Monday

17th Dec 2018

Agenda

Migrants, Romania, and dirty banks on EU's mind This WEEK

  • Austria to chair EU talks on migrant returns (Photo: Josh Zakary)

Austrian far-right agitator, Herbert Kickl, will chair talks with fellow EU interior ministers in Brussels on Thursday (6 December) on how to send more migrants home.

The preparations for more "returns" are part of plans to create a 10,000-man EU external border force by 2020.

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  • Bucharest to take over EU presidency on 1 January (Photo: Nico Trinkhaus)

Kickl, who once said migrants should be "concentrated" in camps, will also oversee discussion on reform of EU asylum law, amid long-standing disagreement on who is prepared to take in migrants and who is not.

The ministers, the same day, plan to adopt a solemn EU declaration against antisemitism.

It comes amid a rise in hate crime in Europe, but the new EU "definition" of antisemitism could help Israel to stigmatise critics of its Palestine occupation.

Kickl's spotlight on the EU stage comes after this week's main act, when the Romanian government comes to town on Wednesday.

Romania is to take over the EU presidency from Austria on 1 January.

But its EU chairmanship, its first one since it joined the bloc, could be messy, amid reports of botched preparations, anti-EU tantrums, and EU concern on government abuse of rule of law.

EU criticism of Romania was "revolting", its prime minister, Viorica Dancila, said last month, as she sits down for Wednesday's ceremonial European Commission lunch.

A senior MP in Bucharest also stuck up his middle fingers to Brussels when it raised alarm that Dancila's crew had "reversed" anti-corruption reforms and "undermined" court independence.

The EU has taken even firmer steps against Hungary and Poland on abuse of rule of law, with MEPs from the civil liberties committee to brief in Brussels on Monday of their recent visit to Warsaw.

But Europe will be washing its dirty pants in public more broadly on Tuesday, when EU finance ministers adopt a new "action plan" to combat money laundering.

Bank scandals

The move comes after "recent scandals" in "some EU banks," the EU Council said in its agenda, referring to Denmark and Germany's top lenders, Danske Bank and Deutsche Bank, which were involved in a €200bn laundromat.

The finance ministers will discuss a new digital tax to stop tech giants, such as Apple or Google, from paying next to nothing in EU jurisdictions, "where [their] goods and services are sold".

They will also discuss a common EU bank deposit guarantee in case things ever go awry again like in the 2008 financial crash.

The darkest aspects of Europe's migrant situation will come to light on Tuesday, when the European Commission publishes a study on human trafficking of women and children for sex.

Employment ministers aim to discuss an anti-discrimination bill that covers sexual orientation on Thursday.

Snapshot

Transport ministers, on Monday, also aim to discuss EU commission president Jean-Claude Juncker's magical idea to end seasonal time changes in Europe.

That is a snapshot of the union, as Juncker prepares to gives a speech to the French parliament and to meet French leader Emmanuel Macron in Paris on Tuesday.

But Europe also faces challenges in the international arena, with Nato foreign ministers to meet in Brussels on Monday and Tuesday after Russia brushed with full scale war with Ukraine in a naval incident last week.

It faces another struggle, at the so-called COP24 conference, starting in Katowice, Poland, on Tuesday, where EU countries will try to keep a world accord on limiting global warming from coming unstuck.

Deutsche Bank dragged into Danish bank scandal

Deutsche Bank, Germany's top lender, handled about €130bn of the "suspicious" money in the Danske Bank affair, new revelations show, as whistleblower testifies to MEPs.

Brexit vote and Merkel's successor top This Week

Europe heads into uncertain territory with France in turmoil, the UK voting on the Brexit deal, and Germany will have a new leader of its largest ruling party. EU leaders will also discuss the eurozone and migration at their summit.

Opinion

Fiscal discipline rules in eurozone are devastating

New rules are needed that do not place the heaviest burdens on a few countries, but ensure that all countries benefit from the euro. Avoiding imbalances in trade between countries can do this.

EU leaders stuck on asylum reform

Migration was overshadowed by Brexit at the EU summit, with leaders stuck on key legislation. Some warned that free movement could be at risk.

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