Wednesday

27th Jan 2021

Agenda

Juncker speech and Hungary in spotlight This WEEK

  • EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker will assess the state of the union in a key annual speech in Strasbourg (Photo: European Commission)

EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker's speech on the state of the union on Wednesday (12 September) in Strasbourg will officially kick off the political season in the EU - his last major policy outline before the European elections next May, while campaigning is already underway across the political landscape.

The commission chief is expected to outline new measures on migration in an effort to woo voters from the increasingly muscular far-right, which has gained popularity on the back of the issue.

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The Swedish election on Sunday (9 September) also saw gains for the far-right Sweden Democrats, fuelling further debate within the EU for mainstream parties on how to deal with the surge at polls of anti-immigration parties.

Juncker hails from the largest party in the European Parliament, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), whose group leader in the parliament, the German conservative Manfred Weber announced last week his bid to succeed Juncker as Commission president after the election.

A day before Juncker's speech, MEPs will hold a debate on Hungary's democracy on Tuesday (11 September), ahead of a vote on Wednesday on whether to call on EU countries to investigate if the country's government broke EU values and rules as it transformed the country in a way that critics say curbed freedom of the media, courts, and civil society.

Prime minister Viktor Orban will participate in the debate and hold a press conference on Tuesday evening.

In the series of a debate on the EU's future, Alexis Tsipras on Tuesday morning will make a speech - a few weeks after Greece's bailout program officially ended.

In October Estonia's Juri Ratas and Romania's Klaus Ioannis will outline their vision for the future, in November, Germany's Angela Merkel and Denmark's Lars Lokke Rasmussen will take the stage, while in December, Spanish PM Pedro Sanchez is expected to speak.

The controversial directive on copyright in the digital single market will be also voted on by MEPs on Wednesday with deputies debating the issue on Tuesday.

An EP resolution will be voted on Thursday (13 September), on the dual standards of products ahead of the commission's draft proposals later this fall. The issue of companies apparently selling products under the same label in eastern and central European countries with lower quality has irked the countries' leaders.

The final vote on the European Solidarity Corps will also take place on Tuesday, in which MEPs are expected to give the green light for €325m to be spent between 2018-22 for young people between the age of 17-30 to participate in projects on education, health, environment and integration of migrants.

Lebanese prime minister Michel Aoun is going to make a speech to the MEPs on Tuesday. Fragile and small Lebanon is hosting an estimated 1.5 million refugees, mostly from Syria.

On Thursday Macedonia's prime minister Zoran Zaev will give a speech after his country has reached an agreement with Greece on name issue , which still needs to be adopted by the parliaments and a referendum in Macedonia.

Outside of Strasbourg, in Brussels EU trade commissioner will meet with US trade representative Robert Lighthizer on Monday (10 September) focusing on determining how EU tariffs might be removed on industrial goods as part of a working group on trade relations.

Hungary vote exposes EU rift on populism

MEPs will vote next week on whether to urge member states to investigate Hungary on EU values. Budapest calls it "liberal fundamentalism", with the EPP in a difficult position.

German conservative to run for Juncker's job

Manfred Weber, leader of the largest, centre-right group in the EP, has announced his bid to succeed Juncker at the helm of the European Commission. But his lack of experience and handling of Hungary's Orban are already raising questions.

Brexit and MEPs expenses in the spotlight This WEEK

The EU will be watching closely how the political dynamics of Theresa May's Conservative party conference starting next week will influence Brexit negotiations. MEPs might also be forced to release their office expenses.

Vaccine delay and Russia sanctions debates This WEEK

The director of the European Medicine Agency, Emer Cooke will be quizzed by MEPs in the parliament on vaccine authorisation on Tuesday. EMA is expected to give the green light to the third vaccine at the end of the week.

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.

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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