Saturday

22nd Feb 2020

Agenda

New governments in Spain and Italy This Week

Political turmoil in southern Europe might be calming down as the 5 Star Movement and the far-right Lega formed a populist, anti-establishment coalition in Italy, avoiding snap elections, while in Spain the socialist leader will take over the helm of government from Mariano Rajoy.

That means two new leaders at the June summit of European leaders: Italy's Giuseppe Conte and Spain's Pedro Sanchez.

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  • Lega's Matteo Salvini will join fellow interior ministers to dissect the latest proposal on reform the EU's asylum system (Photo: European Parliament)

It also means that Italy will have a government in place, just as Brussels was getting nervous that the political uncertainty there would have negative economic spin-offs.

There have been concerns over whether the rise in Italian populism and the collapse of traditional parties posed a threat to the integrity of the eurozone.

Rajoy, responsible for the austerity measures carried out in part to reinforce the country's failing bank system after 2011, has led a minority government.

Sanchez's pro-European credentials will help allay fears that a second political crisis is about to blow up in the southern part of the bloc.

Asylum discussions

Italy's anti-EU and anti-immigrant Lega will make its entry in Brussels with party leader Matteo Salvini joining fellow interior ministers on Tuesday (5 June) to discuss the Bulgarian presidency's latest compromise proposal on the common asylum system.

The ministers will not make a decision just yet, as they will want to receive political guidance from EU leaders meeting at the end of June.

EU officials say the proposal is aiming to balance responsibility and solidarity among EU countries. However, stubborn opponents of any distribution of asylum seekers, even in case of emergency, such as Hungary and Poland, might block the whole process.

Italy had argued for the need of all EU members to take in asylum seekers. Salvini, a fan of Hungary's bellicose premier Viktor Orban, campaigned on the promise of mass deportations and pledged to build detention centres around Italy.

Whistleblower's time

On Monday (5 June), the European Parliament's civil liberties committee will hear from the whistleblower, Christopher Whylie, who exposed Facebook's misuse of users' private data in the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will meet with Austrian premier Sebastian Kurz on Wednesday (6 June), as the college of commissioners will hold a joint session with the Austrian government in preparation for the Austrian EU presidency starting next month.

On Friday (8 June), Juncker and European Council president Donald Tusk will hold a joint press conference ahead of the G7 summit in Canada.

The meeting of the world's most developed nations comes as tension between the EU and US are on the rise after US president Donald Trump announced new tariffs on steel and aluminium, and the European bloc pledged to retaliate.

Opinion

Europe's solution to migration is to outsource it to Africa

Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker says the EU has almost solved the migration issue - but a large part of this 'solution' has been a deliberate strategy to push the problems out of sight, outsourcing stopping migration to African states.

Budget, Zuckerberg, Pelosi and Cayman Islands This WEEK

EU leaders will put their heads together on Thursday night to look for a compromise on the next long-term EU budget. EU Council president Charles Michel's latest proposal has received a lukewarm welcome from member states.

EU budget battle gears up This WEEK

Member states get ready for their first real negotiations on the next seven-year EU budget, while MEPs discuss the next Brexit phase, enlargement, and vote on a highly-controversial trade deal with Vietnam.

News in Brief

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  7. Germans voice anger on rise of far-right terrorism
  8. EU leaders' budget summit drags on overnight

German ex-commissioner Oettinger lands Orban job

Hungary's PM Viktor Orban appointed controversial former commissioner Guenther Oettinger to a government council in a way that might break EU rules. Oettinger claims he did not know about the appointment.

Opinion

Why Miroslav Lajčák is the wrong choice for EU envoy

The EU could blow up the Kosovo-Serbia negotiations' reset. Should Miroslav Lajčák indeed be appointed, the two senior EU diplomats dealing with Kosovo would both come from the small minority of member states that do not recognise Kosovo.

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