Wednesday

21st Feb 2024

Agenda

Clock change and Merkel's fortunes top This WEEK

  • Merkel faces another difficult election in Hesse, before her party chairmanship is on the line in December (Photo: bundeskanzlerin.de)

Halloween-time is traditionally one of the quietest weeks in the EU bubble, with kids out of school, the European Parliament in recess, and most eurocrats leaving Brussels for the week.

Nevertheless, early in the week, EU-watchers can speculate what elections in yet another German region, Hesse, will mean for chancellor Angela Merkel's coalition in Berlin.

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Germany's ruling parties are bracing for a second electoral disaster only two weeks after the flop in Bavaria, as polls for Sunday's (28 October) regional election in Hesse suggest voters will punish parties in the coalition government.

Both Merkel's Christian Democrats (CDU) and coalition partner Social Democrats (SPD) are expected to suffer losses, reflecting a nationwide trend.

Hesse has, for the past 20 years, been ruled by CDU-led coalitions, but polls show Merkel's party could lose 12 points compared to elections in 2013.

This could spell trouble for Merkel, who stands for re-election as party leader at the CDU conference in December.

Polls have also confirmed another trend: the Social Democrats are tied with one of the big winners of the Bavaria election, the Greens, with both in second place with 21 percent.

On Sunday (28 October), clocks will have to be turned backwards one hour to end summertime officially.

The issue is now on the EU's agenda as well.

Environment and transport ministers will meet in Graz, Austria for an informal gathering on Monday and Tuesday (30 October).

On Monday (29 October) EU transport ministers will take up the question of abolishing daylight-saving time, a recent proposal by the EU commission, which said that, in its survey, 80 percent of respondents wanted to end the bi-annual clock change.

The commission will close its doors for a mini vacation next Thursday and Friday (1 and 2 November), as EU officials await the official response from Rome, whose budget plan the EU executive rejected last week. Italy has three weeks to submit a revised budgetary proposal.

With Brexit talks in Brussels still at a standstill, UK prime minister Theresa May will be speaking at the Nordic Council's session in Oslo on Tuesday (30 October) in front of parliamentarians and prime ministers from the five Nordic countries.

Bavarian election puts Merkel on defensive

Voters in Germany's largest state hived off to the left and right of the ruling conservatives in Sunday's elections - posing questions for Merkel's authority.

EU commission rejects Italy's budget plans

The EU executive has asked Italy to resubmit its budget in an unprecedented rebuke, while warning Rome that public debt was the "enemy of the people".

EU to propose scrapping summer time change

Based on the preliminary results of an online survey in which mostly Germans took part, the EU executive is proposing that the whole EU stops changing times in March and October.

New Red Sea mission and more Russia sanctions This WEEK

EU foreign affairs ministers launch the bloc's new Red Sea naval mission, plus hold talks on new sanctions against Russia — amid Hungarian objections — on Monday. Plus a home for the EU's new anti-money laundering authority will be picked.

Nato, defence summit, and UNRWA in focus This WEEK

Nato defence ministers will meet this week ahead of the Munich Security Conference. ECB chief Christine Lagarde will address MEPs in the committee on economic affairs and MEPs will hold a debate about the defunding of the UNRWA agency.

EU's 2040 climate target and farmers in focus This WEEK

This week, the EU commission will present a proposal to cut net emissions by 90 percent by 2040, while MEPs discuss the demands of farmers' protests across Europe. Romanian president Klaus Iohannis will also address the EU parliament in Strasbourg.

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