Sunday

18th Nov 2018

Agenda

Election fever picks up This WEEK

  • EU parliament president Antonio Tajani said he was flattered Silvio Berlusconi touted him for Italy's next PM (Photo: European Union)

The European Parliament is in session ahead of an Italian general election amid broader discussions on the EU's long term budget after 2020.

The election fever has already gripped MEPs who are pushing forward the so-called Spitzenkandidaten (lead EU commission president candidate) process for the 2019 EU election despite wide resistance from member states.

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Antonio Tajani, the European Parliament's president, told reporters in Brussels on Friday (23 February) that the Spitzenkandidaten is a gateway towards greater democratic legitimacy.

"If the parliament can be included in appointing the president of the commission then people will feel closer to the European Union," he said.

Tajani also brushed away any notion that he may leave Brussels for Italy after Silvio Berlusconi touted him for prime minister, telling reporters that he is "100 percent committed to being the president of the European Parliament."

Italy's general election is taking place on Sunday (4 March). Should Forza Italia 'win' (ie be able to form a governing coalition), then Berlusconi, a disgraced billionaire and convicted fraudster, will get to choose who becomes prime minister. Berlusconi suggested Tajani.

"I can only thank him [Berlusconi] and feel honoured for the consideration he has towards me," said Tajani.

Spitzenkandidat

Meanwhile, Tajani and other MEPs will be pressing for the Spitzenkandidaten amid a debate on Wednesday (28 February). Given the UK departure from the EU, other topics like the parliament's composition and the EU budget will also be discussed at the plenary session.

But on Monday, another candidate is up for debate.

ECB job

Luis de Guindos, Spain's economy minister, is hoping to secure his seat as the European Central Bank vice-president. MEPs in the economic and monetary affairs committee will grill De Guindos on Monday (26 February) with a plenary vote the following day.

Brexit

It will be a week during which other big issues will be tackled as well, including Brexit, with EU negotiator Michel Barnier set to give an update to ministers at the general affairs council on Tuesday (27 February).

Those Brexit talks will lead into a March summit, where leaders are expected to adopt the guidelines for the negotiations on the future relationship with the United Kingdom.

Poland

EU vice-president Frans Timmermans will also brief the same ministers on Tuesday on the tense relations with Warsaw over the rule of law. The same topic will then be picked up by MEPs on Thursday (1 March), when the plenary is set to vote on whether Poland is breaching EU values.

The Middle East peace process and the two-state solution are back with talks set to take place among foreign ministers on Monday (26 February).

Berlin

Meanwhile, German coalition woes have yet to end.

German chancellor Angela Merkel's fourth term will be possibly sealed or unravel when Social Democratic party members have until Friday (2 March) to submit their votes on whether to enter a grand coalition.

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.

Western Balkans and Brexit restart This Week

The EU Commission will unveil its strategy for the Western Balkans in an effort to keep the strategically important region close. It will be a busy week at the EP with geo-blocking – almost – coming to an end.

Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK

All eyes on London this week, where May struggles to hold onto power against Brexit rebels, while EU leaders meet in Brussels on Sunday to try to clinch agreement.

Merkel and Brexit in spotlight This WEEK

The now-outgoing German chancellor will outline her vision for Europe in the EU parliament, as political parties gear up for the election next May. Brexit will also dominate, even though talks have yet to yield a breakthrough.

EU elections and Italy's finances are in focus This WEEK

A debate among would-be EPP 'Spizenkandidat' candidates next week in Helsinki will be the first of many clashes of ideas ahead of European elections next May. The liberals are also holding their own congress.

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