Sunday

25th Feb 2024

Agenda

Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK

Brexit events are picking up pace after a provisional agreement was reached on the UK's departure from the EU.

The draft document is now under review by member states, with EU affairs ministers planning to meet on Monday (19 November) to discuss the deal and EU leaders to meet on Sunday to seek a political accord.

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  • Emmanuel Macron to visit Molenbeek district in Brussels this week (Photo: European Council)

The summit is to happen regardless of developments in London, with leaders to focus on preparedness for a no-deal scenario if things start unraveling.

They are also expected to approve a political declaration on future EU-UK relations that will accompany the withdrawal text.

In the UK, British prime minister Theresa May is battling to hold on to power after several of her ministers resigned in protest over the draft deal, which, they say, keeps the UK too much under EU control.

If May survives that long, the divided British parliament is expected to vote on the accord in early December, with May outlining three scenarios to British MPs last week: her deal, no deal, or no Brexit.

Italy

Eurozone finance ministers will meet in Brussels on Monday for talks on Italy's budget plan, amid opposition by the populist government in Rome to EU fiscal constraints.

Italy will top the agenda again on Wednesday, when the European Commission rolls out its assessment of eurozone budgetary plans.

It has already rejected Rome's plan once and could decide to put Italy's finances under surveillance if there is no compromise.

The same evening, economic commissioner Pierre Moscovici will headline an event organised by the Friends of Europe, a major think tank in Brussels, on how to deepen national engagement with the eurozone structures.

Also on Monday, foreign and defence ministers will meet in Brussels to discuss Ukraine, where Russia is causing problems for commercial shipping amid its military build-up in the Azov Sea.

They will also discuss defence integration, together with Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, after France and Germany, last week, spoke of the need to create a European "army".

In Vienna, a high-level conference will, later on Wednesday, grapple with how to "secure Jewish life in Europe" in the context of rising anti-Semitism.

Romania

Preparations for Romania to take over the EU presidency on 1 January will see the Romanian government and president Klaus Ioannis meet with European Parliament president Antonio Tajani and top MEPs the same day.

That meeting takes place amid concern on rule of law and corruption in Romania, with justice commissioner Vera Jourova to visit Bucharest on Tuesday to delve into affairs.

Corruption closer to home in Brussels will also come up in an EU court ruling on Thursday.

Judges will decide whether to overturn a ban on mouth tobacco, also called snus, in a case involving Swedish Match, a company at the centre of graft allegations against a Maltese former EU commissioner, John Dali, six years ago.

Meanwhile, a special guest - French president Emmanuel Macron - is expected to show up on Tuesday in Brussels's troubled neighbourhood, Molenbeek, made famous by the fact some of the terrorists involved in the Paris attacks in 2015 came from there.

Macron will also attend a gala dinner with the king of Belgium the same day.

No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt

British PM Theresa May battles for survival as she faces calls for her resignation and the rebellion of several ministers who resigned over the draft Brexit deal - which the EU is preparing to sign later this month.

Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline

Italy would be committing economic "suicide" if it fell in line with EU rules, its deputy leader has said, in a sign that Rome has little intention of bowing to pressure ahead of Tuesday's budget deadline.

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.

Opinion

After two years of war, time to hit Putin's LNG exports

Two years of tragedies, with well over 100,000 Russian war crimes now registered, underscore the urgent need to stop international LNG investments in Russia that continue to fund Vladimir Putin's war chest.

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