Tuesday

18th Feb 2020

Agenda

It's the big Brexit vote This WEEK

  • Prime minister Theresa May will have a mountain to climb to to overturn the 230-vote majority by which she lost the last vote on her Brexit deal (Photo: UK Parliament/flickr)

Brexit again will be in the spotlight in the EU and across the United Kingdom, as British MPs will hold their crunch vote on the withdrawal deal - for the second time - on Tuesday (12 March).

With talks currently at an impasse between EU and UK negotiators, it is still in doubt if British prime minister Theresa May will get the assurances over the backstop on the island of Ireland that she thinks necessary to get the majority in parliament for the deal.

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The 'backstop' is a mechanism to keep the UK in the EU customs union, avoiding a hard border between the EU Republic of Ireland and the UK Northern Ireland, whilst future trade talks take place.

May on Friday (8 March) called on the EU to make its own proposals to break the deadlock and avoid a no-deal Brexit on March 29 that could leave businesses and citizens in limbo.

The British PM could possibly turn up in Brussels on Monday (11 March) for last-minute talks.

UK lawmakers overwhelmingly rejected the deal the first time in January, by a historic 230 votes.

If MPs accept the deal now, London will most likely ask for a short extension of Brexit, due on 29 March, in order to pass necessary legislation that needs to be in place for the UK's departure.

If MPs reject the deal, which seems likely, they will then get to vote on Wednesday (13 March) on whether to rule out a no-deal scenario.

If no deal is taken off the table, the next step is likely to be a longer extension to the Article 50 withdrawal procedure.

The EU-27 need to unanimously agree to extend Brexit, but there is little appetite for a long extension without a significant change in the UK's approach, as EU officials do not want to same discussions to continue endlessly that have dominated Brexit talks over the past months without results.

The European elections in May complicate things further, as a longer extension could see the departing UK obliged to elect fresh MEPs - which is an unpopular idea on either side of the channel.

MEPs will also discuss the latest Brexit drama at the European Parliament's plenary session in Strasbourg on Wednesday (13 March).

European lawmakers will also vote on travel, air and road transport, Erasmus, social security and fisheries measures, all to ease the effects of a withdrawal of the UK from the EU without an agreement.

Plenary menu

MEPs will also vote on to introduce financial penalties for pan-European political parties and foundations that deliberately breach data protection rules, in order to protect European democracies from foreign actors spreading misinformation or misusing personal data.

MEPs will vote on Tuesday on a new EU information system and on the upgrade of another system that will ensure information on border control and law enforcement is more efficiently shared.

Deputies will also discuss on Tuesday the latest Turkey report, which recommends suspending accession talks. Lawmakers will vote on the report on Wednesday.

The parliament will vote on Thursday on the confirmation of positions in three banking supervisory bodies: the European Banking Authority chief, the Single Resolution Board, and a member of the executive board of the European Central Bank.

The parliament has protested to the council's member states that the candidates are all male.

On the proposals for rules to better protect whistleblowers, negotiations between the EU institutions will take place on Monday evening to find a compromise.

And on Friday (15 March) the lead candidates running to clinch the EU commission top position after the May European elections will hold a debate in the parliament.

The Slovak prime minister Peter Pellegrini on Tuesday will lay out his ideas about the future of Europe to MEPs.

Brussels topics

Back in Brussels, on Monday the finance ministers of the eurozone will review the second enhanced surveillance report on Greece, after the bailout program ended last August.

The third conference on Syria and the region will take place between 12-14 March.

The conference's aim is to mobilise international support for the Syrian people and work on a lasting political solution after nine years of war.

Climate efforts

On Wednesday, MEPs will discuss climate change, in response to recent protests by young EU citizens such as the 16-year-old Swedish high-school student Greta Thunberg.

The debate was pushed for by centre-left, left-wing and Green MEPs.

According to spokespersons from those groups, the centre-right and right-wing groups rejected the idea of inviting Thunberg to speak in the plenary.

Greens spokeswoman Ruth Reichstein said Friday (8 March) there was no majority for giving the young activist a platform, with those opposed "basically saying that it would be better than they go to school" than address MEPs.

The debate will be followed by a non-binding resolution, to be put to a vote on Thursday.

Last month, EU countries acknowledged that climate change "is a direct and existential threat, which will spare no country".

EU and UK in Brexit brinksmanship

British prime minister Theresa May is to urge the EU to back down on Ireland in a speech to eurosceptic British workers 21 days before the Brexit due date.

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.

Second phase of Brexit starts This WEEK

In its first week without the UK, the EU will reveal how it wants to negotiate future relations with London, will propose a new enlargement methodology to calm Paris, and MEPs will hear from EU chief prosecutor Laura Kovesi.

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