb 2018

Agenda

Middle East, Messi and missing MEPs on agenda This WEEK

  • The Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas will be in Brussels, following a rare visit by the Israeli premier last month (Photo: United Nations Photo)

The prospects for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process will be on EU foreign affairs ministers' plates on Monday (22 January) next week, during an informal lunch with the Palestinian Authority's president Mahmoud Abbas.

The process seems to be stuck again, after Palestinian leaders voted on Monday (15 January) - in response to US president Donald Trump's declaration of Jerusalem as Israel's capital - to call for the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) to suspend recognition of Israel until the Jewish state "recognises the state of Palestine, cancels its annexation of East Jerusalem, and stops settlement activity."

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The EU has repeatedly reiterated its commitment to the two-state solution, maintaining relations with both parties, but condemning Israeli settlement-building. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu met leaders in Brussels in December.

Economic and monetary issues

Monetary and economic issues also will be on EU's agenda next week.

The eurogroup will discuss further steps towards the deepening of the economic and monetary union (EMU) and the banking union, ahead of the euro summit in March.

Some council recommendations on the economic policy of the eurozone for 2018, to be approved on Tuesday (23 January) by the financial affairs council and adopted in March's European Council, will be discussed by the 19 eurozone finance ministers.

The eurogroup will also be briefed about progress achieved in the third review of Greece's economic adjustment programme.

Far away from rainy Brussels, economics issues will also discussed at the the 48th World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland from Tuesday to Friday (23 to 26 January).

The most prominent guest will be US president Donald Trump, whose 'America First' philosophy clashes with the theme of the meeting: 'Creating a Shared Future in a Fractured World.'

UK and Brexit

Whilst Trump has cancelled a planned visit to London to open the new US embassy in the capital, US secretary of state Rex Tillerson will be there to meet UK foreign secretary Boris Johnson and national security adviser Mark Sedwill, to discuss issues ranging from Syria to North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

Meanwhile in Brussels, the constitutional affairs committee (AFCO) of the European Parliament will vote on a legal text to determine what will happen to the 73 seats which British MEPs will vacate after Brexit.

Brexit opens a Pandora's Box on the number of MEPs per country. The various ideas MEPs are proposing range from a reduction in the size of the parliament to a fairer distribution of the seats based on changing population numbers, but with much jostling among member states at the prospect of increasing their own numbers of parliamentarians.

The vote will be followed by a plenary vote in early February.

Catalonia

The new pro-independence speaker of Catalonia's parliament Roger Torrent will continue his talks – which started on 18 January - with all the different assembly groups to designate a Catalan regional president by 31 January.

The exiled former leader Carles Puigdemont is a prime candidate for the post.

Puigdemont, who is in Brussels in self-imposed exile after the regional parliament declared independence, will travel to Denmark next week to attend a university forum, despite the possibility of an arrest.

Can Messi trademark his name?

A hearing at the European Court of Justice on Monday (22 January) will focus on whether FC Barcelona's Argentinian star, Lionel Messi, can have his last name protected as an EU trademark.

Messi first submitted a request to the EU trademark office in 2011 to put his name under EU trademark, so he can use it for cosmetics, computer programs, jewellry, watches, paper products, footwear, hats and toys.

The trademark office refused Lionel Messi (the footballer) request, which the global star is now challenging in court.

Education

Education is also on the agenda next week.

During the first education summit in Brussels on Thursday (25 January), 24 EU education ministers will meet experts to discuss the steps towards a 'European Education Area' by 2025, proposed by the commission last November and focused on raising citizens' digital skills, EU identity and mobility.

The summit follows a number of commission's proposals to improve key competences and digital skills of European citizens launched on 17 January.

On Sunday (28 January) Finland and Cyprus will hold presidential elections.

Facebook at the ECJ

The Court of Justice of the EU (ECJ) will determine on Thursday (25 January) if Facebook can continue to send Europeans' personal data to its US operations.

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.

Netanyahu, Panama Papers, and Brexit This WEEK

The run-up to the Christmas break sees a packed schedule, including the EU summit on Brexit, migration and other issues, a rare visit by Israeli PM Netanyahu, and issues such as fishing quotas and the Panama Papers.

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.

Election fever picks up This WEEK

Italian general elections, a German coalition in the balance, and the European parliament fighting to get a voice in nominating an EU commission president. This and much more in a week packed with intrigue.

ECB, Budget, EU elections This WEEK

EU leaders will gather to begin talking about the 2019 election process and the post-2020 budget, while eurozone finance ministers will ponder choosing the next European Central Bank deputy chief.

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