Tuesday

18th Jun 2019

Agenda

Western Balkans and Brexit restart This Week

  • EU commission chief Juncker (r) with Bulgarian PM Borisov: Both want more focus on the Western Balkans (Photo: European Commission)

Croatian prime minister Andrej Plenkovic will be in Strasbourg on Tuesday (6 February) to share his ideas with MEPs on the future of Europe as part of the series of debates with EU leaders.

Last month Irish PM Leo Varadkar spoke and in March Portuguese premier Antonio Costa is expected to take the stand.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

On Tuesday, the European Commission will unveil its Western Balkans strategy, aiming to reinforce the European perspective to aspiring countries, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia and Serbia.

The commission wants to recommit to bringing these countries closer to the EU as Russia, Turkey and China are increasingly present in the region.

The EU executive will not set dates for possible memberships, but will give a "perspective" for joining before 2025.

The decision on accession belongs to the member states, but the Commission wants to confirm that strategically the region is important for the EU, and that these countries sooner or later will become members of the bloc.

Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will travel to all six countries on 26 February, and will end his trip in Sofia, as the Bulgarian presidency of the EU Council is keen on helping the Western Balkans countries' European agenda.

There will be also two debates on Turkey in the European Parliament. On Tuesday MEPs will discuss the Turkish military's attack on the Syrian Kurdish territory and MEPs are expected to denounce arrests of journalists and critics on Thursday (8 February).

'Spitzenkandidaten' is back

The European Parliament will vote on what to do with the 73 seats that will be left vacant after the UK leaves the EU.

A report adopted by the constitutional affairs committee proposes that part of that should be redistributed among member states currently underrepresented in the EP, and another 46 seats should be used for transitional lists.

There will be a different vote on the idea of transitional lists, which aim to have a continent-wide selection of politicians for voters in time for the next European elections after 2019.

EP is also expected to stress in a report that the 'spitzenkandidaten' (top candidate) process is the most democratic to appoint the president of the EU commission. The report would also allow current commissioners to campaign for commission president without having to resign. The vote will be Wednesday (7 February).

VP out?

Also on Wednesday the MEPs will vote on one of the parliament's vice presidents, Ryszard Czarnecki, a lawmaker from Poland's ruling Law and Justice party, to be stripped of his function.

Czarnecki had compared fellow Polish MEP Roza Thun from the opposition Civic Platform (PO) party to Polish Nazi collaborators during the second world war.

The EP will also have the final vote on Tuesday (6 February) on halting geoblocking , which will result in allowing consumers buying freely across borders.

Traders will have to treat online shoppers as local customers no matter where they order the service or the product.

However significant exceptions were also made: audiovisual services, movies, and copyright related matters, such as music and books are not covered by the new EU rule.

The European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi will also be in the EP to brief MEPs the ECB's post-crisis bank asset purchase program on Monday evening (5 February).

MEPs will also discuss the shrinking space of civil society in Europe on Tuesday (6 February). As a recent report by the Fundamental Rights Agency (FRA) pointed out in a report, NGOs in Europe are being increasingly targeted and are sidelines in the political process.

Romania, which has become the latest country to prompt concern over its judicial system in Brussels, will be the focal point of a debate on Wednesday in an exchange entitled "threats to the rule of law by the Romanian justice system reform".

Brexit is back

After a month of relative quiet as EU countries debated the starting position for negotiations on a transition period for the UK as it leaves the EU, the Brexit talks continue next week in Brussels.

Chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier will travel to London on Monday (5 February) first and meet with Brexit minister David Davis.

Later in the week, negotiators will work on issues that are still to be hammered out in the withdrawal agreement whose outlines were agreed last December.

Negotiators later on will also focus on the proposed transition period, as some issues signal a serious divergence between the EU and the UK: for one, the UK wants freedom to movement to stop just as the transition period starts in 2019, something the has so far ruled out.

EU to open way for Brexit transition talks

The UK will become a "rule-taker" during the transition period that ends on 31 December 2020 – that is the mandate EU ministers will give to EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier next week.

Focus

EU bans 'geo-blocking' - but not (yet) for audiovisual

Online retailers will no longer be able to discriminate against potential customers based on their location in the EU, but the phrase 'this video is unavailable in your region' will remain a common sight in Europe.

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.

Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK

A summit in Belgian capital this week will host heads of government and state to discuss top EU institutional posts. But before they meet, the jockeying for the Commission presidency will have already started among the European political groups.

News in Brief

  1. Romanian ex-PM frontrunner to head new liberal group
  2. France, Germany and Spain in fighter jet deal
  3. Tusk grilled in Poland over role as PM
  4. Italy is 'most credible' US partner in EU, says Salvini
  5. EU blames Sudan junta for killings and rapes
  6. Report: EU may suspend Turkey customs union talks
  7. Swiss stock exchange could lose EU access in July
  8. Austria's Strache will not take up EU parliament seat

Interview

Meet the lawyer taking the EU migration policy to the ICC

Juan Branco is a lawyer and co-author of a legal document submitted to the International Criminal Court (ICC) accusing EU officials and member states of crimes against humanity for their migration policies. "Some people should have to go to prison."

Top EU jobs summit dominates This WEEK

A summit in Belgian capital this week will host heads of government and state to discuss top EU institutional posts. But before they meet, the jockeying for the Commission presidency will have already started among the European political groups.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  3. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  5. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  6. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  7. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  8. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody

Latest News

  1. Frontex transparency dispute goes to EU court
  2. Commission goes easy on scant national climate plans
  3. Macron and Mogherini decline to back US accusation on Iran
  4. EU summit must give effective answer on migration
  5. Spain's Garcia set to be next Socialist leader in parliament
  6. Erdogan mocks Macron amid EU sanctions threat
  7. The most dangerous pesticide you've never heard of
  8. 'Russian sources' targeted EU elections with disinformation

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  2. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  4. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  5. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  10. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership
  11. Intercultural Dialogue PlatformRoundtable: Muslim Heresy and the Politics of Human Rights, Dr. Matthew J. Nelson
  12. Platform for Peace and JusticeTurkey suffering from the lack of the rule of law

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us