Thursday

21st Jan 2021

Agenda

All eyes on the EU budget This WEEK

  • With the European Commission's budget proposal, the bloc's traditional haggling begins (Photo: Martin Vorel)

The starting pistol for negotiations on the next EU long-term budget will be fired next week when on Wednesday (2 May) commissioner Guenther Oettinger will present the European Commission's proposal on spending for 2021-27, and thus the first EU budget for the post-Brexit era.

Officials are working out the details to the very last minute over the weekend and into Labour Day (1 May).

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But the commission is expected to propose a larger budget then the current one, and aim for an overall amount of between 1.13 and 1.18 percent of the gross national income of the EU.

Oettinger will roll out the framework for the seven-year budget and overall figures for the main policy areas.

But member states will only be able to calculate their share of the pie once sectorial proposals are published by the commission before mid-June.

EU affairs ministers will nevertheless have their first opportunity to react to the EU executive's proposal on 14 May at the general affairs council.

MEPs will also debate the commission's proposals next Thursday with commissioner Oettinger in the mini-plenary in Brussels.

Belgium's vision

On Thursday morning (3 May) Belgian prime minister Charles Michel will take centre stage at the European Parliament debating the future of Europe with MEPs and commission president Jean-Claude Juncker.

Michel is the fifth EU leader to spell out his vision to MEPs, with France's Emmanuel Macron speaking in April, and Germany's Angela Merkel expected to make her speech in November.

Press freedom

On Wednesday MEPs will hold a debate on how to safeguard media freedom, pluralism and independence will be debated on Wednesday and the issue will be put to a vote on Thursday.

MEPs are expected to ask for more support for public service providers and investigative journalism and will call for for an independent regulatory body to monitor and report threats against journalists.

The vote will coincide with the World Press Freedom Day on Thursday. The EP and the commission will hold a seminar dedicated to the freedom of expression in Turkey.

Italian stalemate

Meanwhile, Italy is still looking for a government - almost two months after the 8 March elections.

On Monday (23 April), after discussions between former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi's Forza Italia party and the Five-Star Movement (M5S) failed, president Sergio Mattarella tasked Roberto Fico, the speaker of the lower house, with exploring the possibilities of a coalition between the M5S and the centre-left Democratic Party (PD).

Talks could start this week, if the PD executive body gives its green light. The PD executive is to decide on Thursday (3 May).

Getting inside the bubble

Next weekend will be that time of the year when to mark Europe Day (9 May) EU institutions open their doors to citizens and give a glimpse behinds the scenes of the bloc's decision-making.

On Saturday (5 May) visitors can learn about how the EU works, and view the (rather underwhelming) negotiating rooms in the institutions where so many of the laws effecting their lives are born.

Analysis

Commission wants bigger post-Brexit budget

The Commission wants the next EU budget to prove the bloc has survived Brexit unscathed. However, some net payers disagree. The EU executive plans to put out an overall budget figure of 1.13 to 1.18 percent of EU GNI.

Media bosses demand EU push Malta on journalist killing

In a letter to commissioner Timmermans, the directors of eight media groups ask the EU executive to use "all powers" to push the investigation into the murder of Maltese journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia.

EU: 'Keep Calm', as Italy struggles to form government

Both the leaders of the populist Five Star Movement and far-right League party claim the position of Italian prime minister, amid renewed eurosceptics remarks while Europe is waiting for a stable government.

EU leaders seek to speed up vaccinations This WEEK

EU leaders talk vaccines, while the Portugues EU presidency introduces itself to MEPs. Joe Biden will be inaugurated as president of the United States, and the EU hopes this will mark a new beginning for EU-US relations.

Vaccines in focus in the EU This WEEK

The European Parliament's environment committee will hear from the person who negotiated the vaccine contracts, commission director-general of health and food safety, Sandra Gallina.

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Gruelling Brexit and budget talks continue This WEEK

After almost a week of arm-wrestling and ten days before the UK severs all of its EU ties, negotiators are back working hard on a deal on the future EU-UK relations. Budget and rule of law talks will also continue.

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